I will quote the introducing programmer: this film is not what you might think.
College Boys Live is a documentary by George O’Donnell, about a website of the same name.
This is film about a paid website? Yup. Naked boys? Sometimes. Pornography? Debatably.
Zac Adams is the owner of a website, CollegeBoysLive.com, and he thinks he has a pretty good offer for the right boy. He offers a beautiful home with a pool, a hot tube, minimal chores, no bills… And all the boys have to do is live in a house wired with cameras broadcasting live to a website online 24 hours a day. He thinks it’s a fair trade: complete surrender of one’s privacy for free room and board and no responsibilities (except to chat with website members for two hours a days, preferably doing the last half hour in the nude). He would argue that it is not pornography because no one is paid and not exploitation because the six month tenure at the house is completely voluntary.
Adams juggles new webcam technologies, the ever-changing composition of boys adjusting to life in the CBL house and a disgruntled homeowners association that wants him and his business gone from their neighborhood.
At the time of this documentary, the three latest housemates are Chuck, JC and Tim, all twenty years old or less. Chuck is the very tall, very shy, very effeminate young man from Massachusetts. He is basically using CBL as an opportunity to be away from home, to try something different. His principle challenge in the film is trying to pulling his heartstrings free of his hometown.
Tim is a very tall, very thin, very pretty young male who is hoping to use CBL as a launch pad to a new life in Florida. His becomes the object of attention for a long-time site member and “friends of the House” Charlie. Charlie of course offers Tim his attention, and other gifts, with no strings attached; well, that is of course until Tim makes a date with another member. And owner Zac finds himself in the middle.
JC is… a mess. A high strung, emotionally damaged young man from Michigan. He constantly rails that CBL is his new and only family. He enjoys the idea of celebrity and being the object of adoration by the website members. JC is also, however, a trouble magnet. He is a compulsive liar and a master at emotional manipulation. His presence wreaks havoc in the short time that he is in the house.
George O’Donnell’s documentary takes an intimate look at three boys and how you try to become young men under extremely unusual circumstances. The filmmaker does a great job of simply providing the conduit through which we get a glimpse of this world, versus being inflammatory or biased. Irt does exactly what a documentary is supposed to do: document, observe, illuminate and be as invisible as possible in those pursuits.
The film College Boys Live, aside from not actually featuring any boys who are in college, also examines the question of exploitation and morality when voyeurism is a business. It is an interesting study to see how these young gay men enjoy new found freedom to be who they are, without making any significant progress in understanding, or deciding the men that they will eventually grow up to be. Zac Adams would argue that the house has been great for some members who battle with low self-esteem and even helps young men with identity crises.
College Boys Live is an official selection of OUTFest 2009 happening at the DGA and surrounding neighborhood theatres, now through July 19, 2009.