Shelter Information

Shelter is a 2007 American film directed and written by Jonah Markowitz. It stars Trevor Wright, Brad Rowe, and Tina Holmes. It was the winner of "Outstanding Film " Limited Release" at the 2009 GLAAD Media Awards, Best New Director and Favorite Narrative Feature at the Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, and the People's Choice Award for Best Feature at the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. Shelter represents the feature directorial debut of Markowitz.


Zach (Trevor Wright) is an aspiring artist living in San Pedro, California, who has put off his dreams of going to art school in order to work and help his older sister Jeanne (Tina Holmes), his disabled father, and his five-year-old nephew Cody (Jackson Wurth). Working as a short-order cook to make ends meet, Zach escapes during his free time to paint, draw murals, surf, and hang out with his best friend Gabe (Ross Thomas), as well as with his on-again, off-again girlfriend Tori (Katie Walder).

When Gabe's older brother Shaun (Brad Rowe) comes back home from Los Angeles for a few weeks, Zach and Shaun develop a close friendship as they go surfing together. Shaun, who is a published writer, encourages Zach to take control of his life and pursue his ambition of going to CalArts, a large university of the arts. One night after drinking Zach and Shaun share a kiss; however, Zach is not prepared to give in to his feelings immediately. Nevertheless, their friendship soon develops into a romance, while at the same time Shaun builds a strong bond with Cody.

When Jeanne learns that Zach has been spending time with Shaun, she warns Zach that Shaun is gay and to keep Cody away from him. Though his sister is reluctant to accept that Zach himself might be gay, both Gabe and Tori are supportive. Zach and Shaun's relationship is then strained by his sense of obligation to support his family versus his relationship with Shaun and his desire to pursue his own dreams. Zach is confused as to what he really wants.

Shaun secretly submits Zach's art school application, and Zach is eventually accepted on full scholarship. When Jeanne's boyfriend Alan (Matt Bushell) gets a job in Portland, requiring her to move and leave Cody behind with Zach, Zach is forced to decide between putting others first and neglecting his own dreams"?as he has always done"?and fighting for what he truly wants, both for himself and Cody. He finally discovers that affirming his love for Shaun and going forward with his art career ends up providing the best solution to his dilemma. The film ends with a scene of Zach, Shaun, and Cody playing together on the beach as a family.


  • Trevor Wright as Zach
  • Brad Rowe as Shaun
  • Tina Holmes as Jeanne
  • Jackson Wurth as Cody
  • Ross Thomas as Gabe
  • Katie Walder as Tori
  • Albert Reed as Billy
  • Joy Gohring as Ellen
  • Matt Bushell as Alan
  • Caitlin Crosby as Shari


Shelter was filmed in 21 days, primarily in San Pedro and Laguna Beach, California, with additional shooting in Bel Air and Malibu, California. A visual focal point throughout the film is the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles Harbor.

The artwork depicted in the film was the work of L.A. artist Ryan Graeff, whose street art appears across the region and is published in his zine The Restitution Press.

The motion picture soundtrack features original music by Nashville singer and songwriter Shane Mack, among others.


Shelter debuted at the 31st Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco on June 16, 2007 and ran in theaters through July 24, 2008. The film was released on DVD on May 27, 2008 in the United States. The DVD includes production commentary by writer/director Jonah Markowitz and actors Trevor Wright and Brad Rowe.

The film was released on DVD in the UK on August 11, 2008, though the UK release does not include the commentary track. The film was released on Blu-ray in the UK in October 2011.


The soundtrack album, Shelter: Music from the Motion Picture, was released in 2008.

  1. "Goin' Home" (written and performed by Bill Ferguson)
  2. "I Like That" (written and performed by Shane Mack)
  3. "No Way Home" (written and performed by Matt Pavolaitis and Brett Cookingham)
  4. "Pirate Sounds" (written by Ariel Rechtshald, Josh Kessler, Marc Ferrari, and Lewis Pesacov, performed by Matthew Popieluch)
  5. "Teenage Romanticide" (written by Jen Mitz, Nina Martinez, and Susan Gale, performed by Dance Yourself to Death)
  6. "Look for Love" (written and performed by Tony Valenzuela)
  7. "Darkness Descends" (written by Ariel Rechtshald, Josh Kessler, Marc Ferrari, and Lewis Pesacov, performed by Matthew Popieluch)
  8. "Vaporizer" (written and performed by Nicholas Viterelli)
  9. "What Do You Believe In" (written by Jeffrey S. Haycock, performed by The Vengers)
  10. "Trying" (written by Ariel Rechtshald, Josh Kessler, and Matthew Popieluch, performed by Matthew Popieluch)
  11. "Gimmie Clam" (written and performed by Nicholas Viterelli)
  12. "Break" (written and performed by Shane Mack)
  13. "Reflection" (written and performed by Todd Hannigan)
  14. "Lie to Me" (written and performed by Shane Mack)
  15. "Time to Time" (written by Stewart Lewis and Reed Foehl, performed by Stewart Lewis)
  16. "More Than This" (written and performed by Shane Mack)
  17. "Long Way Home" (written and performed by Shane Mack)
  18. "Remember to Forget" (written and performed by Shane Mack)
  19. "Cool of Morning" (written and performed by Matt Pavolaitis and Brett Cookingham)

Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 58% out of 19 professional critics gave the film a positive review. Sid Smith from the Chicago Tribune said that "Shelter may only be shoreline deep, and its ending fanciful, but the film captures the beauty, thrill and ache of young love and extracts a casual joy out of the process."

Wesley Morris from The Boston Globe was more critical, stating that "Shelter is a gay movie like other American gay movies. Boy meets boy. Boy comes out. Boys fight opposition. Opposition caves. If there's life beyond the closet, too few movies know it exists."

In praise of the film, David Weigand from the San Francisco Chronicle singled out "a superb performance by Trevor Wright in the lead role, a strong supporting cast, very good cinematography and, most of all, emotional authenticity", noting in particular Trevor Wright's "restrained and delicately balanced performance" as "the beating heart of the film from the start".


  • GLAAD Media Awards " Won, Outstanding Film " Limited Release, 2009.
  • Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival " Won, Best New Director (Jonah Markowitz), 2007.
  • Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival " Won, Favorite Narrative Feature, 2007.
  • Vancouver Queer Film Festival " Won, People's Choice Award for Best Feature, 2007.
  • Tampa Gay & Lesbian Film Festival " Won, Best Actor (Trevor Wright), 2007.
  • Tampa Gay & Lesbian Film Festival " Won, Audience Award for Best Cinematography (Joseph White), 2007.
  • Philadelphia International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival " Won, Special Award for first-time director (Jonah Markowitz), 2007.
  • Dallas OUT TAKES " Won, Best Film, 2007.
  • Outfest " Won, HBO Outstanding First Dramatic Feature (Jonah Markowitz), 2007.
  • Melbourne Queer Film Festival " Won, Audience Choice Award for Best Feature, 2007.

See also

  • List of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender-related films by storyline

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