Writer-Director-Producer Jett Garrison On the Importance of LGBTQ+ Representation In Film & TV
March 31, 2021
After years of kicking around his script, picking it up and putting it down, Jett Garrison completed Quick Quick Slow. Now, the feature is a finalist in OUTFEST’s Screenwriting Lab and Garrison is ready to finally get the project up off its feet.
The WGA writer and director known for directing and producing These Thems, a queer comedy digital series about four friends in New York City, is not unfamiliar with creating work that features LGBTQ+ stories. What kept him from completing Quick Quick Slow was that he believed it was “too gay.”
“Who's gonna want this project?” he says. “And then I think back over the past year-and-a-half to two years, and I think we're seeing a lot more projects out there in the zeitgeist, especially beyond the indie circuit.”
Garrison sees more queer stories being embraced in the media and envisions his own work gaining attention along with the others. His half-hour pilot, Truncle is proof of that.
Truncle tells his own story as a trans man going through second puberty in his 40s through a comedic lens that softens the rollercoaster of his rediscovery. Freshly divorced, the main character that reflects Garrison’s life, tries to land back on his feet. A couple of months ago, the pilot was sent to House of M Productions where it received praise. Garrison noted how exciting it was that two cisgender, heterosexual men on the team understood and supported the movie.
“They just read the pilot and they regurgitated back to me all of the meta themes I was trying to express and I hadn't even had a conversation with them," he said. "So that was very exciting.”
With the leadership of Evan Mirzai, an LGBTQIA+ Iranian American who founded and runs House of M, the pilot is now on its way to production.
What was also particularly exciting for Garrison is that they supported his particular story.
“What it tells me is that I think the industry is finally ready to lean into more transmasculine stories,” he says, “because we haven't seen that. We have not seen a project out there with a transmasculine lead yet. There's been a few characters, there's been some nods, but we just haven't seen it yet. And I'm hoping to be the first.”
Both of Garrison's current projects are autobiographical, although Quick Quick Slow is loosely so. The feature is based on Garrison’s experience living in Austin, Texas, at the time a masculine of center lesbian, and finding his chosen family. Growing up in a small Texan town during the '90s, in a homophobic and racist environment, there wasn’t a lot of queer visibility. Quick Quick Slow speaks to Garrison's time in Texas and that search for a supportive community.
“What I found — I want to specifically speak to being queer in the South, of being queer in Texas — is you really had to find a chosen family,” he says. “And I think that at the end of the day, a lot of my storytelling explores themes of queerness with chosen family and marginalized communities.”
His experience in and outside of the film industry impacted Garrison's writing, such as his time at Sony as a creative director of the on-air marketing team after moving to L.A. in 2008, and working with showrunners, producers and reading pilots. Aside from his own experiences, he is inspired by other LGBTQ+ storytellers like Jacob Tobia, Janet Mock, Eileen Myles and Brian Dannelly, who share honest perspectives of the LGBTQ+ community.
His dedication to sharing authentic stories in both TV and film means focusing on the beauty of queerness.
“What I like to do, or what I'm trying to do, is not focus on the trauma around what it means to be trans or queer, but rather lean into some of the joy, some of the comedy,” Garrison says. “Not to ignore some of the trauma that comes from it, but where the celebration is in that as well.”
His stories Garrison once thought were “too gay” are now being embraced in film and TV in celebration of the LGBTQ+ community.
“What it is like for queer and trans folk to just live their day to day,” Garrison says. “I kind of reject assimilation politics. I'm not one of those folks that says, ‘oh, we're just like everybody else,’ ‘oh, I'm just like you.’ I'm not just like everybody else. I'm not just like you. I think that is something that should be celebrated.”
Written by: Steven VargasSteven Vargas is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles whose work focuses on arts, entertainment and activism. He is a current grad student at USC Annenberg pursuing an MA in Specialized Journalism (The Arts) and previously graduated from USC with a BA in Theatre and Journalism with a minor in Dance. He is a current member of the Equity Board, a new initiative at Annenberg Media dedicated to diversifying sourcing and promoting inclusive coverage across the publication. His short doc, “Dancing at Home,” earned first place in the LA Press Club’s “Life in the Time of the Coronavirus Contest" in May 2020. More recently, he co-directed "Two Paths: One Direction," an award-winning short documentary produced with students from the USC and Prairie View A&M University about their experiences of 2020. He produced work for ET Live, TheWrap, Dance Magazine, BuzzFeed News, and more. His work can be found here: https://www.vargassteven.com/