Fortunately or unfortunately, most of us have fallen hard for a friend. Sometimes it works out but many times it fails to spark because the other party was oblivious to your attraction, the timing was off or they just weren’t that into you. Suffice it to say, when writer/director Wendy Jo Carlton set out to make a new movie, she found her inspiration at (where else?) a Chicago Dyke March when she noticed the extreme closeness of friends Jacqui Jackson and Jessica London-Shields. The two actresses were closer than close and were often assumed to be romantically coupled but, in reality, they were nothing more than good friends. Take that story, cast your inspirations as the title characters, put a musical spin on it and you have the indie film Jamie and Jessie Are Not Together.
While traveling around the country to the various LGBT film festivals – most recently Outfest in Los Angeles – the film has been garnering accolades from audience and critics alike for it’s blend of comedy, music and, above all else, love. (AfterEllen.com gave it a glowing review.) To find out more about the inner workings of this queer tale of love set in Chicago (with an all-Chicago cast), AfterEllen.com sat down for a chat with Carlton, who discussed crushes, how the death of her father sparked a creative fire and her thoughts on last year’s lesbian portrayal in The Kids Are All Right.
AfterEllen.com: Everyone has had crushes on friends and some happen and some don’t. Is that where the story came from?
I’ve always been attracted to the fluid, gray areas of intimacy between people and, yes, I’ve personally had the experience of being in love with a friend and, this is maybe not particular to lesbians but since I am one and have been for quite awhile, I have multiple experiences with different other women who are my exes. Your ex-lover situation, there’s a gray area there, too, if you maintain a healthy relationship and you’re friends, know about each other and hang out. A lot of people who are looking from afar think you’re together and that’s where that idea came from. I was in love with a friend who I never did sleep with.
AE: Insert “Dammit!“
AE: Did making this a musical make the film an easier endeavor or did you make it twice as hard?
AE: How did you go about incorporating the songs in the script?
AE: So it was a very quick production, right?
First of all, it’s not just lesbians who have romantic drama. Everyone does. But I think women in particular, if you put two women together and if they happen to be more expressive or sensitive emotionally or combine those elements with being young, yeah, there’s going to be some drama there but I’m interested in lesbian drama as going deeper. Get into the complexity and the gray areas and the personalities of it. That’s what this story was to me.