Saturday, June 1, 2024

LGBTQ+ representation in the Utah Filmmakers™ community

By UFA Founder Joe Puente

Almost every week, I spend a few hours at Publik Coffee Roasters in Salt Lake City with my friend of over two decades and longtime UFA supporter, Geoff Wichert. It is our designated time to write—he, with his reviews for 15 Bytes, and me with screenplays, blog posts, and essays. While tapping away at my laptop one morning, I overheard two people discussing their TikTok content. Content creators use many of the basic skills and techniques as filmmakers; therefore, as per our definition of “who is considered a “Utah Filmmaker,” I felt it important to give them that recognition.

Prefacing my brief interruption with, “My apologies—I didn’t mean to eavesdrop—I just wanted to say that TikTokkers are filmmakers too,” I gave them each an official “Utah Filmmaker” button.

I was a little joining TikTok, but it wasn’t long before I started to understand its appeal, especially as an emotional roller coaster! Laughing one moment at the antics of creators like “Brochet,” “Just, Joe…,” or Utah’s very own “OpeyTailor,” then sobbing uncontrollably over someone’s tribute to their recently departed pet or a heartbreaking moment of vulnerability.

The creators that I find the most enlightening are those in marginalized communities. From African-American creators like Dara Starr Tucker—shattering the myth of a “post-racial” America—to advocates for veterans, those with disabilities, in recovery, who are neurodivergent, and those creatively coping with mental illness.

I’ve felt most moved by creators in the LGBT community. I love listening to their stories, told in their own words, about their challenges, experiences coming out to their families and friends, and everyday lives. I especially enjoy the matter-of-fact—and often hilarious—ways they engage with comments by bigoted trolls.

The Utah Filmmakers Association has always been committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive community. Our Core Values affirm this commitment, stating, in part: