Chicken and Fried Okra

In his new documentary, Out of the South, Jason Ball invites you to Sunday dinner with some good ol' gay boys -- men who fled places like Trumann, Ark., and Bossier City, La., to live authentic lives as out gay men in L.A. only to discover that coming out of the South doesn't mean leaving it behind.



I’m a
television newsperson by trade, so I knew I could make a
documentary. It’s essentially what newspeople do
every day, just longer. I ran the idea by Troy, who
was all for it (without his support and encouragement,
I would have quit a long time ago). So I started lining
people up to interview. I was ready to interview anyone and
everyone I knew who was from the South and gay. I did
my first interview in late May 2006. That day I
learned the most important lesson any filmmaker can
learn: Just because you know someone doesn’t mean you
have any idea what his/her life has been like or what
he/she has been through. In every interview
I’ve done, I’ve learned things about people
that have touched my heart as well as broken it.

Out of the South still 2 (from the author) |

By the end of the
summer I had eight good interviews, and I edited them
together to form one basic narrative. All the stories were
compelling, but the film felt disjointed and flat.
Actually, it was boring. It needed some action. It
needed something to bind the characters together. The
solution hit me in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner.

Southern culture
is composed of three things: family, faith, and food.
All these elements intersect at least once a week in most
Southern homes -- at Sunday dinner. It’s when
the entire family gets together after church to share
a Southern-cooked meal. I decided to focus my project on
my friends who live in Southern California and center it
around a Southern Sunday dinner in Los Angeles. Troy
and I invited the guys to our house for dinner on a
beautiful Sunday afternoon in January.

Tags: film