From time to time, the OTW will be hosting guest posts on our OTW News accounts. These guests will be providing an outside perspective on the OTW or aspects of fandom where our projects may have a presence. The posts express each author’s personal views and do not necessarily reflect the views of the OTW or constitute OTW policy. We welcome suggestions from fans for future guest posts, which can be left as a comment here or by contacting us directly.
Jessica Leski’s debut feature, I Used to be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story, had its World Premiere at Hot Docs in 2018 and has been screening at festivals around the world since, including the London Film Festival, Sydney Film Festival, and Rotterdam Film Festival. I Used to be Normal was released in Australian cinemas in late 2018 by Madman Entertainment and will be released on US screens via Fuse TV on May 18th 2019. Today, Jessica talks about her fandom project.
How did you first find out about fandom or fanworks?
My first experience of fandom was in 1999 when I became a big Dawson’s Creek fan. I loved watching the show with my friends and dissecting it with them afterwards, but I always felt like it was a much bigger part of my life than it was for them. I wrote university essays about it, I saw lookalikes everywhere I went, and I even had one or two moments when I felt reality blur about whether the characters were people I knew in real life or not. This was pretty early in my relationship with the internet, so I wasn’t aware of message boards or forums and things like that. So I found myself searching for ways to express my fandom in real life.
I was in my first year of film school at the time, and for one of my assignments I re-created the opening sequence of Dawson’s Creek, shot for shot, with lookalikes. When we had a screening of all our films at the end of the year the other students laughed and clapped in recognition at mine, but the teachers were completely baffled; they had no idea what they were watching. Luckily a fellow student stood up and likened it to Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho, and I ended up getting a good grade!
It took another ten years before I became a fan of something to that same level, and this time it was UK boyband One Direction. I was taken completely by surprise because I had never liked a boyband before, and I was 31 years old at the time, not the target age range at all.