Move over Jack, there’s a new man in town. His name you ask? Max Talisman (aka the Max-of-all- trades) and he’s taking the film industry by storm.
In his upcoming gay romantic comedy film, Things Like This, Max Talisman proves that he can literally do it all. In this new project, he directs, writes, stars, and most importantly, advocates for the LGTBQ+ community. Name someone you know who does all four of those things… I’ll wait. Once Things Like This lights up the big screen, an untold story will be heard loud and clear.
Things Like This tells the universal story of experiencing true love at a young age. Now don’t think this “true love” is the bullshit kind of hunky-dory romance you see in Disney movies. Oh no, Things Like This keeps it real.
“We have movies that explore love. We don't have movies that explore it in the way that I have felt falling in love, which is love being completely terrifying!” Max said.
What you see on screen, is what Max felt. It’s what a lot of us feel actually.
The fear of not being enough.
The anxiety of disconnection.
The pressures of being a young person just trying to find, and sometimes even make, your place in this fucked-up world.
It’s no coincidence the film is this genuine and relatable. It tells a real story because it is a real story. As a young gay person in New York City, Max drew from personal experiences to create this representative piece of art. The script comes from his heart. Because Things Like This keeps it real, Max gifts an authentic experience to everyone watching.
“I want everyone watching this love story to feel like they are being represented, that includes straight people too. Falling in love is universal. The feelings associated with it are universal. Everyone feels and goes through it, no matter where you fall on any spectrum," Max said.
This relatability makes the film a trailblazer for the LGTBQ+ community. In the media, LGTBQ+ inclusivity has come a long way. However, it’s not even fucking close to being where it needs to be.
“Everything in the media focuses on the coming out process. For people who don't experience coming out, it’s probably so fascinating and foreign. But the thing is it's only the start of the LGTBQ+ person’s journey," Max said.
So, Max decided to write, direct, and act in a story that has never been told, but one queer people everywhere so fondly need.
“I wanted to make a movie that didn't even deal with coming out. I wanted a movie that's about when you’re able to explore falling in love and who you can fall in love with. That's when your life really begins” Max said.
Things Like This is groundbreaking for the LGTBQ+ community because it emphasizes love and queer joy. In its true core, this film is a story that is not limited by labels.
“Sexuality is a fact of that person, it’s not the whole person. It’s part of who they are” Max said.
Max’s role as an advocate for inclusivity comes from his accomplished acting career. Humble beginnings in his third-grade theater program snowballed into huge appearances in Netflix’s “Orange Is the New Black,” The Orchard’s SUPER DARK TIMES, TBS’ “Search Party” and NBC’s “The Blacklist.” Unfortunately (but expectedly) Hollywood’s unrealistic expectations stifled his acting opportunities.
“Because of my size and type, a lot of my auditions are for a sidekick type of role. Personally, I know my capabilities are beyond that,” Max said. Although Max’s favorite trade is acting, he took up writing as an advocacy tool. The pen became a way to fight the fucked-up Hollywood industry archetypal expectations.
Writing Things Like This allowed Max to create both a story and roles that don’t exist.
“I write for myself. I write the roles I want to play," Max said.
By creating inclusive roles, Max ensures his audience will feel seen on screen.
“This world is beautiful because of its diversity. Because of its diversity of thought. Because of its diversity of humans. There are so many beautiful kinds of people. We need that reflected in the film," Max said.
While looking for directors to bring his words and advocacy to life, he found it difficult to hand over his vision. The job was given to the only person that he whole-heartedly believe could do the film and Max's story justice: himself.
“The film started as writing just for myself, but when I started looking for a director, my vision was so specific. There was an inability to pass my idea off,” Max said. It’s only right that such a personal script is put into action by the person who lived it.
On the set, team leader and director are two words Max uses interchangeably. In his eyes, everyone is working together. Max just happens to be the person who puts things into motion. “I want every scene to feel like a collaboration. Like everyone's voices are heard and everyone has a say in what they want the scene to be” Max said. He views his job as a team leader to take all the information and mold it into what the scene will be.
Not only is Max a leader for his cast, he is a leader for the younger LGTBQ+ generation.
“It's a tough thing to be an actor if you don't accept who you are. If you can't accept who you are, how can you accept the characters you are. It’s a tough process. Just be true to yourself. Be true to what feels right to you. I want young people to know there is a community of people who are ready to love and accept you. Just trust in that because I know it can be really really tough to feel that way sometimes," Max said.
All I can say is Max Talisman is a talent the film industry has yet to truly see. His creative control as screenwriter, actor, and director makes Things Like This an even more anticipated film. I know that my eyes are peeled for any updates. In the meantime, Max-of-all-trades will keep inspiring his audience to create what others think to be nonexistent. Don’t be afraid to follow in Max’s footsteps and write your role into this world.
Photographer: Bonnie Nichoalds
Styling: Ambika (IG: @styledbyAmbika)
Groomer: Arlene Willis (IG: @missarlenethequeen)