We had the good fortune of connecting with JC Calciano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi JC, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
My business and passion are filmmaking, writing, and podcasting. I believe that a timely tale can pave the way for change and, most importantly, bring awareness.
Years ago, it seemed that movies only portrayed gay people as victims, villains, or the punchline of a joke. “Gay” films were almost exclusively about coming-out stories, over-the-top camp, or dramas.
In 2009, I desperately wanted to see a story about two men falling in love. Something sweet, romantic, and fun. A movie that would empower the community and show that love is love for everyone. I wanted to make the kind of gay movie I wanted to see. That’s what inspired me to make my first film, IS IT JUST ME? Once that film was released, the fan mail and positive response it received was tremendous. It set the path for the next chapter in my life – creating community-centric content that portrayed positive and strong LGBTQ messages.
In addition to making movies, I’ve also branched out into writing novels, short stories, and a fictional m/m romance podcast. Telling stories in different mediums is vital in reaching a diverse group of people.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I keep my schedule filled by mentoring other filmmakers and helping them actualize their productions. I also teach producing and writing. My main focus is creating my own content.
My podcast, STEAMY STORIES, has now become so popular that it’s become a brand of its own. It’s produced a whole new audience who love and listen to m/m romance stories. Serving the people who listen and support the podcast has inspired me to write several books and produce a new series of films based on those short stories.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m all about local mom-and-pop places. If I were to show someone around, I’d prefer to share hidden gems around the city that I’ve discovered over the years.
I discovered the Santa Monica Airport during the lockdown. It’s a great park and a fantastic viewing station where you can watch small planes take off and land. You can bring a picnic or dine al fresco at the Cloverfield café and restaurant.
Right next to the airport is the Penmar Golf Course. The café there has excellent food and beautiful scenery. It’s a hidden gem. You can watch the golfers, enjoy a happy hour cocktail, or play on the free putting green. On Wednesday nights, they have live music with a different band weekly. People bring their blankets and sit out on the grass.
Los Angeles has so many incredible hiking trails. My favorites are around the Griffith observatory. The trail winds through the hills against a backdrop of downtown Los Angeles. It’s like a scene out of a movie.
Probably my favorite (and weirdest) thing to do with out-of-town guests is to stroll through the Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary. It sounds grim, but this place is incredible. This tiny cemetery is hidden behind an office building. Still, it’s packed with some of the most famous people you could imagine – from Howard Hughes, Marylyn Monroe, Walter Matthau, Heather O’ Rourke (“Poltergeist”), and many more. It’s a Hollywood who’s-who and an important reminder that we have a limited time on this planet, no matter how rich and famous you might be.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The obvious gratitude goes to my family, friends, and husband, Matt. I’d also like to acknowledge all my collaborators and film crews over the years.
But if I had to narrow it down to a single shout-out, it would be to my actors. When I cast a project, I try to hire great actors. They often come up with something surprising that I couldn’t have done on my own. It’s fascinating to watch them interpret the characters and dialogue I had in my head and make it their own. Their skills and contributions are so vital. They are the main reason when something works; I’m incredibly grateful for that.