We had the good fortune of connecting with Jesse D Turk and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jesse, is there something you believe many others might not?
Often times people going into creative jobs are told to have a backup plan in case of failure. I’d argue that anyone I know who has succeeded has not had a real backup plan. You can have a day-job, a side-gig or side-hustle, a way to support yourself as you pursue your passion, but ultimately if you tell yourself you have this other option—one that is probably a little easier or more stable, chances are you will turn towards it. Everything you do, even that day-job, should be about learning and growing towards your ultimate creative goal and should allow for you to pursue that.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m deeply inspired by the flaws that make us human and allow us to relate to one another. People are amazing, complex, and weird. There is something special in the discovery that we are more alike in our weirdness than most people realize. I hope my work tells stories that are driven by multifaceted, flawed characters whose paths in life aren’t linear and instead meander on a journey of figuring something out about themselves. I also want my stories to feature perspectives and voices that have been relegated to the sidelines in the past. I focus on that not just because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s way more interesting to see how people different from ourselves perceive and interact with the world–and if you end up seeing yourself reflected in those underrepresented perspectives, that’s incredibly cathartic as well.
I’m really proud of the short films I have directed thus far that I hope achieve that goal. They have played film festivals nationwide and are now both distributed online. My short film, “The Takeback” is currently available to watch on the queer streaming platform, RevryTV and my other short film “Holding” (co-directed with my wonderful friend Jon Zucker) is available on Omeleto.
I’m grateful to still be early in my career and learning in myriad ways every day, so lessons continue to reveal themselves. One thing I have learned thus far, though, is to remain humble. I’m a very proactive, action-oriented person, so patience and humility have been integral to my journey in reminding myself that good things take time. There is a delicate balance of knowing when to push and be brazen versus letting things play out and speaking up when the time is right. Sometimes the only way to figure this out is through hands-on experience and making mistakes. These mistakes are worth making as long as you take the feedback in stride and recognize the minute you stop learning, something is wrong.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m an east coast transplant in LA and I’ve been in love with this city ever since I’ve arrived. I’m a big food and wine person and exploring Los Angeles through that lens takes you to some pretty awesome corners of the city. From natural wine bars like El Prado, Bar Bandini and Melody on the East Side to unique and incredible restaurants and food trucks in West Hollywood and Venice, you really cannot go wrong. One must-visit restaurant/cafe is All Time in Los Feliz. They are open for takeout right now but will be back in the full swing of things soon. It’s run by the coolest people and is a consistent dream when it comes to cuisine–if you don’t believe me, try Ashley’s Lamb Ragu Cavatelli and get back to me.
Otherwise, taking in all the outdoor beauty LA has to offer is what makes it amazing. El Matador Beach, Solstice Canyon and Temescal in Malibu, plus all the tiny hiking trails near Beachwood Canyon and Griffith Park–it’s pretty special to be in such a metropolitan place with such a variety of ways to get lost in nature.
Lastly, when concerts are back in action, seeing a show at the Roxy, the Fonda or the Hollywood Bowl (all very different venues) is the best way to spend a night. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d love to shout out my boyfriend, Andrew, for being a one-man support system and my parents, Naami and Jay, and siblings, Ariana, Ethan and Yael for their unwavering belief that I’m going to succeed in whatever I do. I am lucky to also have close friends who give me unlimited helpful, direct feedback on my work and are also a sounding board for when things get tough. Finally, I’m beyond grateful to have incredible mentors in film and TV on both the artistic and business sides of the industry. Being able to turn to artists and executives I truly admire has made all the difference for me.