Q&A: Jed Mellick, Northwestern alum and ‘Fourth Man Out’ movie producer

Emily Chin, Assistant A&E Editor


Jed Mellick (Communication ‘02) recently produced an independent film, “Fourth Man Out,” which uses comedy to tell the story of coming out as homosexual. The film has won awards in several film festivals, including the Chicago Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, and will be released in theaters on Feb. 5. Mellick spoke with The Daily about producing the film.

The Daily: How did a Northwestern education give you the background necessary for directing a film?
Mellick: I was a communication studies major and learned a lot in that major and various different classes. Most were not specific toward a career in film because I didn’t realize I wanted to do that. One of the classes I took was “The Business of Show Business.” It was a really fascinating class and an introduction into realizing that a career in entertainment was something that people did and a possibility.

The Daily: In the pre-production phases, how successful did you think the film would be?
Mellick: I had no idea. I knew we had a really funny script that was very heartfelt and very new. (The movie) is about an auto mechanic that comes out to his three straight friends. It’s a comedy with a very “bro” sense of humor. This is very new in that sense and a very different take on the coming out story. These stories are often very dramatic and very tragic, but there’s often another side to it. When the lead character comes out they’re surprised by it, but they end up coming around and helping him through his journey.

The Daily: How do you see parallels between the movie and your personal life?
Mellick: I came out to my friends and family at the same age as the main character. My friends and family were not surprised, so I guess that would be a big difference. The main thing is the loneliness that can come along with coming out. It’s something that you do on your own. Even if you have told a few people, you still have the rest of the family to tell. In this movie, you could tell that he was living with something from the beginning, that he wasn’t sure what the response was going to be. It creates an isolating experience.

The Daily: What do you hope people get out of watching the movie?
Mellick: I hope that they are entertained, that they they laugh and maybe even cry a little bit. The movie’s really about friendship, it’s about accepting your friends and being there for your friends despite faults or things they may do wrong. Ultimately it’s about forgiveness and I think that’s what comes through. I feel like for any LGBT people who haven’t come out or who have (come out) recently, maybe it just makes them realize that there are a lot of other people who are going through what they’re going through.

The Daily: What did you learn throughout the process of producing your first movie?
Mellick: The collaboration and kind of coming together of many different people. It’s people who are all experts in their particular field, and their fields can be so different. They’re all experts in that specific craft. They’re not always working specifically together in that moment, but it all has to come together for what comes together on screen. As the producer and being the one overseeing that creative process, it was very rewarding.

The Daily: How do you hope the public will perceive the movie?
Mellick: This is how the perception has gone from the festivals: you have the straight audience who is like, ‘Wow that was really funny. It was a gay movie but I really liked it.’ Then from the gay audience, there’s still this surprise. If that continues, then I would be really happy. So far the reaction has been enjoyment, laughter, a little bit of heartfeltness and a little bit of surprise, which is really rewarding when making movies. This story isn’t complicated, but the way that it’s told is a really fresh take on it.

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