Everybody who invests heavily in a passion project wants the work to reach as wide an audience as possible so naturally Nathan Manske, the visionary behind the “I’m From Driftwood” series of short films depicting LGBT subjects telling first-person stories, was thrilled when Comcast’s Xfinity LGBTQ Film & TV Collection approached him.
Xfinity, a community-driven library of about 800 TV shows and movies with LGBT characters and storylines, is always looking for meaty as opposed to token LGBT representation in its selections. Representatives say their customers want gay and trans characters with “fully developed backstories including life and love interests.” Hollywood tropes of yore like gays whose orientations are only hinted at or those who are out but have curiously nonexistent sex lives are anachronisms in the Xfinity collection.
The 30 “Driftwood” selections chosen for Xfinity were driven by geography and diversity. Manske says Xfinity curators were interested in having subjects from all over the country so young gays in rural areas will feel less isolated. They launch today (Friday, April 28) and are available here.
Comcast customers can access them both On Demand and online. X1 users can search and discover the entire Xfinity LGBTQ Colleection by speaking “LGBT” into the X1 voice remote.
Manske started the “Driftwood” series eight years ago inspired by a vintage photo he saw of the late Harvey Milk. There are now about 430 short films in his library ranging from two-10 minutes each (most are three-four minutes). Named after Manske’s home town in Texas, the series is here.
His New York-based company is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and collectively on YouTube alone (the films are sometimes viewed on other platforms) they’ve logged about 8 million views. Manske started the series after getting laid off from his advertising job. He makes the films as his full-time work and has one other full-time staff person. He’s working to expand the format into other mediums.
“Lots of people don’t think they have a story or think their story is boring but I know that’s not true,” Manske, 36, says. “The whole point of it is helping LGBT youth in small towns realize they’re not alone.”
Manske says his shorts accomplish several things from increasing empathy in viewers to driving social change to preserving LGBT history. After he collects and shares the stories, they’re saved in the library at New York University for posterity.
“These first-person accounts provide an open, honest and genuine look at what it’s like to be LGBT throughout the country and world,” Xfinity representatives said in a press release. “(They) remind people that they’re part of a larger community and are never truly alone.”