Jane Schoenbrun attends the 2024 Los Angeles Festival of Movies premiere of A24's "I Saw The TV Glow" at Vidiots on April 04, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Director Jane Schoenbrun Reveals Surprising Inspirations Behind 'I Saw the TV Glow'

Emell Adolphus READ TIME: 2 MIN.

In Jane Schoenbrun's "I Saw the TV Glow," Owen (played by out actor Justice Smith their older years), questions his identity through childhood and adulthood, and builds an affinity for a late-night TV show. The show leads to a connection with a fellow outcast in Maddy (played by Brigette Lundy-Paine), and an adventure/mystery/horror takes off from there.

In an interview with The Film Stage, Schoenbrun delves into how the film, its inspirations, and how its creative vision all came together.

For starters, Schoenbrun shared that the film's seemingly freeform creative vision was actually due to a lot of pre-planning.

"A real emotional, intuitive commitment to the idea that all of that hard work and exhaustive planning is done so that when you're actually there," Schoenbrun explained, "everything is up for grabs when you're on set and when you see what is actually in front of you."

They added, "And if you're too indebted to the abstract vision that you wrote on the page, the film is not going to feel alive with the spark that you hope that it has and carries."

The film weaves in several time jumps to tell a story that is not inherently about transgender identity, said Schoenbrun, but the parallels are only the tip of the iceberg.

"For me, it's almost beside the point to ask the question of whether I'm making a trans film. Right? Because of course I'm making a trans film. I'm trans," said Schoenbrun. "I think transness is misread culturally and largely because of the depictions of it that we've seen thus far in films. Which are films predominantly not made by trans people of transness as this very simple, externalized identity of a certain discrete physical way of existing or seeing yourself for a segment of the population."

They added, "Whereas my experience of dysphoria for the 30 years that I experienced it––before I found language to describe it and to begin becoming who I actually was––was very internal and very subliminal."

Further tying the film together was trust, said Schoenbrun, thanks to a very vibe-fitting partnership with two-time Oscar-winning actor Emma Stone and Dave McCary's production company Fruit Tree, said Schoenbrun.

"It's a smaller operation and they're sweet and caring. Dave and Em, especially, are artists––both of them––and I felt in very good hands with that because I knew that I trust artists more than I trust development executives," Schoenbrun explained. "I trust them more to protect me even if they don't fully agree or understand the thing. That was the perspective that they were speaking very authentically from and the role that they played on this project."

Released under A24, "I Saw the TV Glow" hits theaters Friday, May 3 at select theaters before a nationwide release on May 17. To see what the buzz is about, read the certified (90% positive) reviews on Rotten Tomatoes.

by Emell Adolphus

Read These Next