Actor/Filmmaker Michael Franklin discusses importance of sharing GEMMEL & TIM’s stories

In 2017 and 2019, respectively, Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, two gay black men, died of a meth overdose at the apartment of Ed Buck, a once-influential LGBTQ+ political activist. The deaths sent shockwaves through Los Angeles’ LGBTQ+ community and throughout the nation. The ensuing media frenzy cooked up a sensation concoction of sex, drugs, race, and politics but conveniently left out the human stories of who Gemmel and Tim truly were. 

GEMMEL & TIM takes a closer look at each gentleman’s life through the eyes of their friends, families, and personal diaries and explores the reasons that led them to their tragic fate. Prideindex.com reached out to the Actor/Filmmaker, Michael Franklin, who serves as Producer of this film, to learn more. Here’s what he shared.

GEMMEL & TIM Director/Writer Michiel Thomas along with Producer Michael Franklin at OutFest

PrideIndex (PI): Why was it important to bring this film to the world and share Gemmel “Juelz” Moore and Timothy “Tim” Dean lives with viewers?

Micheal Franklin (MF): This film is important on so many levels. The crystal meth epidemic in the LGBTQ plus community, especially in the LGBTQ plus community of people of color, is skyrocketing. In LA County alone, overdose deaths due to crystal meth have risen by more than 500% over the last ten years. We want to shed a light on this issue by telling the stories of Gemmel Moore and Timothy Dean, who died at the hands of Ed Buck. We chose to focus on their journey because we strongly feel that a lot of different lessons can be learned.

PI: What would you like for viewers to retain? 

MF: One of our major goals is for people to know that Gemmel and Tim were human beings. We wanted to humanize their journeys of life and death and show that they are more than just a sensationalized news headlines or statistics. These were real people who were loved. By sharing their stories, it will help people who go through similar struggles. We also want to inspire communities and people in power, by empathizing with what happened to Gemmel and Tim to understand better what these people are going through. I believe it can help them make better decisions at a government and legal level.

PI: How did you get the friends and families of Gemmel “Juelz” Moore and Timothy “Tim” Dean to be forthcoming about the lives of their loved ones? 

MF: Director Michiel Thomas is a member of the gay basketball league in Los Angeles, where Tim played. Tim’s best friends are Michiel’s best friends. I knew several of Gemmel’s close circle of friends. So we reached out to them to explain the goal of this project, and once we got their blessing, the ball started rolling.

Diary Entry of Gemmel Moore

PI: This film was shown at OutFest Los Angeles; how have audiences reacted to it? 

MF: I was very grateful to have an in-person screening during these uncertain times. It was important because we really wanted to show this film to the community and in the place where the story actually happened. The response was amazing. We heard people cry, laugh, shout and get angry—a roller coaster of emotions. We’re really happy that it’s translated to the audience and hope to help save lives and keep Gemmel and Tim’s legacy alive.

PI: Talk about some of the filmmakers’ challenges encountered while making this film and how they overcame those challenges? 

MF: The hardest part was having the responsibility of truly honoring Gemmel and Tim. Their friends trusted us to tell the story the right way, so we did not want to disappoint. To actually get their blessing and approval after the first time we showed it meant the world to us, more than any award or raving review.

PI: GEMMEL & TIM will be shown at Reeling: The 39th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Fest, at the end of the month. Will there be an in-person screening? Virtual only? 

MF: Yes, there will be an in-person screening on September 30; Director Michiel Thomas and I will be in attendance. There’s also a gay basketball tournament in Chicago that weekend, so we feel Reeling is a beautiful way to honor Tim. He loved playing basketball tournaments all over the country. The film will also be available virtually.

PI: Where else will this film play? 

MF: We just started the film festival circuit but we are pleased that the film will screen at festivals all over the country. So far, we have screenings scheduled in Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Philadelphia, Florida, and many more. Follow us on social media or visit www.gemmelandtim.com to stay up-to-date on the latest festival announcements. We also hope to collaborate with communities and nonprofits to help raise awareness on the crystal meth epidemic to offer hope and inspiration.

PI: What else would you like to share? 

MF: Gemmel and Tim’s lives matter. At first, it didn’t matter to the outside world, but we genuinely hope people will understand why it is important to tell their stories.

GEMMEL & TIM will be shown at Reeling: The 39th Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Fest.

Director Michiel Thomas and Micheal Franklin will be at an in-person screening on September 30.  

Link to the Blog www.justichel4gemmel.org