An interview with Jason T. Gaffney: the Creator of “Analysis Paralysis”

Have you ever been paralyzed with fear? That’s exactly what the protagonist of Analysis Paralysis—Tyler O’Conner—is fighting. That is, if he can decide on a course of action. This romantic comedy follows Tyler as he navigates the treacherous road of romance as he starts to fall for the guy next door. Will his analysis paralysis prove to be too much for this budding relationship, or will true love come out on top? We sat down with the director, actor, and co-writer of Analysis Paralysis, Jason T. Gaffney, to discuss how this project was brought to life.

Tell us about yourself:

First and foremost, I’m a filmmaker who loves comedy, but I’m also an actor, director, producer, and a writer of both screenplays and romance novels. In my spare time, I co-host a weekly comedy podcast called The Bright Side with Kevin and Jason with my Analysis Paralysis co-star, Kevin Held. I was born in New York, grew up outside of Boston, went back to New York City for school, and lived there for a while. After filming The Perfect Wedding, I moved out to Los Angeles where I met my wonderful husband, Matt, and created My Pet Hippo Productions.

As a filmmaker, my goal is to make movies set in the inclusive and welcoming LGBTQ-friendly world that I grew up in. Although there’s still an important place for angsty coming-out dramas, I just don’t see my own reflection in those stories. So, I deliver stories where the LGBTQ characters have moved beyond any conflict surrounding their sexual orientation and get to deal with the same zany hijinks that straight, cis characters have been dealing with for decades. And I want to make people laugh along the way!

What was your main source of inspiration for this film?

My biggest source of inspiration for Analysis Paralysis was my burning desire to make people laugh. There was also a close family friend named Bill who was an expert at figuring out all possible outcomes before he made a business move or played his hand at poker. During game nights when the question “Whose turn is it?” came up, the answer was always a very loud and exasperated, “It’s Bill’s turn!”

When I was brainstorming screenplay ideas for an indie movie with my writing and producing partner, Ed Gaffney (who also happens to be my father), the idea of a main character with a severe case of Bill-itis came up, and we both really liked it. Thus, Tyler O’Connor was born. After that initial brainstorming session, I called up my psychologist sister-in-law, and as we talked more in depth about anxiety, I knew we had our story!

What was it like working on this script with your father as a co-writer?

When Analysis Paralysis did the LGBTQ film-fest circuit this past year, our most frequently asked question was, “You wrote this movie with your father?!” Yes, I did! I love working with my dad. We have very similar senses of humor.

We first started working together back when we wrote The Perfect Wedding—our first LGBTQ rom-com. After we produced that, we grew frustrated by the amount of time and money it takes to tell a story through filmmaking. So, we decided to write romance-novel versions of the movies we wished we had the budgets to make. Whether we’re writing a book or a screenplay, our process is the same. Basically, I write a first draft and send it his way. Then, he takes a pass at it, makes revisions, and punches up some of the scenes and jokes. I then go over it again and punch-up some of his jokes. Our back-and-forth process really helps us figure out which scenes need the most work as well as what’s missing from the script.

Jason T. Gaffney and Kevin Held in Analysis Paralysis

After viewing this film, Sylvia Plath’s famous quote about the fig tree from her novel, The Bell Jar, comes to mind. How does this relate to you personally as someone who has many paths vs. Tyler who can’t even seem to pick one?

When I was growing up, I was under the impression that you had to take one path in life. I was going to be a Broadway actor, but despite going to school for musical theater, I found myself getting hired as a film actor instead. Shortly after I jumped into film, I started getting involved in the production side of things. I quickly discovered that the best way to make sure a movie that I’m acting in gets made is to produce, write, and direct it myself. I’ve also learned to edit and do each film’s assembly cut, so I’m essentially my own assistant editor, too!

In the Plath quote, I’m sitting in the crotch of that tree sampling every fig I can reach—even the ones I have to go way out on a limb to grab. Because why not, Sylvia Plath? Who made the rule that you only get one fig? I’m a firm believer that you can sample all the possibilities in life and find the ones that best suit you. Life is too short not to go after the things you want.

In Analysis Paralysis, Tyler is a lot like the woman in Plath’s fig tree. Only he doesn’t want to starve to death, so he courageously takes action to combat his paralysis.

Why do you think it’s important to show someone like him on the screen?

Tyler has managed his high levels of anxiety for most of his life, including a handful of relationships although none of them were really serious. After his first book is published, it hits all kinds of bestseller lists. With huge success like that, it’s easy for a writer to get blocked. Because of the pressures of his career, he’s really struggling. As he’s working to overcome that, he realizes that maybe he’s never had something serious romantically because he’s never been able to be honest about his anxiety.

I loved both writing and playing Tyler. I think it’s important that people who struggle with anxiety get to see their reflection in him as he wins his happily ever after. I think Shane says it best: “You’re the bravest person I know. Every day, you face a world that is scarier than anything that I can imagine.” He’s not just talking to Tyler there. He’s talking to everyone watching who see themselves in Tyler. It’s a message of support and hope, and I really love all the feedback I’ve gotten on the character. A lot of people really relate to him.

When writing the script, were you actively writing a rom-com?

Oh, absolutely! I’m a huge fan of romantic comedies. It’s my go-to choice to watch, read, and work on. I’ve always loved stories where love wins and I laugh out loud the whole time.

As real-world stress has risen over the years, I find myself needing to laugh more to keep from dissolving in a puddle of panic. We all need laughter to bring balance to the current awfulness. Making others laugh is high on my to-do list.

Jason T. Gaffney and Kevin Held in Analysis Paralysis

How did you approach acting through the many scenarios that constantly run through Tyler’s mind?

I was excited to get to play out all the different wacky scenarios that Tyler imagined. In fact, one of the biggest challenges was keeping a straight face while Kevin—the actor who plays Shane—let loose. There was a lot of laughter on set throughout filming!

What was the difference in your approach to this film in your roles as director, writer, and actor?

Each role has differences and similarities. As the writer, I want to create the best story I can, but it’s hard to write without wearing my producer hat, too. The director spends a lot of time on pre-production and making sure that the set feels like the real world. I do most of my own art as well as spending time getting permission to use logos or brands. For example, all of the underwear in Analysis Paralysis was generously provided by Andrew Christian. At the end of the day, every hat I wear has the same goal: make a movie that is as engaging and entertaining as possible.

What would you like audiences to take away after watching this film?

Everyone has anxiety to some degree, and we all deserve love and happiness.

What advice would you give to people struggling to break free from their own forms of analysis paralysis?

Even if the worst case scenario happens, your life isn’t over. Life can be scary, but once I figured out that I was going to keep on going no matter what, it became easier to make those scary leaps into the unknown. And more often than not, those leaps have led me to achieving many of my goals and dreams. So, take that leap and go for it!

Jason T. Gaffney in Analysis Paralysis

How does it feel to have Analysis Paralysis featured on Dekkoo?

It’s great! We’re so happy to be here! We hope the Dekkoo subscribers will fall in love with Analysis Paralysis and want to see more from us! If you loved the movie, tell your friends!

Do you have any new creative projects on the horizon?

Right now, I’m in post production for a movie called Out of Body that also co-stars Kevin Held. It’s a paranormal rom-com that takes place during Halloween. It’s not horror though. Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer in terms of paranormal activity, but it’s heavier on the romance end of the rom-com spectrum than Analysis Paralysis.

I co-wrote it with Suzanne Brockmann who happens to be my mother and a New York Times bestselling author. She’s also written a romance novelization of Out of Body that was a finalist for a RITA award. The book is available in ebook, print, and audio. Actually, Kevin and I recently recorded the audiobook edition published by Blackstone Audio!

As far as the film of Out of Body goes, we’re approaching the test-audience phase of editing. In fact, our ongoing IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign for the project includes a “watch an early cut of the film” perk that supporters can select.

Aside from Out of Body, I’m currently in pre-production for several more films as well as a comedy series.

Where can we find you online?

I’m everywhere! Come say hi! You can learn more about me and my many projects at www.JasonTGaffney.com or sign up for My Pet Hippo Productions’s newsletters here to stay up to date. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, IMDb, and Amazon. Check out our Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to get some cool perks while supporting future projects (including Out of Body)!

Jason T. Gaffney and Kevin Held in Analysis Paralysis

You can watch Analysis Paralysis right now, available for streaming on Dekkoo!