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New Movie ‘Quarter’ Brings Type 1 Diabetes to the Big Screen

Published: 3/4/24 2:15 pm
By Matthew Garza

Kelsey BascomWriter, actor, and filmmaker Kelsey Bascom shares details on her feature film “Quarter,” a coming-of-age comedy about a young woman with type 1 diabetes navigating the ups and downs of life.

After her type 1 diabetes diagnosis in high school, Kelsey Bascom spent the better part of her young adulthood hiding in the bathroom to check her blood sugar and inject insulin.

At the time, she was a private person who didn’t want her friends or peers to see her as different. She continued to hide her diabetes even when she went off to film school at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

“I’ve had the same endocrinologist since I moved to L.A. And every visit, she would encourage me to get an insulin pump,” said Bascom. “But the reason I chose not to get it for so long was because I felt that by getting a pump, people would know I'm diabetic just by looking at me.”

But as time progressed, Bascom slowly started to be more open about her diabetes. After graduating from film school, she wrote and starred in the web series “Mondays” where she began to hone her craft as a filmmaker, writer, and actor. In the process, she also started to build a small following on social media. One day she decided to make a post about having diabetes.

“The responses were so kind – I received all these really sweet messages from parents, kids, and adults,” she said. “People were reaching out to me and feeling empowered by seeing me.”

Bascom, now 31, has completely reframed diabetes in her mind. Just a quick look at her social media reveals countless posts dedicated to sharing – sometimes with brutal honesty and sometimes with humor and inspiration – the realities of being a young woman with diabetes. In many of the posts you can even see her proudly sporting an insulin pump, something she had, at one point, thought she would never be brave enough to do.

Not only that but after wrapping “Mondays,” Bascom began writing her first feature film. Pulling inspiration from her own life, the character she played in Mondays, and notable coming-of-age films such as “Lady Bird” and “Eighth Grade,” she set to work writing “Quarter.”

On creating ‘Quarter’

“Quarter” follows Kelly, a young woman with type 1 (played by Bascom) who is dealing with the ups and downs of her blood sugar levels and personal life.

Kelsey Bascom, Arnon Manor

“When I started the writing process I realized that type 1 diabetes is such a huge part of my life and it should be part of my story,” Bascom said.

The comedy shows Kelly as she learns to fall in love with herself and includes strong messages about female empowerment, finding your voice, and learning to overcome whatever obstacles (or conditions) life throws your way.

Bascom co-directed “Quarter” with Arnon Manor, who produced the film and also produced and directed their “Mondays” web series. Manor is a filmmaker and senior vice president of visual effects at Sony Pictures. He also directed the Peabody Award-winning Netflix animated short “Cops and Robbers.”

Manor said that when they were developing the project, he hoped “Quarter” could be used as a platform for Bascom to come out with her type 1 diabetes and show the lead character doing the same – a bit of “life imitating art,” as he phrased it.

“I thought it was important to tell that part of the story so other people with type 1 diabetes can learn from this and see that it's okay to be open with their diabetes and not feel that they need to hide it,” Manor said. “We want to show type 1 diabetes as something special, not a disadvantage.

Addressing stigma through art

One of the main reasons why Bascom wanted to create this film was to raise awareness and remove some of the stigma surrounding diabetes.

Kelsey Bascom's Comedy Film Quarter

“I feel like a lot of people don't really understand what it's like to live with type 1 diabetes,” she said. "I wrote ‘Quarter’ because I also want to normalize and bring awareness to it.”

With so many stereotypes, misconceptions, and overdramatizations that are perpetuated by the media, it was important for Bascom to make sure that “Quarter” pushed back on people’s assumptions in a playful and comedic way.

“I tried to include lots of the stigmatizing comments that have been stuck in the back of my mind all these years in the script,” said Bascom.

“Things like ‘Did you eat too much sugar as a kid?’ Or, ‘If I had to take shots, I would die.’ It was important for me to include these because maybe people will watch ‘Quarter’ and stop to think, ‘Maybe I shouldn't say that’ or ‘Maybe I should ask a more thoughtful question?’” she explained.

And there’s reason to believe that “Quarter” will have this kind of positive impact. Research shows that comedy can be a very powerful tool for social change. For example, think about the impact shows like “Will & Grace” and “Modern Family” had on removing stigma, stereotypes, and judgment surrounding LGBTQ+ people and marriage equality.

Diabetes representation on the big screen

Kelsey Bascom's Quarter Feature FilmBascom and Manor were keen to make sure that the type of positive media representation included on camera and in the script for “Quarter” didn’t just stop there.

“Because of the underlying message and subject matter of the film, it was important to us to include as many women and people with type 1 diabetes in the production as possible,” said Bascom. “Overall, there are more than 30 people living with type 1 diabetes or who have a loved one with diabetes among our cast and crew.”

This makes “Quarter” one of, if not the largest, collection of people with type 1 diabetes involved in a project of this magnitude. “That was really special because in between takes, all of us with diabetes would sit in a circle sharing stories,” said Bascom.

“It was the first time a lot of us had ever met that many other people with type 1 diabetes. We were all doing our blood sugar checks in between takes; it was actually kind of emotional.

While this film will certainly be groundbreaking in its humorous, empowering, and honest portrayal of diabetes on the big screen, the hope is that all audience members, regardless of whether or not they have diabetes, will be able to relate to Kelly’s story.

“Kelly is about to turn 25 and she's kind of having a quarter-life crisis,” said Bascom. “Everyone around her is putting pressure on her in relation to her job, marriage, kids, and then on top of that, she also has type 1 diabetes.”

The point is not to show that Kelly’s life is hard and challenging solely because she has diabetes, but that all young adults struggle with challenges in that stage of life; and, sometimes, one of those challenges is diabetes.

Bascom and Manor are submitting “Quarter” to film festivals and hope to release it to wider audiences in the future. In the meantime, Bascom continues to hone her skills as a writer, actor, and filmmaker.

She recently participated in diaTribe’s Spoonful of Laughter workshop, which focused on bringing comedians, artists, and activists together to create comedic content that pushes back against the stigma that so many people with diabetes face.

You can follow the official “Quarter” Instagram account to stay updated on when the film will be released.

Photos courtesy Kelsey Bascom

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About the authors

Matthew Garza joined the diaTribe Foundation as an associate in 2020 where he worked on diaTribe Learn and the dSeries Executive Innovation Labs. In February 2022, he helped launch Read the full bio »