Quinn Wilson is a Chicago-based award-winning filmmaker/comedian with a focus on comedy and social justice-related work. He is the founder of What Matters Productions, where he takes his gift of filmmaking and passion for global equity to focus on telling stories that MATTER. Wilson is formerly the Creative Director for the iO Comedy Network (Improv Olympics), of the famous iO Improv Theater where he lead a team pitching TV pilots, creating comedy web videos, teaching video production classes, and doing branded work all along-side the legendary comedic talent produced by the iO Theater. Commercially, he is rep’d as a comedy director with Big Spoon Industries. Wilson has a strong interest in global non-profit volunteer work, and is using this medium transformatively to change the world, as is evident in his work with Echo 100 Plus, and All Chicago. He has spent years mentoring LGBT youth surviving homelessness, volunteering at refugee camps in Greece, and helping drill water wells in Burkina Faso, West Africa. He enjoys building community and friendship with people all over the world from all walks of life.
Quinn begins with his background in comedy, from stand-up in high school to his work with iO. With this, he breaks down the current comedy environment telling how younger, more consciously intentional writers’ rooms and comedians vie to “punch up” systems of oppression rather than play to stereotypes and problematic notions of the old guard. The conversation consistently circles back to the role of social justice-geared film, movement media, and the intersections of popular culture in resisting problematic institutions in America and abroad. The gang examines different forms of privilege—American, whiteness, gender, class, etc.—as well as historical and geographic examples of local and global issues with the help of Quinn’s international experiences. From anti-white flight public policy in Oak Park, Illinois to the Western world destabilizing the Middle East for control and economic profiteering, Quinn and BrownTown relay why media-makers, social entrepreneurs, and (many) non-profits are important cultural influencers in resisting in traditional and non-traditional ways.
Quinn shares his personal journey of politization through authentic, close relationships with passionate activists and folks surviving extreme circumstances. Through those experiences and his passion for film, he explains the origins of What Matters Productions with the inaugural project Calvin’s Story and later Americans United Against Destructive Driving (AUADD) (SoapBox collaborations). As the second white, straight, cis male on Bourbon ’n BrownTown, Quinn implores folks who have been “dealt a good hand” to use their easier access to spaces and resources to amplify voices and challenge the very systems which they benefit for the betterment of our global community.