Jen McGowan, The Independent Filmmaker you will be hearing more of.The Movie Whore no comments
So here we are coming to the end of FIB week with The Movie Whore and today we are going to see what happens when a whore talks to an up and coming director that I think has got some talent and want to see what she does in the future. Who knows maybe one day I can talk her into directing a flick for one of my production companies, we will have to wait and see and in the mean time I want you to meet Jen McGowan, The Independent Filmmaker from FIB.
TMW: Everybody thinks they know what it takes to make a movie but few ever have. What do you do as a director to ensure your efforts are not in vain?
JM: I think the best thing is to just work as hard as possible to do the best job you can and then make sure you get some sleep. I like to be uber-prepared so I do whatever I can before the shoot to get ready - I have extensive shot lists, storyboards, location pictures, style books and make sure everyone is in the loop so we're all making the same film. By the time we get to set I know I at least have a minimum level of execution I can rely on and most likely exciting surprises happen which elevate the work from that initial level. That also allows me to focus on working with the actors - everything else is pretty much done.
TMW: After watching Confessions of a Late Bloomer I would say your on to something there. Speaking of Late Bloomer can you fill my readers in on this flick?
JM: Sure thing. Confessions of a Late Bloomer was my thesis film for the MFA program at USC. It's a comedy about a pre-pubescent high school boy named Donny who finds himself in a duel with the school thug in a competition for the hottest girl's heart. It premiered at Tribeca and has screened at almost sixty film festivals. It's done very well for me. Of course it's not perfect, but especially considering what we had to work with, I am very proud of it.
TMW: You should be, I loved it. What are your favorite types of movies to work on?
JM: Well, this is a hard question really. I'm not drawn to or repelled from any specific genres but I notice particular themes that interest me - I love buddy films and comedies with a tinge of sadness or darkness, but I also connect to films intellectually as well. For example if there's a script that has a new take on something I could get excited about that too. What's most important to me though is that I fall in love with the characters and the overall theme or message of the film. I could never make a film that I fundamentally disagreed with. Although I don't know that anyone can.
TMW: You mentioned having to read through scripts to select projects but where do you get these scripts from, how do they wind up in your talented hands?
JM: I know this is not the answer many people would like to hear, but it's the truth. The scripts you're able to get your hands on are only ever as good as three things - your own writing ability, your personal contacts to good writers or your stature to attract material. At this point, my stature has a fairly non-existent gravitational pull compared to someone like insert-any-director-you-know-by-name-here, so it's all about me and who I know. Which is pretty much how it is for everyone until they "become" someone.
What that means for me is constantly keeping in touch with people, following up with whoever I meet, letting everyone know what I'm looking for so they think of me if something perfect comes up, etc. When I first got out of school I put up postings everywhere and I had scripts piled high to my ceiling. But a lot of it was really bad. So I began to read less and target more.
Luckily, I would say I get three or four scripts a year from someone recommending me, a few that I get interested in and pursue myself, and then another couple that I stumble upon some other random way. So I read less than I did when I first got out of school, but what I do read is better and, most importantly, more appropriate for me. The situation would be slightly different if I had representation, but not by much. In that case I would just be able to get my hands on more stuff that bigger directors turned down - and they usually a have good reason so that doesn't mean better material, just more.
TMW: Sounds like the mounds of bad ideas I had to wade through back in my corporate days. In moving forward to "become" some one what projects do you have coming up that we should be looking for?
JM: I'm shooting my first feature film, "Half of Two", in the Spring in New York City. It's a brilliantly modern romantic comedy by Jenn Davis for producer Marie-Amelie Rechberg at Puzzle Pictures. We're starting to cast now and it's really exciting. It's going to be a wonderful movie. After that I hope to go right onto one of my two other projects, "The Missing Children's Club", which is a dear project I've been nurturing for some time now by Jeffrey Turner and "The Great Charlie Bean", a very funny script by Australian Michael Adante. I think that should keep me busy for the next six years or so!
TMW: It sounds like you are going to have to let me know when those get ready for release so I can get some people out to see them.
JM: When we're all set I'll definitely let you know!
TMW: I can't wait. In the mean time we all have those movies we love that we should be ashamed to admit, you know those movies that make us all a movie whore. What are some of your favorite flicks that would make you a movie whore?
JM: I don't know if I have any movies I'm ashamed to admit, but let me think a minute about ones I love that are my could-watch-anytime-anywhere-comfort-food-films... OK... E.T., Ghostbusters, The Jungle Book (the original!), Dr. Strangelove, The Incredibles, The Science of Sleep, Amelie (I know, I'm such a girl), Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, The Goonies, Stand By Me, The Royal Tenenbaums, Boogie Nights, The Iron Giant, Blazing Saddles, American Movie, Welcome to the Dollhouse. A lot of these are what I grew up with, but honestly any of these I could watch on a never-ending loop and I would be as happy as anything - eyes glossy and mouth moving to the words the whole way through! I've got a great darker films list as well, but these would be my cinematic equivalent of wrapping up in a cozy down duvet.
TMW: What are some of these darker films?
JM: Well maybe not dark, but not exactly warm & fuzzy... The 400 Blows, No Country For Old Men, The Godfathers, Blue, In This World, Natural Born Killers, Ice Storm, About a Boy, Being There, Pulp Fiction, Deadwood, Sopranos, JFK, Lawrence of Arabia, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Taxi Driver, The Shawshank Redemption, City of God, The Five Obstructions, The Dreamers, The Fog of War, One Day in September, 24 Hour Party People, Control... I really could go on and on. There's just so much great stuff out there!
As you can see Jen is an great pleasure to talk to. For the weekend I will have a review of Confession's of a Late Bloomer for your pleasure. Have a great weekend kids and remember to check and see what Jen has been writing about over at FIB.