Filmmaker Focus: Jessie Stead (& David Gatten)
The AAFF is committed to championing bold, pioneering, and artistically-inspired filmmakers. And we're dedicated to bringing creative, quality content to our audience. Thus, another installment of Filmmaker Focus, which features an AAFF "alumni" providing personal insights into her/his approach on new projects. This month, we hear from Jessie Stead who won the Ken Burns Award for Best of the Festival at AAFF in 2007 for her film "Foggy Mountains Breakdown More Than Non-Foggy Mountains".
AAFF: What's your newest project about and what motivated you to make it?
JS: I am working with David Gatten on a film called "TODAY!". David and I met at the 45th AAFF and soon after began shooting improvised scenes on location at random. Highlights so far include cameo appearances by the United States Postal Service, a dance in Chicago with some abandoned candy, and a recurring pre-occupation with a useful but problematically self-aggrandizing shopping bag.
AAFF: What's your approach and process for making this film?
JS: "TODAY!" is part transmutable daydream, part pseudo-haiku playground, part epic prop comedy and maybe more. We are working with a screenplay that is only one sentence, more specifically a slogan. Traditionally, most screenplays are many, many pages. And because we are on a tight budget, the screenplay must also multi-task as a prop and a stunt-double, luckily it is inexpensively reproduced.
AAFF: Is there anything unusual or different to how you've approached previous work?
JS: I am starring in "TODAY!", in one of my most challenging roles to date as "one of the filmmakers who also stars in the film". "TODAY!" is also a collaboration with another filmmaker, so the film has "four eyes"... actually it has eight eyes because David and I both wear spectacles.