SFTV brings women directors to movie screenings

Entertainment, Interviews, The Los Angeles Loyolan

Originally published in the Los Angeles Loyolan. For original, please refer to: SFTV brings women directors to movie screenings – Los Angeles Loyolan.

With Kathryn Bigelow becoming the first woman to win Best Director at the Oscars last March, there seems to be increasing buzz in the film industry about female filmmakers, yet movie-goers are still far less likely to see a woman’s name under “directed by” in the credits. That won’t be the case, though, with “TiMER,” a 2010 indie release being screened on campus tonight.

Jac Schaeffer, director, writer and producer of “TiMER,” which was released this year after a run on the film festival circuit, will appear tonight alongside two of her producers, Rikki Jarrett and Jennifer Glynn, thanks to the SFTV Women’s Society through the LMU School of Film and Television’s Monday Night Series, which was started by former dean Teri Schwartz. The event, which begins at 7 p.m. in Mayer Theater, marks the first Monday Night Series screening co-organized by another group with the Dean’s office.

Schaeffer took some time to talk to the Loyolan about why women filmmakers’ place in the industry, the inspiration behind her film and what she calls “genre mashups.”

Kevin O’Keeffe: The movie you’re screening tonight, “TiMER” – without giving too much away – is about the concept of soul mates and one woman’s forced wait to find the man she’s “meant” to spend her life with. What was the inspiration behind this plot?

Jac Schaeffer: First, the original idea came when my brother was getting married. My mother had something called a “Countdown to the Big Day” clock: I don’t know if you’ve ever seen one, but you program the day of the wedding, and it’s like, “you have 72 days!” I was really single, and really cranky, and I would see the clock as being a signal counting down the days until I was single forever. It was like, I don’t really need a boyfriend right now, or even a date right now for the wedding, but if I knew that there was a guarantee that he would be out there somewhere, then I could be a good bridesmaid and a good sister. But I thought, “What if everybody had these clocks that told you how long you had to wait?”

KO: Has your perception of the concept of soul mates changed since you started working on this film?

JS: Yeah, actually, it has. It’s funny: it was a four-year process, so the person I was when I started writing is a lot different than the person I am now. I think, inherently, I believed in soul mates, and I had my own doubts and jaded outlook after years of dating in Los Angeles, but I think I was bright-eyed and optimistic. Now I think I waffle, wondering if there are really soul mates. But I certainly don’t have that same magic. I’m more of a realist.

KO: In this kind of innovative genre, which could probably be best described as “sci-fi in a woman’s world”, something you’d be interested in expanding on in your next films?

JS: Absolutely. I believe strongly in genre mashups, that the best stories have emotional truth at their center but are also imaginative in their capsule, their shell, whatever the premise is. Charlie Kaufman is one of my heroes, and I think no one does it better than he does by creating honest human characters that are recognizable real people while expanding on the premise. I’m just as influenced by a very human, emotional movie as I am a James Cameron movie – James Cameron in the ’80s and ’90s, that is.

KO: I understand “TiMER” played in quite a few film festivals before its distribution and release last year. Can you talk a bit about that experience?

JS: It was epic. Film festivals are all about celebrating independent film and about the writers and directors. On a personal note, the past year and a half on the festival circuit has been the best of my life. It’s a small film, and it had a small release, but to travel around the world and connect with audiences … it’s a dream.

KO: You are a female filmmaker in an industry that, to be blunt, isn’t kind to its women so much of the time. What are your feelings on women’s advances in film?

JS: I have to be honest, I have a hard time with these kinds of questions. First of all, I support women and women filmmakers completely. Kathryn Bigelow has been my hero since I was fifteen. But I don’t like to look at it as the film industry isn’t kind to its women filmmakers. I don’t like to make that generalization. There are challenges, but how I approach it is my work. I don’t think about, “I’m a girl, this is my approach.” I have my own career and my own approach.

KO: What kind of message do you hope to bring to not just the female film students here at LMU, but to film students in general?

JS: The thing that I most commonly say to anyone trying to make a career in a creative career is to find your voice. The way to have your work really shine is for it to be authentic, from your heart and truthful in that way. It was a discovery I made, as cheesy as it sounds. It was only after I unlocked my own voice that I got people’s attention. It was the first film that was 100 percent me.

KO: What do you hope the students at the event tonight get from your film and your discussion?

JS: The reason I make movies is because I think it’s the most fun way to connect with people. They’re laughing or they’re crying when watching my movie, and it’s a connection to the audience and to the movie. I hope everyone enjoys it and it makes everyone think and they’re invigorated by the project. For anyone who’s interested doing what I did, I hope they feel that they can. We were very strong and very brave and very afraid and we did it, we persevered. There were many successes and failures, and we did it, and we can’t wait to do it again.

KO: Speaking of which, what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

JS: I have a couple things going, nothing in production quite yet, but one script that’s straight-up romantic comedy and a couple more sci-fi scripts. So I’m really focusing on writing right now.

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