Jennifer Nicole Stang is a multi-talented, award-winning film director. From a career in theatre and film acting, Jennifer has now moved behind the scenes to create music videos, a web series and short films, all whilst hopping back and forth across the pond. We had a chat with Jennifer about the changing culture of film in her various stopping points and the rise of the female film director.
Q. What inspires you to work in the film industry?
A. I’ve always liked to tell stories as a writer, actor, and most recently now as a director. I love so much about making a film, from conceptualising, to actually shooting the film, and continuing onto post-production, editing, score work, etc. So many great films made over the decades inspire me to make movies.
Q. You are quite the globetrotter, having lived in England, Canada, the US and Spain. Is there a big difference in the way the art of filmmaking is approached in each country?
A. Oh yes, there is a great difference in the way filmmaking is approached in each country. At least in terms of funding, the US focuses more on finding private investors, whereas in Europe, it is more common to find funding through grants. Also, the way stories are told in Europe, as well as in Argentina, have a different focus. I think that’s also cultural. England has started to create more “Americanized” productions, so that’s changing the way they look at film and television as well.
Q. Short films clearly play a huge part in your acting and filmmaking career, even winning awards for El Lago (The Lake). What attracts you to these short projects?
A. It’s not that I’m attracted generally to short projects. It’s simply a means to show the industry what kinds of films you want to do, to show your “style” in filmmaking. Short films are simply a way to do what you love when you have limited funding. Although, I have to say, creating ‘The Dream Series’ has been a very fun platform to explore various visuals and concepts, so it’s been a good workout for the creative mind.
Q. Have you encountered any difficulties whilst working as a female director in the film industry?
A. I haven’t personally encountered any trouble as a female director in the industry. I’ve been able to work with people who want to be a part of the project based on the story or concept I present. I wouldn’t work with anyone who thought I wasn’t capable. The gender issue never crosses my mind while working.
Q. According to statistics, only 9% of Hollywood directors are female. Why do you think there is such a lack of opportunity for women directors in Hollywood?
A. This is a tricky question, and I don’t necessarily have an answer. The industry has been a very male-dominated industry since the 1970’s. Prior to that, during the 30s and 40s, women apparently had greater roles in the industry. I think there’s a big change going on in the industry currently, and the fact that people still have to raise the issue of a gender divide is ridiculous. In my mind I work with someone based on their capability, talent, their willingness and work ethic, regardless of gender. In terms of working with others though, I like to have both a male and female perspective when it comes to various aspects of productions. I think a balance in that regard is healthy.
Q. Can you tell us a little about your upcoming projects?
A. I am pretty excited about what we’re currently working on. We’re in post production for a short film – finishing up the soundtrack and CGI work – and that’s really exciting because it’s the first time I’ve worked with green screen on a project. And the images that we’re getting from our CGI programmer are pretty incredible; I can’t wait to release it! We’re working on a horror feature as well which is also exciting. We’re currently in pre-production, and have been tuning up the script and actually our composer has been producing some beautiful pieces already! We’ve discussed the film in great detail in terms of style, what type of soundtrack, what dynamics there are in each scene, so it’s a great way to think about how the film would flow, and actually has inspired me to change a scene based on the music. It’s been a great experience! And we’ve been documenting our experience making the film on a video blog we’ve put up on YouTube.
Q. What is the best piece of advice you can offer to budding filmmakers?
A. My advice to filmmakers breaking into the industry is to learn what each department does in the making of a film. It will greatly benefit you, even if you don’t wish to focus on a particular department. At least, it has been really helpful for me. As a director, it’s imperative to understand how each department functions, because you want to know how to speak to each department head, to get your idea across. It also makes you appreciate what everyone does on a film set. I worked craft services once, and it was much more brutal than I thought, but it made me appreciate that side of filmmaking as well. Every single person on a film set is essential to the making of a a movie. More than anything though, do what you love to do, and follow your inspiration. That’s the most important thing.