Interview: Nora Jaenicke – Director of Between Seconds
Interview done by Shailik Bhaumik
[dropcap]N[/dropcap]ora Jaenicke is a filmmaker living between Cambridge and New York City who won the Golden Fox Award this year as Best Woman Filmmaker. Raised in Italy by German parents, her passion for filmmaking took her all over the world. She studied Film in Rome before moving back to Germany, Cologne, where she worked as a researcher for a Documentary Film Production Company. At Vancouver Film School she got a degree in Screenwriting, given her strong affinity for the written word. She later on gained experience in the field, while working as a Set Designer in Los Angeles. This is where she developed the passion for making her own films. “The passion was always there!” she says, “It just took me a while to find the courage to go out there and do it.”
However, working on sets helped Nora gain an understanding of filmmaking. “Set Design still is one of the elements that I keep in mind the most while writing my scripts. How the set is dressed, the color scheme and overall style of the film, those are very important elements for me.” she says. At the moment Nora is studying Creative Writing at Harvard University on a full scholarship as a part of their Continuing Education Program. “Continuing to hone my craft as a writer, it really helps my filmmaking career. It helps me get a better insight into human nature. Understand the million different ways of being in the world.”
Shailik Bhaumik: How was your experience at Calcutta Independent Cult Film Festival?
Nora Jaenicke: I was impressed by the quality of the films and I got a chance to meet inspiring storytellers from all over the world. I visited Calcutta alongside Dheli, Mumbai and South Kerala, but Calcutta was my favorite destination. There’s a certain elegance and charm to the city that make it quite unique. I would love to make a film there one day and I encountered enough enthusiastic filmmakers to collaborate with. The organization was perfect with fantastic dance and music performances to check out.
Q: Why did you make your film?
A: I wanted to make a very visual film. One with magical, surreal elements; a story that takes you to an entirely different place. I am also fascinated by the idea of timing; what happens when and the implications of what we do. Now, my description may seem a little vague. I guess people should watch the film to understand what I’m trying to say. It’s more of a philosophical, introspective piece that deals with the themes of timing and love. More than love, it’s about people’s need to express themselves creatively. The clock is seen as a “constricting” element.
Q: What were the challenges in making this film?
A: As always, finding the money and the right people to work with. It’s important to choose wisely when putting together a strong team. Ideally, you want to work with the same people on different projects. Create a solid group of creatives. It just makes things so much easier.
I have a few people that I always work with, again and again. It’s all about having a similar vision and sensibility.
Q: What is the best advice you can give to an aspiring, independent filmmaker?
A: Go out and make films! There is no better way to learn, than by doing it. It’s necessary to enjoy the process; it’s the arts! There is no right or wrong way. It’s all about being honest about your imagination. Finding your voice is not so hard if you are honest about what you think and feel. And keep in mind that might take solitude. So spending a long time alone, between all the networking necessary to make a film, that, I would recommend. It takes solitude to create imaginary worlds!
Q: What are your next projects?
A: As of right now, I have two short films that should both premiere in the next month here in New York City. They are both short film versions of two feature scripts.
One is about an immigrant Filippino nanny, struggling to send money back home to her daughter while working for a wealthy Manhattan family.
This happens everywhere, not just NYC. Mothers are too busy working to spend time with their children and nannies are unable to take care of their own children because they’re busy taking care of others’. By showing Joyce torn between these two worlds, not just physically, but also emotionally, between the little girl she takes care of in NYC and her own daughter, I wanted to shed light onto this paradox. A tragic example of the fallout of Capitalism and Global Inequality.
It is important to mention though… I don’t blame these mothers that don’t have time to take care of their children because they need to work. Perhaps, they prefer working, instead of being a stay-at-home mom. I am very passionate about my work as a filmmaker. If I have a child one day, I would probably also want to spend time doing what I love, asides from being a mother and caring for my child. Perhaps I would want my husband to be the “stay at home dad”. It is not my intention to blame anyone here. I just want to tell a story about two women who can’t be there for their children and shed light on this particular issue, because it is so representative of our times. We often see taking care of others’ children as something like an “indulgence”, but I noticed it’s rarely the case anymore. In a country that provides few options for affordable childcare, the practice becomes a negotiation between two working mothers, dividing their time between work and parenting and rarely succeeding entirely at either.
At the end of the day, it is a story about two lonely immigrant women in NYC, their longing for home and the hope for a new beginning. It is a love story between two women, but I don’t see it as a sexual type of love. It’s more about two human beings finding comfort in one another when they need it most.
My other film is called Whales.
It’s a film about two sisters who reconnect after years of being separated in the house of their childhood on an Italian island. It’s a psychological drama with thriller elements. With Whales, I wanted to make a film that recalls movies like “Persona” by Bergman “Swimming Pool” by Ozon and “Volver” by Almodovar. An independent drama/thriller with a very European “Art House” feel to it and an unexpected twist at the end.
It’s a shorter version of a feature film, which is currently in pre-production. I am hoping to show both these films at your festival next year!
Shailik Bhaumik is an award-winning filmmaker and entrepreneur. Known for his feature film “Dasein”, Shailik is the founder and Chairman of Human Lab Corporation, a Multinational Film Company whose mission it is to help Independent Filmmakers survive and thrive in this highly competitive industry. Shailik oversees worldwide operations including production, distribution, and marketing for HLC’s live-action films, as well as films released under the HLC banner.