Interview with Filmmaker Francesca Jandasek (SHADOW)

SHADOW played to rave reviews at the December 2020 Dance & Music Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I have many ideas. I had this realization a few years ago that if I don’t put the idea into action, it just stays an idea and will never exist in any other form. So, as much as I can, if I have an idea, I try to execute it even if it is not perfect.

I was also going through a very difficult time in my personal life, and it was a way to process the challenges I was going through in a constructive way.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

SHADOW took about 2 years to create. I began the process in 2017 and FINALLY finished in March 2019. It took so long for the following reasons:

1) I used creating this film as an opportunity to learn how to do the things I didn’t know how to do. I learned lots of new programs and skills, and that is why it took FOREVER for this film to be finished! AND I have way more to learn – this was just the tip of the iceberg. I absolutely loved the process. I’m so grateful for my mentor (and cinematographer of the film) who helped me learn the video editing programs, Gregory R.R. Crosby.

2) The first version had a totally different soundtrack (also composed by me) but it just didn’t work. So after I finished video editing the film, I composed completely new music / soundtrack to go with the film.

Even though it took 2 years to create, we only had 2 hours in which to actually shoot the film due to space and scheduling constraints. I had an awesome team and we had to be super organized.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Subconscious Journey

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The biggest obstacle was that I did not have a computer at the time capable of running the video and music editing software. Thankfully I was able to use computers to edit the film at one of my places of employment, but it was over an hour commute each way and the hours during which I could work were very limited. It took a lot of organization (and that is also why it took so long to complete the film).

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

It was such a beautiful experience to see the audience talking about my film in the feedback video! Hearing what the audience saw in the film was such a great learning experience for me. They were so kind and positive and encouraging. I was also thrilled that they enjoyed it. I passed on the feedback video to the team and dancers of the film because I wanted them to experience the feedback as well! They LOVED it!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I first got the idea for this film while researching the Romanian Legend of the Arges Monastery for a full evening length show I created in 2018. In the legend, a pregnant woman is immured to make the walls of the monastery stand. After further research, I came across the belief of the “stahie,” or shadow, an ancient Eastern European belief and practice that in order for the walls of a building to stand, someone has to be built into the walls either physically (i.e their body), or metaphysically (i.e their shadow).

As I delved into the legend and this belief, I found myself facing my many shadows – my many possibilities and my many fears. I found myself questioning: Who is the shadow? What reality/possibility do I choose? Does it even matter, if we all fade away from memory and existence, leaving nothing behind?

Ultimately, I was questioning whether, as a woman, it was more important for me to create, or to reproduce. And, why do I have this need? Is it to achieve a sort of immortality, a way to exist beyond my existence, whether through the creation of offspring, or art creation? The shadows represent my personal struggle of what realities/possibilities to choose as a woman artist – art creation vs. procreation.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I remember most films that I see very well so I don’t tend to watch them more than once. I love all sorts of films – fantasy, science fiction, drama, documentary, comedy. I love foreign films. I am very sensitive to visual and auditory stimuli so I don’t tend to watch many horror films. I do enjoy watching films like Lord of the Rings or Matrix multiple times as a wonderful journey and escape from the real world!

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I think FilmFreeway is a really great submission platform. I love having a central profile that I can control and that I can provide all links and information to film festivals. I love being able to learn about many film festivals from all over the world. It makes film submission very organized and easy.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

That is a difficult question. As a choreographer, dancer, musician, and composer, I have listened to many pieces of music countless numbers of times. Music is integral to my work in creating and performing, and in order to do what I do, I have to listen to a song millions of times. That being said, I have a good memory for melodies and only need to hear a melody once to memorize it. (Then it keeps playing over and over in my mind – does that count?). I love all kinds of music.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I am working on a new film (complete with an original soundtrack) based on Faust. It will be premiering with Synetic Motion Pictures in the Spring of 2021.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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