Interview with Dancer/Producer Jenn Edwards (SHIPWRECK)

SHIPWRECK was the winner of BEST EXPERIMENTAL film at the March 2021 Experimental Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

During the first COVID lockdown, my partner Philip McDermott and I were quarantined in St. John’s, Newfoundland. With all of our dance and teaching gigs cancelled, we spent a lot of time going on walks and drives around town. When I noticed these colourful concrete squares in a parking lot in downtown St. John’s, I had this urge to dance inside them. They reminded me of a giant Zoom meeting… an image we’re all so familiar with now. I reached out to Greg Harrison, whose music (also recorded during quarantine!) is featured in the film. Then, once Canada started to come out of lockdown, Philip and I, who appear in the film, brought Simon Alteen on board as our cinematographer and director, and from there we found the other locations you see in the film.

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

The brainstorming, storyboarding, and filming were very quick actually. That whole process only took a couple of weeks, and we shot the film in one day! But the editing process took a bit longer. We shot in June, 2020 and finished the film in September.

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

Jagged and Reflective

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

Editing it down to under six minutes was a challenge, especially with three different opinions in the room! There were so many shots we loved that didn’t make it into the film, but we wanted it to be concise, and to leave people wanting more. We’re really happy with how it turned out.

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

It was really touching to hear audience members talk about the film in such an intimate, detailed way, from their homes. They really seemed to get what we were going for, connecting the movement to the architecture, the sound, and the editing choices.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. What are your passions in life?

Dance, for sure! Lately I’ve been playing a lot of music as well, which has been really therapeutic during COVID times.

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

I was obsessed with The Wizard of Oz as a kid, so I’ve probably seen that one hundreds of times.

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

FilmFreeway has been great. It’s so great to have all of the festivals gathered in one place… it makes the submission process much more efficient, and introduces you to festivals all over the world.

9. What is your favorite meal?

Really great sushi. I’m originally from the west coast of Canada, and I miss the amazing sushi there.

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

Philip and I are working on a new duet called ForceField, with support from Arts NL (The Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council). It will hopefully premiere by the end of 2021, depending on COVID restrictions, because we’d really like to show it in a theatre. It’s inspired by the ways that the pandemic has changed our perception of bodies, and how we relate to each other physically. We’d also love to embark on another project with Simon, who is also an actor and a writer. It could be another film, or a piece of dance theatre… we’ll see!

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