Interview with Filmmaker Jennifer Kramer (NAKUSA)

NAKUSA played to rave reviews at the December 2021 EXPERIMENTAL/MUSIC Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The motivation behind making NAKUSA came from my deep love for the piano and portraying characters through music. The film is inspired by Sergei Rachmaninoff and his Prelude in D Major opus 23 no. 4 which I feel is a very haunting and beautiful piece that evokes a kind of tragic beauty. Rachmanionoff was deeply traumatized by an event in his life when his first symphony was destroyed by critics. As a result, he fell into a deep depression and suffered terrible writer’s block and had to seek professional help. Even though he fully recovered and went on to compose some of his greatest masterpieces, the trauma of that rejection haunted him for the rest of his life. I deeply related to his experience and wanted to tell a story about the “emotion” of traumatic rejection and what it feels like to experience it. NAKUSA – the film, character and musical interpretation of the Prelude was that story and emotion I longed to express. I am also motivated by new and experimental ways of telling stories so if it’s” outside the box” I pretty much want to do it!

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

The process of making the film was quite long for a short film because of the visual and sound design elements – about 2 years. Most of the post production was during covid quarantine which made the process even slower. All the VFX, color and sound design was done primarily through email. I really had a very specific vision and I was lucky to have such a wonderful team that remained enthusiastic and hardworking through so many long hours and notes to get it right.

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

Haunting and tragic

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

I think it was getting the opening planet layout correct. There was a lot of trial and error! I am so grateful for Sean Hart (Silo FX) for doing such amazing work and getting the opening sequences to look so amazing. But, it was not easy. Also, the coloring of the film to a blue noir was a huge challenge because we shot outside and when you do that the light is not consistent. As a result – getting the color evenly graded from frame to frame was very difficult.

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

I was just so thrilled that they understood what I was trying to do! They seemed to really understand the message behind the film which was so gratifying to see especially when something is considered “experimental” or very different. I really appreciate all the people that commented! Thank you all so much!!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I come from a filmmaking family. My father was Stanley Kramer which are huge shoes to fill! There were many years that I swore I would never write and direct because of being in that kind of shadow so specifically focused on being an actor. But, over time, I realized there was more I wanted to share and express and that my true voice was going to be as a filmmaker. But, it took time to realize that.

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

This is just such a difficult question! There are so many great films. Off the top of my head, I would say HAROLD AND MAUDE. It’s so quirky on the one hand and then so heart wrenching and poignant on the other. I love the tone of it.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I think the audience feedback was really great! It’s important to hear from an audience that does not know you and see how they interpret and feel about your film. It helps put things in perspective for the next project. It’s always about learning and growing for me and I really love that aspect of your festival. I think interviews are also helpful so that people can learn about who you are and the vision you have for future projects.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

So far, I have really enjoyed filmfreeway. It makes entering festivals so simple.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Things I never eat like Pasta! And, I love those little french cakes called petit-fours!

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

NAKUSA is the first short of six that will become a feature film called LIVING INSIDE MUSIC. I am going into pre-production soon on the second one. It is a total departure from NAKUSA but also very avant-garde and a comedy!! The composer is Joseph Haydn! The film is titled THE SHOW. Stay tuned!!


By matthewtoffolo

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

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