Interview with Producer/Actor Jessica Rookeward (THE OUT-FIT)

THE OUT-FIT was the winner of BEST DIRECTION at the January 2022 LA LGBTQ+ Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Due to covid I wasn’t booking any work as an actor. I also couldn’t work on certain jobs due to my visa as well, being an immigrant. So I decided to write my own film! My husband and I were sitting in a cabin when I came up with the idea and said to him “imagine a girl standing in the desert in a thrifted cowboy outfit. What is that story.. and go”. We bounced ideas off each other all night. Then we got back home and I wrote an outline for the film. I showed it to a friend who is also a film maker and he said “that is your finished film!”. I obviously didn’t believe him as that was my outline! But I trusted his word and that’s the film you see today. I wanted to tell the story of my queer journey through this film. It’s very different to my story but hints of it are true.

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

I came up with the idea November 2020, we got a crew together December 2020, and we filmed it February 2021! A very fast turn around but we had such an incredible crew who all felt just as passionately about this film as I did.

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

Quirky and charming.

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

We were meant to film in January of 2021 but unfortunately one of our crew members got Covid so we had to push it back. A part from that it was smooth sailing. I think because we chose to work with friends we had a very relaxed set. But we choose people who wanted to make this just as much of a passion project for them as it was for us, so I believe that made it much easier for everyone! Was a great set to be on!

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

I couldn’t stop smiling! The thought that someone out there that isn’t my close circle genuinely likes my little film is such an incredible feeling! Again, I made this film thinking it wouldn’t go anywhere, that it was something for me to put on my acting reel and give my hand a go at writing a film. The response we are receiving is unbelievable! I am truly humbled and honored to have such lovely responses.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I come from a musical theatre background so film and tv didn’t cross my mind till a few years ago when I lived in New York. But now it’s all I want to do!

I have always loved writing ever since I was young. I didn’t think though that I would ever write my own movie! It all happened so fast. But I truly am glad I did. It took me forever to realize that the stories in my head and heart are good and people do want to see them!

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

I think the film I have seen the most in my life is Monty Python and the Holy Grail. My dad introduced it to me very early on and I never stopped!

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

This is my first time ever doing the festival rounds and I have loved it immensely! I think personally having more contact with the individual festivals would be nice. A contact number I can call or something. But honestly everything else has been great and super easy!

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

I have loved how easy it is to reach so many festivals from around the world! I am so thankful a platform like FilmFreeway exists!

10. What is your favorite meal?

Our family Nachos!

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

Right now we are in pre-production for our next short film! It is going to be something very different as I wanted to showcase that I can write for other genres. It’s a Wild West film about a serial killer. Evidently very different from a queer coming-of-age film! I am super excited to bring this new film to life! It will also be most of the same crew as the Out-Fit which I am also very excited about.

By matthewtoffolo

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

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