Interview with Filmmaker Jae Ellis (20/20)

20/20, 8min., New Zealand, Experimental
Directed by Jae Ellis
Filmed entirely within the boundaries of my home, 20/20 explores camera AI, various viewpoints, multiple mantis characters and animation to explore the idea of sight and information processing via an eyesight testing stage. The only voice that is real is the optometrist, and even he’s long dead. 20/20’s a generative piece – a chorus of distant cicada cousins bought together, AI puppet voices, moving viewpoints and a slow burn. Ideas of nature, looking somewhere else for help and an inability to understand or see anything the same as others are referenced with wry humour.

Get to know the director:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I’d been thinking about Artificial Intelligence and how what it consumes can sometimes still lead it to absurd conclusions, an unnatural view and a disconnect from reality. As a reflection of this, I wanted to create an uncomfortable and shifting viewpoint of voyeurism, interrogation, misunderstanding and pseudo-factual narrative, with a touch of surreal absurdity.

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

About two months.

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

Twisted testing!

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

As a self taught film editor, figuring out how to achieve the effects I wanted.

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

Really pleased that they mostly said they’d not seen anything like it before and found it uncomfortable viewing without being able to say precisely why. Yayyy!!!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

Addressing resource wastage in art, film lets me make artworks of limited physicality using materials that are to hand, yet also affording extraordinary opportunities for creative expression and storytelling.

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

John Smith’s “The Girl Chewing Gum”

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

Perhaps some kind of system where you recommend or share films to other Festivals or categories that might be a better fit? (I actually had this experience with your festival, and it was (clearly) massively helpful).

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

There’s been really excellent communication – it feels like there are real people out there very keen to make it a success. Some of the festivals feel a bit impersonal and dismissive, but I’ve been really amazed by the level of personal engagement and friendliness of this festival so far.

10. What is your favorite meal?

A bento box.

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

I’m currently concocting a surreal story of the unseen influence and coercion of an inanimate material with a nod to particle physics – either as a pseudo-documentary or biographical film.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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