Interview with Filmmaker Jessie Kathleen Claude (VOODOO SALON)

VOODOO SALON, 16min., Australia, Supernatural/Drama
Directed by Jessie Kathleen Claude
Gwenaelle has inherited a gift from her family : she can tell the date of death of anyone she touches. As she spends the day with her sister making their family tree, a secret starts unravelling.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I grew up in the Caribbean, where most of my family lives, and at 17, I moved far away from home to study and would only come back to visit once every two years. One day, as I said goodbye to my great grandmother at the end of my holidays, I felt that it was our last time together. A year later, after I had just moved to a new country even further away from home, I got the call saying she had passed, confirming that my “feeling” was right. This event inspired me to write the screenplay in the next fex days. In the script I turned my “intuition” into a supernatural power and decided to imagine how this power could affect your last moments with your loved ones.

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

I wrote the screenplay in lockdown in maybe 4-5 days, pre-production was around 2-3 weeks, the shooting was 3 full days, then editing lasted for around 4 weeks. So I’d say roughly 2 months in total. (I am excluding the lockdown that delayed production for 4 months and my school schedule which elongated the periods of time inbetween pre-production, shooting and editing).

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

Tragedy ; Healing

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

In my school program, every student had to direct their own film but was also required to work on all the other students’ films, so being the writer-director-editor of my film while working on 8 others at the same time was definitely hard. But because everyone was facing the same challenges, we all succeeded through solidarity and supporting one another.

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

I have to say I am extremely shy when it comes to my art, so I asked someone who had seen the film to sit with me through the video. The feedback was so generous, toughful and kind, I really hadn’t anticipated that. I felt very proud and grateful for every compliment my film received. It all makes me motivated to keep on going and not letting go off my dreams. So thank you all for that !

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

My dad was a great cinephile and he made me watch countless films growing up. So from 4 years old, I knew that I wanted to work in cinema, as an actress first. The idea to be more involved in the writing-directing side came later, around 15 years old.

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

Difficult to say because as a child I used to obsessively watch the same films over and over. But I think the ones I have watched the most trough my childhood AND adulthood would be Miyazaki’s films. Either Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away.

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

Honestly so far, I have been really impressed with all of what you offer. I would love to know more about how you reach out to industry professionals or other festivals to submit the films you have watched, that could be a great push for me.

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

The platform website is really great, it makes it very easy to find the right festival for your film through detailed criteria. I feel that it can be pretty helpful for people like me who are quite “art-showcasing”-shy and can feel quickly overwhelmed by the amount of festivals that exist in the world.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Pasta Carbonara (specifically the ones my grandmother makes).

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

At the moment, I am editing a no-dialogue short film I shot with my phone on my last holiday. I have a couple series bible I’m working on, and I am also writing my next short film that would like to shoot in my homeland, Martinique.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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