Filmmaker Feature: Jenna D’Angelo

by Apr 29, 2021Cinema Life Featured Filmmakers0 comments

Name: Jenna D’Angelo
Discipline: Filmmaker / Actor
Film: Park Day
Festival: Atlanta Comedy Film Festival (Winner of Best Overall*), Austin Comedy FF, Houston Comedy FF, Midwest Action Fest, Southeast Regional FF
City you’re based in: Atlanta
Short Bio: Jenna is an award winning filmmaker and actress based out of Atlanta. She loves to explore topics that push boundaries, are a little dark and also make you laugh.

Social Media Links: IG @jennamdangelo

Tell us about how you got started in the industry and what you’re currently pursuing.

–I started out in the industry as an actor in NYC and pretty quickly became a producer as well when I started my own theatre company. I always loved to write, and as I continued to work in Film and TV as an actor, I co-produced, wrote for and starred in a webseries called Bar Crossed Lovers with my (now) husband. Over the last few years I’ve started to write, produce, and direct my own short films, most recently my little weirdo baby Park Day. Currently I have a new short film in pre-production, I’m wrapping up writing a feature film and I’m outlining for a new rom com that I’ve been kicking around in my brain for the last few years .

What sort of stories are you drawn to telling? Do you have a genre of choice? Why?
–Comedy has always been something that has come to be pretty naturally as a storyteller and I’d say every time I sit down to write I always end up veering into something kinda dark and comedic, but hopefully grounded. I feel like if I can play with toeing the line, like the Duplass brothers do so well, then I’ve succeeded. I also love when movies make us wrestle with hard truths, but if they can make you laugh a bit while you explore the hard stuff, that’s even better. And I’ve also been working on pushing myself into genres that don’t come as naturally to me–I wrote a short thriller during the pandemic that I’m pretty proud of and would love to make.

 

 

How are you approaching forging a path for yourself in this industry?

–Wowwww, what a great question. So since I started out as (and still am) an actor, so much of that part of the industry is sitting around and waiting for someone to give you a job and that is just not my jam. I want to create my own opportunities and stepping into filmmaking has been such a huge creative joy. I feel like I’ve reached a point in my career where the competitive part of me is mostly gone, I want us to all lift one another up. When a friend tells me about a project they’re working on, I wanna know how I can help not just because it feels good to help one another, but also because to help you uphelps all of us. When we all work together to create great work, it elevates everyone around you. And something I actively work on is continuing to find the Joy in what we do–it can be easy to get bogged down by the slog, but what a gift to get to collaborate with other humans and tell stories.
Tell us more about your process as you prep for a film, or as you’re on set.

–My goal is to try and make things run as smoothly as possible, to not waste anyone’s time and to make sure that everyone has a voice on set. We’re all there trying to make magic happen and I think it’s really important to remember how crucial each member of the team is. On set I try to communicate clearly, to be honest with everyone and try to have some fun in the process. 

What’s the first thing you do when you get a script?

–Read it! haha But really, I love to read scripts, I love dramaturgy. I’m always curious about how we can make something even better, are there any little tweaks we can make for clarity or anywhere we can dig in more. I identify scenes or moments that I’m excited about, that I already see really clearly in my head, and also pinpoint the places that are trickier for me, that I know I’m gunna need to put in some extra elbow grease to understand. And then I start to imagine my Dream Team.

What’s one lesson you learned working on your last film?

–Just do the damn thing! I wrote Park Day when I woke up at 4am and just had to get an idea out of my brain. A few days later I sent it to my friend Travis and he was like “don’t wait around, just go make this”–so I did. I think so often we are waiting for the right moment or for something to be perfect before we start, but perfection doesn’t exist. So assemble the best people you can (bonus points if they’re your friends) and Just Do It (sponsor me, Nike!)!

Any other practical tips for producing or for indie filmmaking in general? (Ex. tips on budgeting,
marketing, hiring a crew – you can put as many as you want in a bullet point list!)

Park Day was made on a very small budget and a lot of that was calling in some favors with friends and past collaborators. I was lucky to cast almost all friends in the piece who worked for pizza and beer after (ohhh pre-covid, how I miss you). But obviously calling in favors isn’t always an option. My next piece I’m working on I’ll be hiring pretty much everyone on the team, so getting really clear about what you can afford and offer and doing your best to stick to that is always important. Never skimp on sound!!–everything else can go wrong, but if you have good sound it will save your film. Hire people you LIKE and want to be around! That might be the most important advice–don’t work with a**holes, it’s not worth it. And make a priority list, and once you have those priorities, what’s most important to you (Crafty? Sound? Bomb DP? Sick lighting?), you’ll have an easier time building out your budget and seeing where you’re willing to allocate funds. And call in favors when you can and be happy to return those favors when it’s time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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