This is the next post in a series of interviews with writers who have had their first films, web series, television assignment, etc. make it to the big or small or computer screen. It is an effort to find out what their journey was to their initial success.
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Next up: an interview with Jane Rosemont, writer/director/producer of the award winning documentary short Pie Lady of Pie Town
Jane Rosemont was born in Detroit, Michigan, the youngest of eight happy children. She was told she had three choices in life: to become a nun, a nurse, or a secretary. In typical fashion, she didn’t pay attention. In 1981 when she met an Olympus OM2 that gave her the focus she lacked. Rosemont’s photographic work has shown in galleries and museums throughout the U.S.A. and has appeared in numerous publications.
In 1996, she published Saving Faces, an award winning book of black and white portraits including a courageous self-portrait taken after her mastectomy. Shortly afterward, she discovered darkroom chemicals were adversely affecting her health. She turned to painting, collage and mixed media, but when digital photography began meeting the demands of serious photographers, Rosemont eagerly returned to her first love. Her dedicated fine art photography website is www.janerosemontphoto.com
When her husband opened an art film theater in the 1980s, she developed a love for documentary films. Always more interested in fact than fiction, she maintains “a good documentary film will hold my interest regardless of the subject matter. I always felt that at some point in my life, I would be inspired to do my own.” The Pie Lady, and Pie Town itself, was the stimulus she needed.
Married to Dick Rosemont since 1979, they agree that it really is “fun with Dick and Jane.” They reside in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- What is the name of your first project that was produced?
My first film is the award winning short doc “Pie Lady of Pie Town.” I produced and directed it, and helped with the editing. (Pie Lady of Pie Town has won awards at the Barcelona International Film Festival and Dances With Films.)
- Can you tell us a bit about the journey as to how it came about?
I stumbled across Pie Town during a road trip, and thought that the proprietor, Kathy Knapp, was riveting. She was funny, articulate, a great multi-tasker. While I watched her throughout the couple of hours we were at the pie shop, I thought what a great subject she would be for a film. It was her I fell in love with. Her story. I didn’t think it would go behind ten minutes.
- Tell me a little bit about the experience of having the project come to completion.
As I got to know Kathy, and became more familiar with Pie Town, I realized there was a much deeper, more broad story to be told. I didn’t define the story at that point, rather, it lead me to where it needed to go. That was the joy and the horror of it all. “Where will this take me?” feels adventurous and exciting, but I honestly didn’t know what the hell the film was going to be about after a certain point. It all fell together when I took my time filming.
We went back several times, and each time nudged me toward the whole story that was screaming to be told. I thought it was going to be about Kathy. Then I thought it was going to be about Pie Town. But it ended up being a love story, in a way. Pie was just the vehicle. In the film pie represents any passion that any of us has.
- What was the hardest obstacle to overcome in achieving that first project?
The funny answer: deciding which piece of pie to eat, and when to stop. And actually that is partly true. But the obstacle that would keep me up at night was the editing process. As a fan of film, especially documentaries, I am very critical of the length of films. Most are longer than they need to be. So although I did a good job of setting aside my own preferences for this or that scene, it was still very painful to cut it and cut it and cut it again. But I’m really satisfied with the end result. I wouldn’t change a thing.
- What have you learned about the industry when it comes to being a writer?
I’ve learned that I’m not a fan of “the industry.” I feel very apart from it. I break rules, and I don’t care about being a famous filmmaker or being in Hollywood. Make no mistake – it was great to have the film premier in Hollywood, and being mentioned in Movie Maker Magazine was a hoot, film festivals are inspiring, etc. But I’m not a cut-throat person, nor am I greedy.
- What are you working on now?
My next project is a short narrative (3 minutes) that has a Twilight Zone feel. There is no dialogue. It’s very cinematic, a deliberate nod to the fact that I’ve been a fine art photographer for over three decades. This will be a very different experience for me since I need to hold auditions for the one character that is in the film, and employ a set designer. In the documentary, the story lead me. For this, I will need to lead the story.
- What is your favorite movie or TV series?
At one point my husband and I owned a small independent movie theater that showed films like “My
Dinner With Andre,” “My Beautiful Launderette,” and hundreds of other films. I love indie films, not so much Hollywood extravaganzas. To name one favorite movie seems impossible to me so I’ll just say at the moment, “Crumb” – a documentary film about R. Crumb comes to mind. Crumb is a strange human being, but by the end of the film, after meeting his family, he seems like the normal one of the bunch.
For TV, I also prefer factual shows. But for pure, unadulterated entertainment, Mad Men and Modern Family are my faves.
- Where do you think the movie and television industry is heading? What do you think its future is?
In Santa Fe, where I live, there is an abundance of young filmmakers with an overload of talent. In a time when people love a good Hollywood, action-packed, fantasy-based movie, I’m seeing more innovative visions, edgier pieces, movies that make us think.
- What parting advice do you have for writers?
Anyone who wants to write or direct a film should simply follow their heart and do the research. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; you’d be surprised at how many people want to help or advise. Break rules. Tell a good story, and everything else will fall into place.
- What do you do when you’re not writing? What do you do to get away from the industry?
As a fine art photographer and filmmaker, there isn’t a huge block of time in any day that I’m not thinking of how to “see” differently or tell a story in an innovative way. My brain is constantly in creative mode, and I’m fortunate to be able to nurture that drive at all times.
- Tell us something about yourself that many people may not know.
I’m an open book, so I’m not sure there are many secrets about me that are appropriate to tell. I do have a knack for honoring my shadow side in healthy ways, and I’m pretty sure that is the reason I am not utterly insane.
And check out the other interviews in the series:
Todd Niemi http://ow.ly/MOfFq
Louis Pappas, http://ow.ly/LxRji
Allan Brocka, http://ow.ly/LfQNy
Gregory Blair http://ow.ly/KZj9s
Josh Kim http://ow.ly/K7obx
Jim Thalman http://ow.ly/JQ8YT
David Au http://ow.ly/JwM0A
Dwayne Alexander Smith http://ow.ly/J8GJI
Haifaa Al-Mansour http://ow.ly/ITabq
Chad Crawford Kinkle http://ow.ly/HXLq0
Mikey Levy http://ow.ly/HA9Xm
Hilliard Guess http://ow.ly/HcOmr
Amir Ohebsion http://ow.ly/H8aPq
Donald McKinney http://ow.ly/GvPfn
Michelle Ehlen http://ow.ly/GvPr1
Louis Pappas, The Halls of Jacob, The Last Hit, screenwriter, screenwriting, screenplay