- Guest Film Maker -
Welcome to an interview I conducted with a bright, young Australian film maker - Jordan Glew. From the moment Jordan got his first audio book at the age of six, back in the tape playing days no less, and proceeded to type it out word for word, he’s been driven to create. Fascinated by all forms of storytelling, Jordan has been published in comics, written for video games as well as short and feature films. A keen sports fan, especially Rugby League, Jordan believes strongly in the team spirit when putting together any production.
Welcome, Jordan ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR JOURNEY.
I’ve always been passionate about creating, in any form. The thing I’ve found about passion is that it never goes away and no matter where life takes you, there’s always that part of you that will draw you back to what you’re most passionate about.
I studied writing for close to four years, every type and subject from novels, comics, articles, reports, speech etc. The one I always found myself coming back to was screenplays. Unlike a novel though where the words remain on the page, a screenplay is only part of the job.
After a few failed attempts when I wrote short screenplays for other people, I decided that if I was going to get anything from the page to the screen I had to do it myself. That’s when I started taking an interest in producing, the mechanics of how a film is put together, how the cast and crew are found etc. Needless to say it was a case of trial and error for the most part, but making mistakes and learning from them is a greater teacher than words on a page could ever be.
Once I completed my first short film I was hooked. The goal for me now is to continue challenging myself to improve and learn with each new project. It’s the only way to improve, and I hate standing still. Literally, I can’t even watch a movie without having to get up, stretch, or walk around while watching.
WERE YOU INTERESTED IN FILMS AS A KID?
Absolutely. I had two older brothers, and one of them was a movie buff so I saw all kinds of films when I was young, probably a few I shouldn’t have seen as well when the oldest one was left on babysitting duty.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT FILM MAKING?
Every day is different, and no two shoots are the same. I’m the sort of person who literally hates standing still. I can’t even sit down and watch a movie without needing to get up, stretch, walk around whole watching.
Filmmaking always keeps you moving, physically and mentally, and you never know where it might require you to go next.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A FILM MAKER?
I suppose there are two answers to that.
There’s no set hours, or days, money isn’t unlimited so there’s always areas you need to compromise on, and search for better, more efficient ways of doing things. It’s both enjoyable but can be a tedious frustrating challenge at times.
On a personal level it can take a large chunk of time away from friends or family. I suppose that’s one of the challenges for anyone, not just filmmakers.
DO YOU WORK FOR YOURSELF, OTHERS OR BOTH?
Both. Film is a collaborative medium and it takes a lot of people to put a film together from start to finish. I’ve had plenty of people come and work on my projects; I would never hesitate to do likewise should they ask. It does create a sense of team, community in local areas where you work.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
I’d like to say “still to come” and I’m sure if you were to ask me in a couple of years I would have a completely different answer. However, shooting that first feature film is still a pretty big achievement.
Things like short films and music videos are great, but they don’t take anywhere near the amount of effort as a feature film does and that’s the big challenge that makes it so satisfying when you come out the other side.
Also, I have no doubt a person will learn more making a feature film than they would spending a year studying film at an institution. Nothing beats experience.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
A feature film I co-wrote and co-produced “Hand of Art” for Inside Out Studios, and that’s nearing the end of post-production. Aside from that I’m currently going through the development stages of a psychological thriller tentatively titled “Off Air” which I’m pretty excited about.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SUBJECT?
Perception. It really is a never ending supply of questions, thoughts and debate. How one person sees something isn’t necessarily how another person sees it, and it never ceases to amaze me how two people can stare at exactly the same thing but come up with wildly different interpretations. The human mind is really a fascinating thing.
I do love movies that question perception or at least challenge an audience’s perception. I’ve never been a fan of the black and white, good versus bad. To me the great heroes all have serious flaws and the great villains all feel justified that in some way what they’re doing is right.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
Life, the people and places that surround me every day. There’s inspiration everywhere, and all it takes is a single thought, picture, concept or comment to spark the idea that an entire story or film can be born from.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR EMERGING FILM MAKERS?
Get out and do it. I shot my first short film at my own house with a handheld camera. It wasn’t a masterpiece, but I never expected it to be. I did learn, and the next time I improved. From there I continue to challenge myself to improve at every turn, and not just with the things I want to do.
Putting together a film of any length is a serious challenge. It’s a lot of little jobs that combine to make a big one. Some of those little jobs are more fun than others, but they have to be done. I think anyone will go further if they are prepared to do the jobs others aren’t.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE PLACE OR TIME TO FILM?
Projects vary so much it can be a hard one to answer. Having said that, good luck finding a film maker who doesn’t love the early morning sunrise or evening sunset.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN YOUR WORK?
Discovery. The landscape constantly changes, you’re constantly forced to adapt and through that you learn so many new things and meet so many new people that my perception of something one day could change completely within a short space of time.
Whoever said that ‘imagination has no limits’ was spot on, whether at home or outdoors there’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.
DO YOU PRODUCE DOCUMENTARIES, FEATURE FILMS OR ANYTHING THAT COMES ALONG?
Anything that comes along. The long term goal for any film maker is to be churning out feature film after feature film, but that’s not always realistic. Since I started my journey I’ve filmed shorts, feature films, music videos, documentary, as well as writing for those various mediums along with comics and I even wrote for an independent game developer in Brisbane a year back.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU’VE EVER RECEIVED?
Honestly I couldn’t single out one comment. Not because I get too many, definitely not, but I’ve never been one to take praise well. I’m well aware that sometimes people are nice because they don’t want to be seen as being mean. I tend to gravitate towards the people who will challenge me, say they don’t like something, but take the time to explain why they feel it’s not working.
Having said that I did write a screenplay for a course I did and the tutor gave me a written recommendation because “he was impressed with how natural the dialogue was, blending the action and plot seamlessly with the characters”. I won’t complain about that one.
WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED?
I can’t say there was any single comment, but I will relate a quick story here. When I was still in primary school I was put into an advanced writing class. At that stage I loved to write, whether it was my own stories or just researching things like animals (another passion of mine) and jotting down the parts I found most interesting.
Anyway, this writing class wasn’t for me. It wasn’t about being creative it was about tasting lemons and describing it or staring at a flame and using as many unnecessary adjectives as possible because the teacher wants words to leap off the page at her. Nothing about structure, technique, or even basic English.
I was the youngest in the class, no older than ten, and found the teacher so forceful about “making the words dance” that I ended up leaving the class and I didn’t write for almost eight years when I started studying. Like I said, with passion, you always come back to it.
WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Of course. Whenever you’re writing something you need to draw on the emotions of how you felt or how you think you would feel if you were in that situation. Some writers take it further and actually write about themselves because of the mantra “write what you know”. Personally I don’t like that interpretation of it, I think it’s taking the saying a little too literal, and really if my life was that interesting there would be other people knocking on my door to write about it. I don’t think anyone could seriously write about their life without some sort of bias coming into it, and as an audience member, that doesn’t make for a great film.
If you don’t ‘know’ something, then take the time to research it. I think a lot of people envision writing as a person locked away in his room for a few months before emerging with a masterpiece. It’s impossible to know everything and one great part of writing is the amount of new things you will learn by researching.
OTHER THAN MAKING FILMS, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
Anything creative. In my spare time I love doing photography work, and even coming home and jumping into Photoshop to grade or manipulate the photos is a great way to kill a couple of hours having a bit of fun.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Make great films, tell great stories, and have a blast doing it. As I said from the start, passion never goes away. It’s like a hunger, and the longer you go without feeding it the hungrier it gets and the weaker you feel because of it, both physically and mentally. It’s not a choice, the beast needs feeding.
Writer/producer for this short film in the 48 hour competition. The team won best director, cinematography, make up and editing.
One of the highlights for me was getting to film the Dalai Lama when he visited Brisbane. Ended up turning the experience into a music video.
Think about this!