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Interview with
Two-Time GoreFest Award Winner Christine Jansen

Tell us about your journey into independent filmmaking. What drew you to this creative path?


In the early 2000s, I was going for my Video Art major, wanting to come out creating music videos and trailers. Unfortunately, during that time both industries began to change and went from indie creators to large studios. I did not want to move out to LA, so I ended up working as a graphic designer, after I graduated, for a marketing agency in NJ that worked with Cable TV and Pay-Per-View films/Video on Demand marketing. Over the next twenty years, I worked on video projects both as graphic designer and later as a teaching librarian, but not any films. 


However, the entire time something was itching inside of me. I'd hear a song and visualize an entire music video I created for it in my head. I'd listen to audiobooks and visualize and stage the characters. I consumed films of every type, old, new, and every genre. I watched hours upon hours of film analysis videos on YouTube. All of that didn’t satiate this need to get these ideas out of my head and put them into the world.


So in 2022, after I sold my house and had a little extra money, I decided to open a production company to create indie horror films I could produce and direct. However, I didn't accomplish this by myself. I joined several online filmmaker courses, as well as read every book I could on the topic, which all those experts helped me to learn a lot about the industry and process. Also it was great meeting and working with others in the NJ indie scene; I've learned so much from them! It's a very supportive community and I feel like I have gained a whole new family of friends. Lastly, I have a very supportive husband who supports my filmmaking ambitions. Being a research and instruction librarian by day, and filmmaker by night takes up alot of my time, so juggling a healthy work/life balance can be very tricky, but having a supportive partner makes that possible.


Your film, Raw Data, winning both Best Screenplay and Best Acting at last year's Gorefest is impressive! How did you approach directing these award-winning performances?


This was my first short film, so I was beyond excited and surprised

to win these awards. Winning helped me to validate for myself that

filmmaking is my artform. This is the medium I work best in. 


I do not write scripts, so thanks to sites like Script Revolution,

I was able to meet talented writers and read their scripts.

When I came across Scott Nelson’s script, I instantly knew this

would be a great fit for my first short film. Not only did I fall in love

with the Twilight Zone-like story, but also appreciated that it had

minimal characters and one location. The script originally had two

male scientists talking, but I felt that the lines were so neutral that

any gender could play these roles, so I opened up the auditions to

all genders, and ended up choosing the two best who auditioned,

who both happened to be women. Directing them was easy

because they are both talented actresses. One thing I like to do

with all my actors, especially for short films, is have them think

about and answer questions about their characters, so we can

get a deeper understanding about who each of them are. These

questions include topics that deal with the character’s strengths, weaknesses, fears, interests/hobbies, and family/life history. While the audience may not know most of this information, it provides the actors direction and motivation for their choices and how and why they say their lines. I feel it adds depth to characters who could easily be 2-dimensional. Yvonne and Jaime took that information and applied it during our virtual rehearsals giving us amazing performances, so on the day of filming all we needed to focus on was blocking.


Your upcoming summer feature film sounds exciting.

Can you share any hints about the plot or themes?


So excited to talk about Legado! It is going to

be my firstfeature film that I have ever produced

and directed.Crowdfunding will begin in

May and we will

be filming it in late July.

All I can sayfor now, is that it is about

“A family of psychics who go

to clear a haunted house, but something

older and darker appears.

” Follow us @beautifuldarknessproductions (IG & FB)

for updates about the film

and how you can be a part of it.










Who are your artistic influences? Any directors or films that inspire your work?


So many for so many different reasons! Here is a list of those who inspire me and their works that had the greatest impact on my own films. Jordan Peele and Rod Serling showed me how to do social horror well through choosing the right story and pacing (Get Out and Twilight Zone series). I love that David Fincher started off creating music videos, as that is how I started, so I connect with his films’ look, feel, and editing style (Fight Club, Se7en, Social Network, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl). I also hope, dream, wish that one day I too can work with his composers, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, to score one of my films. Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan, bewitch me as the rhythm of the editing and shot choices create such intense emotions through powerful images. I love both David Lynch’s and Federico Fellini’s surrealist dreamlike and nightmarish landscapes that they create in Eraserhead, Muholland Drive, and 8 ½. Last, but certainly not least is Bob Fosse. The immersive and personal filming style of Cabaret, the surrealist imagining of All that Jazz, the creative shot choices in Sweet Charity, and the imaginative choreography of all three I hope to embody in all of my films, but especially the horror musical film I hope to make one day!



















What’s your favorite aspect of the filmmaking process? Writing, directing, or editing?


I equally love directing and editing, because I think they are so intertwined. I see it as backwards design: start with the edit in mind, then plan the shots. Since I have more experience as an editor than a director, I have found knowing the editing process to be integral when filming. I can already see a version of the completed film in my head which informs my shot choices and coverage options. I don’t always have the time to film all the coverage I would like to capture, but coverage is key in the editing room! It allows you to hide the bad and highlight the good. Since I have a clear vision of how I want it to look, I feel that it is important to direct both on set and in the editing room.


How do you balance creative vision with practical constraints, especially in indie projects?

When searching for scripts, I try to identify scripts that have compelling stories, especially from a point of view we may not hear from often, few characters, few locations, and minimal special effects. My four short films were all self funded, so I feel like I was heavily sensitive to budgetary concerns. For example all my shorts were filmed in one day. Would have loved to film in two days, but could only afford one. Also means I need to wear many hats. For all of my films I have been a producer, director, and editor, while often also being casting, wardrobe, set decorator, marketing, etc. I can’t afford to hire for those roles, so unfortunately being spread thin prevents me from fully focusing on any one role. This is where I rely on my amazingly talented cast and crew for second opinions and another set of eyes to see things I may miss. In addition to wearing many hats, I also have ADHD, which adds an extra set of challenges. However, once again my amazing casts and crews have been super supportive and great at following my non-linear thinking as I explain my vision, ask great questions when I have difficulty expressing one thought at a time, and help me to get back on topic, as I am easily distracted or mind wanders into a thousand other thoughts about the film mid-sentence and forget what I was saying. I literally could not have made these films without them!


Tell us about a memorable on-set experience or a quirky behind-the-scenes moment.


On the day we were filming Instinct, a mother black bear and

her two cubs were in the woods, on the opposite side of the

park and went up a tree. Someone at the park called 911 and

both the police and animal control showed up! I thought the

whole film shoot would need to be canceled!

However, animal control said as long as we stayed away from

them, we should be fine. The bears stayed on their side of the

park, we stayed on ours, and we were able to film.


What advice would you give to aspiring filmmakers looking to

break into the industry?


By going to meetups, like the Northern New Jersey Film People

or Central Jersey Indie Film~ Actors & Filmmakers Production

Group (both on Facebook and meet in person), and attending

local film festivals). By doing this, you are surrounding yourself

with people who are rich with wisdom and advice. Plus these

networking events often lead to you being hired by someone

you meet or finding collaborators for future films you're making. Four of my regular/core crew members I met at the meetups, as well as several DP’s and actors I have since worked on films with. Once you make it onto a crew, and make a good impression, you may easily get hired by that filmmaker again and again and/or be recommended to their filmmaker friends, with the opportunity to move up quickly. For example I had a PA on one film, and she was so wonderful to work with and talented, that I asked her to be script supervisor on my next film, and she has been my script supervisor ever since. Currently, my screenwriter for my feature film has been so involved in casting, social media, and crowdfunding, that she now also has earned the title of associate director. Collaborate with others and it can be your ticket into the industry.


Lastly, if you could collaborate with any actor or actress, living or deceased, who would it be and why?


Vincent Price! He was such a horror icon and brought such a presence to every horror film he was in.

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