Q&A with Jordan Schiele, dir. of The Turtle at Encounters
Monday 28 September 2015, by
We caught up with director Jordan Schiele at this year’s Encounters festival in Bristol. His funny, off-beat short The Turtle was screened and made our very own Mydy awards list!
How did you get into filmmaking?
Going to the movies or the videostore was a hobby that my parentsshared with my sister and me. We both became filmmakers. I never thought of it as a career, but just something to try out that got me excited. When I lived in Shanghai, I had a Swedish friend making his first feature film and he asked me to translate for him on set. It was
a chaotic and happy time in my life. Gradually, film became a larger and more important part of it.
Can you tell us a bit about how your first short came about?
I went to New York University- Tisch Asia for grad school in Singapore. My first short was an assignment: a 4-minute black and white silent film. I had no idea what kind of story to tell. Then, a professor who’d seen a strange exercise I’d brought to class suggested I make that idea into a film. She discovered a lot more meaning in it
than I intended. From then on, I decided not to think too much about
why a story attracts me. Even if it’s weird or few people will understand it.
How did you fund your first and second shorts?
Student loans and depleting savings from part-time jobs in college.
What conditions/organisations/people would you say where the most helpful
in getting the films made?
I like to involve people in my life who inspire me as much as possible in the filmmaking process itself. I’d say anyone who’s ever inspired me or tugged at my heartstrings.
What were your biggest hurdles?
You’ve now directed a feature. How did you find that experience and did the shorts act as a calling card to find support and funding?
I recently completed shooting my first feature film and we’re currently in post. I was very, very lucky and had the support from Cannes Film Festival to develop the script and attend the festival and project markets worldwide with their residence programme. The committee examines the directors’ previous work as well as their scripts, so shorts
are a crucial introduction to someone’s work.
What has been your best festival experience?
The first time I attended Cannes was an overwhelming experience. I remember every moment of the two weeks there and I’ve made friends for life and deepened existing friendships during the festival. But I can’t recall a bad festival experience. What’s great about festivals is how much they’re injected with the energy of the local filmmaking
community and audience. I’ve attended New York, Locarno, Pusan, Guanajuato, Rome, Atlanta and Palm Springs. They’re different worlds, but the people who run the festivals and the audiences are all very excited about film and people who make them. If doubt has been a hurdle, they mitigate that, wash it away.
Any films on the festival circuit this year you care to recommend?
I haven’t had the chance to attend any festivals this year as I’ve been working on several productions. But many of my classmates from Tisch Asia, which closed its doors last May, have shorts playing on the circuit. Some of them I’ve seen, but most of them I haven’t. So I’m hoping to have the chance soon and would recommend them to
everyone. It was a unique experiment in filmmaking to have young people from all over the world work on films across Asia. Although the school’s closed, the community is active and will continue producing films. I’d also recommend seeing Laurie Anderson’s feature doc Heart of a Dog.