Jennifer Bonior – Genre Blender

Jennifer Bonior Jennifer Bonior is a writer and producer and co-runs Untrademarked Productions in Nashville, TN. Her new feature film, Worm, is set for release in 2013.

My coffee beverage for Ms. Bonior is a Mocha with double the espresso…because she always seems to have energy (so she must be getting extra caffeine) and probably likes chocolate.

When was the moment that you wanted to be a filmmaker? 

I was a sophomore in high school. I remember the moment very clearly. We were going through a bunch of Shakespeare plays and I was given an assignment to make a video that had something to do with one of his plays. I just remember going crazy with it. It was very elementary, but I remember saying to myself while filming, “this is the way life should be.” And it got even better in post-production. It was the camaraderie that made it so invigorating.

At that moment what kind of filmmaker did you want to become? 

I didn’t fully understand what a filmmaker was until I started film school. But early on I really admired Tim Burton. His films were so whimsical and fun. It was those types of films that I wanted to make.

What was it about Tim Burton’s films that you loved?

He is able to do something that I still try and do with my films – blend genres. Burton is perfect at that. He mixes the cute and the endearing with the horrific. Beetlejuice was one of those first films that did that. It was so crazy and weird, yet so cute at the same time.

Which filmmaker inspires you most now? 

I feel like I always have a bad answer for that because I am always influenced in the moment. Whatever I am watching at the time is usually what is influencing me then. I am like a teenage girl – I fall in love with who’s hottest at that moment. For instance right now its Sofia Coppola because I just did a study of Lost in Translation. I really try and watch a film and learn something from it, not just be entertained.

How do you study a film? 

I watch it once while I am falling asleep and just let it wash over me. Then I go back watch it carefully. I’ll rewind to specific parts and stare at what they are doing, or focus on a line of dialogue. Sometimes I will even transcribe a scene. If something struck me I try and find out what it was and how it was done. I usually try and focus on the acting and dialogue. One film that I always go back to is William Friedkin’s Bug. And there were moments in PT Anderson’s The Master that were incredible.

What has been the hardest part of your journey as a filmmaker? 

Staying inspired and not getting discouraged. Its easy to go and watch a film and get extremely depressed. You see this great piece of art and then go sit at your computer and try to write and you don’t feel like its as good as you would want it to be.

How do you push through that? 

I go back and read things that have inspired me. I am a short story person. I especially like Stephen King’s short stories. I can’t tell how many times I have stolen one little element from them and created an entire script.

What is the most embarrassing moment you have had as a filmmaker? 

A short film that I produced was being screened at a festival and the projectionist stopped the film after the opening sequence because he thought the film was over.

What style would you say your films are? 

I really try and be a genre blender and have a different fee to every film I make. I try and mix comedy, romance and horror. Not gore though. Psychological horror. There is just something great about combining the cute and the macabre.

What is your favorite component of the filmmaking process? 

I love every component when I am in it.

Is there one that you like least of all? 

Production actually. There are just so many extreme pressures on set. Its the only stage where you can’t have off days. In a way it is the most limited from a creative standpoint because you are stuck within specific parameters.

What is your favorite role in making a film? And what are you best at? 

My favorite is to be a creative producer and be paired with a director that allows me to have creative input into a project. Like the Cohen brothers. But I am probably best at being a regular, “normal” producer.

If you weren’t a filmmaker what would you be doing? 

Teaching. I don’t know what, but I know that I would be a teacher. I was always good at school. I like doing assignments and excelling so I would love to teach.

If you had unlimited financing, unlimited time and no consequences to reputation…what film would you make? 

Probably some sort of heavy handed film about women. It would be so therapeutic to be able to tell a story about the things that women deal with. The things that I deal with. Like its not easy being a white woman. People think we have it easy, but I constantly deal with sexism and feel pressure to prove myself.

What is your coffee beverage of choice? 

A vanilla soy latte. That is the perfect drink. Nice and sweet.