Visual Storytelling

Making movies is telling a story through pictures, performances, words, and sounds. I began this journey into movie-making through visuals first when my father taught me how to develop photographs when I was in 1st grade. No, before that, I started ballet like many pre-schoolers and started learning about physical movement and performance timed to sound. Eventually, I began writing and falling in love with the written word. I would rewrite and rewrite letters to pen-pals until they were perfectly worded and that the words fell on the page in a visually interesting/impactful way. I began taking piano lessons.

But learning all these techniques does not give you story. For story you have to live. You have to understand, or at least seek understanding. You have to engage in relationships and the world around you, expand what you know and try to look through another’s eyes…It’s a never-ending quest to find story, to write story, to tell story because you are constantly learning and experiencing and framing…

Add to all that the variables of performance, location, crew, equipment, luck, and making movies becomes a miraculous feat when one is completed. A study in controlled chaos. You have to tell a story using the visuals you capture, supported by the sounds you captured and/or design.

So here is a story of how I started discovering my eye.

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We did it! ACID TEST funded!

ACID TEST got the green light on Seed&Spark meaning we received the funds raised in April to get us through post-production. More to come!

Thank you to everyone who contributed and followed, tweeted and posted. We couldn’t have done it without you!

And if you want to support ACID TEST but didn’t get a chance to during our Seed&Spark campaign, you can still make a tax-deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor SWAMP!

Jenny

New Music Video!

So proud and excited to share the news that the band Giant Kitty, featured in my short film ACID TEST, asked me to direct their music video for the title song of their debut album “This Stupid Stuff.” The song is about microaggressions in our language and actions today that perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices in our world. The lead singer came up with the concept, which I formalized and structured for shooting/editing purposes.

“The new video, directed by Jenny Waldo, is one of those combination concept and performance videos that’s a throwback to the ’80s, when music videos had their own dedicated television station and the politics of hate weren’t as overt as they are now. With the clever use of the most basic of props, sticky notes and a Sharpie, interwoven with footage of the band performing the tune on stage, ‘The Stupid Stuff’ exposes the absurdity of the politics of hate and fear and its reliance on stereotypes and labels to feed into the ignorance and prejudices that adversely influence your actions and interactions with others.”Examiner.com

Enjoy!

Why this project? Why now?

There’s a lot of work that goes into making a movie – short or long – and I know it’s a choice I make to do it, especially when it’s outside of my day job that keeps me and my children alive. Yes, I would love to be able to do this as my job full-time, but it’s also incredibly freeing to choose which projects to do and when. And no matter how much is going on at my day job, I am constantly, constantly, working on a creative project. I don’t see filmmaking or writing as “work” even though it’s hard. I don’t see it as work even though I know sometimes I’m sucking at it. To me it’s like breathing – it’s part of my autonomic system. It’s in my DNA.

The cover for my journal when I was 15

That knowledge was something I discovered when I dropped acid as a teenager and came home after a concert with hours more to go in my trip. All I wanted to do was write things down. I was a wildly moody teenager (or maybe that’s just being a teenager) and writing about the world and about what was going on in my head helped me survive from one day to the next. I truly believe that writing saved my life, and as it saved my life it became my life. So no matter what I’m doing, every day, I’m writing or reading or watching something that expands my knowledge of the world, of myself, of people, but mostly of storytelling. The goal changed as well from simply surviving to the next day to producing something for someone else to enjoy.

Recently, I wrote a short film about this moment in my childhood. ACID TEST will be in production at the end of January. So the question is: Why this project? Why now?

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Support Short Films! ACID TEST

We are producing the upcoming short film ACID TEST about a teenage girl who drops acid at a concert only to go home and confess to her parents what she’s done with four more hours to go in her “trip.” Set in 1992, the story is about teenage rebellion and parents’ unconditional love and was inspired by difficult personal experiences.

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To be or not to be…Casting

I’m currently casting for an upcoming short film that I’ve written and will direct. As a writer/director, I both love and hate the casting process. I love it because I get to try on different faces and voices and bodies to the characters and words I’ve had dancing around in my head; I hate it because I have to pass judgment on people based on face value. It always makes me think how hard it must be to be an actor, putting your face and your body out there for a quick judgment without knowing you or your abilities or your passions. I couldn’t do it, and so I admire everyone who is bold enough to throw in their hat, and I want to tell each and every one of you “Good luck!” and “I wish I could take all of you!”

At the same time, I see a number of ways that actors are shooting themselves in the foot with their submissions. Websites like Backstage.com or Actors Access allow you to submit more and more to peak a casting director’s interest, but MORE IS NOT ALWAYS BETTER. So here are some things, obviously based on my own opinions and experience, that I would like to offer as food for thought when you submit:

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Nightmares are Real

One winter when I was around 10, on the road back to DC from Montreal, the weather forced us to stop overnight. In a hotel room with a street lamp right outside our window, casting shadows everywhere, my father turned on the TV and watched NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. I was supposed to be asleep in bed, but I wasn’t. And so I watched and would be afraid of Freddy Kruger well into my adult life.

Wes Craven terrified me as a child, and yet from everything I’ve read about the man, he seemed so unassuming, so quiet, and so nice. There was something about this sensitivity, his intelligence, and his quiet yet forceful dedication toward storytelling and filmmaking that I always respected and admired. He was part of the flashiest section in the flashiest field and yet he seemed anything but. It’s a testament to the imagination. He is our generation’s Hitchcock.

RIP to a man who made nightmares real and revolutionized and inspired horror films.

The Wonder of Harry Potter Land

It’s summer in Florida; people said not to go. But due to various scheduling restrictions, we had no choice. We had to go to Orlando at the end of July and do Disney and Universal with the mob of everyone else. I think we did it right overall, but the highlight of the trip, hands down, was Harry Potter Land in Universal Studios Orlando.

“Why?” My brother asked, astounded (and possibly disgusted since he hasn’t read any of the books and only saw the movies under familial pressure). “You’ve traveled around and seen real castles and real towns and real beauty, but you act as if nothing compares to Harry Potter Land.”

He was right: nothing compares. I can tell you that Prague is the most beautiful city I’ve been to and still go googly-eyed looking at the Hogwarts Castle in Hogsmeade. They are two completely different things. One is borne out of history and survival. The other is borne out of the imagination.

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Movie Mondays: What I Learned at Cannes

I can only speak to my experience, and I hope to go again to build from this experience. I’m sure some of this info will change for the next year, but the gist of it will probably remain. I think so much depends on your expectations and goals and how you adjust to the reality when you arrive.

Going into the trip, I imagined Cannes was going to be a glamorous and elegant event all around, filled with celebrities right and left. Having lived and worked in Hollywood for a few years, especially on studio lots, I thought that by gaining entrance to this invitation-only event, that I would be treated like I belonged in this crazy world of movie-making.

Why am I always looking for approval and validation?

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