Jennifer Proctor is not your typical filmmaker. For starters, she greatly enjoys horror films and thrillers because of how they commonly end with a female hero, usually as the last one alive. I’ve never come within five feet of a horror film, but after hearing her point out that horror films are oddly feminist (?), I may have to watch one.
What makes Jennifer Proctor a unique filmmaker is how she doesn’t film any of the footage herself. So how can she call herself a filmmaker? While listening to Jennifer talk about Nothing a Little Soap and Water Can’t Fix, an interesting movie where she studies how the film industry represents women in bathtubs on film, I realized Jennifer is an investigative filmmaker. She seems almost like a detective, compiling various footage from multiple films to make her own movie. Jennifer called this process “confound footage” during her Writer to Writer talk at Literati Bookstore.
In other words, Jennifer produces movies about movies. It’s quite an interesting process, to be honest. Her process reminds me of meta-cognition — thinking about thinking — but we’ll instead call her process meta-producing, or making films about films. And there we go again, getting philosophical and all.
But that is exactly what Jennifer does. She is basically doing a thematic literary analysis on the entire film industry in her movies, uncovering hidden meanings in the angle of a certain shot, the clothes of a certain character, or the actions of an actor. She divulged during the interview that producing her movies is also an emotionally taxing process, since she is uncovering biases and patronizing acts.
One thing Jennifer mentioned during the Writer to Writer event, was how she sometimes doesn’t even know what the movie will be about when she begins researching. She begins by watching a lot of movies, and I mean a lot, which sounds like a great job to me. However, while watching these movies, Jennifer never really knows what she is necessarily looking for. She related this process to trying to put together a puzzle without a picture.
That statement of hers, the one about the puzzle without a picture, reminded me of the process of our three experiments in the gateway course. When we all first started the course, I, if not all of us, was tiptoeing around my chosen topic, wondering if it would go anywhere. When starting my research, I knew I had some guidelines on what I was looking for, but was A) still not that confident in my ability to reach an audience, and B) was dabbling in a genre and medium of art that I had no prior experience in, and was in a bit over my head. However, after that first experiment, I had gotten my mojo, and now, looking at the podcasts I produced, I can see why Jennifer takes the plunge into researching the unknown.