Jeffrey St. Jules: Filmmaker
Jeffrey St. Jules is a Canadian filmmaker. His films include THE SADNESS OF JOHNSON JOE JANGLES, which won him Best Emerging Filmmaker at the Worldwide Short Film Festival and the Genie-nominated short THE TRAGIC STORY OF NLING, which screened at the Sundance Film Festival. Both films premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
He is the first and only Canadian to have been selected for the CANNES FESTIVAL RESIDENCE in Paris. He is currently in development with SCYTHIA FILMS on a musical film entitled BANG BANG BABY. His latest project LET THE DAYLIGHT INTO THE SWAMP is a 3D documentary/fiction that recently had it's premiere at TIFF.
RUSTY TALK WITH JEFFREY ST. JULES
Kathryn Mockler: How did you first get into filmmaking?
Jeffrey St. Jules: In high school, we would go to an old fort called York Redoubt in Halifax to smoke pot and think about the craziest things we could put on film. I never actually filmed anything or even took photographs, but for some reason, I thought I could be a good filmmaker. Drugs can do that. There seemed to be so many possibilities inherent in the medium that people never bothered to try, and I wanted to try them. Then in university, I started trying things. I found out that tons of my ideas didn’t work, but occasionally something unique that I thought of worked, and I felt like it hadn’t been done before and that was exciting. I should mention that by the time I started making films, I didn’t even smoke pot anymore.
KM: What is the writing process like for you? What would be involved in a typical writing day for you?
JSJ: If I have the luxury, I like to be a 9-5er, or rather a 9-12er. In the morning my head is the most clear, so I like to write then. I feel I can kickstart inspiration if need be. The best way for me to do this, is to go on the elliptical machine and stare at a blank wall, because my body is occupied but my mind is not.
KM: How do you approach revision?
JSJ: With feedback. I need outside opinions to reshape the way I think about the script. I have a tendency to be lazy and prematurely satisfied if left to my own devices, so I need a trusted person to tell me what sucks. A complete drubbing can often be the most inspiring thing for my writing.
KM: Was there a writer or filmmaker that had a big impact on you?
JSJ: In my coming-of-age days it was David Lynch and Jack Kerouac. Probably because they made it feel like you could just make stuff that inspired you and you didn’t have to follow rules. They also both operate on an intuitive level, which I have always tried to stay connected to.
KM: What is the best piece of writing advice you've received that you actually use?
JSJ: Have at least a little bit of a plan before you start writing a story, or you will have to do a lot more work later in revisions. Sounds obvious, but when you buy into the romanticism of Jack Kerouac early on, you might not think you need to.
KM: Can you describe your National Film Board project Let The Daylight Into the Swamp?
JSJ: It’s a stereoscopic 3D documentary/fiction film about my grandparents. I suppose I would call it an exploration into the unknowability of our family histories.
KM: What are you working on now?
JSJ: A rock-n-roll musical about the hallucinations of a small town girl.
HERE'S A CLIP FROM
JEFFREY ST. JULES LATEST FILM:
LET THE DAYLIGHT INTO THE SWAMP
In Let the Daylight into the Swamp, filmmaker Jeffrey St. Jules reconstructs the story of his grandparents and their rugged frontier existence in the logging towns of Northern Ontario. St. Jules' tale unfolds on the bumpy back roads of life, where ultimately his family was dislodged. Blending fiction and documentary, myth and fact, comedy and tragedy, all rendered in 3D, St. Jules stitches together an elusive, fractured family history. Yet the joie de vivre of Franco-Ontarian life tempers the hardship and regret, infusing this visually inventive film with both joy and heartbreak.
OTHER SHORT FILMS BY JEFFREY ST. JULES
Rusty Talk Editor: