10 Questions With Jessie Kahnweiler

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Jessie Kahnweiler is always busy.  She’s the writer and director of such films as Meet My Rapist and Stupid Questions.  I’m very happy she took the time to answer some stupid questions for me:

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If you were greenlit for a dream project with a boundless budget, who would you want most to star in it? Who would comprise your sort of “dream cast”?
Ryan Gosling and no wardrobe department needed and no camera needed, either! Jkjkjkjkjk – Kate Winslet and Lucille Ball and my cat Rosie but her schedule is pretty packed.

According to legend, Stanley Kubrick saw David Lynch’s Eraserhead and wished he’d directed it. Have you ever had a moment like that? Have you ever seen a movie that so perfectly captured a feeling or an essence that is so you uniquely YOU and wished the movie, as-is, had been directed by you?
I’ve been binge-watching “Rectify” on Sundance Channel – since TV is the new film I’d like to give this show as my answer. It’s sooooooooo slow but totally hold-your-breath captivating. It’s shown me emotions I didn’t even know I had. The tone is so confident yet totally gentle. It makes me want to call my mom, get a divorce, and dance in the rain all before the first commercial break. It’s so real and at the same time totally magic.

That doesn’t really answer your question but I love watching stuff I would never make. It peels back the layers and opens up my little specific version of reality. I’m constantly humbled by filmmaking – its really hard to make a shitty movie much less a good one.

How old were you when you made your first movie? What was it?
I “directed” my first teleplay in 4th grade – I basically copied an “I Love Lucy” episode because I knew it by heart and directed all my friends. It was the first time I remember the teacher saying something to me besides, “Stop talking.” I never did that great in school but I really remember this moment – bringing people together, playing make believe, laughing our butts off – it felt so right.

Who are some of your idols?
Lucille Ball, Kathleen Hanna, Elaine May, Lenny Bruce, Barbra Kopple (who made this doc called Harlan County USA in the 70’s about coal mining – watch it right now if you haven’t seen it – it’s everything).  My grandpa Alvin Boretz who was a working screenwriter for over 50 years.

I think everyone, back in the day, back in the 90’s and early 2000’s, had a couple movies on tape specifically to fall asleep to. Not because they’re boring and not because they’re comforting, even, but because of their familiarity. Something you can pop in, recognize the dialogue and fall asleep to as it plays in the background and drowns out the noise. What were some of yours?
YES hahah omg I love this – let’s see, if TGIF wasn’t on I would be watching Empire Records, Clueless, Dazed and Confused and Kids on repeat. I thought Kids was SO fucking badass when I was in middle school. I recently rewatched it and was like “meh” but I think that’s kind of the point. And Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion and fuck you for judging that.

What was the first movie you can remember seeing in the theater?
Indigo Girls – oh wait that was my first concert – first movie – The Little Mermaid, maybe? but I probably fell asleep because I couldn’t handle not being a mermaid.

Was making something like Meet My Rapist cathartic to make or was it more something you felt that you had to make?
Both! It came from a really personal place but it’s been awesome to see the project take on a life of it’s own. EVERYONE told me not to make this film – so having like one other person, besides my mom, like it is so fucking cool. It’s helped me trust my own voice and keep making movies about the shit that scares me most. I’m doing a one woman show called “the rape girl” in LA because there’s been such amazing fodder since the film came out. It’s the rape that keeps on giving.

What movie are you most embarrassed by secretly liking? By all definitions and by all logic it’s terrible, but you still like it anyway.
The Best Man, The Best Man Holiday, The Best Man…Musical (please god!!!)

Scorsese loves a camera that never stops moving, in order to simulate the human eye. Gordon Willis always wanted the camera to be at eye-level with the characters in the scene and hated high shots and crane shots. Do you have anything like that, any obsessions or auteurist flourishes with how to place the camera in any given scene?
Since I come from a documentary background I tend to favor the more natural/organic style. But making something look “natural” is a fuck load of work. I like the camera to be like another character in the room, who maybe doesn’t have much to say but is a damn good listener and makes a great Old Fashioned.

What’s coming next? Do you have anything in mind for a feature length film production?
You sound like my family! I’m working as hard as I can! 🙂

I’m prepping a new web series, doing lots of live shows and writing a feature film comedy about—well, buy me lunch and then I’ll tell you all about it.

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