Jennifer Barnes: "I used to be very rigid about filmmaking, but I believe that like any art form, your approach has to grow and shift to remain interesting."
FURTHER THAN BEFORE: A CONTEMPORARY DANCE PIECE | USA 5’
A short experimental film/dance piece about sexual and emotional violence.
Hi Jennifer, thanks for talking to TNC, how is everything going?
No problem! Things are great, thanks.
Further Than Before: A Contemporary Dance Piece is part of the American Pavillion selection what does it mean to be bringing your film to Cannes?
It means everything to me. It is by far the most exciting thing that has happened in my film career, and it’s a huge honour to be included.
Will there be any nerves ahead of the festival or are you just taking it all in your stride?
A little bit of both. I have been so busy in the months leading up to the festival, I haven’t had much time to truly feel my nerves.
What do you hope to take away from your time at Cannes?
I am really excited to be surrounded by talented people that share such a strong passion for film; I hope to bring a bit of that community into my life and learn as much as I possibly can from this experience.
Can you tell me a little bit about Further Than Before: A Contemporary Dance Piece, how did this film come about?
In the beginning, it was a dance piece choreographed and performed by my friend Breeana Werner that we decided to film. Little pieces of other momentous occasions snuck their way into the cut: a friend’s bachelorette party, a few holidays. It slowly grew into an experimental piece framed around Breeana’s work.
What was the most challenging part of bringing Further Than Before: A Contemporary Dance Piece to life?
The most challenging aspect to Further was the editing. I edited the piece and am by no means an editor.
What have been the important lessons you've taken from making Further Than Before: A Contemporary Dance Piece?
The single most important lesson I learned from making Further was that making very personal work may feel revealing and uncomfortable, but it has the greatest payoff when it comes to audience reaction and connection.
Additionally, through this piece, I learned that sometimes the smartest thing to do while shooting is to relinquish control to your surroundings.
"Challenge yourself consistently and give yourself creative assignments."
Have you always had a passion for filmmaking?
Yes, I didn’t realize until recently that I have been shooting video as long as I can remember. I have always identified the film as the most immersive art form and chose to study it because I saw it as a cross between painting and writing. There are for sure shorts floating around that I made at about age 10.
How much has your approach to your films changed since your debut film?
It has done a full 180. I used to be very rigid about filmmaking, but I believe that like any art form, your approach has to grow and shift to remain interesting. Not only to your audience in the end but also to you whilst working. I would say my current approach is very free and welcoming.
Is there any advice you've been given that's stuck with you?
I have a professor that tells us at the end of each semester, “Don’t get down on yourself if things get slow, there is a place for everyone in this industry,”. After being bogged down by so many professors’ strict and stern ‘don't-expect-much’ advice, this was the best thing to hear at the moment.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?
On a similar note as my professor, I would say that there are slow periods and moments of inspiration, but the key to remaining artistically content through both is to remain consistent. Challenge yourself consistently and give yourself creative assignments. You will pull new and exciting things out of yourself this way.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Further Than Before: A Contemporary Dance Piece?
While the piece is about sexual and emotional violence and may not be the most uplifting to watch, I hope that people leave the film with a bit more tenderness in their hearts and the willingness to care for each other.