Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am a director/producer based in New York and LA. I was born in Beijing, China then moved to Munich, Germany during high school and now I am in the US working as a freelance director and producer.
How did you first become interested in filmmaking?
I have always been fascinated by films ever since I was little. I watched a lot of movies with my parents and would binge-watch TV shows behind their back when they weren’t home. In high school, my school offered a whole year of filmmaking classes, from pre-production to post-production and by the end we each got to make a mini-documentary. I was extremely interested in the whole process and everything about filmmaking. It was, no
doubt, my favorite class. So when my family moved to Germany, I convinced my parents to send me to an international school that offers filmmaking as part of the IB curricular. Making films wasn’t just a hobby anymore because I get to do it inside and outside of the classroom. I used classwork as an excuse to spend a lot of time making my films and I never got tired of doing that unlike for many other subjects. That’s when I realized that I
would love to turn this into a career.
How did your time at NYU Tisch School of the Arts prepare you for your eventual career behind the camera?
During my years at NYU Tisch, I focused my study mainly on writing, directing, and producing. I tried to practice my crafts as frequently as possible. I would spend all my free time either writing scripts, working on my short film, or helping other people produce their films. Tisch certainly does a good job preparing you for your career inside of the classroom but I think the most valuable for me is that I got to work on so many films and establish great working relationships with my peers. Unlike a lot of film schools, where there are only a few thesis films going on every year and everyone fights to be on those sets, every single weekend at Tisch several sets are happening simultaneously. You never run out of sets to crew on as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort.
How does your approach differ from something like a music video to a film?
When I am directing a music video, I’ll spend a lot of time listening to the song and reading the lyrics, because I want to come up with a concept that fits within the world of the piece of music. But when it comes to writing a film, I have the freedom to write whatever I want. And that sometimes is the difficult part because there are unlimited possibilities and I have to decide what stories I want to tell.
What can you tell us about your latest short film, “Remnant”?
The idea for Remnant first came to me when I visited my grandpa with my family for the first time after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. I remember going to the nursing home to see him and he was just completely lost and had no idea who any of us were. It was really upsetting to witness that. Even though he was interacting with some of the closest people he knew in his life, his mind just couldn’t register that. That’s when the idea for Remnant first came to me. And then after drafts and drafts of rewriting I came up with the idea about a daughter visiting her estranged father for the first time and finding out that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s and thus not being able to recognize her at all. She came there to tell him off, unable to do so, but actually gained something more valuable in return, which is knowing that he cares about her this entire time.
How did it feel to receive recognition for your hard work on “Remnant” (Received an award from Best Short Competition for best directing and was a Semi-finalist from Manhattanhenge Film Festival)?
It’s definitely an amazing feeling getting recognized for something you love doing, especially from people who know nothing about you or your film. They simply like it for what it is. It is definitely great to know that your work is able to make an impact on someone in a positive way.
What’s next for your career?
There are a couple of projects that are in the works right now. I am finishing up a couple of music videos that will be released later this year. I am working on two nature documentaries that I am planning on putting into production next year. I am also planning to make another short film next year.
What advice would you have for aspiring filmmakers?
I would say don’t hesitate to reach out to the people you want to work with and the projects you want to get involved with. Don’t be afraid of rejections. You will get a lot of them. But as long as you are persistent, someone somewhere is going to say yes to you. Opportunities are for the prepared mind. People often forget that directing, just like all the other positions on set, is a craft that you need to practice to get better at. It is definitely hard to find opportunities to practice this craft, which is why I think it is especially important to actively create opportunities for yourself.
What’s your life like off-set?
When I am not on set I will spend a lot of time writing, coming up with new stories and ideas for projects. I like the habit of always brainstorming for my next project.
When I am not making films I love to cook and try new recipes. I also love to travel a lot, going into nature, hiking, and going to places I have never been before.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
● Here is my website, you can find all the work I mentioned in the article here:
● Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jennydakotahe/
● Vimeo: https://vimeo.com/user94955126