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The Seed&Spark Blog

Film Crowdfunding
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December 5, 2016

• Jen West

 

The election and immediate aftermath have given me renewed inspiration to look at the script for Electric Bleau with a more minority-forward eye. Our story, set in the 1980’s New Orleans punk scene, touches on both the expectations of the entertainment industry and Southern culture at large. The family in focus is of Creole descent, with varying shades of skin color. I think there are ways to refine the script further to demonstrate greater rebellion and obstacles. No more easy way outs, no more giving our lead characters a break, as that’s not the way of the real world. I want our audiences to see the extraordinary challenges that being a female, much less one of color, presents when attempting to conquer a dream.

 

What do I know about being a person of color? Let’s be honest, I’m about as white as they come. But I am female, and having grown up in a small rural town in Alabama, I certainly know a good deal about what race relations look like in the Deep South. My school was 98% white, meanwhile the next school about 10 miles away was 98% black. While you can make the argument that school districts were drawn up by area, I found it more than convenient for the community’s sensibilities. I’ve seen my fair share of hate, elitism and ignorance.

 

I was also the target of religious bullying for most of my elementary and high school days. Growing up Catholic would hardly seem like anything unusual, but in rural Alabama you might as well have been a devil worshiper… I know, because I was called that more than once. Out of 1,200 kids in our 7 to 12 high school, there were roughly 15 Catholics, and even fewer Jewish kids. I was made ashamed for a religion that I was born into, often being asked if “I was saved.”

 

Does this make me able to relate to the experience of being a person of color? Absolutely not. I am still a white person, and it wasn’t clear what my religion was upon first glance. You can’t hide the color of your skin. That is a very different life experience.

 

I want to see a greater variety of people being represented in film. Like most, I’m exhausted of white-washed stories with predictable, bland statements. I have a strong desire to be inclusive in what I create, as we live in a world full of beautiful diversity and devastating struggle. My favorite films take significant risks. They are bold and brave. This is the kind of art that I want to create. In a lot of ways I identify with the anger, aggressiveness and ambition of the lead female characters in Electric Bleau. I also have a lot to learn about them, from them. We all do.

 

We are still making strides in our efforts to fund this film. December and January are traditionally slower months, as a lot of people shut down in the entertainment industry for the holidays. 2017 slates are either full or are filling up. Lucky for us, the type of investors we are pursuing are a little more flexible than filling up x number of slots in a year, but I do think it’s harder to get answers and meetings during the colder months. I still think that 2017 will be our year to make this film.

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You can follow Jen and Electric Bleu on their Seed&Spark page here.

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Jen West

Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Jen West is a writer and director living in Atlanta, Georgia. She is known for writing and directing Piece of Cake (2006), Crush (2011), Bubble (2013), Call Me (music video for St. Paul and the Broken Bones, 2014), and Little Cabbage (2015). She is currently in preproduction on her first feature called Electric Bleau. She studied design at Jacksonville State University and film at The Art Institute of Atlanta.

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