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The Seed&Spark Blog

Rock & Roll, Bitches.

May 6, 2016

• Jen West

This is the 13th of Jen West's S&S blog posts about her upcoming feature, Electric Bleau. Follow the project here.

As many of you know who've been following the making of Electric Bleau, we had a loose internal deadline of April 15 in order to feel confident about funding while keeping our mid-June through mid-July dates. We now know that our production schedule will more than likely have to shift, hopefully by only 2-4 weeks. Some promising conversations and introductions are currently underway that will hopefully lead to a breakthrough soon. Otherwise, everything is set up and ready to go!

The reason why we need so much time on the front end is for several reasons:

  1. Production Design/Art Dept. prep. Electric Bleau spans three periods in the past and our team needs the time to prepare.
  2. Once we reach our funding goal, contracts will have to be signed, negotiated, and completed.
  3. Casting. This should take the least amount of time out of all three, but it still requires full attention and diligence.
  4. Not to mention all of the other things we need to finalize: locations, schedule details, crew, gear, etc. All of these things need preproduction funds in order to move forward.

Needless to say, we will require a solid six weeks before production starts with money in the bank in order to accomplish all of the above.

My big meeting with the casting director in LA went really great. She has requested some script updates in order to take the project into serious consideration, but fortunately they were all things that I ultimately agreed with. Even if she doesn't come on board, I am very happy with all of the industry insights she gave to me. It was definitely worth the trip.

The biggest question she left me with was about my audience: why do I think I am the right person to tell this story in what she interprets to be a primarily black film - both in cast and otherwise? I knew that was lingering in the back of other people's minds already, and I'm glad she boldly presented me with it.

When I wrote Electric Bleau, it wasn't about color. While most of the characters are actually biracial, to me the story is about so much more than that. It's about sisterhood. It's about the female struggle under the most difficult of circumstances. How much more isolated can you be as a woman of color in the early 80's punk rock scene, especially in the Deep South? I'm interested in those ideas and contrasts. How does one prevail in an industry that's not their own? You take it by storm, that's how. That's what Electric Bleau is ultimately about. The casting director wasn't saying that I was the wrong person to tell this story, just that I needed to be prepared to answer the question.

A few weeks ago we hit the recording studio with AJ Haynes, our lead and songwriter, to lay down five original tracks at Magnetic Audio in Birmingham, Alabama. This was entirely paid for by our development funds crowdfunding campaign that we held earlier this year. It was magic. Time stopped while we were in that studio. It's so great to have these songs on the front end as well as for a possible creative campaign that we are scheming up. While we had AJ we also shot a promo music video to one of the original songs. It's the first time that we've had her on camera in full character mode, and she absolutely killed it. I had chills.

We recently learned that our last short film, The New Orleans Sazerac (which James directed and I produced), was accepted into the Emerging Filmmaker Showcase at the American Pavilion as part of the Cannes Film Festival. Big news! This means that I get to talk the hell out of Electric Bleau while I'm there, in the chance that we still aren't funded at that time. And even if we are, I'm still going to shout it from the rooftops. It's a big opportunity and we plan to take full advantage of being there.

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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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