Have Motivation, Tell Your Story, Be True
When I first started out as a filmmaker, I wasn’t anticipating on making a career out of it. In fact, if I’m honest, I only took a film course in high school to fill my time because I was only a sophomore and I wasn’t allowed to have free periods yet. The moment I entered the dark classroom though, I knew my life was about to change cheesy, I know.
From sophomore year of high school to now, a senior in college, I’ve made questionable choices as a filmmaker, such as “Did I go to the right film school? Did I make the right decision to cut the shot here? Should I have made a film about this subject?” Over time though, I looked past these questions and looked at the bigger picture. I figured as long as I had a motivation for every action I took, I could only be proud of my choices.
All these questions, all these choices, all these moments, ultimately lead to the making of Jones.
Initially, Jones came to mind when I was, yet again, a sophomore. At the time, the idea stemmed from what I was surrounded by for most of my life: The Military and the effects of PTSD. You see, I grew up in a family where every generation had at least one member involved in the armed forces, and ironically enough, I go to school in a small town with an Air Force base nearby. It seemed like it was meant to be, even if I was only going to leave it as a simple script at the time. However, there was some charm about it that intrigued myself and my peers. Slowly, this production began to escalate.
Jones started out as a screenplay, as one would suspect. However, a theatre production known as Both Sides was approaching. This production was strictly meant to involve original student work, touching on the social and political issues of our time. When the theatre caught wind of this, a professor, who was there with me the entire time I wrote the script, came up to me and asked if I was willing to turn my screenplay into a play.
I’m pretty sure I officially became insane when I agreed to make a play out of a visually invested script, but when it comes down to it, this industry, whether it be film or theatre, is all about taking chances. If you don’t, what are you doing?
Alas, I miraculously did it and, as the theatre says, the show went on and inspired me to go back to the original and make the film version.
It was rather perfect timing. I was entering my Junior year of college and this is the first year where all film majors had to produce a “big budget” film. Jones seamlessly fit the bill.
For a while, I thought locations were going to be my biggest struggle. The script called for a desert, a house/apartment, a hospital, and an office. Let me tell you now that I was completely wrong and it wasn’t a pleasing feeling, either.
As it turns out, my biggest struggle was staying as close to Military protocol as possible, while executing the true emotions our soldiers could potentially go through. The amount of stress this caused me was unbelievable and there were a number of times when I thought about completely dropping the film.
Each time though, I got to thinking and I remembered all the questions that lead me to this moment. If I really felt like I shouldn’t make this film, we wouldn’t have gotten all the necessary equipment or previsualizations filming required completed. I had to go through with it; I couldn’t be the filmmaker that backed out out of fear.
Over the course of filming, we received a huge amount of support from veterans and they were completely invested in the film. Several gladly donated patches and uniforms, while another, who lived in Las Cruces, came on set and was very informative.
The more I got to know these veterans, the more I got to learn about their sacrifices and what it is they did. During those moments, I knew this was going to be much bigger than anyone imagine more than I ever imagined. Suddenly, I wasn’t doing the film for the grade anymore. The grade was the last thing that mattered. This story was to honor them and to be true to them. I could care less for criticism as long as I did right by them.
Written by Danna Wallace, director of Jones.
Born and raised in Colorado Springs, CO, Danna Wallace was first introduced to the filmmaking world in high school and has loved it ever since. Her first ever award was won back in high school for Best Documentary and she hopes that it is the first of many. She aspires to be a great filmmaker that tells real and honest stories, hence why she decided to create Jones. She is currently working towards a Bachelor's of Science degree for Digital Filmmaking at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, NM.
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