DAY FOUR November 6, 2005
AFI Success Story Patty Jenkins Returns as Festival Juror
by Chris Davison
Film festivals are wonderful for film lovers, but the less frequently examined perspective is from the point of view of the folks who provide the content--oftentimes independent, emergent filmmakers attempting to make a name for themselves while navigating the choppy waters of commerce with artistic integrity intact.
Director Patty Jenkins can testify to the difference a Festival experience makes, though. It was at AFI FEST, after all, where she brokered a deal that helped shape her career and lead to the Oscar-winning MONSTER, her feature film debut. Jenkins returns to AFI FEST this year as a juror for the International Shorts Competition--screening November 7 through November 10 at the Mann Chinese 6--and, on the eve of the Festival, took the time to answer a few questions about her relationship with AFI FEST and KODAK CONNECT, a partner program that offers AFI FEST filmmakers an intimate and intensive framework of one-on-one meetings and other educational and networking opportunities with more than 90 high profile representatives from various corners of Hollywood's filmmaking community.
AFI: What motivates you to participate in AFI FEST 2005?
Jenkins: I love AFI FEST. It is one of my favorite Festivals, and I have a long relationship with it. In 2001 I had a short (PERSONAL VELOCITY) entered into the Festival and the other shorts were some of the best I have ever seen--so good that I ended up seeing all of them. As a filmmaker, I benefited tremendously from having my film in the Festival.
AFI: What are some of your thoughts and feelings as you prepare to attend this year's AFI FEST?
Jenkins: I am very much looking forward to seeing all of the films, I have good memories of what the festival was able to do for me and I am excited about the opportunities being presented to other up-and-coming filmmakers.
AFI: Can you describe for us the day you went to KODAK CONNECT and met your producer for MONSTER?
Jenkins: It's one of those things where, as people say, you never know when opportunity will knock. We both had many conversations that day, and [neither of us knew] that was the one that would lead to something so big. It was amazing. You never know when it will take off like that. Brad Wyman was the producer I met. The meeting was 10 minutes long and incredibly direct. Brad just said he heard a film was being made about Ted Bundy, and I said I was thinking about making a film about Aileen Wuornos. Brad encouraged me to do it and said he could help by introducing me to people, and then it happened. That initial conversation resulted in a number of other conversations down the line and eventually the movie, which won an Academy Award for Charlize Theron.
AFI: You're also an AFI graduate. What were some of the things you learned that have helped to advance your career as a filmmaker?
Jenkins: A lot of different kinds of hands-on experience making films. Being at AFI helped me interact with people in the industry. Amazing guest speakers came in and I received both a formal education and an informal education.
AFI: Do you have any advice for young women who are interested in becoming directors?
Jenkins: Just don't think about the fact that you are women directors, go forward like anyone else.
AFI: Is there anything you would like to add, anything you want readers to know in closing?
Jenkins: I went to KODAK CONNECT two different days. I remember, before the second day, thinking, "Why bother, nothing will come from it," but now looking back I'm so thankful that it happened. It's wonderful to think that a 10-minute meeting during AFI FEST resulted in the closing film for the fest two years later.
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