Interview with Director Heather Jack

By: Austin Keller

After screening her film Let’s Not Panic at Heartland Screen Festival, I sat down with writer and director of the film, Heather Jack and discussed general questions about her film and audiences!

What’s it like to have your film screened at Heartland?
It’s very exciting to be at Heartland. It’s a privilege. I have screened at a few other festivals so far, but I have really have enjoyed the audiences here. I think I am getting great Q and A, I think people are hopefully liking the film, and I have enjoyed being here. Yeah! It’s great so far!

What has been the best part of showing your film to other people?

I think the best part, for me is being in the audience and hearing people laugh. It’s really exciting. When you make a comedy, you get immediate feedback in the theater. And you see which parts people react to, and parts people think are funny. And that is, for me, the best part of the show – viewing it publicly.

Since you wrote and directed the film, you’ve seen it from beginning to end multiple times. Do you ever get tired of seeing the film?  

Oh, I never get tired of seeing it! Ha-ha, just kidding! Like I said, I get excited to see different audiences watch it. I don’t sit and watch it by myself at home or anything, but when I sit in with an audience and watch and see how different people react, that’s really exciting. I enjoy it. Like I said during the Q and A session, I do always see the things like “Oh! I wouldn’t have changed that” or “I wish this could’ve come out a little bit better.” So, you really get the benefit of hindsight. So, maybe in your next film or project, you can do things differently based on things that you see.

Based off that, what advice would you give other filmmakers who may want to submit their films to Heartland or other film festivals?

 I would tell them to make a lot of stuff. Give yourself room to make mistakes and keep making stuff. Most of filmmaking and this business is perseverance and I have submitted my films to a lot of festivals and I’ve gotten into some great ones, and I have been rejected from a lot of great ones. So, if you love it, keep making stuff. And, if you make a bad project, that’s okay! Make another project that’s goanna be better.

This is your first film written and directed by yourself, along with producing other minor projects. Now that you’ve graduated, what are your future plans in this industry?

 I’m planning –- I just moved to LA! So, I’m hoping to work more in narrative film and television and online. I would like to keep writing and directing. I love working in comedy. So yeah! Working on writing some TV samples and trying to get work and get some foothold in Los Angeles.

What about comedy draws you to making comedic films?
There’s something about my personal sensibility that appeals to me. I think comedy is the most fun to work with. I enjoy working on comedies on set and I actually think that – nothing against drama, but, I think comedy is especially challenging because it is so subjective because people think different things are funny. And to elicit that reaction from people is a challenge, it’s a puzzle and its fun, so that’s what I like about it.

I personally loved your Let’s not Panic, but have you ever gotten someone who didn’t enjoy it? What do you do about that?

Yeah, of course! I definitely have people who haven’t loved it as much as others. I didn’t make a film so that everyone in the world could love it. That’s too high of bar, too impossible and if everyone liked it, that means there wasn’t an angle to it, or something specific about it. I think that’s something important to keep in mind, you are not making a film for everyone in the world. You’re making a film for an audience. Maybe the audience that likes it, will be different than the one that doesn’t. It’s not for everyone! You have to live with that, and you’re happy about the people who do like it.

You’ve screened this film at Heartland and many other festivals. How has the reaction been? Have you won any awards?

 It premiered at Tribeca. It was a great opening! It’s played at mill valley film festival, and Tacoma film festival. It’s playing at Napa Valley film festival next month. We love to get audience awards. Hopefully, people will vote with their hearts and Heartland. Ha-ha! So, we’ll see what happens. I’m always excited to be a part of any film festival. Heartland is a fantastic festival, and I’m honored to be here.

What are your expectations in your film when it premieres at various film festivals?

 My hope is that people will laugh and enjoy the film while watching it. I’d love to at some point, early next year, release it online. So, if people like the film, they can like it on Facebook and stay up-to-date on it and share it with their friends when it comes out online. It’d be great! Just to get some exposure as a film maker.