One of my favourite styles of film making is the Mockumentary. For those that don’t know a mockumentary is a narrative story filmed like documentary, often in a comedic or satirical fashion. It involves all the documentary tropes including handheld camera footage, interviews, and even sometimes “archival” documents. For director Jenny Bee it was the perfect style to truly explore the narrative of her new series Negative Space.
Directing for Jenny has been a means to an end for her love of creating stories. “Directing is a necessary part of seeing your vision through. Somewhere along the line, though, I found that I really had a knack for it and loved it a lot,” she explained. Her recent venture as director is a new series that she also wrote titled Negative Space. The story follows Brenna & Reed, two art students who view media in vastly different ways, that must collaborate on their next project. I asked Jenny where the idea of the story came from. “The story for Negative Space came out of this idea of what it means to openly like something and how vulnerable that makes a person. I have definitely been that person who irreverently mocks things and hates on things that people like, and after hanging out with more avant-garde artists in my graduate school class, I came to this sudden realisation of ‘Whoa, I’m being a huge jerk, I’ve been hanging out with people who are acting like jerks, I need to do some real soul-searching.'” She said, “Negative Space is like my apology letter to everybody I’ve ever made feel bad for liking something.”
Drawn to the idea of the medium being informed by the narrative Jenny chose to make the series a mockumentary and use the typically cynical nature of the style to present a sincere and vulnerable story about liking things, creating the perfect subversion to reinforce the narrative.
On top of this she also chose to work with a mainly female crew on the project. “I think we all had this intense anticipation of one-another’s needs, being an all female crew.” Jenny explained when I asked her if being mainly female changed anything about working on set, “Society definitely steeps female-identifying people in the notion that they’re caretakers and I think as incredibly damaging as that is for our collective psyches, it’s really useful for collaborative settings. We could communicate things to one another with just a glance, we’d provide food that suited each other’s dietary restrictions; a lot of things done just instinctively. That’s not to say that men aren’t able to have this quality, for the record, I just think it’s something they aren’t naturally socialised to have.”
Only the pilot has currently been shot as is available to watch on Vimeo. Despite going through a bunch of challenges including cast pulling out and losing previously confirmed shooting locations, it seems as though there were plenty of highlights to make up for it. “Honestly the whole experience was so much fun because my cast and crew were completely hilarious, wonderful people. It was like a party but also at the party we were filming a movie and everyone was tired. I don’t know if that sounds very enjoyable, but for me it was,” she said. “If I have to pick specifics, they’d be watching some amazing improv people do amazing improv, seeing how appreciative actors are of free sushi (seriously everyone, feed your damn actors), my producers’ unwavering support and empowering terms of endearment, and above all, the friendships with the actors I have after the fact.”
There is now a writers room in place for the next two episodes of the series taking it to an almost meta level of collaboration with the current cast members coming on board. The goal being to turn them into mini-webisodes. “I believe in a more collaborative approach to storytelling and creativity in general, so we’re integrating everyone in the process throughout,” Jenny said, “We’re going to put it online for public consumption, then make a kickstarter to get a budget to make more!” Episode One of Negative Space will also be screening at the Vegas Movie Awards in 2020.
FOLLOW JENNY BEE & SUPPORT NEGATIVE SPACE
Indiegogo – https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/negative-space#/
Twitter – @JennyBeeDesign
Instagram – @negative_space_film