Featured Female Filmmakers – Part 35

Cover Photo: Jessica Redish working on the set of a Karmina music video. Photo by @longstreetphotography

It’s The Last Croissant But Just One Of Many Films For Director Jessica Redish

It’s 2021 and our 35th featured filmmaker on the blog! Jessica Redish’s comedy short film The Last Croissant garnered enough interest to spawn filmic sequel Airway, a second short comedy about flying which also boasts a 98% female crew.

As a child drawn to musical films like Annie and Little Shop Of Horrors Redish grew to love storytelling through music. “Now it has transitioned somewhat to comedy. I think comedy and musical theatre live in the same heightened place — indeed it is called ‘musical comedy’ for a reason,” Redish said. Whilst working with comedy her storytelling seeks to showcase women in a better light then mainstream media, “I believe filmmaking is a powerful way to tell a story and a good way to change minds on a grand scale,” she explained “I want to show women in full form, with complexities and realities, and upgrade and update how we are perceived. We can do so much more than be crazy and/or slutty! I believe comedy is the best way to tell the truth, and what’s great is the feedback I’ve received is that my films are relatable regardless of gender or sex. People seem to get it.”

Her short comedy The Last Croissant has a simple premise of what happens when the person in front of you at a café takes the last item left before you can buy it. This results in a very funny turn of events. I asked Jessica where the idea for the film came from. “Honestly, years of standing in line at cafes with only one item I want left in the bakery case. There might have been an incident with a French cruller at a Starbucks…” she joked. “I think the animal instinct in us is real — if we want something, we go for it, and sometimes I think about what I might do. There’s a French word for it, l’appel du vide, the call of the void. What would happen if someone actually behaved on their instincts?” The film was screened at the Portland Comedy Film Festival in October, played the Atlanta Comedy Film Festival in December where Jessica won Best Director, and was also just featured in the UK-based Shiny Network’s Shiny New Director Awards & Screening, where Jessica was shortlisted as one of ‘The Best New Directors Worldwide.’

Watch The Last Croissant below:

Jessica’s latest film Airway, completed in September of last year, is the sequel to The Last Croissant. “I was getting some good traction from Croissant and some major Hollywood players were interested in seeing what else I could do,” Jessica said. “The idea came about when I was flying frequently from Washington, D.C. to LA last fall. I would frequently sit next to men who just wouldn’t turn off their phones. So I would worry, naturally, and wonder if one person can really make a difference with tower communication. I once sat next to a guy who FaceTimed with a friend from take off until we lost connection in the air. We have a word for that in Yiddish, “chutzpah.”

Shot on February 26th in just 6 hours the crew was 98% female with DP Rachael Kliman and Producer Kira Leinonen pulling together most of the numbers. “They did an incredible job finding our amazing crew, and we also pulled from the Women in Media crew list, which is a great resource.” Redish explained, “Our first AD, Meghan Nealon, was fantastic and was someone I had met through Women in Media’s CAMERAderie Initiative in the summer of 2019.” The film also included the same lead actress from The Last Croissant, Jenna Rossman. “It was a great shoot. I booked an airplane location and gathered a large cast, most of whom were friends of mine and great actors. I’m so grateful for their immense skill and for their friendship!” Redish exclaimed.

There was limited time and a big crew on set but for Jessica Redish this was a positive. “I think as an independent filmmaker we think we can just DIY everything, and to some extent the digital age gives us that prowess and possibility, but truthfully, it takes that big a crew to make something that looks as good as possible.” she said. “We had 6 hours and we made it work. My DP and I planned extremely well and we had an incredible and efficient team running the set. My wardrobe designer, Anne M. Robinson, got everyone ready and set to go for approvals. Grip, electric and camera all set up smoothly and we were off to the races.” 

Jessica Redish on the set of Airway – Photo by Ashly Covington

With a shoot in February the main work of the project managed to be completed before the impact of Coronavirus really struck. However it didn’t stop the post-production process being affected. “Covid hit right before our scheduled ADR session so we had to cancel since we couldn’t all be in a room together. Fortunately, most of the actors have home VO studios or could record on their phones. It wasn’t convenient, but it’s par for the course at this point,” Jessica said. The colour grading and sound mixing were also affected as Jessica couldn’t be in the same room with her crew as the processes happened. “Worse things have happened to people this year. But seriously, I’m a detail artist and I think in person collaboration, like always, is best, so I look forward to the day we can do this safely.”

The other potential issue was that she had just filmed a comedy film surrounding flying which no one was doing anytime soon once the pandemic hit the entire globe. “After March 12th I wasn’t sure what was funny anymore, or if anything was funny, or if anyone was prepared to laugh (or wanted to).” Jessica said, “So I waited. I wasn’t sure if I had just filmed ancient history or not — no one was flying in March or April. Once things levelled out and flying proved safe, I figured, OK, this is not a horror film.” 

Director Jessica Redish – Photo by: Ali Levin

Jessica is currently submitting Airway to film festivals and it has received a great reception so far with some positive reviews in trade publications. There may even be a potential series on the way. “I would love for an online platform to serialize Jenna’s story. Many have said her neuroses are quite relatable and enjoyable to watch, so I believe watching this woman walk through the world could be heroic and tragic and amazing,” she said.

Apart from her two short comedies Jessica has also done some work directing music videos one of which appeared in HollyShorts’ Screening Series in May 2020, where The Last Croissant has been accepted this year as well. There are also more projects in the works for Redish including a short film called cat. which was a recent Semi-Finalist in Women in Media’s CAMERAderie Initiative, and Free Britney about a woman who goes on a quest to free Britney Spears only to realise she needs to free herself. On top of this her work has also been low-key likened to that of Martin Scorsese. “I cried when I read it. Of course, I had just been to the eye doctor and my eyes had been dilated, but the moment still stands,” Jessica said.

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