Jamal Rashad Talks About Jack & Jill

When a traumatized woman bumps into her forgetful attacker, she must convince her devout husband to stand by her side through sickness, health, and vengeance. It was our pleasure to interview the director of the film, Jamal Rashad.

What was the inspiration behind the making of Jack & Jill?

Jack & Jill originally started as a class assignment during my time as an undergraduate in the Creative Writing for Entertainment degree program at Full Sail University. The prompt was for us to take two people who would normally get along in everyday life and have them disagree with each other for the plot of the story, thus creating a protagonist and an antagonist. I chose to have a husband and wife disagree on whether or not to rob a bank to feed their starving children and ultimately kill a security guard in their escape. I pitched this story as my thesis film in the Film Production degree program as a graduate student and was greenlit to produce it. However, I couldn’t find a location that would best serve a bank robbery story and I consulted my mentor. I told him I was open to changing elements of the story as long as I could keep the element of Jack and Jill disagreeing about something, with Jack ultimately siding with Jill and killing David. His response was, “Cool, you just need to think of a character (David) you can kill anywhere.” After some brainstorming with my producer, Aerial Livingston, I realized I could “kill” a child-molesting priest anywhere. I ran it by my mentor, he agreed, and I was greenlit to rewrite the entire script and produce it.

When did you realize that you wanted to be a filmmaker?

I would say I was about four and a half months into getting my Master of Fine Arts degree in Film Production when I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. It was during the class “Directing Talent” that I had my first taste of directing something I had written and I enjoyed it. Truth be told, I had only applied to get my MFA because several of my professors from my undergraduate program told me I was good at scriptwriting and should pursue getting my masters.

What is the most fascinating thing about directing a film for you?

I would say the most fascinating thing about directing a film would be getting everyone interested in my vision. I enjoy conveying my passion for the story we’re capturing on film and getting them to understand that their job is just as important as mine whether they’re a Production Assistant or the Director of Photography. It’s watching that excitement and eagerness spread through the production and completing it knowing we all gave it our best.

How did you find the cast and the crew of your film?

I found my cast through a casting call held at Full Sail University. I found almost all my crew through networking with students from different degree programs at the university.

How is the film doing when it comes to distribution and who is your target audience?

Distributing the film has been easy as of late. I have a decent following on social media and have fans and friends who truly support my journey, so they’ve been sharing the film’s promotions and successes with their friends and family. My target audience has been ages 13 & up of all backgrounds. The reason I’ve focused more on age than anything else is that the film deals with a tough subject that some age groups wouldn’t quite understand without an adult explaining it to them. I didn’t target specific races or religious backgrounds because molestation can happen to anyone from anywhere.

What are you currently working on?

a. I’m currently getting my Bachelor of Science degree in Digital Arts and Design at Full Sail University. However, in my free time, I’m either freelance editing/color-grading or organizing/hosting table reads and open mic nights on Zoom. I'm also currently in pre-production for my award-winning script But, Love.

Talk to us about the themes of Jack & Jill and the motivation behind working on these themes? Why did you want to make this film?

a. I feel as though Jack & Jill has multiple themes. Two of the main ones are sacrifice (Jack sacrificing his freedom and conscience to protect Jill’s innocence and overall being) and trust (Jill trusting in her gut and experiences that she would be right about the priest having kidnapped the two girls and Jack trusting in those same things). My motivation for working on these themes was wanting to show an extreme example of what happens when victims of sexual assault/abuse/molestation are not believed or protected. I wanted to show what sometimes happens when perpetrators are not properly handled in the justice system or even sent through the justice system. I wanted this film to also be about

I wanted to make this film to speak on the sexual abuse and sexual assault of children, women, and men around the world. It’s meant to force the audience to feel the vulnerability, the uncertainty, the rage, and the strength of the titular characters. We live in a world where some victims choose to speak on it and some don’t, but for the ones that don’t speak and for the ones that aren’t believed when they do, I want them to know that I hear them. I believe them.

© LA INDIES I 2020