Jessica Stover’s Plans to Take Over The World

jsto_intvw.jpgVirginia transplant, one time Womp Skater, and blogger Jessica Stover is, like most people who’ve moved to Los Angeles, here to make movies. Unlike many of us, she has yet to give in to the studio system, and has looked to the internet for an innovative way to make buzz for her project even before anyone has heard the synopsis (let alone read the screenplay).

Via, Ms. Stover has had over 230 people “demand” that her film project be released in their area, totalling over 45 cities so far…

I recently sat down with emailed some questions to “JSto” to find out what the hell she’s thinking by bucking the studio trend, what this top secret project is all about, and some mandatory questions to keep the interview LAcentric…

What are you doing with and why?
Currently, with Eventful, I am supporting the audience’s screening demand for an original epic fantasy film trilogy I’ve written. This makes sense to me for a few reasons: 1. Nearly everything “notable” I’ve ever done has had something to do with new media and working with the audience directly. 2. I believe in my audience and the timing is right in that I’m marketing the story to producers and so forth. 3. From Wheaton’s experiences, I was already aware of, and stoked on, what Eventful offers. Their staff is a pleasure to work with. 4. I believe in change via the power of gathering.

You’ve been vague as to what your project is about beyond the genre – why should people back your project when there are so many other writers and projects out there? What sets you and yours apart?
This is the big question, right? I can’t wait to show nerds, the universe, everyone some of the art so that they will realize that we aren’t fucking around over here and that this is serious shit that has been a long time coming. Sharing some of the art will also eliminate the leap of faith, or at least make it more of a step of faith. Here’s how I feel about the matter: People can read my site and look through the art and use their weird magic (a.k.a. critical thinking skills) to decide. If this leads them to want to attend a screening, and so request it at this point (an unprecedented opportunity), then I’m thankful and I’d love to hear from them. It’s not a huge risk on their part. If it doesn’t, then they can go about their business. I don’t really know that a proactive defense for “why I should be allowed to do my job” is necessary. I work hard, I have an amazing team and audience already established and building. Plus, you know, I’ve only staked my life on the story. So what do I do when I can’t yet show you a trailer? Concept art and everything I can tell you without compromising your theater experience.

Have you tried any other unique avenues to get your project noticed?
No. Although we do have concept art and other pre-vis materials along with the screenplay, I would consider that normal. However, the standard screenwriter does not do those things. In meeting with [X] large agency, they have been slightly good-confused at each stop because I came in with all this intellectual property. Usually only screenwriters in this genre who want to direct their project do that sort of work. My goals are different, People in meetings oft ask, “Yes but you want to direct, right?” to which I respond, “Are you out of your mind: I do not have that skill set!” They seem to agree (in a relieved manner). Haha–It’s nice to agree on something for once. Primarily, I focus on keeping my eye on the ball, which is maintaining the integrity of the story while finding a way to share it, and I do what aligns with that goal. Maybe I only have one big story in me and this is it. That’s the trouble with anything being possible: It can go both ways. ;-)

You’ve expressed disappointment in the way studios choose projects…
Yes, what person working in film hasn’t? Perhaps that disappointment is part of why certain production companies are taking measures to distribute themselves? In this way they can eliminate studio meddling. ICON comes to mind, and I believe Walden Media has such plans in place as well.

My complaints mostly rest with big-budget endeavors, especially anything sci-fi or fantasy related. There are handfuls of good films made in a year, after all, which is why I look forward to the wintertime when the smaller, “Oscar films” are released and sulk all summer long through crap the likes of The Da Vinci Code, Pirates of the Caribbean and X3 (Oh! The disappointment of that last one!). Is there room for those sorts of Bruckheimerian films? Absolutely. But when every big budget film, the most highly visible and widely distributed myths in our society, are on that level, there’s a problem, and that problem is reflective of you and me and everything, really. So I’m concerned. It will be interesting to see if what I learn over the next few months alters my point of view.

Also, when will your site be finally unveiled, and what sort of cool stuff can we expect?
The new JSDC launches at the beginning of next month. I will refrain announcing an exact date because I usually pad my production schedules, so it’s possible we’d launch before whatever I stated and then you’d call me a trickster and I just couldn’t live if you called me a trickster. Most notably, and related to this article, the new site has project areas. The most prominent project area is the TSL section where we will share concept art rolled out over time and more. Beyond that, the look and feel will be visually related to the bigger stuff I create that cannot be shared online. Needless to say I’m looking forward to re-launch.

Where do you go in Los Angeles to be inspired or to “be creative”?
My room. The dark, dark, solitary of my room. I’m not a caf√© writer and I don’t particularly find LA inspiring. I used to open water swim at Will Rogers Beach to clear things out, but given the activity on the SoCal shark report, the unpredictable waters lately (thank you, team of rip tide and 10-year-old girl that nearly drowned me), and the pollution, I don’t have the desire to visit the beaches here anymore. I go to gymnastics multiple times a week and that usually cleans my mind out nicely in prep for writing. I realize that this question was geared toward localizing our exchange, so I should probably mention my church, a.k.a. the ArcLight Cinemas. (Try the midnight services on Thursdays.)

What does Virginia need from Los Angeles, and what does LA need from VA?
It is my official stance that all places everywhere could use a few more Ninjas and far, far less Pirates. Oh and better smart-growth plans. No but really, I find it important that LA and VA (and places in general, especially in this time of globalization) retain their differences. I mean, from one place you can get to here, from the other, here. Both locations, clearly, have their own advantages and charms.

Truly, though, I do wish I could take the fantastic tools and professionals in LA and transplant them into some sort of rural VA-like place. That would be ideal. I think Lucas has it right with his whole Skywalker Ranch idea (so beautiful and calm there). Other filmmakers have similar setups in Texas, New Zealand… . Seems like a nice way to work, no? I much prefer working on location to working in Los Angeles.

6 thoughts on “Jessica Stover’s Plans to Take Over The World”

  1. When I find an author, movie, or show that I truly enjoy I market it to friends and family. I talked up Joss Whedon’s Firefly, purchased copies for my sister and brother-in-law, and loaned my own copy out several times. I was showing The Fellowship of the Ring trailer on our large-screen displays at work at the conclusion of my staff meetings a full year before the movie was released. I feel just as passionately about Jessica Stover’s work, frequently talking to friends and family about how terrific her writing is and how entertaining she is, and often mentioning her work in my own small blog (which is read daily by about fifty friends and family).

    I am a huge fan of fantasy and science fiction, and constantly make recommendations in that genre to family and friends. I enjoy movies and books such as The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Star Trek, and Harry Potter. I enjoy reading the works of such successful authors as Peter David, R.A. Salvatore, Terry Brooks, Stephen R. Donaldson, and Robert Jordan. I count Jessica Mae Stover’s talents among these literary best sellers and would greatly enjoy seeing her work made into film. Her writing is smart, dependable, skillful, and a pleasure to read. I was the first person to purchase a copy of her book Aidmheil literally seconds after it was available, and am trying to do my small part to ensure the Eventful effort is a success.

  2. Stover is an amazing creative energy. It’s been a privelege to be exposed to her work, thought process, and everyday life comments. I have complete confidence in her ability to thrill me, and movie viewing audiences everywhere, with TSL, and would have supported production of this film without any information at all. I simply believe in the caliber of her work. How could you not when you’ve already seen what she can do? And for that, I will back her until the world ends for any project she dreams up. Using Eventful to “demand” screenings was an ingenious idea. With so many film fans tired of the trite, predictable, unfulfilling films out today, Eventful has provided a simple and tangible way for all of us to both express our displeasure and hold strong for something better. Thanks for the interview!

  3. Great article. I have been reading Jessica’s blog for a while now. I really enjoy everything that she has done. When she self published Aidmheil I was one of the first to order. I love that book and have reread it several times. I read a ton and I have a short list of authors that I have enjoyed so much that I always buy the next thing they release. Jessica is on that list. Since she has used that same talent on a screenplay, I know that it is something I would love to see.

  4. I think that it is amazing that Jessica has found an alternate way to get her films produced. In my experience some of the best art is made when the artists think outside the box to get it done. I know that these films will get made. Good luck Jessica!

  5. People will undoubtedly ask themselves why they should support this project. How do you get behind a screenplay you haven’t read…a movie
    you haven’t seen?

    Go to Stover’s website. Let her words, ideas and passion inspire you. Is that not what good story is made of?

    Jess believes in her story. I believe in her. Do you believe we can make a difference?

    Only one way to find out…….

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