Chasing the Rain Writer, Director and Producer Cindy Jansen talks about tackling big questions and the plight of Independent filmmakers
Writer/Director/Producer Cindy Jansen talks to TheReviewGeek about her recently released movie Chasing the Rain. Billed as a suspense drama on Amazon Prime Video, it tells the tale of a seemingly normal guy with a hidden background. He’s making his way in life until adversity strikes, which then piles on top of his unresolved past.
|Image: Director Cindy Jansen|
Jansen uses her picture to ask the question ‘why?’ but not to answer it. “It’s unanswerable this side of death,” she says. Why do some individuals have more suffering than others? With this, we move straight into the central question of the lead: ‘If hope is stupid, why would anything matter?’
Jansen wants to challenge the perception of extreme suffering. In movies, problems are typically resolvable within a two-hour run-time. Or they miraculously fade away, often paving the way for a moral.
Jansen is keen to delve deep into the concept that some people have more to carry and must ‘white-knuckle’ through life. The narrative is intentionally big – the overwhelming prospect as a small sample of what some of us face every day.
There’s a desire to investigate how extreme sufferers blend in with ‘normal’ people in an authentic way. Without a movie-magic miracle or easily-won solution, some unfixable hardships are invisibly dragged along. It’s down to the individual to find a spark of motivation to keep going.
LIFTING THE LID
Degreed in psychology and addiction, Jansen notes the well-meaning messages in our culture such as #blessed. From the other side of the coin, a scarcity of blessings can feel disenfranchising. We talk about how negative occurrences are defined as ‘acts of god.’ And the persistent idea that ‘bad situations’ are tied to the simple definition (rather than the spirit) of karma. A polite way of blaming (and skirting) the victim: Hey, you’ve done this to yourself, Buddy, either in this life or the previous one. It’s tongue-in-cheek repartee with Jansen but filled with real compassion.
The addiction piece is interesting too and Jansen explains that the part of the brain that makes choices – the parental part – is damaged by drug use. She believes a mother’s instinct may still remain, if but in sporadic glimmers. This can be seen, for example, when Eric’s Mom, affection shining in her eyes, says she really believed she’d gotten him a winning lottery ticket.
With such a life-like work, this visceral idea of white-knuckling sticks with me as we chat. I’ve seen it – we probably all have – and it’s not pretty. But it is human, undeniably. How exhausting to keep saying you’re ok when sometimes things simply suck. How strong must you be to keep on walking as the load multiplies? Yet there are those who do it every day.
Eric probably thought moving in with a random guy from the laundromat would be an easy. How could he anticipate gaining a brother – a nosy, silly, annoying and caring brother who refuses to let him hide? Another little sparkle of hope.
Aside from the story itself, Jansen discusses creating her first full-length feature. As a writer, she’d intended to create a play but somehow became an Indie writer/director/producer combined. ‘I didn’t think I could or should lead a movie, but I had directed theatre.’ She says.
Originally, Jansen had imagined a performance with friends and neighbours so entering the world of independent filmmaking was a leap. Once the idea of a movie was planted, she sought guidance. “I had a connection to (fellow Michigander) Director Josh Becker (Evil Dead, Morning, Noon & Night and TV’s Xena: Warrior Princess). He advised directing if I wanted to see my vision made. I hadn’t anticipated producing too.”
“Having now achieved the triple role of writer/director/producer, I would happily let go of producing,” she notes. “As a standalone job it’s great, but it’s very hard to do all three at once.”
It’s here where Jansen shares a memory of shooting a pivotal scene when she was pulled away to deal with an over-the-limit venue-owner, instructing the camera operator to just keep rolling.
|Image: Hakeem Kae-Kazim (Hotel Rwanda, Godzilla vs. Kong) and Matt Lanter|
There’s also a powerful eco message in Chasing The Rain. Now is the perfect time to share it too, especially when the planet is telling us it’s had enough of our wasteful ways.
Originally set in South America, Jansen switched with an opportunity to consult with native Kenyans locally who both understood the issue and were able to help create the set.
But in either country, a solution for clean water is still an issue. “Organizations are trying to address infrastructure, putting the community in charge,” Jansen shares. “Without that, every solution is temporary.”
Regardless, Jansen is pleased to be indirectly re-raising the issue.
HURDLES OF INDEPENDENT FILMMAKING
Jansen conveys the pressure of competing for eyeballs and gives a view of Indie filmmaking. “Our budget was small so we were dealing with limitations,” she notes. “The furniture in Stu’s house came from my living room.”
Many motion pictures die midway to the camera, so getting an idea to screen is itself a huge success. But the reality is, “viewers have a choice to stream this or an A-list film. There’s no golf handicap for Indie pictures.”
Spoken like a true creative, Jansen considers how with more time, money and experience, she could have told the story differently. But in the end, she got there. Jansen didn’t set out to make a great movie but on a mission to tell a great story. We think she achieved this but do you think she nailed it?
Chasing The Rain is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video. Have you seen this Indie? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!