Skip to main content

Filmmaker Spotlight: Interview with Director Julia Tasker of Skinny Jo




This week's NewFilmmakersLA Spotlight is on Director Julia Tasker of the film, Skinny Jo. Get to know Tasker's work, learn about her latest project, inspirations and catch a few tips for filmmakers just starting out.

Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you've been working on it. 

Skinny Jo tells the story of a nineteen-year-old girl in depression-era Mississippi, scrapping together the means to buy pot from a Choctaw medicine man named Tombi, to treat her mother’s epilepsy. Along the way, Jo runs into Billy, a flirtatious local boy, who reveals that he has started running hooch for moonshiners in the area. With Tombi’s help, Jo is able to devise a plan that can help her family and possibly get Billy out of his current line of work.

We started Skinny Jo in the spring of 2011, as our thesis at the American Film Institute. The initial team consisted of producer Carlen Palau and myself, but later grew to include cinematographer King J. Greenspon and editor Lindsay Seyffert. Carlen and I knocked around a couple of ideas and started really fleshing some of them out. However, the night before our scripts were due, I went to Carlen with two short scripts in the works. She told me to go home and finish Skinny Jo, an idea that was born as a nod to William Faulkner while addressing the issue of medicinal marijuana. A year later in April of 2012, we shot for six days at the edges of LA. Then the film was put through a rigorous battery of screenings at AFI and one day of re-shoots. The team worked together through post-production, all the way through our final sound pass, ensuring we had completed our vision for “Skinny Jo” all on the same page.

Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?

A huge thanks goes out to the copious family and friends who donated to Skinny Jo. But even more giving than that were the immediate family members who stuck by our sides and continued encouraging us. My dad, John Tasker, offered me hours of counsel and guidance based on his experiences in the business world and the school of good old common sense. Carlen’s parents, Gail Polivy and Manual Palau flew out from Maryland and were right there with us in the trenches. Rounding out our incredible crew: Production Designer Mary Pingree and her art department team, Elisa Solomon (hair and make-up), script supervisor Christian Villarreal, as well as a dedicated camera department and grip and electric crew.

How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at the AT&T Center?

In a word, ecstatic! The reception to this film has been wonderful and it feels great that people are truly entertained by our Skinny Jo. We are completely honored to be a part of New Filmmakers.

What inspires you?

Outspoken women, men with accents and undeniable amounts of sexy appeal, and the occasional rowdy southern drag queen. I’m really referring to my native south and the characters I spent my teen years gallivanting with. My friends, I’m inspired by them. My dad, family history.

Who are your influences and who do you admire?

In my life, I admire my grandfather, Jack Tasker, an artist, businessman and all around friendly person. The man had friends everywhere. I want to be like that.  Influences start with Charlie Chaplin and go all the way to the Notorious B.I.G., in between you’ll find Jim Henson, Edward Hopper, and directors Mary Lambert, Bernardo Bertolucci, Nick Roeg, and Martin Scorsese. I am taken with the work ethic of Karl Lagerfeld and from where he pulls his inspiration. He surrounds himself with it.


What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?

The number of people involved with a particular shot increases the amount of time it takes to pull the shot off. A locked-off camera and one actor, not a big deal; add an ensemble cast in a period-costume drama, a couple of cameras, a dolly, and a prosthetic or two and be prepared to let the artists who work behind the scenes do what they need to make it all work. I love that. It kills the assistant director of course, but it’s nice when the other departments get to show their mettle.

If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?

This may seem a bit from left of field, but I have always been a fan of Vincent D’Onofrio. His style and the characters he chooses to play are endlessly fascinating. It has just always been a hope of mine.

What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?

I can’t point to one specific experience, however my mother and my cousin have suffered with a mental illness. My cousin lost his life because of it. It’s terrible for everyone involved, and it’s a journey that never stops. Some days, or weeks, are better than others, but you stay on your guard constantly. It has really instilled in me a strong sense of empathy and it definitely colors my work.

What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?

Don’t take things personally, whether it’s good or bad. It’s just a reflection of a moment the other person is having.

What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?

Introduce to yourself to everyone. Especially when working on set. It breaks the ice, you never know who you will meet, and you make a lasting impression.

Where can we expect to see you next?

Skinny Jo is currently making the rounds at festivals across the country. We should be hearing back from some more festivals soon, so check our Facebook for updates!

Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects. 

Please check out SkinnyJoFilm on Facebok and www.skinnyjofilm.com to keep up with where we are going. Also you can follow me on Twitter at TheJuliaTasker.

Anything else you'd like to add?

Just that I can’t wait to see the other films in the showcase!

For more information, visit: http://www.newfilmmakersla.com/


About the Author

Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
Questions, comments or suggestions?
Follow Twitter.com/ChristyBuena    


Popular posts from this blog

2017 EXXXOTICA Expo Dates and Locations Announced

Riding high off its most successful event to date in Edison, New Jersey, the EXXXOTICA Expo presented by MyFreeCams is already looking forward to 2017 with a trio of events planned around the country. In addition to its longstanding shows in Chicago and New Jersey, the show’s producers are pinning a new city on its map — Denver, Colorado for EXXXOTICA Mile High.


EXXXOTICA’s debut in the Rocky Mountains has been in the works for years, and event organizers couldn’t be more excited to bring the show to Denver. The 2017 show schedule kicks off in grand style with EXXXOTICA Mile High, March 31 through April 2, 2017. The show will be taking place as a full hotel takeover at the Crowne Plaza Denver Airport Convention Center.
With nearly 100,000 square feet of exhibition and breakout space, EXXXOTICA Mile High will not only feature hundreds of exhibitors and the top stars in adult, as well as seminars and performers, but the hotel will be transformed into the hottest hotel in the country wi…

BEAUTIFUL RIGHTS Gives Women’s Rights Some Real Lip Service

Beautiful Rights is here to give women’s rights some real lip service. This new, cause-driven makeup initiative, founded by renowned makeup artist and product developer, Kristen Therese Leonard, was created to ensure that women’s rights continue to be given their share of voice in our country’s future.

As we enter into 2017, real concerns regarding women’s rights are upon us. Beautiful Rights was created to remind every woman to speak up, and that the responsibility lies within each of us to protect the rights we’ve fought so hard to acquire.

Beautiful Rights will promote women’s rights by donating 20% of all sales (not profits) to organizations that support our causes, such as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, Emily’s List, Lambda Legal and Legal Momentum. The 20% contribution is set as a reminder of the fact that women in the U.S. still get paid 20% less than men for doing the same work.

Not only will Beautiful Rights fuel great initiatives, it will also provide women with top-of-line…

Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale Releases March 9, 2017

Aniplex of America Inc. announced today that the nationwide release of the highly anticipated feature film Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale- will take place on March 9, 2017. Details on theater locations and tickets for the nationwide release will be announced at a later date on the official homepage (www.sao-movie.net/us). Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale- will be distributed by ELEVEN ARTS in the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.
About Sword Art Online: The animated TV series Sword Art Online is based on author Reki Kawahara’s light novel in which the protagonist Kirito fights to survive in the mysterious next-gen VRMMORPG called “Sword Art Online.”
Since the first volume of the novel was published in April 2009, the series has proved extremely popular, with cumulative sales exceeding 12.5 million units in Japan and 19 million worldwide, spawning two TV anime adaptations, video games, comic books, and merchandise.
Story of Sword Art Online the Movie -O…

Summer Survival: Pick the Most Breathable Fabrics

Summer is inching closer, and while we're all psyched for the perpetually warm weather ahead after a tough winter, pretty soon it's inevitable that the heat, humidity and summer sun will leave us feeling, well, less than fresh.

Chrissy Volk, wardrobe consultant for Adahlia Volk has put together a cheat-sheet for navigating through the best, most breatheable fabrics for the season. Who ever looks at clothing "ingredient" listings on the tag - well, this season think of it as your guide to "cool."

SUMMER FABRIC "INGREDIENTS"

DENIM
COTTON + STRETCH = CUTE BUTT: Cotton jeans are the lightest for summer because they are airy and breathable, however, jeans with a small content of stretch are the most flattering. They will move with your body and it’s movements.BEST DENIM BLENDS: Chrissy suggests denim with a high cotton content, and small synthetic content. A jean with either a 98% cotton/2% lycra or 96 % cotton/4% Lycra fabric, is a good combination. J…

Book Review: "Feel Me Fall" by James Morris

Survival, suspense, fear, love, death and a major plot twist are a few key themes that describe the brand new Young Adult novel, Feel Me Fall, by James Morris. Having read two of his previous books, including Melophobiaand What Lies Within, he definitely succeeds at taking you on a crazy adventure where you can't stop reading as you'll want to find out what happens next. The first few chapters of Feel Me Fall are reminiscent of the classic book, Lord of the Flies, the TV show "LOST," and even the Tom Hanks movie, Cast Away, where a plane crash in a remote area forces survivor(s) to fend for themselves away from modern day luxuries and civilization. One of the major differences is that Feel Me Fall is centered around high school students, where their teen issues collide with primal survival instincts. 
Unlike Lord of the Flies, which was written in 1957, Feel Me Fall gives a glimpse of today's world where parents and teens dabble in video games, things go viral on …