Fans are used to seeing Gillian Jacobs bring the laughs on screen with hit comedies like Community and Love, however, the Juilliard-trained star is quickly proving that she's just as talented behind the camera.
Attendees at the 2019 Nantucket Film Festival will get the chance to see her filmmaking skills firsthand during Friday's Afternoon Tea Talks program. The event will feature a discussion with Jacobs as well as a screening of Curated, her first narrative short film as a director.
Starring Ahna O’Reilly, Jefferson Mays and Jacobs' former Community co-star Danny Pudi, Curated is an unsettling story reminiscent of The Twilight Zone or Black Mirror that's impressively brought to life by the budding filmmaker. The short revolves around a young woman who travels to her late grandmother's estate alongside her husband, only to be taken on a strange tour of the home guided by a peculiar curator. As they peruse the rooms for keepsakes, the couple finds themselves on an unnerving trip down memory lane.
While Jacobs admits that her maternal grandmother partly inspired the matriarch at the center of Curated, she didn't want the film to be completely about her family's dynamics, which is why she was thrilled to work with writer Amelia Gray.
"I didn’t want to make it too autobiographical,” says Jacobs. “I wanted to work with a writer because I felt like they would give me the necessary distance to make it into an actual story.”
Jacobs also drew inspiration from one of her all-time favorite filmmakers, Ingmar Bergman. In particular, Jacobs looked to the late cinema icon's film Fanny and Alexander to help inform some of her creative choices.
“I figured I’d just try and rip off the best,” Jacobs jokes. “I was really trying to steal from Ingmar Bergman with his films."
"His films really stay with me for years after I see them,” she adds. “He’s someone who’s greatly inspired me."
Prior to its screening at the Nantucket Film Festival this weekend, Curated was released online last fall as part of the Shatterbox series by Refinery29 and TNT, an initiative that highlights female filmmakers in response to a 2017 statistic that showed only 8 percent of the year's top 100 films were directed by women. Although there's been so much talk in recent years about giving more chances to female creators, Jacobs hopes that the powers that be will do more than pay lip service by continuing to open doors for women in film.
“It takes sustained investment to continue to cultivate, nurture and give opportunities to women,” says Jacobs. “I hope it’s a long-term investment and not a short one."
As for Jacobs' future as a filmmaker, she plans to sit in the director's chair more often and is currently helming a yet to be announced documentary project. Overall, Jacobs enjoys the challenges of working behind the camera and sees it as an opportunity to grow as an artist.
“I was looking for a chance to be responsible for more on set because when you spend a lot of time as an actor on set, you get to observe a lot of directors," says Jacobs. "I felt the urge to try my hand at it. I wanted to challenge myself. I feel like I understand what my job is as an actor when I walk onto a set, but I wanted to push myself past that and grow.”