When did you know you wanted to be a filmmaker?
I think there was always a storyteller in my bones. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to tell stories. There’s something incredible about the fact that I have the power to bring anything I imagine into existence. Anything I want to make, I can make. I’ve explored this in every art medium I can get my hands on. It explains why I do so many paintings and continue to work in the art department in film. I officially decided I wanted to pursue filmmaking as a career in 2013. I left Edmonton in 2014 to attend a film production program at Confederation College in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
Who are the filmmakers and what are the films that have had the greatest influence on you and why?
I am a bit of a cinema-geek, so my list of inspirations are long. To name a few, I adore directors such as Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, the Coen Brothers, Wes Anderson, Spike Jonze and many more. Their works are all extremely visually compelling, which is one of my main goals as a filmmaker. In particular, I love a lot of that grim and messy 90’s look that a lot of the listed directors have. I think this is partially because I love the look of practical sets and props. I like things to feel tangible and organic.
Where did you learn your filmmaking skills or are you self-taught?
I was self-taught until I decided to be taught much later. I always made little skits and animated short films as a teenager, so I picked up quite a few skills along the way. Then I took film production in college and I realized how much I still had to learn. Don’t get me wrong, my knowledge of filmmaking rocketed in those short couple of years. It was a really good school and they taught me a lot, but I don’t think you ever stop learning when it comes to film. I’ve found the best strategy is to surround yourself with people who are smarter than you.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned along the way?
Don’t compare your filmmaking careers with other people. There will always be more successful, better filmmakers than you. Some of those people will be your friends and co-workers. But don’t join the rat race trying to prove you’re a success. I find the best way to view your own film, is by asking yourself if it’s better than your last film. If so, it’s a success. If not, it’s a learning experience.
The second greatest lesson I learned was to be a finisher. You’re always going to want to strangle your own film in the process, but it’s better to have a completed film than a half-finished project that will never see the light of day.
What is the inspiration behind your work?
I’m fueled by a relentless need to tell stories in new and unique ways. I don’t want to make a film that already exists. Also being a Christian filmmaker, I refuse to make inspirational “Hallmark” films that come off as preachy. “Christian” is not a film genre.
What has been your favorite project that you’ve worked on?
There have been so many favourite projects I’ve worked on, it’s hard to choose. Most notably, I worked as a grip on season 2 of the Netflix Original, Lost in Space. That was the biggest set I’ve been on so far. Every once in awhile I would just look around the set and think to myself, “I’m here. I’m actually here.” It looked just like the big sets I would watch on the special features of my VHS and DVDs as a kid.
I think the other notable one would be my experience directing my short film, Utak. It was my first time directing after graduating from film school, so it was a big step for me personally. I got to learn about the joys of film insurance, equipment renting and what to do if your assistant director suddenly has a severe allergic reaction on set. Yes, that last one happened. It was truly a big learning experience, and the outcome of the film I am still immensely proud of.
Do you have any filmmaking rituals or habits when you’re working on a project?
Not any habits per say, but I always have a rule that there needs to be one really cool thing about the film we are making. Something that will grab the audience’s attention immediately and stay in their minds long after the credits roll.
What has been your greatest challenge or struggle as a filmmaker? How have you/are you choosing to overcome it?
My greatest challenge in filmmaking is filmmaking itself. There is so much to do, and so much can go wrong. I think the hardest part is you have to do it every day. There’s no shortage of things to do, situations to handle, papers to sign, money to sort, scripts to rewrite, auditions to go through, cuts to edit, and deadlines to meet. You as a filmmaker are at the mercy of the film, and it’s up to you to see it through without compromising.
What advice do you have for aspiring filmmakers?
My advice for aspiring filmmakers is to remain humble. Be gentle and kind to everyone you work with. The filmmaking world is built on networking, and most people call the ones they enjoyed working with, so never be a prideful or mean-spirited. Also, if you want to make a film, just do it! Whenever I am at a crossroads, I ask myself which I would regret more: Trying something and failing, or not trying and wondering what might’ve been. That always helps me commit to jumping into this terrifying cinema world.
What destination around the world would you most like to capture in film?
Honestly, I get so excited whenever we scout out a really cool location, I’m game to film anywhere so long as it’s practical. There have been so many amazing locations at our fingertips here in Canada, I don’t really feel a need to travel across the globe to film. I have traveled to various parts of Alberta and Ontario, and I’ve seen locations turned into everything from a 1970’s office to an alien planet.
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
I always answer this by saying the power to create illusions, because I love messing with people. You could yell, “There’s a giant man-eating dung beetle behind you!” And it would be true. Imagine their faces!
When you are not making films, what are your favorite hobbies?
When I’m not filmmaking, I am painting and drawing. I love creating art. I do graphic design as well, which is nice because I have had a lot of opportunities to create posters and ads for films I’ve worked on. When I’m not painting, I am unicycling and practicing my juggling. My plan is to join the circus if filmmaking doesn’t work out.
Where can people find you online or in person?
IMDb: Jordan Bouma
Vimeo: Jordan Bouma
YouTube: Jordan Bouma
Jordan’s recent projects:
Where Monsters Dwell Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zt-I5PMAC0s
Where Monsters Dwell Premiere interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvxXFOP7wak
Utak Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJin_zd_5x4
Utak Film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZorjqcnuh4&t=61s
A series of ours that didn’t get funded, but has some insight into what we do as filmmakers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRVPhH0sQLI&t=1s