What does $5000 mean for a young filmmaker?
For Jessica Nipperess, that money opens a door. One that she will hesitantly step through on the way to her dreams. Because for Jessica, telling stories has always been her passion and the visual medium of film is how Jessica chooses to tell them.
On Tuesday Jessica was presented with one of those novelty-sized cheques that make for more interesting photographs - a handy visual metaphor for the $5000 she was awarded by Orana Arts as part of their Arts Restart program.
Orana Arts recently offered grants of $1000 to $5000 to artists and art groups living and working across regional NSW including Orana Arts council areas, of which the Mid-Western LGA is one. The grant program was made possible by the state government through the aforementioned Restart program which aimed to address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alicia Leggett, Executive Director of Orana Arts was there for the handover and spoke with the Mudgee Guardian about the grant and why Jessica was chosen.
"The pandemic definitely challenged the performing arts sector. So your musicians, your theater going, all the public face of the creative arts. So this kind of money was really because of the challenges with jobkeeper and all the initiatives that were out there to support people during the pandemic, the sector was really hit hard for that," she said.
"Her (Jessica) application was, was spot on. And the assessment panels really thought it was very impressive for such a young artist, as an emerging artist."
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Jessica is working with a number of other local creatives on a short film project to be completed in May. She said the money will go a long way towards things like purchasing better equipment which will take the film from amateur to professional, she hopes.
"I just love stories, basically. I think when I was really young I wanted to be a writer. And then for a while, I wanted to be an actor. Slowly I've just come to the realisation that filmmaking - because it's so visual and I connect with visual storytelling so much - I just really feel a pull to it," she said.
"This is the first time I've ever worked with like, any sort of funding. Yeah, the budget for my smaller films is about 20 bucks."
Jessica is producing the storyboards for the film, a change of pace from her typical workflow where she takes on every role in a solo project. The challenge will be working with other people, to a deadline and schedule. Pre-production is already underway and will continue through the school holiday break.
"This is a new direction for me, to take someone else's vision and then, you know, try to create it in my own way with their thoughts as well," she said.
So what is the film about? Jessica admitted she isn't privy to the specific details of the script since she isn't writing it. But she giving an idea of the plot and tone of the film, it appears the film is inspired by old anti-drug propaganda films of yore.
"It's about a guy who gets a coffee machine from his family on Christmas, and slowly becomes addicted to coffee. And it tears apart his family life and wreaks havoc on his home," she said.
"It's sort of it's sort of a bit of satire on the old propaganda films that they used to make about drugs and stuff. So yeah, I think it'll be pretty interesting."
The production will be 100 per cent local, including the filming locations and cast, which are predominately being plucked from Mudgee Performing Arts Group.
Jessica is being mentored by Central West filmmaker and Mudgee native Cadance Bell who said Jessica is a rare talent.
"'Jay-En' is perambulating brilliance. A gifted storyteller years ahead of her time, I look forward to seeing her name lit up on cinema marquees, or projected into my eyeballs on a technology she probably also invented," Cadance said.
"A once in a generation talent, enjoy her Mudgee, before she's a star to everyone else, everywhere."
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