Filmmaker’s Name:  Jonathan Stutzman

Film Title:  Thornbird

Film TRT: 8 minutes 40 seconds

Genre(s) (comedy, action, LGBT, etc.):  Drama, Fairy-Tale, Women

In 50 words or less, what is your film about? A fairytale about a young girl who finds a magic mask and is transported into a dreamworld.

What inspired you to make this particular film?  

I made Thornbird for my sister, and any other young women who might face issues of body image and self worth. Thornbird is inspired by a Celtic myth about a bird that only finds the ability to sing when it is pierced by a thorn, which I thought would be a beautiful metaphor for the story I wanted to tell. This is one of the reasons I love fairytales and mythology, they have the ability to speak into very human fears and dreams and life journeys. My hope is that Thornbird offers a glimpse into these terrible issues facing young women, and that it also shows the strength, courage, and beauty of the female spirit.

What’s the best experience you had making this film?  What’s the worst?  Why? 

The best experience in filmmaking, for me, is always the teamwork aspect. Making movies is all about teamwork, each person has a specialty and a talent, and sometimes the success of a movie rides on the way everyone gels on set. I had only worked with two of the production team before (producer Krista Imbesi & composer Matthew Letteiri) and one of the cast, so it was challenging, but also very rewarding. The production team and actresses were wonderful, and we had a lot of fun on set. There is nothing better than creating something great people and being able to share in its creation together. The worst part of this production was having such a limited budget and schedule (two shoot days). There were so many ideas and shots and possibilities swarming around my head that I wanted to put into the film but couldn’t. I thought we did fantastic though, with the time and budget we had, and I’m really proud of what we made.

In your opinion, what’s the best film ever made?  The worst?  Why? 

This is too difficult to answer so I’ll take the easy route and just name a few films I love. Some of my favorite films include: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, It’s a Wonderful Life, Pan’s Labyrinth, E.T., Tree of Life, Rushmore, and the Truman Show. I like each specifically for different reasons, but I think the core reasons I love them is that they gave me that rush of cinematic “magic” and made me feel something deeply about the world around me.

RE: a short bio… Tell us about your start in filmmaking.  Who are your heroes?  Did you get your start as an actor? A screenwriter? A grip?

I’ve wanted to tell stories ever since I was a little kid. I feel like most of my childhood was spent either reading or running around outside pretending I was Indiana Jones and Luke Skywalker. It wasn’t until high school though that I really got to thinking about filmmaking. I was cast in a role in my friend Sam’s horror film, and reading over the script I got the intense desire to write one myself. I literally drove to Barnes and Noble the next day and picked up a copy of Screenwriting for Dummies and began writing my first screenplay. It was terrible… but I was hooked, and now I can’t stop.

Some directors that inspire me: Steven Spielberg, Terrence Malick, Jane Campion, Guillermo Del Toro, Peter Weir, David Lynch, the Dardenne brothers, Alfred Hitchcock, Wes Anderson, and Joachim Trier.

Tell us about your connection to Mississippi.  If you don’t have one, why did you choose to enter Crossroads Film Festival?

I heard Crossroads was a great festival for film lovers and filmmakers, so I submitted my film. I was incredibly excited to hear Thornbird would be screening and I’m currently gathering all the snacks and road trip mixes for the 16-hour drive down to Mississippi. Can’t wait for the festival!

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