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Quarantine Q&A: Jess Kohl, Prettybird
In our latest Quarantine Q&A, filmmaker and photographer Jess Kohl reveals some very tasty recommendations - including a filmmaking masterclass from the iconoclastic Mark Cousins that you can watch right here.
And Jess also reveals her own superior taste in mask-wear.
What were you working on before the lockdown?
The last thing I shot before lockdown was a music video near Eastbourne [for Sam Tompkins]. It was quite surreal as there was an awareness that this would be everyone’s last shoot for the foreseeable. It made me realise how lucky I am to do the job that I do. We were shooting on 16mm and our last shot was on the beach and there was a beautiful sunset.
What are you working on now?
I’m lucky that I have a few longer form projects that I’ve been working on which are keeping me active during this strange period. I’m working on a project with The Face, one with Dazed, and a personal project which I hope to be my first feature doc. I’ve also had a couple of jobs come in during lockdown - it’s quite interesting thinking of new ways to make films. I’m trying to see these constraints as a new space to be creative within.
What's the most surprising, or least predictable thing, that's happened to you during quarantine?
I think the most surprising thing about this period is just observing how the world is changing. It’s such a strange time to be living in, being part of this global collective experience. As days go by I observe myself settling into this new way of being - quieter, more in tune with myself and my loved ones. It’s surprising how quickly we can adapt to a radically different way of being.
It’s such a strange time to be living in, being part of this global collective experience.
Are things getting harder/better/staying the same?
For me, things feel like they’re slowly getting better. At the beginning of this period I was really in a state of anxiety and panic - seeing what was happening in countries like Italy and Spain, and our government not acting quickly or responsibly caused a lot of stress. One can’t stay in that state of anxiety constantly, so as time goes by and countries start to recover there’s a feeling that maybe this will be okay. I’m very lucky that people close to me haven’t been hard hit by the virus, and hopefully this can continue.
What have you learned about yourself during quarantine?
I think with some more retrospect I’ll see what I’ve learnt about myself during this period. Unfortunately I knew I was anxious / neurotic before!
Best meal you have eaten/are regularly cooking (send photo, if poss!)
I’ve been cooking barbecues really regularly - I actually even had a lunchtime barbecue for one - usually unheard of for a Wednesday lunchtime. It’s been fun spending more time cooking and making elaborate meals. I’ve just discovered the book Essentials of Italian Cooking, a classic cookery book with lots of basic delicious recipes.
Best thing you’ve watched, or heard, while on lockdown, and why? And the worst…?
The ICA have been sending out a really nice newsletter each day. A few days ago there was a link to Mark Cousins' 40 Days To Learn Film, a two hour video approaching film language in a fresh way. He has an incredibly soothing voice, and introduced me to lots of new films. I’ve been sent links to some incredible archives of films too - one of the good things to come out of this is people rallying together online to spread information and entertainment.
How's your Work/Life balance at the moment?
Right now I’d say work/life is quite well-balanced. Of course it’s easy to get distracted at home, but it feels like it’s okay to not be being governed by my productivity right now. The pace of life is changing whether we want it to or not, so spending more time walking, cooking, talking to family is something I’m happy to embrace right now.
• Jess Kohl is a director at Prettybird. Check out Jess's showreel here.
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