Jillian Mayer on inspiration, from the medium of film and upcoming projects from a talk show about pets to Kaiju


Jillian Mayer Art Basel Miami Beach 2014This month, The Miami Beach Cinematheque will hold its seventh installment of its Knight Foundation sponsored discussion series called Speaking In Cinema. Usually, the bi-monthly event features a local film critic, an out-of-town film critic and a guest filmmaker (this writer was one of the first guest critics). This time they are bringing together three Miami-based filmmakers for a very special installment of the series, and this is the first in what will be a series of interviews with the three filmmakers, who are all showing films in a retrospective series leading up to their talk. Meet Jillian Mayer.

She stumbled into film-making after graduating from Florida International University with a concentration in installation art and fiber in 2007. Her multi-media art has since gone on to garner her attention across the world, everywhere from art galleries to film festivals. Movie making has now become an indelible part of her repertoire. Asked for her inspiration in film, she chooses to go to the medium itself instead of a specific director. “Filmmaking offers me many things,” Mayer writes via email. “I love that the product is also the documentation. Artists are challenged with art making and then archiving the work, but video/film making joins those two concerns. I also like how media travels over the Internet. Also, it is a great format for me to combine so many mediums I enjoy in my art making such as performance, music, sculpture and installation.”

In 2012, she and her frequent collaborative partner, co-director Lucas Leyva were featured in Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” The editor in chief of Filmmaker Magazine, Scott Macaulay, will be in Miami to host the conversation at the Miami Beach Cinematheque with Mayer, Carla Forte (Miami Filmmaker Carla Forte on shooting hundreds of dogs in action and her impromptu poem on inspiration) and Monica Peña (Storytelling through collaboration – Director Monica Peña discusses filmmaking and upcoming Speaking in Cinema panel). “In 2012, Jillian Mayer and Lucas Leyva were two of the most inventive film artists around, and that hasn’t changed in 2015,” Macaulay says via email. “In fact, I’ve only seen their impact grow as more people become aware of the very original and Miami-centric work they are doing at Borscht. I’ve recently had the chance to see the beginnings of some of their newest work, and I’m every more excited about the waves they are going to create.”

The year Leyva and Mayer made Filmmaker Magazine’s list, the duo released a striking short film called “#Postmodem,” which had its world premiere at the 2012 Borscht Film Festival before going on to Sundance and the New York Film Festival. It’s a rather ingenious work that taps into existentialist concerns in the age of the Internet. In an interview I wrote for Miami New Times last year, both shared their interest in the work of the futurist philosopher Ray Kurzweil. Their concerns for memory, persona and legacy were given vivid life with their funny, brilliant and sometimes poignant short featuring an incredibly catchy musical number recalling ’80s freestyle music Mayer co-wrote with Michael John Hancock (of Viigo). You can watch the short in its entirety below. From little kids talking about their inevitable demise to a swing set in the clouds, this short will blow your mind.

As for now, Mayer is prepping for several exhibitions in 2016 that include LAX ART in Los Angeles, David Castillo Gallery here in Miami Beach, and Art Space in Raleigh North Carolina. So keep an eye on those spaces. As for recent shoots, Mayer reveals that what was once her initial pitch to Borscht, “a faux talk show for people and their pets” is coming to fruition. “Lucas Leyva and I just shot a pilot show about a fun fake animal talk show with support from an incubator we are in with Time Warner called 150,” she says.

Finally, Leyva and Mayer are also in the middle of production on their first feature film, a movie inspired by Japanese Kaiju that somehow explores the filmmakers’ Cuban-American identities. They are working with some members of the visual effects crew behind Beasts of the Southern Wild. “About four weeks ago, we shot the prologue to the film at Miami Theatre Center,” she reveals, “which starred two Japanese Bonraku theatre puppets. Next part of the production will take place in various towns of Cuba, and the final segment will take place in Miami.”

Hans Morgenstern

The Miami Beach Cineamtheque begins showing the films by these local filmmakers starting this Friday, Oct. 16. For a detailed schedule, follow this link. It culminates in a discussion with the filmmakers, also including directors Carla Forte (read her profile here) and Monica Peña (read her profile here), and Filmmaker Magazine Editor in Chief Scott Macaulay. This profile series continues tomorrow with a piece on Peña.

You can also read more about these filmmakers and their retrospective in an article in the Miami New Times by jumping over to the alternative weekly’s art and culture blog through the image below:

NT Arts

(Copyright 2015 by Hans Morgenstern. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)


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