One on one with Jamie Lee: Crafting Cinematic Tales through Movement and Emotion
Hailing from the eclectic mix of Australia, Canada, and Malaysia, Jamie Lee, a multifaceted artist currently based in Brussels, Belgium, is captivating audiences through her unique blend of dance, film, and technology. With a versatile career spanning across roles such as dancer, choreographer, filmmaker, documentary director, producer, film editor, curator, and impact producer, Jamie's creative journey is both diverse and inspiring. Her experimental film, "Moteur Synchrone," earned recognition as an official selection at the esteemed Obskuur Ghent Film Festival in 2023. In this exclusive interview, Jamie delves into her experiences in filmmaking, her current projects, and her vision for the future of film.
Tell us a bit about your most important film so far.
Jamie Lee (JL): "Moteur Synchrone" was an exploration of youth and growth. We collaborated with 22 young people between the ages of 13 and 24, giving them mature tasks to showcase their capabilities. While the film is experimental in nature, it serves as a reminder that in many parts of the world, young individuals are forced to grow up too quickly due to their life circumstances.
What were the key challenges making it?
JL: Creating "Moteur Synchrone" posed several significant challenges. We produced the film during strict COVID-19 restrictions and under time constraints. The unique aspect was working with 22 young participants from various regions in Flanders, Belgium, all within a three-day rehearsal period. We hadn't seen the performance space or met the participants beforehand, which made coordinating an experimental film with social distancing and a large cast quite intricate. Despite these hurdles, we managed to craft a narrative inspired by the CC Muze space, a former coal mine turned cultural center.
What’s one aspect that you’re particularly proud of?
JL: The aspect I'm most proud of is the on-the-spot creation of the narrative, driven by the space itself. We went into the project with a vague idea and allowed the space to dictate our direction. The freedom to let the surroundings guide our storytelling was a rewarding experience.
How did you get involved in filmmaking?
JL: My journey into filmmaking was rooted in my love for storytelling. In the realm of experimental filmmaking, I relish the challenge of conveying emotions, narratives, and ideas through visual and sensory elements like body language, framing, color, music, and camera movement. It forces me to explore the depths of our humanity. In non-fiction, I'm motivated to share the stories of whistleblowers and voices that lack a platform but need to be heard.
What new projects are you working on or are you hoping to work on in the future?
JL: I've recently completed a music video for Echo Collective, set for release in early 2024. I'm currently immersed in an interdisciplinary performance project that merges film and dance, creating a real-time cinematic experience. Additionally, I'm working on a mixed reality installation. My goal is to return to non-fiction filmmaking, which had to be put on hold due to the pandemic.
What role do film festivals play?
JL: Film festivals serve as powerful platforms for filmmakers to connect with diverse audiences worldwide. They act as portals for cultural exchange and enable us to communicate with communities around the globe. Festivals allow us to respond to global issues, present varying perspectives, and foster constructive dialogue.
What is your advice to filmmakers tackling the festival circuit?
JL: My advice to fellow filmmakers is to keep creating, regardless of your budget. In fact, limited budgets can often inspire deeper creativity and encourage a sharper focus on the frame.
How do you see the future of film?
JL: I envision film as a crucial tool for broadening our perspectives on the world. In particular, non-fiction filmmaking has a significant role in telling stories that traditional media outlets may overlook. Film will continue to serve as a sanctuary for people seeking refuge from the chaos of daily life, a place to reflect on our shared humanity and the beauty that surrounds us.
Which filmmaker do you admire and why?
JL: I don't have a single filmmaker in mind, but I admire those dedicated to telling stories that demand resilience. The ones committed to long-term relationships with their subjects, prioritizing their characters over personal ambitions, are truly inspiring.
What film have you recently seen that you have admired in one way or another?
JL: Several non-fiction films have left a profound impact on me. "Virunga" continues to drive me to tell important stories, while "Winter on Fire: Ukraine's Fight for Freedom" provides a crucial perspective on current events. "The True Cost" has prompted me to reevaluate my everyday actions and their global implications. "My Octopus Teacher" has touched a special place in my heart, and "Icarus" showcases the commitment required to delve into challenging narratives. Non-fiction filmmaking holds a special place in my heart, and I deeply admire those dedicated to this genre.