Friday, August 2, 2019

Clarissa Jacobson Interview - I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It

Photo Content from Clarissa Jacobson

Originally from Minnesota, Clarissa Jacobson is from the only family in the state that isn’t Norwegian and didn’t eat Tater Tot hot dish every Sunday. Clarissa started out as an actress, has a BA in theatre from Indiana University and trained at The American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York City. She went on to perform off-Broadway and in numerous film and voice over roles before realizing her true passion was writing. A long-standing member of Twin Bridges Writing Salon, she thrives on creating kick ass female characters and has several scripts under her belt including the full-length version of Lunch Ladies. Her feature screenplay, Stella By Starlight, has been optioned by Beverly Nero Productions and Norman Stephens Films. Clarissa happily resides in Los Angeles with all the other weirdoes.

Can you tell us when you started I MADE A SHORT FILM NOW WTF DO I DO WITH IT, how that came about?
After making my first short film, LUNCH LADIES, there was no option for me to let it sit and collect dust. LUNCH LADIES is a proof-of-concept for the feature I wrote by the same name – and I knew if it didn’t succeed, any chances I had for interest in the feature would be flushed down the drain.

Knowing nothing about the film fest route or how to promote my short, I read everything I could, talked to everyone I could and learned by trial and error. By the time I was done, LUNCH LADIES was in over 110 festivals (and still festivals are coming to me), got more than 80 reviews, won 4o awards, and got gold-standard distribution.

The director of LUNCH LADIES, JM Logan, had been saying for over a year that I should write a book about all I did to create that success. I had fought him on it, because well, writing a book is hard! And a lot of work! But, so many other filmmakers would come to me asking me how I did it - how did I have such a successful short?

I would spend hours every week talking to people explaining how to enter foreign festivals, get subtitles, promote… and I couldn’t even scratch the surface of what I’d learned. Further, I kept thinking about how much easier it would’ve been had there been a book out there like this for me and that maybe it would be useful to others. So, I took JM’s advice and sat down and wrote I MADE A SHORT FILM NOW WTF DO I DO WITH IT (a guide to film festivals, promotion, and surviving the ride). I couldn’t believe how much there was to talk about, I could probably write part 2!

What do you hope for people to be thinking after they read your book?
I want them to feel they can do it! I want them to believe in their film and know that everything they want is on the other side of hard work, attitude and perseverance. Making a film is one thing, what you do with it is another. After it’s finished is almost where the REAL work begins. You think making a film is exhausting? Wait until you start promoting one! I want people to be inspired and give them the tools to go on an amazing journey – because it is hard but incredible.

What chapter was the most memorable to write and why?
The Final Mile – Chapter 10

This was a very personal chapter for me because part of it dealt with the problem I experienced of making a short film but not directing it. Because I didn’t direct LUNCH LADIES so many people along the way from festivals to reviewers did not want to credit me for the film – this goes back to the French Auteur Theory which credits only the Director as the “author” (as if one person could create a film anyhow!) – this is not always true and definitely not in my case. I wrote LUNCH LADIES, it was my concept, ideas, and characters. I produced it, funded it with my own money that I saved for years, found 90% of cast and crew (including the director), did all the promotion… yet I did not want to direct it. So, this was a chapter for all those people in my boat (and there are lots of us out there) on how to have courage to fight to get your name on it – it is not easy, and I spent many a sleepless night worrying I was going to piss someone off for demanding my name be on the film! But, in the end I won – 99% of the time people would credit me.

The chapter also deals with distribution, explaining what a sales rep is and the pros and cons of having one. I learned a lot about reps right away because I had one want LUNCH LADIES very early on – and I wasn’t prepared; I knew nothing!

Ultimately I did a lot of research, figured it out and made the right choices. I wanted to make sure this section was super easy to understand so people could make educated decisions and not go through all the confusion I did - so that was memorable to write because it was hard –writing simple, any writer knows, is one of the hardest things in the world.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
That would be my father! My father, Cliff Jacobson, is a successful writer of books on canoeing and camping and he had many great pieces of advice. The biggest one was in dealing with Publishers. Don’t be shy, ask for what you want. All they can say is “no.” Read the contract carefully, if you don’t like something, ask for what you want. You will be surprised sometimes by what you can get, just ASK.

What was the single worst distraction that kept you from writing this book?
I had none!

It was crazy I sat down and wrote it cover to cover in a little over a month. I was so shocked about how much I had to say and how much I had learned and could share. I would often be up to three in the morning working on it. Screenplays I often have writer’s block or get stuck, but this I did not.

What book are you reading now?
I just picked up a book that was recommended to me called “Lady Of The Black Lagoon” by Mallory O’Meara – I can’t wait to read it!

The very last page of my book encapsulates most everything in the book that I really hammer.
I call it my sacrilegious cheat sheet and people can rip that baby out and carry it with them to remind them when shit gets hard!

  • 1) Thou shalt love and believe in thy film
  • 2) Thou shalt have a goal.
  • 3) Thou shalt be prepared.
  • 4) Thou shalt work hard.
  • 5) Thou shalt love to promote they film.
  • 6) Thou shalt love to promote others.
  • 7) Thou shalt not take rejection personally.
  • 8) Thou shalt temper expectations.
  • 9) Thou shalt be perseverant.
  • 10) Thou shalt not be a jerk. Ever.
What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I just finished A VERY IMPORTANT FILM – it’s a five-minute mockumentary about a woman named Clarissa who made a short named LUNCH LADIES and realized it wasn’t important but has now made something important . It is my answer to the BS in Hollywood that thinks comedy and genre film isn’t important and not “serious” art. VIF is going to be distributed on a DVD that LUNCH LADIES will be out on in September. I can’t announce what it is yet but it is exciting! VIF will also be distributed with LUNCH LADIES in November on Troma Now! Streaming which I’m also so excited about – I love Troma – what they stand for; their love and support of indie film.

Other projects I have in the works – LAND OF MILK AND HONEY – this is a feature about Elizabeth Bathory that is optioned by Director, Gisberg Bermudez, and I also have another feature – STELLA BY STARLIGHT – which is optioned by Norman Stephens Films and Bev Nero Productions. I have good feelings both will get made. Lastly I have a comedy feature I just finished writing with Shayna Weber (producer on LUNCH LADIES and director of VIF) and we are doing another comedy/horror short together.

Lastly, I got my Voice Over career going again and have been auditioning a lot.

I am busy and happy!

Are there any tips you would give a book club to better navigate their discussion of your book?
My book is straight up how-to, it’s an easy, easy read, but its PACKED with info. Most I have heard that have read it, read it several times and mark stuff in the margins.

What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
Filming my feature, LAND OF MILK AND HONEY, in Romania or an exotic, unique place like that. Actually, filming any feature of mine!

What was a time in your life when you were really scared?

I was terrified all through the process – I had so much help, but ultimately it was my ass on the line. If it didn’t work, it was my fault, or I took at that way, because it was my baby and my responsibility – the buck stopped with me!

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Travel abroad.

What do you think is the single best decision you've made in your life so far?
Making LUNCH LADIES, without a doubt!

What’s your favorite movie of all time and why?
I have so many favorites, but right now my favorite is A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT. To me, it’s like 16 Candles (one of my faves as well) meets vampires. It has this sweet innocence to it, yet it’s so dark, and it has a lot of depth and heart in it. Everyone in the film is lonely looking for love. It’s beautifully shot, unique, and has so much to say; yet it’s not pretentious and is filled with humor.

Written by award-winning filmmaker Clarissa Jacobson, I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It is jam-packed with hard-earned knowledge, tips, and secrets on how to enter film festivals, promote your movie… and SUCCEED!

I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It covers everything from what festivals to submit to, how to maximize your money, secure an international presence, deal with rejection, gain publicity, harness the power of social media, what a sales rep does and much more.

Included are exclusive filmmaker discounts on services/products from the festival platform, Reelport, subtitling company, Captionmax, and promo merchandisers, Medias Frankenstein and The Ink Spot.

You can purchase I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you CLARISSA JACOBSON for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It: 
(a guide to film festivals, promotion and surviving the ride) by Clarissa Jacobson.


  1. "Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around." I don't carry around a wallet, but somewhere here there is a wallet and it contains a Social Security card, to save and preserve it.

  2. "Choose a unique item from your wallet and explain why you carry it around."

    I carry a card/flyer from a show I went to, because it reminds me of that special day and whenever I think about it, I always smile!

  3. I don't think I have anything that would be considered unique in my wallet.