Jessica Pearson is a local girl to us, a North Devon lady who has risen from adversity. During her teenage years ill health affected her dreams to be an actress, but this gorgeous lady has since flourished as a competent filmmaker always keen for her next creative project. Jess loves to support local artisans and has created “The Maker Series” which is made up documentaries of local craftsman and professionals and “The Space Outside” featuring interviews with inspiring women. Jessica’s The Space Outside film was rewarded as the best short film at the Shextreme Film Festival. Jess has a portfolio of work encompassing promotional video, narrative and community film, to music videos. Film offers Jess a way of communicating using abstract projection art and animation. Check out some of her films below and her interview with us.
Tell us a little about “The Space Outside”.
The Space Outside is a 4 part series to inspire and support women to step outside their comfort zone.
The first film, which has been completed, focuses on inspiration and features interviews with 7 women adventurers. The second film will be looking at how to go on adventures, the third film will be following women adventurers and the fourth film will be about becoming the adventurer. The fourth film will feature my journey on an adventure, whilst looking at what it is to have a chronic illness/disability, whilst going on adventures and how it can be an extremely helpful rehabilitation.
Why do you love filmmaking?
I always learn a deeper connection to myself through filming. I lack confidence and filming allows me to meet people, explore ideas, places and ways of learning without the focus being on myself, the focus is what I am filming. I also never get bored, there is always something to learn and stretch my mind.
How did you start out in filmmaking?
I started to film as a way of communicating. I became ill at the age of 15 with Myasthenia Gravis, a rare autoimmune illness that attacks the chemical between the nerves, creating a lack of communication between the brain and the muscles and ultimately causing paralysis. Before this I wanted to become an actress, but after my face, mouth, tongue and throat became paralysed I had to give up this dream. I was lucky that I also really loved art and had been experimenting with film. Film slowly took the place of my acting. I was able to act and communicate through abstract films without the pressure of speaking and having an audience. Film then developed over many years into a passion and when I could speak again I started to use film to help other people communicate.
You’ve been through some tough times, how has your experience affected your outlook on life and your life choices?
Everything in life makes me the person I am today and I couldn’t help but learn from my biggest challenges.
I guard and protect my passion, I walk away from things that are negative and cause too much stress, as this physically and mentally makes me ill. I can’t say I stay present all the time, but I do try and remember to appreciate the small triumphs in life. Plus, if I get a situation out of perspective, then I just take a look back at where I came from, the girl in a hospital bed too scared to dream.
What makes your filmmaking original and unique?
I don’t know if my work is original or unique. I try and stay authentic with my filming and I am rather stubborn at protecting this, so not to undermine the subject matter. I try and use as much local music as possible in my work as I feel it’s a big part of living in North Devon and supporting each others creative skills.
Do you have a film that you have particularly enjoyed making and why?
Other than the Space Outside, I am working on a project called The Maker Series, which consists of 13 films, 5 Maker Films, 4 Mover Films and 4 Shaper Films. The Maker films follow the process of artisans, the Mover films capture movement, for example, a yogi, a dancer, a skater and the Shaper films are little documentaries about people who shape North Devon. All the people involved are based in North Devon. My dream is to travel and film creative people so these two projects, The Space Outside and The Maker Series, are perfect for my development and get me closer to my dream.
Do you enjoy any extreme sports or any forms of adventure? If so how has it moulded your life?
For the last 3 years I worked as an outdoor instructor during the summer season, this mainly consisted of Coast Steering, with a small amount of surf coaching. I grew up in Clovelly, North Devon, so I have been swimming in the sea from an early age and would truly miss it if I moved further inland.
Do you have any favourite filmmakers who have caught your attention and why?
I have to mention the women filmmakers I have worked with as I love their work and have felt honoured to work with them.
Annabel Allison, Wax Films. Annabel is a multi award winning filmmaker who has mentored me and helped me hugely with gaining confidence. Her films have heart, beauty and pack a powerful punch.
Georgie Owen, Little Silver Photography, Georgie has worked with me several times and she is a naturally talented photographer and filmmaker. She manages to capture the beauty in everything.
Which beach do you feel most connected with and why?
Living in North Devon, that is a tricky question. I have to say Westward Ho! simply because it was the first place I learnt to surf. I also love Sandymouth and Instow beach as they are great for walking doggies.
Is there a beach that you aspire to live by or visit anywhere in the world and why?
One great adventure I have had was kayaking out, on my own, to a tiny island off the North Island in New Zealand. The Locals call it Doughnut Island. I remember a storm had just passed and the sea was still choppy as I made my way to the Island. This was the first time I had kayaked in the sea and looking back, was probably a little dangerous. The island is literally like a doughnut, quite high rocks in a circle with a beach in the middle. To get to the beach you need to go through the mouth of a dragon, well that’s what it looked like. I then spent around an hour completely alone on this beach surrounded by purple rocks. I would love to go back there.
Visit Shimnix Films to see Jess’s films.
Jessica is raising funds for the second instalment of The Space Outside. If you’d like to donate, head over to her website here.