We had the good fortune of connecting with Jean Grant and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jean, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I didn’t choose to be an artist, it chose me at a very young age. At three-years-old, I remember telling my mom I wanted to be an actor. I remember writing a musical for My Little Ponies–and then a few years later for Queen’s Greatest Hits. I remember singing everything from Annie the Musical to Schubert’s Death and the Maiden. I remember finding acrylic paint and charcoal and created worlds and dreams I saw so vividly in my mind. Looking back, it was a need to express myself creatively because it was the truest language to me. Flash forward to now, my path narrowed to what I like to call spiritual-sci-fi filmmaking, writing and acting. It’s been a life-long journey of expressing myself unapologetically–and I’m only at year thirty-two! I’m proud of my failures, my films, and my current scripts I’m workshopping. Most of all, I’m proud that my art led me to spiritual healing and my spiritual healing led me back to my art. My hope is that my stories can help heal our wounds and reawaken our true-selves in this unknown, mysterious and beautifully extraordinary world. And then maybe, we can save the world.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As an audience member, I’m attracted to art that makes me feel uncomfortable, alive, and transformed. Art that challenges my belief systems or knowledge of the world as a I know it. Art that expands my viewpoint to multiple perspectives. (Also, I just love art with a juicy storyline!) As a creator, I strive to make sci-fi stories in this spirit. Universal themes in my stories include intersectional environmentalism and feminism, returning to relationship with Earth and Earth consciousness, and returning to our authentic selves–free from conditioning, free from trauma, free from noise.
The path of a storytelling career involves a lot of trial and error. My saving grace is my community, along with cultivating the perseverance to keep going. I have to remind myself that with any rejection, my stories are someone’s cuppa tea! If I believe in my stories 150%, the producer will come, the audience will come, and so on.
In my most recent short film, Birth of a Pomegranate, my co-creator Liv Colliander and I explored innovative ways of storytelling, such as having limited dialogue and a sound-driven narrative. When it came to festivals, we didn’t get a lot of traction. It wasn’t until we were introduced from a friend to Paus TV, a new UK-based indie-film streaming platform, that we found the perfect launch pad. When Birth of a Pomegranate digitally premiered, it was clear Paus TV was the best route for it. It was a lesson in thinking out-of-the-box from the traditional festival route, just like how we thought out-of-the-box with making our film. Also, it was a reminder to always ask for support. At the end of the day, our community always has our backs.
At the end of the day, I want the world to know that it’s okay to love my stories and it’s okay to hate my stories. Ultimately, I want you to feel something in my stories. I want you to feel connected to something bigger than yourself, yet something that is part of yourself. Mostly, I want you to return home to yourself. It can be scary, it can be hard, and it can be messy but know that we’re doing it together.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Pre-covid times I would have a slightly different answer! So to start off: a little morning hike in Griffith Park–but first we must get coffee or chai or your drink of choice at Trails Cafe. Then, we would hike up Mt. Hollywood (if it wasn’t a global pandemic, we’d explore Griffith Observatory first). We would stroll through the Berlin Forest, zig-zag around my favorite set of palm trees (I call them ‘The Guys’) and then reach the top of the trail for a 360 degree view of the City of Angels. If I still had my 2003 convertible Beetle, I would drive you along Mulholland Drive. Since I don’t have my car anymore, I would rent a convertible for you. We’d listen to Brian Eno’s Apollo or if we’re feeling feisty, Janelle Monae’s The ArchAndroid and take the infamous canyon road all the way to the beach. Perhaps Malibu. Perhaps Zuma beach so we can say hi to the surfing dolphins. If museums were still open, I would take you to the Jurassic Museum of Technology. I have no words for this museum, only that it’s very David Lynch, but David Lynch did not curate this cacophony of strange brilliance. I would also take you to all of my favorite vegan spots: Sage Bistro, Little Pine, Tehuanita 2.0 taco truck, Highland Park’s vegan street party. I would also take you to my favorite non-vegan joints: all the thai restaurants in Thai Town, Pace in Laurel Canyon, The Bottle Inn in Hermosa Beach, Messob in Little Ethiopia, Jones in Hollywood. And a new favorite: Cara on Western and Hollywood. If you want to get a tarot reading, energy healing or add to your crystal collection, I’d take you to Liberate Emporium in Los Feliz (where I happen to be a practitioner, too.) Anything else? Oh yes! The Self-Realization center in Mt. Washington! A wee walk around the Hollywood Reservoir! A day trip out to the desert! Vintage shopping in Yucca Valley, Joshua Tree and Palm Springs? Yes, please! An epic sound bath at The Integration? More, please!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
One shoutout?! I have a novel of shout outs! First, I have to give a huge shout out to my dear friend and collaborator Liv Colliander. I am so grateful to share your brilliant mind and make stories that are out-of-this-world with you. To my writing mentors Tom Bissell and Cleve Lamison–thank you for grounding me, launching me and for fueling my fire. To all the badass women at Women In Film: my WIF mentors Sarah Finn and Melanie Donkers and my fellow mentorship circle Krista Hovsepian, Tiffany Cox, Lila Dupree, Kaira Atika, and Jabree Webber. I treasure and am inspired by everyone. And I am beyond grateful for your mentorship. To my director, theatre-making professor and friend Robert Walton. Your direction and vision helped set me free. To my film/tv acting coach Heidi Marshall: thank you for your heart and for your grace. To the Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne independent theatre. To New York City downtown theatre. To Chicago experimental theatre. To LA film. To Liberate Yourself. To my parents, sisters, my partner, my pups, my friends, and my spiritual teachers who have supported my journey and stories 150%. I love you and cherish you all.
Eli Arenson, Ward Roberts, Alex Turshen.