We had the good fortune of connecting with Jess Varley and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Jess, how has your work-life balance changed over time?

Hi Mike! Thanks so much for having me. As a filmmaker primarily focused on writing and directing genre films, I’ve embraced finding inspiration in unexpected places more and more throughout the years. Whether through traveling, going to museums, being outside in nature, or spending time with friends – I often get my best ideas and points of reference off set and away from my computer. I believe that the more life experience we have, the more able we are to share stories that resonate with a broad audience. As a writer/director, I don’t have a typical 9-5 experience, so it takes a fair amount of self discipline and determination to cultivate a healthy work-life environment. Otherwise, it can be easy to go down a rabbit hole of overworking and neglecting self-care.  I’m fortunate to have a lot of friends who work in the film industry as well, so I’ve been able to spend lots of time with creative people who are understanding of the unique lifestyle that filmmakers live.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
That’s very kind! I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, and have been working in the entertainment industry for over 15 years. I’ve developed shows with networks including ABC and FX, and my most recent film PHOBIAS, which I wrote, directed, and produced with the Radio Silence team (READY OR NOT, SCREAM 5), was released by Vertical last year. I’m extremely grateful that The New York Times highlighted my work on the film as “standout,” including my transformation of Macy Gray into “the horror movie queen you didn’t know you wanted.” Moviefone also included me on their list of top 20 female genre directors, alongside filmmaker heroes of mine like Nia DaCosta and Julia Ducournau. I’m currently casting my next film THE ASTRONAUT which is being produced by Brad Fuller, of the THE PURGE and A QUIET PLACE franchises, and I’m so excited to share that announcement soon. The world is benefiting from a rise in female filmmakers, especially in the genre space. I’m working to create a career for myself that hopefully transcends into mainstream culture, so I can show young girls this is absolutely a path they can pursue. I didn’t have that growing up, and honestly didn’t even know filmmaking was an option for me. I want to tell stories that both help better represent the female experience, and encourage girls to seize the power of their perspectives.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Over the last year, I’ve become a regular at Musso & Frank’s – one of the oldest restaurants in Hollywood. It’s a real trip – like entering a time machine! The atmosphere is incredible, and the whole place is steeped in history. Everyone who works there is absolutely amazing and the waiters wear these beautiful red jackets making it feel like you’ve been transported into THE SHINING (in a good way)! The food and service can’t be beat, and it doesn’t hurt that they also make a mean martini. I’m a big foodie, so a few other spots I love are Smorgasburg every weekend at the Row in DTLA, Night + Market Weho, and every Bacari location.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Making movies is 100% a team effort, so I’d love to dedicate this shoutout to all of my friends/colleagues in production! From the amazing line producers, 1st ADs, costume designers, to makeup artists, stunt coordinators and beyond – it takes a village to bring these visions to life and I am grateful to be able to work with and learn from so many talented people!

Instagram: @jess.varley

Image Credits
Vatche Karagozian

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.