We had the good fortune of connecting with Jessica Redish and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jessica, how has your background shaped the person you are today?
Chicago made me who I am – I learned how to be a team player and lead with clarity, while also collaborating. I grew up in Chicago theatre and the focus was to put the greater whole before yourself. The priority was the work. I was taught to love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art. I still live by this. When I start a project I ask myself, “What can I bring to this and whom do I need to bring on to make it the best possible piece of work it can be?” I play to everyone’s strengths.
I studied at Second City and their process influences my process, which influences how I create my films. It begins with an idea and then a strong “yes-and” – what else? Take the idea and spin it – that combined with what I learned from Upright Citizens Brigade: if this is true, what else is true? I enjoy creating worlds that are realistic but tap into the absurd, and the key to executing them is empowering my team to move towards the story. Clarifying my own voice and process has been key in the success of this leadership — I make films about women dealing with the absurdity of their station in a world that says there’s only one way to be. I bring on the best possible team to execute it.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I like making films that help point out the absurdity of the world, usually featuring idiosyncratic female characters, and our behaviors within it. I think comedy is a service and have been told my work contains cosmic irony. That’s a fancy way of saying the world is against us no matter how hard we try. I think there’s a big joke in that, because nature, as we have seen this past year, is going to do what it will, no matter who we are or what we believe.
I’m so happy to be at a point where I have the skill set and ability to be able to make work with my own voice. I have pivoted from theatre to film and I’m currently studying the craft. I was honored to be the 2021 Ingrid Skulstad Williams Scholarship recipient at UCLA Extension, where I’m receiving my Certificate in Directing. I am going to USC this fall to start my MFA in Filmmaking.
I also love collaborating as a choreographer inside other people’s visions, and enjoy working with strong female directors. I’m super grateful to have found great teams on both coasts who get my aesthetic. I’ve learned my gut is my best guide, and still believe that success happens when opportunity meets preparation. I’m excited about where my comedy writing is going. I have a feature I’m currently writing, a short sketch called “Instacart” I just released, and a short film called “cat.” that I’m hoping to make next year.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would take them to El Condor in Silver Lake for tacos, and Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park. The Getty Center is a must, and we’d definitely go to Venice Beach. I’d make sure to get them to Din Thai Fung for dumplings, and check out the GRAMMY museum — they have super cool exhibits about music and process. We’d hike in Griffith Park and have dinner at My Vegan in Eagle Rock. Maybe a drive to Malibu and lunch at Paradise Cove Beach Cafe.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My family has been really supportive from my immediate family to my extended family. I really wouldn’t be anywhere without them so I want to acknowledge that.
Artistically I want to shout-out David Cromer, who is a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant winner and a Tony Award winner but he won’t tell you that. I knew him when he was teaching me directing when I was 24, and instilling in me the most important principles of the work. Still, I text him to ask questions about art and commerce and how to navigate this career, and keeping the work authentic within it. Because what else is the point? I’m grateful to him for his mentorship, and it was great to work alongside him twice as a choreographer. Sometimes I’m working and I think: “What would Cromer do?” His advice and teachings have been sage.
Ali Levin Photography @longstreetphotography Kelsey Cena Ashly Covington