Interview by Andreea Boyer // Edited by Chris Charles of Idol Features
Jane Sanger is proof that it’s never too late to start out as a filmmaker. Unlike most filmmakers, who began creating their own movies at a very young age, Jane made her first film after raising a family. Her 2018 short film Struggle deals with the subject of depression in young people. The main character is a teenage girl who feels pressure from those around her and receives advice from two girls she’s created from her paintings.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about yourself and where are you from?
Jane Sanger: I started to make films later in life, after bringing up five children. I live in the Kent countryside, which has also a 30-minute train into the heart of London, so I have the best of both worlds.
Andreea Boyer: Have you been working in the film industry mainly in your country or also somewhere else around the globe?
Jane Sanger: Most of my films are made in the UK, but I have done one film partly in Bulgaria. My next feature film will be shot in Ireland and Scotland and then, if I ever get it funded, the TV series I have in mind will be shot in England and Tunisia.
Andreea Boyer: How did you start your career as a filmmaker and what has been your motivation and inspiration?
Jane Sanger: So in my first short films, I made a lot of mistakes learning the craft and I think we all can find faults in our work even today, things we can do better. I try to learn from the past and always want to be innovative and different. I love arty looking films, creation of all kinds, a bit from this TV series or that film inspires me.
Andreea Boyer: Has filmmaking been your main focus after raising your children?
Jane Sanger: Yes, I brought up five children first and taught drama and art between when I could. I started filmmaking when I was 50 years old and taught myself. This is very unusual for a filmmaker. Actually, when I was 25, I started a small business filming nursery and primary school events, but had to stop because of family commitments. I always loved photography and love travel photography.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about the cast and story from your movie Struggle?
Jane Sanger: I am very interested in mental health issues, particularly depression in young people. I was contacted by Evan Grant from the Cameron Grant Memorial Trust, who had lost his son to suicide and they hadn’t any idea he was in such a desperate state. He offered to partly fund the film. I have a close family member who suffered severe depression and I wanted to let young people know there is help.
The young girl in this film Struggle feels very pressured from all sides, from school, her parents, to get good grades, from her peers who bully her, and from boys as she feels she has to be thin and pretty to get their attention, but they just want sex. It’s in her head, but she is an artist and in the paintings she makes are two girls. In her imagination, they come alive and talk to her giving good advice and horrible comments. The actors I got for this I felt were excellent and I was very pleased they all took part.
Andreea Boyer: Where did you film your movie?
Jane Sanger: The movie was all filmed in Kent, south of London.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your other films and work ?
Jane Sanger: I like films with a social issue. I like the fact that a film can bring a problem to a wider audience. Ken Loach is the master of this. Apart from that I like thrillers and historical dramas. I have just finished my first feature film called Swiperight, which is a thriller with a horror twist. I am working on another thriller called Cuckoo in the Nest, which is based in Scotland and Northern Ireland and is about a historical unsolved crime from The Troubles, a period of Irish History best known for the IRA bombings and the Good Friday Agreement. I am also working on an 8-10 part historical drama called The Nightriders , set in 1714 , about Barbary Pirates, a missing squires daughter, witches, and Nightriders, a type of first coast guard. Do look at the Lumino Films website (link at end of interview) to see more of what we are up to.
Andreea Boyer: What can you tell us about your best experiences and which moments in your career have been the most influential ones for you?
Jane Sanger: I have many best experiences. I have met many inclusive, sharing, creative, and lovely people. The first time I had a film in the Cannes Film Festival and went there four years ago was pretty magical.
Andreea Boyer: Which moments on the film set have been the most difficult ones for you?
Jane Sanger: As well as mainly lovely people, I have met some really awful people. I think there are a lot of wannabees, who use and abuse people and the system. I won’t stand for it and will fire any men, and indeed women, who step over the line or jeopardize the production. It’s rare, but does happen. I can’t carry deadwood. I think this confidence comes with age. I cannot imagine being starstruck enough to give in to Weinstein or be bossed about and told what to do by anyone for no good reason, but when you are young or female, it’s easier to see this happening.
Andreea Boyer: What is your advice for all young independent filmmakers on how they should work on their goals and reach the best audience for their individual work?
Jane Sanger: I think the key to success is networking, however much you hate it or love it. Go to as many festivals and networking events and look at others work, chat to people. Any of these people might be your next screenwriter, DOP, or funder. It’s not instant, but contacts you make can come good in the end. Don’t wait for anything, just make your film with free collaboration if possible if you can’t get funds. Then be proactive, organize local screenings, enter festivals. There are some free ones for students and get your work seen.
Thank you, Ms. Sanger. We wish you continued success.