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An Interview with Jennifer Plotzke, Star and Producer of Lost + Found

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2019

Films starring Jennifer Plotzke on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Lost + Found - in a few words, what is it about, and what can you tell us about your character in it?

 

Lost + Found is a short adaptation of John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost. Our film details Satan's fall from Heaven and her plan to seek revenge. And I play Satan! 

 

What did you draw upon to bring your character to life, and how much Jennifer Plotzke can we find in Satan - if you don't mind me asking?

 

One of the most intriguing things about playing a villain, and in this case arguably the most classic of villains, is the back story. The inciting incident. What is the fuel behind the fire? No one is inherently evil. That rage, that revenge, that hatred comes from somewhere or something. The story of Satan has been sensationalized but at the core, itís just someone that had everything taken from them and how the impact of that loss fueled their actions, outcomes and journey. That is what is so exciting about playing a role like this. Understanding from a basic and human perspective what exactly this character is experiencing and breaking it down from a classically large scale. Itís really interesting as well to approach this from a personal standpoint and really visualize just how far into that evil abyss we are capable of going if there is nothing holding us back.

 

With Lost + Found being based on (and using the words of) one of the epic poems of the 17th century, Paradise Lost by John Milton, how difficult was it to find truth in these words given the film's very contemporary setting?

 

I think the beauty and genius of Miltonís poem, which is true of any great literary work that has withstood several centuries, is its timelessness. If a classic such as Paradise Lost can be adapted and work in a contemporary setting, it is proof of the ongoing relevance of the story. Revenge, love, temptation and deceit are all threads that weave his story together and whether they come to us in poetry or prose, these stories and themes are still terribly relevant today.

 

How did you get involved with the project in the first place, and how did you end up a producer as well?

 

It started with Ari Rossen, our other producer who plays Beezlebub. He found an indie film festival that was challenging filmmakers to create a micro short film based on a literary work. He mentioned it to me and we were both really intrigued by the idea. We had both previously worked with director Jeremiah Kipp [Jeremiah Kipp interview - click here] and were anxious to do it again, so we felt very lucky to have him come on board. And it's thanks to him that we had our amazing screenwriter, Laura Sweeney. She had worked with Jeremiah before as well and is an expert on Milton, so she suggested we adapt Paradise Lost. And she did so brilliantly and now here we are!

 

What were the challenges of bringing Lost + Found to the screen from a producer's point of view?

 

I think the greatest challenge of any indie film production is money. Raising or finding money for this type of work is really difficult, mostly because there's often no financial return on it. So finding an investor can be hard and usually what ends up happening is you try to find donations or you pay for it out of pocket. And making a film is expensive, no matter how short or small. So navigating that can be rough. We had a very limited budget for this, so we were lucky to find these brilliant people that were willing to work on our budget and do it for the love of filmmaking!

 

What can you tell us about Lost + Found's director Jeremiah Kipp [Jeremiah Kipp interview - click here], and what was your collaboration like?

 

Working with Jeremiah is a dream. This is my second collaboration with him and I hope itís the second of many. His passion, unique vision, ingenuity and commitment to storytelling are extraordinary. He has a tremendous body of work and Iím a huge fan! He is known to be an actorís director and the people on his production teams collaborate with him regularly. I think youíd be hard pressed to find someone thatís worked with him that wouldnít jump at the chance to do it again. Heís an indie film hero.

 

A few words about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

One thing I love about making indie films is that no one's really doing it for the money. Everyone's there for the love of filmmaking and telling stories. We produced this on a micro budget and everyone chipped in everywhere to get it done. We shot the Garden of Eden scenes in Fort Tryon Park in New York and at one point late in the day we were moving from one garden spot to another, with a fair distance between them. Fort Tryon is big. Moving the company means moving all of the gear as well and I remember grabbing something to carry and walking next to Jeremiah and looking ahead of us at this long line of people, both cast and crew, all carrying various pieces of equipment, costumes, props and food. Through the park, through people, in the heat. And I was so grateful to be on a production like this and really to be in this network of indie filmmakers that just get it done no matter what.

 

The $64-question of course, where can Lost + Found be seen?

 

You can see it on Vimeo at https://vimeo.com/305322922

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

I'm heading into production in the spring on a film that takes place in New York City in 1967. It's a story about the beginnings of the Women's Movement and I play one of the lead characters who is a suspected cult leader. It's called From Venus With Love and it's an absolutely fantastic script! I'm very excited to start working on it.

 

What got you into acting in the first place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?

 

I've been acting since I was a teenager and received my undergraduate degree in Acting. I have since continued my education in various acting studios in New York and previously in Chicago before I moved to New York.

 

What can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Lost + Found?

 

I've spent the last three years working on lots of indie films in both supporting and leading roles. I've worked in both comedy and drama, feature and short. I love it all!

 

How would you describe yourself as an actress, and some of your techniques to bring your characters to life?

 

In the beginning, I approach everything from the "what would I do" standpoint? How would I personally handle or react to this situation or circumstance? I think starting from a personal place like that and then building and weaving in the character from there creates something much more honest and believable. It won't be where you end up with the character, but for me, it's a great place to start. The character has to have some element of you inside, so breaking it down like that in the beginning can be really helpful in finding the similarities and differences.

 

You've also taken up producing of late, and not only on Lost + Found - so how did that come about, and how hands-on or hands-off a producer are you?

 

I began producing a few years ago because I was finding it difficult to find acting work. So I decided to start making my own films so I could have an outlet for acting! In doing so, I realized that I was pretty good as a producer and I also became acquainted with a large network of indie filmmakers. That led to new collaborations, larger networks and more films! I'm pretty hands-on as a producer. I like to know that things are getting done and getting done correctly and that nothing is being forgotten! There are so many details both large and small that go into making a film and it's easy to overlook things!

 

Actresses, filmmakers, whoever else who inspire you?

 

So, so many people. I am truly inspired by people that maintain a balance between career longevity and regular life. I think to work hard in this business takes most of the hours of any day and week. It takes a lot in this day and age to work on your craft and simultaneously promote yourself. It's two full time jobs, essentially, and it's easy to let your personal life suffer. Or vice versa. So I greatly admire people in the industry that achieve that balance and also bring us their best work every time. And those people I believe are truly committed to this art form and to telling meaningful stories. That's what they show up for and that's what I show up for.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Too many to count. My love for film spans all time periods and genres. But if I have to pick a favorite, it's Hitchcock's Rear Window. There are so many genius elements to this film, but for anyone that knows the film, the moment when Thorwald is in his apartment and all we see is the cherry on his cigarette illuminating and going out as he's smoking in the dark in his chair, for me that's one of the most innovative moments in cinematic history. Watching and studying that film was the first time I began to see film from a filmmaking perspective, not just an acting perspective.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

Oh my. I have to say a film has to be incredibly bad for me to not at the very least be entertained by it. I think there are films that I've not liked but are still good films, but there are a select few that I think are in the realm of "what were they thinking" but out of respect for the filmmakers, I won't say which. Because after all, I have a few of those in my own history and I hope if they are ever seen, people will be forgiving!

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

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We currently have a Lost + Found Facebook page with a link to the film and all other necessary info!

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

I can't think of anything. I think we've covered just about everything! Thank you so much for the interview. Making Lost + Found was such a joy and this was a great way to look back at that experience!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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On the same day
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directed by
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written by
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