Crucian writer and director Jordan K. Paul announced the launch of the crowdfunding campaign for his short film, ‘ANIMALS,’ inspired by real-life events experienced by him. The SeedandSpark platform will support the production of the project slated to begin fall 2022.
‘ANIMALS’ follows the firsthand experience of 21-year-old Paul, who is pulled over by the LAPD, with his white roommate, after recently moving to Los Angeles from the U.S. Virgin Islands. The film is written from the perspective of someone who has come from a Black-majority population and has not interacted with the police before. His exploration focuses on how Afro-Caribbean people must adapt and learn to survive in an unfamiliar environment, especially in the United States.
Paul was home-schooled growing up on St. Croix. When he completed his school work for the day, he watched movies. “When I was eight, I watched ‘Star Wars’ and fell in love with films. I wanted to be a Jedi,” Paul said. “How do I do that?”
Instead of developing his desire to be an actor, Paul decided that he could be a filmmaker, a director and put himself in the movies.
Paul earned a bachelor’s degree in film at DeSales University and completed training at New York Film Academy at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He moved to Los Angeles in 2013 and started working right away. “That’s how I am,” he said. “I go straight to where I feel I’m going to get the furthest in my career.” Paul worked on video, TV pilots, and on a feature. YouTube projects got him in front of the camera a lot, he said.
“I worked twice under Academy Award nominee David Massey that taught me a great amount that I’ve brought to my directing career. I also look up to New Zealand director Taika Waititi and follow his work and lectures,” he said.
Paul wrote this first film, “ANIMALS,” using the experience of being pulled over by the LAPD and listening to the thoughts of one of the older officers. “It was strange to hear what the officer said, and it motivated me to write my film years later.”
Back home, Paul did not have any contact with the police, nor did he experience any racism or discrimination growing up, he said. “After moving to the states, I felt the discrimination immediately, and I had to learn about it immediately. I never had a reaction when I saw a police car on St. Croix. Since the LAPD experience, when I’m walking down the street, and I see a police car, my reaction to it is a little bit of fear.”
The film is for a lot of different audiences. It shows what could happen in a move to the United States, Paul said. “It’s for people of color around the world to learn and adapt to survive in the U.S. I don’t want to deter people from coming to the U.S. That’s not the point of the film, but it is a reality of what’s happening here in the U.S.,” he said.
“I want the film to show white privilege. The LAPD officer came over to confront me, although I had nothing to do with the altercation. It was my white roommate who was responsible. I saw all of the racism and all of the nuances that pointed to me because I am Black,” Paul said.
“I need to tell my story first, then turn my idea into a series. I’ve been working with my family for any stories they have of coming from St. Croix to the U.S. – their experiences – anything that’s odd – not just racism,” he said.
“I had some trouble fitting in with Black American culture because it’s not the same as my Crucian culture. People just assume that all Black people are the same. I want to say, ‘No.’ So, I’m working on this anthology series, and I’ve already pitched it to a couple of producers here in LA. They have some interest in it, but they want to see the short film first.”
“ANIMALS” is 13-14 minutes long. For a film festival, a short film has a time slot of under 15 minutes, Paul said. “I’m going big with this. I want to make this the best that it can be and submit to festivals like Sundance and Tribeca and as many audiences as possible. I want to be the first Afro-Caribbean Oscar winner for directing. Right now, there’s not a lot of representation in Hollywood,” Paul said.
“If we can make enough through the crowdfunding, I hope to bring ‘ANIMALS’ to St. Croix and screen it for folks back home,” Paul said. He tells enough of the story through his campaign video without a spoiler. Thirty-seven percent of the goal has been funded so far. All funds must be secured by the crowdfunding deadline of Sept. 8 to get the film produced. Anyone can donate at www.seedandspark.com/fund/animals.
“I want to represent St. Croix and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is just the beginning of all the films I want to make. I love Los Angeles. I am working in the film industry that I love. I live with friends in a house where all of us are creative people writing films and developing ideas for TV,” Paul said.
“This is important to get the film produced and into festivals. You never know who is going to be at a festival watching.” Paul said, “You get into a festival, and someone says, ‘what are you working on next,’ And I say, ‘I’m trying to make a series.’ And the person might say, ‘OK, let’s go!’ That’s why I’ve got to get this made,” Paul said.
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@AnimalsShortFilm – Instagram
@JordanKPaul – Social Media