Episode 56: Making Films and Other Things with Jordyn Jones

In Episode 56, we talk to USC film student Jordyn Jones about the expectations placed on marginalized creators, the real meaning of diversity, and making movies that challenge the status quo.

Jordyn, in his own words: “I am a screenwriter and director fascinated with how oppression shapes how we live, love, and who we allow ourselves to become. Honestly though, I think I’m still the same kid I was all those years ago—growing up the son of a criminal and a college professor. Seeing two paths before me, one the all but embodiment of black excellence and the other an all too familiar stereotype. All the while, the world around me seemed to chant for me to follow in the footsteps of the latter. All the while, I saw the struggle that came even with following in the footsteps of the former. As I got older, that struggle began to affect how much I allowed myself to love. Who I allowed myself to become. And it was then I realized, if we all struggle to find love and to know who we are, these stories of oppression are, in many ways, universal.”

Check out Jordyn’s short film Black Lens here. You can find more of his work at joneskjordyn.myportfolio.com and medium.com/pedagogy-of-black-dignity. Help support racial justice and education for Black students at www.naacpldf.org/support/.

This episode was recorded on March 29, 2021. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod

People and Texts Mentioned in the Episode

“I’m a maker of things.” -Jordyn Jones

“I’m a filmmaker, right? And so that’s dangerous. That’s really dangerous because films are facsimiles of life. So if I categorize myself as somebody who specializes in a facsimile of life, then how am I going to live my life?” -Jordyn Jones

“Violence on people of color–I’m okay with not seeing that on-screen.” -Jordyn Jones

“I think with the climate right now everybody’s always saying if you’re a person of color, everybody tells you in the business and USC Film School, they’re all like ‘Use that, write about that.’ That by definition is exploitive.” -Jordyn Jones

“It’s really interesting how, me as a person of color, I’m always asked to move the needle forward, or female filmmakers are asked to move the needle forward.” -Jordyn Jones

“Ideologies of femininity on-screen are super reductive, and the only people asked to fix that are female creators […] We don’t put any of that burden on male filmmakers.” -Jordyn Jones

“If I’m a white male filmmaker, I can go and make The Office. I can go and make a show about, essentially, nothing.” -Jordyn Jones

“I don’t like Friends, so I feel okay to talk about it. It’s widely beloved and I understand why. Good television, on paper […] You get to make Friends. You get to make a show literally about just friends […] and you can include whatever types of friends you want to include. You get to exclude whoever you want to exclude […] and you just get to make a show literally about friends. I’ve got to make a show that’s funny, that’s about some niche market, that moves the needle forward in terms of the social consciousness, that does X, Y, and Z, or I’m gonna get backlash from everybody.” -Jordyn Jones

“We’ve never seen a female filmmaker, in my personal opinion, get wide critical acclaim and make films like a Tarantino film.” -Jordyn Jones

“There are a lot of films I want to make that challenge the form, that challenge where we are culturally […] I want to hold off on making those films […] because I don’t want to get into the industry and that’s what you think I have to make. I’m gonna make whatever the hell I want to me and if I fail […] I’ll live with that, and I’ll die with that.” -Jordyn Jones

“We need more people doing what people don’t expect because that’s how you move the needle forward.” -Jordyn Jones

“I do not like the deck stacked against anybody.” -Jordyn Jones

“You just have to play the system better than the system is trying to play you.” -Jordyn Jones

“We’re at the point where we are in existence where stakes are high. We just don’t want to save the world more than we want to feel powerful or feel power over somebody. It’s weird to me.” -Jordyn Jones

“I typically feel like I’m being, in a way, cheated out of the additional part of education, which is critique […] I want the real criticism. Everybody else gets. That is how you improve. I want to be in on that as well.” -Jordyn Jones

“Diversity is diversity of thought or diversity of experience or diversity of voice. Representation is almost irrelevant if it’s not coupled with that side of it.” -Jordyn Jones

“If you’re gonna puppet me then that’s even worse. I would rather you just literally not have any Black people than for you to use me as a Black person to say what you want to say.” -Jordyn Jones

“And I don’t want to be the one Black dude in the class who is bad because then that is literally going to change how everybody sees every Black filmmaker of all time.” -Jordyn Jones

“I’m trying to save the world in a weird kind of way.” -Jordyn Jones

“I tell white people […] my success has no impact on you but positive […] but you’re so unwilling to do that and to shaft yourself because you’ve been told that you have to shaft me to be okay.” -Jordyn Jones

“I don’t really care about acclaim, but I do in the regard that I want to be so acclaimed at some point in my life that I can’t be stricken from the history books, specifically so that there is one of us who they can say something about, just one who they can’t afford not to talk about.” -Jordyn Jones

“No Black director has ever won [an Oscar for] Best Director. As a matter of fact, this year, Judas and the Black Messiah is nominated for Best Picture. The director is not nominated for Best Director. He’s one of the only directors on the list of best picture noms that is not nominated as a director […] They refuse to do this.” -Jordyn Jones

“The whole industry I work in exists as a proxy of women making films for women to go see.” -Jordyn Jones

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