Interview with creator of Jennifer Help Us – Juan Ortiz

Juan Ortiz was kind enough to take sometime to answers some questions about his film Jennifer Help Us…

A few days ago we featured the trailer for Jennifer Help Us, if you missed it check it out below! You can get updates about the film here – @jenniferhelpus
Written and directed by Juan Ortiz and made on a megre budget Jennifer Help Us looks to be a 70s influenced throwback and this of course got me very interested, so I started by asking…
Firstly what is Jennifer Help Us about?
Jennifer Help Us is about a trio of mean girls who kidnap a classmate and encounter some pretty dark secrets about the town’s infamous haunted house. 
How’d the idea for the film come about?
The idea came about when I had received an Ipod for Christmas. I downloaded an app called 8mm. It costs $2. I shot fake opening title sequences. I fell in love with one of the settings. I was on my sisters couch when the idea just popped into my head. Jennifer Help Us. It all hit me at once.  I dove right into writing after that. 
Filming with an iphone… was this an experiment or more of a budgetary constraint?
Total Budgetary. 
Did you have a hand in casting the actors?
We casted in Columbia, Missouri. The first audition was terrible. Only one girl showed up. She was great. Courtney Bandecko. She plays Mindy. My Producer Brian Burger set up another casting session that was also terrible. One girl shined. Kelsi Simpson, who plays Pegs.  She had recommended some of her friends. We casted them through Skype.  
How small was the budget? Was this on purpose or just a lack of funds?
The budget was mostly spent on plane tickets. Around $1500, We pushed back production a week, because our location fell through. My producer found me another house a day before we were to start shooting. That affected the schedule. My actors were in their last year of college. I flew up to Missouri whenever they had a weekend off. The rest of the money was on food and motels. We’re all broke-ish. I remember our first day. All my actors were getting ready, I felt lucky to even have a little bit of money to shoot this movie. I felt like I was a rich kid. It was nice. 
Judging by the trailer, the film seems to have a late 70s vibe, is this the case?
That’s certainly what we were going for. That’s why I fell in love with that setting in the app. Also, I know that these movie makers had money issues. Many of my favorites did. We had the same problems that they had. So when you’re me, you just embrace that. You don’t have a choice. 
What was the biggest thing you have taken away from the process of making the film?
How to tell a story. It’s like learning a language. You learn by shooting and editing. You learn that you don’t really know what you have unless you sit with people and watch it with them. It is the strangest thing. You think it’s good. You think it’s what you want, and then you sit down on your friend’s couch and melt away. Bad things really pop out at you when you have an audience. It’s natural. All movie makers go through that. You just have to get over it and make it better. 
What are your hopes for the film?
I hope this movie makes it easier to make more. Maybe with a sound person next time! 
What kind of horror films do you like?
I don’t have a bias towards this or that. If you’re a movie, you have to sit me down and kick my ass. 
What does the future hold for you?
I don’t know what the future holds. I’ll just keep writing and shooting. 

Ryan Morrissey-Smith

Follow @TigersMS78 on twitter

Image: JenniferHelpUs/

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