Former Chief Kanim student makes her mark as budding movie director
June 27, 2012
By Sebastian Moraga
With a stare that mirrors her intensity, Samantha Jensen looks at her future through a little camera hole and likes what she sees.
A filmmaker for six years, the 16-year-old former Chief Kanim Middle School student has no problem directing actors, sometimes much older actors.
Inspired by her mother’s interest in filmmaking, Jensen shelved her acting dreams when she learned about film directing and archived her goal of becoming a medical examiner when she realized how dedicated and competitive her filmmaking peers were.
“I’ve always loved watching movies on TV,” she said. “The idea of making something and have other people watch it is really, really cool.”
Directing is more fun than she thought but also harder than she thought, she said. It takes longer and demands more attention. Especially from Jensen, who said her preparation sets her apart.
“I am super organized,” she said. “I spend a lot of time getting everything organized.”
Misdemeanor No.1 for an actor in a Jensen film is goofing off, she said.
She expects her actors to pay attention, and to be able to take a direction, even if it’s from someone with a driver’s permit.
Her age makes it hard to direct older people sometimes.
“If you see someone older than you, you expect them to be an adult,” she said. “So to have to say, ‘You didn’t do that right,’ it’s a bit of a role reversal.”
When directing children things get easier, but not by much.
“Parents of children I’m directing come up to me and say, ‘You know, I took a film class one time, and you should do this.’”
A fan of Guy Ritchie and Alfred Hitchcock, Jensen said she dreams not of being the next female Spielberg. Instead, she said she wants to act in theater, and see a Jensen-penned feature film on the big screen.
At the least, she said, she would like to work in a film that makes it big, even if it’s not as its director.
With Jensen as assistant director, two films earned Audience Awards at this year’s National Festival For Talented Youth, in Seattle.
A third film she wrote and directed was well-received, she said, but earned no awards.
Her writing in solo projects leans toward children’s tales. When writing with friends, she leans more toward the horror genre.
For Jensen, the scary movie version of her life has her studying and sacrificing for years without getting that big break.
Some adults may give this director grief, but at least one is rooting hard for her.
“She will excel at it,” said her mother, Tania. “She has integrity and perseverance.”
Mom has no problem taking direction from director Samantha, Tania added.
“You can’t really have an ego,” she said.
The same goes for youths wanting to be filmmakers. Rejection, Samantha said, is part of the game. So is tenacity.
“If you really like something,” she said, “just go for it.”