Regarding the financial backing of Jennifer Samaan

"Regarding the Case of Joan of Arc"

“Regarding the Case of Joan of Arc”

During the AFM (American Film Market), which was held November 1 – 8 in Santa Monica, one is exposed to all kinds of films at various levels of quality. You can see very good at the market and you can see very, very, very bad. Looking at you China Salesman!

Then there are the interesting films. Films that make you think. I stumbled across one during the Legacy Films Event. This is an annual trailer party thrown by Legacy’s founders, Gena Vazquez and Luis Sinabaldi. It’s a film produced by Vazquez’s Monte Carlo Pictures and distributed by Legacy. From writer/director Matthew Wilder, it is a film that reflects where we are as a society in turbulence.

Regarding The Case of Joan of Arc is a modern-day picture set in Guantanamo Bay, where Joan (played by Twin Peaks’ Nicole LaLiberte) is an alt-right, Christian-militia terrorist who hears voices telling her to attack federal buildings. Her judges are confounded, because they must give Joan a death sentence but fear angering her base — which coincidentally is President Trump’s base, plus 20%. Joan struggles with her own fear as she faces her inevitable destiny.

According to Wilder, the film was inspired by such classic Joan movies as Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc, Bresson’s Trial of Joan of Arc and Rivette’s Jeanne Le Pucelle. And like the first two, it is based on the actual transcripts of Joan’s interrogation … moved into 2017 America.

According to Vazquez, the hope for the film is to debut at Cannes in 2018. For now, you can watch the exclusive Reel Chicago trailer below:

 

 

And the financing for such a dynamic film came from?

Meet Chicago’s Jennifer Samaan. She is a single, mother of three children in their 20’s, who, like many of us kissing middle-age, was looking for something to do in the second chapter of her life.

“I’ve been exploring different options and I am ready to live in a warmer climate and I’m very fond of Los Angeles,” Samaan said, whose favorite films are about strong women such as this year’s Wonder Woman and Thelma and Louise.

I had a chance to speak with the life-long Chicagoan and how she got herself into the film business.

REEL CHICAGO: So, this is your first venture into financing a film? Why take such a risk?

JENNIFER SAMAAN: Oh, my god, yes. One of my favorite pastimes has always been movies with my kids, and my youngest son who is now 20 has a real interest in the movie industry I have always been extremely interested in the entertainment industry, but was not sure how I was going to get involved.

RC: How did you meet Gena?

JS: I met Gena when she was in Chicago on business some time ago. When talking with her last winter, she mentioned a couple of her latest projects and I really liked the sound of the scripts. So, she sent them to me to read and, of course, they were awesome. We frequently discussed ideas for investing and she explained to me the waterfall structure which I was unfamiliar with. She knew that investing was of interest to me. I was looking for a strategic investment at the time with medium risk and that would potentially pay a high return.

RC: So, you get excited about Joan of Arc and you run back to your friends to say, “Hey I’m making a movie!” What do they say?

JS: Most of my friends aren’t investors so they didn’t understand the business aspect of it. But Hollywood always does a good job of selling immortality so many of my friends were excited I’m breaking into the entertainment industry. We talked a lot about it and they find it fascinating as well. Most of them did not understand that investing in films is a great option for short-term risk.

RC: Now you’re an investor in this film. New venture. Talk to me about arriving on set.

Jennifer Samaan
Jennifer Samaan

JS: I had no idea what I was going to experience in Los Angeles. When I headed there I only knew I wanted to see what I was investing in. I ended up staying for the entirety of the film production. My initial reason was to see how my money was being spent, but then became so involved in the mode of all hands-on-deck during the production that I ended up seeing it through to its completion.

RC: I know for me I get this sense of electricity every time I first walk onto a set.

JS: Yes! Almost the entire film was shot at True Vision Studios in Los Angeles. Walking into an empty studio and seeing how vast and spacious it was so intriguing. Day one started with set building and I watched that unfold. It was fascinating. The next thing I knew the entire set needed to be decorated and I’m a very hands-on type of person with a very DIY background so I jumped right in! I did everything that you could imagine – from painting walls to daily trips to Home Depot to picking up supplies.

I quickly became friends with Rojelio, the main construction dude, who didn’t speak English and I don’t speak Spanish. It was a blast! My favorite experience was shopping for the execution table for Joan. The table we bought didn’t have the proper arms for our needs and I ended up building those from scratch and attaching them to the table. They were very important to the execution scene of Joan in the movie and I’m very proud of those!

RC: So, what surprised you the most?

JS: I was very surprised that an entire movie is made in 30 days from start to finish. We rented the space for one month and that was all the time we had. Sticking to the schedule was very important. Another very interesting thing was to see that the unions were very uncooperative in ways of not cultivating a working relationship to solve issues or work together.

Paperwork was done correctly, in the systems and if they felt they didn’t get their money right away they preemptively called all agents to tell them not to work with us. Things were pending in place properly and SAG was a big problem in the miscommunication and nonsupport. It was a huge time-waster and created a lot of unnecessary work.

RC: So really investing in a film meant more than just investing money.

JS: Yes, most definitely. I would do it again even though I have to tell you it was by far the hardest, most physically demanding month of my life. I have not worked that hard physically in years. Once my adrenaline kicked in it kept me going for a month. But when I returned home I literally had to recuperate for close to a week. I didn’t work only two Sundays of the month, and that is really hard to believe still for me.

RC: How would you say you’ve grown from this experience?

JS: Personally, I feel I’ve grown tremendously. I learned an incredible amount about production, but still know that it was only the tip of the iceberg. I have a new-found passion and know that I am much more capable of anything I ever thought physically. I’m so ready to get involved again. I’ve already invested in Gena’s next movie and am anxiously awaiting to learn when they will begin production. I’m definitely going to be on-hand again. I can’t wait!

Contact Colin Costello at colin@reelchicago.com or follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.

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