Ever wonder what it would be like to create a film in a different country? Moreover, how the production process and filmmaking style would differ from location to location? This upcoming documentary series, ‘Jump the Fence,’ explores just that, taking audiences on a tour around the world through seven different films created within one year.
The series is hosted by three best friends—Molly Elizabeth Parker, Britt Harris, and Lacy Allen—showcasing “an intimate look at the lives of burgeoning actors, inevitably showcasing the drama and comedy inherent in best friends testing their bond in the hothouse of Independent Filmmaking and world-wide travel,” according to the project’s webpage. Additionally, a guest director will be featured and profiled in each country, further exploring the highs and lows of the creative struggle, the collision of cultures, the bonds of friendship, and more.
We caught up with the Molly, Britt and Lacy to learn more about the project. Here’s what they had to say.
Hey all! I’m wondering if all of the directors for each country already been chosen? If so, how did you go about choosing them?
Molly: Yes, the directors have already been chosen. They are: Aslak Danbolt (Norway), Elinor Nechemya (Israel), Jim Lounsbury (Australia), Stathis Athanasiou (Greece), Sasha Gransjean (China, lives in LA) Steven Richter (USA, film will be shot in Portland, Oregon), and the film we just shot, ‘Roots,’ was with filmmaker Ale Paschoalini in Brazil. All of the directors who will be featured in our series we came into contact with through my and Britt’s experience at film festivals, primarily Slamdance, in Park City, Utah.
Britt and I met Aslak, Stathis, Sasha and Ale at Slamdance Film Festival in 2015 when we attended with a film we costarred in, ‘Birds of Neptune.’ Steven Richter directed that film, which is how we came to know Steven. Britt met Jim Lounsbury at the Arizona International Film Festival. Elinor Nechemya directed a short film called, Off Season, which I saw at Slamdance. Elinor did not attend the festival, but I reached out to her afterwards and asked if she would be interested in being a part of ‘Jump the Fence.’
Got it. So what are the seven countries you plan to visit?
Molly: Brazil, Norway, Greece, Israel, China, Australia, and the last one here in the USA.
Are you three primarily actors or filmmakers? Do you consider yourselves both or one more than the other?
Molly: All three of us are primarily actors. This is the first time I’ve directed or produced a film project. Acting has been my main focus from a young age, but I’m becoming increasingly interested in work behind the camera.
Lacy: I’m primarily an actor. I grew up doing mostly theater, but since moving to New York, I have started breaking into the commercial world and TV/film. I am now connected to a lot of friends in New York who are filmmakers, so I often find myself on set (called in on the day-of sometimes) witnessing and participating in the “action” of a filmmaker.
Britt: Yes, I’m primarily an actor but started writing and producing my own content over the past couple of years. I grew up doing theatre and have since become more active in film, commercials, and television. After deciding to focus primarily in film, I have become more and more interested in the production side of things. What thrills me most about this is, that, as an actor, I do not have to wait around for someone to “give me a job”—I can create my own! The more knowledge I have about the process—the creation of the story, pre-production, the filmmaking itself, the post-production process—the more effective I know I will be as an actor and storyteller.
Can you tell me a bit about what ultimately inspired this project?
Molly: Britt and I had the idea for this project in the Park City, Utah airport immediately after Slamdance. We were so inspired by the films we had seen and the international filmmakers we met. We were daydreaming about traveling around the world to work with our new friends when I had the idea to make an “around the world trip” out of it. We would travel to world, meet up with these filmmakers in the countries they live in, and make films with them along the way.
The title, ‘Jump the Fence,’ comes from an attitude of defiance toward traditional methods of acquiring work as an actor. Actors are coached to work hard, prepare, and wait to be in the right room at the right time to be chosen for a role that suits them. I’m ready to work. I refuse to wait for permission to do my job. This series is not only a compelling concept that I wholeheartedly believe will be interesting, inspiring and successful, but it is also a way to create our own opportunities. With this series, we take charge of our careers and create the kind of work we believe in with people who inspire us.
“I want to come out of this adventure more trusting of my creative instincts and more knowledgeable about the filmmaking process as a whole.”
What are your specific goals you’re aiming to accomplish with this adventure?
Molly: I want to learn as much as I can about the filmmaking process. All of the directors we’re featuring are very unique and talented individuals. I would to see how they work, to collaborate with them and discover what we can create together. I want to see how the filmmaking process is the same and different across the board. And how the physical space—climate, geography, politics, etc.—influences each of these artists.
Life is short and I want adventure. Travel that is initiated through friendship, collaboration and creativity is an electric concept to me and one that has inspired me to take hold of my life and career in ways I wouldn’t have imagined years ago.
Lacy: As I get older, my mantras for life have started to change. Like Molly was saying, life is short, and I’m discovering through growing in New York, that if you want to get something done a certain way, you do it yourself. Or you grab your buddies and you make that art together. It is the only way to fully achieve whatever goal you have for your life and your career. And also, who wouldn’t want to travel the world with their close friends and pursue such amazing, challenging, enduring work? For me, the best days are when I come home from whatever it is I was doing, and think “I worked my artistic brain to the best of its capacity today.” This is what ‘Jump The Fence’ aims to do everyday.
Britt: I want to come out of this adventure more trusting of my creative instincts and more knowledgeable about the filmmaking process as a whole. ‘Jump the Fence’ allows us this incredible opportunity to strengthen creative bonds and friendships in an environment outside of our comfort zone—you cannot help but grow while existing in this framework! What is it like to make an independent film in Greece? I have no idea!! But soon, I will! I hope to come out of this journey a better communicator, listener, collaborator, and more resourceful person.
As three best friends, what’s something unique you each bring to the filmmaking dynamic?
Lacy: I was unable to come to Brazil this trip because of a show I am rehearsing in the city. Molly and I did a “proof of concept” short film for ‘Jump The Fence’ when the project was still in gestation. During that process, we rewrote an entire 10-minute episodic short, memorized it, and the next day filmed all day. During the actual shoot, everyone welcomed improv in the scenes, as long as it still worked with the concept of the episode. I have an extensive improv background, and I understand how long and fast (I know contradicting words) filmmaking can be. On set, I like to think that I am able to bring fresh ideas to takes, as long as it is alright with the director or writer for the project.
Britt: I would like to say that Molly’s passion and tenacity to achieve a goal has inspired me and propelled me forward in more ways than I can begin to count. Molly is the engine of this project and I believe that she—perhaps unknowingly, haha—has pushed me to become a better producer and advocate of my own creative instincts. Her energy is infectious on set. A team-player and go-getter, Molly is the girl you want on your team if you want to get things DONE.
As for myself, I am always striving to be the best communicator I can be. I was excited to be able to utilize my own personal skills specific to our first location (in Brazil) in the episode we just wrapped. My husband is Brazilian and we live in São Paulo half of the year (I live in Los Angeles the other half of the year), so I am as comfortable as I can be speaking Portuguese and problem solving in this context.
“It’s crazy to think that this is just the beginning of the journey…”
The first episode of ‘Jump the Fence’ featured a film shot in the state of Bahía, which is quite far from from the state of São Paulo, so this was new and challenging for me! I felt like all I’ve learned as an American living in Brazil was put to the test… in a good way! For example, the accents in Bahía are completely different than the way I hear Portuguese in São Paulo. It threw me off quite a bit, initially. But I quickly adapted and became less self conscious and worried about “embarrassing myself.” It just became more and more important to me that I was able to communicate with people—to be heard, understood, and to listen and understand. That’s when I really felt myself start to grow.
Some of my favorite experiences during our time in Bahía were meeting the locals there and hearing their stories. The way I was able to stretch myself in terms of communication and collaboration reaffirms my love of language and desire to learn more about it. I’m setting a personal challenge for myself to learn as much of the language of each country we are visiting a possible. Even if I can only manage to speak a few basic exchanges in a foreign language, I know that it is probably the most important thing I can do to try to make a true connection with someone.
Is there anything you want to add or elaborate on regarding yourselves as creators or regarding ‘Jump the Fence’?
Lacy: Molly, Britt and I all have a passion for creation inside of us, and I have seen it take shape in many forms in the both of them since we’ve been friends. For me, riding alongside Molly (who I have known and lived with and gone through many chapters of life with) during the creation of this process, I have been in awe of her tenacity and determination to make this amazing project come to life. Both Molly and Britt have cut through the boundaries of what most people deem as “impossible,” especially in the early days of gathering information. None of us have ever been on this side of a production this large. I have learned so much about every different aspect you HAVE to deal with before you step foot on set. And the list of things to do is seemingly endless. Molly and Britt tackled each stressful step one foot at a time, and that got them to Brazil. I can’t wait to jump back into this journey with them on ‘Jump The Fence.’
Britt: I just want to say that my 10-year-old self would think I’m so cool right now. It’s true!! I think about this anytime I’m stressed out or having a bad day. When I was a little girl I wanted to be an actor and singer who traveled the world when I grew up. At 30, I have the same dreams as I did then and am beyond giddy that I achieving them.
I am humbled to be a part of this project and have immense gratitude to everyone who have helped us get to where we are. I am so inspired by these filmmakers and friends of ours and I want to learn all I can from them. I want create as much as I can and experience as much as I can. It’s crazy to think that this is just the beginning of the journey and I cannot wait to see where the road leads us.