Visit Films News

27 January 2011 // IN Our Filmmakers

Screen Daily interview with Clay Jeter

25 January, 2011 | By Jeremy Kay

Tennessee-born Clay Jeter talks to Jeremy Kay about his feature directorial debut Jess + Moss, which screens in Sundance's New Frontier section this week.

Through a series of vignettes that chronicle lazy summer days Jeter paints an idiosyncratic portrait of childhood as 18-year-old Jess and her second cousin Moss, 12, idle away the days talking, playing and discovering. The film has already won admirers for its evocative, languid pacing and dreamy West Kentucky milieu.

Kevin Iwashina of Preferred Content represents North American rights and Visit Films is handling international sales.

The story is so intimate and heartfelt – is it pure autobiography?

'The idea for the movie came from a combination of things. The primary location is my great-grandfather's tobacco farm in West Kentucky. He'd grown up there with his brother and my mum and her younger cousin spent time there, as did my older sister, so a lot of this is drawn from personal experience.'

It started out as two short films, so tell us how you fused them into one overarching feature?

'I had wanted to shoot these two shorts called Jess + Moss in 35mm and Five Dollars in digital. Two weeks before we were going to shoot at the farm we asked how we could turn them into one feature because we had so many ideas. So a three-day stay got extended to seven and even though all our crew had to leave to go back to film school or do some paying jobs we stayed on and filmed it. Sarah [Hagan, Jeter's girlfriend who plays Jess] and Austin [Vickers, who plays Moss] would be helping me out and holding the boom and that kind of stuff.'

How did you find your cast?

'As I said I'd been dating [lead actress] Sarah for a year and knew she would do it. I was an actor when I was a kid and had this amazing agent called Betty Clark. I needed kids for Five Dollars, which was all children, so I called up Betty and she helped me out, which must have been a tough sell because I had never directed anything before and the story involved children in intense situations. We set up casting sessions and Austin was the first kid, He'd done a play and didn't have the normal stage mum. He listened and responded and was a natural charmer. He was perfect for Five Dollars and it had to be him for Jess + Moss.'

Sarah and Austin are wonderful together. Was there instant chemistry?

'When I put Austin together with Sarah it was like this magic that I could never have known. They spent a lot of time together annoying the crap out of each other. I told them to only refer to each other as Jess and Moss, even when the camera wasn't rolling. I gave them this tape recorder and a lot of the voice over in the film comes from stuff they just came up with while they hung out.'

The story seems so fluid. How much of it was set down and how much was improvised?

'I had the outline for the story and often wrote on the day of shooting. There was never a full screenplay but just these pages of ideas. My sister and mother get story credits on this, too.'

The film feels so organic. Were you tempted to tinker with it a lot?

'It's so hard to get a full green light to make something, especially when you've never made something before. Getting into Sundance was the best thing because we could easily be tinkering with this movie for another two years. It was frightening and amazing when we heard because everybody who said they'd help did and pulled together to get this ready. We literally finished last a few days before the festival.'

The look of the film evokes early David Gordon Green on films like George Washington and All The Real Girls. How did you create that look?

'I'd been working as a cinematographer since I'd got out of film school [USC] so I had a camera and a collection of old film stock. You never want to throw that stuff away so we shot our movie on about 35 different films stocks. '

How did the shoot go?

'We shot in 15 days over the course of a year. We shot seven days up front [in July 2009] and put it together to see the shape of the movie. We went off and did other jobs in between and went back to it in March 2010 and then July. Everyone who worked on the project worked for free. Luckily we were in a position where we had a small enough amount of money from myself and my parents so we didn't have financiers breathing down our neck. The project had lulls. The editor would have to take off time and do some commercials and then work a bit more on this movie.

This was one of the hottest June and Julys on record. When we went back in March it was cold but the actors were wearing the same clothes. It was intense. We were out in the middle of nowhere. We were roughing it.'

How would you describe the film?

'The movie is very much about landscape and a documentation of space and time. For me it's really about childhood and some of the fleeting moments that you don't notice always but that create existence. Se against that is the tragedy of growing up.'

Click here to continue reading on the Screen Daily site

27 January 2011 // IN Market News

Visit's EFM 2011 line up

We're proud to present our line up for this years EFM in Berlin. Hope to see you at one of the screenings!

Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Mon 2/14 1:25 PM Astor Lounge (Market Screening)

Jess + Moss
Mon 2/14 9:30 AM Marriott 3 (Market Screening)

The Green Wave
Sat 2/12 10:45 AM dffb-Kino (Market Screening)
Wed 2/16 9:30 AM dffb-Kino (Market Screening)

The Off Hours
Tues 2/15 11:30 AM CinemaxX 18 (Market Screening)

Tilva Rosh
Fri 2/11 8:45 AM CinemaxX 17 (Market Screening)

Small Town Murder Songs
Sat 2/12 10:45 AM CinemaxX 17 (Market Screening)
Mon 2/14 2:30 PM CinemaxX 17 (Market Screening)

The Myth of the American Sleepover
Sun 2/13 12:30 PM CinemaxX 18 (Market Screening)

Look Stranger
Tues 2/15 12:45 PM CinemaxX 17 (Market Screening)

27 January 2011 // IN Festivals and Forums

Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Jess + Moss, and The Green Wave at the Berlinale 2011

We're proud to announce the official screenings info for Werner Herzog's CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS, Clay Jeter's JESS + MOSS, and Ali Samadi Ahadi's THE GREEN WAVE at the Berlinale 2011. Please try and make it if you can!

Sun 2/13 10:30 PM Berlinale Palace (Premiere Screening)
Mon 2/14 12:00 PM Urania (Official Screening)
Mon 2/14 1:25 PM Astor Lounge (Market Screening)
Mon 2/14 5:30 PM Urania (Official Screening)

Mon 2/14 9:30 AM Marriott 3 (Market Screening)
Thu 2/17 8:00 PM Haus der Kulturen der Welt Kino 1 (Official Screening)
Sat 2/19 3:30 PM Cubix 8 (Official Screening)
Sun 2/20 2:00 PM Haus der Kulturen der Welt Kino 2 (Official Screening)

Sat 2/12/ 10:45 AM dffb Kino (Official Screening)
Tues 2/15 13:13 PM CinemaxX1 (Official Screening)
Wed 2/16 9:30 AM dffb Kino (Official Screening)

22 January 2011 // IN Festivals and Forums

Jess + Moss review from Sundance 2011

PARK CITY -- Experimental films at Sundance are not unlike the flu bugs that run rampant through the festival's many crowded venues: They're inevitable but to be avoided if possible. First-time writer-director Clay Jeter's Jess + Moss proves an exception.

Experimental films at Sundance are not unlike the flu bugs that run rampant through the festival's many crowded venues: They're inevitable but to be avoided if possible. First-time writer-director Clay Jeter's Jess + Moss proves an exception. Not that its slow rhythms and intricate sight and sound design won't tax the patience of those who trek here for celebrity sightings and the next hot film.
Jeter has thought deeply about how best to convey the themes he wishes to express here — themes about memory, longing and the power of the quotidian on a hot summer's day — and how to express these things without benefit of a traditional narrative. Jess + Moss represents a bracing jolt from the usual film experience while at the same time lacking the pretension that accompanies so many experimental films.
There is no real story as such here. Two young people have only each other for companionship during a summer on a western Kentucky tobacco farm. Second cousins Jess (Sarah Hagan) and Moss (Austin Vickers) are 18 and 12 respectively. The age gap is not insignificant. Jess would probably like to experiment with boy-girl things that Moss' immaturity prevents. Moss wants the older girl to entertain him a bit: Like telling him the story over and over again about his parents, who were killed long ago.
The film lets you gather information about these two not only from their conversations but from recorded memories. Old video and tape recordings are played. The youngsters make their own recordings as well. A crumbling farmhouse on the property, still filled with the degraded furniture and effects of lives long gone, fill in more details.
It's also amazing how poignant Connie Francis' old recording of Tammy, played over a couple of montages, becomes under these circumstances.
Two scenes with the boy's and girl's families show they are families in name only: The youngsters are completely alienated from these adults.
Jeter, who wrote the script with Debra Jeter, Will Basanta and Issac Hagy — more a succession of visual and aural strategies than a traditional screenplay — is deliberately unhelpful in providing a full background to his characters. A viewer senses rather than understands the back stories.
The two actors hold the screen quite naturally for the entire running time. Hagan is a pro with roles on the series Freaks and Geeks and Buffy the Vampire Slayer while Vickers is not. It makes no difference as the two behave as if they grew up together. They trade insults and secrets with equal ease. They are so used to each other that they shrug off small cruelties since they need one another.
Moss probably wonders why Jess hits herself every now and then. Jess wonders if she should change or edit the story of his parents, if only to alter their routine.
Jeter shot on over 30 different kinds of film stock, some many years old while others are brand new, Thus sharp, color saturated images collide with grainy ones. Some memories are fuzzy or faded while others are not, the film implies through this arresting style.
The filmmaker made the film on his family's tobacco farm so perhaps his own memories may filter through those of his fictional characters. Or maybe they're not fictional at all. Jess + Moss is, to put it mildly, open to interpretation.

Click here to read the article on THR's website

20 January 2011 // IN Festivals and Forums

Visit Films to handle foreign sales on Sundance premiere Jess + Moss

20 January, 2011 | By Jeremy Kay

Visit Films has acquired international sales and festival rights to Clay Jeter's directorial debut Jess + Moss ahead of its world premiere in Sundance on Sunday [23].

The New Frontier entry will also screen in the Berlinale next month.

Sarah Hagan and Austin Vickers play second cousins who spend the dying days of summer in rural Western Kentucky exploring deep secrets as they contemplate an uncertain future.

Preferred Content is representing North American rights and the company's managing partner Kevin Iwashina serves as executive producer along with Jason Berman.

'This is a film that we all fell in love with,' Visit Films partner Ryan Kampe said. 'The artistry is phenomenal and the characters mesmerising. International buyers looking for a return to classic American independent cinema will be very pleased. Clay will be one of this year's major discoveries.'

'When I first screened Jess + Moss and subsequently met the filmmaker, I immediately knew that this was a creative endeavor with which I had to be associated,' Iwashina said. 'It is a reflection of all the reasons that I have been a supporter of independent filmmakers since the inception of my career.'

Visit Films's recent sales slate includes Trash Humpers, Small Town Murder Songs, Tilva Rosh, and Myth Of The American Sleepover.

Click here to read the article on Screen's website

17 January 2011 // IN Festivals and Forums

Visit Film Sundance slate is here!

We are about to head off to Sundance with a slate of three fantastic titles - The Off Hours, The Green Wave, and Jess + Moss. As usual, these films have in common their unique vision and quality filmmaking. If you're in Park City, please make sure to catch them all!

The Green Wave
3:00 PM Fri, Jan 21 Holiday Village Cinema IV
9:00 AM Mon, Jan 24 Temple Theatre
1:30 PM Tue, Jan 25 Holiday Village Cinema I (P&I)
9:00 PM Thu, Jan 27 Holiday Village Cinema IV
6:45 PM Fri, Jan 28 Broadway Centre Cinemas V (SLC)
9:00 AM Sat, Jan 29 Holiday Village Cinema IV

The Off Hours
3:00 PM Sat, Jan 22 Yarrow Hotel Theatre
12:00 PM Sun, Jan 23 Redstone Cinemas 8
9:15 AM Wed, Jan 26 Holiday Village III (P&I)
6:15 PM Wed, Jan 26 Egyptian Theatre
4:30 PM Sat, Jan 29 Broadway Centre Cinemas IV (SLC)

Jess + Moss
5:30 PM Sun, Jan 23 Prospector Square Theatre
9:00 PM Mon, Jan 24 Redstone Cinemas 8
3:00 PM Tue, Jan 25 Broadway Centre VI (SLC)
9:30 AM Thu, Jan 27 Holiday Village Cinema II
10:30 PM Fri, Jan 28 Broadway Centre IV (SLC)
6:00 PM Sat, Jan 29 Holiday Village Cinema IV

17 January 2011 // IN Festivals and Forums

Visit's Sundance title THE OFF HOURS featured on the home page of Apple trailers

Check it out!

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