Only 7 years old and living by herself on Venice Beach, Jada makes and sells stick people on the boardwalk to get by.
Logline: Jada is 7 years old. Jada lives alone on Venice Beach. By following her through a day in her life, the story of who she is, why she is there, and who the man is that has come looking for her unfolds.
Director: Doug Roland
Producer: Doug Roland, Michelle Luchese
Writer: Doug Roland
About the writer, director and producer:
Doug is a filmmaker and actor from NYC, based in LA, who has directed shorts, music videos, and recently produced his first feature film.
- Kaycie Bowens as Jada
- JaCoby Breaux as Jerome
- Tanya Alexander as Ms. Wheeler
- Doug Roland as Keith
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):
Film festival directors, journalists, and distributors
Release date: 04/04/16
Where can I watch it? “Jada” is playing at both Dances With Film and the Santa Cruz Film Festival on Saturday, June 4th. “Jada” will also be playing in its first two east coast film festivals in July, dates and times to be determined when these festivals make their official announcements. And hopefully many more festivals after that. Later, it will premiere online via a large online magazine, also to be announced.
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
“Jada” was largely born out of a fascination with my neighborhood at the time I was writing it, Venice Beach, California. It was eclectic and beautiful and weird, and felt like a living, breathing, evolving creature. I knew regardless of the film I made there that the environment had to be a character in and of itself.
Venice also happens to be a magnet for outsiders who live on the fringes of society. Hundreds of untold stories traverse the boardwalk every day in the form of runaways and drifters of all ages, shapes, and sizes. Initially an image flashed through my mind of a small girl, far younger than the average Venice Boardwalk inhabitant, fending for herself.
I was intrigued by who this girl was and why she was there and followed that impulse until it turned into this film. Ultimately, I was interested in exploring how this seemingly helpless little girl, who was dealt a bad hand, could overcome her circumstances and make the best of her situation.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
First and foremost, this is a character-driven film, which offers the viewer an intimate look into someone’s life that is most likely far different from his or her own. That’s what excites me most about cinema – the ability to step inside someone else’s experience that is so different from my own and experience their reality for the duration of the film.
Furthermore, the film touches on social issues that are prevalent and pressing today, such as a woefully underfunded children’s social services system that can only do so much with the resources it has and is beholden to questionable protocol, and also takes a look at the effects of child abuse through the eyes of the child.
Hopefully the character-driven story, enveloped in relevant social issues, displaying equal parts harsh reality of life and naïve optimism of a young girl is reason to watch.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I tend to gravitate to writing about outsiders. Though I don’t necessarily identify as one, there is a very personal part of me that identifies with these characters, and seeing the world through the eyes of someone who is normally an afterthought for many.
On the broadest scale, “Jada” is ultimately the story of someone striving to make the best of a tough situation and prevailing in her own way. No matter who we are, life is filled with challenges and it’s more about how we deal with and overcome those challenges rather than trying to hold on to some stasis.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
There is always a difference between how one conceives of a project on the page versus how the story evolves once you are actively making it. Initially, I had envisioned the character of Jada to be a bit more hardened by her experiences out on the streets, but when we cast Kaycie, there was something more innocent about her. This quality that Kaycie naturally possessed informed how I went about a lot of the film during production and post-production.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
Thus far the feedback has been very positive. We’ve had the good fortune to play at some really great festivals, and I’ve gotten feedback from audience members who are moved by the film and the journey of the girl at the helm of it.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Because the ending is left pretty open, it’s been most interesting to hear people’s interpretations as to what happens to Jada. The varying opinions haven’t necessarily altered my beliefs about the film, but I’m always fascinated to hear what viewers take away from it.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
“Jada” just started playing in festivals, so we’re still looking to get the word out about the film. It’s a film that was made with a lot of love, and we’re trying to get as many people to see it as possible.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
We’re looking to have a long and prosperous festival run, so we’d love to get the film on the radar of more film festival directors. Journalists are great at helping get the story out there, and we’re happy to talk to anyone interested in speaking with us. We currently do not have a distribution deal and would be happy to chat with distributors as well.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I’d love for people to come away from this film feeling like they were able to see the world through Jada’s eyes – for its danger, beauty, and innocence. By extension, I hope that it helps people more deeply empathize with those effected by child abuse. And lastly, for anyone who has worked for or been in the children’s social services system, I hope the story rings true.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
After the conclusion of the film, what does the viewer think becomes of Jada? Do you think she is better off and, if not, how do you wish her story had ended?
Would you like to add anything else?
Thanks to We Are Moving Stories for chatting with us about “Jada,” and thanks to all of you for taking the time to read about it! If you want to learn more about the film and stay up-to-date on developments, follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/jadathemovie) or our website (dougrolandfilms.com/jada) to find out more.
What are the key creatives developing or working on now?
I’m directing a segment for an anthology feature entitled “Prism.” The unifying theme of all of the segments is the irrationality of love. I’m still in the writing phase, but I can say that it’s about an investigative reporter who drops in on a former lover under the guise of reconnecting with him, meanwhile she is surreptitiously investigating the cult he used to be a part of – a story that gets her in way over her head.
Also, a music video I directed for the artist Nisha will be released in the fall.