Other Worlds Austin - Scanners

Hey Little Guy.jpg

Alan’s new job as a member of a security scan team requires him to do nothing but attend a mysteriously non-functioning scanner under the watchful eye of a paranoid boss, until he fixes the machine and unwittingly opens a portal into the unknown.

Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Natalie Jenison


Congratulations! Why did you make your film?

There is actually kind of a funny story about this, but first I should say I’ve been writing scripts for years, learning how hard it is to develop a completed, good idea. Scanners was the first completed script I wrote (at 15 pages). The traditional path for screenwriters is kind of a weird one, but that’s what I wanted to do, but I realized the best way to continue writing would be to produce and direct it myself. I talked to Emmet Kerr Perkinson and Robert Ravenscroft and we started putting together a real production. But the real reason I wrote it in the first place is that my friend Ben bought a security scanner at a government auction in Florida, and I was concerned he would never rent it out as a prop — unless I wrote something about it myself. So it basically started as a joke. I hope it’s actually funny, I’m not sure.

Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?

If you like stuff that’s like a nightmare fairy tale about the TSA you would like this.

How do personal and universal themes work in your film?

The way this idea germinated in me was more based on a dreamlike a collective idea regarding the TSA and security and surveillance, but also a little bit of a personal nightmare. The creature is based on a nightmare I had as a child. But I don’t personally identify with any one of the characters - more like all the characters as a whole. They’re all a bit half formed and ridiculous, which is why it’s funny: none of them are that great at anything they try to do.  But to me it’s still satisfying to watch them flail around.



How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development?

I wrote the script so far in advance of the actual production, it’s a little crazy. I wrote it about two years before we started. And I didn’t change the script at all - we shot it word for word. I’m not sure I knew how to change it, but the story seemed to work and I liked it. We did end up cutting some unnecessary world building that I nevertheless liked: like Alan being introduced to the snack room, and Alan walking through a mysterious portal to get into the scanner room. You quickly (but painstakingly) learn you don’t need that kind of stuff in the story.

What type of feedback have you received so far?

We have played at a couple film festivals, and the audiences have been really engaged both times. There seems to be a lot of laughter, which is nice. It’s actually really hard to tell! It’s such a strange little film that I think people don’t know what to make of it. I’ve watched it a million times, and actually I think it makes more sense the more times you’ve seen it.

Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?

Mainly in that it’s nice to have your work completed and seen. That is so fulfilling as a filmmaker in and of itself, but it’s insanely hard to get there.

What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?

It’s just wonderful to have more people watching the film. This is the first film to my name, despite the fact that I have worked in the film industry for many years. It’s a totally different, thrilling feeling when it’s your own work.



Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?

I’m thinking of this project as more of a calling card for future work. It’s a strange calling card, but I think the story is interesting and it shows a level of skill and inventiveness that I’m proud of. I’m constantly developing ideas large and small, so finding an amazing, smart producer to collaborate with in the future would always be welcome. Finding investors for future movies would be an awesome best-case scenario. 

What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?

I would basically just love it if people loved it, if they think it was funny or just plain entertaining.

What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?

The idea in the back of my mind when I wrote it was to create a sort of mockery of the surveillance state, especially the annoying false theater of security screenings. The story kind of morphed on its own into the sort of absurdist comedy that it is, not really a social message or anything. My feelings remain the same about TSA / security, but at this point in my life I no longer consider it evil in and of itself. It’s just a symptom of modern imperialism and war. Will anyone think about any of this when watching the short film? Who knows but probably not. But I think the allegory element of the story is about someone claiming a false power over you, and trying to understand that or dismantle it. I suppose if this kind of story has relevance for anyone it will resonate.



Would you like to add anything else?

Filmmaking is the hardest and most fun thing in the world.

What other projects are the key creatives developing or working on now?

I’m currently writing a horror script, and looking to do some collaborative brand development type videos; Robert Ravenscroft (producer) and Emmet Kerr-Parkinson (DP and editor) are in New York with their production company Pan Up Productions doing things! They’re amazing collaborators, really supportive and smart.


Interview: December 2017


We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us?  More info: Carmela



Alan’s new job as a member of a security scan team requires him to do nothing but attend a mysteriously non-functioning scanner under the watchful eye of a paranoid boss, until he fixes the machine and unwittingly opens a portal into the unknown.

Length: 14:31

Director: Natalie Jenison

Producer: Natalie Jenison, Robert Ravenscroft

Writer: Natalie Jenison

About the writer, director and producer: Natalie Jenison works in television, film, and commercial production. She writes female driven absurdist science-fiction, horror, and comedy. Robert Ravenscroft has produced a variety of commercials and short films. More recently his focus has been on managing and producing for Pan Up Productions.

Key cast: Kirk Johnson, Bill Wise, Jennymarie Jemison, Jory Balsimo
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists): Producers, Film Festival Directors, Investors

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/scannersshort

Funders: Kickstarter funded

Where will the film screen in the next month?

Other Worlds Austin