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Filmmaker finds homegrown success after graduation

The biggest compliment Jenna Bush has received from one of her films is when someone came up to her after seeing "The Ground Keeper" and said it touched them. (Photo Courtesy of Jenna Bush)

By Katie O’Dell


For most recent college graduates, the first months after graduation are a time of stress and few major accomplishments. Just don’t tell Jenna Bush that — the 2011 College alumna has already directed a music video and created films chosen for screening at film festivals such as the Garden State Film Festival, the Rumschpringe Film Festival and New Filmmakers New York’s summer film series. The multitalented Bush has dabbled in nearly all aspects of film, from writing and filming to producing, directing and editing, and it was the ability to combine her diverse passions that drew her to cinematography.

“I love photography, music, drawing, design (and) writing.  I’ve also always felt a need to do something in which I could communicate with people on a larger scale,” she explained in an email interview.

Bush works hard, sometimes devoting as many as  14 hours daily to her craft, but her efforts have been rewarded with a slew of recent accomplishments. Her short film, “Minor Details,” won the Homegrown Student Documentary Short award at the 2010 Garden State Film Festival.

“There is the incredible feeling when you watch faces engrossed in your film,” she said, noting that the experience was as “nerve-wracking” as it was rewarding. “When you work on such a project, it becomes a part of you, something personal to a degree … the biggest compliment I have ever received was when someone came up to me after seeing ‘The Ground Keeper’ and said that it touched them,” she said of the film, which she composed, directed and edited.

Bush was recently able to combine her passion for music with her talent for filmmaking. She wrote, directed and produced a music video for the New Jersey-based band Novae for their  song “Broken Days,” which premiered on Sept. 16 at the Upper Deck Club in Matawan. The music video, which was filmed on the College’s campus, draws some of its creative strength from Bush’s past. The video features the image of a marriage proposal written on a paper napkin, which, Bush says, was inspired by her father’s proposal to her mother.

Bush has no shortage of answers when asked to list artists for whom she’d like to direct music videos.

“I’d love to work with Lady Gaga, Ingrid Michaelson, Death Cab For Cutie, Brandi Carlile, Coldplay and even David Nevue. They are musicians who are true artists and visionaries.  They have something to say, and I would love to help them say it,” she said.

Helping others convey creative messages is crucial to her mission as an artist, she explained: “I’m learning I am not as much of a writer as I am a translator.  I can take a writer’s story and transform it into something visual.”

Despite her talent and professional achievements, Bush has no intention of abandoning the independent film world.

“The level of creative input for anyone who isn’t above the line (the writer, director, producer) on a professional film is extremely limited if it exists at all,” she said, yet there’s no need for fans to worry that she’ll sacrifice her integrity. “I may make my career as a cinematographer or editor in commercial media, but I will continue to work on my own independent projects besides,” she said.



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