Jilliean Sioson is a film and TV student from Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia.
She is currently writing and producing a short film called An Ode to My Denim Jacket.
Sioson is a budding screenwriter passionate in writing about the Filipino experience whilst exploring and interweaving the values of faith and God through creative and artistic mediums.
“Through my work, I hope for all Filipinos to feel comfortable in their own heavenly crafted, sun-beat skin.” Jilliean Sioson
What are the films that you have been involved in here and overseas?
Being a 4th year student in university, I’ve been involved in a couple of student film projects ranging from a 90-second film (which will never see the light of day), When Life Gives You Melons- a short documentary about how the education system handles dyslexia, a 16mm short film set in a post-apocalyptic bunker, a music video, and now my own short film about a Filipino immigrant family trying to thrive in Melbourne during the 80s. Somewhere down the line, I would love to work on more Filipino-centred stories and documentaries. If this goes well, I’d love to be given the opportunity to write for Filipino films and work with other Filipino creatives.
Of the work you listed, which one would you consider your favourite or the best one you have undertaken so far?
Definitely the film I’m working on now, An Ode to My Denim Jacket. I am grateful to be able to write and produce my own graduate film, especially after having to pitch against 40 or so projects to a group of professors and one intimidating lady from SBS. This story is very special to me as it was written based on my own childhood experiences and household. Being able to share with others what it felt like living in Melbourne as a Christian and Filipino- immigrant, the hardships and bittersweet moments that come with it, has been such a huge blessing. I thank God every day for even giving me people who were of different backgrounds eager to work on my film as they gravitated towards the family dynamics and story. I am very excited to see it come to fruition sometime this year!
Who would you credit as having the greatest influence on you and in what you do? Who would you select as the most enjoyable person/s you have worked with and why?
As a budding writer, I took great inspiration from Greta Gerwig, writer of Little Women, A Marriage Story and Lady Bird. Her ability to make written material natural and bittersweet were things that influenced my own writing. For Denim Jacket, I was greatly influenced by Lulu Wang’s The Farewell (2019), as it also touched upon issues of diaspora and family relationships. I think the quirky and fun elements in the stories I write came from Wes Anderson, who funnily enough also wrote and directed films that showcased various forms of family tension. So, there’s definitely a pattern here.
My director and production designer for Denim Jacket have been a great joy to work with in my film, being from the same faith. I think we all need people who are on the same page as us to encourage us both career and faith wise. Being able to simply sit down and pray with them throughout the planning stages has been such a stress reliever and revitaliser in this long journey towards the creation of the film. I hope to be involved with other projects with them in the near future.
What advice would you give to other aspiring Fil-Aussie Directors/Filmmakers who are still trying to establish themselves in the filmmaking industry?
I know that with the capabilities of YouTube, 4k phone cameras and other social media platforms of the like, creating and having your talents recognised has never been easier. But based on my own experiences, if you are really passionate about this industry go to film school! Or even something similar. It’s where you form relationships with other creatives, network, be in your most active state, find your area of passion and most importantly, understand the history and theories that will greatly enrich your filmmaking and storytelling.
There are MANY creatives on Instagram and YouTube that may seem cool and inspirational, but I cannot stress it enough that film school students are distinguishable. You need to know your theories, not just the technical stuff. For practice, if you have any community projects or family events/birthdays, put your hand up! It’s a way to gain confidence and find your footing without being judged by film critics (sometimes ha-ha). Personally, for me though, the majority of my time was spent in prayer, reciting Jeremiah 29:11 because there will be times when others seem like they have their life and career put together- even at university. But knowing Who lovingly holds your future and the fact that it’ll be a good future despite COVID, setbacks and your lack of experience, is enough to keep going. Those in the creative industry know that it’s a hard industry. You are not spoon-fed, and projects aren’t always a guarantee. I’d like to end with a verse that’s upheld me throughout my whole film career up until now. Matthew 6:33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and ALL these things will be given to you as well.”
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