Profile: Jazz Meyer, filmmaker

Profile: Jazz Meyer, filmmaker
By Sophie Baker
Jazz Meyer, filmmaker
It's three weeks out from the Cannes Film Festival, and 22-year-old filmmaker Jazz Meyer receives word that her film, Instructions Inside, has been selected for screening in the Festival's Short Film Corner. Jazz, the producer of the film, and her director, Martin Ingle, created the film in their last year at Brisbane's Griffith Film School. The film, a documentary-meets-fiction dissection of the world of the toy store, was a last-minute entry encouraged by the university.

"My friend and director Martin Ingle is probably one of my greatest sources of inspiration," says Jazz. "He's so great to work with, and he'll hate me for saying this, but he's a genius. He has such unique ideas and he's not afraid to think outside the box."   

The pair originally had some reservations as to whether they should enter the film, knowing that if they were to be selected they would have to pay their way to the south of France. So you can imagine the excitement, stress and flurry that proceeded their receiving of such news. 

"It was pretty crazy," she says, describing an an intricate set of events inclusive of a travel agent booking flights to Cairns, "as in Cairns, Australia!?" A week out from the festival Jazz was still unsure whether she was even going to make it. 

But, happily, they did make it to Cannes. In a showcase of the sheer amount of talent that is coming out of Australia's film industry, Jazz's film was among six films from the Griffith Film School that were selected for screening. 

Feet up, sprawled out in striped canvas chairs set in the sand under a large outdoor screen watching exotic movies was certainly not Jazz's glamorous experience of Cannes. She and Martin spent most of their time tiresomely organising and promoting the screening of their film, along with an endless amount of networking. 

This is not to say Jazz did not enjoy the festival – that would be far from the truth. Describing her time there as "amazing", she says the best thing about the festival was being surrounded by so many like-minded people, the vibe was infectious and it inspired her like nothing else. 

She also met Margaret Pomeranz from ABC's 25-years-running movie review show At The Movies, and well-respected Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke.

"We saw a lot of celebrities there, as you can imagine, but meeting Michael Haneke was pretty awesome," she says. "His movies are really intense and he's really well known in the industry. And Margaret, everyone in the Australian film industry knows Margaret, she's been around forever, so that was cool."

Jazz's interest in filmmaking was first piqued in junior high school by the Seven network's TV series Short Cuts, which, as 90s kids may remember, told the story of a group of media studies students who faced the challenge of using the camera to express themselves for their schoolwork. 

The series had Jazz fantasising about the life of a filmmaker, and when it came time to enroll in university, it seemed the obvious choice. She never envisaged making a career out of being a filmmaker – her plan was to teach Film & TV – but she soon came to find that her heart was not in teaching itself. 

Her passion for filming and creating was far too great, and she is now set on the less-certain but personally rewarding path of a professional filmmaker.

Jazz currently earns her way through freelance work, mostly consisting of corporate productions such as informational and promotional movies, and has just recently started up media company Checkmate Media with her boyfriend and two other housemates, a graphic designer and a photographer. 

The company is aimed to be a vehicle for both corporate and creative productions, with Jazz wanting to eventually move into creating music videos, and, of course, working on feature films inclusive of her own.

"Since coming back from Cannes, I'm just trying to write and make anything really," says Jazz. "I've been doing corporate work for a while now and I'm just really keen to get back into creating again."

Her favourite film at Cannes was by far was a film titled Beasts of the Southern Wild by 24-year-old Behn Zeitlin, which ended up winning the Caméra d'Or and FIPRESCI prize. Jazz met Behn in a happy coincidence at The Petite Majestic bar (the social magnet for all the English-speaking festival goers) where she shared drinks with the young American filmmaker.

On another night, she and four fellow GFS students went out to explore their surroundings. They stumbled upon narrow, winding streets that were home to all kinds of cafes, restaurants and local hang-outs and were stopped momentarily as an employee of one of these restaurants gave out small promotion cards. 

The maître d' of the restaurant came out with five wines glasses in hand, passing one to Jazz and each of her companions, pouring them French champagne in the beautiful French alleyway. A most memorable moment, perhaps for a film, though Woody Allen seems to have already captured just this thing in his 2011 film Midnight in Paris. 

Instructions Inside is not currently available to view online, as required by the Cannes Film Festival guidelines, but you can read more about Jazz's film at