Case Study: Acid Waves Jessica Janos talks about her reversed short film.
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Case Study: Acid Waves

Jessica Janos talks about her reversed short film.

Jessica Janos talks about her film Acid Waves, inspired by her own experience.

“I had to make something about this, to express the difficulty I had in speaking out.”

16 oktober 2017

The idea

“This film is inspired by something that I experienced over a decade ago, and like all survivors; have never forgotten. For the record, it does not involve anyone I currently know. I have been surrounded by people who love and care for me for several years, but that was not always the case. I know it is all too common for girls and women to experience violence and rape at some point in their lives. Not even a few months ago I had a moment that I felt so low thinking about this, that I didn’t feel like I could continue another day. I called a rape crisis hotline and talked for over an hour about how I couldn’t forget and how I was angry I never said anything. It is astonishing to realise someone you love and trust can do this to you and make you feel like you are human garbage. The aftermath does not last just and just for that moment – the feelings can last a lifetime. I had to make something about this, to express the difficulty I had in speaking out. Art is a great way to confront memories and break the isolation. If you are a survivor, it is important to remember you have nothing to be ashamed about and find those to support you. Speak out.”

The script

“The script was written in images. I just storyboarded it with friends. Not much changed. I drafted the storyboard three times and created a short video to give an idea of the concept. Then I rehearsed the moments with my two main actors. When the concept was clear, I also made a frame by frame storyboard. The first storyboard didn’t have all the shots yet. The DOP and I worked it out in more detail the day before we shot.”

Shooting the film

“Before we started shooting, I previsualized the entire film on my phone. After that I did a walk through with my DOP of each shot and moment. I worked on the beats with Justine Wachsberger, our actress, because the film starts with her emotional decay, leading us to the mystery of what is going on with her.”

“I broke the film into 2 days, the exteriors on one day – this included the kitchen, then the interiors on the second day – I wanted to give time to the assault scene and also shot the underwater shots on that day.”

“Things came together very smoothly on this piece. I thank my friends from Twin Bridges Screenwriting Salon who came out to play the extra rolls in the film.”

Editing and coloring

“The editing process was unique, it wasn’t a film I cut then just reversed, I had to edit and reveal the story in reverse – even though it was shot opposite to that. It was a uniques experience working with the shots in reverse because it made me rethink thew narrative – for example things you usually establish in the beginning were established at the end.”

“I based the color palette and look after Slim Aarons photos. I controlled the color very carefully. Controlling color is the best way to make a film have a higher production value. Eventually Chris Ekstein did the color correction of this piece with the help of his production company Market Street Productions in Venice, CA.”


“I had met Elizabeth Wight, the singer of Pale Blue, while directing a Lifetime movie. We used some of her music in the cut. That was when I first heard the Acid Waves song. We didn’t use that song, but it stuck with me. I wanted to do a music video with her and when this concept came to me, I knew this had to be the song. She was very on board with the concept and we went forward from there.”

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