Jane Stephens Rosenthal

“The Hideaway” (trailer for her short film)

Jane Stephens Rosenthal


What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
Everything I had made so far has been out of love and desire to create. I would say my most professional project would be my latest The Hideaway, which was my thesis film from the American Film Institute.

How did you get into directing?
I’ve always been a director, I just didn’t know I was. I grew up on movies, I’ve always loved movies, I’ve always been in awe of movies, movies have always been a part of saving my life, but I never considered directing. Editing, sure, that was like writing poetry, but it wasn’t until I had written a project for myself to act in called No One Ever Said in 2016 that I considered directing. I did a test shoot, and realized, with the encouragement of an incredible producer that if I wanted to see the very personal story I had written on screen the way I intended it, I was going to have to direct it. And I was sold. Here was a chance to mix everything I loved–words, the body, music, image, sound, composition and get to point/place/move and swirl them all together. I’ve never looked back.

What is your most recent project?
The Hideaway was my thesis film at the American Film Institute and it has gone on to play over 25 festivals all over the world and received a number of awards for directing, cinematography, editing, and acting. The film is a layered coming of age piece that looks at female sexuality, desire, mother/daughter relationships, and the heartbreak of growing up.

What is the best part of being a director?
I always say being a director is like hosting the ultimate party. It’s about collaboration, art, talking, listening and peeling back emotions with other people who are just as passionate as you are about film and art (when one is lucky!)

What is the worst part of being a director?
There is no worst part about being a director, sometimes it can be challenging because you are the sole/soul holder of the film in your head and your heart, you carry it from beginning to end and then some, but what other job does one get to have where they can put their dreams on the screen.

What is your current career focus: commercials and branded content, television, movies? Do you plan to specialize in a particular genre–comedy, drama, visual effects, etc.?
Movies. And I love the miniseries television format. I am interested in telling stories that go underneath and bring feelings to the surface, that allow an audience member to sit in their seat and see themselves or a world reflected back at them in a way they might not have considered it before.

Have you a mentor and if so, who is that person (or persons) and what has been the lesson learned from that mentoring which resonates with you?
I have been lucky to have many mentors. And each of them has talked about honesty in the work. If you are not being real you are not going to connect, and I believe the job of an artist is to reach out and say “hey there, I see you.”

Who is your favorite director and why?
Alice Rohwacher and Julia Ducournau are two of my favorite filmmakers working today. They are both completely unafraid in their work and interested in transcendence and the human experience.

What is your favorite movie? Your favorite television/online program? Your favorite commercial or branded content?
There are too many favorites! The silence in The Panic in Needle Park is something that has stayed with me forever, Roman Polanski’s The Tennent and Cul de Sac made me realize I could be a filmmaker. Bresson’s Diary of A Country Priest. Besson’s Angel-A, all of Godard and Truffaut and Rohmer. Antonioni I often say is my favorite, the colors in Red Desert, the quiet heartbreak of The Passenger, the desire in L’Avventura, David Hemmings in Blow Up–there is so much unsaid and felt in his films. Bergman’s Persona, Alice Rohwacher knocks me out every time, I watch Corpo Celeste and Happy As Lazzaro before I begin anything. Mulholland Drive. I could go on and on. Jane Campion’s Bright Star.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I grew up in Los Angeles in and around the movies and swore it off. I grew up acting, and I went to New York to study poetry and came back and discovered through working with Yuval Sharon and writing the Mobile Opera Hopscotch that I might be able to create a story about Los Angeles, and then I fell in love with directing, and just graduated from The American Film Institute in August 2020.

How has the pandemic impacted your career, art, craft, shaped your attitudes and reflections on life which in turn may influence your work, approach, spirit, mindset?
The pandemic has put a lot of things on hold but it also gave me time to read in a way that I hadn’t had in a while. I could spend whole days reading books, and literature has always been my biggest inspiration. The way a word creates an image. I was on set for the first time the other day since the pandemic and hearing them say “roll sound” made me very emotional. I am looking forward to getting back to work.


Unaffiliated: Contact Jane Stephens Rosenthal via email