JILLIAN BULLOCK: WRITER AND DIRECTOR OF ACCLAIMED FILM, A SENSE OF PURPOSE
Jillian Bullock is a writer and director and her most recent film work is A Sense Of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives. In A Sense Of Purpose an army medic struggles to learn how to cope with post-traumatic stress disorder and assimilate back into society after she has been sexually assaulted by her commanding officer.
The movie has won multiple recognitions from film festivals and it recently took home the award for Best Feature at The Ocktober Film Festival.
In addition, the film has been lauded by film goers and by military service men and women. Army Colonel Annette Tucker Osborne says of the film: This film will hit home for many soldiers here and abroad. It is so pertinent to what is going on all around us. Although the film depicts sexual assault and sexual trauma in the armed forces, it also hold truth today with the #me too movement. The film showed that men have been abused as well. Again, I want to applaud my sister soldier Jillian Bullock for an outstanding film.”
ONE ON ONE WITH JILLIAN BULLOCK
What is it that drives you to make films?
As a filmmaker, my on-going mission is to write, produce and direct movies, television shows and media content that are groundbreaking, socially conscious, and thought provoking. I use my voice to tackle difficult subject matters that deal with contemporary social issues in an effort to bring about change.
I cannot wait on anyone to give me the permission to tell stories that will impact people’s lives. I also cannot wait for anyone to let me, a black woman, do what I love to do. So these things drive me to do my own work, my own projects.
Why did you choose the film medium to tell your stories?
My stepfather was a film buff and every Sunday he would take me to see a movie and we’d stay to the end, even watching the credits roll. He was the first person who told me I was going to be a filmmaker one day. Over the years, he instilled that in my head. Before he died, he made me promise him that I would one day fulfill his dream. Eventually his dream became mine.
Your most recent film work is an award winning film, A Sense Of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives. It focuses on veterans, military sexual assault and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). What inspired the subject matter of the film?
When I was looking to do a new project I knew about veterans who had different ways to cope with PTSD.
At first, I was going to use mixed martial (MMA) arts in the movie because I train in MMA. However, I had a lot of veterans that went to my school and some of them had PTSD. They said MMA helped them cope with PTSD.
As I started doing research for the script, I realized that thousands of veterans have PTSD as a result of being sexually assaulted or raped while they served in the military. This seemed like a more interesting story to me.
Therefore, I changed directions of the script and focused not only the main female character having PTSD because she was raped by her commanding officer. I also focused on the commanding officer’s story as well. Not many filmmakers show the perpetrator’s side. Why does he rape? What happened to him, in his life?
It’s a complex story, but one that needed to be told in order to enlighten audiences about what goes on in the Armed Forces and how to help veterans who are dealing with PTSD and military sexual trauma.
You are the writer, director and producer of A Sense Of Purpose. Can you tell us how it is was to wear that many hats in the filmmaking process?
Usually independent filmmakers must wear multiple hats due to money restraints. But what I have found is when you have multiple titles it becomes an asset. You have more control over your film.
What was the most challenging aspect of making A Sense Of Purpose?
To tell a story about PTSD and sexual assault and making sure it’s entertaining as well as educational.
A specific scene that was challenging was when I had to be the body double for Tamara Woods, she’s the lead female actor in the movie, Sgt. Torres. She was eight months pregnant when we did the rape scene, so I had to stand in for her. It was difficult. However, we did have a closed set and the actors and crew involved were very professional. John Quinlan, who plays Captain Nixon, the rapist, was extremely professional. It’s hard to allow oneself to get inside the mind of a rapist and do such a horrific act and be convincing and he did a great job.
John and I had to be comfortable doing the scene because he was naked and I was partially naked and I’m the director, too. It could have been awkward, but we worked it out.
What’s ahead in terms of filmmaking for you?
Right now I’m on the film festival circuit with A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives. I am also seeking a distribution deal for it.
My next project is A Cup Full of Crazy, a thriller that I wrote, and also will direct. Production is scheduled to begin in summer 2019 in Philadelphia. I also have other films in development. By 2021, I’m looking forward to opening my film production studio, Bull By The Horns. I will be the first female, and the first African-American, to have an in-house studio in Philadelphia. It will be small at first, but eventually, in about 10 years, I plan to have 330 acres of studio like Tyler Perry. You have to aim big!
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