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Q&A: Budding Canberra Filmmaker Jordan Sanfrancesco

Local Canberran filmmaker and actor, Jordan Sanfrancesco, is making a name for himself in the international independent film industry by applying unconventional philosophies to his work.

Jordan considers himself to be an armature nihilist and describes the philosophy to be the anti-hero of the 21st century.

Nihilism is the belief that everything in the world has no real meaning and is based on impulses and scepticism.

Jordan has written, acted and produced two short films based on this concept.

The first film, Prohibitas, won the silver plaque for the Mindfield Film Festival in Los Angeles and was accompanied by multiple international film festival award nominations.

This year Jordan released his second short film, Bracatus, which has already been nominated for three awards in America and Europe with more selections predicted to come.

Andrea Martinello met with Jordan Sanfrancesco to delve deeper into why such a unique perspective on life has led to his significant exposure in the overseas independent film industry.

Photo credit: Jordan Sanfrancesco

Q: Tell us about your journey into the film industry.

A: “I did acting for about three years in Sydney. I was living the actor’s life, studying acting full time and working full time. When I moved back to Canberra it left a bitter taste in my mouth. So I started teaching myself how to write scripts and I watched a lot of Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan films. These are directors that I really look up to. So I thought that maybe I’d actually prefer directing more than acting. I think there is something about directors that are quite special to me.”

Q: How has nihilism become a part of your life?

A: “About two years ago I watched a series called True Detective and it really resonated with me. When I watched it I instinctively knew that I needed to learn more and I realised that that the philosophy of nihilism put into words what I thought of the world. Nihilism is the most misunderstood form of philosophy. Everyone talks about romanticism and idealism and all of these different forms of philosophy. People often think nihilism is ultra pessimistic but it actually takes a microscope on society and reveals its problems and questions how these problems will be fixed. It teaches you to be selfish in a good way.”

Q: How has nihilism influenced your work?

A: “Nihilism talks about the human condition a lot and I think when people watch films they want to experience the human condition at its very best and it’s very worst and nihilism encompasses all of that. If you watch something like Apocalypse Now, that’s a very nihilistic film in terms of war and how it affects the human spirit. I try and incorporate nihilism into my work because people are drawn to that darkness and the shades of grey. The best films are the ones where you learn something. I think if you learn something from a film, that’s the filmmakers job done.”

Q: Do you feel that your nihilistic approach has set you apart in the independent film industry?

A: “I don’t know if it has set me apart yet, it is still very early days for me in terms of my career. When people think of Martin Scorsese they think of mafia, they think about Italian roots and things like that. When people think of Christopher Nolan they think epic. Every filmmaker has a certain distinctive quality about them, whether it is in themes or the way they film something. I think my work has a sort of distinctive quality that I try and incorporate in every single piece of work that I do. There will be little flavours in my work where people will say that’s a Jordan Sanfrancesco film.”

Q: Why do you think your films have been successful overseas rather than in Australia?

A: “When I made the first film, Prohibitas, I knew straight away I had to send it over to America because, in terms of filmmaking compared to Australia, America is quite fearless. It’s a multi-million dollar industry so they can afford to take risks. Australia it is very safe, conservative film industry where they like to stay within the status quo. If I was to pitch Prohibitas to the Australian Film Industry, no way would they accept it, no way in hell. I’m 26 and I’m not getting any younger so it’s either now or never so I’d rather try and crack it in America and Europe, I’ll have more of a chance.”

Q: Where do you see your future in the film industry to be going?

A: “I’d like to be a really good all rounder like Clint Eastwood who was a director, actor, and producer. I’d like to continue doing what I’m doing and be kind of like the rebel outsider of the industry. My ultimate collaboration would be – I call them – the holy trinity: Christopher Nolan, Francis Coppola, and Martin Scorsese. Concepts like time, obsession, and love, all mixed in with nihilism, are concepts I’d really like to explore as they have the potential to be dangerous and revolutionary. They are dangerous because people don’t like hearing the truth as the truth hurts.”


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