Miranda Potter and Jade Jess’ short film, BlueInk, recounts the disturbing story of one young girl who became a victim of human trafficking.
Ahead of the film’s screening at SWXS Film Festival, Close-up Culture’s James Prestridge spoke to Miranda about the dangers facing young people online.
Q: ‘BlueInk’ tells the troubling story of a teenager who becomes the victim of human trafficking. How did you come into contact with this story and when did you decide to turn it into a short film?
Before embarking on this project, we had limited knowledge on the topic. Its not something that gets the attention that it needs. We learned about it because it was the theme for Can’t Beat Love, a San Antonio youth film contest. We started doing a bunch of research on the topic and learned about many personal stories – Jade and I decided it was a story we needed to tell.
Q: The film shows how quickly these situations can escalate and how social media can play a role in that. What do you feel this film says about the way we protect – or fail to protect – young people?
A: I think that social media can be either a really good thing or a really bad thing. In BlueInk, it is a bad thing.
In BlueInk, the narrator quickly forms a deep relationship with a person who goes by an alias on Instagram. The speed of their relationship and the person’s anonymity are very subtle warning signs that I think a lot of teens could miss. I think social media is fine, but young people need to use caution and understand the boundaries that exist in order to live a safe virtual life.
Q: Can you tell us about the visuals of the film, particularly your use of colour?
A: During the conception of the idea for the film, one of the first things we decided to focus on was colour and how it expresses emotions.
While reading many true stories about human trafficking, the one thing we kept noticing was the changing and evolving emotions that unfolded in their traumatic stories. We decided that this was how we wanted to construct our story. Each image in the story acts sort of like a memory of the girl, showing what she remembers seeing as well as how those things made her feel.
At the end of the film there is a cacophony of colours before fading to white, representing how she is able to look back on her experience and find resolution.
Q: What was your collaboration like with Jade Jess on this project?
A: Jade and I worked closely together for the entire film. When developing the story, we both spent a lot of time looking for true stories about human trafficking. We figured out how to compile a lot of the stories into one story that we felt could accurately represent the experience and then Jade wrote it all into a screenplay.
I recorded Jade’s voice telling the story. I had experience animating in the past, so when we decided we wanted to animate the film, I taught Jade how to do some animating in Photoshop.
Q: Will Underwood acted as producer on the film. Can you talk about Will’s influence on you as an emerging filmmaker?
A: Will has played a big role in my life as a young filmmaker. He has always been supportive of my making less conventional films, which I think is rare, especially in high school. It was Will who gave me the confidence that I needed to decide to attend art school.
BlueInk was Jade and I’s last big film that we made while in high school, so for this project I think he stepped back and let us do our own thing. That really allowed for our film to express a culmination of knowledge and skill.
Q: ‘BlueInk’ will be your second short film ton screen at SXSW following ‘Split Ends’ in 2017. What does this festival mean to you?
A: I feel so honored to have a film showing at SXSW for a second time. Growing up in Texas, I always heard about SXSW and admired those who showed their films there. So I am grateful for the Texas High School Shorts category for allowing me to be a part of that community.
Q: Can you tell us about yourself and what you love about filmmaking?
A: Ever since I was little, I’ve been making things and also trying to find different ways to tell stories. When I started taking Digital Cinema in high school, I was thrilled to find an artistic medium that worked really well for me.
I think I love filmmaking so much because you can create rich and complex worlds out of what seems like thin air.
Q: What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
A: Currently, I am studying film at Pratt Institute in New York City. In the future, I would love to work on children’s television and/or movies or I would like to focus on experimental work that could be shown in exhibitions.