There is a certain enrichment in making a film, in crafting a collaboration which allows different visions to be unfolded.
At PRIFF 2022, our inaugural Best Feature Film winner was Eyes Upon Walking written by the multi-talented Jennifer Scott. The film tells the story of Taren Foley, who is struggling after attempting to end her life. Jennifer has masterfully crafted a heart-wrenching narrative with a captivating ensemble of characters. While films dealing with these topics can often leave the audience grappling with their own sadness long after the credits have rolled, Jennifer's film delivers a powerful message of HOPE.
Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about yourself
First, I want to thank you for giving Eyes Upon Waking our first Win! To start with a Best Feature Film award is a dream, and validates everything I've tried to achieve especially as an underdog. I'm from the Midwest and have been everywhere in the US except Alaska, and travelled the world starting at age 14. I have been an actress nearly my entire life, and developed into a Producer upon creation of Eyes Upon Waking.
Eyes Upon Waking was screened at our festival and won the award for Best Feature Film in 2022 - What is it about?
The story follows a very distressed woman into a mental health facility following two attempts to end her life and examines her growth into a still-troubled person content to continue living.
In this incredibly true story, Taren Foley survives her second suicide attempt within a week, and is sent from the ER to a holding facility for three days of observation and analysis. Quickly realizing she has no intention of taking her life in the future, Taren alienates herself from the patients and staff, biding her time until she can be released. When circumstances force her to remain locked up all weekend, a compassionate Taren makes an effort to help her fellow patients with their issues, unaware she still neglects her own. By the time she is released on Monday, Taren has yet to feel better about her life, but there is hope that one day, she might.
Why did you choose this topic, and what inspired you to work on this film?
My goal has always been to educate as well as entertain, to show the perspective of someone who truly wanted to die versus a cry for help. Much of the story, the characters, and the stories of the characters grew out of the personal experience. I fell into producing as a means of sharing this story, to open discussions and save lives instead of merely covering up symptoms with medication. When I realized no one was addressing this topic in a serious manner, I felt I had no choice.
What was most challenging about bringing this production to life?
As a first-time filmmaker, I did not know what I was doing. I always had the feel of the film in mind and was able to maintain a vision, but was slowed by many roadblocks along the way. However, this only kept me more determined to keep moving forward. and I learned a lot in the process.
Do you have any funny/interesting stories from the set to share with us?
Why did you decide to become a filmmaker?
Truthfully, there was no choice. I had a story to share, and to get this film made I needed to learn on the spot how to make one. Then once I started going through the process, I became hooked. I realized that through film, I can not only make people feel but educate, and save lives. There are so many beautiful filmmakers I have met throughout the festival run, and what I like about all of us is how our uniqueness inspires others. There is a certain enrichment in making a film, in crafting a collaboration which allows different visions to be unfolded.
The EMT we hired to perform in this film turned out to be the actual EMT who treated me years ago, after my second attempt to take my life. I did not know he was the same person until he arrived for the shoot and mentioned this to me. One of our locations was haunted, which resulted in a few spooky experiences on set!
Who are your filmmaking influences?
I watch at least 20 new films a week, so when one grabs my attention, I tend to research and follow the filmmakers. Some are well known and some are up-and-comers; I wish I could remember names off the top of my head!
What kind of stories do you wish to direct/work on?
I love all films and genres. I tend to gravitate toward strong, unique scripts - original work, not remakes. If I get caught up in the story while reading and my wheels start to spin, when I can visualize it - that is a film I want to work on in some capacity.
What advice would you like to give aspiring filmmakers?
Make the film you want to make. Listen to advice that works, ignore any that changes your intentions. When your project has a vision, others will join who share that vision. Never compromise artistic integrity, always compromise pretty much
What are your next projects?
Right now, we are developing a true story from a novel into a feature screenplay, taking place in the 1930's. I have a psychological thriller script in search of financing, plus a couple family and western films in mind for the near future.
If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for?
To make a living as a filmmaker - whether actor, producer, director, or all the above. To have investors see my true potential, and work with like-minded professionals. To get to that next level, to continue striving and growing as a filmmaker and storyteller.
To follow Jennifer go to