Jane Love: A Film
Jane Love, a short film by Andree Ljutica, shares the stunningly intricate perspective of Jane, a freelance stylist and motorcyclist living in New York City. As a motorcyclist myself, I was eager to talk to both Andree and Jane about who they are and what this film meant to them - in process and post.
Meeting Andree Ljutica
K: What’s the starting process for your work?
Andree: I work from story rather than from a character. Jane’s story inspired the film and her character was developed from the sum of all her interesting insights and experiences she shared with me in our interviews. I try to let the character emerge organically through her decisions and actions. A film can be kind of stiff if you’re too declarative from the beginning.
K: In your interview with Director's Notes, you say "The goal for me wasn’t to outline who Jane is, necessarily, but more to allow for other people the opportunity to connect with how she feels." As a motorcyclist, I feel that you have captured the mental freedom that night riding brings perfectly. Did you have mental health in mind when creating this short or did that connection just happen?
A: Having driven dirt bikes as a teenager, I was aware of the transcendence that riding can provide. I’m not sure that I had mental health (per se) in mind, but I knew that this sensibility would in some way insinuate itself into the telling of the story.
I love the way Jane describes the sensorial qualities of the city and of her experiences on bike, of riding. She’s definitely figuring out the world around her, with the bike as a vehicle (sorry) for clarity.
K: The repeated clip with the young girl in the beginning and at the end brought an overwhelming sense of nostalgia for me. What was your intention with this shot?
A: So happy to hear that it had an effect.
Jane talks a lot about memory and place. I wanted a confrontation between her memory of herself, (as being unsure and apprehensive) and her actual self, riding with confidence into the distance. I ended up liking the way this confrontation moves these sequences from familiar re-enactment to something that reimagines film time/space at the end.
K: Are you looking to shoot more projects focused on female sports?
A: I’m currently working on a photography monograph that looks at women in New York, involved in another “non-traditionally female” sport: boxing. Working with a former fighter, I’ve gained access to some of New York’s finest female boxers, I’m really excited to be diving into this project.
I’m always interested in developing stories about characters who break out of what’s expected of them. Right now, it happens to be women in a lot of instances given the archaic social expectations that are largely still in play.
K: Are there any noticeable differences that you feel when shooting female-focused projects?
A: Ultimately, I’m shooting every project with a male gaze. I’ll never try to impose a different perspective on a project because the main character is a woman. I think that there’s a danger in that level of insincerity.
What I like is shooting things in an unexpected way. As it relates to JL, I was really interested in the contrast between the aggressive nature of these heavy machines (motorcycles) and Jane’s softer psychological dilemma within the film. I love that she’s riding this boorish matte black bike with hoop earrings. There’s something completely honest here. Something that doesn’t feel like conforming to normative behaviors or expectations from either side of the gender argument. It’s this tension that ultimately influenced the film’s poetic tone.
K: What are you most inspired by in terms of themes for your work?
A: Threat and insecurity.
I like characters who are attempting to advance in a world that is trying to keep them where they are. I also really like when a character decodes his/her world for the audience, either in a cerebral way like Jane does, or through daring actions.
Meeting Jane Love
Kelly: Describe your first experience riding your motorcycle.
Jane: My first riding experience was pretty funny. I was working at a motorcycle/coffee shop in Brooklyn. The place drew mostly men. So, in hanging out there I became like a little sister to all of them. Me and 5 or 6 older moto brothers. I remember going down wythe Avenue in Brooklyn. I was in the middle and they all were surrounding me. I kept stalling out because I didn’t understand the clutch yet so every few blocks we would all stop and then get it going again. It finally clicked on a ride with one of my bosses. ( I'm super grateful for that experience. I can see now how unique it actually was.)
K: Are you active in other ways or is motorcycling your sole release?
J: I live a pretty active lifestyle. I love working out, pilates, yoga, boxing. But when I am on my bike it’s a different kind of release. It’s way more mental.
K: Describe the motorcycling scene in NY. In London, it's male dominated (surprise!!!!) but with various female collectives doing great shit. Do you have the same where you live?
J: The "scene" here is pretty male dominated. There are a few groups of women that have clubs and things like that- but I haven’t connected with them yet!
K: Last year I rode my 125cc motorcycle from London to Lisbon on my own. It was daunting, frowned upon and laughed at. But I fucking did it. Motorcycling gives me freedom that I can't get from anything else. How does it make you feel?
J: I’m impressed that you made it on that lil thanggg! Congrats! It makes me sad that you were laughed at for what sounds like such a killer ambition. IT SOUNDS FUCKING BADASS. Also yes — I love having the freedom to be anywhere in the city within 30 minutes. And the freedom to get the hell out of here.
K: Craziest story?
J: The scariest story I have is my accident. It was 10pm, and I was leaving this restaurant where I worked. A very ordinary commute. On this main road, a woman made an illegal u-turn and wiped me out. I guess she didn't see me. I flipped over the handlebars, broke my wrist and totaled my bike. The incident forced me to leave my serving job and lose my first bike.
K: What would you say to those hesitant to get into motorcycling?
J: As cliche as it sounds: life is fucking short. If you want to do something, then get off your ass and go do it.
K: In the film you come across as someone who doesn't take bullshit from anyone. Does motorcycling give you access to a level of freedom you didn't have before?
J: Wow I love that that’s what you got from the film!!! For the most part, I’ve always been like that. As a child.... I was the wild one. But I will say motorcycling has given me more confidence. And maybe that's the badassness you're seeing? Riding forces you to be confident, on and off the road.
K: Finally, what do you do in NYC?
J: I’m a freelance stylist! I never really know what tomorrow might bring, which is pretty fun and exciting, okay at times but also a little scary ha! I'm always on the hunt for new projects that highlight people doing brave or unique things. Hoping to get into more film work and make my way toward becoming a dynamic creative director.