Show us Your Shot: Interview with Filmmaker Jillian Bullock


I had the opportunity to catch up with Jillian Bullock, the filmmaker and creative force behind A Sense of Purpose: Fighting for Our Lives, and she shared some thoughts on making the film and the filmmaking process in general.

Steven Gladstone: How long have you been working in the industry, and how did you get started?

Jillian Bullock: I’ve been in the industry since 1991 when I graduated from La Salle University and got an internship on the set of Spike Lee’s movie, Malcolm X.

SG: Did you go to school to learn about filmmaking?

JB: I went to college and majored in Communications. Part of that curriculum was taking film and screenwriting courses. Over the years, I’ve continued to learn about directing, producing and screenwriting by taking additional workshops and classes. It’s always important to continue learning your craft in order to become a better filmmaker.

SG: Can you share the scope of the films on which you’ve worked?

JB: I always write, produce, and direct films that are educational and entertaining. My topics are heavy—PTSD, suicide, cancer, sexual assault, depression, homelessness, drug addiction—because I feel as a storyteller I want to bring more awareness to the public, many who are dealing with these types of topics or are affected in some way. But I also know entertaining audiences is equally important, so I add suspense, romance, or funny bits to ease the tension.

SG: When you started making your films, did you make shorts or features?

JB: I started working on other people’s films first so I could learn more about filmmaking. When I started working on my own, I did a documentary and a couple of features. They didn’t go anywhere. I just did them to learn, get my feet wet. I made a lot of mistakes early on in my film career, but I learned from those mistakes.

SG: Overall, how would you describe the filmmaking process?

JB: Since I wear many hats as an independent filmmaker—writer, producer, director, actor, fight choreographer—for me it starts with writing the script. From there I start gathering my team—DP, producers. I write the business plan and break down the script for the budget. We cast from there. I get my marketing team together to do the poster, do the website. Then we usually just start crowdfunding, doing fundraisers, and securing sponsors and investors. Once all this is done, we shoot a sizzle reel (trailer) to use for promotion. We scout locations. Then we film the movie.

SG: What was the impetus for A Sense of Purpose: Fighting for Our Lives?

JB: Even though my movie is a feature film, not a documentary, I wanted to expose the excessively high numbers of sexual assaults and rapes that occur every day in the Armed Forces. People go into the military to serve their country; to provide for their families; to have a career. They should not have to deal with being violently assaulted. Plus, the military doesn’t do much to help those victims who report the crime. This leaves thousands of men and women, who come home from the military, with post-traumatic stress disorder. If I could shed some light on this epidemic through my movie, that’s what I wanted to do. Get people talking.

SG: How long was preproduction, production, and post on the film?

JB: I started production in December 2016. Since cast and crew all had 9 to 5 jobs, we didn’t shoot straight through. More like on weekends. Then around early 2017, the lead actress, Tamara Woods, announced that she was two months pregnant. I had to stop for a bit and rewrite the storyline to include her pregnancy. We actually shot all the way up until she had the baby. So her stomach getting bigger and bigger in the movie was real. After we finished at the end of 2017 and edited, I didn’t like some of the scenes and we had to do a couple of reshoots. So all in all, we finished the movie March 2018. Now I’m working to get a distribution deal.

SG: Once the film was finished, did you do the festival path, or was there some other way you chose to promote it?

JB: I did the festival path and I’m actually still submitting the film to festivals. So far, the movie has won a few awards for best picture. Also, in 2018, I had a limited screening, four days, of the movie at Stuart Café & Cinema, in Brooklyn, NY.

SG: What is involved in the self-promotion of the film?

JB: Lots of marketing and promotion, getting interviewed on radio, TV, in newspapers, on-line publications. Also, since the movie deals with veterans, PTSD, and sexual assault, my team and I had several screenings of the movie at veterans’ organizations to get their feedback.

SG: What is next for you? What films or projects are in the works?

I am in post-production on a short film entitled Touch With Your Eyes. I will enter that into film festivals this year and in 2020. My hope for that movie is to get major producers interested, because I want to do that movie, which is a thriller/action, with a bigger budget and a couple of A-list actors. Also, I’m in pre-production on a feature film called A Cup Full of Crazy, a thriller. Working on the sizzle reel/trailer in October, then plan to go into production around March 2020.

Jillian Bullock’s Bio

As an award-winning filmmaker, Bullock wrote and directed the documentary, A Filmmaker’s Personal Journey. She went on to write, direct, and produce the drama, Spirit. Bullock recently completed A Sense of Purpose: Fighting For Our Lives, a feature film that focuses on veterans, PTSD, and sexual assault in the military. She has won several awards for the movie, including best film at the 2018 Validate Yourself Film Festival and 2018 Ocktober Film Festival. Currently, Bullock is in pre-production on the movie, A Cup Full of Crazy, a psychological thriller. Production will begin, in Philadelphia, in the summer of 2019.

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