Today, we’re fortunate to learn about JP Bradham’s creative process and her latest project, the darkly comedic horror short film, “Consumed.” Let’s discover the unique talent she brings to filmmaking and explore the intriguing world she creates on screen.
Hi there! It is a pleasure to have you today! First, can you introduce yourself to our readers and share a bit about who you are, where you are from and what you do?
Thank you so much for chatting with me, my name is JP Bradham I was born and raised in the Bay area, a little spot near Black Point, CA just North of San Francisco and am now located in Los Angeles. I’m a Producer, Writer and Filmmaker.
Can you tell us how filmmaking started for you? Is there a specific time / event that made you realise that this is what you wanted to do?
Growing up I was always creating something, I was a dancer from the time I was a few years old through High School and was also in Theater. When I was a kid I would write a lot, that was always something really consistent with me. I loved telling stories, I was a part of Book Club, I wrote poetry and I loved writing my ideas. I would also come up with a lot of skits or plays and force my brothers to play parts.
For my 10th birthday I asked my mom for a camcorder – the ones with those huge tapes that are ancient relics now. That camcorder then took it from plays to making shows and shorts. I would take it to my best friend’s house on the weekend and that’s pretty much all we did. It was just something that brought me so much joy and was never really anything that I thought would ever be a career for me.
I never went to film school or pursued film at all, I actually went into marketing and it was through marketing that I started in Production, doing low level commercial work and social ads for brands. I then later landed a gig with a female director, Sophia Banks, and she saw my passion for writing and creativity. She really sparked that joy and interest I had for film again and that’s where I would say that it was the first time that I realized it would be a career change for me.
Taking an idea from conception to a fully directed film can be a challenging and rewarding process. Could you walk us through your creative journey, from the initial spark of inspiration to the finished film?
With this being my first personal (official) project from start to finish on my own, I really wouldn’t say that I have an exact formula for taking the idea through to completion. What really worked for me was knowing that once I had something that I knew I wanted to shoot, I set a date of when I wanted to shoot it and made a list of everything that I would need to get it done – I am a Virgo Moon and Virgo Rising so I’m all about a list. I started doing whatever planning I could on my own spare time, I started reaching out to my friends to get them on board. I essentially just kept working on this project in some way every moment that I had available to make it happen.
As a writer and director, inspiration can come from various sources. What are some of your key influences or experiences when working on a project?
I grew up watching a lot of Monty Python and a lot of horror. When I was around 8 or 9, I was at the mall and went into a video store. I saw an ad playing on their little TV for a video set you could buy for Monty Python and the Flying Circus, the entire set of videos. I don’t really know what it was about the ad but just seeing a few of these sketches play out was enough for me to put it on my Christmas list that year. It was pretty much all I had on that list. I would watch those sketches and that was it for me. On the other spectrum, I also loved horror and the thrill of a scary story. I would watch (and read) Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Tales From the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, a lot of Vincent Price and I loved all the zombie movies, Night of the Living Dead is still my favorite movie of all time.
Those things were an interesting juxtaposition – funny and scary. But that is honestly how I see things. The world is kind of scary sometimes and things aren’t always as they seem, I like to write about things that I notice around me as non-optimum social issues and I explore those ideas through maybe strange and unconventional ways because it’s much more fun to see where you could take it and how you could dramatize that story to drive home the point.
Congratulations on your directorial debut with “Consumed”! The film delves into the darkly comedic horror genre while exploring consumerism and its impact on society. What inspired you to tell this unique story through the lens of horror?
It goes back to the way that I see things. Consumerism is a topic that I have thought a lot about over the years and have had my own experiences with. It’s actually something that I really had formal training on when I had a career in marketing. There is a facade to it that it’s wonderful and that buying products will really secure your happiness. But there is really something much more insidious behind what is going on behind the curtain. When I was in marketing, I learned very real tools that are used in society in order to “convert customers” and to create the sense of loyalty to brands in customers.
There are so many tools out there that people don’t realize are truly designed to control potential consumer’s mindsets. I’ve thought of that concept for a while, and thought to myself “wow, what if this was a real entity? What would it look like if that entity really wanted to do harm to someone in a very physical sense?”. That concept took me down this rabbit hole and I ended up with this script which I think naturally just combines the way that I already look at things, a little funny but also a little twisted.
What do you hope audiences take away from the film, and how do you envision it sparking conversations about our relationship with consumer culture?
That is exactly what I do hope, that it sparks conversations around the viewer’s own relationship with consumerism. Look, there is nothing wrong with buying things or wanting things but I would urge more people out there to ask themselves questions and check in on themself when they feel the urge or “need” to have to have something — is it because you need that in order to help you in your life and make things easier for you or is it because you are being told that you need it?
Horror as a genre often allows filmmakers to explore societal issues in unconventional ways. How do you use horror elements in “Consumed” to amplify the film’s underlying message about consumerism?
People can swallow a tough pill when it’s entertaining and that’s why I love the genre. It’s enough to see real things happening in the world or to watch the news on it but that’s really tough to do.
In “Consumed” you’ll see some pretty wacky and extreme scenes that are meant to shock you as much as our character is shocked into reality and I hope that it drives home just how extreme this problem could really get.
“Consumed” features a compelling performance by Georgina Reilly. Can you tell us about working with her and how her portrayal brought depth to the film’s central character, Tammy?
I absolutely loved working with Georgina, she is such an incredible actor who really puts a lot of thought and care into her roles and I knew the moment I met her that we were also just on the same page creatively. I was a huge fan of hers having seen Pontypool years ago and loving her performance. She is so brilliant with her expressions and it’s often what she doesn’t say that impacts me as a viewer. She took that same energy which I think is such an impressive skill for an actor to have, the ability to convey such a deep range of emotions with barely any dialogue.
Your background includes almost a decade of experience as a producer. How has your experience in producing influenced your approach to directing, and how do you balance the creative and logistical aspects of filmmaking?
I love Producing and I love that I had that under my belt before I tackled something like this. Producing really has taught me how to make things go right, how to put teams together, how to lead and how to manage a production. All of the ingredients that were so essential to pulling this off. I actually didn’t want to direct this film at the start, really my passion is in the writing but I had enough encouragement from my family telling me that it was my story and to go for it. Really, if I hadn’t had the experiences I have had in Producing I think directing this would have been impossible.
What was fascinating was I felt that because I have been writing and producing for years, the directing really came naturally because I wasn’t jumping into it all at once. I had enough training in each area and I think knowing the story so well myself really made this such a smooth shoot.
What exciting projects are you currently working on, and can you give us a glimpse of what’s in store for your audience?
I actually am working on a feature script for “Consumed” as well as planning for another short film that I’ve written that I’ve now started the process of planning. I have a few feature scripts written that eventually I would love to see made but in the meantime I am producing as always and that keeps me busy, with a few commercial projects this year and I’ll be working on a feature top of 2024 in the production space.
If you had to recommend just one movie to someone, which film would it be and why does it hold a special place in your heart?
Very hard question and I guess I already talked about some of my favorite films already but I would say a great film that I feel really has impacted me that horror lovers would appreciate is a film called “A Quiet Family”. It’s a really fun Korean horror comedy film that I think really has a lot of great elements and similar styles of what I like to do in my own work.
Lastly, what advice do you have for aspiring directors who want to use their films as a platform to address important social issues while also entertaining their audience?
With me being newly in my own journey as a filmmaker I really couldn’t give hard-won advice, I could only offer encouragement to tell other aspiring filmmakers to be authentic to themselves. Don’t try to be someone else.
One of my favorite actors of all time is Bruce Lee, he has this quote that I really love, “Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”
That’s a part of my own personal philosophy. I think it’s more important to write and make the projects that are important to you personally, and to express it in the way that is really the way that you would say it. At the end of the day, art is communication, regardless of its form. Say what you have to say the way you would say it.