Meet the Filmmaker: Paul Jensen, “IRA”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?

A: From an early age, I remember having an interest in film/moving images. At that time, I think much of that interest was expressed in a consumption of film and digital media. I’m also a skateboarder, which is a culture heavily influenced by visual language.

I find the more I research, learn and participate in visual culture, the more I find, develop, and deepen my own understanding of my voice as both an artist and filmmaker. As I continue to grow and learn, I find I discover that voice more and more, a process that is ever-changing.

Q: What are we going to see at the EFP? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?

A: At this edition of EFP you will be seeing “IRA,” my first short film and a project I spent the past five years working on. Produced independently by myself and a number of former students, the film is a testament to the life of Ira Sanders, a high school economics teacher in the Twin-Cities area who has bravely and selflessly shared his story with students for years.

The film had its world premiere in NYC last fall and has been screening exclusively at film festivals/theatrical exhibitions since earlier this spring. This includes screenings in Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, Portland, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Toronto, England, South Korea and more!

After a considerable festival/tour run, the film is preparing for a VOD launch this fall. The film also had an awards qualifying run at the Music Box Theater in Chicago in late July. I have a deep commitment and belief in the film and its story, so I plan to challenge myself and push for a Documentary Short Subject nomination at this year’s Academy Awards.

Q: What else are you working on?

A: While handling promotion and production of the film has proven consuming enough on top of my regular work, I have yet to commit to my next project. I’ve been approached with some ideas, in addition to a handful of my own curiosities, but am still waiting for the right project. I believe good things take time and patience.

Since completing the film, I’ve been enjoying my job as an editor in Los Angeles, working on promotional film campaigns for a number of Hollywood studios in addition to an upcoming docu-series produced by Netflix.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?

A: One weird thing about me is that I am endlessly committed to my art.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?

Instagram: @have.a.gr8.day

Portfolio: cargocollective.com/PaulJensen

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?

A: I’d like to extend my deepest gratitudes to the The Bug Theatre and The Emerging Filmmakers Project, not just for showing my film but for a dedication to their platform for emerging and independent filmmakers alike.

IRA will screen during The Emerging Filmmakers Project on Thursday, September 15th, 2022 at The Bug Theatre.