Meet the Crew: Co-Developer and Co-Director Jessica Naftaly

Hello. So, who are you and how did you become involved with 'After Oil'?

Hey! I’m Jessica Naftaly the co-creator and co-director of ‘After Oil’. This project started when thesis year was approaching and Shai and I decided we wanted to collaborate on something. We went back and forth about a few ideas, from developing a horror short or a webseries, but our biggest draw was that we wanted to do something long term. We wanted whatever we did for our thesis to have a life outside of school. Eventually, we kept coming back to the idea of ‘After Oil’ and that excitement made the choice so easy. We both come from novel writing so the promise of world building and long form storytelling that came with ‘After Oil’ encompassed all we could have wanted. From then on, it’s been everything and more to develop this world, these characters, and this story!

What stands out to you about ‘After Oil’?

For me, it’s probably the thing that I look for as a writer and director in so many other shows, but so often come away dissapointed and empty-handed; representation. Our main female character, a character I absolutely love and can’t wait to share with all of you, is a black bisexual young woman taking on the role of leader and protector of her small town. So many of my favorite shows disappoint me and either fetishize non-straight sexualities or include POC characters simply to fill a quota, and don’t bother to write them with the same nuance or complexity that they spend the time for writing their straight white male leads. Shai and I have loved developing Briar as a character, with all of her strengths and flaws. It’s passed time that our media start actually reflecting what we see in the real world and what we see is diversity. Also the thematic beauty of watching Briar grow and develop paralleling with our overarching themes is also just really satisfying as a writer and storyteller! 

Who is your biggest professional inspiration?

I think all of my friends can answer this for me, but David Fincher is definitely my all time favorite director. His films are a beauty to watch, but they're also told with a deft and purposeful hand that you don’t really see very often in today’s film world. His films are experience, theme, atmosphere, and journey. They really encompass what I feel novel storytelling would look like on screen. Not to mention, his adaptations have been some of the most outstanding and successful adaptations I’ve ever seen. To this day, I haven’t read a book and then felt like I was watching the film that played in my head while reading come to life on the screen, except in Fincher’s films. Whether it be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Gone Girl amongst others, when I sat in that theater, I saw and felt what I pictured (albeit a more visually satisfying version). It’s because Fincher gets atmosphere. He gets theme and those two make or break the structure, which effects the feeling and impression that the audience will come away with. Fincher gives every care and consideration to his films on every level and it’s a level of perfection that could be maddening for some, but so inspiring to me. He’s a director who takes risks and at the same time, understands completely how to capture the human emotion. He paints a world with his movies in a way that many others fail to do and it’s certainly something to strive for! Also if you ever get a chance, his audio commentaries are gold! 

What are some of your favorite films?

The age old and hardest question to answer! I’ll try to keep it at a low number! The Sound of Music, An Education, Meet Me in St. Louis, High Society, V for Vendetta, The Social Network, Gone Girl, The Five Pennies, Little Voice, Ed Wood, Back to the Future, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back…is this getting too long? 

What is your favorite place to hang out that you draw inspiration from?

Hmm it would probably be easy to say my room, but to be honest most of the time spent there leads to extreme procrastination. If this is asking where I get the most work done, that’s probably on the bus into the city as goes the life of a commuter…but where I feel inspired? Is it elitist to say the theater? I don’t go as often as I would want to and it isn’t exactly a “hang out spot” but it’s my favorite thing to do in the city and nothing is more inspiring and experiential than live theater. I don't know what I’ll do when I can no longer get student rush tickets!

Lastly, lets have some fun! If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?

Probably teleportation. Traveling is expensive and as a commuter, wastes so much time. If I could just teleport places, that would be pretty great and just think, one minute you could be in New York and the next in another continent on the other side of the world! Although how they’d regulate that I’m not too sure….I’d also say time travel, but brief time travel? I’d love to see a lot of the past eras if only to experience Barbara Cook in the original production of The Music Man live or to see what Anne Boleyn was truly like, but I wouldn’t want to stay very long.