Renee isn't having the best day. In fact, she's probably having the worst f&#@ing day ever.
Jess CarsonDirectorThe Flash
Jess CarsonWriterThe Flash
Kim SteeleKey Cast"Renee"Hadestown
Sarah WintersDirector of Photography
Kegan SchellSpecial Thanks
Runtime:8 minutes 53 seconds
Completion Date:September 4, 2020
Country of Origin:United States
Country of Filming:United States
Jess Carson is a Los Angeles-based Black Writer/Director who made her way into filmmaking in her hometown of Little Rock, Arkansas.
In 2015, she decided to branch out to hone her skills in more saturated markets - first by way of Brooklyn, NY, where she was hired to write an Off-Broadway musical, Only Human, starring Gary Busey, and then settling in Los Angeles, CA in 2018.
Her work spans genres and her focus is on well-rounded, character-driven narratives that resonate with audiences of all demographics as well as those that put society under a lens via undertones of societal commentary.
Currently, Jess is a writer on the CW's THE FLASH where she was the first Black Woman to write an episode of the hit series. She is also actively developing a gritty, limited series, DEAD RED. She was included on Tracking Board's 2019 Young and Hungry List.
Jess is represented by Kegan Schell & Chris Davis at Echo Lake Entertainment.
Twitter & Instagram: @JessVCarson
I came up with the concept for YOU when I was sitting in another seemingly dead-end therapy session with a new therapist that I wasn't quite comfortable enough with to open up to. I mean, in today's world, cities are burning, pandemics are raging, would-be dictators are dictating, and the worth of my skin color and vagina are constantly being shat upon by a collective society that is seemingly going to hell in a hand basket (sorry, y'all...I'm Southern...).
And I also digress (see why I need therapy?).
So, sitting in front of this Zoom therapy session with nary an idea of how to work through another bout of anxiety, this new therapist uttered a sentence (to be honest, I think she was a bit exasperated, bless her): Write a letter to yourself. Not for homework, not to read to her next time, not for anything, really. Just for me.
So, I "went home" and I gave it a shot. It really seemed like a waste of time at first because I didn't know what to say but, soon, words just started pouring out of me. Feelings about the world, feelings about myself, feelings about being a Black woman in America. It helped. And it translated into my subsequent sessions.
I knew I wanted to make a film that dealt with mental health - particularly anxiety and depression. To show those thoughts that creep into our minds no matter what we're trying to tell ourselves to get through. To show the struggle of sinking deeper into yourself no matter how great life seems on the outside. But I also wanted to show how sometimes it only takes something small and minute to bring you back to the present.
And that path to healing is an evergreen process by showing that thrust back into the present not as a revolutionary shift, but as an attempt to find the balance and the peace you need to move forward.
So I took the concept of what helped me in therapy as a starting point - it naturally transition from being a letter to a "video diary"-esque entry regarding the situation the main character is dealing with.
I additionally wanted this role to be filled by a Black woman. Too often are we bombarded with the "strong Black woman" trope in media. So often that we are often expected to live that trope in real life. Such that our pain, our mental health, our hurt is ignored and disregarded...to the point of being forgotten (like the Sandra Blands or Breonna Taylors of the world).
It was important for me to show a Black woman at her most vulnerable. Perhaps it was a needed catharsis for myself. But it was important nonetheless.
So I'd say, universally, YOU is my ode to mental health - a toast to my fellow humans dealing with mental health battles each day. You are not alone. We are in this together.
But it is also my love letter to Black women.
To our mental health.
To our vulnerability.
To our humanity.