Five Questions With Filmmaker Jan Selby

Beyond-the-Divide---webJan Selby is an award-winning independent director/producer and owner of Quiet Island Films, a film and video production company located in Saint Paul, Minnesota (USA).

Jan’s first film as director/producer was A CIRCLE AND THREE LINES (2009), a short documentary about the history of the ubiquitous peace symbol, tracing its roots from a nuclear disarmament march in England to becoming a global commercial icon. This film premiered at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival (MT, USA) and screened at film festivals worldwide including the Woodstock Film Festival (NY, USA), the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival (CA, USA), the Global Peace Film Festivals, (FL, USA). A CIRCLE AND THREE LINES was also broadcast on Twin Cities Public Television, awarded a regional EMMY©, and included in an exhibit at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.

Jan’s most recent film, BEYOND THE DIVIDE (2014), is a feature-length documentary about the courage to find common ground. Set in Missoula, Montana, BEYOND THE DIVIDE follows Vietnam Veteran Dan Gallagher and peace advocate Betsy Mulligan-Dague as they mend the decades of animosity left behind by the Vietnam War.

In 2009, Jan produced FRITZ: THE WALTER MONDALE STORY with director Melody Gilbert. Jan’s next film, BUILDING THE PINK TOWER, (pre-production, directed/produced with Vina Kay), will reimagine schools and learning through the lens of Montessori education.

Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, Jan attended Tufts University in Boston, worked in marketing at Apple Computer, spent 25 years as a communications consultant, and finally followed her heart to become a film producer/director. Her award-winning production company, Quiet Island Films, creates video content for client-partners nationwide.

Jan’s film, Beyond the Divide, is playing at the 2015 GI Film Festival.

Where are you from and what is your film background?

I am a self-taught filmmaker from St. Paul, Minnesota with a passion for documentary work.  I switched careers and exited the corporate world in 2007 to follow my creative vision, establishing my video production company, Quiet Island Films, in 2010BEYOND THE DIVIDE  is my second documentary film and my first feature.

Who are your biggest influences in film and why?

I am inspired by all the independent filmmakers I’ve met at film festivals around the country and I am always learning from each encounter.

What was the hardest part about getting this film made?

The most difficult aspect of making independent films is raising the necessary funds (not the fun part – right?!) and allocating time, given that this is a passion project and needs to be scheduled around the more lucrative work.

What do you want viewers to take away with them after watching your film?

It would be wonderful if viewers leave BEYOND THE DIVIDE believing that each one of us can choose to focus on commonalities rather than divisions.  The only way for us to create a better future is to work together to achieve that goal.

What is a fun fact about you that would surprise people?

It surprises people to know that I enjoy dark beer.  I’ll walk a mile for a Guinness on tap!

Beyond the Divide, directed by Jan Selby, is playing at Angelika on May 22, 2015. Click here for tickets.