Ezra Edmond is a writer, director, and animation producer who recently released a short film entitled Blewish, centered around a child and his exploration of his Black and Jewish identities. The film premiered at the 2021 Chicago International Children's Film Festival and has been making the rounds in the film festival circuit.
In this "Ten Questions" article, Edmond shares with us how he entered the film world, the inspiration for his film, and more:
How did you get involved in film?
I've always loved film, tv, animation, and storytelling of all kinds. I was always crafty as a kid, and as soon as I realized that animation was an art form I could learn, I was hooked. The idea of creating characters, drawing, having everything come to life; knowing you've created something that "lives and breathes" that other people can relate to - that's so cool and has always been incredibly magical to me. Same for telling stories. I always loved reading and being told stories when I was young, and realizing the power a good story has, how it can change someone's life, or transport them to a brand new magical world. In animated film and tv, you get to do both - create worlds and breathe life into the characters that inhabit them, so it was always something that was just fascinating to me. I wanted to learn everything I could about how to do it.
What was the inspiration for Blewish?
When I was a kid, I didn't see many other Jewish people of color when I was in Jewish spaces (Hebrew school, youth group events, etc). A few years ago, I was at a bookstore where I saw a white Jewish mother looking for something for her mixed-race kids. She lamented that there wasn't much representation for Jews of Color available, and in that moment I wished I had something to give to her to help show the kids representation of their identities; something to help bond with others like me and help bring people together. That moment stuck with me, and as I began exploring what I could do if I was in that situation again in the future - as well as thinking about what I would've loved when I was those kids age - Blewish started to come to me!
What was the writing process like for your film?
I knew I wanted to write a short film from the beginning, and one of the hardest challenges there is not making it too long. Knowing I wanted to base it off my childhood, as well as the hindsight I now have as an adult, a lot of thought went into figuring out the moments I wanted to highlight as well as figuring out my intent, the point I was trying to make - without it feeling too heavy handed or melodramatic. Once I had those ideas written down, I worked on a script - and went through a few drafts, always trying to make the story shorter and more compact with each pass. One of the biggest decisions made was to remove all dialogue from the script, knowing that the film would be easier to make without dialogue - and it would be more relatable as well, as language wouldn't be a barrier to watching it. In removing the dialogue, there was a fun challenge to figure out, "how to make the scenes relatable and emotion come through without anyone speaking". The writing process continued into the storyboard phase, and the story continued being refined across the whole production process.