The Power of Honesty: Jordan Halland on the KODAK EKTRA Smartphone
With over 15 years of experience in all things production, Jordan Halland is a photographer and freelance filmmaker specialising in producing, directing and writing. Above all, he believes in creating pieces that make him happy, from snappy commercials to gripping documentaries.
Jordan’s taken the KODAK EKTRA Smartphone along with him to the San Juan Film Festival for a showing of his new short film StrongWater – a moment that he described as a “bittersweet moment of reflection on an amazing year”. We managed to catch up with him about his emergence onto the scene, his challenges, and his own words of wisdom.
What was the first step into your career?
The first step was skateboarding. I grew up filming my brothers in Montana; we would skate and film and make these edits of ourselves. But it was the work that I saw in skate videos that first got me thinking that filmmaking could be a career. Spike Jonze, Jamie Thomas, Ty Evans all inspired me. My work is still influenced by those first few videos I saw. I learned to cut to a beat by watching Jamie Thomas edits, I learned how to seamlessly transition between scenes by watching the way Ty Evans would do it and I learned how to use symbolism by watching Spikes videos.
Where does your passion come from?
I don’t like the word ‘passion’. That makes me think of only romantic thoughts of the process when the reality is it’s dirty. There is this moment whenever I leave for a shoot, usually in the airport right before I board the plane, where I think “what the f*** are you doing?”. Shooting and chasing stories is lonely work. I love what I do but it is not all focused passion. It’s solitary confinement with your doubts and regrets.
What drives me is this: I believe the only thing that changes the world is stories, and the honor of telling a good story is worth slugging through the self doubt.
“The honor of telling a good story is worth slugging through the self doubt.”
So as a filmmaker, what inspires you to create a story?
If I can’t get it out of my head that is a good sign. The films that I am working on right now are all ideas that I haven’t been able to forget about.
What tends to capture your attention in an image?
Is there a common theme to your work?
I think it’s too early to tell right now but I do tend to gravitate to stories of beginnings and stories of the little guy standing up.
In what sense would you say images are important and powerful nowadays?
Just look at Syria. The world is shaken by the right image. So much imagery that we see today is manipulated and sweetened. An honest image sparks the viewer to react.
Do you face any difficulties on a daily basis? How do you overcome them?
The difficulties that I face are self doubt. When you are banging your head against a wall trying to pull together funding for a film, it’s easy to begin to feel like you made a mistake. But I have a number of people in my life that believe in what I do wholeheartedly. My wife for one. I know that if I give up then I am hurting them, so I push forward. I know the doubt is temporary and if I just move forward it will pass.
How would you describe your experience with the Kodak Ektra?
The Ektra is amazing because of the control I have over the image. To be able to fit a camera that is so powerful in my pocket is really a treat.
Which mode did you enjoy using the most? Which one was most useful to you?
I used the manual mode the most. I tend to do portraits most with the camera. The control of the image is so impressive. I can really dial it in on the phone.
Do you have any tips for creatives who are just getting started?
Don’t wait for the perfect situation to make art. Just do it. It’s most likely not going to be that great at first; I can’t watch anything I did the first 5 years of my career without cringing, but you have to suck before you get better. I can’t wait ’till I watch what I am working on right now in a few years. When I cringe then I will know that I am progressing. But you won’t progress without doing the work now. You have only so many trips around the sun, don’t waste them waiting for the moment to be right.
Check out Jordan’s Instagram feed above and take a look at his previous work on his website. We look forward to Jordan’s next adventures; be sure to watch the trailer for his upcoming film Mira – out this fall.