History Department
History Department

Indie filmmaker Jen Prince (B.A. '98): “History is largely about perspectives in storytelling”

Wed, January 3, 2018
Indie filmmaker Jen Prince (B.A. '98): “History is largely about perspectives in storytelling”
Jen Prince, Film Producer/Director/Editor

Story by Jennifer Levin, History and Plan I Honors, University of Texas at Austin

The History Department recently caught up with Jen Prince, an independent film producer and director, who received her BFA in Acting and BA in the Plan II Honors Program from the University of Texas at Austin in 1998.

Since graduating from UT, Jen obtained her MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California and has produced a number of award-winning films. These include the critically acclaimed indie feature comedy, Quallity Problems (Chris Mulkey, Mo Gaffney, Jenica Bergere), the feature And Then There Was Eve (Tania Nolan, Karan Soni, Mary Holland), together with Jhennifer Webberley (Metamorfic Productions), and the micro budget indie-road feature, Eve of Understanding (Bellamy Young, Rebecca Lowman). Jen has also worked in post-production television for shows such as the Emmy Awards, The Contender (Mark Burnett Prods), and The Amazing Race (CBS).

While at UT, Jen took several history courses and specifically notes the impact of those she took with Professors Joan Neuberger, Charters Wynn, and Michael Stoff. She emphasizes that the research and writing skills she developed through these courses have proved necessary for her career as a film producer.

“History is largely about perspectives in storytelling,” Jen says. “Who is telling the story makes an enormous difference in what empathy it elicits in its audience. Whose story is it? Who is the good guy? How does someone's background shape their identity? These are all questions we ask when developing a film, and they are the same questions I ask when reading a news piece or thinking about my own biases in current events.”

Jen also wrote her Plan II Honors thesis, entitled “Voice of the Swan,” under the supervision of Professor Neuberger.

“Jen was a fantastic student, but her thesis was extraordinary,” writes Professor Neuberger. “She wrote, directed and acted in a one-woman show based on the life and poetry of Anna Akhmatova, one of the most important Russian poets of the twentieth-century. Akhmatova’s poem, Requiem, is a wrenching lament written to record and mourn for the victims of the Stalinist Great Terror of the late 1930s. It’s told in part from the point of view of mothers of victims seeking information about their children who disappeared; Akhmatova was one of those mothers, waiting on line at the police station when her son was among those arrested. Jen’s retelling of Akhmatova’s story was beautifully written and staged and her performance was unforgettable.”

Jen became drawn to Russian history after realizing that, as a child of the 80s and the Cold War, her exposure to the subject was limited. “Russia had been left off the map in my education,” she writes. “Yet it was responsible for so much of the modern artistic breakthroughs that were continuing to inspire me creatively: film editing, modern acting, dance, poetry - the Russian influence is remarkable, but I knew nothing about it until stumbling into it through a seminar class at UT. That discovery led to a re-evaluation of other viewpoints I had on the world that I realized might not be purely objective - that my personal storytelling might have had an agenda or even a subconscious bias. I have carried that experience through to my filmmaking and how I approach characters and scripts.”

Jen is currently in pre-production on her feature directorial debut, MILES UNDERWATER, teaming up again with the filmmakers who created Quality Problems. She will continue her partnership with the San Antonio Young Filmmakers Association and shoot the project in her hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

Learn more about Jen’s work at:

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