Hello Bilal! Welcome to Focus! Jessica: Part Two was very enjoyable.
Hello Focus, thank you for having me for this interview and that’s great. I love that you enjoyed Jessica: Part Two.
We saw Jessica back on screen after a long time! How did it feel to get her back in the set?
Yes, the first part (Jessica) was created in 2017 and after that, I thought hard about creating a second part, which I did in 2020 (Jessica: Part Two)
It felt good to create this unique character (Jessica) again because it’s not so often we see a disable character trying to fight for something which he/she wants in life. I also wanted the audience to know Jessica a bit more since the first part – and thanks to Nadja Dalgaard (Jessica) for bringing this character back on the screen with the rest of the cast members Yvonne Andersen (Mother), Youssef Agerbo Halabi (Markus), Lene Dyrvig Nielsen (Camilla), Theresa Søvig Poulsen (Lisa) & Nicoline Hammer Johnson (Jasmin)
Tell us why you decided to make a follow-up of her story?
I felt that the first part (Jessica) was not good, because it was very short, and had many storyline mistakes and technical mistakes as well.
We also didn’t really see the debt in the character – so, then in 2020 – I decided to create a follow up where we see a more detailed character.
I mean, we see what kind of work Jessica does, and we also get to see her mother since the breakup she has moved on to live in an apartment in the city.
Many of these things were missing in the first part – that is also the reason I created Jessica: Part Two. (2020)
Bilal, I would love to know what does a film mean to you? How do you envision one?
A film to me is entertainment but most importantly a filmmaking tool that I use to create my short films and soon my first Danish feature film.
I am a deep thinker – so, I think a lot before creating any kind of project but I also see many films and series to get inspiration from them.
It’s always a balance of the two things because I want to be creative in my storytelling – for instance, Jessica is unique because Hollywood has not created something like this before.
There is always an accusation that mainstream movies lack the representation of the specially-abled people. How do you look at this matter?
Yes, they do, it’s sad I think – because that is not equal rights in the matter. I to have a physical disability (AAA-Syndrome) which means I am not physically strong, but it never stops me from working a daily job as a reporter, cameraman & segment editor, or being an indie award-winning filmmaker. I think there should be characters written for disable people so, they can have screen time as normal people – if Hollywood or major film companies see my short films Jessica (2017) / Jessica: Part Two (2022) then the mainstream movies might make more films for the big screen with disable actors. I am not saying that there are no disabled characters on the big screen, there are just few and that needs to change. For instance, in the British drama series (Line Of Duty) 2012 – 2021 they had disabled actor (Thomas Jessop) and in the Hollywood film (Peanut Butter Falcon) 2019 – they had disable actor Zack Gottsagen) which was great to see and both actors did wonderful in their respective characters.
Jessica Part Two primarily focuses on healing and falling in love. How would you define love?
Yes, it does – love is hard to define, it has to come naturally from one’s heart to love someone. I haven’t been in love yet so; I can’t really define it.
Jessica: Part Two is a fictional short film so, it’s easy to create but in real life love is hard to define and it’s even harder to love someone truly.
We see Jessica is afraid of trusting someone again at the beginning, but eventually she warms up and allows love to come in. How would you describe this journey?
Yes, she does because she is a soft person – which also means her nature is to forgive people because they deserve another chance.
In real life people also deserve other chances – so, I wanted realism in the short film. I wanted to create a strong female character but I didn’t want it to explode –
I mean I didn’t want Jessica to be extremely hard or extremely soft. I wanted a balance which we see in Jessica: Part Two. (2022)
The song at the beginning is so beautiful, and the lyrics are so relevant. What made you pick this particular song?
It does yes, – after I finished the screenplay, I listed to many songs to find the right tone which I was looking for. I also talked to my actress Yvonne Andersen (Mother) and asked if she knew anyone who could sing and she said yes and referred me to Nicoline Hammer Johnson (Jasmin) who had few songs I listen to and asked if I could borrow them for the short film and in exchange be in the first scene in the short film. Nicoline agreed and rest is well history. Haha. I also chose the song because it fits to the whole storyline.
There was almost a 3 to 4 years gap between the two movies. How would you assess the evolution of the cast in that time period? What major changes have you noticed?
Yes, there was – I had to make many changes in the cast because I only have strong connection with Nadja Dalgaard (Jessica) from the first part.
Nadja is my best friend for ten years (present) other cast members I don’t have so much connection with but in the second part – the cast members are my friends which I have collaborated with many times. I would say, it was easy to create Jessica: Part Two (2022)
Bilal, tell us something about the movies that have left a deep impression on you?
There are many films, if I write the list the interview will never end – Haha. I think (The Dark Knight) 2018 because the Joker character is amazing because he is well played by Heath Ledger – God Bless him in heaven. The other film is (Joker) 2019 with Joaquin Phoenix. The two films have left a deep impression because of their characterization, storyline, writing and direction.
As a director, what is your goal?
Tell unique stories, make many films, series and short films.
Win an Oscar, Golden Globe, Palm D Or, and Emmy. But most importantly became the best film director in the whole world.
Bilal, thank you so much for spending some time with us. Lastly, I would love to know if you have any plan to bring Jessica back again?
It’s my pleasure to be here – yes, there will be a last part of Jessica, I will not go into details but I have many big plans for the last part.
I am also, thinking of having an outing of Jessica – like maybe in France, Paris or Spain, Barcelona. So, it’s not all the time in Denmark, Esbjerg.
At the moment there is a last part but if it kicks of then there might be a fourth or fifth part as Part Two is extremely popular. Let’s see what happens.
Thank you so much for this wonderful interview.