Jennifer Bonior / Film

Jennifer Bonior, film producer, Watkins College of Art

What’s your ritual to get prepared, or in the zone, to create?
Silence is my worst enemy. When things are still and calm my brain settles and my creative flow stops. So, I constantly have music on when I’m working. The genres are always changing but really it’s about setting the right mood for me. If I’m writing something somber or depressing, I’m wallowing in some pity-me song. But if I’m gearing up for a fun photoshoot, I’m blasting the latest obnoxious pop beat. 

If you weren’t an artist, what would you want to do professionally?
Easy, I’d be a teacher. I am one of those people who absolutely loved school. I have an intense curiosity and desire to learn. It’s something I have to keep in check as I only have so much space in my brain. So, if I couldn’t be out there creating, I’d most definitely be out there encouraging others to embrace school and higher learning.

Favorite addiction or guilty pleasure that keeps you inspired?
Coffee! I’m not sure that it exactly inspires me but it 100 percent keeps me going. Art is exhausting. You’re constantly digging, searching, stretching, pulling, adjusting, “whatevering,” and coffee is the thing that gives me that last little nudge when I’m just ready to curl up in a ball and call it quits.

What do your parents think about your being an artist?
They are incredibly supportive, but at first it was a shock. My family consists of mainly PhDs or manual labor workers, so to have a kid/grandkid/niece who wanted to go to art school was a little out of left field.

As an artist, what keeps you up at night?
Will people like it? Dumb, I know; I should have developed a thicker skin by now, but ultimately I just want to create something that people can connect to. I despise sitting in an audience and watching my work with other people. It makes me sick to my stomach wondering if they are going to laugh/gasp/jump at the right time. I genuinely don’t know how other people do it. Maybe I’ll figure it out one of these days.

What does success look like to you?
I just want to be able to create and not live in a box. Awards and titles are fun, but ultimately I’m not making films to win them. I make films because I feel a need to. And as long as I can do that and be a contributing member of society, I’ll consider myself successful.

What advice do you most often give yourself or other artists?
In spite of being a really self-motivated person, I often struggle with self-motivation. So, the one thing I say to myself over and over again is “stop waiting for someone to force you to do it and just do it.” It works, most of the time.

When do you know a piece is finished?
I don’t! Or maybe I do somewhere deep down. Honestly, I think I just fall out of love with something and that’s when it’s done. I love to fix and tweak and adjust and when I can’t find anything to fix or tweak or adjust, I get bored with it. The love train stops and I move on to the next thing.

Why does art matter?
Perspective, perspective, perspective. There are a million ways to view any one thing and there is just no way that any one person can see it from all those angles without a little help from someone else who sees it differently.

Jennifer Bonior is a producer in Nashville who made a name for herself developing award-winning commercials, music videos, as well as short and feature films. She has written and directed several shorts that have screened across the world. While she’s worked in several different genres, she takes the most joy out of stories that blend the endearing with the macabre.