A Conversation With Director Derek Kimball and Actress Jane Ackermann Of The 2016 Slamdance Film “Neptune”


Director Derek Kimball and Actress Jane Ackermann

By: Saga Elmotaseb and Danielle McCormick

Edited By: Colleen Page

Images by: Danielle McCormick

“Neptune” is the heartwarming story of Hannah, a 14 year old orphan, who struggles to continue on her obedient Christian path to please her foster father, the local priest, while dealing with the loss of her classmate. This movie offers 110 minutes of beautiful cinematography, and a powerful story that helps the viewer to not only visualize, but also experience, this young girl’s emotional journey towards independence. The Art of Monteque spoke to both director Derek Kimball and  actress Jane Ackermann  during the 2016 Slamdance Film Festival about the film “Neptune”.

TAOM: What was the fund raising process in Maine like?

Derek Kimball( Director): It’s certainly not a filmmaking hub. Raising funds is not easy. You have to find the resources like any other filmmaker. There are so many passionate people in Maine.  There are a lot of people there who do it because their hearts are in it. Lots of people donated their talents. Jane didn’t take a dime! The only people we paid were those who do film making as their lively hood. The rest of us worked 40 hours a week to support our selves. That was the biggest resource to us.

TAOM: Did you shoot over a period of time or was it a set schedule?

Derek: Because we all worked full time and Jane was still in high school at the time, we felt strongly that Jane’s education can not be sacrificed, obviously, we had to shoot over the course of a few summers and in the winter I would be editing. We hope no one notices the time difference. It was a 3 year process. I did not think we’d be here. It’s pretty incredible.

Jane Ackermann (Actor): I don’t really age. I kept the same look. My hairdresser knew my hair very well! I haven’t really grown. I was cast when I was 13 and then we started shooting when I was 14 and now I’m 17. We do it because we love it. So we wrapped when I was 16 and here we are at Slamdance! We never thought we’d be here.

TAOM: How many people were involved in the project overall?

Derek: We had a really small crew. It hovered to as little as 3 people upward to 20 on set. We had about 70 extras in some of the larger scenes. All local community people who just wanted to come out and help on a local film. It was great.

Jane: We had a lot of donated locations.

TAOM: What’s next for you?

Jane: I’m starting college at Colombia University in the fall where I’ll be studying acting and Math. I hope to work as an actor in New York and LA eventually. I’m doing a couple stage productions. I just wrapped Much Ado About Nothing.

Derek: I am developing another feature called “Stone Soup” which is about a renowned and aging chef who returns home to her estranged husband after he had suffered a stroke and they haven’t talked in 20 years and as a result of their rotten marriage, there’s something in the wall of their house that’s manifesting, kind of a ghost maybe not, and she’s trying to bring her skills as a chef to appease this entity in the wall as she make a mess.

TAOM: Wow, sounds cool. I’m intrigued! I want to watch it!

Derek: Good, that’s what I want to hear!

TAOM: In terms of distribution, what are the next steps? What would be your dream scenario? To get it theatrically released?

Derek: Any way that we can get it in front of people. I am more interested in theatrical release because while I think VOD and streaming services like that are ideal, it’s not a great place to people to go watch challenging work. Even though there’s a lot of good challenging work on any of those platforms, most just channel surf. There’s something about the theater experience that’s so important that it gets you out of your home. You make a commitment to go see a film not because it fits the exact craving you have at that moment, but you make a commitment. It’s very powerful.

Jane: It’s also an investment that you’re making that commitment to go and watch it with other people.

TAOM: Jane, what do you look for in a character?

Jane: When I’m looking at a script or character, the actors job is to make the character come alive. When you’re reading a script, you look for the capacity that someone has written to breath and live and feel something that is outside of the story that is being presented to you. To feel a back story and future, as an actor, that’s all you can hope for.

Derek: And this is why I cast Jane because at 14, she understood this about acting. She practices is and is available as an actor. She’s going to be just fine out there!

Jane to Derek: The hardest thing that happened on set? It might have been the 42 take scene in the closet!

Derek: Oh yeah! The closet scene. That was the most difficult. But my favorite scene was one with the priest, which was the first scene we shot. I really loved that scene. You followed the noise and put your flashlight up to the trees and just look at the stars. That’s my favorite scene. [TAOM]