“A Day in the Life” with Filmmaker Jenny Lee-Gilmore

When Jenny Lee-Gilmore was 10, her school included her in a recruitment campaign that predicted the future trajectory of different children. The teachers decided Jenny looked like a future poet. This turned out to be a prescient choice. While Jenny hasn’t spent much time writing poetry, she’s become a skilled storyteller. Jenny’s talent for stories was honed during her childhood in Northamptonshire, England. With an English father and a Chinese-Canadian mother, Jenny was aware at an early age of being different. Life in small English villages leans towards the traditional. It was, in many ways, idyllic but not always a comfortable place to be. People noted her differences in ways that made her feel othered. These early experiences gave Jenny an enduring appreciation of identity, inclusion and social justice. After relocating to Vancouver with her family in 2010, her life changed enormously. It was an opportunity to discover and celebrate her mixed heritage. She gained a newfound confidence to explore her creativity. She completed her BFA in Film Production at UBC where she wrote and directed her first short film Breakaway which played at numerous festivals across North America and was selected in the Top 9 of CBC Short Film Face Off. These were transformative years full of opportunities to act, direct, write, produce and form enduring friendships with other creative people. Since graduating in 2019, Jenny’s won places in prestigious programs such as the VIFF Catalyst Mentorship Program, GEMS TV Producer Program and the Women in the Director’s Chair Story and Leadership Program. Meanwhile, Jenny’s continually hustled to find or create opportunities as so few still exist for women of colour. She’s continued to act, write, direct and work in the industry on set. Who knows – one day she might even find time to write some epic poetry.

-Written by Kelley Lee Gilmore – Professor and Jenny’s mum

Jenny Lee-Gilmore
On set directing TELUS originals documentary Overtime. A film that follows my mother’s hockey team as they compete in the Canada 55 plus Games.
Jenny Lee-Gilmore
With fellow filmmaker, Emslie Attisha, at the Vancouver Asian Film Festival where my film Overtime took home Best Short Documentary, Best Director and Best Cinematography for a Short Documentary.
With colourist Louis Wu-Hearn working on a proof of concept for my series Breakaway about a young Chinese Canadian girl in 1970’s Vancouver who dreams of becoming a hockey player.
On set shooting a commercial campaign but sadly didn’t get to keep the bad ass power suit. I think Ellen DeGeneres’s stylist asked for it back.
On set acting in a commercial project with the amazing actor/choreographer/director Joe Tuliao.
A beautiful sunset in Mount Pleasant. Some days I’m writing from home on my laptop all day. Daily walks help my mental and physical health. Some of my best ideas come to me when I’m walking and listening to good music.
Jenny Lee-Gilmore
With two of my best friends from high school, Hannah & Lauren, enjoying patio season on Commercial Drive. Having friends outside of the film industry is important because there’s more to life than film…right?
Jenny Lee-Gilmore
Self-taping with fellow actor Connor Riopel. Having a close friend who’s also an actor is amazing. We celebrate wins and loses together. He also lets me film any auditions where I have to scream bloody murder in his apartment instead of mine. That’s true friendship and I’m forever grateful.

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Which ‘hood are you in?

I’m in Mount Pleasant. It’s the perfect balance of being close to downtown while having a neighbourhood community feel. Plus, the coffee shops, restaurants and vintage stores on main are amazing!

What do you do?

I’m a writer, director, producer, and actor. I work in both narrative and documentary. That can be a mouthful so maybe I should start saying storyteller or filmmaker. Story is what draws me to all these different professions. I’m often asked which job I prefer or what I would pick if I had to pick one. Sometimes I have to focus on only one for scheduling or financial reasons but ideally, I’d never have to pick between them. Creatively I wouldn’t be satisfied just doing one. However, I can best service a story that dictates what role I’m in. The stories I’m most passionate about are female-centric and Asian Canadian stories that are often overlooked or neglected by mainstream media. I strive to create meaningful and authentic stories that resonate with audiences.

What are you currently working on?

I’m currently in production with a CBC Short Doc called Little Miss Sleepy about my diagnosis of Narcolepsy, a chronic neurological condition that affects the brain’s ability to control its sleep and wake cycles. I’m extremely excited but also nervous to be so vulnerable on camera and share my journey with people. I’m writing a horror feature titled Dormant, inspired by my Narcolepsy. I’m co-writing with Alyssa Aussant a feature titled Mixed Feelings which is a coming-of-age drama about a mixed-race girl. I also have a few other projects on my development slate.

Where can we find your work?

My latest documentary Overtime is now streaming worldwide on TELUS Originals. I’m also on Instagram where I post updates about my projects.

 

About Emilea Semancik 143 Articles
Emilea Semancik was born in North Vancouver. Emilea has always always wanted to work as a freelance writer and currently writes for the Vancouver Guardian. Taking influence from journalism culture surrounding the great and late Anthony Bourdain, she is a recipe author working towards publishing her own series of books. You can find her food blog on Instagram: