Interview with I-Jien Jane Kou

I-Jien Jane Kou is an amateur animator. She was an IT developer. She has a B.A. in computer science from U.C. Berkeley, a B.F.A in painting and drawing from School of Art Institute of Chicago, and three Computer Information System programming certificates from UCLA extension.

Could you briefly describe your project for our audience?

Rabbit Well is an animation comedy. It is a story of a software engineer nurd who set a quest to un-nurd himself and became a super hero. Through the process, he meets many super heroes in different areas of discipline who inspire him and help him. Each chapter / episode is a new experience. The story is taking place in a hypothetical city called City of Boredom. Episode 6 Halloween is a story of the nurd Dork Boy in a Halloween.


What were your main aspirations or goals when creating this 
Actually, I was writing and making Rabbit Well animation series for myself originally. It is kinda of self expression of what I want to tell my younger self what to do and how to live a life. I spend most of my young adulthood as a computer programming nurd. And after I acquired a computer science degree from U.C. Berkeley, I worked as a software engineer in Silicon Valley for ten years. Basically, I was a dork girl grown up with Silicon Valley nurds.

Share some memorable moments from the shooting process or any 
pleasant surprises.
I was doing my UCLA Extension computer application programming homework at Corner Bakery Cafe. Instead of focusing on studying, I started to doodle, which eventually became Rabbit Well animation series.

Who is the primary target audience for your film, and what do you 
hope they will take away from it?
My primary target are nurds, young adults, and those who remember late 80’s, 90’s, and early millennium in Silicon Valley. The take away of this story is to learn how to grow and live a life. It is a journey of a nurd who transforms into a Love Hero and of a dork girl who finds herself through the journey.

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What makes your project an appealing choice for potential 
Rabbit Well animation is drama meets comedy. Perhaps, the comedy is a little more on the dark side. It embraces social criticism. Hopefully, the journey of the nurds Dork Boy and Dork Girl would inspire young adults to grow, live a life, and find love.

How would you define your unique filmmaking style, and what 
distinct qualities characterize your film?
Rabbit Well animation is drama meets comedy. The characters are 2D animation clip art by Adobe Illustrator, while the background are either photoshop or illustration. Character movements are done by Adobe Flash and sewed by Final Cut. Adobe Flash is retired. I’ll incorporate more After Effects and Premiere. I am thinking of moving background to 3D and characters to hand drawing to enhance more nature movements and more background angles in my next episode.

What inspired you to pursue a career in filmmaking?

I am interested in art and people’s stories.

Do you have a filmmaker or source of inspiration who has 
influenced your work?
I learned that clip art can be interesting from South Park. The important thing is that the story line has to be interesting. If your story is funny, you can draw a lot of audiences. I like TV sitcom “Friends”, when I was young. I watched Friends every day at prime time in my 20’s and early 30’s.

Share a couple of your favorite films and what resonates with you 
about them.
There are so many movies that I love. Mostly, I like romantic drams, such as Green Card, Titanic, Great Expectations, Ratatouille, The Shape of Water, Slumdog Millionaire, Brokeback Mountain, Les Miserables, La La Land, etc. Did I mention that I saw Titanic four times at movie theaters? I don’t know why I love these movies so much. One thing that I do know is that all of these movies had my tears. Maybe I love them so much, because their stories tell the best of humanity.

Where do you typically find inspiration for your film projects?

I find humors and small touching stories in my every day life.