Be honest, about your craft and with yourself. Find out why you want to do this, why you love it, because if you don’t know then it will eat you alive on the days when it’s difficult and it will be impossible to stay in reality on the days its amazing.

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 5.36.50 PMAbout Jane Hancock

I first met Jane at a women in film event that she organized. Since then her name has come up more than once in connection with the industry, and whenever our path’s have crossed at industry functions I have been struck by the strength of her presence when she enters a room.

Jane is a writer/director/actor from Victoria, B.C. Canada. She spent most of her adolescent years performing on stage and went on to study Theatre at York University in Toronto. She then trained at The Canadian College of Performing Arts, and after receiving her diploma moved to L.A. to study at the New York Film Academy’s Universal Studios Campus.

Coming to Vancouver in 2011, Jane began to work avidly in the film community; acting, costume design, promotion, social media, writing, and soon producing her own projects. She then discovered her passion for directing. In 2013 Jane was one of 6 winners out of over 150 applicants in the Crazy8s script competition. Her film When I Saw You was well received at the gala and has continued on to a successful festival circuit, playing in Portland, Vancouver, Toronto, London and notably winning Best Editing at the Blue Whiskey Independent Film Festival in Chicago.

Currently Jane has a feature film in development, and continues to work in many areas of the film industry, as an actor, casting assistant, reader, and audition coach.

The Interview

1. What is the force that drives you forward? What fuels your ambition?

I feel fuelled in two ways. Towards, and away from things; ambition and fear can motivate people. Obviously my passion for story telling and sharing the ideas I have with the world is one reason I chose to make movies. But on another hand I always feel a little restless, and unsatisfied, as if I haven’t done enough in the day sometimes. It may not always be the healthiest motivation, and I’m working on that, but it does work for me.

I always feel like I could do more, accomplish more, learn more, say more, see more, etc. It drives me to remember days here are numbered, whatever that may mean to you, and I want to make the most of mine.

One of the ways I chose to do that is to tell stories and make movies, because I hope to motivate people to live their days to the fullest, to connect, to feel, or even just to laugh and relax.

2. Can you talk about your greatest “failure”? (something that led to your most significant shift in consciousness, and made you who you are today).

When I was 18 I auditioned for Julliard. I had dreamed of going there my whole life. After a successful audition (in my mind) it was a huge blow to not be accepted a few weeks later. It really broke my heart. Looking back, being one of the 20 out of 1000 that gets accepted is crazy lucky, but at the time, being 17, I felt pretty wretched.

I’ve had several ‘failures’ since then, maybe even ones which were harder to handle but this one was very significant because it was the first time I didn’t get something that I tried for, that I REALLY wanted. It guided me on the path of picking myself up and looking for new trails to chart, it taught me that I have to fight and fail and fight again for the things I want.

3. Are you happy? What does happiness mean to you?

Happy is such an elusive word! I am happy. But I can be un-happy too. I’m a very energetic person and someone asked me recently if I ‘have bad days’ and of course I do, but I do choose to be happy, because I do think it’s a choice. Learning how to be proactively positive in an authentic way is the best lesson I’ve learned. Thanks in a large part to my mother, various workshops, and the author Louise L. Hay. To me happiness doesn’t mean that everything is sunshine and roses and cotton candy, it’s more a sense of joy, or a joyous outlook.

4. What do you think is your greatest strength? What is your greatest personal challenge (something you struggle with)?

Asking questions. I ask myself a lot of questions. I believe this is a strength when it comes to my writing, my directing, and anything I’m creating. It’s also useful as an actor, figuring out a character, an arc, the theme, etc. in whatever project I’m working on. I’m inquisitive when it comes to other people too, getting to know them, figuring out what makes them tick. And ultimately figuring out what makes me tick, I think self-knowledge is the greatest skill one can acquire, it’s practically free and it’s never ending because there’s always more to learn.

A challenge I’m currently working on is not worrying about what other people think. I know people who say they just don’t care, but I’m totally not at that place. I’m not sure I even want to be, or could be, but I would like the fear of it to not limit me, not effect my choices.

It’s a little voice in the back of my mind, which can be entertaining, but also restrictive. I wonder what we’d all do if we weren’t worried about what other people thought, would we all be more free or more reckless?

5. What do you love about what you do? 

The process. Well, the result too. But the constant push and pull of creating. The swells of it. Days spent writing with no result, and then a breakthrough. Long night shoots full of stress and them amazing takes in the dailies. Rejection letter after rejection letter and then a yes! It’s a love-hate thing almost, but I love the unpredictably of it. Hours spent on an audition with no word, then one rushed and taped and sent in after a night at the theatre and low and behold a booking. The task of having a ton of projects on the go at once, and trying to control the uncontrollable: its addicting and fuelling. And the storytelling, entertaining others, wondering if this story, if this ‘art,’ this endeavour will affect anyone, will affect me.

6. What is the one habit that you’ve implemented that has had the greatest impact on your success so far?

Persistence. And Patience. I’m constantly learning the balance, but all I know is that the moment I decided I would have to contribute to my success and decide what success even meant to me, was the moment the tide turned and I realized I was actually the captain of the ship I was in. Wow that was corny, but it’s true.

7. How do you deal with doubt?

Yoga. And solid relationships, especially with my parents, and my friends who aren’t in the artistic industry. They have a knack for keeping me grounded by reminding me about the accomplishments I have made. I also read a lot of motivational quotes on Pinterest!

8. Is there a quality that you think artistically successful people have in common? What is it?

Curiosity. I hope.

9. Do you have any advice for artists? Perhaps advice that you wish you’d been given when you were first starting out?

Patience and persistence! Be honest, about your craft and with yourself. Find out why you want to do this, why you love it, because if you don’t know then it will eat you alive on the days when it’s difficult and it will be impossible to stay in reality on the days its amazing.

10. What is your happiest memory (could be related or unrelated to your field).

When I was a little girl, I used to dress up and put on shows for my family on my grandparents fireplace. I’d re-write the lyrics to Disney songs, and enrol my cousins to participate, and have several costume changes. This started young, like age 3.

Very early in life I learned how much I loved to perform, and the power of entertainment, the thrill of it, and especially how much the audience enjoyed it. Who knew if what I was doing was good, but it did bring joy, and that is one reason I believe we need art and theatre, music, film, etc. in our lives.

But my most poignant memory would be when I first saw my name on a big screen in the credits as a Director. ‘A film by Jane Hancock’ came up, and an audience of 1300 people had just seen my film, something I had written, and brought to life, and they were applauding! That energy, that feeling was infectious, and I knew in that moment that I wanted to spend my life making movies.

11. What is your favourite book? It could be about your craft, or maybe just an excellent story. If that is too difficult to answer, who are your favourite authors?

‘The Handmaids Tale’ by Margaret Atwood.
‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield
I also love Jane Austen and Douglas Coupland.

Check out the favourite books by the other interviewees

Follow Jane


Twitter: @JaneEHancock

IMDB: Jane Hancock

Watch Jane’s film When I Saw You on the National Screen Institute.

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Jane Hancock: There was a moment when I decided that I would have to contribute to my success, and decide what success even meant to me.
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These conversations are about the creative soul. They are the true experiences of creatives with their own creative impulse, and they are the private (made public) reflections on what creativity feels like on a very personal level. All interviews are conducted by Christine Bissonnette
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