Referred to as an auteur filmmaker, Jennifer Kramer is the youngest daughter of legendary filmmaker Stanley Kramer and Golden Globe winning actress Karen Sharpe. Having spent many years on stage and in front of the camera as an actor and classical musician, she is now stepping behind the camera – writing, directing and producing her own films. NAKUSA is Jennifer’s debut short film which was created out of her own musical interpretation of Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in D Major Opus 23 no. 4.
Jennifer attended the prestigious Carnegie Mellon acting program as well as The New Actor’s Workshop in New York of which one of the founders was director Mike Nichols.
She has worked as an actor since she was a child debuting in the TV movie BEFORE AND AFTER, KNOTS LANDING and GOING SHOPPING. Jennifer has acted in countless
stage productions in Los Angeles and New York.
As a musician, Jennifer has been a finalist in two concerto competitions and performed at the prestigious Thayer Hall. She is a self taught composer and her music has been featured in a production of the play THE ART OF DINING. Jennifer has trained with a handful of prestigious professional pianists. She currently studies with Ming Tsu.
Linda Palmer is an award-winning writer / director / producer / production designer, with many feature and short film credits. She is inspired by socially conscious work or stories with high emotional appeal. Her movies often have a heavy musical emphasis, whether it be story or original music created specifically for the films. Her feature film, HALLOWEEN PARTY, boasts an original song called “Voodoo” written by CJ Watson and Bruce Michael Miller, that was on the Oscar contender list the year Adelle won for SKYFALL.
She is the founder of Runaway Productions, a commercial and feature film production company and the founder of the marketing firm, Alter Ego Agency. For more information about Linda’s work, visit her website at: Runaway Productions
For Production Design visit: LP Production Design
By Jennifer Kramer
The film NAKUSA was inspired by Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Prelude in D Major Opus 23 no. 4. The piece is from the romantic era – Rachmaninoff being one of the greatest romantic composers who ever lived. The music is ethereal, emotional, poignant and within it’s beauty still filled with suffering. As is true with all music and art – there lives inside of it – the soul of it’s creator. In this case, Rachmaninoff himself and his own suffering. In 1897, Rachmaninoff
suffered a severe mental collapse after his first symphony was rejected by critics and the public. This led to years of crippling writer’s block and an overall disability to compose.
Eventually, he had to seek professional help to overcome the trauma caused by the rejection. It was these elements that I used to create Nakusa the character – a girl who is disabled (like Rachmaninoff felt) and was rejected (like Rachmaninoff was) by her mother who threw her into a dumpster at one week of age. Rachmaninoff, in his own words, said during this period that he “felt like a ghost wandering in a world grown alien…..” so the character of Nakusa lives separate from society as if on another planet in emotional exile where there is
no nourishment – hence the dead trees and barren landscape.
In creating the overall style and look of the film, I also went to the music itself. The piece is otherworldly but also haunting and tragic and felt like the color blue. So, my vision was to color the film to look like the music sounds. The pace, rhythm, character and storytelling
was all created and dictated by the music and the clues it gave me harmonically and musically.
Sound design also centered around the themes of trauma and disintegration so the planet that Nakusa lives on is always moaning and cracking like it’s in pain. I was inspired to use musical references such as minor piano chords to highlight tension, as well as, music box and other piano effects. The film ends with a massive explosion and flatline signifying death.
Ultimately, any of us who experience severe trauma know that a part of you dies. Sometimes it is so crippling it distorts reality and keeps you stuck unable to feel anything other than you are crumbling to pieces. In some cases, like Rachmaninoff’s, you are lucky to get the proper help and live with it. But, some aren’t so fortunate.
Finally, I named the film NAKUSA because the name means “unwanted” and is the name given to girls in India when they aren’t born male. The name is associated with lifelong trauma for these girls and they carry with them a deep seated feeling of being rejected and unwanted which is the soul of my film. Sometimes a broken heart is just too broken…..