In Jane, the new psychological thriller directed by Sabrina Jaglom, Madelaine Petsch stars as a teen struggling to cope with the tragic suicide of her friend Jane, portrayed by Chloe Yu. She’s also feeling the pressure of the college admission process. After getting deferred from her dream school, she spirals out of control and launches a social media-fueled rampage against those who stand in the way of her success. She gets some help from her buddy Izzy, played by Chloe Bailey. One of her targets is Camille, a pushy new arrival at school played by Nina Bloomgarden, who ends up being forced to leave. Meanwhile, the ghostly presence of Jane and her still functioning website lurks in the background. I hosted a Q and A at an early screening of the movie. The audience was shook up but fascinated and the filmmakers were all pleased and intrigued by their response.
Jeanne Wolf: I know all of you in the audience have been through a very intense experience. It certainly was intense for me. It’s not only suspenseful, it’s thought-provoking and very timely. Sabrina where did you get the idea?
Sabrina Jaglom: It's a great question. I co-wrote the script with Rishi Rajani, and we were both wanting to tell a movie about anxiety and pressure in high school, especially at the end of high school when you face college admissions because we were kind of looking back and thinking how crazy it was, all the pressure we put on ourselves and how at that time everything just feels so serious and so important. So we really wanted to tell a, you know, dark, twisted story that kind of heightened that experience exploring how crazy it is that the internal pressure kids can put themselves.
Jeanne Wolf: Well, besides the internal pressure a very big part of a lot of people’s lives is a part this – social media. How involved have you been with social media?
Sabrina Jaglom: When I was in high school and middle school, you know, we had social media,
Myspace, Facebook, but not the same way that kids do today. So I think it's a completely
different experience. But, you know, the story was kind of inspired by something that happened
in my high school where someone made up a lot of like fake Myspace profiles and it's because
of the like, pressure to feel like you have to fit in and you have to do certain things online to fit
in in real life. And I think it's only gotten worse.
Jeanne Wolf: And do people who do that, do they sense the harm that they've done?
Sabrina Jaglom It's a great question. I don't know. She dropped out of school.
Jeanne Wolf: Chloe, as Jane, you’re seen but not heard as mysterious almost ghostly presence
of the departed Jane. How tough is it to be a sort of a ghost who never speaks
Chloe Yu: You kind of get a sense that Jane is kind of Olivia's alter ego, I look at the relationship
a lot before Jane's death and after her death. And in a way, Jane, is a personification of Olivia's
guilt and insecurity. So. In a way, I'm an extension of her and vice versa.
Sabrina Jaglom: I’ll actually jump in. Because, Chloe, what she just said is true is that she is the,
you know, her alter ego, her dark side. So there are two Janes in a way, right? There's the Jane
that existed that was alive with the Jane that Chloe is mostly playing is that alter ego and her
dark side. And she's the motivating factor visually for Olivia. It's like inner turmoil and dark
desires. And she did such a great job of kind of like leading Olivia gently into this dark path. In
the script, she was never in an alive person, I was always very interested in that like when
people die, their social media profiles linger on and it's weird and complicated because it is not
them, but it's kind of them.
Jeanne Wolf: Nina, your character, Camille, makes an unforgettable entrance into this film, right
away making it clear that things going to be done her way. Was that a challenge for you?
Nina Bloomgarden: It was really interesting. Because she starts out that way and suddenly
makes a huge U-turn. So it was it was kind of cool because I got to play two different characters
in the same body.
Jeanne Wolf: Well, obviously, one of the big there are many messages in this film, but one of the big ones is if you're ambitious, if you're striving for something, it can you can lose perspective and it can hurt you. Both of you have modeled, you’re in a TV show, you've done so many things. Do you ever feel your ambition kind of getting the best of you?
Chloe Yu: Yeah. I mean, I definitely feel I do feel pressure with my work sometimes, but I think
it's really important to just have that balance of working and living your life. And it's difficult,
but I'm still trying to find that the perfect balance.
Jeanne Wolf: Are there times when you think, gosh, I don't sleep, I want social media? How
does social media play in your life?
Chloe Yu: Well, I feel like it's so hard because social media is pretty much ingrained into
everyday life. I mean, I try to take breaks. I try to limit screen time as much as possible. But it
does it does get hard with work and social media and it's good to just take a step back
sometimes and be like, okay. Just got the phone down.
Jeanne Wolf: Do you count likes on twitter or Instagram or whatever?
Chloe Yu: I do pay attention to likes. I try not to, but I mean, Instagram has that little option
where you can hide them so you don't have to be like looking at them all the time. So I try not
to. It's hard!
Jeanne Wolf: How about you Nina? How is ambition played into your life? Was there pressure
along the way and does there continue to be?
Nina Bloomgarden: Absolutely. I think I think especially in a career where, you know, you're
seen by a lot of people, you have to kind of suppress ego a lot of the times. And I've definitely
had moments where I have to, like, not take myself too seriously. And I think that's really
important because, I mean, I'm not curing cancer. So it's like sometimes, you know, you just go,
yeah, you just got to like ground yourself and remember your place in the world.
Jeanne Wolf: Yeah, but our place in the world is important when people say to me, you know,
we're not curing cancer. I say, but all the cancer doctors I know watch these shows.
Nina Bloomgarden: And no, absolutely. But I'm just saying, I truly think, you know, the world
would be a much better place if no one took themselves too seriously.
Jeanne Wolf: Sabrina, do you think life is tougher on teens now?
Sabrina Jaglom: Yeah. I think just being a teenager is very tough in general because you don't
have the perspective that Nina just talking about. And, you know, when you're young,
everything feels like the end of the world or the beginning of the world are so exciting or so
horrible and emotions are high. And I think the end of high school in particular, it feels like
every decision you're making is going to cement your path in stone.
Jeanne Wolf: What advice would you give teens who are struggling?
Sabrina Jaglom: I think that you learn you can change things. You can change your friends and
where you live and what you want to do and where you go to college. And you can change all of
those things. I think the pressure is worse because of social media. I think being a teenage girl is
incredibly complicated and female friendships of that age can be very complicated. But I just
think being a teenager you have a lot of feelings that you don't really know what to do with
Jeanne Wolf: You grew up in a household of successful people. Did you feel driven by that?
Sabrina Jaglom: I grew up in a household of eccentric artists who actually told me when I cried
because I got a B plus, they were like, relax. So I think that's kind of something that wasn't a big
motivation for writing is it's about internal pressure. It's about being hard on yourself,
sometimes more so because people expect you to do well. I never had someone saying like, You
must do a good job. I told myself that.
Jeanne Wolf: Your famous is a famous director. Did he give you guidance about sort of following
in his footsteps?
Sabrina Jaglom: No, he loves what I’m doing but he thinks I'm very commercial compared to
Jeanne Wolf: What were the struggles of getting it made along the way?
Sabrina Jaglom: So on day seven of shooting out of 18, I tested positive for COVID. And it's not
funny, but it is. No, I we shut down for COVID. For many years before we got on board with
Creator+ to make this movie, we had it set up, had it not happen, but the COVID one was a
moment where I was like, okay, we started shooting this movie. Is it is it going to start again?
And, you know, we really a lot of people in this room got it going and got it back on track. But
that was definitely the biggest logistical hurdle, I would say
Jeanne Wolf: Is there any who want to talk about whether they would show this movie to a
young person? Do you think that they could learn from it?
Sabrina Jaglom: I think that there, there's something to take away where, when something's a
very heightened movie and clearly not reality and clearly, you know, dark and twisted,
sometimes it's easier to see pieces of yourself or relate to it because you can say, well, that's
clearly not reality. This clearly not me. So I do hope that if people do find something that makes
it easier to talk about anxiety or mental health or social media, that's great because it doesn't
feel too real. And then if people just think it's a fun, twisted ride, that's also great. But yeah.
Jeanne Wolf: Okay. We know about the ills of social media, but I have a suggestion for you
about social media, which is if you were as affected by this film as I was, get on social media
and tell people to go see it!
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read Leslie Combemale’s full review of Jane