Festival Interview: Rinse & Repeat
Jacob Ehrlich on his short film "Rinse & Repeat"
Filmmaker Jacob Ehrlich talks about the short film Rinse & Repeat, now screening in the 2020 Online New England Film Festival.
Filmmaker Jacob Ehrlich talks about the short film Rinse & Repeat, now premiering in the 2020 Online New England Film Festival. The film tells the story of an immigrant restaurant worker, Tomás, who shares his plan to transport his family across the border with a wealthy college student, Jonah. Here, Ehrlich talks more about his inspiration as a filmmaker and for the film.
NewEnglandFilm.com: When did you know you wanted to become a filmmaker?
Jacob Ehrlich: My interest in filmmaking really began back in middle school from a fascination with visual effects. Most of my first ‘films’ were of me and my buddies running around in my backyard pretending to fly-off into the sky or explode. Over the years, these videos evolved from meaningless visual effects shots to (slightly) more elaborate narrative films. My two film friends and I entered plenty of online contests and began making short films for fun with the equipment we had. I had already learned most of the basics through trial & error (and online tutorials) by the time I got to Tufts my freshman year. At Tufts, I studied Film & Media, where I learned how to cooperate on a larger scale with more crew and bigger projects. By my senior year, I was ready to write & direct my very own thesis!
NewEnglandFilm.com: What inspired you to make your film?
Ehrlich: Spending my summers away from college working as a line cook in various local restaurant kitchens, I became very familiar with my privilege both as a white U.S. citizen and a temporary worker with nothing but disposable income from my efforts. Armed with stories from restaurant co-workers, personal experiences working on the line, and a background in filmmaking from my studies at college, I teamed up with my classmate and good friend, Jacquie Bonnet (producer), born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Together, we began developing “Rinse & Repeat,” our retelling of these very stories in a dramatically structured way.
NewEnglandFilm.com: How did you find your cast and crew for this film?
Ehrlich: The crew for Rinse & Repeat is made up entirely of Tufts undergraduate students. These students are from a range of grade levels, film experience, and field of study, but they all have a passion for filmmaking and storytelling. We casted the film using Backstage.com. The film was a truly collaborative effort and would not have been possible without the amazing cast & crew I got to work with!
NewEnglandFilm.com: How does your film fits into today’s current social and political moment?
Ehrlich: Rinse & Repeat has particular relevance in the United States, as it attempts to humanize immigrants and their families. In a time of both great division and chaos on the issue, I believe that eliciting empathy toward immigrants is essential. Rinse & Repeat also tries not to glorify the chef. Instead, it gives an honest representation of the often forgotten hard work that goes into an upscale dining experience. As both the statistical and physical back-bone of the restaurant industry, immigrants must be fairly recognized for their work.
NewEnglandFilm.com: What do you hope people take away from watching your film?
Ehrlich: All I can hope for is that my audience gets to walk in the shoes of an immigrant restaurant worker for 15 minutes. While personally I can never truly understand that experience, I’m hoping that the diversity of perspectives that went into the making of this film speak to it in a genuine and nuanced way. Empathy is powerful. Rinse & Repeat (2020) also explores the American Dream as it pertains to American Citizens versus American Immigrants. How does privilege affect the possibility of the American Dream? Does hard work always lead to success?
Rinse & Repeat is screening in the 2020 Online New England Film Festival.