Between the Lines – A chat with the director Jessica Prümers

Who else loves to curl up on the couch with your favorite snacks, a warm drink, and a comforting rom-com?  That is the vibe that filmmaker Jessica Prümers achieves with their latest short film “Between the Lines” a coming-of-age romantic comedy short film.
Actors Robin Lange and Anna-Lena Treue // Priyanka Kanagaraj
Jessica and I have been friends for a few years, having connected online through our love of filmmaking. This all started when I interviewed her for my documentary film, almost four years ago, after finding Jessica’s TikTok where they shared videos about starting their filmmaking journey.  Since then Jessica has started her film studies in Berlin, made multiple short films, is managing marketing for one of Germany’s biggest film festivals, and has worked on sets for major productions. And most recently, she released her latest short film “Between the Lines”.
Director Jessica Prümers with actors Anna-Lena Treue and Robin Lange // Priyanka Kanagaraj
The film is set in New York and follows the story of Mia and Anto after a lighthearted encounter sparks an unexpected connection. And spoiler alert, while Mia and Anto may be in New York, this was actually filmed in Berlin at Ivallan’s Second-Hand & Exceptional Books.  Between the Lines is a story of first love, “when you feel that emotion for the first time” and the fear and uncertainty that might surround that.  “I identify as a gender non conforming person, and I wanted to use my platform, but also the craft that I do, to just represent and normalize queer love.”

Queer love represented 

Jessica told of the film’s inspirations, such as All Too Well, Dash and Lily, and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. However, HBO’s adaptation of The Last of Us was the biggest inspiration. For those unfamiliar, the show follows a post-apocalyptic world with zombies.  Now what does a zombie show relate to a coming-of-age romantic comedy? The importance of representation of queer love.  “I don’t see this often, but in The Last of Us, the way [director] Neil Druckman portrays queer love as just a normal thing. It’s just a normal relationship such as every other character that might be heterosexual. And that inspired me to do more.”
Detail from the film // Priyanka Kanagaraj
In recent years, the television and film industry has increased the representation of queer love on screen. Still, as Jessica pointed out in our conversation, it is often centered as a problem. Queer love is more seen as something a character has to struggle with, an issue they have to solve, something they need to adapt in society. Queer love is also a first love, being parents, or just surviving a zombie apocalypse.  “I initially said it’s [Between the Lines] is a love story about queer love, but at the end of the day it’s just a love story short film because everyone can relate to how uncertain and unfamiliar and exciting the first time we feel this emotion can be.”

Making of the film

Jessica and I both love behind-the-scenes documentaries and naturally had to delve into what happened to make her newest short film. The journey started in March of 2023 when Jessica began making the pitch deck and film treatment, as well as writing and rewriting the script with Ayesha Khan.  “I think generally it is so important to have a good pitch deck that’s aesthetically pleasing because that’s how I got most of the people in the crew. I had this Avengers Assemble moment of all these cool people in my head. And then I don’t know, for some magical reason, it all filled out perfectly.”
Assistant Director Delicia Goh // Priyanka Kanagaraj
What I noted as soon as behind-the-scenes content started being published was the diversity, with women and gender non-conforming members being highly represented amongst a diverse, multi-cultural crew. This was no accident. Jessica was intentional in finding the right people for the film. “I always look out for this, like we talked about this years ago, and there’s still way too little representation that hasn’t changed much. We’re the next generation, right? We’re the rising next new Hollywood, and I’d rather do it right, right now with the limited resources, and continue to do so going forward. I mean if they can’t do it up there, then we have to do it.” In keeping with this ideal, a majority of the department heads in “Between the Lines” are women, and the queer characters in the story are portrayed by queer actors. For those who love film lore, Between the Lines also has around 15 “easter eggs” from a hand tattoo, cards in a pocket, or the way a red scarf is tied. These little details come from other films, or favorite books from actors Anna and Robin, as well as an homage to director Greta Gerwig. Between the Lines premiered online on June 1st, marking the start of Pride month, and the team will be starting to share more behind-the-scenes content about the film on their Instagram @BetweenTheLinesShortFilm  Jessica plans to continue to incorporate queer love into her work, though their future work will not be romantic comedies. Rather their work will be sci-fi, and Jessica will be directing Star Wars productions before long.  You can follow Jessica on Instagram @JessicaPrmers or TikTok @DirectedByJess All photographs by photographer Priyanka Kanagaraj.

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