By Weam Namou
Jane Dabish, otherwise known as Jane the Director, made her first film in 2005. Family Chaos is a comedy feature about a Chaldean American girl, Rulea, who tries her luck writing movies while her brother Joel wants her to work for the family business. Between all that family chaos, two of her uncles die one day apart.
“Family Chaos is a little about my life, but I mostly exaggerated it,” she said.
In it, Dabish played a few Chaldean parts, including Rulea’s sister, “Stupid Jane” – even though she’s not interested in acting. All she wants to do is to write and direct.
“When I was making Family Chaos I struggled casting Chaldeans so I tried to get Middle Eastern people and that was hard too,” she said. “Middle Eastern actors have more reservations about acting.”
Born in Southfield to Joseph and Anahid, Dabish is a sibling to one sister and two brothers. Early on, she had a talent for creativity, whether it was drawing or playing the piano. Her late father was a song writer.
“I got my passion for writing from him,” she said.
Her love for making films began in 1997 when she started studying animation at William D Ford Tech Center. She did 12 short animation films within two years. That, and getting a B+ in a writing class in college, encouraged her to write scripts. Her sister Josephine, who has published a book, also had a big influence on her career.
Since Family Chaos, Dabish has produced 9 more films and is preparing for her 10th film in 2018. Its working title is Laughs. The genre she writes has changed from comedy to drama to romance but she writes in a wide range of topics. She particularly enjoys comedy because she feels she’s naturally funny. People on the street often ask her, “Do you make people laugh?”
“As a shy person, being funny is my way of expressing myself,” she said.
When she worked with her father at their store, she would joke with the customers, and her father would keep reminding her, “Don’t joke around with strangers, they’ll take you seriously.”
So instead she did standup comedy, where she could make people laugh at a professional level without offending them. After a decade of doing standup comedy, Dabish now wants to focus on filmmaking, although she still has a “regular” job. She’s a professional petitioner who signs people to register to vote.
She wakes up before sunlight to write, then goes to work, and after she returns home, does her creative work again. Before going to bed, she makes a to-do list, a practice she learned from her sister. This helps her be more productive the next day.
“Making movies is not all fun and games,” she said. “There’s a lot of work that goes into it. It’s not just about grabbing the camera. It’s careful planning.”
Her motto is that, “Everything is a dream until you make it a reality.” She strives to make her vision a reality by making films. She gets her inspiration by surrounding herself with people, observing and writing based on what she sees around her.
“I like making culture movies,” she said.
One of the challenges she faces in this career is dealing with complicated “divas” who are difficult to work with. In her film Off the Rocker, she had to write off an actress from the film because of inappropriate behavior on the set.
“I don’t like writing killing scenes,” she said, “but I had to do in this one film because the actress ran off early on.”
Dabish will be playing the lead in a talk show in 2018 and streaming it on her YouTube channel, Jane Dabish. She plans to cover a wide range of topics, but as a host, she doesn’t think topics involving people truly getting hurt are funny. These include crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, child abuse, animal abuse, or more generally, people taking advantage of others, or simply being mean. She’s looking for unique people who don’t easily get offended by jokes to join her on the show. Dabish’s dream is to work on an ongoing talk show.
“I believe that it’s best to do what you love or you’ll never be happy,” she said, “and that you have to have the spirit to keep going no matter what people say to you.”
Other than her own projects, Dabish teaches people the art of filmmaking and films their events, including holidays, as well as creates business video presentations. To learn more about her film services, visit http://janes-movie-magic.com/