Half a dozen things make demands on Jennifer Brown-Thomas’ time these days, but she looks remarkably put together as she arrives for an interview — even her jeans seem ripped in an artful way. The 26-year-old Fort Worth native is here to talk about Blissful Lies, a sprawling, soapy drama filmed entirely in North Texas, for which she’s now seeking international distribution. However, the movie is just one of many irons she has in the fire.
Brown-Thomas didn’t initially plan to become a filmmaker when she studied at Texas Christian University. “I always planned to go to law school,” she said, noting that she still hadn’t entirely given up on the idea. However, two miscarriages and the loss of several older relatives in a short space of time forced her to rethink her future, in late 2009. “When you get to the point when you’re ready to start a family and you can’t, it’s very stressful,” she said. “I needed a creative outlet, instead of focusing on the negativity that was happening at home.”
What she came up with was Blissful Lies, which began as a novel about a successful middle-aged academic who has an affair with a younger man after discovering her husband’s infidelity. “I always wanted to do a book, but I never got into the logistics of making that happen,” she said. “After writing 10 pages, I didn’t want to do it anymore. Once I started writing it as a screenplay, it was much easier to get through.”
She finished the script in a blinding few weeks in April 2010. Ironically, she turned the project back into a novel later that year, after filming had wrapped. The book is out now and available online.
The shoot progressed smoothly despite running five days over schedule and wrapped in September 2010. Working with editor Godfrey Pye (who passed away shortly after completing his work), she put the film together in time for this past summer’s Cannes Film Festival. The movie did not screen at the festival itself but rather was displayed at the market that accompanies the festival, which offers films of every description. There, Blissful Lies caught the eye of Ostrow and Company, which is now negotiating rights to distribute the movie abroad. It will not play in theaters in America, but Brown-Thomas plans to hold a theatrical premiere in Fort Worth in January before the film’s DVD release in April.
In the meantime, Brown-Thomas is discussing the possibility of directing a film from someone else’s script and shopping a screenplay for her second novel, Vindictive Grounds. She’s also looking to start a line of fragrances and children’s clothing with Fanitsa Limberis, who worked as a stylist on Blissful Lies under the name Runway Ready. Oh, and she discovered she was pregnant during the filmmaking process, so she now has a small daughter to raise.
All of these challenges don’t seem to faze her. “I’m kind of an all-in person,” she said.