Filmmaker Michele Josue on staying creative while in quarantine

Like many creative talents, Michele Josue found herself in a contradictory situation during the pandemic.

The Emmy award-winning filmmaker is the executive producer and director of the Netflix documentary “Happy Jail,” about the dancing inmates of Cebu, Philippines.

You’d think writing and writing a script with all this extra time in quarantine, but unfortunately for me, it hasn’t been. It’s been actually pretty challenging just to stay really focused, you know, just with all the fear and anxiety that comes with these uncertain times. But I guess I’m just trying to work on being compassionate with myself and realizing that there are going to be some really good days and bad days. And I’m doing my best, and that looks different from day to day or even hour by hour.”

Eventually she soldiered on, and was able to create something that she hopes to film when it’s safe to work in sets again.

“In quarantine, I wrote a short narrative script that is loosely based on my own family and what it was like growing up Filipino-American. And a key part of that script is about how my mom won a very large jackpot on a slot machine in Las Vegas several years ago.”

She recalled a favorite quote that inspires her through this difficult time when injustice and bigotry still happen, and how she thinks artists can help bring about change.

“The one truth in life is its impermanence. And so thinking about that I’m really reflecting on, you know, my identity as an artist. What I want my legacy to be, and what good I want to contribute to the world. So, with that said, I think, as a filmmaker, we all know very instinctively that there’s a lot of power in sharing a personal story, and stories can really make a difference in creating a more compassionate and tolerant accepting society. So as a Filipino American, I’m compelled to tell stories that genuinely speak to that experience.”

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