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No joke: Deerfield twins try to break into comedy filmmaking

  • Twin sisters Jil and Joanna Pasiecnik, both originally from Deerfield, on set in Atlanta, Georgia. Contributed photo—

  • Twin sisters Jil and Joanna Pasiecnik, both originally from Deerfield, on set in Atlanta, Georgia. Contributed photo—

  • Twin sisters Jil and Joanna Pasiecnik. Contributed photo—



Recorder Staff
Tuesday, November 07, 2017

ATLANTA — Two comedy writers originally from Deerfield, Mass., are making a name for themselves in Georgia’s rising film industry, and they’re looking for hometown support.

Twin sisters Jil and Joanna Pasiecnik moved to Atlanta in 2013 and started a film company, J and J Productions, in 2015. The duo has launched a crowdfunded Indiegogo campaign to raise money for their first ever short film, “Unemployable.” In the past, they’ve produced many films for other companies, but never directed one themselves.

Film producers assemble crew members, manage the set on shooting days, and follow up on post production, “making sure everything is edited to the director’s liking,” Jil Pasiecnik said.

The sisters got their start in Frontier Regional School’s production company during high school. Then they took local film internships at Northampton Community Television while studying at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Jil Pasiecnik studied English, Joanna Pasiecnik studied communications. Their father, Jim Pasiecnik, owns J.M. Pasiecnik Farms, and J.M. Pasiecnik Farm Stand & 5J Creamery, both in Whately.

After college, “we came to Atlanta because there’s a lot of film stuff going on here, a lot of opportunities,” Pasiecnik said. These days, “at least 50 percent of all movies are filmed in Atlanta,” and the city is called “Y’allywood” by those who live there, the south’s Hollywood, she noted.

They’ve found success in the past few years, producing or writing more than 20 short films and two web shows for clients like Highwire Comedy Co., Adult Swim, Funny Or Die and Elizabeth Banks’ WhoHaha. One of the web shows they produced, “SIDES,” will soon be available to stream on Amazon. Their work has been screened at the Memphis Comedy Festival, the Los Angeles Scripted Comedy Festival and Atlanta Ladyfest.

J and J Productions is becoming more established, although the sisters still supplement incomes with second jobs. It’s getting better, but at first life was difficult.

“We left our family, our friends, and didn’t know anyone here,” Pasiecnik said, remembering what it was like to “go into our apartment blindly, and we didn’t have jobs when we moved. It was really intimidating, but, every day we just got out there and tried to meet people. I love to move, so adjustments were easier to me. But for my twin sister, Joanna, it was harder.”

Getting into comedy production wasn’t intentional — they moved to Atlanta for the film industry, not just comedy. “We just kind of fell into it. That’s where our heroes — Tina Fey, Judd Apatow — started,” Pasiecnik said. “The most exciting part, to me, is all the independent film makers — you network, and make friends who are hustling the same way you are. There are so many creative people here.”

“Our Indiegogo campaign is going to run through the month of November. And it’s going to be at least a 50 percent female crew, if not 100 percent female crew, if people want to support women in the film industry,” Pasiecnik added. Almost all of their work has been written and directed by women.

The sisters’ proposed short film, “Unemployable,” features Lauren Schmuck, hailed as a rising star. The film tells “the story of 25-year-old Taylor — smart, ambitious and jobless. Taylor desperately fights to be independent financially from a world (and her mom) conspiring against her,” it’s described on the Indiegogo campaign site.

To donate to the film’s production — which has a $5,000 goal by Nov. 30 — visit: indiegogo.com/projects/unemployable-film

For more information on J and J Productions, visit: facebook.com/jandjproductionsatl

You can reach Andy Castillo

at: acastillo@recorder.com

or 413-772-0261, ext. 263

On Twitter: @AndyCCastillo