Doccu­ment­ary / Spencer Mac­donald:
Scarlet Medusa

At the edge of a coastal tourist town in Japan, an aging scientist works to unlock the biological secret of immortality held in the life cycle of a tiny jellyfish……Watch Spencer Macdonald’s short film “Scarlet Medusa” above and read below to find out about his filmmaking process.

Some years ago I read an article in the New York Times about an immortal jellyfish and an eccentric Japanese scientist who has dedicated his life to determining how to harness its power for humanity and himself. So many of my interests were tied together in this subject and I thought: “a film needs to be made about this”. So I pitched the idea to avocadosandcoconuts, who agreed very generously to produce it, and we set off to japan about two years ago to make the film.

As with most film projects, I embarked with the goal of making a masterpiece. In this case, one that would tie together immortality, our relationship with the natural world, mysticism, the deep sea, space, etc… Surely an easy task.

I labored over the edit for months, never quite getting the visceral feeling in my body that I expect when I dedicate that much time into an edit. Many times I even reconsidered what I was doing making films in the first place. Eventually I came to realize I had to finish the film to let that part of me go. What a tremendous release that was.

I look at the completed film now, and although it is not exactly what I set out to make, I realize that in the process of making it, I have laid the foundation for the type of films that I will make in the future.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to share this film with everyone. I often get overly protective and hyper critical of my work because it is challenging to think that others might perceive it as a reflection of me. But, in the end it is refreshing to see something I worked so hard on being well received out in the world. It was great to see the film premiere on Nowness, and get featured by some platforms I respect including Directors Library.

I’m forever grateful to everyone involved who dedicated their time, talent and resources (littleburdekitongadrewkass, Chris Martin, chef.mowgli, and many more).