Director Jordan Scott on ‘Cracks’ & Growing Up in One of Cinema’s Greatest Families
The Scott family has been making movies for over forty years. There’s Ridley, the masterful director who established the family business, making a cinematic mark on each of the past four decades with modern-classic films like Alien, Bladerunner, and Thelma & Louise. His brother Tony rose up in the 80s, and is now best best for glossy, big-budget studio box office hits like Top Gun, True Romance, and Enemy of the State. Jake Scott, Ridley’s son, directed underrated feature films Welcome to the Rileys and Plunkett & Macleane as well as a slew of music videos, and his brother Luke Scott directs high-end commercials out of London. And now their little sister, Jordan—the sheltered girl from Ridley’s second marriage—has joined the family business.
Her first feature film is Cracks, a methodical and dark tale of adolescent girls at a boarding school in Ireland and their free-spirited teacher, played by the transformative and eerily beautiful Eva Green. While there are remarkable, dramatic scenes in Cracks—as well as scenes that remind you it’s her freshman effort—Jordan Scott is more than equipped to carry on her family legacy. The 32-year-old took a few minutes to reminisce on growing up in England, her circuitous route to becoming a director, and where she’s headed next.
What were some of your favorite films growing up? Growing up I strangely loved Some Like It Hot. I watched it every single weekend as a kid, and Tootsie. I liked a lot of comedy. I’m sure I wasn’t allowed to watch anything that was too risqué for a kid.
Were you a student at a boarding school like the one in Cracks? I didn’t go to boarding school, but I went to our local all-girls school. It’s a very different dynamic when it’s just same sex. I think everyone just wants to kill each other. Girls can be quite mean, quite cruel, and I think that’s something I drew on for Cracks.
What is it about the Scott family that draws you all to film? I can only speak for myself and my brothers, really. We all took a very, very similar path as we were all art students, and painting and drawing were the subjects we were all best at. I think the film business is contagious as it’s such a wonderful way to express just about everything you have observed and learned throughout your life. It got to a point where all we really conversed about around the dinner table was painting and film.
You’ve mentioned your experience on the Legends set. Any other memorable experiences on your father or uncle’s film sets? I wasn’t allowed onto sets much at all, as it was a bit confusing for me as a kid. But for Legends it was this fairy-tale, larger-than-life environment, which I think my parents believed was alright for a child to experience. It was years before I visited another set, which was a bit disappointing actually. I didn’t visit the next set until I was 14, the set of 1492.
Why didn’t your parents let you on set? Well, I think my parents had the right idea. They believed that once you get a little taste of that world, the world created by a living, breathing set — and recognizing that you created your own world — that once you get a little bit of that in you, you’re totally cursed [laughs]. So I think they probably did the right thing by keeping me away for as long as possible. I’m glad I was held in reality for so long. Did your brothers ever include you in any of their short films or video projects when you were kids? Oh god no! They never included me in their short films. I was a lot younger then them anyway. Each one of us found directing in our own way. I was first a painter, mainly when I was torturing my parents and going through my gloomy teenage rebellion phase. I truly tortured them, enough to where I know it’s really going to come back to me when I have kids. I painted like crazy when I was a teenager. I learned that from my father, though I don’t do it as much as I should now. He paints every weekend. It’s amazing really. Very good for the head.
How did you “find directing?” Well, I moved out here [Los Angeles] to go to art school because I still wasn’t convinced I wanted to be a director. Though I was obviously curious, as I was involved in both the film and art programs at Art Center of Pasadena. Soon I was just drawn into film, away from art and design, and I left school entirely. I just wanted to go to work. I think I’d been dying to leave school since I was 15 anyway.
What’s your next directing project? Hopefully my next project is Peony In Love, based on the Chinese love story that turns into a ghost story.
So you’re mixing genres again, much like Cracks changes in tone as it moves towards its climax. I’m into genre blending, yes. I always prefer stories that unfold naturally. I believe they feel more lifelike in that way, even if it goes somewhere completely bonkers halfway through. I like to be drawn into a tale slowly and not hit over the head in the beginning. It’s just a preference and might not be the right thing to do, but I like to allow things to unravel.
That sounds like some advice your father gave to you. Does he ever ask for your advice on anything? Certainly never on directing. I think he once asked me about somebody’s hair, if I liked it. My dad and I talk about everything else, though. We check in once a day. I wag my finger at him sometimes for certain things, but he’s not looking for my advice. Not at this stage, at least.