August 31, 2013 Leave a comment
Name: Justin Kelly
Film: A Song For Torah Jane
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your film?
I have spent my entire adult life working in film and television. Over the last 18 years I have worked as an assistant production accountant, first assistant director, production manager, line producer, producer, director, and writer.
In 2011 I had a daughter and she had a profound impact on my life so when her first birthday came around I figured if a carpenter would build her child a toy, and a baker would bake his child a cake, I as a filmmaker should make my daughter a film. I partnered with my producer Gerhard and our composer Jay and created this short musical for my daughter’s gift. That said, the three of us were so busy with others shows that by the time the film was complete we were much closer to Torah’s 2nd birthday than her 1st.
Who/what inspired you to embark on a career in Filmmaking?
Plain and simple I love to tell stories. This film is a real departure from anything that I have written or directed in the past because it was inspired by something other than my need to write and direct a bunch of Jews talking to one another on screen (write what you know). I grew up with such an animated group of story tellers in my family that it just came naturally.
What does being a part of the Bootleg Film Festival, NYC mean to you?
It means a lot! I took a great deal of time off as a director to focus on being a producer and PM for other people’s shows, frankly because it paid the bills. I also kinda checked-out as an artist and spent my time away from set drinking and doing drugs, which some people find inspiration in, but it just kills my creativity and makes me a negative piece of shit. The Seder was sorta my return to being a creative person and it had its world premiere at Bootleg Toronto. Since then it has played in every continent, garnered both awards and praise, and even had our editor (and fellow Bootlegger) Jeffrey P. Nesker and I nominated for a Director’s Guild award for best short film. I guess I am hoping that premiering A Song For Torah Jane at Bootleg NYC brings us the same luck, but it also feels right to be surrounded by friends when you share you latest art for the first time.
All-time top 5 movies (as of this date, we all know it changes daily)?
1. Rope 2. Annie Hall 3. Dumb and Dumber 4. The Player 5. The Hudsucker Proxy
Favourite film related website?
Write Shoot Cut ;-)
What advice would you give to first time filmmakers?
Do It! Don’t talk about it, don’t plan your career all the way from PA to Oscar Winner, don’t be so fixated on the end goal that you miss great opportunities right in front of you, and do meet as many people along the way as possible. Nothing has contributed greater to my long career than my willingness to learn all aspects to making a movie (accounting, scheduling, financing, directing, producing). Some of my friends that I broke in with we going to be stars or big-time directors and weren’t interested in being a PM or 1st AD while they waited for their chance to direct; they just sat on their hands and waited for Hollywood to call them and make them an offer for a three picture deal. The fact that I learned how to do all of the shitty and hard jobs has made me a sought after producer and that has helped me create directing opportunities for myself.
Finally, never forget that a career in indie film takes a really long time to become financially stable and in a lot of cases the lucre never comes. It takes a healthy mixture of creative-drive, stubbornness, stupidity, and balls.