Getting our Fixx with Jared Callahan: Film Writer, Producer, Director!

Clearly I enjoy movies. Enough to make everyone around me get on board with an Oscar night. I think I am inspired by movies, because it’s an art form that connects beauty, music and people all in one. It engages our senses. It forces an experience and it requires absolutely no effort from you. It happens to you. I like that in movies, or at least in the really good ones, the message isn’t always spelled out. You have to pick up on what the music is trying to make you feel. You have to pay attention to the expressions the actor is making and you have to embrace the context of the scenery. Story telling is so powerful. Movies are so unique because it’s not just one person telling the story. It is the actors, the director, the producer, the costume designer, the set stylist etc. There are so many people apart of the process and it is truly amazing when it all comes together.  Films take such a long time to make. I am fascinated by the idea that someone would have to be completely immersed in a story for a long period of time and become obsessed with getting it right, to make sure that the world learns about it. I think we are living in a time where people want to share more. We see it so clearly with social media, with the news, with congregations of people. In America things are now brought to the surface more often than they used to be. Past generations were more private and less willing to admit to experiences publicly. I don’t know which way of living is worse. Share too much or too little? So how do they decide what stories to share? How do they decide what story is worth devoting time and resources to and who decides that?

I had the opportunity of interviewing Jared Callahan: writer, director and producer, to get some of those answers. Jared has been part of over 40 film projects in the last 10 years. He is never not dreaming up ideas. He is the most articulate person that I have ever had the pleasure of encountering, and he uses that gift to tell the stories that matter to him. Jared is a documentary filmmaker probably best known for his work on “Janey Makes a Play.” A movie that he produced and directed about his now 95-year-old grandmother, who writes plays (more on that later). He has been part of the San Diego film festival. He is an ambassador at the Atlanta Film Society in Georgia and has worked on other shorts and films like “Short Term 12” (the short) which won the Jury prize in short filmmaking at Sundance in 2009 and “I AM NOT A HIPSTER” which was an official selection at Sundance in 2012.

First things first I wanted to know how it works. You always see the credits roll and there are always a million producers. The executive producer, another executive producer, the director, the assistant director and a bunch of other people whose titles are a little more self-explanatory. So I asked Jared what those titles meant and he explained it like this: the producer is like the captain of the ship. They find the stories and assembles the parts;  who to hire;  where to shoot. They have one foot in the business world and one foot in the art world. The director is the creative vision. They execute the plan and carry it out.  Since Jared has had experience in several different roles I asked him what his favorite was. He said” I am learning to like being a producer more, being a director is sexy, but you have longer creative control as a producer. “

Further in to the conversation we started talking about the stories themselves. With juggling so many moving pieces, like marketing the film once you make it, then continuing to find new stories, and then shooting current projects and writing scripts for other people, what makes the cut? I asked him how he decides what gets his time. Jared described it as a river. It’s all moving forward, but sometimes it pools and slows, so you shift energies and you work on what’s moving forward. With that he shared his two biggest challenges in filmmaking. 1. There is never enough money, so you are constantly trying to drum up funds and promoting to make sure it gets made and 2. There is so much content out there. So will anyone see it?  This goes back to our society of sharers. These may be the biggest challenges, but it doesn’t mean that the stories are not worth the fight.  Jared makes that clear. His passion is to “tell stories about the margin and the edges, to tell the stories that need to be highlighted.” His advice to any aspiring filmmaker is this: “You may not make the best movie, but you’re accountable to it. There will always be someone who is more talented, but that’s not why we are storytellers.  We can work hard and be kind. That’s all we can control.”

In Callahan’s film “Janey Makes a Play,” the town of Rio Vista is highlighted. This is a place where the economy was hit hard and the people need hope to pick themselves back up. Janey, the 95 year-old playwright is that hope. She crafts these wonderful musicals to inspire her community. She creates a place for people to come and participate in something bigger than them and it’s so touching. Janey is the embodiment of inspiration. She challenges people to keep moving and make change and all at 95. After watching this documentary you can’t help but feel motivated, because what the heck are we all doing while this 95 year-old woman is busy changing lives.

There are several more stories that Jared is helping to tell. “Clean Slate,” which is hopefully heading to the festival circuit in 2018, is a documentary that follows the lives of two recovering addicts as they work to avoid jail time and achieve sobriety though filmmaking. “I Watched Ricardo Klement Get Off the Bus,” is the one I am most eager to see. This animated short is a “true crime short documentary… that tells the story of Zvi Aharoni and the Israeli secret service team that brought down one of the most powerful Nazis still on the run. Set 16 years after the end of the Holocaust, the film takes place in Argentina as the team closes in on the murderer in their attempt to bring him to justice.” If you want to know more about the projects Jared Callahan is working on and how you can invest, check out his website or follow him on instagram @jared_cal. You can find “Janey Makes a Play” on itunes or stream it on Amazon prime.

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