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Jason Joliff, Independent Filmmaker


Jason Jolliff was born in South Bend, Indiana. During most of his childhood, Jason’s family was filming home movies. Editing at home on the living room floor with a homemade film-editing contraption, Jason’s mother edited family gatherings, her children playing, and other Jolliff family memories. Marilee Jolliff was Jason’s first role model; a director, editor, and producer. Curious, Jason spent much of his childhood at his mother’s side, using the camera, helping to edit, and all the while growing into an avid filmmaker.

Without going to film school, Jason taught himself the technical aspects of filmmaking, editing, and directing. At age 20, Jason made his first short film debut. A film that began simply as the basketball season for Michiana First Assembly School turned into an extreme sports video. Edited on two VCR’s and a homemade audio control box, this video sold out immediately after release. Jason’s filmmaking career had begun.
After the success of this first venture, Jason did not look back. He bought a Hewlett Packard Pavilion and Adobe Premier, a non-linear editing system. With new equipment, Jason launched his own company, Jolliff Digital Production.

In 2000, Jason worked as an assistant editor with Oscar Nominated Director John D. Hancock on the award winning “Suspended Animation.” After production, Jason edited and produced the “behind-the-scenes” featurette for the nationally distributed DVD. The success of this film led to more opportunities for Jason. He was a camera operator for “Wreck “N’ Roll Tree” for Speed Vision, an extreme snowmobiling film, which was released independently in 2002. After working on this project, Jason moved to Indianapolis, where he became involved with the Indianapolis Independent Film Community. Jason was the editor and DVD layout designer for “Loser’s Lounge,” an independent film that won Best Feature at the Bare Bones International Film Festival.

With several projects behind him, Jason was ready to make his directorial debut. As Jason began screening and developing several potential projects, the idea and layout of I AM DB filled and overwhelmed his mind in the middle of the night. Unable to focus on any other of his ideas, it was obvious that this reality journey was the perfect choice. I AM DB combines Jason’s technical skills as an editor, creative skills as a designer, and innovative skills as an entrepreneur. With this film, Jason will be able to use all of his talents to create, promote, and sell a film that will generate a higher class of reality filmmaking.


Q & A with Jason Joliff
Film Addiction:Tell me a little bit about your latest film project "I Am Db"?

Jason Joliff: It’s what I’m calling a reality film.  The cameras follow a filmmaker (me) as he goes through the process of making a film while that very process becomes the film itself.  I came up with the idea on November 18, 2003, and started filming that very day.  At that point, it was just me and my girlfriend, and she was operating my consumer grade DV camcorder.  I start out talking with other filmmakers about the idea and the film just naturally evolves from there.

  We have received support from individuals and businesses (Best Buy, CompUSA, North Street Media, Bike Wave, Derringer Productions to name a few).  The viewer will see a metamorphosis as the film continues.  The beginning of the film is very amateur looking, and the end will be very styled and polished, illustrating our gain in momentum, crew, and financing ($3.1mil budget).  The film will change and evolve on many exciting levels and quality is just one of them.  The crew has also grown to about 13.

FA:Where did you come up with the idea of I Am Db?

JJ:I was sitting at my computer surfing the at about 3 o’clock on the morning as I often do…researching films and seeing what was going on in the entertainment industry.  Then…the idea just came to me.  In about 30 seconds I had about 75% of the concept for the film start to finish.  I was so excited about it; it’s hard to explain.  It was just so real to me and I really believed that I could do what I saw in my head.  I say “75%” because the film lives and breathes and continues to evolve in ways that I did not foresee.  It will be very exciting to watch the finished product.


FA:When do you expect the completion of I Am Db and what do you hope to do with the finished product (distribution, festivals, etc.)?

JJ:Well, I used to think that it was going to be by the end of 2004…I was wrong.  I just had no idea how long some of the legalities and business aspects would take.  Now I say, by the end of 2006.  There have been a lot of other things that have taken me away from the film (time-wise) but I have just turned the corner and am re-energized and ready to move ahead at full speed again.  I think the crew is ready to do this too.
I can’t comment on the second part of your question.  That has to remain a secret…sorry.  I can say that the obvious goal of most filmmakers is to get his/her creation in front of as many people as possible.  This film is no exception.

FA:At one time you were on a quest/mission to be ranked very high on the IMDb Star Meter, what are your goals for that?

JJ:That IMDbPro StarMeter is still very much a component of I Am DB.  From the beginning I thought it would be great to have something in place that could quantify the success and buzz surrounding this film.  It’s not that I’m trying to make myself famous or anything like that but at the same time, the higher my ranking goes on the StarMeter the more it is a sign of the films success.  It’s all about the marketing.  Naturally we’re aiming for #1.
It doesn’t even have to be me.  I think the film will be just as successful if any of my crew members hit #1 or even Top 10.  It’s still a measure of how much awareness there is for the film.  There are some beautiful people involved with the film, sometimes that’s all it takes for a StarMeter ranking to go up.  You see a film or trailer for a movie, you think “Wow!  Who is that gorgeous girl”, you (along with millions of other people) look her up and…their ranking goes up, just by viewing their profile on the IMDb.


FA:Backing up just a little. Tell me about some of your past projects such as Suspended Animation. What was your involvement?
JJ:Suspended Animation changed my life.  It altered my outlook on what I truly wanted to do in life in that it really focused me on filmmaking and lit that fire under my butt to really make waves in the industry.  I had the honor to work under Oscar nominated director John D. Hancock on that film.  It was such a rush and such a learning experience.  I also worked under Dennis O’Conner (I was the assistant editor), which was a great education.  He’s an awesome storyteller both on the AVID and with personal stories.  The rest of the crew was great as well.  The whole experience was just incredible.  I’m so happy that I got to be a part of that.
I was also given the opportunity to produce and edit the behind the scenes featurette on the nationally distributed DVD.  I was tickled when I saw a copy of the DVD in Blockbuster.
That was my first feature film.  Before that it was mostly just a hobby; skits with friends and family and documentaries on family vacations.  The visual art has always been in my blood though.  My mom has home movies dating back to 1957.  There has always been some sort of film camera or camcorder in the family and my mom was always very generous with it, allowing me to tape skits with the cousins.  At that time I basically had to edit in camera if it was “edited” at all.  In ’96 I bought a non-linear editing system and was just amazed at the possibilities.  My experience on that system gave me the know-how to help with editing Suspended.  The last 10 years of my life have really seemed to lead to what I hope will be the ultimate success of I Am DB.
FA:What projects are you taking on for other people (Essentially, what's paying the bills)?
JJ:Video production.  I was recently hired to tape the MMS (Midwest Music Summit) and NAMM conference, which is a growing annual music conference here in Indy.  I also just got back from doing a corporate video for an RV manufacturing plant.  Up until the last month or so I really hadn’t been working that much.  I’ve really been trying to focus on just the film.  My girlfriend Faith Marie has been paying my bills for me for the last year.  Pretty sweet deal and I’m fortunate to have her help.  She also helps a lot with the film as she is a very dynamic personality and helps “sell” the concept to people.  She understand how important it is for me to work on the film for as much as I can.  Both of our futures depend on it’s success.  It’s not too often that one can say that they are part of a life changing experience.  I believe I Am DB is my life-changer and I’m trying not to let it pass me by.