Midlands Spotlight - A Date with Jason M J Brown
By midlandsmovies, Aug 30 2015 02:18PM
Spotlight - A Date with Jason M J Brown
Midlands Movies Mike speaks to West Midlands filmmaker Jason Brown whose last film A Date With Ghosts was released in the US and has already started on his next exciting endeavour.
Jason tells us how he was influenced by the Blair Witch Project as well as his successes to date and the benefits of hiring great actors…
Hi Jason. How’s things and what have you been up to?
Hi there. Well, I’m currently making my new feature film Dark Vale about an evil spirit called Lady Lucy who stalks a young couple in a place called the Vale. This is my follow up to my film A Date With Ghosts where a group of friends got trapped in a haunted abbey with no easy way of escape.
Excellent news. How did you get into filmmaking in the first place?
I just started making my own movies from when I was young. It was after seeing the Blair Witch Project I knew it was possible to get successful doing low budget movies. I actually got a camcorder when I was 14 for Christmas and went on to make short films with friends. As I have progressed I have got better equipment and gone from there to make bigger films.
Was the leap from homemade shorts to features an easy one?
Well, Carlton TV ran a competition for which I won an award for a film I made called The Monk. This gave me greater exposure and during a showcase of my next film I ended up meeting Shane Meadows who is a big hero and inspiration for me.
Sounds good. And where did you go from there?
Later I got in touch with James Cullen Bressack who is based in Los Angeles and he helped me get distribution for “A Date With Ghosts” in US stores like Best Buy and Target which was great exposure. I’ve also been learning to After-Effects on my new feature which is a new experience for me but that’s going well on this new film.
These are both horrors. Is that a genre that you favour?
Actually, after Dark Vale is completed I think I’ve gone as far as I think in horror so would like to try new things. I enjoy working with new local unknown actors alongside some more well-established people so am planning to move forward rather than look back. For “Dark Vale” we filmed at Newstead Abbey and it took over 2 years to make whereas this has been in production for over a year. Either way, they are long commitments and would like to try new things.
You write and direct and even do some special effects too. Was that originally your goal?
I wanted to be an actor originally and have a diploma in drama but I now mainly work behind the camera. That experience has given me lots of respect for actors though. I even edit and am composing the music for this film as well! I’m trying something new via a digital keyboard and have got lucky with my theme tune which is influenced by the films of people like John Carpenter.
Wow. That’s a lot!
Yeah it is. I learnt editing between two video players which was a very difficult learning curve but seemed to make me a better editor by practising the hardest way. I’ve learnt everything myself by doing and the most people I’ve worked with is about 10 so am very hands on with all aspects of my projects.
Great. Has there been any funding limitations with the film?
I haven’t used crowd funding yet but have raised over £5000 through investors and am looking to go to eventually go to Cannes to network as well. Luckily I have had a few doors opening in the USA which I’m exploring and have been lucky enough to have a mentor who has given me help called Brad Rushing who is a cinematographer based in Los Angeles.
That must be of great help to get info from an expert. Given that, what other people do you look up to in the industry?
I look to Robert Rodriguez for a lot of inspiration who takes on multiple roles in the production of his films (editing, directing, music etc). Robert Rodriguez’s style of having a hand in all aspects of filmmaking is something I like to do as I enjoy all roles although it really helps with dedicated and talented actors in front of the camera. Also I really like The Fog and Halloween and John Carpenter is a big hero.
And you favourite films?
I really like 80s and 90s films – but I’m not up to date with the ‘Sinisters’ of this world. I prefer classics such as Terminator 2 but don’t tend to pigeon hole to one genre. I enjoy Lost Boys and The Goonies and films I can watch over and over again.
So what’s next?
I’m going to send out a screener to some industry figures and may do some of the few of festivals where I can once I’m finished. I’m currently at the editing stage and post-production on Dark Vale with a rough cut almost done and want to screen that soon. I am very excited about it and is a film I’ve always wanted to make but haven’t had the time or the money but now I do, I am pleased with how it’s turning out. One of the actresses is Cara Middleton who I’m very impressed with. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm5653210/?ref_=tt_cl_t2
And finally, what advice would you pass on to others thinking of going down a similar path?
I think basically that there is no one way to follow. It’s also like a muscle and the more that you use it then the stronger you get. Also, try and make a feature as soon as possible and get outside for location shooting. You don’t need to go to film school but you need to do your own thing and people will take notice.
For a third film I would love to do a treasure hunt movie. It’s a bit different but would like to try that genre and give it something new and a dose a bit of originality.
And with that we continue to talk about guilty pleasures National Treasure and the poor Indiana Jones and Da Vinci Code films as well as the emergence of Gareth Edwards from Midlands “Monsters”-maker to Star Wars film director!
Follow all of Jason’s updates and ongoing projects on Twitter https://twitter.com/JaymjBrown