Lens Spotlight: Interview with Filmmaker Jaison Blackwater
Los Angeles, California
How did you get your start in filmmaking?
I picked my dad’s old video camera around the age of 14. I started filming one of my friends that lived across the street doing bike tricks around our neighborhood. My friends later encouraged me to shoot some short films. At first, I thought the idea was sort of corny but the projects came out well, and I fell in love with the process. After high school, I left the Bronx to attend Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. It was a great experience. The biggest lessons I learned at Full Sail were maintaining good work ethic and how to maintain relationships. It also taught me how to work under pressure and an almost militant style of repetition until things are perfect.
How would you describe your cinematography style?
Intimate and cinematic. I have developed a reputation for very cinematic images and storylines. Artists contact me when they want to make their projects “a movie.”
You film a lot of music videos. How do you go about defining the story and look for each project?
First, I always speak with the artist to hear their thoughts since they are known to be fickle when it comes to visual representation of their work. If they know what they want, I take their idea and layout how we can get it accomplished. Other times I will pitch a concept based on what I get from the song.
On upcoming projects:
I have several upcoming projects that I’m looking forward to being released. A music video with artist Billy B is coming soon. I’m also working on my next short film, Worthless, which will be a series of four dramedy skits that have ironic endings. I wanted to create some fun content to draw people’s attention before I begin work on my feature.
What other filmmakers have influenced you and how have their influences help shape your craft?
Quentin Tarantino, his dialogue has always been amazing; he has a way of making characters timeless and unforgettable. I try to keep certain ailments of his style in dialogue in some of my projects.
F. Gary Gray, he has been able to transcend every lane. He can do mainstream projects while keeping it authentic. He can direct The Italian Job then move to Straight Outta Compton then move to Fast and Furious then do another Friday, and it’s effortless.
Larry Clarke, He made one of my favorite movies, Bully. I find this film so relatable and profound. He creates films with youthful vibes but shoots it dirty to give you a realistic feel.
What are some risks you have taken in pursuit of your craft?
The biggest risk was striking out on my own and creating Red Sydney Films. Coming out of Full Sail, it was rare to see people making a living off of shooting indie music videos. I was applying for jobs at the big networks in New York and wasn’t getting hired, but I kept shooting. All I had was a camera and a laptop. It was a huge risk, but it paid off to the point that I was able to turn down job offers.
What is your dream project?
At this point, I would say my dream project would be a dope, youthful project, similar to the Netflix’s series 13 Reasons Why, a great series to inspire the youth to live life and accept themselves. Also, I would like to do a project with a strong social message that’s beautifully shot.
What quote or motto do you live your life by?
“Do today what others won’t so you can live tomorrow like others can't...” I live life like a creator and not a consumer.
“Stay true to yourself and don’t let others bring you down just for an opportunity." Don't lower your integrity for an opportunity always stay true to yourself. FACTS.