Living His Dream ... Writing, Directing and Producing
LEBANON, OH -- Right before the holidays, I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with Jacob Stuart at Lot No #1 Coffee in Lebanon..
Stuart, a 2006 Middletown Christian graduate, has not only been pursuing his dream of screenwriting and film production, he has actually been living it. To date, he has worked with such people as: two -time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, Alan Ruck, Costas Mandylor, Dave Sheridan, and Felissa Rose. He has also won a total of 16 different film awards, along with being nominated for 20 others for his writing, directing, and producing skills. And, when he is not writing, directing or producing, Stuart is busy either running his business Screenwriting Staffing or teaching.
So, just how did this Ohioan, with no family connections to the Hollywood elite crowd, make his dream career come true?
Stuart explained that after graduation from high school, he spent a couple years doing a Disney College program. From there, he went onto the Los Angeles Film School where he obtained his Associate Degree in Film and later his Bachelor Degree in Film & TV Entertainment Business.
"I started a company called Screenwriting Staffing, which connects producers and writers together… It’s like a job board similar to Indeed,” Stuart said, adding, “except it's not just for jobs... it's for producers looking to buy screen plays and agents representing writers. “
About three years into his company's growth, Stuart realized a business degree would probably help him with running his business, so he went back to school. "But, this time I did it online," he said.
Stuart explained that when he was pursing film after graduating in 2006, there were only two places to really go... "LA or New York. But now that’s not the case," he said, adding, “There are so many good film schools here. Wright State has a good film program, U.C. has one, Cincinnati State … even Miami of Ohio has a small program. And, now there is the Film Commission in Dayton, where I teach, and Cincinnati. Cincinnati has a great film commission... one of the best probably in the county."
Even though there are great opportunities here in Ohio to learn about the film industry, Stuart still recommends that anyone really interested in pursuing this type of career should go out to Los Angeles at least once. "At least a visit... to get the experience," he said.
Stuart, who now lives in Cincinnati, did live in L.A. for 8 years to get experience. "I did a lot of reality shows, like the food network... and I worked with Gene Simmons on his show 'Gene Simmons: Family Jewels'." However, the reality shows were not his first paid writing gig after graduation.
"I remember I got the call to see if I was interested in writing copy for a postpartum depression commercial. I was 22... never had a baby... I didn't even know anything about it, but I was going to get paid $35... a paid writing gig. I took it. I had to do a lot of research on the topic... but it was my first paid writing job," he explained.
Work Smart... Work Hard...Be You
While education is important, so is experience Stuart noted, explaining that there were times in Film School where he took side jobs working on a set. "Maybe I missed a class or two, but I was working on a set. I didn’t get paid, or if I did, it was chump change, but after I graduated I had contacts... something a lot of the other graduates didn't."
Stuart explained that he really didn't have a mentor or someone in the industry rooting for him. Instead, its been his perseverance and determination that have helped him succeed.
"To graduate rather than writing a thesis, you have to make a thesis film — to show you can go through the stages of creating a film. They didn't like my idea, and they were not going to allow me to film it there," he said, adding, "They turned it down."
Stuart took matters into his own hands, headed home where he got family and friends to help him make it. Not only did he create the short film Montana, it ended up winning the 2011 Silver Award at the WorldFest Houston.
It's been Stuart's talent and determination that have been helping him succeed. And with the advancement of AI and technology, Stuart believes that being able to do your own projects maybe the answer to making it in the film industry.
"I don’t care if you are head of Disney or production assistance of some small show. No one knows what's happening ... nobody knows nothing. Film is very fluid. Things are changing drastically," he explained, adding, "I don’t care what anyone says... we really don’t know what's happening."
For Stuart his hard work has made him an internationally, award-winning screenwriter and producer. His impressive body of work has placed him in 75 prestigious film festivals. His Screenwriting Staffing company has led to the successful realization of more than 110 produced projects. And, as s a professional educator, Stuart has taught screenwriting and film at institutions such as, Hollywood International Film Academy and the Africa Digital Media Institute, just to name a few.
Projects That Stuart Has Been A Part Of That Will Be Released This Year
CONTROL — Associate Producer: Stars Kevin Spacey. Trailer below...
CRUST — Executive Producer: Stars Sean Whalen and features Alan Ruck (Confessions and Farris Bueller's Day Off). Tailor below...
CURSED WATERS — Executive Producer: Stars Costas Mandylor (known for the Saw movies).
Can a person from the midwest make it in the film industry? Jacob Stuart is an example they can!
Think you have some great stories to share and want to be a screenwriter, here are a few suggestions from Jacob...
- Start reading produced screen plays, then go watch the movie to see what has changed.
- Purchase the book “Screen Writers Bible” by Dave Trottier and Save the Cat
- Download Celtx the FREE Online Screenwriting Software
Is Georgia Becoming the New Hollywood?
By 2027 Georgia is expected to overtake California in the film industry. According to AtlantaNewsFirst.com, "Georgia has overtaken New York for soundstage space. They’re expected to overtake California by 2027. Space to film in Georgia is expected to grow from 45,000 square feet in 2010 to 7 million by 2025. Film-related capital investment in Georgia from 2012-22 totaled $1.3 billion, and the success of the state’s industry is driving explosive infrastructure growth."
More News from Franklin
- Carlisle Is Getting Ready To Cut Loose... Footloose Chamberlain Junior Drama Club will be presenting Footloose the weekend of March 8 - 10, 2024
- Chapter 33: The Wedding .... "Deceptions in the Air" Bringing Back 19th Century Entertainment...Fiction Story Telling "Deception in the Air"