Name: Jared Callahan
LOCATION: Atlanta, Georgia
ME: How many years have you been working in this industry?
JARED: I’ve been involved in making movies for 15 years or so. I made the move to be a full-time filmmaker two years ago.
ME: How many people are currently on your team?
JARED: The team fluctuates based on what stage of production we are in. Most of the time it is just sitting alone writing or editing in my home office. Right now the count is high because we are releasing one feature film while simultaneously filming another one. I have a couple lawyers, sales agent, distributor, boutique publicist team, investors, another production company with their crew, and four interns.
ME: When you feeling like giving up what keeps you going?
JARED: Staying committed to multiple projects keeps me from giving up on any one of them. I think of it like a river with different currents. Your hope with multiple projects is that the momentum will always be moving rapidly on at least one of them. When that projects slows down or hits a dead end, you can easily shift your efforts to another worthy project on your plate. Many irons in the fire, if you will.
ME: What is the one thing people didn’t warn you about?
JARED: Rejection. Filmmaking is an exercise in rejection. When trying to fund my last film I sent out the business plan and a sample clip to fifty people whom I thought would invest. I got a couple of nibbles, but in the end, I got nothing. 0 for 50. I meet people all the time that like to talk about being a filmmaker, but in the end they don't actually push through the rejection to put out any work. In order to actually make films I've learned that you have to be able to put your head down, find some grit, and get the work done no matter the circumstances.
ME: Who or what inspires you?
JARED: Wes Bruce's art. Music from Joel. P. West and Bryan Bangerter. Most recently it was having soul-feeding conversation at a BBQ with fellow thrivers Andrew Gumm and Sean Sand. I love when people work hard, question everything, and are not afraid to take risks. My favorite thing is learning something new which readjusts what I thought about the world. I try and tell stories that can do the same for others. Learning someone's story has the ability to transport us into new levels of empathy and compassion not previously accessible.
ME: What has been one hard knock moment?
JARED: During post-production on my first feature film, we had two editors quit. They took the money we gave them, strung me along like they were doing the work, and in the end turned back in nothing at all. Not a single edited scene. I felt really betrayed. They had torpedoed my ability to afford another editor. I worked very hard to forgive them. In the end, everything worked out exactly as it needed to. The delay caused the editor I truly wanted to be freed up. The need to find more money led me to my eventual executive producer who funded the rest of the whole film. In the moment the clouds looked really dark, but if I can survive that betrayal then I can move forward confidently into whatever the next storm might be.
ME: How do you stay organized as a freelance and self-employed artists?
JARED: I write tons of notes to myself and turn everything into lists. I work really late into the night, most often doing emails and writing before bed. Then I sleep until I wake up naturally, and try to do editing and writing during the day until a late dinner. I have learned to not let my desktop or workspace get too messy. I keep emails and all my work files organized in files by corresponding projects. If those get out of control, then the little things start to suck away my ability to accomplish big things.
ME: How would you define success?
JARED: Success for me would mean being able to make the projects I choose to make; to tell the stories I want to tell. I don't want to have to make commercial work for a paycheck. I also love the idea that I could make a meager living by creating things. My wife and I live very simply. I want to be able to tell stories that push me to the limits of my knowledge and force me to engage humanity or the earth in a new way.