Jai Jamison has spent over the past 10 years working in the film industry as a writer, director, and producer for various movies and television shows. He believes that storytelling through film is a way for people around the world to connect and learn more about each other. "There's always a story…that's the human condition is to create a narrative to make sense of the stimulus of the world around us,” said Jamison.
His work includes the films and television shows Lincoln, Tri, Homeland, and TURN while also developing his own projects like Speak Now, Slave Cry, and Anthony Samuels. Jamison currently is based in L.A. and works as a staff writer for the television show Superman and Lois on the CW, but credits his upbringing on the East Coast in Richmond, Va. as a major influence. “The arts community in Richmond is just so rich and full of interesting, creative people,” he says. Project Resolution, a community of independent filmmakers that allowed filmmakers to showcase their short films to a live audience, helped him discover his passion. “It helped me find my voice and it helped me find the things I was interested in exploring from a societal level,” he expressed.
Jamison’s work is guided by three guiding themes: exploring the notions of identity, representation, and legacy. “Identity is how you view yourself, representation is how you’re viewed in the broader spectrum of society, and legacy is how you’re viewed or represented in the continuum of time and history,” he said.
“I think the most creative people are empathetic people, open-minded people, and are people who can kind of look at the world around them and switch their perspectives a little bit," he shared. He credits his travels and work experiences abroad at Oxford University and studying under master filmmakers in the Czech Republic through SOC’s Prague International Film and Photography Program, and working with colleagues from all over the world in giving him a new outlook and approach to his craft. "It's like that mix of people studying film from a different perspective than one that I've ever seen before that felt like the first step in me and opening up my eyes to what's possible from a filmmaking standpoint.”
Jamison urges young filmmakers to travel and experience this difference themselves. “I think if you're interested in making films, or just telling stories, being a writer, being an artist, live as much live as much of a life as you can because the best art comes from personal experiences,” he said. “The more you're able to diversify your experiences, the richer and deeper the art is that you'll be able to create.”
He shared three pieces of advice for aspiring filmmakers. First, pursue your ideas no matter what. “Trust your instincts, trust your taste…and make the thing you would most want to see, that doesn't exist yet,” he said. Second, watch your films with others. Whether it's finding a community like Project Resolution or watching your film in your home with friends, getting the audience's experience and reaction is crucial to honing your craft. “I think it's great to put stuff out on YouTube or the Internet because a lot of people's careers have gotten started that way…but there's nothing like that experience of watching your work with someone else and getting that instant feedback from them,” expressed Jamison.
Finally, take time to enjoy the creative process and find what fulfills you. Whether it’s through writing, directing, or producing films, Jamison goes back to those three guiding themes to shape his stories to others. “The work that I want to put out there, what fulfills me, is when someone sees something that I've made and it resonates with them,” gushed Jamison. “It opens up a little bit of their empathy, it gives them a little bit of peace, and it brings a little bit more beauty into the world. That’s the type of stuff I want to make.”