(Jay) I have always been fascinated by story and storytelling. Even as a young kid, playing with Lego’s, all the little ships I built – ‘cause I’d never build what the package suggested – I’d invent my own configurations complete with opposing sides (good vs. evil) and back stories. So I guess you can say, the idea of telling stories has always come from some place deep within.
With a clear appreciation for story telling, I asked him who some of his largest creative influences are.
(Jay) My two biggest influences (excluding filmmakers and musicians) would have to be Joseph Campbell and Bill Hicks. Campbell, because of his work identifying the Jungian archetypes found in common with all cultures and for espousing the basic myths underlying all peoples and their varied beliefs – that is, some idea of the unifying traits that make us human. Not “American” or “Western” or “Eastern” but human – sharing life on this planet as one people. Bill Hicks, because of his unwavering belief (even in the face of his own death to pancreatic cancer) in truth and the pursuit of truth despite convention or mainstream appeal. Bill Hicks, who made it okay and in fact necessary to continue in Timothy Leary’s footsteps. To ‘Think for ones self’ and to ‘Question authority.’ (After all – that is our job as informed members of society) And yet, as he did so – through nearly twenty years of comedy, he always made us laugh, even when it was at ourselves.
Jay's influences are very unique, so I was excited to find out who his favorite filmmakers are.
(Jay) To find/create a style of film I’ve penned, “Color Noir.” This style is an attempt at combining rich tone/color with motivated dialog, beautiful cinematography, and traditional “Hollywood” style editing, evoking film noir through lighting and sound design. Creating film with the warmth and familiarity of a beloved pop song or a late-night conversation with a close friend.
With such an infuses on style, I asked Jay to name his favorite films.
Dr. Strangelove, Goodfellas, The Steel Helmet, Brazil, The Big Lebowski
As I mentioned above I have known Jay for some time, and have developed a strong professional, positive, opinion about him. I asked Greg LeSar, a film professor at AI and the University of Tampa, his thoughts on Jay.
(Professor LeSar) Jay McGee is a determined and blood thirsty filmmaker. His passion for the art and practice of the discipline is obvious in his work. He has a style reminiscent of the 'personal' filmmakers like Scorsese and Coppola of the 1970's, combine with the more commercial successes of filmmakers like Fuller and Sirk of the 1950's. This is a filmmaker that has something to say.
Jay, like the past filmmakers I have interviewed, has earned the respect of his peers and superiors, so I was curious what his plans for the future are.
(Jay) Get a job. Pay off the loans. Work my way “up the ladder” learning as much about as many positions that I can to apply this new knowledge set to my (hopefully) eventual directing career where I will write and direct my own stories.
(Jay) To my Father, and to my Mother for teaching me as I grew. To my friend Shaun Zokaie – for believing in me when no one else did. And to those few special teachers whose support helped me to learn to believe in myself – Mrs. Thompson (Boles Jr. High), Mrs. White (Arlington High School), Ms. George (then student teacher – Arlington High School). Finally – to the good Lord Buddha, for letting a guy have a second chance – even though it was my third or forth!
I would like to thank Jay McGee for stepping into the Spotlight, and you for reading. Check back in February to see who is the filmmaker to be profiled.
Checkout some of Jay McGee's directorial work with his title's