Tuesday, April 20, 2010

FOURPLAY: Jason is productive (pt 1 of 2)

Directing/producing for Arts + Labor, a production co-operative in North Austin, as well as writing/directing his second feature film, the animated Jesus zombie flick THE THIRD DAY, Jason Wehling is known as the producer of such films as Indie Spirit Award winner AUGUST EVENING and associate producer on the 2010 SXSW hit THE HAPPY POET. He's pictured above on a VERY hot set (as in over 100 degrees) for AUSTIN last summer waiting to hold up a bounce board while dripping in sweat. That's the kind of producer he is, ready to pitch in where needed at a moment's notice.

1) Why did you become involved in FOURPLAY as a producer?

I’ve been a fan of Kyle’s for a long time. We both went to the same small university (though Kyle graduated just before I started), and he was an example I wanted to follow – both his early docs (AMERICAN COWBOY and UNIVERISTY, INC.) were quite inspiring in both their technique and their ambition. I finally met Kyle 10 years later, after spending time working in commercial production in LA and for PBS in DC, when I moved back to Austin in 2005 to produce AUGUST EVENING. I made it a point to look him up, and after getting together a few times to talk about both indie film and corporate video, he asked me to get work with him on FOURPLAY.

I have to admit, when I read the script for the first short, SAN FRANCISCO, I was a little surprised by my own enthusiasm. Obviously, I wanted the chance to work with and learn from Kyle (and Carlos, PJ, Caroline and the rest of amazing crew), but the material itself was what sunk the hook. Part of the reason I fell in love with film is that it gives me a chance to do wildly different things, and this material presented exactly the sort of challenge that intrigues me.

2) What personal connection, if any, do you have with the shorts?

I’ve found myself connecting with each of the projects more intensely as we’ve worked on them. Except for AUSTIN, they’re each way outside my normal realm (sexually speaking), but all of the shorts are guided by a clear emotional journey that I can really relate to. The characters in FOURPLAY, like most of us, I think, struggle with issues of belonging and acceptance, and while I may not seek out the exact same situations as them, I identify completely.

I mentioned AUSTIN before, because I do have a very personal connection there. Lily, the main character in AUSTIN, is unhappy with her life’s lack of direction, and she deals with her insecurities by making a giant decision that could really set her on a track (getting pregnant). I’m not saying I’ve had the same process as Lily, but when you work in indie film, it’s tough to have a lot of stability. My wife and I dated for 9 years before we finally got married, I think it’s partially because we both were putting career building ahead of family building. At some point, that got a bit ridiculous, and we both decided to make family a goal too. We’ve since gotten married and just had our first child (last week!), and what we’ve found is that it hasn’t hurt our careers at all...Instead, I think it’s focused us and given even more reason to do important things with the time we have.

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