Story by JASON STRICKLAND (Sports Editor)
UCM graduate Jerry J. White III is a director in Hollywood, but that might not have happened if it wasn’t for what one person told him at a film festival when he was at Central.
He told someone at a film festival in Kansas City, Mo. that he didn’t like their script, so the person’s response was, “maybe you should make your own movie.”
“I was like alright, never done that before; I’ll try it,” White said. “I ended up making it and I won the grand prize in audience choice with my little short that I created in 10 hours. So I was like, ‘alright that was a lot of fun I’m going to make another one.’ And then I kept making them, kept making them, kept making them.”
White started as a business marketing major, but decided to switch to broadcast media and make business marketing his minor.
“I was in show choir in high school,” he said. “I loved music and I was like, ‘radio sounds kind of fun.’ So I looked at the majors to see what was at UCM that I could switch to and not lose a year. I picked broadcast media because it had radio and TV in it.”
While at Central, White made a film called “0:22:43.” He also volunteered at CCN (now CTV) his junior year before becoming president his senior year.
Before he became interested in directing, he volunteered at 90.9 The Bridge and got a job at the James C. Kirkpatrick library logging and editing video. He said that got him more interested in the movie industry.
He now owns his own production company called “Moondog,” and is directing “Blind Mice,” “Famous” and a web series called “The Marriage Counselor.”
He said the script for “Famous” was the first one he fell in love with when he moved to Hollywood after he graduated in 2009. Since “Blind Mice” is a lower budget film, he said he plans to make it at the end of this year as a springboard for “Famous.”
To help pay bills, he works on crews for various movies such as “Jewtopia,” “Area 51,” “Christmas in Compton,” “Buttwhistle,” “Dumbbells” and “The Canyons” in between his directing projects.
After graduating and saving money for six months, White decided to move to Hollywood with his girlfriend, who is an actress. “We just up and left,” he said. “It just felt right at the time, so we left.”
White’s girlfriend told him she wanted to move to Hollywood when she was looking for an agent. “I basically said, ‘yeah that sounds awesome.’ I just loaded my stuff and got into the car,” he said.
Adjusting to life in Hollywood was not easy. “I had zero contacts so we came out here with enough money to pay for three months of rent,” White said. “We ran out of money in a month because we didn’t realize how expensive it was.”
Even though White did not have contacts and connections at first, he was able to meet some people to get his career started.
“This was all word of mouth,” he said. “It just kept trickling and I was getting bigger and bigger projects and just stepping up the ladder.”
Like most careers, White said there are positives and negatives to directing.
“I really enjoy working with actors, and then creating a character and bringing what was originally just words to life,” he said. “My least favorite parts are the politics that go with it, because in the end it is a business, and somebody has to get paid.
“The politics of it are not always that fun, but you have to work around people that don’t necessarily know anything about the artistic side, but know a lot about the money side, and all they tell you is they want their money back.”
White’s advice to students who want to become directors is simple. “The number one thing is to just keep making movies,” he said. “Some of them are going to be good, some of them are going to be bad and some of them are just going to be blah. You need to get all of that stuff out of your head and then that will get you to the good stuff.”