Island director explores different lives and cultures in films
By Halle Wyatt, Co-Content Editor
Director John Jeffcoat has lived on the island for nearly a decade. However, he has much more experience exploring both distant lands in films such as “Outsourced” and “Big in Japan,” as well as the lives of everyday people, as in the documentary, “Bingo!” He’s followed his inspiration around the world — to the crowded streets of Mumbai to the hopping nightclubs of Japan.
Jeffcoat has credited his early love of movies as what sparked his inspiration to be a filmmaker, but he didn’t start taking the profession seriously until he took film classes at university.
“It wasn’t until college that I actually started truly making my own films. … I made my first film freshman year … and when I saw that, and had that experience, I was kind of convinced that this is definitely what I want to do, and I haven’t really looked back since then,” Jeffcoat said.
While attending Denison University in Ohio, Jeffcoat made the short film, “Donut Holes,” which would go on to premiere at the Seattle Film Festival. After, he worked primarily in location sound mixing until he left to make his first feature length film.
His second feature length film was “Outsourced,” which he filmed on location in Mumbai, was heavily influenced by his time traveling during college.
Other than India and Japan, Jeffcoat has also visited countries such as South Africa, France, and England. Although much of his traveling has been with either his college or his family, be cites these trips as instrumental to his creative process.
“For whatever reason, I gravitate towards international productions,” he said. “I like going to different countries. I like going to a place that I’m unfamiliar with and exploring a universal story within a different culture. The stranger in a strange land seems to be the theme that I like to go back to and explore.”
No matter what someone is inspired by, Jeffocat recommends that aspiring filmmakers pursue a liberal arts education as opposed to attending film school.
“A liberal arts education is really great because it introduces you to other subjects and other interests that can be the source of material,” Jeffcoat said. “Pick a subject that is personal and important to you that you can explore, even if you think you’re the only one in the world who gets it or is interested in it — chances are there’s a lot of other people out there who will relate.”
Inspiration and education aren’t the only important aspect of finding success when making a film. Jeffcoat, like many writers, struggles with finding ideas that he can fully commit to.
“When you’re making an independent film, you need to come up with an idea or concept that you’re willing to work with for the next two or three years of your life because of how long [the process] takes,” Jeffcoat said. “So you gotta have some kind of deep connection with either the characters or the subject matter.”