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Alumnus John Jencks Returns to NYFA Los Angeles to Screen His Feature The Hippopotamus

Alumnus John Jencks Returns to NYFA Los Angeles to Screen His Feature "The Hippopotamus"

April 13, 2017 Having grown up in the U.K., New York Film Academy filmmaking alumnus John Jencks recalls his time as a teen, hitting up three movies a day at the local theater. His fascination with films took a step further when he worked on a short film in Portugal with his friends. "I enjoyed the camaraderie of it all," he said. "I relished the multitude of challenges and coming up with different solutions."

It was at that point that Jencks wanted to create his own projects under the tutelage of industry professionals in Los Angeles, where his father happened to live and teach at a local university. This inspired him to take a one-year filmmaking course at the New York Film Academy Los Angeles.

"I chose NYFA because they give you a camera and let you go on with it," he said. "It’s an environment where I can make a lot of mistakes and then work them out with industry professionals."

While at NYFA, Jencks quickly found his group, who he bonded with and shot a series of short films that helped build his reel and filmmaking experience. After graduating from NYFA, he got a job at the production company Muse. "I was the first person at work and the last person to leave, but as long as I kept a smile on my face, they'd keep giving me more and more responsibility," said Jencks about his time with Muse.

From there he took a job as a 3rd AD on a feature film that was filming in Utah. The film, “Blind Dating," which starred Chris Pine, introduced Jencks to the experience of a fairly large-budget production.

He then went on to produce "Lying," which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight in Cannes, though things didn't go quite as he'd hoped. "I was booed by the crowd. I believe the film may have been too pretentious, even for the French," he quipped. Nevertheless, Jencks pressed on in his career, starting his own production company, Electric Shadow Company.

Jencks has now been working in the film industry for over 10 years as a producer, writer and director. His short film "Go Away, Please!" (2009) won the Shooting People prize at London Short Film Festival. His debut feature, "The Fold," starred Catherine McCormack and got its cinematic release in 2013.

Earlier this month, Jencks returned to NYFA Los Angeles to screen his feature film "The Hippopotatmus," starring NYFA Board Member Matthew Modine.

Interestingly enough, back in 2002, while staying at producer Roger Corman’s home, Jencks noticed Stephen Fry’s novel "The Hippopotamus" resting alongside his guest bed. "I laughed and laughed," said Jencks. "I responded very well to the protagonist and antagonist. I thought this story would do well if we were able to take the essence of it and provide a traditional narrative structure."

Years later he acquired the rights to the novel and directed the film under his production company.

When it comes to directing his actors, Jencks talks about knowing the script as the blueprint to abide by, and how to interpret it is a really interesting journey. His job is to ensure each and every talented actor is on the same page. "You have to tie everything together. That’s the job of the director," he adds.

Aside from his directing credits, Jencks has executive producer credits on "Swallows and Amazons" (Andrew Scott, Rafe Spall and Kelly Macdonald); "The Trust" (Nic Cage and Elijah Wood), "Terminal" (Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, Mike Myers) and "The Crow" remake, which is currently in pre-production.





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