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Best Shorts filmmaker achieves success

by Michael Langston Moore

For any aspiring filmmakers or screenwriters out there, Jerry G. Angelo has some words of wisdom:

“Knowing what you want to accomplish is not possible. Sounds bleak?
Well, not really. In fact, Jerry G. Angelo is a young writer/director/actor/producer who has created several film productions, won a handful of awards, and received wide acclaim. At age 31, Jerry has been fortunate enough to accomplish a great deal. He has been involved with film since 2003 in a variety of capacities, and has even appeared in an acting role on the series “24.� But if you ask Jerry, he never would have foreseen his moviemaking success.

“I never realistically gave thought to getting into film,� he said.

In fact, Jerry’s pathway to Hollywood began in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he grew up. He graduated from the University of New Mexico with a Communications degree and began a profession in politics. Jerry recalls when his thought process regarding his career began to change. “One day, after a scheduled meeting with a District Court Judge who was lobbying his bill to me on behalf of my State Senator, I walked out of the room and thought to myself, ‘I just directed a meeting with a Judge. I can do anything I want.’�

And he certainly did. Within six months, Jerry packed up and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a dream of which he knew almost nothing. But Jerry learned fast, and soon his films were gaining recognition in contests and film festivals alike.

Some of his most recent films have already found success. The dark comedy Bump in the Night, in which Jerry plays a man whose volatile closet begins to haunt him in an old, familiar way, was featured in the Film Independent magazine in August. The dark fairytale Claim 24, a film in which Jerry wrote, produced, and acted, found success too. In the film, Jerry plays an outlaw who attempts to outwit and outlast both a bounty hunter and a monstrous forest inhabitant. The film is set to premiere at the Santa Fe Film Festival in early December. Alongside Claim 24, Jerry’s film How to Kiss a Frog, a bittersweet love story of two young soul mates, will also debut at the Santa Fe Film Festival. Jerry wrote, directed, and acted in Frog.

While Jerry has found success in film festivals, he is also a veteran of the Indie Fest and the Accolade Competition. Jerry explains that what attracted him to the two award competitions. “What intrigued me most about the Best Shorts, Indie Fest and the Accolade from other festivals and competitions was that they are international and internet based, making them accessible to all film makers globally all the time. It’s important to be able to view our fellow film makers’ work, and to be able to do it internationally is such a bonus.�

As a man who wears different hats during his film projects, Jerry had to quickly learn how to manage different responsibilities. On being a writer: “The biggest challenge in writing is also the most important -- finishing. A first draft of a screenplay becomes better with proper follow up. It’s my hunch that the best screenplays need at least three to four rewrites.�

In regard to being a producer, Jerry has become a true believer in Murphy’s Law: “For producing, no matter how prepared you are and no matter how wonderful the team you have put together, there is inevitably always something that goes wrong.�

As a director, Jerry learned that overcoming obstacles is how one truly tests his or her mettle: “The biggest challenges I have faced as director are the ones I have not been able to control. When a generator suddenly stops working and you’re in the middle of the woods thirty minutes out of town during a night shoot and you have a star talent for his last night and you face not being able to complete the scenes, it flat out sucks. But you must always find a way to survive the worst of situations.�

As an actor, Jerry realized that the key to success is through the determination to never give up: “I see acting as treading water in the middle of the ocean. If you stop kicking for one second your head sinks, and that is exactly when the helicopter might be flying over. So knowing that, are you going to just tread water or are you going to kick and paddle so intensely that you are practically standing on top of the water?�

While viewing Jerry’s films, it is impossible for one not to notice the tenderness that permeates throughout his work. Whether it is about innocence (Bump in the Night), desire (Claim 24), or love and loss (How to Kiss a Frog), it is clear that Jerry attempts to insert specific subject matter into his films.

“I want something to sting. Somewhere in the sadness, hope exists, then inspiration is created, then something is renewed or appreciated, and gets passed on. The relationships between the characters and their slightest details of how they physically touch one another, or what is not being said, are everything to me.�

Though Jerry has found success, he knows he still has a ways to go. “I’m still not where I want to be, but I can visually see my progress. I still have to struggle. If I stop now the sacrifice will not make up for the journey, and that is something I’m not ready to do.�

Though Jerry’s journey has just begun, he knows what he wants in his future. He wants to become a film and television mogul. A man who, as Jerry says, who “makes important, memorable films.�

As Jerry well knows, the road towards mogul status will not come without its fair share of disappointment and rejection. Though Jerry has been in the movie business for a short time, he has already had his fair share of doors slammed in his face. But he has realized that how one handles rejection will not only showcase one’s character, but one’s ability to last in Hollywood, too.

“If you are creative and you have a product and get it into the public eye, it will be one step added to your ladder that cannot be taken away from you. A finished product is an absolute. Rejection is an absolute. Even on a green-lit project with everything in place will have setbacks, so setbacks are an absolute. The more absolutes you can refer too, the more directed, precise, and prepared you can become. If you are a writer, then also demand yourself to be a producer. If you are an actor, then write roles you want to portray, and demand you become a producer.�

Currently, Jerry is working on a handful of productions. And though the days be get long, the hours endless, and the future continuously unknown, Jerry uses his own lessons in life to keep himself grounded. Though he unfortunately experienced the passing of his father in May of 2008, Jerry realized that he cannot allow trepidation to hinder his progress both in life and in career aspirations.

“The most important key that I believe will drastically change someone’s life in one month is changing the way you handle fear. My father was a tough man to love and get love from. Toward the end he felt so guilty and ashamed about himself for having lung cancer caused by his addiction to smoking that he couldn’t come to terms with the brutal truth that this was it. He didn’t have preparedness or the tools to face fear. He couldn’t even make eye contact with me, he felt so bad he was leaving us. He feared talking about what was happening, he feared the hospital, he feared home, he feared eating. The end result of all the regret and uncertainty came down to his fear of not knowing or not wanting. There is a high price to pay for having fear that keeps you from moving forward, and whether big or small, it effects you just the same. If you make it a point to challenge your fear face on, every single time, every day, and make this a habit, you will be living the results of progress.�

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