A conversation with Jared Douglas, writer/director of The Sound of The Wind and founder of JDG Entertainment
Interview By Harper Kennington
Photography By Neeraj Jain
It’s something that I’ve always found to be cathartic, and I’ve always wanted to give that back to audiences.
Harper: Why is filmmaking the medium you choose to express your art?
Jared: One of my earliest childhood memories was using my dad’s camcorder at Disney World when I was about 3 years old. Ever since that moment, I fell in love. There was something about the craft that always satisfied my interest in technology and how things worked, as well as the creative itch in me. Both watching movies and making movies, just small homemade ones with my family or friends, was always an escape for me. There was something freeing in it, and it also helped me make sense of the world around me. Over time, I think my love for cinema only grew deeper, and it really became an emotional outlet for me. It’s something that I’ve always found to be cathartic, and I’ve always wanted to give that back to audiences.
Harper: How do you view your role as a director and producer?
Jared: As a director, I really see myself as a creative manager of sorts. You are the one guiding the creative vision of a project, so you are taking all these unique voices between the cast and crew and bringing them together to get the best possible product. To do that you have to put your trust in the people you hire and provide an environment for them to create freely. It’s hard to do sometimes, but you really have to take a step back and guide the chaos. Not try to control it.
Producing is similar in some ways, but you are more involved with the business and logistical aspects. One of the things I love most about producing is using that knowledge to help bring other visions to life and to find new voices. What excites me is when I get the opportunity to facilitate something unexpected.
You have to put your trust in the people you hire and provide an environment for them to create freely.
Harper: At what point on your journey did you form JDG Entertainment?
Jared: I originally formed JDG Entertainment back in 2011 as a production company for my short film work. Since that point it’s really gone through a few different phases and a few iterations, but it really came to life in 2016. It was after my time at NYU, we began to grow the company both in the narrative space and in the commercial space. Most of what I had seen through my experiences in the industry was very repetitive. Between the stories being told and the process by which projects were getting made, I felt like it was the same script over and over again. And ultimately, while the world was changing, entertainment wasn’t.
I felt there was an opportunity with JDG Entertainment to provide a platform and a home for the next generation of creative talent.
Harper: Is that what led to your decision to build JDG Entertainment?
Jared: In a way, yes. I think in some sense I have always been attracted to companies that have a sense of autonomy within their industry. To me, those companies and their autonomy give them the ability to work in a more improved, efficient manner that has a positive change. I think it was in that notion that I felt there was an opportunity with JDG Entertainment to provide a platform and a home for the next generation of creative talent. Especially when it comes to my generation. I feel like our experiences growing up were so different than past generations, so the way we see the world is very different, but I rarely see that reflected on screen in an authentic way.
Harper: What has The Sound of The Wind meant to you and JDG Entertainment?
Jared: We were stepping into the unknown with our first feature film, but it was a necessary step and a necessary evolution for the company. Now having taken that step, I think people are starting to understand the way we approach storytelling and our values as a company. We’ve gone through many ups and downs, especially with trying to release The Sound of The Wind during the pandemic, but I think all of it has given us grit as a company. For me, I feel like I can finally take a breath. We're in a position where we can really start to move beyond one project at a time, and can begin to focus on the future.
Harper: Collaboration seems to be a driving force at JDG Entertainment. How have your collaborations helped to shape the company?
Jared: Just in the way we work, I think it's our collaborations that end up defining each project. Both external collaborators and also our internal team. Each team member that has joined JDG Entertainment has brought such a unique and valuable perspective. One of the things I love the most is that between Neeraj [Jain], Christian [Gnecco Quintero] and Hope [Bello LaRoux], we all have different skill sets that complement each other very nicely. The different perspectives really allow us to understand the merits of a project from multiple angles. Without this collaboration, JDG Entertainment wouldn't be what it is.
Harper: In a past interview regarding The Sound of The Wind you said, "I knew I wanted to do a story that I hoped would provide better understanding of mental health conditions, in a way that I hadn’t seen before." As a filmmaker, you seem to feel a sense of responsibility to society.
Jared: This may be a very idealistic view, but I think we all have a responsibility to society, and as a filmmaker who is adding to culture and public discourse, I think there is a responsibility to make sure the stories being told matter. That’s not to say the only films that matter are films that directly tackle a socially relevant subject. There is an importance to films that talk about relationships and love. There is an importance to comedy. There is also an importance to superhero films. To me, regardless of the type of film, I think it’s important that the characters and the story speak authentically to our human experience.
Harper: With that said, do you believe films should address the needs or desires of the audience or should filmmakers make the films they are most compelled to make?
Jared: I feel like I often hear other filmmakers talk about this false notion of 'one for you, one for me'. To me, I think a film should both entertain and either educate or enlighten. I think it goes back to the role storytelling has played throughout human history. Stories have allowed us to escape, brought us closer together, brought us closer to ourselves and enlightened us in some way. When a film is successful it is doing all four of those simultaneously. Regardless of the genre or topic, I think it's the role of every storyteller to consider that and to ask themselves, why does this story matter?
Harper: Lastly, you are in an industry that has many ups and down. How do you stay resilient?
Jared: I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like I’ve "stayed" resilient. I think you really just have to make it a priority to pick yourself up every time you get knocked down. There’s so much in life that is out of our control, and at times it feels like it’s even more of an extreme in an artistic field where so much is subjective, so I try to focus on what’s in my control. I try to learn from each experience and make sure I improve for the next one. Each down moment especially, I try to remind myself to not take things personally. That may be the toughest because everything can start to feel personal when things aren’t going your way. But I just try to push ahead. And in doing so, I’ve learned to appreciate the journey and the personal growth.