The biggest breakout star at the First Annual La Costa Film Festival was Canyon Crest Academy senior, Jason Lee Phillips. After winning the Local High School Short Film Award at the festival, we wanted to get acquainted with Jason and his creative process. Here is our exclusive interview with this local up-and-coming filmmaker.
How did you first become involved with filmmaking?
“I started acting in 5th grade. I would make plays with family and friends. I just made small films on my computers, actually holding the laptop to film while carrying it around with me. But I would say that I did acting primarliy. And in the the summer of tenth grade I filmed Routines.”
Your film Routines, focuses on a boy with obsessive compulsive disorder. Where did you find the idea to make a story about that?
“Well, it was inspired by true events. I worked through a lot of my OCD and my film was based off the idea of being confined. I mainly had OCD with hands. Laila in the film was based off my friends who helped me get through it. I was diagnosed with OCD at age 13. It was not horrible but I needed to get through it.”
Do you find it difficult to find the resources to be taken seriously at such a young age?
“You definitely have to be assertive. You need to ask people questions and people are willing to help if you’re showing genuine interest. Be kind and be as nice as possible. Be nice to everyone. Ask local companies, friends, and family for help. Ask for exactly what you want. Don’t be restrictive to what you think you have. Generally people want to help student filmmakers. Now that I have a portfolio, it makes it much easier to interact with people. People can easily contact me and it’s almost like I’m an adult. If you think you can do it, you can do it! It’s hard but its worth it if you love it. You also have to be professional. People will take you professionally if you arrive with a camera and crew. People will think, ‘It’s a movie set!’ and get excited. Routines was very easy though. We filmed mainly outside and then inside a trolley car. Some people didn’t want to be in the movie, but most people didn’t mind. It’s just about being nice.”
How did you enjoy being part of the La Costa Film Festival?
“It was my first felm festival. It was not first award ceremony, but first festival. I had never been to a film festival before where one of my films played. My experience was beyond words… incredible. I felt so honored to be there. Accepting the award was shocking. It was very amazing. I am still in shock that I won. I had originally misread the email they sent me. I thought they were only telling me that I was a selection. I found out I won in a press release. I was very honored to be there. It was my pleasure to attend. I was able to meet many cool people. It was a very eye opening experience and has inspired me to work harder. It was also very scary to speak in front of everyone!”
Do you plan on being involved with any other film festivals soon?
Not for Routines. I have not submitted to any others currently. I am in the process of two films and currently making a web series called ‘Graceless’. It is about a girl who does crazy things. I will be submitting to a few festivals in a couple weeks. but right now I’m focusing on the two films and web series.”
You had reported this film was two years old. How was it able to get picked up in the inaugural festival?
I actually hadn’t submitted it to anything until now. The La Costa Film Festival came to my school to my cinema conservatory class and talked about it. And then they chose it and I won. It was very simple.”
Where do you want to go to school and what are you looking forward to in the future?
“Right now I am applying to five film schools: USC, Champan, LMU, NYU, and Emerson. I hope to do film for the rest of my life. I am very passionate and want to keep making films. For me it is less about the festivals and more about telling the stories and what they are. My current film is about a girl who can’t express emotions and is best friends with a mannequin. Just because you dont express somehting, doesn’t mean you dont feel it. Hopefully I will be able to have an internship over the summer in Los Angeles and besides that, I’m just going to keep trying.”
After getting to know Jason and his devotion to filmmaking, we wanted to learn more about him on a personal level with some speed round questions.
Last movie you saw:
Carrie & Insidious. (Interestingly enough, he is not a horror fan.)
Favorite film director:
David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook, The Fighter).
Favorite genre movie:
Favorite movie of all time:
The Aviator & Short Term 12.
MTV’s Teen Wolf.
Best place to find inspiration for filmmaking in San Diego?
“I find my inspiration from the people around me. I think every story I have made has come from something about human people and I put it into a film in a way that is personal to me. I keep my eyes open. I like to people watch. It’s very inspiring. Also, I make connections with the people around me and I like asking lots of questions.”
If you could film a movie in any location in the world, where it it be?
“Thailand…… and the country side of England, the eastern side France, Africa and Costa Rica. Every scene could be in a different country.”
Dream team of actors you would want to work with:
Leonardo Dicaprio (dad), Meryl Streep (grandmother), Kate Winslet (mom), Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Joaquin Phoenix, Anne Hathaway, Viola Davis, Natalie Portman, & Christian Bale.
Jason would also like to add a special thanks to his co-director Jason Lee Segal and, “that every person should pursue what they love because if they love it, then it is worth it and the love will come through in the work that is created.”
To watch Routines, and the rest of Jason’s films, please visit Jason’s website.
Photos shared from jasonleephillips.com