We had the good fortune of connecting with Jake Reardon and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jake, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Like most people, I try to calculate risks, assess, and make the best decision available. I do that for the small stuff, and the big stuff I face. Sometimes I take the big leap, and it’s worked out for the most part. Risk plays a huge part in my career. Risk has played a huge part in my life too. I’m where I am now because of the risks I’ve taken. The biggest risk I’ve taken was in college. I went to a community college in a 2+2 program, where I do 2 years at a community college and 2 years at the 4 year school. I went into my first meeting with my counselor to talk about classes for the spring semester. My counselor asked me about my 5 year plan, where I see myself, why I chose my major, and the transfer school I was going to. I answered all her questions, and we talked for a while. She pulled out a packet on a different transfer school, that had a recognized program for video production and a nice campus. She told me to think it over, read the packet and consider my options. I left her office and immediately went to the transfer office and switched my transfer school right then. And that was one of, if not, the best decisions I ever made. I made some of the best friends I have ever had, learned a lot about video production, and had a great 2 years at SUNY Fredonia. My move from Webster, NY after graduating was a huge a risk too. I had $4,000 in the bank, and some family in Orange County to stay with when I drove across the country to move to Los Angeles. I had no plans, no future roommates, no apartment, and no job. I just made the move because this is where I had to be. Eventually I figured some of those things out. I found roommates, found an apartment, but I was having trouble finding jobs in the film industry. So, I had to get a part time job cooking at a golf course/banquet facility, something I did back home. They were great to me. They let me take off at a moment’s notice when I found a film gig. I made my first real friend in LA, who I still keep in touch with. But I got to a point where I struggled and wasn’t happy. After almost a year there, it was hard to get out of bed. I’d roll in a couple minutes late to work everyday, but no one would care because they were happy I was still there helping out. It got to a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I hadn’t caught a decent break in film. Everyday was the same. It got to the point where the little voice in my head started to whisper about going back home. So I quit the job. In the text I sent, I said something like “it’s time for me to sink or swim in the freelance film world”. And I’ve been swimming for over 3 years now. After I quit, I started to find consistent work. I started making connections, and outside of work friendships with the people I met on set. I’m as happy as ever to work 12+ hours on set, and drive through the traffic to get there. Being freelance is a huge risk as well, I don’t have a salary, a guaranteed monthly income, or any kind of financial safety net, besides whatever I’ve saved. My income and the ability to survive depends on the connections I’ve made with friends and clients to hire me again. My phone could stop ringing someday, and I’d have to go back to a part time job to make a living. I hope that doesn’t happen because I don’t want to go back. The freelance film life is a risk I’m more than willing to take.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I don’t have too big of a portfolio to go on. I’ve only directed a couple music videos for some budding artists and a couple shorts. I do write a lot, in my free time. I have 5 feature length screenplays, 5 stories that I thought were good enough to be written down (some of them probably need a few more drafts though). I’m very proud of some of these scripts. I think they have a lot of heart. I like to write about what we do with the time given to us, and some existentialism sprinkled in. I find stories that deal with that to actually be inspiring. To paraphrase Vonnegut, if I can write a story that pleases one person, I would consider that a success. I touched on how I got to where I am earlier. It definitely wasn’t easy. I think I’ve gotten where I am by working hard, and being a decent person that people want to spend 12+ hours with at work. Sometimes, maybe I need to step back and take a breath. Life does move a lot faster in LA. I guess I would want the world to know, I wake up and try to be a good person everyday, and that I want the chance to tell at least one story I think should be told.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A lot of the trip would probably be food related. I’d take my friend to a Fat Sal’s, Korean BBQ, Macleod’s Brewery in Van Nuys, and my favorite burger spot – Husky Boys in Laguna. I’d definitely take them to the beach, anywhere on the west side, or Malibu. Maybe the desert or the mountains and explore. With a freelance lifestyle, I don’t always have the budget to go out and do things… I don’t really have a whole lot of “secret local” spots.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are almost too many people to name that deserve a shout out. I had most of this saved for the pipe dream Oscar acceptance speech but here it goes: everyone on this list deserves a shoutout for the love and support, Mom, Dad, my sister Karena, Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Tim, Alex, Uncle Brian, Aunt Yvonne, Jordan, Sydney, Dave and the rest of the Webster Golf Course, Jane, Aaron, Nick, and the LA friends, Matt, Jonathan, Talens, Conor, Trout, Bartlett, and the rest of the crew.
Chuck France (All blue photo) Kyle Vertin (Pool shot with 4 people)