Jerome E. Scott - Director, Writer, Actor
While watching Jerome E. Scott as one of the teenagers in Anderson’s Cross -- a very sweet film about friendship, first love and the importance of family -- I was sure he couldn’t be more than 18 years old. But then I found out he also wrote and directed this sensitive movie, which made me think he’s really an old soul, no matter what his age. The following e-mail interview with Scott convinced me I’m right about that. Read on to see why.
QUESTION: Why did you decide to make ANDERSON’S CROSS?
SCOTT: I was frustrated with the lack of roles for young actors, especially minority actors. An entire year had gone by and I didn't see one role that I wanted to or could play. It became obvious to me that the roles just weren't out there.
QUESTION: What was your major challenge in making this film?
SCOTT: Financing. I'm sure everybody says that.
QUESTION: How did you select your cast and crew?
SCOTT: For crew I interviewed and found a Director of Photography who not only liked my script but the look and feel of the films I liked as well. I am not a gritty feel type of filmmaker. I like the skies to be bluer. The grass to be greener. For me movies are an escape. It was hard to find someone who shared that vision. I had a few friends like Samm Levine, someone I knew from “Freaks and Geeks” and who did cameos, but almost everyone was found through auditions. It was my first time on the other side of the table and we had a great casting director in Mark Sikes.
QUESTION: What is the film’s message?
SCOTT: That all parents should love their children. It's so important to instill a sense of worth early on. That it doesn't matter if you're kid is gay or straight, black or white, if you don't give them that one survival tool, the one that doesn't cost any money, they won't make it. It is so prevalent right now. I grew up in an African American family. My parents lived through the sixties and the seventies. They had every right to be angry but an obligation not to pass that anger on to me. I think the reason people like the Anderson family so much and the reason Nick is able to figure out who he comes from his parents giving him a solid foundation to stand on.
QUESTION: Do you prefer writing, directing or acting?
SCOTT: Writing, directing and acting in that order.
QUESTION: What did you enjoy the most about the filmmaking experience?
SCOTT: Discovering that I could actually do it was personally for me the best part. Directing is so much more than just what is put on screen and yet the most important thing is what’s put on screen. I watched and I learned and I followed my instincts and surrounded myself with some great and experienced people and made a 35mm feature film in Hollywood! It has opened so many doors. People are asking to work with me. It's all very surreal.
QUESTION: Are there any filmmakers who have influenced you? If so, in what way?
SCOTT: Steven Spielberg is, hands down, my favorite film director. His movies came to your neighborhood and they didn't care what color you were or how much money your family made. They were a gateway to other places for me outside of the actual movie theater. Suddenly I had something in common with the kid from another clique. We could both talk about “Indiana Jones” and “Jurassic Park.” Through Spielberg I got to see the way movies are so much more than the two hours they show on screen. They can change your life.
Sydney Pollack. It pains me that we won't get to see more movies from him. But the ones we have are amazing. I met him once on the street and another time at a film conference where I was able to tell him how much his movies meant to me. From Pollack I learned how to not get into an actors way. Sometimes that is the best thing to do. Tootsie is a perfect movie for me.
Peter Weir is amazing. The performances are always top notch. The stories just flow.
Martin Scorsese. I love that the people, the characters, are first and the plot second. Always. From beginning to end.
Brian De Palma. Everything is like watching a ballet. Even as a kid I was able to see the elevation of the art in his work while still enjoying it.
Mike Nichols. His ability to work with an ensemble and make sure that everyone, down to the guy who has three lines, and the story is served, still astounds me.
Ang Lee has a great eye into how people really are. He is so obviously a people watcher. I can just imagine him sitting in a park or at a party just taking it all in. And then he puts it on screen. While I'm watching I always feel like if I move, the person onscreen will see me.
Christopher Nolan. Oh the bandwagon. And I will admit I am late. But I am firmly on it. To have all that technical expertise, not have it take over the film and be able to get those kinds of performances. That's rare. That's Spielberg. I am looking forward to more.
QUESTION: What are your top five favorite movies -- and why do you enjoy them so much?
SCOTT: It's so hard to pick five!
E.T. is my all time favorite movie. It always makes me cry. All the great performances in that film by such a young and talented cast. The music. The story. It made me want to be in movies.
Terms of Endearment. The balance between comedy and drama has never been duplicated as well in my opinion. The performances still stand the test of time. Jack Nicholson and Shirley MacClaine, Debra Winger, John Lithgow and Jeff Daniels. Every frame.
The Aviator. This is a recent addition to my list. Leonardo DiCaprio has just been consistently giving us these great performances. He is one of the best young actors of this or any other generation. I just love the way this film was shot. I have so much to learn.
Empire of the Sun. Again Spielberg. I always remember this movie because my friends all wanted to go see “Return of the Living Dead” and I just couldn't force myself to do it while a Spielberg movie was playing in the same theater. An eye opener for me.
All About Eve. When I was a kid the local movie theater used to show old movies for the elderly on Wednesdays. My parents arranged it so that I could get out of school and watch these great classic movies. I actually got to see "Eve" on the big screen. Bette Davis and Anne Baxter were larger than life. They all were in those days, Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Jimmy Stewart. One of the first movies that gave me an appreciation for the Hollywood legends before me. It also allowed me to talk to so many people who had a love of movies that were so many generations before me.
QUESTIONS: What are your plans for filmmaking in the future?
SCOTT: Hopefully to keep working. I have a film that is shooting in March called “Prep School.” It is a drama set in 1973 about a preparatory school. It is still casting but right now stars Jeremy Sumpter and Charlie McDermott and a new young actor we found through a large casting call. His name is Troy Hatt, and he’s very talented. I wrote it and will be directing it and am very excited about it. I also have a dark comedy titled “Hostage Diner” that is in pre-production right now. I will be directing it in Victoria British Columbia in November. I wrote a sci-fi movie that looks like it will be shooting next summer, and I have two family scripts that seem to be of interest as well as a possibility of an “Anderson's Cross” prequel series for cable.
QUESTION: Where can people see ANDERSON’S CROSS?
SCOTT: People can order the DVD now on www.tlamovies.com and also through Amazon starting November 22, 2010. There's a Facebook page of course (www.facebook.com/andersonscross) and a website (www.andersonscross.com) and people can follow us on Twitter (@andersonscross).