Jason Marlow, the 2007 Best Filmmaker, isn't a guy who is going to wait for success to come knocking. At 27, he's seen more of the world than most of us ever dream. He recently returned from a trip to China, where he met several Oscar-winning filmmakers working on a new project. "It turned out to be awesome," he said. The people were just people, not what he thought of as "Hollywood" types, he told me, and were welcoming and supportive.
A self-taught filmmaker, Marlow is currently working on his first feature-film screenplay after successfully producing a short documentary about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, which toured the country in the company of Mississippi artists last summer. "You're not supposed to do something extremely challenging in the first film," he said, but that doesn't seem to be stopping him. As he related the outline of the script, about a young Mississippi man searching for his father's identity in Paris, I was fascinated. The story is full of subtexts and allusions to the way we're bound by our culture to live our lives inauthentically. He's visited Paris, of course, as well as many other European cities; he has taught himself German and is learning French.
Marlow's talents are many: they include artist, designer, animator and musician—he plays the piano, guitar, accordion and drums ("anything that makes a sound," he said)—among his creative pursuits. "Music and film, it is my life, but there's more to life than just that, especially if you're doing anything creative," he said. He explained that creative people must continue to learn and grow, otherwise, there's a tendency to become stale, simply regurgitating the same experiences. "Why wouldn't you want to partake" of life fully, he asked me.
Originally from Stillwater, Okla., Marlow moved to Clinton with his parents when he was in high school. His education after high school includes six different colleges and universities, but he graduated from USM with a degree in anthropology. His thesis research into the slave Prince Ibrahima Abdul Rahman in Natchez led him to film the closing of International Paper. That seemingly chance incidence sparked his interest in filmmaking.
Marlow is considering a project in Austin, Texas, that will take him away for up to six months, he told me, and has been offered opportunities in Los Angeles, Portland, New York and San Francisco. But Mississippi is home, and he'll always come back. "Everybody has a story" in Mississippi, he told me, and it's those stories that keep him intrigued and in love with the state. "More than likely, the stories they tell you are undeniably 10 times better than what you can put in a film. (They're) people with life experiences that just make your jaw drop."
I do love Jason Marlow. Even his commercials are well crafted films.
Casey's so right. Talent and skill, infused with creativity, reside side-by-side in Jason. Oh how I wish I could see his "Carmina Burana" multi-media piece at least one more time.