Spotlight on Jared Peraglia / by Haley Smith

Meet Jared Peraglia, a filmmaker inspired by his time as an actor. He captures his vision of the world through the lens of his camera, and has received many accolades for his films. 

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How did you get into filmmaking?

For most of my life, I was confident that I wanted to be an actor. A majority of my youth was spent driving into NYC for auditions and flying out to LA for screentests. However, I had a bit of bad luck within the industry. All of the major feature films, Broadway productions and television series I booked ended with the same result: cancellation of production. One can imagine the toll this takes on a young artist; I felt betrayed and crushed. I was determined to be resilient, but the industry had other plans; so I made plans, too... camera in hand.

I didn't fall back into filmmaking, I drove myself towards a world I have been seeking to enter my entire life: the world of storytelling. I vividly remember the day I got my first film camera. On Christmas morning, I unraveled the wrapping paper that encapsulated my prized Canon XL1. Right away I started making magic. My mother became my leading actress in all my early films; my sister was the supporting actor of course. The world around me grew into my palette. This camera represented a spark in my future, a catapult flying me into a world I would never want to leave: the world of filmmaking. I didn't know it at the time, but I was discovering my true roots: I was meant to be a director.

Yorgos Lanthimos, Woody Allen, The Coen brothers, Quentin Tarantino have long inspired me. Films like Dogtooth, Annie Hall, Fargo, and Alps confirmed for me that being weird and different was not only cool but important to the longevity of the filmmaking industry. Soon I found others that had the same taste in film as I did, and had the same overactive gears grinding in their minds. With this band of new filmmaker friends, I founded JPJ Productions, a high school film production organization dedicated to connecting teen filmmakers and audiences. With thirty other teens currently on our team, our films have been featured on national news and film festivals, and have even won worldwide awards and recognition.

I no longer view my acting career as a failure, but as a required stepping stone. Being an actor has made me a better director. To understand what actors go through to embody character and setting has forced me to appreciate and respect the work they do on and off set immensely. My entire life, all I wanted to do was make people feel. Filmmaking has become my tool for impression. I am a storyteller because I was an audience member. I am a director because I was an actor.

 

What is your favorite film you've ever produced and why?

When I first received news that the Indian Point Nuclear Energy Center will be closing in 2020 my initial reaction was similar to the majority of the country “At last”, “This is fantastic” “No more danger”! However, this emotion soon changed as I realized the impacts that the closing will have on the very place I call home.

Over two thousand members of my community will lose their jobs in these coming years. School systems I grasped knowledge in will lose funding and evaporate into nothing. Large amounts of tax revenue pumped into our town’s funding will be sealed shut, and as effect, the water towns will die. This list is not made up of theoretical predictions, but factual outcomes. A place I call home, will be lost in the wake of political discourse.

It is evident to me that filmmaking is both a privilege and a duty. More so, filmmaking is a  powerful device that has the ability enact cultural change; Knowing this, I got to work. Research of the Indian Point encapsulated my daily life. I became determined to spread awareness of the  effects the plant’s closure will have on my local towns. Currently, I am in the process of interviewing Indian Point and political officials. This project, currently untitled, will be released in the spring, and will showcase both sides of the argument.

 

What inspires you, and why do you tell stories?

I am surrounded by such diverse, talented and motivated people. My fellow storytellers and I have all come to the common conclusion of why we tell stories, and that is: I do not tell stories because I wish to entertain, I tell stories because I hope to bother. Societal change does begin when the pot is sitting still, but when the boiling is overflowing the pan. Film is a  powerful device that has the ability to enact cultural change. The weight of this art form does not call me, but screams in my face to begin creating. Film is opportunity, opportunities are challenges, and it is my duty to create.

 

Recent Awards

Among the Pine: 2017 Drama

WINNER (Zach Gault) Best Actor (Teen Hollywood Film Festival)

WINNER (Cayla Smith) Best Actress (Teen Hollywood Film Festival)

NOMINATED Best Direction (Teen Hollywood Film Festival)

NOMINATED Best Screenplay (Teen Hollywood Film Festival)

OFFICIAL SELECTION (All American High School Film Festival)

OFFICIAL SELECTION (Reel Escape)

OFFICIAL SELECTION (Rockland Youth)

 

Millimeters Away: 2017 Drama

OFFICIAL SELECTION (Reel Escape)

OFFICIAL SELECTION (Rockland Youth)

OFFICIAL SELECTION (All American High School Film Festival)

 

How I Rot: 2016 Drama

WINNER Rising Star Award (Rockland Youth)

OFFICIAL SELECTION (All American High School Film Festival)

OFFICIAL SELECTION (Rockland Youth)

 

Demo Reel — https://vimeo.com/227840021

Millimeters Away — https://vimeo.com/224788535

Among the Pine — https://vimeo.com/224584208  

Sheeple — Coming Soon! December 18th

IPEC Documentary — Coming Soon!