If you watched the Super Bowl this year, you saw the work of director and writer Jacob Chase and probably didn’t even realise it.
Chase is not only a successful ad creator, he also wrote and directed one of our favourite short films, Amy.
Starring Alex Karpovsky (Girls) and Troian Bellisario (Pretty Little Liars), Amy takes viewers on a journey into the past as two former lovers bump into each other on the street and spend the day together.
We caught up with the LA-based creative, who told us about the inspiration for Amy, what he’s doing with the prize for ‘Dorito Dogs’, and how he is inpsired by Aussie films.
Tell us a little bit about your background in film.
“I’ve told been telling stories from a very young age. I actually began as an actor in musical theatre when I was seven years old. I begged my mum to let me audition for some regional theatre and I got the very first part I went in for! From there, I performed in as many musicals, movies, and TV shows as I could. Eventually, working in film as an actor is what drew me behind the scenes. I was that kid that would follow the director around and watch from behind the monitor. I knew I didn’t just want to be in the stories, I wanted to tell them myself.
“In middle school I started putting on plays with my friends and making little movies with them as well as claymation shorts. The productions got bigger and bigger as I got into high school and beyond. Basically, I haven’t stopped creating since!
“Now I write for a living and I’m trying to foster my directing career.”
Amy is about a pair of ex-lovers who spend an afternoon together. Is it based on your own life, a story you heard, pure imagination?
“The story is not based on anything real that happened to me or anyone I know however the emotions behind it are. I’ve had my heart broken, as have my closest friends, and there is a common feeling of wanting some sort of ‘revenge’. I wanted to play that out to the end.
“I’m always interested in what drives people to become their worst self. A broken heart can make people do awful, spiteful things. I wanted to explore this question: would revenge against an ex actually satisfy or is it better to just live with the heartache?
“I wanted to make something that felt completely honest and real. Like we just happened to pick up a camera and capture these two as they fell in and out of love all over again while shielding some dark secrets.
‘I’m most interested in taking characters that aren’t relatable and structuring the story in such a way that we can identify with them nonetheless. For me, there are no ‘bad guys’ or ‘good guys’ in movies, it’s just which perspective you choose to tell your story from.
“Additionally, I’m always looking for opportunities to work with amazing actors like Alex and Troian. I learn something new every time I’m on set. The goal is to just get better and better as a filmmaker as I strive to be more authentic with my characters and visual style.”
How much work went into the production of Amy? Was it a challenge to find a cast and crew? What about funding for the film?
“Every film is a challenge but I have to say, this one came together pretty quickly and smoothly. The biggest challenge was the cast but once Alex and Troian were on board, it was just a matter of locking down a weekend to shoot and making it happen!
“We shot for two days with a very small crew. I was really interested in making something with as little of a footprint as possible. I always miss the days of making movies in high school when it was just me with a camera and a couple actors so I tried to get back to that. All in all, we had about ten people on set. This was a challenge but also the best for the story.
“I wanted to be nimble and be able to capture the story with as much freedom as possible so we found locations where we could use just practical lighting and the sun.
“Honestly the biggest challenge is after I made it, trying to get it seen by as wide an audience as possible!”
What kind of films do you enjoy writing/directing, and would like to do more of?
“I’m really inspired by the work of Blue Tongue Films (Animal Kingdom, The Square) and I would love to make more films in that vein. Stories about characters whose own hubris gets them into trouble. Headhunters and Nightcrawler are two other favourites.”
Tell us more about your ‘Doritos Dogs’ commercial. We love it!
“Thanks so much! As an aspiring director, I’m always looking for any opportunity to create something and the Crash the Super Bowl contest has always had such incredible prizes. I feel super lucky to have won the tenth and final year of the competition!
“So many people voted for us and I’m very grateful for everyone that did so and for all of my friends and family that helped make this commercial with me. With the $1 million prize, everybody that worked on the ad will get a piece of that and with my share, I plan to pay off my student loans from college which will be a huge load off. As part of the prize, I also get the opportunity to collaborate on a project with director Zack Snyder which I couldn’t be more excited for!”
What are you working on now?
“I recently finished writing a film for The Jim Henson Company and Cirque du Soleil. I’m currently developing a second project with them. I have a few other projects I’ve written that are in development at different companies – one I’m particularly excited about is a musical TV show where I’m going back to my musical theatre roots.”