Toledo native’s films combine creativity with a causeWritten by Hannah Nusser | | email@example.com
He’s a journalist, actor, director, producer and up-and-coming author. But if there’s one thing Toledo native Jason Gilmore, 33, is focused on at the moment, it’s the success of his latest short film.
Gilmore’s independent film, “Individualized Education Plan,” (“IEP”) will be screened at the International Black Film Festival in Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 29 through Oct. 3.
Of being chosen for the film festival, Gilmore said, “It was a nice affirmation any time that any festival says, ‘Hey, we saw your film and we want you to be a part of what we represent’.”
“IEP,” which premiered at the LA Shorts Fest this year on July 28, is the fictional story of a harsh reality in the Los Angeles school system. The fictional film looks at Xavier, an 8-year-old African-American boy who, because of behavioral problems at school, is under scrutiny and at risk of being put in special education and the ramifications of that situation.
The script for “IEP” was written by actress, school psychologist and Gilmore’s wife, Trenekia Danielle. As a psychologist for the LA Unified School District, Danielle became upset by what she witnessed happening to children, particularly young black males, in the school system.
“My focus was always with acting [and] singing, those kinds of performances, I would write more for myself almost like my own little diary but I never saw it as something I would pursue professionally,” Danielle said. “So that was my way of letting go of that situation.”
The film is not based on a specific child, but the big issues Danielle dealt with, she added.
Gilmore said after researching the topic, he wanted to shed light on the problems.
“I looked at it [the script] and said ‘this is something we should do’,” Gilmore said. “Unfortunately it’s one of those things that most people don’t know about unless it happens to someone they know.”
Still, the common thread in all of Gilmore’s short films has been relationship issues. Gilmore has written, directed and starred in a number of short films, including “How Shawn Parker Fell in Love,” “Something Borrowed” and “Straight from the Heart.”
Choosing one area of expertise is not likely with Gilmore’s aspirations. He said he’s always been a writer first and foremost; whatever the project in motion, his ideas are born when his pen hits the paper.
“In high school I wrote a lot of different poems, short stories and raps – I was all over the place, and I just never stopped,” he said. “I just go where I’m interested.”
Gilmore was inspired by the work of Gordon Parks, a famous photographer, filmmaker, composer and writer.
“That kind of validated that I could do this,” Gilmore said of his multifaceted idol.
After graduating from Maumee Valley Country Day School, Gilmore attended the University of Pittsburgh, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in film. Creativity is a passion taken very seriously with the married couple, who live in Los Angeles, where all Gilmore’s films have been shot.
“When we put our minds to something that’s creative we’re pretty successful at it … we become very focused and very driven about it so we can do the very best we can in that art form … I think [Jason’s] drive is what pushes his talent,” Danielle said.
Up next for Gilmore: tackling a feature-length film which he hopes to have finished as early as next year. He’s also been working on a coming-of-age novel, “Somewhere Between Here and There,” which is in the works to be published.
To watch Gilmore’s short films, visit www.vimeo.com/jasongilmore.
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