American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I8

If ever there was proof that some individuals are natural born
fi lmmakers, Jason Michael Berman is it. As vice president of
Mandalay Pictures, the Baltimore native spends his days structuring
fi nancing for the company's ever-growing slate of independent
fi lms. It's a job he's been training for since he fi rst started playing
around with a video camera as a kid. By the time he graduated from
University of Southern California's (USC) School of Cinematic Arts,
Berman had established himself as a producer who is unwilling to
take "no" for an answer.
Berman's resume is impressive. In the past decade, he has
amassed more than two dozen credits, including Ryan Piers
Williams' The Dry Land, Sheldon Candis' LUV, Sara Colangelo's Little
Accidents and Andrew Renzi's Franny. Berman spoke with us about
fi nding his calling and the tactile beauty of fi lm.
What drew you to producing?
I've been interested in the entertainment industry ever since I was
7 years old and started playing with my mom's video camera. When
I got to middle school at the Jemicy School in Maryland, one of the
fi rst schools in the country set up solely for the education of dyslexic
children, I helped create a fi lm program, because I thought the
students would really benefi t from being able to show people what
they saw through pictures, video, and sound. I even helped convince
Sony Electronics to donate equipment to the school. When I got
to high school, I did the exact same thing, and worked with Avid
Technology to donate an Avid to the Friends School of Baltimore. I
knew I wanted to go to fi lm school, though I thought that I would be
a director. When I got to USC, I realized that my skillset had been in
producing that whole time. My grandfather always said: 'He is really
good at making things happen!'
I produced a graduate fi lm during my fi rst year at USC, a fi lm
called Rift, then I produced about fi ve more thesis fi lms while I was
still an undergrad. I kind of became known as the Boy Wonder thesis
fi lm producer.
But the Sundance Film Festival is where I became passionate
about independent fi lms, because the way that they are put together
is quite challenging. Each time you're doing it is like starting a new
company. I've always been driven by challenges, and I've always
been very entrepreneurial.
At what point in the process do you begin discussing
capture medium?
Very early on. Sara Colangelo came in right away knowing she
wanted to shoot Little Accidents on fi lm. It was the same with
Andrew Renzi for Franny and Jonas Carpignano for Mediterranea.
Clay Jeter, whom I went to fi lm school with, has done everything on
fi lm and wants to shoot his next feature, Io, on celluloid.
And all the movies have made sense to shoot on fi lm. Franny
made sense because of the production design. Little Accidents made
sense because we wanted to capture the gritty texture of the world
we were creating; it's the same thing with Io, Mediterranea, and The
Dry Land. These fi lmmakers want to shoot on fi lm because they feel
that the texture of shooting on celluloid is true to the story.
What's the biggest misconception people have about
shooting on film?
That the process of getting it turned around quickly to see it is a
lot more diffi cult. It takes a little bit more logistical planning, but as
long as you have access to FedEx, you're fi ne. You just have to make
sure you have a professional AC and loader handling the fi lm. There
are extra steps, but they're not diffi cult extra steps. It just comes
down to details and management.
Why is film such an important tool for moviemakers?
I'm happy that my generation of fi lmmakers grew up utilizing fi lm
because it helps you understand the responsibility of what you are
doing and what you are trying to formulate. You're actually holding
all of this celluloid together and it's something you can touch and
feel. With digital, the responsibility may not feel as great because it's
all on a hard drive. But with fi lm, you can touch it and feel it. Being a
tactile learner, I feel like that really helped me.
Photos: Left and right images: Filming Little Accidents. Center: Jason Berman at the
Sundance Film Festival.
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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - April 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 9
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 38
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 60
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 62
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 63
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 64
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I1
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I2
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I4
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I5
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I6
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I7
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - I8
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 65
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 67
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - 68
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American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - April 2015 - Cover4
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