Being a jack of all trades can lead to a negative connotation that you do everything well, while not being an expert at any of them. This is not the case for Jordan Graves. He makes it his personal mission to continue to learn, whether it be leading Camera Ambassador’s Sales Department or producing all forms of video content. Jordan thrives on continuously learning. He is paving the way for those around him to gain experience that contributes to the filmmaking community in Chicago and beyond. Jordan is a filmmaker. He started out in the camera department, and slowly transitioned into producing. Now, he is pursuing directing.
“Some of my favorite movies have taken me inside the head of the lead character, or transported me to another world and made me feel connected and attached to character or piece, I try to give other people a similar experience.”
Inspiration can be rooted in multiple moments of your life, from childhood to adulthood, from dreams to small moments in time. Whether it be negative or positive those interactions affect us for life. “All the movies I liked as a kid probably had some part in why I began creating.” Jordan had to make a short film in for one of his finals in high school. He said it was terrible. But, there was something there. He realized if he kept pushing, he could get better and create a more effective experience for his audience. “I like creating an experience, for myself and for others. If I can go out to an amazing location and even for a moment transport one person to that location when they watch the film - I'd be happy. If they can take something away from it, reconsider something, learn something, then I've added value to someone on this Earth who isn't me.”
“Keep creating. Something is better than nothing. If you stop creating when you're blocked, you're staying put at square 1. If you create something anyways, even if it's shitty - then you've got something to revise and improve upon, as opposed to having nothing at all.”
Whether it be as an Actor, DP, Writer, Producer, or Director, Jordan attempts to avoid doing the same project twice. He is always trying to find new things to challenge himself and his collaborators. For instance, “Dehydrated Blueberries”, was the first film that he created where he had to fly to a location. “That in itself brought a whole new set of challenges. I've never had to location scout on Google Earth before. I've never shot a movie entirely in dramatic golden hour/dusk/dawn natural lighting. I could go on and on.” Through these challenges, he discovered what he enjoys most about the process. “My favorite part is when I hatch up a new hair-brained scheme to make my life miserable. Once I overcome this new hurdle or at least learn from it, it turns into a very rewarding moment.” Jordan says.
"We're all in this together, ya know? My drive. Without that, I wouldn't have the discipline to meet and invest in collaborators, gather funds and resources, improve my storytelling skills, etc."
When asked about the overall themes Jordan likes to pursue in his films, there are three main perspectives he takes into consideration. The first being isolation. “I think people can tend to lean on other people out of fear of being alone. Single? Hop on Tinder. You can look at hundreds of people in minutes who might be able to distract you from being alone and thinking about what you don't want to think about. I tend to focus on isolation because it's important to address our problems. By making a film about someone controlled by their fear, isolation, anxiety, etc - it made me realize that to live like that would be to live an absurd life – hopefully, someone who sees the film would draw a similar conclusion.”
In addition to using isolation, Jordan realized another key theme to draw from. Reactions. “Almost all of my films, in some way or another, throw the lead into a situation that they weren't expecting, and watches how they react to it. How do they deal with the problem? Do they take the high road or the low road? What is the low road? Is the high road always worth it? What if it costs you your life?”
Lastly, he examines exploration. “I think almost all of my films also have a subconscious theme of exploration - in some way or another. Whether it's someone exploring a new ethical framework or exploring a forest, I think this one is the most important of the 3. If we aren't exploring in some way or another, what are we doing?”
"Location and space always incredibly important for the story I'm telling. I love being influenced by a space, and tailoring a story to fit a space/location that I have in mind for it."
As an outdoorsman, with a passion for scenery/nature/wildlife, Jordan is inspired by the natural elements. “I don't think I'll ever become a filmmaker that writes scripts to be shot in apartments and cities,” he mentions. One such example is a short horror/thriller/monster movie he wrote and produced called, Rose. He and his team found an abandoned farm that they had access to early in the pre-production process. “The location was incredibly rich and told a story in itself. I went back and re-wrote the script to fit the location, which in the end greatly enhanced the story.” Jordan loves to play with elements found in frontier literature and getting away from social constructs in his stories.
“I'm also inspired by those around me. Friends, coworkers, family members, etc. People who persevere, and take things in stride, who are solution based rather than problem focused - I find hugely inspirational.”
Jordan leads by being present and by being an example. “I try to be respectful and understanding, someone who actually listens and thinks before they speak. I also have a lot of drive to accomplish my goals and I'd like to think that that can be inspirational. I'm here to help, give, and not hurt or take away. I try to live by that. For anyone who doesn't share that idea, hopefully, the example I set might inspire them to consider changing their stance.”
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