Jonathan Ade attended the Workshop in playwriting from 2001-2002, joined the residential staff as a teacher and counselor from 2007-2009, and filmed documentaries of the program in 2010 and 2012. He is the director of the film, Lay in Wait. Find him online here.
I came to Los Angeles (at first, begrudgingly) because I’ve always wanted to write and direct my own films, and it’s simply the most diverse place to get projects off the ground. Since I’ve moved, I’ve written and directed three short films, with the fourth scheduled to go into production in April of 2013.
I am a full-time film and video editor at Fourth Wall Studios, a new kind of media company that specializes in interactive narratives. You can see what we’re working on at rides.tv. As someone who has had to work within the unrewarding environment of the reality television genre, it’s really a relief to finally be working on narrative content. There’s a real sense of adventure at finding new ways of telling stories, and that’s very exciting.
Beyond filmmaking, I can’t shake my enduring love for non-fiction. There’s a stack of New Yorkers next to my bed about a good six inches high, and week after week, they keep piling up. I’ve also been endlessly fascinated with historical figures who feel buoyed by near-death experiences, especially Teddy Roosevelt. Right now, I’m reading about his fateful trip down the Amazon River in River of Doubt by Candice Millard. I often find nonfiction to be a greater source of inspiration for my screenplays than fiction. Verisimilitude is baked in.
Outside of my work with Fourth Wall, I’m finishing the third film in my “Meditations” series, a narrative cycle about small, meaningful moments in everyday life. That film is scheduled to be completed in November. Meanwhile, my team is ramping up preproduction on a new project, a story about a young married woman who loses her wedding ring while having an affair. I think that writing and directing these projects have been important incremental stepping stones to my development as a writer and as a filmmaker. Each film is a little more ambitious than the last, and each one feels more fully realized in its execution.
My previous short in the Meditations series, “Meditations: Supper” has been honored at the Big Muddy Film Festival in Carbondale, IL, the Clifton Film Festival in Virginia (where it won the prize for Best Cinematography), the San Francisco New Media Film Festival (where it won “Best Film shot on Red”), the Los Angeles Movie Awards, NewFilmmakers Los Angeles, the Cine Gear Expo, the Woods Hole Film Festival, the Indianapolis Film Festival and most recently, the Hollywood Film Festival.And, as a special treat this last summer, “Supper” was presented at the Young Writers Workshop, Session 2.
It’s really difficult to estimate just how much Young Writers changed my life. I can’t even imagine the person I would be if I didn’t attend as a teenager, or return as a counselor five years later. I would carry myself differently, I would look strange, I would harbor some kind of ache that I’d yearn to even identify. I would be somebody else, someone unimaginably timid. What Young Writers taught me, ultimately, was that “artist” is not a dirty word. It taught me that to fully embrace your identity as an artist, and as a writer in particular, was not only a valid idea but a necessary step. It took a long time for that to sink in, but I can’t tell you how happy it’s made me once I fully realized it. My small part in making that experience happen for other students has made me a kinder, more thoughtful filmmaker, and I think we’re in dire need of thoughtful filmmaking.
Don’t wait. Wherever you are, sit down, grab a pen, and look at the blank page like an invitation. When you’re ready, start writing. That’s all it ever takes.