Jason Winn didn’t grow up wanting to make movies. He wanted
to be a psychologist. He even went to school at the University of West Georgia
to study psychology. But the universe had different plans for him.
“I went to bed one night,” he remembers, “and woke up the
next morning and said, ‘I want to be a film director.’ I had never had that
thought, in my entire being. And it was this defining moment in my life that
changed the whole course. I had know idea how to do it; I had never even picked
up a camera before.”
In this day and age, there are many, many people who have
that thought. Very few of them ever give it a try. Even fewer - in fact, a truly miniscule number - are ever able to make a living out of making independent
films. Winn has been able to do that.
“The idea is you just do it,” he laughs. “I’ve done it every
day since I was nineteen. There have been left turns, and right turns, and
things that have propelled me in other directions, but ultimately it’s been
this wiggle path to get to be a director. When you want to be a director and a
producer, the only way to do it is to direct and produce. Nobody’s going to hand
you the money. You have to go prove that you can do it.”
This year Jason has no fewer than five projects coming out,
and he spent a little bit of time in the interview talking about each. “Shifting
Gears is a family action comedy that comes out March 23 in theaters across the
nation,” he says. “It deals with dirt track racing, but it’s ultimately a story
of fathers and sons. It’s got a huge cast. C. Thomas Howell, Emmett Walsh, John
Ratzenberger, Brooke Langton, Keith Harris. Keith has now gone on to being in
The Walking Dead, and a lot of other stuff. He’s the one who really willed this
thing into happening. If you like racing and have a family, and you want a
heartfelt story, Shifting Gears is a great hour and a half to spend with your
The other project currently out has quite a different feel
to it. “Rave Party Massacre is basically, a bunch of kids go into an abandoned
hospital, they’re partying, it’s 1992, they’re taking drugs, and they wake up
in a morgue drawer,” he explains. “We wanted to focus on a sort of political
thriller horror film. And I had never worked in this genre before. But it’s
kind of a throwback to old school horror movies from the Eighties and Nineties,
but it’s much more sophisticated than that. Jonathan Hickman and I interviewed
George Romero at Sundance before he died, and he gave this political diatribe
that kind of fits with the theme of this movie, so at the end of the movie we
put it in and dedicated the movie to him.”
You can hear the entire interview at the link above to
discover all of Jason’s five 2018 films, and to hear more of his advice on how
to make a living as a working filmmaker.
To learn more about Shifting Gears, go here.
To learn more about Rave Party Massacre, go here.
For all things Jason Winn, go here.
Photograph by Maggie Hickman