Featured PA Filmmaker - Jon Applebaum

Friday, October 18, 2019 1:08 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

By: Maria Shamkalian
PAFIA Vice-Chair

Jon Applebaum has been working as a Commercial Producer and Post-Supervisor at Neighborhood film Company for the past 5 years. Before working at Neighborhood, he worked on several feature films spanning a 9 year period, including There Will Be Blood and Silver Linings Playbook.

1) What is your most recent success and how did you accomplish it?
ghborhood just wrapped its first feature narrative film entitled Concrete Cowboys. It’s been thrilling to be a part of such an amazing company that continues to create quality content.

2) How did you get started in the film industry?
The first Production job I ever landed was on Talladega Nights thanks to a cousin of mine who was working as a Costumer. I worked as an office PA on 2nd unit, which led to the rest of my feature gigs.

3) Why do you choose to work in PA and what do you love the most about working in Pennsylvania?
Philly is my hometown so I’ve always had tremendous love for this city. There’s a story I tell that sums up my love for this city. I was talking with a guy who was based in LA but who was here for a few months due to work. He said to me, “In LA they stab you in the back.  Here in Philly, they stab you right in the chest.” The people here don’t BS you, they tell you exactly what’s on their mind. As a Producer, you have to listen to a lot of people’s concerns and decide the best course of action. I think this city has made me better at my job because everyone is very straightforward with you.

4) What are some of your favorite shooting locations in Pennsylvania?Anything close to my house. That’s a joke… but also true. The whole city is great. There’s so much character here, so much art and murals. We just did a Visit Philly spot that brought us to 33 different locations in 3 days.  Every location was unique. Many of them I was stepping into for the first time – and I’ve lived here all my life. There’s just so much to see, and it’s always changing.

5) What do you love the most about your job?
I’m extremely lucky to be working for Neighborhood in this industry. Neighborhood is a solid group of people who really care about each other and the work we do together. I also love traveling so scoring a job that brings me out of state or out of the country is also a huge plus.

6) What is your most memorable, most awkward, or funniest on set story?
Working in this industry sets you up with all sorts of wild stories. It’s a weird mix of people who all have their unique skill sets but somehow come together to make a movie. One of my most memorable experiences was while working on Talladega Nights.  John C. Reilly threw a house party for the cast and crew and invited everyone over for drinks. I somehow found myself in his kitchen with a couple other people talking to him about his past films. He told us stories of working on Magnolia and fighting a fake fish on A Perfect Storm. It was just a great time, he was such a nice guy and so welcoming. The whole cast and crew was like that. There were no egos - it was just the most talented people being funny as hell. I had a blast on that movie.

7) Do you have any upcoming Pennsylvania-based projects?
Most of our projects are based here in Philly. I mentioned our feature film Concrete Cowboys, which we wrapped in August. We are also hoping to shoot a documentary about the actual Fletcher Street riders later this year. There are a few commercial projects brewing as well.

8) PAFIA has been working hard on increasing the film tax credit in Pennsylvania and bringing more film work to our local crew and talent, but we must all unite to really make a difference. What can you tell our elected officials about the importance of PA film industry and the difference it has made in your life?
It’s simple. More production work in the area creates more jobs and more opportunities for local businesses to make money. This starts with the tax credit. If we increase or even uncap the tax credit we can build a production infrastructure that could rival any other major city.

9) What is your advice for the aspiring actors and filmmakers? Some steps to take? Some mistakes to avoid?
Work. Get out there and work. Work for free. Meet people. You have to build a network to make it. Every production job I’ve ever gotten was through someone I knew in the business. Also, on the creative side of things, create work for yourself. Give yourself the opportunity to show off your skills. You’re never going to get a job if you have nothing to show for it. If you want to direct, go out and direct. Build a reel. Know yourself and what sort of work you want to be creating. You’re never going to get hired to make comedy spots if you don’t have them on your reel. If that’s what you really want to do, go make a comedy spot yourself.

10) What are some good strategies to find more gigs?
Like I said, work and build a network of people. You can reach out to people on film.org who are posting gigs. You can also reach out to production companies and agencies. Let them know you’re available.

11) What are some of the most valuable lessons that you have learned about this industry and wish you knew earlier?
You really have to put yourself out there. The work isn’t going to come to you. You have to constantly reach out and find work for yourself when starting out. Be persistent without being annoying.

12) What is your favorite film shot in Pennsylvania?
I’m going to say 12 Monkeys. Terry Gilliam is so talented. I love everything he does.

13) What is your favorite project that you worked on?
Our short film The Cage holds a special place in my heart. It’s one of the best things I’ve ever helped produce and it’s opened a lot of doors for us.  

14) What is your biggest aspiration in this industry?
Next steps for me is to produce bigger budget commercials. I’d also like to produce a short narrative which I have written, which would hopefully lead to producing a feature of my own.

15) What would be the best way for our local PA cast and crew to submit to your upcoming projects?
You can email us at: hello@neighborhoodfilmco.com

Pennsylvania Film Industry Association (PAFIA)
461 Cochran Road, Box 246
Pittsburgh, PA 15228
(717) 833-4561  info@pafia.org

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