BTSCelebs: Tell us about some of the people you knew who started in Second City that rose to fame.
Jack C Newell: I might be too young still to know people who have “rose to fame.” I remember doing some shows with Vanessa Bayer (from SNL) and she has a part in a short film I made a few years ago, Stages of Emily. I also produced/directed a sitcom pilot for one of those sitcom pilot competitions many years back with Steven Yeun (Walking Dead). Both of those pre-famous people were very nice to me at the time. It’s nice to see that people who are cool and nice get some success.
And then, I’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of Second City alum in my various films – but they were already well known by time they stooped down to work with me: TJ Jagodowski, David Pasquesi, Tim Kazurinsky, Bruce Jarchow, Mark Belden, Holly Laurent.
Other than comedy, will the new program focus on different genres of film – drama, adventure, action?
The Second City Training Center already offers some classes that focus on dramatic improvisation, so that’s a natural growth area for the TV, Film & Digital program.
I think what makes The Second City Training Center and The Second City proper so cool is that we don’t necessarily create comedians, although a lot of people go on to successful careers in comedy, but we create well rounded creators because we are teaching a process that accesses their inherent creativity.
You had your films screened at several film festivals, what was your favorite festival and tell us about an unforgettable moment there?
I’ve had the honor and pleasure to screen at a lot of festivals and all of them have been memorable and special for different reasons. When you have a film in a festival it’s such a surreal experience. You spend months, sometimes years in this weird bubble called “your movie.” Then when the festival happens, you get to share it.
I will admit that whenever I do a screening, I am pretty emotional – when you see a joke land that you knew was going to land, or when the audience gasps at the moment you wanted them to gasp at – it definitely feels like Mission Accomplished.
Anyway – favorite festival? My first (all improvised) feature film, Close Quarters screened at The Montreal World Film Festival – which is a big fest with a market attached to it. It is my favorite because it’s the biggest film festival I had screened at (I don’t count Cannes, because anyone can screen at Cannes). My favorite moment there actually has nothing to do with the film. I don’t always sit through my films when they screen because by the time it is screening at a festival I’ve seen the thing innumerable times, I’ve seen what it could have been, I’ve seen what it was, and I’ve seen what it is. To say I have it memorized doesn’t go far enough, at this point it’s like the film is part of you. So, I usually go and grab a drink or a bite to eat (a lot of filmmakers do this).
My memory of Montreal is going to the crappiest bar we could find and drinking beers and eating poutine with my girlfriend (now fiancé). That experience of sharing food and being in love is part of the basis for my new film, Open Tables (see below).
What Jack C. Newell project can we expect to see in the near future?
We are currently in sound mix for Open Tables that I wrote, produced, directed and act in. We filmed at some of the best restaurants in world as well as in Paris, France. It also stars the best improvisors in the world including TJ Jagodowski, David Pasquesi, Joel Murray, Colleen Doyle, Bill Arnett, Kate Duffy, Linda Orr, Susan Messing, and some very fine actors who can also improvise – Desmin Borges (in the upcoming FX series, You’re the Worst), and Chicago stage actors Caroline Neff, Beth Lacke, and Keith Kupferer.
We will be finishing it this summer and then going festivals / distribution in fall / winter of this year.
*A Special Thanks to Jack C. Newell and Liza Massingberd/The Silverman Group for the Interview and Image*