Murfreesboro Pulse: How would you describe your film?
Jones: Beautiful Jim is the story of an HIV-positive singer/songwriter’s triumph over AIDS.
What challenges did you/your crew encounter while making the movie?
Production as a one-man band is always a challenge, so I leaned heavily on our GoPro camera for master shots to help me get adequate coverage during performance sequences.
How long have you been working in motion pictures?
In the process of filmmaking, how much of the creativity is found in production? How much improvisation do you find on set?
It always helps to have a plan, but the movie really takes shape during the edit.
What attracted you to the medium of film?
I was attracted to documentary film when I realized, “Why do you have to make anything up?”
What would you say of the place motion pictures have in our culture?
To paraphrase John Grierson, documentary film is both a mirror that reflects culture and a hammer that shapes it.
What makes a great movie? What elements do you think an audience should look to appreciate?
It always comes back to story, and compelling characters make us care. We typically enjoy seeing someone striving to reach their objectives, especially if they’re an underdog.
How did you learn your craft?
I was a computer programmer for years, and somewhere along the way I became interested in documentary film. Not having the slightest idea how to make a movie, I bought a cheap camera and chronicled a grave dowser searching for unmarked graves in my family cemetery. Lo and behold, the resulting film got into several festivals, and I was hooked. I quit my job, went back to film school, worked free-lance for a couple of years, and am now with the University of Mississippi’s Southern Documentary Project.
What themes do you like to explore in film?
The human condition: hopes, dreams, fears, loss.
What inspires/influences you?
The South in general and Mississippi specifically have shaped me. Also roots music, Southern fiction, and growing up an only child.
Are there any particular genres you favor over others?
I work exclusively in documentary.
On what projects are you currently working?
I’m currently producing a nature documentary.
What advice do you have to aspiring filmmakers?
Try to let your reach exceed your grasp.
What do you see for the future of storytelling through motion pictures?
The ever-increasing affordability of technology will continue to democratize the filmmaking process, but hopefully style will never prevail over substance.