Jason Winn is Having a Moment

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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 family.”

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