Jay

A glimpse into the extraordinary and complex life of Jay Kyle Peterson, an abstract artist with an even more abstract past.

Director’s Statement

This has been the longest I’ve ever worked on any one single project in my career. I’m not sure, honestly, why I didn’t just throw in the towel on this beast. I’ve dropped other projects in the past. Something about this story though kept gnawing at me. The day that me and my editor exported out the master file was one of the most relieving feelings I’ve had.

I didn’t know much about Jay when we started this process. He acted in an Adidas commercial I shot and I liked his look, I thought he was a sweet man and that was about it. I found out he painted people’s soul energy- which was very different than my beliefs about the world at the time. I thought this could make an interesting 3 minute doc piece. Something to balance out my reel. It was initially for pure careerist motivations. And then we had the first interview. And I had no idea what I had gotten myself into.

After that interview I struggled with the footage. With the context. The approach. The tone. The story. The themes. It was such a large can of worms and I was drowning. We tried so many different versions of this piece. I couldn’t figure out what my place was as the filmmaker. I didn’t want to be exploitative. Or gratuitous. Or attention-seeking.

At one point it was a feature length film. At another point it was 5 minutes long. Some versions were purely experimental. Other versions were overtly sentimental. Many versions were an absolute mess.

I’d like to say there was a eureka moment, some point where I heard something in a song and it caused everything to click. But that didn’t happen. To be truthful, it was trusting the process of filmmaking. This is a discipline and we worked the process and eventually came to the simple realization that the approach was to just tell Jay’s story from Jay’s point of view.

It’s 20 minutes and it is quite simply just Jay telling his life story from his perspective. Very often the simplest approach is the best approach.

I could not be prouder of the work we did on it. And I could not be more grateful to all the people that were involved in the project- both in making the film and in consulting on it. Feedback is so important and especially in a project like this. Our collaborators really went out of their way to make this happen and push it to be as good as it could be.

I hope “Jay” finds a life with audiences. Connects with people. And allows them to make their own interpretations about the world. Because it definitely challenged my views.