Alan Jacobs (born 1 December 1958) is an American independent film director, screenwriter and producer. His films have been acquired by major distributors, including Miramax and Columbia Pictures and have been invited to several major festivals, including Sundance and Toronto. His career began at Apple Inc., where he was the in-house filmmaker. Jacobs is a graduate of Wesleyan University and the Stanford Business School.
Jacobs was born in New York City to Bernard and Sara Jacobs. His ties to the entertainment industry began at home – his father worked as a cameraman for NBC in the early days of television and later as an editor for CBS News in New York.
As a child, Jacobs was a voracious reader with a particular interest in sports. At Tappan Zee High School, in Orangeburg, New York he discovered a passion for writing. He began reporting for his high school newspaper as a freshman and eventually became editor-in-chief. Besides reading and writing about sports, Jacobs was also a varsity letterman in soccer.
After a brief stint in the pre-med program at Wesleyan University, Jacobs switched to studying writing and literature. Until he wrote his first screenplay in his mid-20s, Jacobs had almost no interest in movies. That experience infected him with the movie bug, apparently for life.
After graduating from Stanford Business School, Jacobs’ first paid job was making promotional videos for Apple under the title of “In-House Filmmaker.” He later moved from the Bay Area to Los Angeles in order to advance his film career.
Jacobs realized early on that independent filmmaking offered the creative freedom that best suited his lifestyle. His first feature, Nina Takes a Lover (1994), was a purely independent film that Jacobs wrote, directed and produced for $600,000. Both the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival accepted the film. Soon after Sundance, Columbia Pictures bought the rights to Nina Takes a Lover and distributed it theatrically. Sundance that year launched the careers of a distinguished group of filmmakers, including, David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), Kevin Smith (Chasing Amy), Boaz Yakin (Remember the Titans) and the team of Scott McGehee and David Siegel (What Maisie Knew).
Jacobs demonstrated his versatility as a director in his next film, Just One Night (2000), a screwball comedy about the crazy exploits of an earnest groom-to-be. The film stars Oscar-winning actor Timothy Hutton. Critics described the film as “romantic, lively, sexy, original, flawlessly produced.”
Following Just One Night, Jacobs co-directed the animated film Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists (2000) with Evan Ricks. It was the first movie ever created solely from the motion capture process. The film, described by critics as “[an] adventure story created with state-of-the-art computer technology,” stars Brendan Fraser, Leonard Nimoy and Mark Hamill.
In his next film, American Gun (2002), Jacobs returned to the drama genre. Starring the Oscar-winning James Coburn, the film follows an anguished father’s journey to trace the gun that killed his daughter. It was Coburn’s final screen appearance, which ends fittingly with the legendary actor staring straight into the camera lens.
Jacobs suggests that his early filmmaking career offered him opportunities to master the craft of film directing. He cites Malcolm Gladwell's book “Outliers”, in which the author postulates that it takes 10,000 hours to master a craft.
His most recent film, Down for Life (2009), is based on a true story about a Hispanic teenage girl who was a gang leader in South Central Los Angeles. The film stars Jessica Romero, who was discovered on a lunch line at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, with a supporting cast that includes Danny Glover, Kate Del Castillo, Laz Alonso, Elizabeth Pena and Snoop Dogg. The producers of the film visited several inner city schools and conducted brief auditions with approximately 600 teenage girls before casting Romero and her co-stars, Sheila Ochoa, Isamar Guijarro, Ilene Trujillo, and Andrea Valenzuela. Jacobs was inspired by the Italian Neorealist tradition of casting non-actors to heighten a film’s authenticity and grittiness. Jacobs cites films like Open City, The Bicycle Thief, and City of God – all of which combined trained actors with authentic amateurs – as blazing a trail for others to make unconventional directorial decisions. Down for Life was invited to both the Toronto and Sundance Film Festivals (though it was not completed in time to screen at the latter). Critics described the film as “moving, motivating, and a must-see.”
- Nina Takes a Lover (1994) Director, Producer, Writer
- Mail Bonding (1995) Writer, Executive Producer
- Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists (2000) Director
- Just One Night (2000) Director, Writer
- American Gun (2002) Director, Writer
- Down for Life (2009) Director, Writer
- Alan Jacobs, Filmbug, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.filmbug.com/db/36498>
- Alan Jacobs, IMDB, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0414312/>
- Apple, Retrieved 7 June 2013 < http://www.apple.com/>
- Wesleyan University, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.wesleyan.edu>
- Stanford Graduate School of Business, Retrieved 7 June 2013 < http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/>
- NBC, Retrieved 7 June 2013 < http://www.nbc.com/>
- CBS New York, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://newyork.cbslocal.com/>
- Tappan Zee High School, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.socsd.org/tzh/tappanzeehigh.htm>
- Alan Jacobs Filmography, Fandango, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.fandango.com/alanjacobs/filmography/p277041>
- “Alan Jacobs Video” Online Video Guide, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.ovguide.com/alan-jacobs-9202a8c04000641f800000000092c3fe>
- Nina Takes a Lover, Zimbio, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.zimbio.com/watch/1gx2Sf_IX5y/Nina+Takes+A+Lover/Nina+Takes+A+Lover>
- Nina Takes a Lover (1994), IMDB, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0110671/>
- Sundance Film Festival, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.sundance.org/festival/>
- Toronto International Film Festival, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://tiff.net/>
- Columbia Pictures, IMDB, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/company/co0071509/>
- David O. Russell, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0751102/>
- Kevin Smith, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0003620/>
- Boaz Yakin, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0945026/>
- Scott McGhee, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0569166/>
- David Siegel, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0796915/>
- 1994 Sundance Film Festival, Sundance Archives, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://history.sundance.org/events/29>
- Just One Night, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0201901/>
- Timothy Hutton, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000459/?ref_=tt_ov_st>
- Just One Night Review, TopTenREVIEWS, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://movies.toptenreviews.com/reviews/mr162521.htm>
- Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of the Mists, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0144608/>
- Evan Ricks IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0725572/?ref_=tt_ov_dr>
- Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists, Rotten Tomatoes, Retrieved 7 June 2013 , http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/sinbad_beyond_the_veil_of_mists/>
- Brendan Fraser, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000409/?ref_=tt_cl_t3>
- Leonard Nimoy, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000559/?ref_=tt_cl_t8>
- Mark Hamill, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000434/?ref_=tt_cl_t5>
- American Gun, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0270197/>
- James Coburn, IMDB, Retrieved 7 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000336/?ref_=tt_cl_t1>
- Outliers, Gladwell Dot Com, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.gladwell.com/outliers/>
- Down For Life, IMDB, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1056477/>
- Jessica Romero, IMDB, Retrieved 17 June 2013 <http://www.imdb.com/name/nm3595175/>
- Lending ‘Down for Life’ Their LA Authenticity, LA Times, Retrieved 17 June 2013 <http://articles.latimes.com/2009/sep/14/entertainment/et-down14>
- Down for Life, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://www.downforlifemovie.com/directors-statement.html>
- Down for Life, TIFF Reviews, Retrieved 4 June 2013 <http://exclaim.ca/Reviews/TIFF/down_for_life-directed_by_alan_jacobs/?>
- Down for Life, The Voice, Retrieved 17 June 2013