|Occupation||director, producer, writer|
|Years active||1980 – present|
Jon Reiss is an award-winning producer and director, named one of "10 Digital Directors to Watch" by Daily Variety. His work has screened at prestigious film festivals around the world, including Sundance, Toronto, Berlin, Tribeca, Los Angeles, Rotterdam, Seattle, New Directors/New Films, and Sao Paulo, among others. As a result of this success, Reiss has built a dedicated global film audience.
Early and film career
Reiss graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Economics, Magna Cum Laude at the University of California, Berkeley and earned a Master in Fine Arts in Film and Television Production at the University of California, Los Angeles. Jon Reiss started working in film in 1981 with Target Video until 1983, where he worked on numerous documentaries of the West Coast punk explosion many of which were titled "Underground Forces". Bands and artists documented during this period include Black Flag, The Dead Kennedys, The Circle Jerks, T.S.O.L., Zev, Johanna Wendt, The Cramps, Iggy Pop. He traveled extensively in Europe screening the work and filming European punk rock bands in the early primitive years of video projection.
From 1983 to 1990 he worked on five documentaries featuring the internationally renowned performance group Survival Research Laboratories. In the same period he also wrote, produced and directed the short narrative film "A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief" featuring the anthropomorphic robots of Survival Research Laboratories. After graduating film school he produced Jill Goldman's feature Love is Like That.
In 1992 Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails requested that Reiss direct the music video for "Happiness in Slavery". From there Jon went on to direct music videos for Slayer, Danzig, the Black Crowes, Type O Negative, Kottonmouth Kings and numerous other groups. In 1995 the Toronto Film Festival curated a retrospective of his music video work.
Between 1997 and 2000 he produced and directed features Cleopatra's Second Husband while at the same time directing Better Living Through Circuitry. In 2004 he released the compilation DVD Survival Research Laboratories: Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem.
In 2005 he began production on Bomb It which was completed and premiered in 2007 at the Tribeca Film Festival. He went on to create a hybrid distribution strategy for Bomb it including a DIY twenty city theatrical release. Based on his experiences he wrote three articles for Filmmaker magazine about hybrid film distribution and began blogging for Ted Hope's Truly Free Film Blog. Jon has appeared on numerous film festival panels such as South By Southwest, Tribeca Film Festival, True/False and Los Angeles Film Festivals.
This work culminated in the seminal book Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era, which launched at the 2009 Independent Film Week in New York and the 2009 Vancouver International Film Festival.
Bomb It (2007) is a feature documentary covering the explosion of graffiti culture throughout the world – shot on five continents featuring such seminal figures as Taki 183, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, DAIM, Revok and many more. Globally comprehensive as well as politically relevant, (IGN.com) stated: “… At the core of the film is a poignant social statement about public space and the war being waged for it. Shot on location in New York, Philadelphia, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Barcelona, Berlin, Cape Town, São Paulo, and Tokyo, and Los Angeles. Bomb It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival as an Official Selection and has screened at over 20 others including Full Frame Documentary Festival.
Bomb It 2
Bomb It 2 (2010) was commissioned as a web series exclusively for the digital broadcast network Babelgum and expands the global reach of Jon Reiss' exploration of graffiti and street art into new and unexplored areas of Asia and South East Asia, the Middle East as well as Europe, the United States and Australia. Reiss traveled by himself to Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Palestinian refugee camps on the West Bank, Perth, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Chicago and Austin. Artists featured include Klone, KnowHope, GreatBates, Zero, Darbotz, Killer Gerbil, Bon, Alex Face, Sloke, Thor, Husk Mit Navn, Ash, Phibs, Stormie Mills, Beejoir & Souled Out Studios, Inspire, and many more.
Better Living Through Circuitry
Better Living Through Circuitry, Jon's previous documentary feature was a startling, humorous and entertaining glimpse into the exploding rave culture featuring such acts as the Crystal Method, Roni Size, and Moby, among others. The film played at such festivals as RESfest Digital Film Festival, Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, Copenhagen, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, Seattle, Vancouver, and Sheffield International Documentary Festival before being released theatrically in the United States. For his work Reiss was awarded the Best Documentary Director at the Chicago Underground Film Festival.
Cleopatra's Second Husband
Reiss' first film as director, Cleopatra's Second Husband (1998), is a psychological drama that screened at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, Seattle, Montreal World, Hamptons, Houston, Sao Paulo and Bangkok film festivals, winning Best First Feature at Cinequest before its theatrical release in the United States. DVD – First Run Features. Broadcast on IFC.
Love is Like That
In 1992 Jon produced a feature drama starring Tom Sizemore, Pamela Gidley, Seymour Cassel, Richard Edson, Debi Mazar, Joe Dallesandro.
A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief. Jon Reiss' short film (1986), screened at film festivals throughout the world including Sundance, Berlin, New Directors/New Films, Edinburgh. Broadcast in Europe and on PBS in the United States.
"Baited Trap" Short film (1985) Reiss' first short narrative made during his first year at UCLA Film School screened at the Berlin, Hong Kong, Torino, Bilbao, Goteborg Film Festivals.
As an award-winning music video director, Reiss has directed videos for Nine Inch Nails, The Black Crowes, Danzig, Slayer, and the Kottonmouth Kings. Reiss' Happiness in Slavery video for Nine Inch Nails won awards at the Chicago International Film Festival and Golden Gate Competition at the San Francisco International Film Festival and was voted Top Ten by the Village Voice Critics Poll for Best Music Video.
In 1995 the Toronto Film Festival curated a retrospective of Reiss' music videos. Jon also directed the music video It's Coming Down for Danzig during their "Classic" original lineup-era (1987–1994). Happiness in Slavery was banned from MTV and featured Bob Flanagan.
Jon's experience while releasing Bomb It with a hybrid strategy was the inspiration for writing his first book "Think Outside the Box Office" published March 2010 – a break-through step-by-step guide addressing how filmmakers should approach the distribution and marketing stage of the filmmaking process in today's extremely digitized world.
Within Think Outside the Box Office are the opinions, strategies and tactics of fellow indie distribution and marketing thought-leaders like über-consultant Peter Broderick, B-Side's Chris Hyams, Cinetic Rights Management's Matt Dentler, publicist Cynthia Swartz and filmmakers like Todd Sklar, Joe Swanberg and Cora Olson. Think Outside the Box Office central concern is how a film is targeted at an audience and how the filmmaker is able to understand and act on the preferences of the film's audience and Due to "Think Outside the Box Office" and its impact on the film industry. Think Outside the Box Office is currently used as a text for film courses at institutions such as Stanford, Princeton, UCLA and New York University.
In 2011 Reiss released the book Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul cowritten with Sheri Candler and The Film Collaborative. Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul features a series of case studies that dive deep into the real numbers and real details of independent film distribution. In 2011 Reiss also contributed to the free ebook The Modern Moviemaking Movement with Norman C. Berns, Gordon Firemark, Tom Malloy, Carole Dean, Peter D. Marshall, Gary King, Sheri Candler and Jason Brubaker.
Jon teaches in the Film Directing Program at California Institute of the Arts. He created the course "Real World Survival Skills: Everything I Wish I Had Been Taught in Film School" which covers the practical/business aspects of filmmaking from fundraising through distribution.
- Tribeca Film Festival
- Los Angeles Film Festival
- Palms Springs International ShortFest
Awards and recognitions
- In 2007 the feature Bomb It (2007) was chosen as the Official Selection at the Tribeca Film Festival, Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, Cork International Film Festival, Sao Paulo International Film Festival, and Encounters Film Festival in Cape Town, South Africa
- In 2000 named one of "10 Digital Directors to Watch" by Daily Variety
- In 1999 the feature Better Living Through Circuitry (1999) won the Silver Jury Award at the Chicago Underground Film Festival for Best Documentary.
- In 1999 the feature Cleopatra's Second Husband (1998) won the Silver Award at the WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival for Theatrical Feature Films – 006.
- In 1998 the feature Cleopatra's Second Husband (1998) was nominated at the Cinequest San Jose Film Festival for Best Feature and won the award at the same festival for Best First Feature.
- In 1998 the feature Cleopatra's Second Husband (1998) was nominated at the Hamptons International Film Festival for Best American Independent Film.
|2010||Bomb It 2|
|2001||Survival Research Laboratories: Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem|
|1999||Better Living Through Circuitry|
|1998||Cleopatra's Second Husband|
|1992||Broken For Music Videos Happiness in Slavery and Gave Up|
|1991||Love is Like That as Producer|
|1990||The Pleasures of Uninhibited Excess|
|1988||The Will to Provoke|
|1987||A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief|
|1986||Virtues of Negative Fascination|
|1984||A Scenic Harvest From The Kingdom of Pain|
- Love Is Like That at the Internet Movie Database
- author, Adam Chapnik, Distribution Ammunition: An Indispensable Manual for the DIY Forces, March 18, 2010, "http://www.documentary.org/content/distribution-ammunition-indispensable-manual-diy-forces", June 1, 2010