Jay Jennings

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Jay Jennings
Jay Jennings-Writer-Director-Producer-Musician-Author.jpg
Born(1965-08-23)August 23, 1965
OccupationIndependent filmmaker, author
Years active1999–present

Jay Robert Jennings (born August 23, 1965) is an American independent filmmaker and author. He has directed two feature films, Loanshark (1999) and Hell to Pay (2014), as well as, an assortment of short films and documentaries. Jennings uses handheld cameras and cinéma vérité techniques, shooting his films among old Hollywood buildings and streets.[1]

Early life[edit]

Jennings was born in Hollywood, California. He grew up making Super-8 movies and screening them for friends and family. He graduated from Beverly Hills High School and then attended film courses at Columbia College Hollywood (CCH), UCLA, and the American Film Institute.[1]


Jennings writes, directs, produces, and composes the music for his films.[2] He uses digital movie cameras and adds a grainy film look during the editing process. He shoots low-budget films, mostly without permits in a style called guerrilla filmmaking.[3] Film columnist David Del Valle referred to Jennings as a "maverick filmmaker."[4]

In 1999, Jennings directed his first feature Loanshark, a drama which the Los Angeles Times considered the "Best Bet" for film when it premiered at the Vogue Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard.[5] Loanshark also screened at several film festivals in 2000, including Silver Lake,[6] South by Southwest, Santa Monica, and Melbourne Underground.[7] The film depicts the stressful life of a ruthless loan shark who drives around the streets of Hollywood looking for people who owe him money.[1]

In 2005, Jennings directed The Weird Museum, a documentary about a circus-like freak show which was located in Hollywood for many years. The documentary was shot just weeks before the museum closed in 1995 and is believed to be the only existing footage of the exhibits.[8] The film screened at the TromaDance Film Festival.[9]

Jennings wrote and directed The Drowning in 2013, an ambitious and fascinating short film about a father who loses his son in a swimming pool drowning after receiving a bizarre warning from a street preacher.[10] The film is constructed with a design that feels almost otherworldly.[11]

In 2014, Jennings directed his second feature Hell to Pay which was a loose remake of Loanshark. The film tells the story of a debt collector with a penchant for violence who dares to cross his boss.[12]


Jennings is also an amusement park historian.[13] In August 2009, his first book, Knott's Berry Farm: The Early Years, was published by Arcadia Publishing and features over 200 rare photographs that haven't been widely circulated.[14] The book goes into great detail in describing the history of Knott's Berry Farm and its founder, Walter Knott, including chapters about the park's Ghost Town, its attractions, street performers, and shops.[15] As of 2006, Jennings has been curator of The Knott's Berry Farm Museum,[16] home to the largest collection of vintage Knott's memorabilia in the world.[17] A copy of his book is housed in the Library of Congress.[18]

In August 2012, Jennings' second book, Beverly Park: L.A.'s Kiddieland, 1943-74, was published by Retro Image Publishing and features 175 never-before-published photographs.[19] The book tells the story of Beverly Park (also known as 'Kiddieland') and its owner Dave Bradley, who was a ride inventor and pioneer in the amusement park industry.[20] There are also chapters dedicated to all the kiddie rides, attractions, grounds, and party areas that made the park so popular for over 30 years. Beverly Ponyland, a place where children rode ponies around a track for 34 years and was located down the street from Beverly Park,[21] is also covered in the book.

In January 2019, Jennings' third book, Bob McAllister's Wonderama, was published, which chronicles the history of the popular, children's TV show from the 1960s and 70s.[22]



  • Loanshark. 1999.
  • The Weird Museum. 2005.
  • The Drowning. 2013.
  • Hell to Pay. 2014.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Davidson, Ben (1999-09-10). "BH Resident's New Film Unearths Seedy Life of Loanshark". The Beverly Hills Courier. p. 1.
  2. ^ Bernard, Ethan (2000-03-02). "A Life in the Movies: Beverly Hills director Jay Jennings shares secrets of his trade". Beverly Hills Weekly. p. 8.
  3. ^ Amiran, Eyal (2001-01-03). "Guerrilla Filmmaking". Los Angeles Independent. p. 1.
  4. ^ Del Valle, David (2005-06-01). "Camp David: IFC Short Films". Films in Review. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  5. ^ "Best Bet: Loanshark". Los Angeles Times. 1999-08-03. p. 5. Around The Westside section.
  6. ^ Amiran, Eyal (2000-09-20). "The Silver Screen comes to Silver Lake". Los Angeles Independent. pp. 2–3.
  7. ^ "Melbourne Underground Film Festival". 2000-07-22. Archived from the original on 2009-09-09. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  8. ^ "The Weird Museum (2005)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
  9. ^ "TromaDance Film Festival". 2005-01-27. Archived from the original on 2008-10-11. Retrieved 2009-08-12.
  10. ^ "Mondo Digital". 2013-04-11. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  11. ^ "The Independent Critic". 2013-04-15. Archived from the original on 2013-06-30. Retrieved 2013-04-15.
  12. ^ "Films In Review". 2011-02-15. Retrieved 2011-04-23.
  13. ^ Mello, Michael (2009-08-27). "From berry vines to the big time". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on 2013-01-30. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  14. ^ Larsen, Peter (2009-08-28). "History of Knott's Berry Farm in 200 rare photos". The Orange County Register. Archived from the original on 2009-09-01. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
  15. ^ Hood, Abbey (2009-08-28). "Jay Jennings Debuts Knott's Berry Farm Book" (PDF). The Beverly Hills Courier. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-10-01.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Weil, Marty (2008-03-14). "Interview with Jay Jennings: Knott's Berry Farm Collector". Ephemera. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  17. ^ Mao, Nikki (2009-11-04). "Knott's Berry Farm Museum Curator Speaks". The Daily Titan. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
  18. ^ Library of Congress Catalog Record (August 2009). "Knott's Berry Farm: The Early Years". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 2012-12-13. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
  19. ^ Gray Painter, Alysia (2012-08-06). "Remembering L.A.'s Kiddieland". NBCLosAngeles.com. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  20. ^ Hopkins, Roland (2007-10-14). "Carousel History Repeats". The Carousel News & Trader. Retrieved 2012-08-06.
  21. ^ Thompson, Elizabeth (1978-07-28). "New Mall to Bushwack Riders Along the Pony Trail". Los Angeles Times. p. 4.
  22. ^ Jennings, Jay (2019-01-03). Bob McAllister's Wonderama. ISBN 978-1790317073.

External links[edit]