Jon Reiss

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Jon Reiss
Born Jonathan Reiss
United States
Occupation Film director, producer, writer, teacher
Years active 1980 – present

Jon Reiss is a film producer and director, and an author. He has made the feature film Cleopatra’s Second Husband (1998) and the documentaries Better Living Through Circuitry (1999) and Bomb It (2007). He has directed music videos for Nine Inch Nails, Slayer, Danzig, the Black Crowes, Type O Negative and Kottonmouth Kings. He has written the books Think Outside the Box Office (2010) and Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul (2011).

Reiss was named one of "10 Digital Directors to Watch" by Daily Variety in 2000.[1]

Film career[edit]

Reiss graduated with a bachelor's 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.

He started working in film in 1981 with Target Video until 1983, where he worked on numerous documentaries about the West Coast punk scene, many of which were titled "Underground Forces". Bands and artists he documented include Black Flag, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, T.S.O.L., Z'EV, Johanna Wendt, The Cramps and 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 made five documentaries about the performance group Survival Research Laboratories. He also wrote, produced and directed the short narrative film A Bitter Message of Hopeless Grief (1988) featuring the group's anthropomorphic robots. Baited Trap (1985) was Reiss' first short film narrative made during his first year at UCLA Film School.

In 1992 Reiss directed the music video for "Happiness in Slavery" by Nine Inch Nails, which included Bob Flanagan. It won awards at the Chicago International Film Festival, 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.[citation needed] It was banned from MTV.[citation needed] He went on to direct music videos for Slayer, Danzig, The Black Crowes, Type O Negative, Kottonmouth Kings and others. In 1995 the Toronto International Film Festival curated a retrospective of his music videos.

In 1992 Reiss co-produced Love Is Like That, a feature drama starring Tom Sizemore, Pamela Gidley, Seymour Cassel, Richard Edson, Debi Mazar and Joe Dallesandro.[2] His first feature length film as director, Cleopatra’s Second Husband (1998), is a psychological drama that won Best First Feature at Cinequest Film Festival.[citation needed]. His documentary feature about rave culture, Better Living Through Circuitry (1999) with Crystal Method, Roni Size and Moby, earned Reiss Best Documentary Director at Chicago Underground Film Festival.[citation needed]

Bomb It (2007) is a feature documentary about graffiti and street art culture. It included Taki 183, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, DAIM, Revok and others and was shot on location in New York, Philadelphia, London, Paris, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Barcelona, Berlin, Cape Town, São Paulo, Tokyo, and Los Angeles. IGN stated: "At the core of the film is a poignant social statement about public space and the war being waged for it." Bomb It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival as an Official Selection.[3] Bomb It 2 (2010) was commissioned as a Web series for the digital broadcast network Babelgum and expands the reach of Bomb It into Asia and South East Asia, the Middle East as well as Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Reiss traveled to Bangkok, Jakarta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Palestinian refugee camps on the West Bank, Perth, Melbourne, Copenhagen, Chicago and Austin. It includes the artists Ash, Phibs, Stormie Mills, Beejoir, and others.


Based on his experience releasing Bomb It, using a hybrid distribution strategy including a do-it-yourself twenty city theatrical release, Reiss wrote his first book, Think Outside the Box Office: The Ultimate Guide to Film Distribution and Marketing for the Digital Era (2010) – a step-by-step guide addressing how filmmakers should approach distribution and marketing in today's extremely digitized world. Think Outside the Box Office contains the opinions, strategies and tactics of 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.[4]

In 2011 Reiss released the book Selling Your Film Without Selling Your Soul, co-written with Sheri Candler and The Film Collaborative. The book includes case studies on independent film distribution.

In 2011 Reiss also contributed to the free ebook The Modern Moviemaking Movement.


Reiss 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.[citation needed]

Awards and recognition[edit]


Feature length films and documentaries[edit]

Short film[edit]

Films on Survival Research Laboratories[edit]

  • A Scenic Harvest From The Kingdom of Pain (1984) – Survival Research Laboratories, 44 mins
  • Baited Trap: a Tale of Meat, Torment and Murder (1985) – Survival Research Laboratories, 12 mins
  • Virtues of Negative Fascination: Five Mechanized Performances by Survival Research Laboratories (1986) – Survival Research Laboratories
  • The Will to Provoke (1988) – Survival Research Laboratories, 42 mins
  • The Pleasures of Uninhibited Excess (1990) – documentation of three Survival Research Laboratories performances, 45 mins
  • Ten Years of Robotic Mayhem (2001 or 2004) – compilation DVD of his work with Survival Research Laboratories, OCLC 55872058

Music videos[edit]


  1. ^ a b Jill Feiwell, "Industryites dig digital derby", Variety (magazine), 17 April 2000. Accessed 24 November 2017
  2. ^ a b "Love Is Like That (1992): Full Cast & Crew", IMDb. Accessed 21 November 2017
  3. ^ a b Guerrasio, Jason (March 12, 2007). "Tribeca announces competition and spotlight selections". Filmmaker.
  4. ^ Adam Chapnik, "Distribution Ammunition: An Indispensable Manual for the DIY Forces", 18 March 2010. Accessed 1 June 2010 Archived June 26, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]