Who is Jon Alexander? Well to many St. Louisans, he’s the guy always with a camera. Not standing in front of it, but the guy behind it. Capturing images of all things in the Lou. Everything from our downtown skyscrapers to the hidden gems of our beautiful city. But the fun for Jon doesn’t stop there. His most recent production highlights more of St. Louis than meets the eye. STL Made hit the scene (no pun intended laughs) a few weeks back. Capturing the areas of the Lou that doesn’t get talked about. Everything from our local earteries, to our one and only Vess soda. Yet, his work doesn’t stop there. Last summer, Jon helped produce the PBS hit documentary Gentlemen Of Vision. The documentary covers the story of young men in our area, beating the odds of growing up in the impoverished North County community; overcoming all the odds against them through stepping and brotherhood. Now, I won’t give away to much, because Jon shared with DELUX all of his accomplishments, goals and more.
DELUX Magazine: What’s it like being a filmmaker?
Jon: I love it, I love being able to tell stories through visuals. I love being able to evoke emotion and bring people into my world.
DELUX Magazine: Tell me about your experience about your first major project?
Jon: It’s been an amazing experience. I had to really challenge myself to lock in on a project long term, and really flush it out. It’s also been very reassuring to see how many people believe in and support the project. Being so close to it, it feels good to have people as hype about it as I am.
DELUX Magazine: As a new comer on the TV/producing scene how did you convince others to collaborate with you, how did you get your work out there?
Jon: Honestly, I think I have to attribute it to having good energy and being able to vibe with people. I feel most creatives collaborate mostly off of energy. The quality of content is what reels people in, but the connection is what solidifies the collaboration. I would say my work mostly gets out there through me sharing on social media and word of mouth.
DELUX Magazine: Now that you have made a name for yourself, how do you determine which projects you are willing to work on?
Jon: Continuing from the previous question, it’s all about energy for me. Because this is what I love to do, I’m going to put my all into it. There are going to be stressful moments, and late nights, so I have to feel like it is worth what I’m putting into it. If I’m not feeling it, my work will definitely reflect that, and nothing good ever comes of that.
DELUX Magazine: What are some of your techniques that you use to capture the story behind your images?
Jon: I have to get a feel for the essence of what I’m capturing. I have to be able to understand it, in order to translate it into what I’m seeing and use the tools and techniques at my disposal to do so.
DELUX Magazine:What are some of the obstacles as a freelancer?
Jon: I would say one of the biggest obstacles for me would be creative freedom. There are passion projects and projects to pay the bills, though the former doesn’t always come as often. Regarding the latter, there are times that you have to sacrifice your vision in order to get the job done. Sometimes that can be frustrating, but bills have to be paid!
DELUX Magazine: Was there a particular time or event that you realized you wanted to make filmmaking your career?
Jon: It was when I got my first big check that I realized that this is definitely what I want to do. Someone was paying me to do what I love to do, and not only that, but also have a lot of creative freedom as well. It was also when I realized I was asking for nowhere near what I was worth.
DELUX Magazine: What project seemed most challenging, what lessons did you learn from it?
Jon: I would have to say “St. Louis Made” has been my most challenging project thus far. With it being my first solo project, and a pretty big one at that, there where moments where I felt like I bit off more than I could chew. There were moments where small things were overlooked, deadlines approached faster than I thought. But I learned to stay on my toes, cross my t’s and dot my i’s, and that sometimes I need to just breathe.
DELUX Magazine: Looking back over your career what would you tell your younger self?
Jon: GO HARD. Trust yourself. Put 110% into yourself, your craft and watch what doors begin to open for you.
DELUX Magazine: How does living in St. Louis influence your work?
Jon: Living in St. Louis has taught me one of the most important things I’ve ever learned; how to make something out of nothing. There aren’t many resources here, and the resources that are here, you really have to dig for and prove yourself worthy of. So with that being said, with all of my projects, money and budget comes second. What’s most important is what I can do with my two hands and the people I know. From there, money only enhances things creatively and not superficially.
DELUX Magazine:: Tell me about STL Made?
Jon: St. Louis Made is my first solo project as a filmmaker. It’s a docu-series
taking a look into the side of St. Louis that the rest of the world doesn’t
really see. We’re known all over for sports and beer, but there’s so much more
magic to this city, and my goal was to shine a light on that.
DELUX Magazine: What film/TV show had the most influence on you and why?
Jon: Entourage played a big part in me continuing to dream big and chase after my goals. It was a cool look into a group of broke friends that made it to Hollywood and the trials and tribulations that came with it. Get Out changed the way I thought about filmmaking completely. I thought about that film for 3-4 days straight after seeing it.Ttrying to break down the many different hidden messages. I ultimately had to go to the theatre to see it a second time.
DELUX Magazine: How do you keep your ideas fresh?
Jon: I spend my down time watching tutorials, episodic television and movies, and listening to music. Music is a huge inspiration to my work and where I am today. I also like to spend a lot of time outdoors and near water. It helps clear my mind and get ideas going.
DELUX Magazine:Do filmmakers have a responsibility to the culture, do they have to give back, or tell a particular story?
Jon: Yes, I believe everyone has a responsibility to give back and shed light on/tell certain stories; especially creatives. Having a creative talent is a blessing that not many people receive, it’s almost like having a super power. It would be harmful to not use that power to help move the culture and humanity forward in the best way you know how.
DELUX Magazine: What college did you attend and why did you choose that major?
Jon: I originally was into photography, and dabbled in video from time to time. Back in high school, music was my thing. But we needed visuals so people knew who we were, and that was always kind of my thing. When looking for schools, the one I ended up choosing only had a Film Production major, but had a photography class also, so I thought I’d learn the filmmaking side of things as well.
DELUX Magazine: Because the film industry has changed so much, how has that changed you as a creator?
Jon: It’s definitely kept me on my toes and has challenged me to stay innovative. I’ve seen my work evolve over time, but the core of it has generally stayed the same. It keeps me sharp, and I’m able to sort of reinvent myself from time to time.
Well, as you can see Jon for sure is on his way to the top of the film/production industry, and it looks like he will be taking St. Louis with him. Keep watch because we never know when he may appear on the Emmys!
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