I had the pleasure of interviewing Iver William Jallah who is a film director and screenplay. His very first screenplay ever written “Grand Isle” ramped into the feature film production with Oscar winning actor Nicholas Cage & and Emmy winner Kelsey Grammar. The film also made it to the well respected and prestigious “Cannes Film Festival”
Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I find film making extremely challenging with huge reward if executed properly. I guess I’m a thrill junkie, so naturally I’m attracted to that side of it. But when the stakes are high and millions are on the line you truly get tested. Besides that, I fell in love with movies with great acting and good stories growing up. But after filming stuff of my own, and attending film school, I realized how much went on behind the scenes and I became fascinated with the process.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Having to calm down a pissed off Nicholas Cage after day drinking in Baton Rouge with him and the other star actors. He was upset with someone extremely important on set. And I pretty much had to save the movie if I didn’t talk him down. But I did, and all was well the next day. Close call.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Never enter an industry without a good lawyer or someone with experience having your back. Not funny but it is something I had to learn.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am writing a high energy dark comedy that I really feel confident about. My co producers are excited for me to finish from the little they’ve heard about the story. Normally that’s the hardest part in getting a movie made. The twist about this one is that it’s based on true events from my life.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Cage was the most interesting person I’ve met. It was hard to tell if he was in or out of character the first few days on set. But after a few drinks downtown Baton Rouge I realized he’s a normal guy like myself. We still communicated by text after filming Grand Isle. Really nice guy.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I love my fellow filmmakers, producers and actors. If I started a movement it would be to scout the best writers and filmmakers from small towns that feel they’ll never make it out or be taken seriously. I would give them a hand and a form of direction. I love a good underdog story because I am one myself.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started out” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Check their resume before believing what they tell you.
If you could go back and talk to your younger self, what would you tell him and why?
I wouldn’t tell him anything. I feel like we make life learning decisions when we aren’t warned or guided. I know myself well enough to understand that I am hard headed and I do what feels right. If its a mistake, I’ll find out the hard way. Unfortunately that’s how I learn. But it makes for good stories over drinks.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Do what Feels right to you. Pray, meditate, go through a process that’s comfortable before making big decisions.. Listen well, but go and see for yourself. So many people told me don’t do this and that, while having their own motives at hand. “Rich Africans” was a loss to me but I got the hands on experience I needed to do it properly next time. With having so much good and hard working energy on set I wouldn’t trade those moments for the world.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Jeff Rice and Jake Seal are the two power producers that believed in my first film and walked me through the entire process from enhancing my script to getting it into Cannes Film Festival. Other than the fact of this being my dream career and putting the effort in making it a reality, I really owe them one for helping me get there.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I’m a big fan of Wes Anderson’s creative body of work. He’s arguably one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. If I could pick his brain or simply have a drink with him, that would be cool.
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