“Meet the Artist” is a series of interviews with the Iowa Arts Council Artist Fellows.
Jack Meggers is on a role this year.
The Iowa filmmaker was selected as an artist-in-residence with Ballet Des Moines, directed a music video for The Maytags and art-directed a short film about the impact — and promising upshot — of an Electrolux factory’s closing in Webster City.
At the same time, he started casting for a new short film called “Undertow” with Bruce James Bales and continues work on his first feature-length movie, “The Burial,” a cautionary tale of what happens when people have to own up to their selfish choices.
Most recently, Jack was selected as one of five new additions to the Iowa Arts Council’s Artist Fellowship Program. Each fellow receives a professional-development training along with $10,000 grant to support new work.
During the next year, Jack and the other fellows will display and discuss their work in communities across the state. We’ve asked each artist to share a bit about their background, their work and their thoughts about the arts in Iowa. So far, we’ve posted interviews with Iowa City writer Rachel Yoder, Grinnell artist Lee Emma Running, Ames artist Jennifer Drinkwater and Dubuque musician River Breitbach.
Each fellow shared a 3-minute presentation about their work during a workshop last month at the State Historical Museum of Iowa, where Jack offered a quick sample of his recent films:
So let’s get to know Jack just a bit better. He grew up in the Mason City/Clear Lake area and spent 15 years working in the film and TV industry in New York and Los Angeles before coming back home.
Where do you do your work now?
I make my work all over, but right now I’m working primarily here in Iowa. The locations for my current feature film project are in various larger cities in Iowa, as well as in the far northeast corner of the state, in and around Lansing.
What’s your medium of choice?
My artistic medium is cinematic storytelling, specifically, narrative feature films. I’ve chosen to make a life in cinema because I find that movies are a powerful way to stimulate cathartic reactions in an audience and a compelling way to communicate ideas.
What themes does your work explore?
My work deals with family, love (unrequited and otherwise), spirituality, environmentalism, indigenous culture, and the intersection and connectivity of all of those themes.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently working on my first narrative feature film, a supernatural-psychological thriller entitled “The Burial.”
What do you enjoy about being an artist in Iowa?
As an artist, I enjoy how easy it is to make connections with people all across the state. I enjoy how easy it is to meet with and talk to people about making movies here in Iowa.
What is one thing you would change about the artistic field in Iowa?
The biggest challenge I face as a narrative filmmaker is finding individuals and companies that are willing to sponsor or invest in a commercial feature film. There is of course a for-profit element to my art, and movies are meant to be bought and sold as commodities, but they are still works of art at the end of the day. I would like to see interest in the cinematic arts expand into the realm of investment, and to see my and other filmmakers’ works be financed and produced here in Iowa.
What’s coming up?
I’m planning to produce a short version of my feature-length screenplay in September of 2017. After that, I will hopefully garner enough financial support to mount the full feature production in the spring or summer of 2018.