Jared Hollingsworth is an editor and colorist based in Hattiesburg. He is also a lecturer for the Media and Entertainment Arts program at the University of Southern Mississippi. His latest work as editor can be seen in the Mississippi-made film Open by Hattiesburg native filmmaker Miles Doleac. Open is now available to stream on Amazon Prime and Apple TV. The Mississippi red carpet premiere for Open will be held Friday, Nov. 10 at the Grand Theater in Hattiesburg at 6 p.m. For tickets, click here.
Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up in Newton and I went to Newton Academy. Then I went to East Central Community College, and that’s where I started studying music theory. I got an Associate’s degree in music from there and mainly played guitar. Then I moved to Hattiesburg and transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi. I was going to continue with music, obviously. Then I sat in on my first music theory class here and we started to look at the jury process and plan recitals, and I just started to get so burned out on the guitar and music theory. Then I took an editing class as an elective while still majoring in music. And I really liked it. So I ended up switching over to that and dropping the music major and going into radio, TV and film.
When did you discover your interest in working in film? Was it that first editing class?
Well, I was always interested in film. I really liked the process of it, and just general appreciation and watching movies. I was always interested in the behind-the-scenes stuff. I used to watch the documentaries on how the films were made. So I had an interest, and then I ended up taking the editing classes as an elective and I really loved putting it together. That was a fun component for me. You get all the pieces and then there’s so many options and so much you can do. That was really attractive to me. I just stuck with it from there on out.
I moved to Jackson for a bit after I graduated with my Master’s and I worked at WJTV directing the newscasts. At first, I was fine with it. And then it got pretty repetitive for me, so I just kept trying to learn stuff in between shows and study up on AfterEffects, Adobe premiere and all that.
I ended up getting an interim job here at USM, that’s when I first met Miles Doleac. A friend, Teddy Champion, was teaching at Southern and he gave me a call because he was moving to Alabama. Miles was working on The Historian at that moment, which was his first feature film. So, I came back to Hattiesburg and filled in for a week on The Historian set doing location sound. And then from there, I picked up a few classes to help teach because Teddy was transitioning out and they brought me on as a visiting instructor.
At what point did you realize you could take steps to pursue your career from Mississippi?
Leaving Mississippi was at some point a consideration, but I really love Hattiesburg and my wife really loves it here, too. We wanted to stay because we liked the family dynamic that it provides. We’re close to our families, but not super far away. But once I got the job at USM, I started doing more freelance work on the side and it just continued to grow. We’ve stayed here and more and more projects keep coming through. I’ve met a ton of people that are from Mississippi that get to work in the film industry. So, we just stuck it out and ran with it.
Other than at USM, what type of training have you had and where?
I’ve looked at a lot of online stuff. I did some linda.com learning for a bit back before it became part of LinkedIn. I’ve done some more training with Final Cut Pro 7, which is what I learned editing with. And then outside from that, I’ve tried to be part of any project that I could and just cutting as much as possible and learning from my mistakes and failures moving forward. You got to be willing to take a risk and give it a go and just figure it out as you progress. I’ve also gotten into color and DaVinci Resolve and some other things and a lot of that has been just pursuit of wanting to know more.
What was your very first film job? Was that The Historian?
Yeah, that was my first film job. I did some PA work prior on reality TV stuff. My first editorial gig was with a short film called Two Birds. That was my first one that I got to do the edit and the color on. And then from that point I’ve just consistently gotten work.
What are some of your most current and recent projects? Is most of your work done with Mississippi filmmakers?
Yeah. So I did the color on Driven which was with Glenn Payne. And then I also did the color for The Atoning, which was Michael Williams. And Michael shot Two Birds as well, the short film that I was talking about.
I also got to work as an assistant editor on A24’s The Inspection. They came to Jackson and they needed an AE, and they were going to run everything through Premiere. I picked up that gig by putting in with their post supervisor and they pulled me on and I was there for about a month doing all the assistant editor work and working with the digital imaging technician. I set everything up for the editor, Oriana Soddu, to do. She taught me a bunch of really cool stuff and was very nice and kind to me. That was a hell of a good time because I got to go on set some, too, and just see how a larger production worked. That was my first big experience with a major post-production workflow. I learned a lot on that project.
I also worked on Miles’ latest film, Open, that’s the last project I finished editing. Currently, I’m cutting Bone Face, which is an indie horror film with Michael Donovan Horn, the director, and Miles is helping produce it, along with Artist Vodka Films. Right now we’re in the second reel.
What was editing Open like, with all the music-video type sequences in it?
It was definitely challenging, but it did make it a hell of a lot more fun. It was a fun sandbox to play in. The film transitions from a typical narrative and then you get to jump into this different universe for a moment and you can just throw everything at the wall, and just do whatever you want and have fun with effects and try random things because it had that ‘80s vibe. So, we got to be sort of quirky with it. When I was first talking to Miles, he was like, just whatever gut reaction, whatever you think upfront when you go into these things, just throw it out there, nothing’s too weird or bizarre. It was a really good time but it took us a minute longer than usual on the project. The workflow was interesting because we were doing sub-masters because there were so many effects going into the music video pieces. I was working on sending those out, and the colorist was kicking those back to me to replace and then cut back in while we were still cutting the movie, all while sending stuff to the mix and VFX and all that. It was a really cool project and it’s been one of my favorite ones to date because I just got to experiment so much, you know?
You’ve worked with Miles on several projects now, how did that ongoing collaboration come about?
When I worked on The Historian, we didn’t know each other all that well. He was still teaching at Southern at the time before he moved to New Orleans and started teaching at Loyola. He wrote me one day and they were going to be working on a short film. He’s always been big into getting students on set to get that practical experience. I was up here in Hattiesburg where they were going to film the project. I met up with him at a Starbucks on campus and we had some coffee and we talked about the film and getting some students on there to work since I was teaching at the time there as a visiting instructor. And then I started asking him about if he had anybody to cut the project. And I was blunt about it and told him I’d like to give it a go. I said, if you trust me, I’ll cut the project and color it. And he gave me a chance and then it just worked from there on out. He liked the work that I did and I like working with him and (his wife and producing partner) Lindsay (Anne Williams). We just had a good connection and chemistry as far as editorial work has been concerned. And since then, I’ve been cutting most of his projects.
Can you explain what you do in your work as a colorist for someone who might not know what it entails?
I’m fairly new to it. I have done color on three features now. The most recent one I did was Mysterious Circumstance. I put a lot of work into that one. Michael Williams was cinematographer, and produced images that were just so pristine and great to work with. With color, it really helps if you have a solid film and a solid foundation to work with and enhance what is already there. So that is one thing about being a colorist, from my experience. Everybody is a bit different, but on all the projects I’ve worked on, it’s just trying to work with what’s there and reiterate and capture that color component that ties in with the message, the overall feel and tonality of the movie or the project that you’re on. I’ll clean it up a bit and balance it out and then typically I’ll talk with the director and the DP, and they have a lookbook that outlines the direction they want to push it into. But a lot of it is tied in with the set design and the art direction and the color choices that they’re already using, and I’m just enhancing it and enriching things and cleaning it up and pushing it further into where they wanted it to be in terms of tone, to look and feel right.
I’ve finished up a documentary with this fellow out of Miami, Rico James. He made a documentary on this artist, Scott “Nobody” Patterson, aka TMNK, who passed away not long ago. He was was a graffiti street artist that went all around New York and traveled the world. They had been collecting footage for quite some time. I did the color on that one. It’s still on the festival circuit and after Christmas it will go out for final delivery for release so I may get another run at it, maybe even get to try my hand at an HDR pass.
What has been the most surprising thing about working in the film industry?
Wow, that’s a loaded question there. (laughs) I guess the most surprising thing is learning how to navigate and deal with different personalities, especially from a creative aspect. Thinking of editorial or even color, you might push it into something that’s more dusky or more saturated than what they were after. Trying to have that representation of your vision, too, as an artist, as the editor or the colorist but still also complement what they’re trying to do. So that’s been the most surprising thing as far as like figuring out how to find that middle ground and navigate those waters which can be kind of hairy at times because you can get some really strong opinions, especially with how things are cut together, right? It’s about developing that thick skin and not taking it personally when something’s just not working. Those initial notes you get on your work when you’re new and you’ve worked so hard on something, it’s a big gut check at times, but that’s just something you have to embrace, you know?
Who has been an influence on your career and why?
Pretty much everybody I’ve delivered to on post teams has been a valuable influence. Bradley Greer has been really cool to me. Such a nice guy. He owns Kyotocolor in New Orleans and he’s done the color on most of Miles’ projects. Getting to meet was really cool, he answered any questions I had, especially when I was really green. The first feature I got was Demons. And I was stressed on that one because I hadn’t gotten all these deliverables that I needed to do for post-production and then for him too, and then for the VFX. And I was still kind of learning some of that process. But any time I had a question Bradley was glad to answer. Sometimes you sort of have the reservation, like, I don’t want to ask. I don’t want to seem like an idiot. But it’s always better if you just ask, though. He was always so gracious and helpful to me. Also the team over Apex Post in New Orleans has been really cool to me, too. That’s Jon Vogl, who owns Apex, he’s always been a real cool guy to me.
If you could create a scene built around one location in Mississippi, where would that be and why?
I think Lake Thoreau here in Hattiesburg, it’s USM’s nature center. We’ve had a few events out there, it’s a cool spot. Some of my students went out there and shot a found footage-type short film.
Favorite moment on set or with a project?
One that sticks out in my mind, it was a hard time, and it was my first time delivering a project to a distro company, and it was The Atoning. I had been doing the color work on it. It was a long process. I drove up to Michael Williams’ house in north Mississippi at one point and we watched it on his monitor, went over and made notes, and then when we’re getting ready to do the final delivery and do all the QC stuff and all that, he drove down here and stayed at my place. It was just such a massive render, and I had such a small setup at the time. We crunched through it overnight and got the deliverables done and rendered it out and shipped it off. But we virtually didn’t sleep at all during the final deliverable. It was stressful. But then also, it was fun. When you finally get it out there, it’s like the ultimate relief.
What would you say to convince/encourage a producer to bring their project to Mississippi?
I’d say all the talent here. That’s one of those things, we’re a hidden gem here. We have a lot of people that want to work like hell on film projects and documentaries. There’s a whole host of talent here that’s not always tapped into. You can get every bit of that here and every bit of the quality of work. There’s also anything that you desire as far as production components down here and actors and actresses, too, we have it all. And there’s so many good locations, too, and that are not overly saturated with people that you can get in to make the process a bit simpler. It’s just a really cool place to be that’s got a lot of rich culture and some of the best damn food you could ever eat. I’ve worked with a lot of people from other states and they consistently talk about the food and the people down here and how everybody’s so nice and willing to work with you and wanting to do the best thing possible. Like on that A24 project, the lead editor that I was working with, she consistently talked about the food and how good it was, right? (laughs) And how everybody was so kind and willing to help and go above and beyond the norm, you know?
What are your hopes for the film industry in Mississippi?
I would love for when features come from out of state, they could have all Mississippi crew. And not just on set, but all in-state with post as well. Seeing someone start actual post-production houses and finishing houses would be amazing. I would love to set one up here in Hattiesburg eventually. So if you do film here, you have the option. It can be cut here, we can incorporate remote workflows and we can finish and deliver it here.
What’s your advice for someone looking to break into the film business?
Fail with your best foot forward. (laughs) You just have to give it a go and try. Be willing to take that jump, that risk. I just stuck my neck out there. I had never cut a feature or done those deliverables. I did okay on the short film. But then jumping from a short to a feature was a whole different ballgame. Take the risk and be willing to make mistakes. If you make them, that’s okay. You own them and you continue forward. Just always keep looking forward to the next project and don’t stop trying to pursue the changes in the tech that are moving forward. Embrace new workflows, you need to constantly stay on top of it and be willing to learn more.