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Meet Jake Thomas of Benchtree Pictures in Virgil Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jake Thomas.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Jake. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I’ve been making short films since I was in elementary school and under the production banner of Benchtree Pictures ever since I was in college. The one feat that eluded me was making and finishing my debut feature.

A few years ago, I began experimenting with iPhone camera apps and filmed footage of our pet cats Panda and Apollo. Panda was always distracted by the world outside our living room window, and so I wondered, “What does he dream of seeing out there?” After I cut the footage together to make the beginnings of a story, I drafted the idea of a fairy tale about a curious cat who gets his chance to explore the outside world when he mysteriously transforms into a human.

My wife Erin helped produce the finished film, titled “Shedding.” After a successful festival run earlier this year, it is now available on iTunes and Amazon.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Many of the struggles in making “Shedding” included learning how to work with digital iPhone filming technology, especially when software updates either caused glitches in our footage or enabled us to try different effects and re-draft our storyboards.

Another huge challenge was finding time to work on the film while simultaneously working at my full-time job at the Warner Bros. lot. I had to use weekend days, vacation days, and every once-in-a-while come down with “an unexpected flu” to schedule the time.

Even though Erin and I funded the production completely out-of-pocket, we knew that we needed a professional sound mix and score for the finished film and that it wouldn’t be cheap. Erin spearheaded our Seed&Spark campaign for post-production. Basically, she single-handedly raised the money to get us a professional soundtrack.

This past summer, I feel like I got a brand new film school education just by going through the VOD distribution process for the first time.

Struggles are learning opportunities — or at least, that’s what my therapist says! So each time we have faced a hurdle, I’m giving myself permission to learn.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Benchtree Pictures – what should we know?
Benchtree Pictures is the company under which I’ve produced award-winning short films and my first feature film “Shedding.” We specialize in making high-concept stories with a lo-fi twist. I’m really proud of the way we’ve been able to reimagine how genre stories can be told and how we focus our films on humanity over spectacle.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
The quality or characteristic that I feel is most important to my success is seeking a community of like-minded artists and creatives who have been able to advise and help me when I needed it the most. Without them, I would never have been able to complete this project.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Lex Quarterman, Karla Droege (featured in photos)

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