Indy Shorts Feature Highlight: John Scott

Presented by Heartland Film, Indy Shorts International Film Festival showcases short films created by storytellers from all over the globe. This July 26-29 marks the first Indy Short’s festival and includes categories such as short film finalists, official selections, Indiana spotlight program and a high school competition. Along with the festival, viewers can attend panels and workshops to learn more about filmmaking and what happens the behind the scenes on set. To learn more about the event and how to purchase tickets, visit Heartland’s info page here.

Name: John Scott
Hometown: Carmel, IN
Instagram: @grassfedcinema

Tell me about yourself?
I’m originally from Indianapolis. I graduated from Carmel High School in 1999 and went to film school at Columbia College Chicago where I graduated in 2005. I now live in Berwyn, IL with my wife and son. I work at Groupon where I am the senior video editor on the in-house video team. I also am the founder and main producer of Grass Fed Cinema, a website that produces short documentary films about unique and interesting people who call the Midwest home.

How did you get started with film?
My earliest memory is making dumb little movies with friends in 5th grade. We had one of those giant camcorders that records on a separate VHS recorder that you had to lug around with the enormous camera. But I got serious about film in my late teens. I was in a punk band that would do month long tours a few times a year and we would always bring a mini dv cam and film everything. After making a few short tour videos, I realized I had a real passion for film editing and decided to go to film school specifically for film/video editing. Then it just took seeing the Errol Morris film, “The Thin Blue Line,” in an intro to documentary film class for me to realize that I wanted to make documentary films.

What is your favorite thing about creating a film?

It would have to be post-production. I am still an editor at heart. I do love to shoot and produce but I think I tackle every aspect of filmmaking with the mindset of an editor. I love the challenge of working through hours and hours of footage and cutting it down to a cohesive, tight and thoughtful story.

Tell me about your film “Chain Stitched: The Work of Jerry Lee Atwood.”
Chain Stitched is a short documentary film about Indianapolis based tailor Jerry Lee Atwood. He makes custom western wear, usually full suits with chain stitch embroidery, primarily for country musicians. The film provides a glimpse into the entire process, from sketching the design to making the clothing using antique sewing machines.

Where did the inspiration for your film come from?
Jerry is an old friend from my punk/hardcore days. I had not spoken to him in years but through mutual friends on social media I saw that he was now making these beautiful and intricate western suits. I immediately thought that he would be a great subject for a Grass Fed Cinema doc. Early on in the thought process of what the film should be, I knew I wanted the viewer to feel like they were there in Jerry’s basement/studio as he was working. Showing the process of making these suits with antique machinery was just as important to me as showing the final finished suits. When you are in that basement as he works on these machines, you are hypnotized in a way with the rhythmic sound of the sewing machine and even the stillness and concentration that Jerry has while working. It was important to me that comes through in the film.

What does it mean to you that your film is a part of the first Indy Shorts Film Festival?
It means a lot, especially being in the Indiana Spotlight category. I am very proud of being from Indianapolis and it’s great to see how much the city has grown in the last 10 years or so. There has been a cultural explosion in Indy with music, restaurants, the craft beer scene and it’s amazing to see the emergence of a film community.

What’s in the future for you?
I would love to make a feature length documentary some time soon. I just don’t want to force it. I think that is one of those things that will happen naturally. I will read or hear about a topic and it will just click. Until then, my plan is to continue making short doc films for Grass Fed Cinema. I have a few currently in production including one about the Spencer Indiana Pride Festival. There is a lot of interesting people in the Midwest who are doing great things and I love having the opportunity to tell their stories.

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