Our next Trading Card Spotlight features Jan Shaw, who is displayed on card number 115, from the Fairfield Collection. Jan has been working in television and film ever since she was a young girl. She produced a film in college at San Diego State University which won her a first-place national award for the Best Entertaining Film. From that point on Jan has won numerous awards for her work, including an Emmy Award for directing, a Broadcast Journalism Award and the National Film Advisory Board Award of Excellence. Jan is currently a writer-producer on an action sci-fi film and also a member of both the Directors Guild of America and Writers Guild of America.
What does it take to be an Emmy Award winning filmmaker?
Good luck! One day you happen to do something that’s easy and fun, where everything clicks with the cast and crew, resonates with the audience, and thereby generates that extra appreciation which garners favorable attention.
How has filmmaking changed from when you were younger? What do you like or dislike about the changes?
I love film—celluloid—physically working with it, especially as an editor. Although digital is used almost exclusively today, I would still like to use film whenever possible. It has higher dynamic range and resolution, produces natural rich color, and is simply more cinematic, creating more beautiful, engaging images. The greats, including Spielberg and Nolan still work in film. Oscar nominated Greta Gerwig used it on Little Women.
Are you still involved with making films today, and what role do you play?
I write, produce, direct, edit, and am now writer/producer on an action sci-fi.
What is your favorite type of movie and why?
I enjoy most genres, but my favorite is any kind of inspiring story that demonstrates heroism and the real power of our fellow men and women in all walks of life, especially if they’re true stories.
If you could describe Walter Day in one word, what would that word be and why?
Walter is wonderfully friendly! He listens carefully, expressing genuine interest and support to whomever he speaks, a beautiful quality that will always win him lasting friendships.
How early in your life did you start enjoying the filmmaking process?
I was lucky to grow up in a family that loved the movies, watching them constantly on TV and at the theater or drive-in every weekend! At 19 I made my first film, a 20-minute documentary, sought after by cable TV. I was inspired by an elective class I took with the head of CBS News, New York, viewing the Fred Friendly – Edward R. Murrow documentaries. After just the first half hour, I was sold out to film for life.
What are your favorite hobbies today?
Walking in nature, swimming, reading Vedic literature in Sanskrit, and exploring tropical islands!
How has your involvement in the industry been important to you?
Film is the most powerful medium in the world. It takes you on great adventures, can move you to tears, bring great joy, and inspire you to be more than you thought possible. If you can just make someone feel happy, that alone is a great accomplishment. A world of happy individuals is a peaceful world.
What do you think about independent films and their popularity?
It’s great that many good independent films are getting the attention they deserve. The film-going audience enjoys most any kind of well-made film. All stories, big or small, have their own audience, drawing them in by a slice of life or tale they can identify with or relate to in some special or deeper way.
What are your opinions about today’s generation of films that are streaming and not in theaters?
Unable or unwilling to see a movie in the theater is already a major setback! The theater going experience with a large audience, giant screen, multiple speakers, tracks, etc., is what they were made for--to deliver the proper impact. Movies made for or seen only streaming, will rarely leave the same impression or deliver the proper experience.
Did you ever think when you were younger you would be on a trading card?
No! I collected Beatle cards, my brother baseball cards, and so my memory is only of their special importance to the owner. I was certainly honored by Walter’s invitation to be included among the entrepreneurs and leaders of the Fairfield Renaissance!
Have you ever received any media coverage for your appearance on the trading Card? If so, where?
No, but one day Walter’s Fairfield collection will become famous because of this unique community that he smartly memorialized through his terrific trading cards.
When did you first meet Walter Day and where was it at?
I first met Walter after he was in the movie King of Kong. We became instant friends in Fairfield, especially when he mentioned he grew up next to Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, and was present on opening day! Disneyland was also one of my very favorite things to do, growing up nearby in La Canada, CA.
What filmmakers do you admire today and who did you look up to as a child?
Christopher Nolan’s great intellect and masterful command over the filmmaking process, challenges us to really think. He deeply engages and surprises us at every turn, forcing us to go beyond where we’ve ever been, breaking all our boundaries. My favorite filmmakers of the past include Charlie Chaplin and Frank Capra. I also loved movies like South Pacific and Lawrence of Arabia.
Who is your favorite celebrity and what makes that person special?
I admire Clint Eastwood, especially since he started producing and directing. My favorites are true stories about little known heroes like in Sully, American Sniper, Invictus, and Letters from Iwo Jima. He appeared on the Merv Griffin Show with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the 70’s. Even today, he doesn’t hesitate to discuss how much TM helps him. He remains easy on the set, normally a tense environment, has a reputation for getting his shot on the first take, and can even finish a day’s shoot in time for a round of golf—otherwise unheard of! That is the amazing Clint Eastwood, at 91, still making movies.If you can change an aspect of one of your films, what would it be and why the change?
Watching them screen with an audience makes my hands sweat because you always see something you’d like to change, but nobody else sees it, so I try not to look back!
Do you believe some movies are too violent and lead to violence in America today?
Scientific research has proven that after watching violent movies, people were found to become more aggressive and violent in their life. A mass shooting occurred on the opening midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, 2012, the killer calling himself The Joker. That movie caused shootings at screenings all over the US, just as many other violent movies have done. It’s important to be socially responsible with content, especially with today’s realistic visual effects technology.
If you could be anything else that is not in the film industry, what would it be and why?
There’s nothing else I would rather do, because film is what drives me.
What do you see yourself doing in the next 10 years?
Besides filmmaking, spending longer periods “in the cave” for enlightenment, and taking private cruises in the Greek islands, Fiji and Polynesia!