Every day we are so inspired by our Filmcraft Family and this particular interview was extra special to us. We invite you to learn more about our dear friend who is a true inspiration and an immense talent. We are beyond honored to feature this exceptional human being.
Meet Jorge Antonio Jimenez (Father, Husband, Friend, Photographer, Inspiration, Community Leader and General Manager at Filmtools | Vice President of Business Operations, Magnasync-Moviola Corp)
How did you get started in the Film Community??
Being a dreamer! As a kid, I had many hopes and dreams of what I wanted to do in life as an adult, working for the motion picture industry being one of them. After high school I enlisted in the Navy, and upon completing my enlistment contract, I returned to Los Angeles to start my career journey. Deep in my employment search I reached out to a community leader, Father Greg Boyle for help, and he directed me to apply at a company in Hollywood named Steadi Systems. I was hired with that company in an entry-level position as a driver, which gave me access to studio lots, stages, production companies, recording studios, and editing studios - I was in (work) heaven! Almost 23 years later, and having climbed the rungs of the opportunities ladder presented to me, I am still working for the film industry, not as a filmmaker, but as someone with a love for business that happens to support the film community. The universe has a rewarding way of working things out. This is a long explanation, so to sum it up in fewer words, cosmic law answered my desire to work with a community of my dreams, so here I am!
We have seen your love for photography, what is your favorite photo you've ever taken??
If I had to pick one of my favorite pictures, it would be a photograph I shot at Kanarraville Falls in Utah. There’s an emotion I feel when I look at the picture because it depicts softness in a hard environment, and a ladder amidst the rush of a waterfall, which is symbolic of ascension in a place that can either be peaceful, or difficult to traverse.
If you could photograph or film any location or person, what would it be and why?
I’d love to film and shoot photography in India, Morocco, Africa, and Iceland. The people, the food, the sounds of daily life, the landscapes, the wildlife, and the cultural colors of their societies, as influenced by the climates of each topography, is alluring to me.
What inspires you?
Right now, I’m inspired by the outcry for change in equality that is happening in our country, and around the world. I feel the tide is turning in a positive direction. Witnessing the movement of progress has been inspirational to me, and in turn building a calling for me to find, or create ways to be a part of the change so it doesn’t lose momentum, or reverse back in the wrong direction.
We love seeing all the amazing activities you've set up with Filmtools, what has been your favorite one of the past few years?
So many to choose from! If I had to pick my favorite one I’d pick the Hollywood Lighting Style workshop we hosted with brand partners Fluotec. Carlos Anadon, a good industry friend and award-winning photographer, taught the basics of creating Hollywood’s famed lighting techniques to create stunning visual portraits, and filming talent in an interview setting. It was hands-on and so informative. What makes this event even more memorable to me was that it was our first time introducing a Filmtools ‘en español’ learning workshop, which I feel was an important first step in advancing inclusivity within our community.
Tell us more about how you've put together such an amazing team of employees at Filmtools...
Hiring team members at Filmtools is one of my favorite things to do, and the most important aspect of what we do. I look for team members that demonstrate great joy in being of service, and express a passion for learning, making an immediate impact, and growing professionally. New employees are always surprised when I tell them they are empowered to affect positive change by sharing ideas, or thoughts on improving the customer experience, from day one. We foster a culture of learning with our team, it’s important for professional development, and to ensure our guests receive up-to-date information on the rapid-changing technologies and techniques for filmmaking and photography. The greatest compliment I’ve received is from team members that move on from Filmtools to work full-time realizing their filmmaking goals, and thank me for giving them an opportunity to help them get their start at Filmtools, in their words “the film school that paid them to learn, and contribute to the art of filmmaking.”
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You are on the frontlines of retail, What advances or changes have you seen in retail lately? How do you think other companies could improve their retail practices?
Adopting the use of technology in a physical space to improve how customers shop, excites me — we call it an omnichannel experience, and it’s been the focus of our in-store customer journey improvement efforts for several years. I feel retailers should aspire to make their storefronts a place of learning, provide instant access to gear, and build emotional connections that produce inspiration to create. As a consumer, I also believe a retail store should feel like a living, breathing website, a place where customers can walk into a physical space to shop for anything as if they were online, and walk out with what they were looking for, whether it resulted in a purchase, or a learning experience. The secret ingredient for retailers, technology aside, is listening to understand and serve the customer, ultimately making every guest feel valued for their visit.
You love and support your community in so many ways, tell us more about why that is so important to you and how others can get involved and help in their communities too.
As a kid, my community benefited from enrichment programs that existed to support disadvantaged communities. At an early age, I understood the importance and socioeconomic impact of such programs. I’m here because someone invested in me, and it matters so much. Knowing this, I’ve made it my personal mission to pay it forward, and support the same opportunities in our filmmaking community. The steps others can take to support community programs is by volunteering, donating when possible, mentorship, offering learning workshops, and making meaningful connections that open doors for others looking to better themselves in life, or in their craft.
2019 saw the creation of the first annual FilmToys toy drive, what did you think was the best part of it?
The Filmtoys Toy Drive was one of the top highlights of 2019 for me. The best part of the campaign was seeing the compassion and giving spirit of our filmmaking community come to life; the number of toys we were able to donate to Children’s Institute LA was truly special. The joy in the faces of the kids, as Santa Claus greeted them, is also a moment I will never forget. The toy drive came to life because of our partnership with Filmcraft, and your outreach to other great organizations like Quixote, Illuminar, and Production Gear Rentals, who made our campaign a wonderful success.
You are a great role model and mentor. If you could go back and give a message to your younger self what would it be?
I’m a believer that whatever happens in one’s life was meant to happen, so I’d make sure to make that very clear to my younger self in preparation for life’s ups and downs. I would encourage my younger self to be humble and not prideful — (ego is an enemy), to be courageous in making decisions from the heart, and daring in choosing the life of my dreams, to acknowledge everyone who believes in me, and to live life at the speed of my speedometer and no one else’s. Lastly, I would recommend the reading and understanding of the parable “This too shall pass” — it’s powerful.
What do you think is important for the youth of today to know and learn?
I feel it is very important that our youth understand the power of using their voice, and to believe that they matter. Having confidence in themselves, and being active in realizing their ideas and beliefs is a powerful life tool, and much needed throughout life. Our youth are the voice of tomorrow, so the faster they learn to understand they harness such power, the faster they can use it today to advance a better tomorrow for all of us.
What are the latest film gadgets and products you are excited about?
My co-workers know that working at Filmtools could be a dangerous place (for our wallets). I’ve been mesmerized by the explosion of technology available in LED lighting. There are many great brands and products that stand out, but one that sticks out for me is the Aputure MC light. It’s a $90 light that is a mini workhorse, versatile, and can do so much. I’ve also had my eye on the new Fuji X-T4 mirrorless camera, for its functionality, and beautiful stills and video capabilities. Lastly, getting people back to work safely is important to me, so I’m excited to have helped design a PPE Essentials Kit that I’m hopeful will make a difference at work, in school, on-set, or on-location.
What is your favorite place that you ever traveled to? If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would you go and why?
Australia is my favorite because visiting it realized a childhood dream for me, it’s also the only country I’ve visited that I can see myself living in, outside of the US. Thailand would follow because of the food, culture, and scenic beauty. If I could go anywhere in the world right now, I’d go to India. I want to immerse myself in a way of life that has impactful connections to its spiritual heritage, intellect, and color-filled life experiences.
You recently oversaw the reopening of curbside pickup with Filmtools, how is it going??
Shutting down our flagship store was heart-breaking, and forced us to reinvent how we do business, overnight. In an effort to circumvent complete disruption to our business, we quickly married the ease of use of our website, our call center teams, and the strength of our in-store service to build a seamless curbside pick-up option for our customers needing essentials that would help keep their businesses going as they transitioned to livestream, or work-from-home workflows. Business hasn’t been the same (pre-shutdown), but in difficult times, it’s refreshing to listen to positive stories that demonstrate a willingness to survive — it’s the gift our customers give to us when they share their stories with us, and thank us for being here for them.
We get many compliments of photos of the Filmcraft director chairs and of course, of you, in our chairs...what do you love about Filmcraft chairs?
What I love most about Filmcraft chairs is Filmcraft’s story, and involvement in community. The chairs are beautiful and speak for themselves in build quality, so what matters most to me is the story of the people behind the product. I take comfort in knowing our customers who purchase a Filmcraft director chair are buying a product built by caring people who are investing in the film community, and wholeheartedly stand behind the reliability of the product. This interview, and the many others you’ve shared in your blog and on social media are great examples of it; you’re sharing stories that have the power to affect positive change. Filmcraft also endorses and supports many organizations that support equality, access to resources, and diversity -- these stories make a difference to me, and to the growth of our community.
Why do you think director chairs are such a staple in the film community?
I view director chairs as an elegant uniform ensemble piece for filmmakers on set. They belong there because they are functional in an ever-changing environment, they are comfortable to sit in, and there is something special about sitting on a director chair that makes one feel accomplished, or produces a desire to create. The romance of Hollywood’s classic past still carries into today, as a timeless essential in the studio, on location, or in the home — a must-have for anyone with a creative spirit.
If you could design any director chair, who would it be for and what would it look like?
If I could design a director chair, I would do so for Father Greg Boyle from Homeboy Industries. He is a hero of mine, and someone who’s influenced my life to this day. I was raised in the community of Boyle Heights during the height of the gang violence in the late 80’s; to us, Father Greg was an instrumental figure in building channels of peace in a turbulent setting. He has a vision for what life could look like for those marginalized by socioeconomic challenges, and through his commitment to his life work he is directing the scenes of positive change in disadvantaged communities. His chair would be designed with elements of the colors, stripes, or geometric shapes used in the blankets and sarapes of the Hispanic culture, which he is known for wearing in his ecclesiastical stole when conducting mass. The seat back would read “G-Dog and his Homeboys”.
What is your favorite creative past time or activity?
Shooting photography is definitely my favorite way to spend time creatively. I have so much learning to do, so discovering new ways to capture images excites me.
Family is very important to you. Tell us how you've been enjoying time with them. Do you have plans for Father's Day?
I’ve found joy in cooking new dishes for my family, and engaging in meaningful conversations over meals. No travel during this pandemic doesn’t mean we can’t travel with our imagination, so I decided to learn to make dishes from around the world. I started by making a seafood Spanish paella Valenciana, followed by brunches that include North African eggs, Frittata, and cereal-crusted French Toast, or Nutella, banana and strawberry crepes. Next stop is England which means I’ll be making Fish & Chips for the family! Shelter-in-place is important to me in protecting the well-being and livelihoods of everyone I care for, so I plan on enjoying a relaxing Father’s Day at home with my family.
With so much pain and suffering all over the world right now, what message do you have to send out to everyone?
I encourage all of us to find it in us to become instruments of peace, by practicing peaceful acts in our daily lives. Let’s challenge ourselves to accept and celebrate differences of opinions and beliefs. Let’s acknowledge that we all don’t have to agree on everything. Those who want to spread peace and positive change, must be willing to listen, understand, and encourage acceptance of differences with an open-mind, and without spreading hate, causing hurt, or inciting violence. We may be different in our likes, our beliefs, and opinions, but we are one in spirit.
How have you been impacted by current events and how are you coping?
The current events took a heavy toll on my emotional well-being. The effects of the pandemic, and the pains of the social injustice in our country forced me to question many things, it tested my abilities to react in crisis, and awakened a self-awareness call-to-action from within, to focus on continuously building my emotional strength. Family, loved ones, co-workers, friends, prayer, participating in a meditation group, developing a focused morning routine, and creating a vision of how I envision contributing to change are helping me cope and build emotional endurance to tackle each day with hope, and determination.
Who inspires you?
Former president Barack Obama is an inspiration to me. He demonstrates admirable traits and characteristics as a leader, partner, parent, educator, and supporter of equality. His demeanor under pressure, his ability to connect using his gift as an exceptional communicator, and his sensible approach to making tough decisions are of great influence to me.
Who are your greatest photography or film heroes?
Greatest photography and film heroes are Pedro Meyer, Ansel Adams, Jimmy Chin, Annie Leibovitz, Emmanuel “Chivo” Lubezki, Sofia Coppola, Spike Lee, and Wes Anderson. Sometimes I catch myself imagining what it’d be like to view life through the eyes of their lenses — it’s fascinating and creatively influential.
When you watch movies, what is your favorite genre?
I’m a sucker for action, underdog stories, and romance. Movies that can blend all three genres (with a killer soundtrack) are an absolute winner for me. A movie that comes to mind is “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, I absolutely love that movie!
We see the amazing work you do with Filmtools, tell us your dreams for the future and your aspirations
My dream is to continue building Filmtools into a household name for anyone with a passion to create. To preserve its standing as a landmark destination that everyone feels welcomed to be a part of. I also see personal project endeavors in my future, which include wellness, fitness, education, personal care, and social activism for a greater good, and always — with my camera in hand.
If you had the ability to donate to a charity of your choice right now, which would it be?
I’d break up my donation to three similar charities, they are: Camp Reel Stories LA, girls IN Focus, and Global Girl Media. All three programs support the advancement of young women filmmakers. The programs are open to girls in middle school through high school, and teach them the foundations of creating content, which includes producing, creating, and editing short films, or video journalism work.
What are you grateful for?
I’m grateful for my family, for my health, for my co-workers, friends, and for everyone that’s contributed to the development of who I am today. I am also grateful for the opportunity’s life has placed before me, and for the hardships in my life I’ve overcome, helping me view life in grateful and optimistic ways.