Alumni Spotlight with Jesse Aultman, '18, Production Coordinator at Jumpcut
Jesse Aultman, ’18, graduated from Auburn with a degree in visual media studies. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Aultman made the decision to transfer to Auburn University from another school after spending a weekend visiting his friends in town. “I just fell in love with the place, and I sent in my transfer application the next week,” Aultman said. In November 2018 Aultman had his short film, “And Then We’ll Be Happy,” accepted to screen at the LA Live Film Festival and received nominations for Best Student Film and Best Writing. He created the short film in his senior projects class with Dr. Hollie Lavenstien, who Aultman credits with helping him become a more confident filmmaker.
Can you briefly describe what your short film, "And Then We’ll Be Happy," is about?
"And Then We’ll Be Happy" is about a young man who is faced with the decision of robbing a restaurant or losing a friend in need. The inspiration came from wanting to add a twist on the ransom movie, and so the film was created with that in mind.
You shot this short in collaboration with other senior students in a Visual Media Projects class, and then completed the postproduction stages in an independent study. What was your experience during the process of making this film while you were still a student?
The senior projects class, which is when I made "And Then We’ll Be Happy," taught me a lot about preproduction and working on set. I was fortunate to have several other talented Auburn students work on this film, and they all brought their own unique voice to the project. As far as making the movie as a student, I think it made the whole process much easier. Store owners, actors, and even the Shelby County Police were much more willing to give their time and resources because it was a student project.
Your film was accepted to screen at the LA Live Film Festival last month. Could you explain briefly what this festival is, and what your experience was like applying and seeing your film be shown at such an event?
The LA Live Film Festival is an annual film festival that takes place at the Regal Cinema in downtown Los Angeles. I applied through FilmFreeway, which makes the process very easy. The whole experience was surreal. I’ve always wanted to have a film screen in LA, so to see that happen was almost emotional. On top of that, the film ended up getting nominated for Best Student Film and Best Writing.
You have a degree in visual media studies. How did you first develop an interest in this field?
I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker when, at the age of ten, I accidentally clicked the behind the scenes feature on the "Jaws" DVD. Spielberg talked about all the film’s production problems, and I stole my mom’s video camera the next morning. She walked into the master bathroom to find the tub overflowed, her camera sitting dangerously close to the water, and a toy shark bobbing up and down. That was my first short film, and I haven’t stopped since then.
What was your path after graduation?
I’ve always wanted to move to Los Angeles, so I started applying to dozens of places in LA during my last semester. I ended up getting an internship at a company called Jumpcut. A week after graduating, I packed all my things and drove across the country. I now work for them full-time.
Can you tell us more about your current position as a production coordinator for Jumpcut, Inc.?
I was promoted to production coordinator at Jumpcut and have been in that position since December. Jumpcut makes online education courses, and I do a variety of things during the production process of our courses. I go through the scripts and mark when we need to build a graphic, pull footage, or make a citation. During production, I assist our cinematographer with lighting and camera setup, and I work on the assembly edits after filming is complete.
What advice would you give to an incoming freshman who is thinking about pursuing a career in visual media studies?
My biggest advice would be to do work outside of class: get an internship, work on the Plainsman’s multimedia team, or make your own short films. Consistently do things that improve your ability and portfolio.
What are some key skills that you were taught at Auburn? Do you feel you were prepared for the future? Why or why not?
Kevin Smith’s sequence design class, where we learned to use After Effects, was really valuable. Every media student should know how to use that software. I feel like I was prepared. I learned a lot of tangible skills: how to use Premiere Pro, Final Cut X, and After Effects. But I also learned how to create memorable characters, structure a story, and find my artistic voice.
What’s next for you?
I am going to stay at Jumpcut for a while and continue to learn and grow. I am also working on another short film, and hopefully, I can start production on that in the summer.
Interview by Jaylin Goodwin, graduate assistant in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University.
Last Updated: January 23, 2019