Award-Winning Producer Brings the Bacon Back Home

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Jason Potash has been glued to a video camera since he was 5 years old. His passion lured the West Bloomfield native to Los Angeles, where celluloid dreams are most apt to be realized despite Michigan’s fledgling film sector; but he is determined to bring his movie making home.

Last year, the 25-year-old produced a short film called Some Boys Don’t Leave, which debuted at film festivals around the world, winning an award at New York’s Tribeca Film Festival. Starring The Social Network’s Jesse Eisenberg and Lone Star’s Eloise Mumford, it tells the story of a boy who lives, post-breakup, in the hallway outside the apartment he shared with his girlfriend in hopes they can work it out.

Potash became involved in the project after being approached by director Maggie Kiley during the summer of 2009. Kiley, who was directing a short film for the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, was referred to him by family friends.

“He came in and really took charge and took ownership of the project with the same passion and commitment that I had,” Kiley said. “Everything about the experience with him was so top notch.”

After six weeks of scouting hallway locations, Potash and Kiley wound up constructing an apartment inside a Los Angeles house. The film was completed that fall and premiered at the Florida Film Festival in April 2010. Potash and Kiley both flew to Orlando for the screening.

“And that’s the exciting part about filmmaking,” he said, “to take something that we’ve stared at for six months on a page, or that we’ve worked on for a year in an editing room, and share what you’ve read and talked about with an audience that can actually see it.”

The short is an emotional rollercoaster they’ve seen resonate with all ages and walks of life, Potash said. “I was on a plane once and started talking to the woman next to me,” he said. “Her boyfriend was sleeping on her couch for four weeks.”

Kiley and Potash spent the better part of 2010 on the road with the film, meeting other filmmakers, seeing their work alongside others’ and hearing about the evolution of their shorts. Since then, the film has appeared in 40 film festivals in the U.S. and abroad, and in February 2011 launched on iTunes.

And following its critical acclaim, people started pushing the team to adapt the short into a feature-length script. So that’s what they’re going to do, said Potash. Basing a feature film off the short “allows our characters to evolve.”

Shooting the movie is scheduled for this May in Detroit, a process Michigan’s current film incentives could help enable, Potash explained, adding that the project has seen a lot of interest that is helping drive it forward and that bringing it home has always been a priority for him.

“My goal is to eventually open a production company in Michigan to continue shooting films here in my home state,” he said, and because his family is still local, they’ve “already tucked my sheets in and fluffed my pillows.”

Director Kiley, in her mid-30s, hasn’t been to the Motor City yet but says she trusts Potash’s instinct that Detroit is the right place for filming. “He was so passionate about bringing the film to Michigan,” she says. “So he sold me on that.” She said she’s looking forward to reaching a larger audience and “pulling more people into the vision of the film.”

Moving along the film circuit has not changed his Midwestern sensibilities, Potash quipped. He’s just another nice Jewish boy from West Bloomfield: “I’m still making my bed, still taking the dog out for a walk,” he said. RT

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