Jacob Sherry, IU Bloomington
The last thing Louisiana-bred Jacob Sherry wanted to do was follow in his big sister's footsteps by going to Indiana University.
But after visiting the Bloomington campus several times -- and then being offered a Herman B Wells Scholarship -- the aspiring filmmaker could no longer resist IU's charms. "I had seen the opportunities my sister had as a Wells Scholar," Sherry said. "It was such a cool program."
He arrived in Bloomington with some trepidation and preconceived notions about a lack of culture in Indiana, but these fears proved unfounded.
"It's so overflowing with culture and music, you can go to a show or a concert or a movie every night of the week, and that's so special," Sherry said. "The culture also extends to food -- I love to spend way too much eating out on Fourth Street."
The scholarship covered Sherry's tuition, course-related fees and housing for the entire four years of his undergraduate education, also supporting him when he spent seven months working for South Pacific Pictures, New Zealand's largest film and television production company.
Upon his graduation this spring, with a double major in telecommunications and filmmaking (through IU's Individualized Major Program), Sherry was able to look back on a milestone few people achieve in their lives, much less as college seniors: the premiere of his first feature film, Nathan and the Luthier, at the university's new IU Cinema.
The 52-minute coming-of-age story about a man making peace with his upbringing in the wake of his father's death was the first student-produced feature film shown at the facility.
Sherry drew upon skills learned in the classroom and beyond. Among many other things, the filmmaking process included the hiring and overseeing of an extremely talented but unpaid crew and actors; gaining song rights from artists Carrie Newcomer and Krista Detor; borrowing a rural farmhouse for the shoot; procuring two "junker" instruments from a violin-maker friend in New York; coming back from winter break 10 days early for a solid week and a half of shooting; working late into the night to shoot a flashback (only to scrap a scene that didn't work); raising money; promotion; and renting space at a local violin shop.
Growing up in New Orleans, the home-schooled Sherry didn't have TV until he was 16, but he loved reading and writing stories and watched plenty of films. Most were classics, such as The Philadelphia Story and Casablanca. Instead of Little League, he played French horn and piano. He even toured with an international youth circus for a couple of years as a high-wire walker.
Film seemed a logical place to combine his passions. "Filmmaking is a powerful storytelling medium that combines writing with visuals, with music, with acting, with all of these other mediums to form this really powerful hybrid art form," he said.
While abroad recently, Sherry traveled to the Cook Islands to co-direct a feature-length documentary about a total solar eclipse visible from the remote island of Mangaia.
He wrote and co-directed Two Juliets (for which he won the Advanced Fiction award at IU's 2010 Multivisions Media Showcase) and worked as a crew member on Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables.
Sherry now plans to continue his work as co-founder and director of the independent production company Color Blind Pictures. He'll miss the diversity and collection of artists in Bloomington, but Sherry is ready to see the world.
"I want to live in and experience many different places," he said. "I'd love to go to Oregon, Seattle, New York at some point . . . that's the great thing about filmmaking. You can do it almost anywhere."