Member Jason Chester, an overnight doorman who works in Manhattan and lives in Queens, has a very unusual day job. In the film world, he’s known as J. Antonio, a filmmaker who’s “vision is to connect with the disconnected.” He’s just released his first feature film Night Job, which you can find on Amazon and Vimeo on demand, that follows a night doorman during his first night on the job. You can get more info and watch the trailer at http://nightjobmovie.com/
Here’s what Jason had to say about his life, his work and his movie.
32BJ: Tell us a little about your history as a doorman. What do you like best about it?
Jason: I started in 2006 as a summer relief. I worked for two summers until 2008 when I was offered a full-time position. From 2008 to present, I have been Parc Vendome’s overnight doorman from 11 pm to 7 am, in Hell’s Kitchen. Being a doorman is a fun job when you’re a people person. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a lot of wonderful people over the years. So for me, it’s the aspect of getting to know so many people who come and go from the building. I’m very thankful for my position. It allowed me to pay my way through college. I’m a debt free graduate!
32BJ: How did you get into filmmaking?
Jason: It was a distant dream of mine for many years, but it all took shape while I was attending John Jay College. Aside from being a doorman, I was a NYPD auxiliary officer (a volunteer cop). The plan was to enter the police department upon graduating. However, at John Jay there were a lot of production companies using the school to shoot their shows and movies. I asked the administration if I could shoot a short film. They allowed me to use the building and after working on two short films I realized I had to be a filmmaker!
32BJ: How do you think being a doorman has informed or helped you be a better filmmaker?
Jason: As a doorman I spend most of my time observing people as they walk by the lobby. Aside from interacting with so many types of individuals, I observed the way they walk, talk, dress and it all helped when it came to directing people on how to make a staged production look natural and authentic.
32BJ: Tell us a little about your film Night Job. No spoilers!
Jason: Night Job is a day in the life of a night doorman named James. It’s his first night and he wants to make a good impression to become full-time. It’s a story about New York and what goes on at night with the doorman as the central character. I’m a working-class guy. So I want to make films with the Average Joe as the protagonist that deals with real-life situations we can all relate to.
32BJ: What do you think would surprise the average person the most about what it’s like to be a doorman?
Jason: I think people would be surprised what the overnight doorman has to deal with. I was often told it was an easy shift; some people don’t even recognize my position since they never see me. But a lot goes down at night! For a doorman in general, I think people would be surprised how much time we spend problem solving, we have so many bosses, we’re often trying to make management, the board, residents and guests happy simultaneously!
32BJ: What do you think would surprise the average person the most about what it’s like to make a movie?
Jason: I think people would be surprised how often the script changes. The writer creates a screenplay, then once the actors do some table readings it changes again, then while filming things might get added or omitted due to budget limitations or time. In the editing process more scenes might get cut. Finally before a wide release, there are test screenings where the audience reaction can influence more changes to the movie, resulting in maybe new scenes or less. The final cut is very rarely the same as the original screenplay.
32BJ: Anything else you want to add?
Jason: I just want to add I wasn’t born here; my parents and myself immigrated here in the 80s from Guyana. I am currently a US citizen and feel very blessed for the opportunities I’ve been given and earned. I just want to put it out there: we all have gifts and the ability to do great things, it’s up to us to invest in ourselves and develop our talents.