By Jordan Brown

I think I’ve always had a thing for getting lost. As a kid, I’ve been lost in grocery stores, lost in amusement parks, I’ve even been lost in school. The more I grew up the more I started to discover. I no longer find myself getting lost- but sometimes grocery stores still get the best of me. To me, getting lost is an adventure. To my mom, it’s a heart attack. Whenever I create a film, no matter where I am at in the process, I find myself getting lost. I lose track of time. I forget my surroundings. There is nothing in the world but me and the story. I think I love creating films and telling stories so much because it reminds me of being a kid- just getting lost.

I’ve been interested in cameras and telling stories for as long as I can remember. However, I come from a small town in south-central Pennsylvania called Lebanon, which is the polar opposite of any sort of Hollywood setting. My grandfather used to have this old Sony that he would take with him everywhere and he would record everything. Anytime he ever came by to visit, holidays or just because, he would have his camera in his hand and would walk around filming everything and narrating what was happening. He was telling a story, even if that story was as small as four-year-old Jordan falling down the stairs and busting his eyebrow open. I remember I used to love to be around him when he was recording, often pulling him to record certain things and wanting to mess with the camera myself.

When I was eight years old, I started to make my first comprehensible films. Well, as comprehensible as the mind of an eight-year-old is. One year we had a snow day. I was bored, it was too cold to go outside. Christmas had just passed and I got a whole bin of plastic army men. That day, I grabbed my mom’s camera, locked myself in my bedroom and created a stop-motion film. I was obsessed. Of course, I had to upgrade to Legos and over time I upgraded to people. I fell in love with thinking of a story, creating it and showing it off.

Fast forward some years to high school, I got serious about film. I had always known that I wanted to be a filmmaker, but I viewed high school as my time to make this dream come true or not. I was heavily involved in sports, but had a passion for storytelling. I was like the real-life Troy Bolton. I immediately got involved with my school’s media club (I was literally the only member my freshman year) and showed up every week and worked on a new project. I got involved with my school’s morning announcements and broadcast program. I remember begging my teacher to create narrative projects rather than news segments, but him telling me to be patient. I had gotten involved with PBS Student Reporting Labs, even airing a segment on PBS Newshour and later securing an internship with PBS for the summer. As great as all this was, this was not me and this was not what I wanted to be doing for the rest of my life.

I had heard of a film festival for high schoolers called the All American High School Film Festival (AAHSFF). There was a film invitational part of the festival where you applied by sending in your work, and if you were accepted you went to New York City for several days to create a short film and compete in the festival. Sure enough, I applied and was accepted. At this point, my teacher looked at me and told me that he would support me in the festival and making the switch from broadcast to film (I will always be grateful for this, Mr. Schwalm). This was my chance to do what I wanted to do. I gave up almost everything for this film. I quit football, I stopped working for PBS and I even left my homecoming date alone at the dance to work on the script (I’m so sorry, but it’s the hustle). I created a team of four other students and myself. We were by far the smallest team at the festival. By the end of the festival, we created a short film I wrote, directed, acted in and edited. Although I held the reins, I am beyond grateful for that crew and my teachers that went along. They saw my vision and supported me even with the odds we were up against. We finished that festival in fourth place out of 28 teams.

After the success of being able to assemble a crew and create a quality short film, I made the switch to film for good. I took any and every opportunity I could grab. I created PSAs, short films, documentaries and whatever I could get my hands on. I loved it. I went back to the same festival, AAHSFF, and placed second which put me in position to work with IMAX by the end of my senior year of high school as a part of their In-Focus Program. I am now able to attend to Ithaca College on a communication scholarship called the Park Scholarship studying film production. This is all because I took a risk on myself.

I am a people person. I believe that film offers a special medium that gives a voice to the voiceless. That is why I base my films off of real issues. I have created films on cyberbullying and teenage depression, immigration into the United States and even the inequity of public educational funding in Pennsylvania. I consider my work realistic fiction. I study topics like a documentary and turn them into a fictional narrative film. My films almost always pertain some sort of message or address a social issue in them. My mom might tell you I’ve always been an activist. When I was a kid, I would create a film with my Legos and my mom would comment on the story something like, “Wow, Jordan. I see the way you had the Lego man in prison as a way to comment on the criminal justice reform system and how people convicted of even peaceful crimes often struggle to ever make it out of the system and adjust back into society.” I would turn to her with an eyebrow raised and agree, but it was clear that she thought I was much more intelligent than I actually was. My Lego-man was in jail for jaywalking and only serving 15 minutes of “hard time”. Now, this is a topic I’d love to actually address.

In my free time I like to explore. I like to get lost, literally. I like to go to places I’ve never been to and meet new people and hear their stories. I still love sports, especially football (go Eagles). I love to hike to the top of a mountain and be able to look out for miles and miles. I love music and concerts. I love my friends and family and wish I could spend more time with them, but they know that even though I can’t always be physically present, I’ll always be there for them. Life is an adventure and that is exactly how I am treating it. I don’t like to stay in one place. I am the guy that will call you at midnight and ask if you want to go on a road trip hours away in the morning. I consider myself predictably unpredictable. I like “spur of the moment” events, which is why when I was offered this internship, the first thing I did was smile and book myself a train ticket and a room in a hostel.

Now I find myself getting lost everyday. I just started a new adventure in my life, here at JTWO. This summer, I will be creating and helping others create all types of different projects with the company of two dogs in the workplace, who are easily the most popular staff here. I love it here already and I am very excited for what the summer holds for me. I am hoping to meet people in the industry and learn from them, after all that is the most important part. I have so much more growing and learning to do. I know that I took another risk on myself by choosing to not take the summer off, move to Philly and spend my time creating. I also know that this is a risk that I will look back on and say, “wow, I could have not have spent my summer in any better way.”

This project was created as part of the JTWO [INC]ubator Project. A semester long internship program built from the ground up to give young filmmakers, content creators, and all around hungry for a challenge individuals a place to stretch their creative minds while preparing them for the road ahead.

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