Dan Jones, 31, of Allen Park, introduced his third film, “Griffey’s Theory” to cast, crew and friends Thursday night at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak.
By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK – Aspiring Allen Park novelist and filmmaker Dan Jones has learned that, like the characters he creates, it sometimes takes him a while to learn lessons from his stories.
“Griffey’s Theory,” his third independent feature-length film, was presented to the cast, crew and others in an unofficial showing at the Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak Thursday. Jones hopes to officially debut the film at an upcoming independent film festival.
In his third independently produced film, based on the manuscript of one of his unpublished novels, his main character, Dorothy, is so personally isolated that she is unaware that the story she is reading is in some ways being reflected in her own world.
“There’s a strong connection with me and Dorothy, the main character,” Jones, 31, said. “I don’t know if it was there when I wrote it. I don’t know if it was there was when I shot it. But it is there definitely now because she’s isolated… she doesn’t know how to relate (to) real things that are happening… she’s reading it, and it’s happening – she doesn’t know how to connect the two.”
Jones says that’s definitely been his struggle for years. Although he is outgoing, he doesn’t make small talk, and he said he doesn’t “relate to society.”
“I’ve learned that I never want support; I never want to talk about myself. And I don’t want people helping me and I don’t take compliments well.”
He said he also found through his many projects that people want to help him without personal motive.
“It’s not just my wife or my kids or my mom… it’s people that I’m close to but I’m not really close to and they’re just really making this effort to help me out and for me that’s inspired me… it makes me feel like I have a reason to go on, to make my films, to tell my stories.”
“Human Achievement,” his second movie, won best featured film honors at an East Lansing Film Festival. It details a man’s personal journey and struggles between optimism and cynicism. In some ways, he says “Griffey’s Theory,” has brought him into a more positive outlook as a filmmaker.
Jones has also written several novels, one of which, “Crystal and her Family” he self-published in 2005.
“Griffey’s Theory” was an unpublished novel for six years before he turned it into a screen play and his third film.
His best friend from film school, Renny Barris, encouraged Jones in 2006 to turn the manuscript of his unpublished novel into a screenplay and a movie. He starting writing the screenplay the next day, and finished the first ten pages quickly.
At the time, YouTube and digital video were coming out, and Jones said it was a discouraging time for him and other filmmakers.
“We were just kind of in-between,” said Jones. “Are we film, are we video? Are we Internet? Are we TV? What are we? Theaters are closing; what are we doing?”
Barris then told Jones that he would finance and produce the movie, and allow Jones to maintain artist control.
Jones shot the movie over six months, shooting 30 to 35 days. He worked on weekends with volunteer actors and crew.
He said “Griffey’s Theory,” has left him more optimistic and restored some of his faith in people.
He said he started making movies on video when he was ten years old. He had his first film premiere at Cabrini High School in 1998, the week he graduated from the school.
He described the video as two hours of comedy shorts in which he did “absolutely every single thing” himself.
“I played probably a total of 25 roles, all different camera angles, and I had no editing system, I edited it in order on tape so… I had to change my clothes for every shot, so it taught me a lot,” Jones said.
Jones enrolled in the Motion Picture Institute in Troy after his high school graduation and in 1999 completed the year-long course. He and his wife Crystal, a registered dietician, were married in 2000, and have three children. Danny, 10, and Alex, 7, attend Cabrini Grade School, while 5-year-old Charlotte will attend Allen Park’s Rogers Elementary for the next two years. Jones clerks for Goldpaugh & Associates P.C. in Detroit.
Jones encourages other filmmakers if making movies is what they really want to do.
“Follow your dreams but take action, and make sure that the action that you’re taking is a path that’s thought out as much as you can before you take it,” he said. “Put pen to paper, and grab a camera and start shooting.”