It’s a dream come true for 26-year-old director Jason Michael Brescia. The Malverne resident — who was born in Valley Stream — had his first feature film, “The Newest Pledge,” recently acquired by Lionsgate for domestic distribution. The film will be released Aug. 28 on DVD.
Brescia — who graduated from Kellenberg Memorial High School in Uniondale in 2004 and later majored in film production at Chapman University in Orange County, California — spoke with the Herald about his film, his commitment to moviemaking and what every good director should know.
When did you develop an interest in film?
I’ve had an interest in creative writing and film since elementary school at James A. Dever in Valley Stream. Growing up down the block from the Malverne Cinema, I developed an interest and love for independent film. Some of my favorite films growing up were “Revenge of the Nerds,” “Groundhog Day,” “Wayne’s World” and “Animal House.” I do enjoy films outside of the comedy genre though. I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker by the time I got to Kellenberg Memorial High School in the fall of 2000.
Who were some of your sources of inspiration?
I’m not influenced by other directors or writers as much as I’m influenced by the people I encounter. “The Newest Pledge” was heavily influenced by my own college experience and close friends.
Did you make any short films as a teenager?
I got my first video camera from my dad for my 16th birthday, and that summer, I intended on making a short film called “Beach Cop” with my friends. It was a little comedy-spoof about a crime-fighting lifeguard, but the film never got made. It stands as my first script, and I intend to one day make it because I hate leaving goals unfinished.
While at Chapman University, I made several short films, including the award winning “Ridiculously Emo,” which went to several festivals and won me the “Best Undergraduate Director” award at my school’s Cecil B. DeMille Award Show in 2008.
Tell me about “The Newest Pledge.” How did you come up with the idea for the picture?
The film is a feel-good comedy about a decadent fraternity that finds a baby on its doorstep and decides to pledge it. It is my first official release. I developed the idea with some friends in college, and the crew was made up of several close friends. We shot the film in Orange County and used virtually every resource we had to complete the film.
What influenced you to write a comedy?
I love comedy. In high school, I was voted “Most Humorous” and I’ll continue to write comedy until I finally grow up and stop finding silly things funny. At this point I’m 26, so I’m not sure that will ever happen.
Did it take a long time to finish?
We shot the film in 2010, but it took over a year to complete in post-production due to hurdles in funding and technological setbacks. We premiered the film in New York City in December 2011, and it was acquired by Lionsgate this February.
What was your reaction when you found out your film was acquired by Lionsgate?
When I found out, I was glad that we achieved our goal, but I knew when I started the film that if I worked as hard as I did that the film would receive a national release. I’m incredibly thankful that the people at Lionsgate believed enough in my film to attach their prestigious name to it. It’s a dream come true.
What is your ultimate goal as a director?
To continue to grow and make films that are relevant to me and where I am in my life. In 2010, I was preparing for life after college and “The Newest Pledge” is sort of about growing up and accepting some of the life changes that come with adulthood. For my next project, I plan on touching upon my experiences as a 20-something-year-old living on Long Island. There’s a lot of comedy in there that people may not realize.
What is something that you think every good director should know?
My advice for young, aspiring filmmakers is to work hard. There are millions of people out there who dream of making movies, but only a select few get to do so. I know that the only reason I’m in the position I’m in now is because up to this point, I’ve worked harder than most of those people. I know that the only way that I’ll progress through this business is to push myself even further.