Who Is Jacob Dylan?

by Jenji Mizuta

Jacob Dylan is a young filmmaker from Austin, Texas, recognized for his unique story structure and world settings. First coming to notice with his short film solace., completed in 2020 and available on his website, which earned him a semi-finalist spot at the Los Angeles International Film Festival’s Indie Short Fest in November 2021. Now with three short films below his belt, Jacob has recently completed his first feature film, Sticky Fingers, set to release within the next year.

Jacob, being Editor-in-Chief at PAGE2FRAME, shares a vision with his colleagues to create a
movement in which underground filmmakers can support and push each other up exponentially to make filmmaking accessible to those whose lives have revolved around the medium.

To learn more about his career and his vision at P2F, I held an interview with Jacob and learned more than I could ask for as the conversation marched.

I notice you have a unique and disjointed story structure. What’s driven you to write like that?

It’s sort of like I view my stories as a compilation of scenes, with their own stories coming into
one. Best comparison is to Linklater, he is the formative director in my life and I mimic the
momentum and “floatiness” of his films in my stories.

What are your strengths as a filmmaker?

I think the beginning steps are my strength. Writing and brainstorming the film is what I love the most. I’m new to editing, so having collaborators like my editor, Olivia [Mundie], is super helpful, but I simply love the collaboration process in general.

What’s your working relationship with your crew? I noticed Olivia has edited both of your most recent shorts on your website.

Having someone like Olivia to work with is great because she’s a great collaborator, and that goes for all the crew while we go through the filming process.

Have your filmmaking techniques had to adapt for the feature format?

Both short and feature form
depend on the story for how my filmmaking ideas would have to adapt, rather than the format. Shooting a feature was more like just more of everything I’ve done with shorts. It’s more problems the greater the length, and the standard and expectations of a feature are higher as well. It all demanded more, rather than demanding adaptation.

Has your writing adapted much for the format?

Not very much, it’s still true to my style of stories in my short films. The run time is on the shorter side of a feature and my writing has fit in the format without much issue.

I noticed across your shorts the theme of following characters floating in space and time in the setting of a never-resolved mystery, all the while, intimate in your way. What would you say your themes are?

It’s hard to say exactly. I’d say sort of a strangeness, unfamiliarity, but still familiar on a human
level of how the characters respond in the world.

      - Dissonant sort of?

Not exactly, but that’s just part of it as a result of the strangeness of it. The strokes of life as they are important, sort of like how Linklater makes his stories where it’s like inertia floating you into what’s next.

With this feature film completed and under your belt, what’s your immediate plan now in your career?

To organize everything again; get myself ready for what’s next. After completing a feature, it’s a lot of energy you need to recover so you might not be even thinking about a story.

If you had access to say, 20 million dollars for a film, what would you hope to make?

Some weird shit. Unchained. But, as my vision is now, I would stay true to what I want to make and myself. I would take what I have now and amplify it.

Do you ever find yourself having to choose between what you want for your film and what you think an audience wants to see?

Not really, I’m usually looking for a reaction from audiences in my films. It might be in the back of my mind sometimes, but I don’t let myself get boxed in. You’ve gotta make what you truly want and not be scared of being corny.

Recalling my earlier questions, I dug deeper into Jacob’s influences and what he has learned since he first began filmmaking. Jacob expresses his admiration of Linklater’s style, citing the director as a direct influence on his filmmaking in general, as he explains:

Linklater was formative for me. I first saw his stuff in my early teens and I wanted to make films like he made. It became such a passion, I would take DVD cases, take the cover out from the plastic and put in my own poster for a film I wanted to make. There also aren’t really any artists from where I grew up in Austin, so I really look up to Linklater because he came up from my general area of the country where not many filmmakers have before, as compared to cities like Los Angeles or NYC, then further attending college in my hometown, Austin.

Then going on further about Linklater’s consistency in his career:

I admire him for managing to make a film every year, sometimes even releasing two in one year. It’s an incredible example to set, knowing how much energy it takes to make a single feature, and on top of that every one of those films being great.

What is a single film that has had the most notable impact on you?

Good Time formed a strong foundation for me. It’s the film I wish I had made, you know? It
really moved me. I related to the filmmakers themselves and the process of making a film. I saw the labor on screen, so while I can’t relate to these characters like most anyone else can’t, I have the emotional attachment to the final work itself when you go beyond just how great it is as a film.

You have been attending film school in New York City, how much has it done to affect your vision?

It’s done a lot to wake me up. Like, you think you’re ready to start making films, but school really kicks your ass and shows you how to do it. It has kicked me in gear, so it’s been a really valuable experience for me.

What drew you to PAGE2FRAME?

To start, I first met Elijah [Winfield] through Twitter and it was the first time I saw a
community of people who were that passionate about films. It’s my faith in Elijah, our shared
network, as well as my struggle and many others who share the same struggle of getting exposure for your films. The film industry is a monster. It can and does make artists vicious. I envision PAGE2FRAME to lower the ladder and change the race into a system of supporting each other. I want it to help filmmakers not second-guess themselves and their work by showing them audiences do want to see their vision. The magazine is exactly what I wish I had when I just started out and was still up and coming. I'm glad it’s here when it is, making my and every other filmmaker's path clearer.

Name of your feature and any closing remarks?

Sticky Fingers, coming out some time next year. My films will be unapologetic and I’m ready to go hard. I hope everyone is as excited as I am for this feature and the future of this magazine.

Photography by Fran Kula

Link to Jacob’s portfolio


The Willow

Top 10 Avant-Garde Horror Films

A Home for the Cinema Underground