one of the 25 NEW FACES OF INDEPENDENT FILM in the August issue of FILMMAKER MAGAZINE
When he bought a one-way ticket to New York City in January, Azazel Jacobs was determined to shoot his third feature no matter what. The story of a young man who travels home to New York for the holidays, leaving his wife and baby — and is then unable to leave the sanctuary of his parents’ apartment — Mommas Man was meant for a winter shoot, so Jacobs had to work fast. Collaborating with producer Alex Orlovsky (Half Nelson), Jacobs found financing from Artists Public Domain and a free location — his parents’ own NYC loft — and was shooting just a few weeks later.
Jacobs’s moviemaking boasts a punk-minimalist sensibility that mines multiple influences, from naturalism to Chaplin to Jarmusch to the avant-garde. His debut feature, Nobody Needs to Know, was one of the pioneers of the free-download terrain, available online in late 2004. His second feature, shot in his hometown of L.A. in 2005, The GoodTimesKid, is a beautifully framed, freewheeling and deadpan comedy about two men with the same name and the woman that comes between them. Jacobs starred in the film alongside girlfriend Sara Diaz and co-writer Gerardo Naranjo (director of the upcoming Drama/Mex). He also co-shot the film with Naranjo and Eric Curtis. The film is, in his own words, “kind of like a home movie we shot on 35mm.”
Extending the home movie metaphor, Jacobs allowed his own parents — including avant-garde filmmaker father Ken — to play themselves in his latest feature. Their loft — crammed with 40 years worth of stuff — was shot exactly as is. “If you can document the people and places that are close to you,” Jacobs says of his filmmaking philosophy, “you wind up winning no matter what. The coolest thing for me is just to realize that film is something you can get better at as you go on.” — Durier Ryan