“F-3” (my first feature film)

I was approaching 30 years old and living in Las Vegas, NV teaching at The Art Institute. This job was a Godsend at the time since the only work I had before that out there was working as a lifeguard at a health club for the old, rich and unhappy. After baking in the sun for a few years praying to the film gods to relieve me from my suffering, I happened upon an adjunct position at The Art Institute of Las Vegas by pure accident. I was actually interested in learning CGI at the time and then after meeting some folks there I thought to myself, “Man, I can teach most of these courses!”. I was invited to apply and after a fairly easy interview and presentation I got an adjunct position. I was very impressed with the facilities there and the encouraging atmosphere to learn. One of the many perks of this job besides no state taxes was the fact that I got to check out any equipment that I wanted. I loved the Panasonic DVX100!!! By far one of the best video cameras I’ve ever used up to that point. I loved it so much, I bought one.


The time had come for me to create a feature film. For some reason I had this strong voice in the back of my head screaming at me to make a feature film by the time I am 30. I asked several of my students for their help and they were all very enthusiastic about a chance to go out and work on a low budget movie… without a script… sort of made up as I went along… sigh.

Let me backtrack just a little bit. You see when I first began checking out the DVX from the equipment room I would just take it home and shoot obscure angles all around my apartment. The images impressed me so much that I thought to myself, “I think I have all I need to make my own film.” and it just ballooned from there.

I had many incredible shoots out in the NV desert surrounding the city. Some of those areas are now completely paved over. Yesterday a wasteland; today a shopping mall, casino and hotel. Vegas was like a forever growing protoplasmic creature of lights devouring the desert. You could literally sit on your porch at night and watch it grow.

I would usually get 5-10 eager folks dying to create, decked out in equipment and ready to rock. We had a great time and it was an incredible learning experience for us all. I will be forever grateful to those that helped me on this film. When I think of all the people who got involved in this and the process I went through I almost can’t believe it.

After a year of teaching and shooting scenes for what soon became titled “F-3” I left the West to go back to my homeland; the mountains of Western North Carolina. I have traveled and lived in many places, but my heart is rooted into the ground deep in the heart of Appalachia. I have always felt it was important for me to make films there beyond any rational thought.

I continued to whittle away at an edit of F-3 while I began teaching for a year at the school I got my MFA from, UNCGreensboro. When the year was up I went to my parents’ home and lived there for 2 years (I hadn’t been back home to live long term since I was 17 and now I was in my early 30’s). There I worked at getting my head straight while I slowly built the mountain range from Hell that appears at the end of the movie. I made them out of everything I could stick together and spray paint. All sorts of stuff, such at 10K in ceramic doll parts donated to me by a very great friend. I made a poor makeshift greenscreen and began shooting SFX plates that I stitched together Using Photoshop to create the matte paintings and then compositing them in Final Cut Pro 7 and After Effects.

The end result was beyond anything that I could have preconceived. I had created a psychedelic, sub-conscious horror film. It was a long journey that at times, I didn’t know if I would finish or not.





“F-3” Pinterest gallery: (Here you can find stills from the movie as well as pictures highlighting the process of building the mountain range from Hell)

About filmmakerjk

JK :: Films is a full service video production company specializing in commercials, music videos, documentaries, events, short/feature length films and more. Jesse Knight has been an active filmmaker since 1995 when he made his first film at the North Carolina School of the Arts during its Filmmaking Summer Immersion Program. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro's Broadcasting and Cinema Masters Program he continued to make films while teaching at the College level. In 2009 he began Jesse Knight Films and has been servicing production needs of Western North Carolina and the surrounding area. Through the journey of life I have been creating worlds within my imagination. My outlets have been painting, drawing, writing, sculpture, photography, etc... Filmmaking is the culmination of many crafts, which intrigued me and has convinced me that it is the ultimate art-form and the best vehicle for bringing visions to life. I picked up a camera a long time ago and haven't put it down since.
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