m.jeanette ’00 is working with Academy Award-winning directors, while also eyeing her own Oscar.
Former UO student m.jeanette (far left) was the art director for the upcoming film Live Nude Girls, which stars Dave Foley, Andy Dick, and a replica of KITT from the TV series Knight Rider.
Former journalism student m.jeanette has come a long way since graduating from the School of Journalism and Communication in 2000. Fourteen years ago, she was taking Arnold Ismach’s mass media class and promising her mentor that she would thank him in her acceptance speech when she won her first Academy Award.
Now, she is preparing to head to Poland, where she will be co-producing the film Victor alongside Oscar-winning director John Avildsen, who won the Best Director award for helming Rocky, before going on to direct the first three Karate Kid films, The Power of One, Lean on Me, and 8 Seconds.
“I went into filmmaking with the goal of being an Oscar-winning screenwriter, but I've mostly been working in independent film as a producer, production designer, cameraperson, background actor in a cheesy Lifetime movie, and a producer of film festivals,” m. jeanette says. “Basically, everything but screenwriting.”
The path from mass media classes to the set of Hollywood films was not a linear one for m.jeanette though, and involved a decade-long detour as a newspaper journalist. That’s not to say the film industry is the final destination—she also plans to eventually coach football before getting into politics and finally philanthropy, but not before achieving her current goal of winning the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay before she turns 40.
“[Arnold Ismach] has been waiting more than a decade, and every couple of years will tell me he’s yet to see me on the Academy Awards,” m.jeanette laughs
One of m.jeanette’s many roles in the film
industry has been second cameraperson, as
she was on the set of The Artifacts.
A passionate supporter of her beloved Ducks—many people know her simply as “da Duck” due to her love of the green and yellow—one of m.jeanette’s future film projects will be of special interest to fans of the University of Oregon.
“One film I would love to make is a sports drama about the University of Oregon,” she said. “Maybe focusing on Chip Kelly's time at UO, as he is my personal hero because of his creative genius and efficiency. I think he is an incredible innovator—the Steve Jobs for all of sports.”
But before she can tell the story of Chip Kelly, m.jeanette needs to help Avildsen tell the story of people in World War II.
“Just as Rocky was a character-driven picture about an underdog overcoming challenges in and mostly outside the ring with boxing as the background, Enemy Heroes is a character-driven picture with World War II serving as the background,” she said. “Most of the central characters experience incredible growth, usually in the midst of making tough life choices about integrity. The experiences the characters in Victor encounter aren't necessarily specific to people in situations of war, but experiences everyone, everywhere face, every day.”
Victor is the kind of story that appeals to m.jeanette, a self-described fan of human interest pieces. However, working in the film industry has demonstrated to her just how hard it is to get those stories to the big screen.
“One of the biggest challenges I've faced, along with my fellow independent filmmakers, is budget constraints, and especially securing funding for projects,” she said. “Private investors are integral to the future of independent filmmaking, which varies a lot from Hollywood pictures in that the ones at least I like to get involved with are a lot more focused on human, personal stories...especially about growth and the lessons life gives us.”
If any Ducks would like to discuss collaborative opportunities with m.jeanette, she asks that they contact her here.