Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 25
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
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Journalist, Documentary Filmmaker Flesher Turns His Attention to the Sourlands

Ellen Gilbert

He describes himself as a “multimedia journalist.” He’s a writer, photographer, and filmmaker “in the pursuit of a good story.” His website informs us that “award-winning Jared Flesher uses every technological tool at his disposal.”

“There’s a right tool for every story,” said the 28-year old Hopewell resident in a recent interview. “Sometimes it’s an article, or if it’s really visual, a documentary. It takes a lot more time to tell a story visually, but I feel empowered as a journalist having all these tools at my disposal.”

“Sometimes I tell people I’m a filmmaker,” he added, “but it always comes back to the story telling. It has to be accurate and meaningful; something people will learn from.”

Mr. Flesher’s latest “good story” is about the Sourlands, and the medium he’s using is, once again, film. The Sourlands is a 17-mile ridge that runs from Lambertville to Hillsborough, including areas in Somerset, Hunterdon, and Mercer Counties.

“The Sourlands are the last big forest between New York City and Philly,” commented Mr. Flesher. “The film is about the survival of the forest, and the interesting, sometimes inspiring people who live there.”

Mr. Flesher is already known to some Princetonians for his movie, The Farmer and the Horse, which was screened at Princeton Public Library’s Environmental Film Festival last year (see www.thefarmerandthehorse.com).

“He’s been great to work with,” said Youth Services Librarian and Environmental Film Festival coordinator Sue Conlon. “We like to have a global perspective and bring in the less familiar, but we like New Jersey stories too, to see what they all have in common.” Mr. Flesher’s look at draft horse farming fit the bill. His availability to participate in local discussions was a plus; bringing in several of the film’s subjects for a library program was an added bonus.

Mr. Flesher, who also freelances as a print journalist and photographer, financed both film projects using Kickstarter, an online funding platform for designers, filmmakers, musicians, journalists, inventors, and other artists. “What it does is harness the power of the internet to let independent creators like myself reach out to a prospective audience to support me now, and help make the project a reality,” he explained.

For $20, contributors will receive a free Sourlands DVD.

Hoping for $5,000 and receiving over $7,000, Mr. Flesher’s Kickstarter website (http://kck.st/eW1VQl) recently boasted a “Funding Successful” announcement. While the window of opportunity to send contributions for his project is now closed, Mr. Flesher was quick to point out that anyone interested in this genre can send tax deductible donations to the Center for Independent Documentary in Massachusetts (http://documentaries.org).

Work on the Sourlands film began last March and Mr. Flesher anticipates finishing it in March of 2012. “I think a year is pretty quick for a feature-length film,” he observed. “I certainly have a lot more experience now.” The Farmer and the Horse was his first film, “and I figured it out as I went along,” steeping himself in “the whole process beyond the making of the film, like how are you going to market it? The more you do it, the more momentum there is.”

Mr. Flesher said that he enjoys the freedom and variety of tasks involved in being an independent producer. “The other day I started out filming, then I spent ten hours sitting in front of the computer editing. The nice thing about working for yourself is that it doesn’t have to be nine to five.”

“When you’re out shooting you have to be technically good,” he noted, “but there’s also a big element of creativity, which can be exhausting. So it’s good to have alternative things to do. Anyway,” he added, “long hours don’t feel that long when you’re doing something you’re passionate about.”

Mr. Flesher’s next project? He’s not sure, but one thing he does know is that “great stories pop up when you least expect them.”

“Half the job of being an independent filmmaker is making the connections with people and organizations,” he added. And so Mr. Flesher can be contacted at jtflesher@gmail.com.

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