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PV alumnus’ film takes the ‘cake’

Movie industry abuzz about Jasper's “Patti Cake$"

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PV alumnus’ film takes the ‘cake’

Geremy Jasper and his son after the Montclair Film Festival screening of

Geremy Jasper and his son after the Montclair Film Festival screening of "Patti Cake$." The movie came out in limited release last January and was directed and written by Jasper.

Charlotte Atkinson

Geremy Jasper and his son after the Montclair Film Festival screening of "Patti Cake$." The movie came out in limited release last January and was directed and written by Jasper.

Charlotte Atkinson

Charlotte Atkinson

Geremy Jasper and his son after the Montclair Film Festival screening of "Patti Cake$." The movie came out in limited release last January and was directed and written by Jasper.

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In the fifth grade, Geremy Jasper stepped up onto a stage, looking out into a crowd of his peers, teachers, and parents. He grabbed the mic from the stand, took one calming breath, and, at the young age of 11, sang what could be considered his debut single, a “Hamilton”-esque “Constitution Rap.”

Jasper, a PV graduate, has been artistically inclined since his childhood.

His love for the arts has led to a career in the industry. He has fronted and toured with rock band The Fever, won an MTV Video Music Award for directing Selena Gomez and the Scene’s “Love You Like a Love Song” music video, and, as of recently, directed and wrote the film “Patti Cake$.”

“Patti Cake$” was the breakout indie hit at the Sundance Film Festival this past January. Since then, the movie has played for thousands around the world at festivals including the Cannes Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, and Montclair Film Festival, which took place just 30 minutes from PV. At these festivals, Jasper and “Patti Cake$” were nominated for and won accolades such as Best Feature Film, Directors to Watch, and New Voices in Screenwriting.

According to Jasper, the movie tells the story of fictional character Patricia Dombrowski, “a big girl from New Jersey,” who has dreams of becoming the next big name on the rap scene. His consistent love for music inspired him to create this vision.

“I had the idea for the character many, many years ago. I was driving around with a friend and we were just joking about it,” Jasper said.

After Jasper thought of the idea for Dombrowski, he put her on the back-burner, only writing raps for her once in awhile.

For the longest time, I wanted to be a musician. I fell in love with film when I was 25, so for me it came later.”

— Geremy Jasper

In Oct. 2012, when Hurricane Sandy devastated the shores of New Jersey, the idea of Dombrowski came rushing back to Jasper while he was listening to music by Bruce Springsteen.

Once he realized making this movie was something he wanted to pursue, he realized it would not be easy.

As an American Studies major at Wesleyan University, Jasper had never taken a film writing class. He spent three and a half years researching how to develop a screenplay, writing draft after draft and perfecting his craft.

Jasper’s new skills helped him to take Dombrowski’s story to the big screen.

This idea of getting out of the suburban streets of New Jersey to find a more stimulating and invigorating life is at the heart of “Patti Cake$”. It is what pushes Killa P to reach beyond the scope of what everyone around her deems possible.

Although Jasper believes that things may have changed a bit since he grew up, this is still a struggle faced by students here at PV. That’s what makes “Patti Cake$” so engaging; anyone who has felt like there is something bigger and better out there for them will be able to attach and relate to this film.

We [himself and his wife Lois] knew he would end up doing something artistic, but we didn’t expect this. The greatest thing about it all is that he stuck to it. He had the perseverance and patience to make this happen.”

— Jeff Jasper

“For the longest time, I wanted to be a musician,” Jasper said. “I fell in love with film when I was 25, so for me it came later.”

According to Jasper, Hillsdale, New Jersey circa the ‘80s was not exactly an environment that fostered creativity.

“By the time I was a teenager, I was dying to get out of there,” Jasper said. “There was nothing for me. It’s not like there were music vendors for me to go to. I just had bigger dreams.”

Although making a movie was difficult, Jasper continued to pursue his dream with the help of his family.

“Going through with ‘Patti Cake$’ was hard,” Jasper said. “But I had the support of my parents, I always have. I think they would be more disappointed if I had a job sitting in a cubicle.”

His father, PV history teacher Jeff Jasper, agreed.

“We [himself and his wife Lois] knew he would end up doing something artistic, but we didn’t expect this,” he said. “The greatest thing about it all is that he stuck to it. He had the perseverance and patience to make this happen.”

The distribution rights of “Patti Cake$” were sold to the production company Fox Searchlight Pictures for $9.5 million dollars after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan. 23. The film debuted in select theaters on Aug. 18 and will be released on digital, Blu-ray, and VOD (Video on Demand) on Nov. 7, 2017.

“The artistic spirit in me was really pushing me to get out and go on some adventures,” Geremy Jasper said. “So that’s what I did… and ‘Patti Cake$’ happened to be an outcome.”

 

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PV alumnus’ film takes the ‘cake’