Director, Documentarian, Photographer, Activist, Story Teller at Heart
NCW: WHO IS MARK JACOBS?
MJ: I don’t like to talk about myself. I am usually on the other side of the camera. In general who is me is defined by what I am in search for. And I am in search of experiences that can enrich my life. I used to define myself as what I did for living, but now I am someone who uses what he does for living to bring awareness to subjects that need attention.
NCW: HOW DID YOU START?
MJ: My career started in Las Vegas when I was 14, I was really interested in television news, I don’t know why, so I asked for a tour of a television station. I took the tour, and I started hanging out there to learn more. In the summer, I was hanging out at the studio even more and learning about lighting cameras, news and production. I would sit there and listen, learn and asked questions. KLAS moved in to a brand new state of the art facility, this is 1978. They basically said, “you can’t hang out here anymore, here is an application, fill it out and we will hire you”, and so I was hired a year after my first tour.
NCW: WHAT WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH REALITY TV?
MJ: My goal in reality TV was to bring a sense of the real to it. In 2004, reality TV seemed so produced. I just felt that it was wrong and degrading to the viewers. I’m a firm believer that anytime you try to force things to happen the way you want them to happen, they blow up. Never fails. Just blows up! You can’t force things to happen. You have to sit back and you have to just let them go naturally. Just bring to the table a skill set that allows you to be in that position to let things happen. Observe. Listen. But, at the end of the day the budget really decides how schedules allow for that time.
NCW: LUCKY DOG WAS NOMINATED FOR AN EMMY. HOW WAS YOUR EXPERIENCE?
MJ: Directing Lucky Dog was awesome. And not just for the concept: rescue and rehabilitating dogs from shelters, but also for the opportunity to work with Brandon McMillan, whose energy is contagious on and off screen. Shooting with animals is not like shooting with people, as you can imagine, so I just let Brandon “do his thing” and I “followed” him. He has a special affinity with animals and we were able to capture that on camera.
NCW: YOU ARE AN ACTIVIST. WHAT PROMPT THIS PASSION?
MJ: For me it’s about what my purpose in life is. Giving back is an amazing fulfilling experience that enriches my life and makes me want to do more. If I don’t, then why am I here for? It’s that simple. Whether you believe in God or not, I don’t want this life to pass by, take things for granted and get lost in the superficial. Look at all we have been given.
NCW: WHAT IS YOUR NEXT PROJECT ABOUT?
MJ: I am working on a documentary about Swaziland. It is a small country in the heart of South Africa, a country within a country. When my wife and I first went there we were shocked to see that all the things we hear here in America about Africa, in Swazi were immediately noticeable: there is no food, water, clothes, shoes. Its population is being decimated by AIDS. Swaziland has the highest incidence of HIV/AIDS per capita in the world. There are so many orphans, most of whom have HIV themselves and their outlook is not a positive one, as medications are not available. They calculate that by 2020 Swaziland may be extinct if something doesn’t change. It’s only six years away., it’s not very long. For these reasons I am committed to expose the facts and make people aware of this devastating situation. As human beings we could all be helping.
To follow Mark’s journey visit www.zzyzxfilms.com
Interview from The Aquatic Issue 2014