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Interview – Jake Katofsky – “Asia A” – A Short Film


Posted August 12, 2018 by

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Interview – Jake Katofsky – “Asia A” – A Short Film

ASIA A tackles the subject of sudden disability and stars London Brown (Ballers), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D), Paulina Bugembe (The Good Place) and Elizabeth Keener (The L Word). Just having begun its festival run this live action short is already a semi-finalist at the 45th Student Academy Awards, has been selected for LA Shorts International Film Festival and HollyShorts.

ASIA A was created by director Andrew Reid, writer Roberto Saieh, and producers Jake Katofsky and Eric Baird.

ASIA A is the story of a recent spinal cord injury patient struggling to reconcile his sense of self-worth with his new reality as a paraplegic.

Director/Writer Andrew Reid graduated with a Masters of Arts in Film Production from the USC School of Cinematic Arts. When he was 21, he became paralyzed from the chest down. He was told by doctors he would never walk again, but with dedication and perseverance he regained movement. To keep the film authentic the filmmakers intermittently interviewed spinal cord injury patients for research, and to create public awareness of the ASIA test and spinal cord injury.  His previous work includes the award winning film Geeta and Road to Zion.

Writer Roberto Saieh has an MFA in Screenwriting from the University of Southern California and was placed twice in the PAGE Awards with his feature Magdalena and his short Shine.

Producer Jake Katofsky is a recent MFA graduate of the USC Peter Stark Producing Program. Jake has associate produced feature Live Cargo, starring Lakeith Stanfield, Dre Hemingway, and Robert Wisdom and has produced four shorts including Duvall et al., The Shadow, and The Bare Knuckle Gentlemen. Co-producer Eric Baird is recent grad from USC with his Masters in Film & Television Production, Eric focused primarily on directing and producing.  He was a producer on The Waste Land and associate producer on My Loyal Audience.

Interview - Jake Katofsky


To begin with, tell us about your latest film ‘Asia A’, where did the idea come from? How did you get involved with the film?

ASIA A is the story of a recent spinal cord injury patient struggling to reconcile his sense of self-worth with his new reality as a paraplegic. The idea stemmed from a personal tragedy of the director, Andrew Reid, who at 21 found himself suddenly paralyzed from the chest down, told he would never walk again. With hard work and perseverance, Andrew now walks with a cane. ASIA A is a fictionalization of that experience told in a compelling way that is emotionally satisfying and universally relatable.

Andrew and Eric, my eventual producing partner on ASIA A, were out looking for another producer in the early days of the process. After reading the script, I immediately fell in love with the story, world, and characters. When I met with Eric and Andrew to discuss the project in detail, it became clear very quickly that we would make a great team.

Tell us about the cast, who is starring in ‘Asia A’?

ASIA A stars an incredible cast, far above what we thought realistic. At the helm sits the incredibly talented London Brown, known for his role of Reggie on HBO’s Ballers. He plays recent spinal-cord injury patient Marquise in that vulnerable period where one has to make the choice between giving up and facing his challenges head on. Opposite London is Emmy Winner Pruitt Taylor-Vince, most recently on Stranger Things: Season 2 and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,who plays Marquise’s double-amputee roommate Noah. To round out the cast, we have Elizabeth Keener (The L Word) as the occupational therapist and Paulina Bugembe (The Good Place)playing Marquise’s girlfriend Camilla. It was an absolute joy to work with all of them, and it is because of their great work that the story of ASIA A stands out.

Did you face any significant challenges throughout the film’s production?

It wouldn’t be filmmaking if you didn’t have to deal with a sweeping curve at every turn. Although we were prepared, we found our shooting plan a tad overly ambitious for the storytelling quality we desired. After day 1, we came together as a team and course corrected. Allowing us to get the most out of every shot without sacrificing story. On top of that, we had to find a way to make a story set 95% in one room stay fresh and interesting. Luckily, our decision to build the inpatient room on a sound stage afforded us much needed versatility and options to do so.

What are your influences as a filmmaker?

There are too many to count. But, as a producer, I aspire to make movies similar to the work of Brian Grazer and Todd Black. Both have the innate ability to tell deeply moving character stories presented in an undeniably entertaining way. Their film are fun, emotional, riveting, and have longevity in a market that is constantly bombarded with content.

When and where can we expect to see ‘Asia A’?

ASIA A premiered at the LA International Shorts Film Festival on Jul 31 to a wonderful reception and will screen on August 14that Hollyshorts. More screening news coming soon.

What advice would you give any up-and-coming filmmakers, trying to crack the industry?

I am still figuring this out myself and there is no easy answer. In an industry with many factors out of our control, it is important to remember that there are two things that we can: work ethic and attitude.

What is the next step for you? Do you have any other films or projects in production?

In addition to ASIA A, I have another short film, Duvall et al., moving along the festival circuit having premiered at the Brooklyn Film Festival in June and then at the LA international Shorts Film Festival in July. It is moving piece about an old curmudgeon reconciling with the reality of his son’s suicide in his own way. A third short, a period boxing film entitled The Bare Knuckle Gentlemen, looks to make a splash in festivals in 2019. A fourth, a horror proof-of-concept entitled The Shadow, looks to do the same. On top of all of that, I have a number of feature films and shorts I am very excited to bring to the world in various stages of development, including feature adaptations of all four short films listed above.


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