What has changed for Jared L. Hess (’02), since the release of his film Napoleon Dynamite? “I have a career now,” laughs writer/director Hess, who has been hired for more film work since the movie came out.
The popularity of Napoleon Dynamite did not signal success for Jared alone. His wife, Jerusha Demke Hess (’02), played a prominent role in the creation of the film. “We wrote the thing together from the ground up. It was a synergy of creativity that went on,” Jared says. “The film has become something well beyond anything I imagined and took us by surprise,” he says, adding that the movie’s success has led to other opportunities. The Hesses are now busy working on a comedy about a wrestler in Mexico—this time for Paramount Studios. A lifelong film aficionado, Jared toyed with the family camera as a child, worked with cinematographer T.C. Christensen (BA ’77) during his high school summers, contributed to student films while atBYU, and is now recognized as a filmmaker. He believes BYU has much to offer young filmmakers.
“As a film student, you work on film projects all year, or even longer than that, and then you have an opportunity to see what an audience actually thinks of your work,” he says of BYU‘s annual Final Cut film competition. “For me, that is one of the most valuable things I took away from BYU.”