SKSM: Could you start with telling me a little bit about yourself? Who are you and what do you do?
Jonathan Maurer: My name is Jonathan Maurer, I’m a multihyphenate filmmaker originally from New York, based out of Los Angeles. I work primarily as a producer, and also a writer, director, and actor.
SKSM: When did you know you wanted to become an actor?
Jonathan Maurer: I actually had a late and somewhat unique entry into acting, through the backdoor so to speak. I entered USC film school in 2012, wanting only to be a writer/director; my first semester directing professor told us one day, “If any of you are serious about directing, you should take acting classes to learn how to better communicate with actors.” After getting up-and-down performances in my first few short films, I decided he was right, and began auditing acting classes. I found a studio I absolutely loved, and before I knew it, I had caught the acting bug. It was never my primary pursuit, but became something I really enjoyed and took on, mainly for fun and experience, as time allowed.
SKSM: How did you become involved in The Escape Plan Dollar Baby film?
Jonathan Maurer: As acting was never my primary job, I never got an agent, and instead self-represented. I saw a casting call for what was then called In the Deathroom and thought it sounded fun, so I applied.
SKSM: What do you think it is about the story that attracts people so much?
Jonathan Maurer: Life & death stakes! It doesn’t get much more dramatic than that. There’s a pulpy simplicity to this one that keeps you wondering how it will resolve.
SKSM: Did you have to audition for the part or was it written directly for you?
Jonathan Maurer: I sent in a taped audition for this, although I was cast ultimately in a supporting role that I did not audition for.
SKSM: You worked with Jordan Tandowsky on this film, how was that?
Jonathan Maurer: It was a lot of fun. This wasn’t a very big budgeted project, really just a small group of people making something for the love and fun of it. As in all projects of this nature, it’s the passion of the director first and foremost that will either get it to the finish line or not. Jordan kept things light and easy, and everyone seemed to really enjoying being there.
SKSM: Was there any funny or special moment when they made the movie that you would like to tell me about?
Jonathan Maurer: In the original script, I was supposed to be a New York City bodega clerk. When we couldn’t secure a storefront location, we decided to alter it so that I was a guy selling loose cigarettes on the side of the street, something not very common but not entirely unheard of in NYC. I got to ham up a little bit of a NYC accent, though I’m not sure how convincing it was, haha.
SKSM: Do you still have any contact with the crew/cast from that time? If so with who?
Jonathan Maurer: I think I’m friends with most of them on social media! Of the bunch, I have the most contact with the producer, Mary Rachel Gardner. We’ve kept in touch on some of each others’ projects over the years.
SKSM: What are you working on nowadays?
Jonathan Maurer: For the last few years I’ve worked a steady job as a producer at an agency and production company based in West Hollywood. Additionally, I take freelance gigs as time and my interest dictates, mainly as a producer but occasionally as an actor or writer/script doctor. I’m currently working on a few different scripts, at least two of which I hope I can self produce in the near future.
SKSM: Are you a fan of Stephen King’s work?
Jonathan Maurer: Admittedly I am not much of a reader of Stephen King, though of course I’m familiar with a lot of the films adapted from his work. They’re of notoriously scattershot quality, but I can definitely say Kubrick’s The Shining is among my very favorite films.
SKSM: What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Jonathan Maurer: I am currently in the contestant pool for Jeopardy! So my next appearance on your screens may be playing myself, haha.
SKSM: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything you want to say to the fans that read this interview?
Jonathan Maurer: Thanks for your interest in independent film! They are often made with more love and passion than a lot of the fare you’ll find on Netflix. It’s important to support upcoming filmmakers, and often a lot of fun to see their development.
SKSM: Do you like to add anything else?
Jonathan Maurer: See you at the movies!