While Jordan Freese, a production engineer at Resolution Production Group, had spent a decade in corporate IT jobs before landing in the production industry and three years satisfying his passion for filmmaking, it only took Barbara Sharres 24 hours to book his film at the Gene Siskel Film Center.
His 82-minute debut film, the documentary “An Honest Living,” screens Saturday, Jan. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, Jan. 30 at 8:15 p.m.
“Film has been my passion, since I was a kid interested in photography,” says Freese, a native of Queens, New York. His route to the Siskel Center started with his learning computers after graduating from SUNY-Binghamton in 1998, when all forms of physical film were transitioning to digital.
“My first IT job was a trial by fire,” he says of working at NBC headquarters in Manhattan. “This is where I very quickly learned about computers, their software and the media.”
He was one of eight to 10 computer techs on the NBC support desk that mainly supported the network’s vast news operation that also required the techs to travel with the news teams.
Right after the Olympics in Athens in 2004, Freese moved to Chicago “and I lost my way. I meandered around Corporate America for five years. These big firms provided a good living, but IT wasn’t my passion; film was.”
Serendipitously, Resolution hired Freese in 2010 in a new production engineer position: correcting technical problems on the set, workflows on shoots and computers that gives him a birds-eye view of how content is created.
Feeling he now had to make a film; Freese started his doc three months after joining Resolution. “An Honest Living” was close to his heart as it reflected his personal “paycheck vs. passion” conflict.
It’s about four Chicagoans, a woman and three men, of varying ages, who pursue their passions apart from leading lead mundane everyday working lives.
Pam, in her 20s, works nine-to-five as an administrator in a large company and at night follows her passion as a burlesque dancer, Freese describes.
Yamel is a college math teacher in his late 40s, and a Kung Fu martial artist. He owns a small martial arts school and he would love to run it full time if he could make a living at it.
During the day, Rick, in his 50s, paints murals and scenes on walls of businesses and residences and follows his music passion playing drums with bands at night.
The man who seemed to Freese like “the least split between the two worlds,” is George, an artist in his 60s. He taught in his own art school for years. He yearned to realize his own dreams to create a different kind of art form and sold his school to do so.
Freese acknowledges his good luck in being able to earn a living and follow his passion at Resolution. But it was talent as much as good luck for a film expert like Sharres to recognize it and showcased it at a prestigious venue like the Gene Siskel.