Emerging Artist Jake Fullilove Works To Make Boise A Filmmaker's Hub

Jun 20, 2014

At 21-years-old, Boise artist Jake Fullilove has already started his own business. Imperium Cinema opened its doors in Boise earlier this year. It’s a film equipment rental company boasting some of the most advanced stuff in the industry.

Fullilove seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of all the lenses, lights, microphones, cameras and cables in his office. The young entrepreneur says he started Imperium to be a resource for Idaho filmmakers.

But there’s an added bonus to having all this stuff at his fingertips: he’s also a fledgling filmmaker -- just starting to gain his narrative voice. He's currently in post-production for his first short film, “Spring Garden,” which Fullilove shot last June.

Jake Fullilove on set during a commercial shoot this spring. His company, Imperium Cinema, rents out some of the best film equipment around.
Credit Kate Grosswiler / for Boise State Public Radio

It’s a psychological thriller about a man who experiences blackouts that coincide with the gory murders of several women around town. Fullilove says it was his most challenging artistic project to date.

On a recent summer day, the young director was working with local actor David Cowan to redo some of the dialogue they capture last year.

“OK let’s try some with direction if you’re cool with that," says Fullilove. "So this is what you’re seeing and it’s basically in the form of a pounding headache. And imagine Dan just standing at your side poking you, and with your voice you’re trying to literally push him off of you. Go ahead and give that a shot whenever you’re ready.”

After a few attempts, Cowan gets the delivery just right. Fullilove flashes one of his quick smiles, turning the page on the script.

"OK, next line," he says.

Fullilove hopes to wrap up the project by the end of the summer and submit it to film festivals this fall. It will be the first project he’s sent to any major screening.

Here's an early cut of a scene from "Spring Garden," without the audio.

He’s not new to the world of video production. He designed video games as a young teen, and he learned Photoshop, animation, web design, and photography.

“I slowly started taking every single skill I had learned while I was running around trying to figure out what I wanted to do over the past seven years, and found this one thing I could shove everything into,” Fullilove says.    

That thing was film.

Fullilove knew he had the technical chops, but it wasn’t until he won a couple of competitions in high school that he knew he could also tell a story. He says when he saw people understanding the emotions he was trying to convey as an artist, he was hooked.

“I’ve figured out how to take what I do and what I feel and pass it on to someone else. And as an artist I think that’s one of the highest goals you can do.”

Jake admits he still has a lot to learn about making his artistic vision transfer to screen. While shooting “Spring Garden,” the director got a taste of what it takes to manage a large team, all while rolling with the punches when locations had to change or things would break.

A still shot from an early version of "Spring Garden." The short film was shot in locations around Boise, including this scene with local actors David Cowan (left) and Jem Wierenga (right).
Credit Imperium Cinema

Craig Lew says that's essential on a film set.  Lew's a film producer with years of experience in Hollywood, and after he met Jake last year, Lew quickly became one of his mentors.

“As the producer and director on a project you have to not only motivate everyone and give them direction as to what to do, but you have to inspire them," says Lew. "Because you’re hoping that their artistic abilities will combine with yours to make a much better project.”

Fullilove in his Boise office. The young artist laughs easily, but he prefers writing dark stories for his film over comedy.
Credit Kate Grosswiler / for Boise State Public Radio

Lew’s also helping produce “Spring Garden,” and says he is impressed by the way the young artist composes shots and pulls scenes together.

“It’s a different approach, it’s not the traditional formulaic Hollywood," Lew says. "Which is good -- which is where he should start.”

Lew says he sees Fullilove doing big things for Idaho’s film community in the years to come -- and he hopes to see him develop his screenwriting along with his directing.

Jake is starting his film career with a lot of help from his parents, they’ve underwritten his new business and he still lives at home in Eagle. Unlike a lot of young filmmakers, he has a financial cushion. Because of that, he seems to feel pressure to prove himself as an artist. 

So what does Fullilove see himself doing in the next few years?

“Really experiment, get my narrative voice, get my commercial voice, figure out exactly what I’m doing. And I know I never will figure out exactly what I’m doing because I’ll always be learning more.”

Fullilove is a part time college student at Boise State. With all of his film work, going to class full time is not really an option right now. But he’s not too worried about finishing school. After all, he’s got a short film to finish -- and an audience to scare soon after.

Today’s profile is the last in a series we’re calling “Artist Statement.” The Boise City Department of Arts and History is providing funding for this project.

You can also check out more about this project on Tumblr and tweet to reporter @FABarnhill using the hashtag #BoiseArts.

Copyright 2014 Boise State Public Radio