Jared Bentley has worn numerous hats over his career, including as a personal assistant (to a cast member of “The Simpsons”), in special effects (on “Army of Darkness”), on music tours (he’s worked with the Jacksons!), editor and more recently, filmmaker.

Bentley’s latest movie is titled “Intensive Care” and it is out now from Screen Media. The film is a throwback to the action Movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s, that Bentley was raised on. Jared recently discussed this project and more via an exclusive interview.

Filmmaking, plots and movies

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you become a filmmaker and how did you manage to actually get paid to make movies?

Jared Bentley (JB): I grew up on movie sets such as “Jaws 2” and “Alien 4” because my father did Special Effects, so I always felt very at-home in the production world. At age 12, after much begging, my parents gave me a video camera and I immediately put it to use making movies with my friends. Somewhere around age 16, I realized that it was what I wanted to do for a living.

So, I attended NYU’s Film School and began working in the industry shortly thereafter.

I began working for Nancy Cartwright (the voice of Bart Simpson) as an Office PA. I overheard that they needed an editor for something so I lied and said that I could do it. Cut to me spending countless nights learning Final Cut Pro. In the end, they were happy with my work, so I was promoted and eventually directed projects for them.

I remember my first paid gig even though it wasn’t so glamourous. I was working as a PA in NY for company that worked on special interest stories. They eventually let me shoot for them with the big DigiBeta SP cameras. I didn’t frame the check because I was broke, and I couldn’t afford to waste it like that!

MM: What would you do if you could not find work in the movie industry and what equipment do you favor?

JB: Music was my other great love. I had a band for a while and we made of go of it back another lifetime ago. But I always knew, even if the band took off and became successful, I’d still ultimately want to work on films. Equipment depends on the project. Sometimes a good old Canon 5D gets the job done. For my film, we used the Arri Amira. I used a Panasonic HVX200 for years. That thing was quite a battle axe for me. Still the best run-and-gun camera I ever used.

MM: How did the plot for “Intensive Care” come to you?

JB: My writing and producing partners had become frustrated in getting other feature projects financed, so I just said,” why don’t we stop waiting for permission and just finance our own film?” I think it helped that we are all professionals and make a decent living, so we had the disposable income to put towards it as long as the costs were reasonable.

Story-wise, we knew we needed something that was mostly in one location with a small cast, and I believe it was one of my partners, Darrin Scane, that suggested a home invasion.

MM: What personally appealed to you about “Intensive Care” and its casting process?

JB: I like a lot of different kinds of films, and “Intensive Care” was a chance for me to combine many of those things into one film. Al the stunts, fights, drama, and comedy all flow though my usual dark sensibilities and make something that is quite unique, from a tonal standpoint. In fact, I wasn’t sure all of the different elements were going to work?

Could we have people cringing at a dark moment, then laughing a minute later at a funny one? It wasn’t till we had our premiere that I could see that we pulled it off. The audience was game for the wild ride that the film is.

We had worked with Kevin and Gunnar Sizemore, and Jai Rodriguez before so they were a no brainers. Through Kevin’s connections, we also cast Darrin Henson, Jose Rosete, Austin Pollard, and most importantly, Tara Macken. He also introduced us to Mark Parra, who handled our fight choreography. Leslie Easterbrook was a fantastic get for us because we all grew up on the Police Academy movies.

Eric Storlie and I met her at a film festival, and ambushed her on her way to her car, saying “we’re making a movie and you’d be perfect for one of the parts!”

Career, future, and advice

MM: Where do you want to be in ten years and why do you find this career path so enjoyable?

JB: The best part is always that moment when you screen your finished product for an audience. There’s no greater feeling in the world than seeing them connect with what you did. (it’s also heartbreaking when they don’t). In terms of specifics…I had the pleasure of being the Jackson 5’s Video Director for their tour from 2012 – 2015.

This took me all over the world and was an absolute dream job. Everyone knows the talent that has come out of that family, but when you see it night after night, up close, you really have even a greater appreciation for it. The way that the film industry is going, I’m not so certain it will be making features in the future. Television has really become the dominant art form, whereas the theaters are reserved for big blockbuster spectacles that don’t really interest me. I’d be very happy working on a series that is something that my partners and I created.

MM: Do you any projects coming up, advice to offer, or anything else to say?

JB: We just finished a feature length script called “The Conductor” that we are starting to pitch around. It’s like a sci-fi “Silence of the Lambs.” It’s bigger in scale, so self-financing is not an option. I’d give different advice depending on what it is they want to do. As far as being a filmmaker…there is no tried and true way…but one thing is for sure…no one is going to give you a shot unless you have experience, so you have to create that experience for yourself. And in doing so, don’t always worry about making something perfect. Instead, challenge yourself and experiment and take chances.

And above all…don’t wait for someone to give you permission. Go out and start making it happen for yourself. If you’re good at what you do…people will notice.

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