Baker is the owner of the Maidstone Hotel, with his wife Jenny Ljungberg, in East Hampton, NY on Long Island. The documentary will be premiering at several film festivals and will eventually air on the movie channel, Showtime! The film is directed by Neal Thibedeau. Some members of the cast of “Inconceivable,” including Nicolas Cage and Faye Dunaway, are featured in the film.

The making of ‘Becoming Iconic’

I interviewed film director Jonathan Baker about this new documentary and about himself as a movie director.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: How did you convince the iconic directors Jodi Foster, Adrian Lyne, Ridley Scott, Warren Beatty, John Badham, Michael Bay, Taylor Hackford, to participate in your documentary?

Jonathan Baker: The project started because of my love of being a fan. The best film school I ever had was the DVD commentaries. One day, I was told by Warren Beatty I would make a good director. Then I met with Chris Moore, the producer of the reality show, "Project Greenlight" and "The Chair." I asked the question if you have two directors and one script and both did the version of the film, would it be the same film? I was fascinated by this question and in my own quest for information; I thought would it not be interesting if I got schooled by some of the most famous directors in Hollywood. I asked them if they would be part of the doc of a first-time director. Everyone I asked said yes.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: They seemed very cooperative and happy to be involved.

Jonathan Baker: I set up the documentary not telling them who the first-time director was that was the rub of the concept until the end and then I would reveal myself and thought it would be great for the audience to know ‘Life is by Design’ one has to just put the effort in and people love to help a good idea along.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: At the end, they seemed surprised to learn that you didn’t tell them you were the director before they were interviewed!

Jonathan Baker: As I said this was the rub of the concept and at the end, I thought it would make for a great ending. I directed all the directors with a host then revealed myself. As the project turned from them to me I hired a director to direct me that’s how Neal came on to the project to take over.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: There are some very unexpected moments in the film.

Jonathan Baker: Got to be real in order to listen too or it's just entertainment and not a life. This was a documentary, not a reality show.

A day in the life of an ‘iconic’ film director

Suzanne Rothberg BN: Even though the film is about you, Why did you want to be open and candid and reveal very personal aspects in the documentary? Do you regret that maybe you revealed too much information?

Jonathan Baker: The idea is if you open up and be honest then people would be curious about me and the film. If I could be knighted by the best on my best film; people would be interested in working with me. I opened up because I thought there was no other way and the best marketing is the truth.

I cannot see who I am, I can only tell who I am. I never regret, I only hope I made a difference or I can learn from my mistakes. After all, I am human. Immortal, if you look at my grave stone.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: I admire how the film displays to the audience the rare side of you that people never get to see.

Jonathan Baker: We are all genetically inferior as humans so if I can learn from my path, share with my journey and live though my dreams then taking the audience off of their couches and out of their homes with me. It allows them and for me to reach for the stars. After all, I was influenced enough to do what I do, and share what I have. I wanted to expose the real me so when i make films or set goals people would have a baseline to work from.

Respect comes from that baseline.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: I know it must have been difficult to discuss, but from what I witnessed in the film, you talk about your family and that you came from a broken home?

Jonathan Baker: I did come from a broken home my father left when I was six, when you get heart broken at that young of an age it does major damage.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: You and your mother were not that close?

Jonathan Baker: I never said we were not close, it's a love-hate relationship. She is damaged from her past for different reasons. I'm just not waiting to die to see my life flash before me since I live it and chose and react to life like a human. The greatest artists are the ones most damaged.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: And you never knew your father ?

Jonathan Baker: I knew him sort of then he left and not until I was 18, when I was told he had just died. Then 45 days later, my father died. all very final as I went off to college. I healed but broken from six-years-old. I was a street kid of NYC and very smart beyond my years. It took me until I was 35 to grow up and when I had my first child at 43, I understood life. My mother told me he died then 30 days later my father died looking at me.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: I found it very shocking and I was baffled that you showed in the film that you have a grave stone when you’re still alive!

Jonathan Baker: I love that you felt this way! It's my way of being able to enjoy being immortal.

It's ego looking at itself— it's marketing in a strange way. It's something no one would ever think of doing. I took my 11-year-old there and she said, "Why are they dead and you're alive?" and I said, "I am the voice of them, the mayor!" it was also my way of having a sense of humor; because if you read all their stones in this cemetery, everyone has a funny slogan. I thought this was the funniest! I also thought when Marilyn Monroe died the year I was born and her name was Baker; so she must have genetically had something to do with me if you believe in karma.

She also was in good company! We would be famous together. Last year, my good friend Hugh Hefner (the original founder of Playboy magazine) had bought the grave next to Marilyn Monroe and we all know she was the first Playboy Playmate.

Well, Hugh has been a dear friend for 30 years, so I thought it would be good company since I play cards with him every Wednesday and see movies with him every Sunday. In the end, I thought it would be an interesting way to have a unique voice some like it; others think it’s strange. I just think it's brave.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: Your motto is “Life is by Design” yes, I agree that’s very true!

Jonathan Baker: I set out to do everything by design then life happens. If you get 80 percent of what you design, you have a path that you walked well.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: You also mentioned in the documentary that you have a certain type of lung disease. That takes guts! Not easy to come out and say that, especially in front of strangers watching it!

Jonathan Baker: Yes, but it's better than cancer and or heart problems. I wanted the world to know that I am not perfect, I fight for everything I have or want. I never give up and I am a dreamer that lives and even with my problems, I still walk towards the light.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: It was really intriguing how both the documentary and “Inconceivable” came together! Excellent job and Congratulations!

Jonathan Baker: Thank you. I wanted to cross the two at the same time, and be in the companies of icons that love this business as much as I do.

Suzanne Rothberg BN: Also enjoyed that Nic Cage and Faye Dunaway were interviewed that was a bonus!

Jonathan Baker: Yes it was!