Riggio Profile: Jamie Hook / Zoe Rivka Panagopoulos
“I’m really good at working with people but really bad at working for people.” And indeed he is.
Jamie Hook is a freelance producer, film director, editor, and more recently, contributor to the Riggio Honors Program for Writing and Democracy’s Digital Documentary class. With ambitions of generating our very own web video content using only iPhone cameras and Final Cut Pro, class supervisor John Reed called Jamie in to provide some sound technical guidance.
One hour and 50 minutes later, we all had a basic knowledge of which keyboard shortcuts produced the specific effects we desired. I personally still have difficulty operating a computer mouse, so this is a true feat. Not in the least bit jaded by the undergraduate class’s lack of technical expertise, Jamie generously agreed to come back a second time and assist our hardworking group of film-editing amateurs. Not terribly surprising coming from a man with the personal belief that “most of the things that inspire us are the things that seem impossible.”
His incurable attraction to artistically fulfilling creative projects, even if they may not be entirely promising, is both one of Jamie’s weaknesses and strengths. This interest has compelled him to found various nonprofit organizations, including Peacemeal Productions, Northwest Film Forum, and Denmark Arts Center, and to participate in countless independently produced films such as Naked Groove and Vacation Land. “Nonprofit is a great place for experimental,” says Hook. Conversely, it is also not a very great place for profit.
But Jamie argues that the ends must not always justify the means. “When I was making the most amount of money my life was falling apart.” Moving from city to city and taking on what some would consider “corporate” jobs ate away at Jamie’s overall wellbeing and interfered with his own need to create. “I have a really unfortunate but lifesaving inability to do things I don’t want to do. Unfortunate because it can make [financial] things really hard, lifesaving because I don’t ever wake up realizing something has been sucking away at my soul.”
Instead, Jamie prefers to trust a “deep intuition” that leads him from one endeavor to the next, instead of the amount of funding that project is or isn’t getting. In his opinion, anyway, the people providing such fiscal support tend to have some sort of agenda that tames or interferes with the initial intention, which may have been free of polarized opinions or political stamps at the start. “It’s like funders see it [art] as this lion and they think, ‘Oh, well that’s really cool to look at, let’s cage it and put it in a zoo.’ But that’s not the same thing as a lion; the real lion is out there and it isn’t tamed.”
Zoe Rivka Panagopoulos is a yoga instructor who writes lots of stuff. She is published in the most recent edition of 12th Street.