TAEM interview with Producer Jamee Natella

jamee-natellaTAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine knows that everyone in Hollywood that is worth their salt, has learned the business from the ground up. Those who have made the grade have learned their trade through formal education and working alongside of seasoned professionals.

One such person is Jamee Natella. She has followed this tried and true method and has succeeded. Jamee, our publication is followed closely by college students who wish to make a career in acting and filmmaking. Please tell us about your formal training that you acquired to make your dream come true.

JN-My initial experience started in Chicago, IL. I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by Entertainment. My mom was a Ballroom dancer. I attended a performance Arts Camp, and High school. I had an agent so I was constantly auditioning and performing. This gave me a good sense of identity and understanding of being on set and what I truly wanted to become, a Producer.

TAEM- Why did you choose this career, and who was your greatest influence ?

JN-Like many people, I did not initially choose film producing. It just evolved naturally as avenues opened. With everything I’ve done, from acting as a young child to corporate films, to commercial production , I’ve jumped in head first with conviction and the desire to do my best. I Operate in the moment, forging ahead and creating great relationships along the way. There isn’t one person In particular who influenced me. I take inspiration from successful people across all professions. However I have a deep admiration for Anne Sweeney ( Co-chairman Disney Networks , President Disney /ABC Television Group), Amy Pascal ( co Chairman of Sony Pictures Group). And I am a Huge fan of Shonda Rhimes ( Creator, Scandal /Greys Anatomy/Private Practice)

TAEM- Tell us about your initial experiences upon your move to California and where did you first start.

JN- Bob Hopskins, who was head of 20th Century Fox Casting at that time gave me my SAG card and my initial break on Doogie Howser, M.D.

TAEM- You had listed that your first acting role was on the television series Doogie Howser, M.D.  How nervous were you in this initial role and what confidence did you gain from it ?

JN-Since I had previous set experience, I wasn’t nervous. I did gain a better understanding of the long hours required on set and this gave me confidence that I could continue in this industry.

TAEM- Two years later you appeared in the production Dark Harvest. Please describe the film and its theme to us and the role that you played in it.

JN- This was my first lead role as an actress. I even got to dye my hair red! I played a young girl who went camping with a group of people in the Mojave Desert. One by one each person was killed. You will have to see the movie to eventually find out how. I was the only one who survived.

TAEM- How different did you find working on this production as opposed to the television series ?

JN-With a TV series the script is delivered on a Friday night, sometimes Saturday morning. I had the rest of the weekend to learn my lines. With film, you have more advanced timing. I was able to live with the creative longer. I also got to attend my first film premiere and was for the first time introduced to the PR machine on a bigger scale.

TAEM- The following year found you in two films and another television series: The Naked Truth, The Making of ‘…And God Spoke’, and Love & War. Please tell us about these and how they prepared you for your next step in working behind the camera.

JN-The making of ‘And God Spoke’, I played an angel.

In Love & War I played Michael Nouri’s ( Flash Dance, The Proposal) love interest. That was interesting because he was a lot taller than me and a lot of years older than me. However, his professionalism and talent made me respect him even more. After Love & War, I played Sharon Gless daughter on the TV Show “ The Trials of Rosie O’Neill,” It was at this time that I realized that production would become a reality. I started to pursue putting it together, producing. I called Steven Bochco , who Executive Produced Doogie Hauser, and he introduced me to a Studio Head at Touchstone. That is where my on set production/studio experience begin.

TAEM- You then took up the reigns of producing your own films with the production of Submissions, a short film that tested your footing on this new path. Please tell our readers why you made the change in careers and what would be your goal in doing so.

JN-I have always been intrigued by the process behind the camera and wanted to explore those challenges. For me, the magic of the filmmaking process comes from collaborating with people. I steered myself collaborating with people. I steered myself in the direction of producing because my goal is to thrive in the film industry on a broader scale. There’s no infinite beginning or end to creating stories and messages.

TAEM- In 2006 and 2009 you produced two more films, Love Is The Drug and Opposite Day, where you also served as the Music Supervisor. These two films differ greatly. Tell our readers about them and the different themes that they have.

JN- JN-Love is the Drug is a film that’s dark and gritty. Its about relationships and prescription drug abuse .While, Opposite Day is a fun and upbeat comedy about children who switch roles and become opposites . The children take on the role of adults and the adults the children. They both leave the audience with a strong message. One message is the choice to abuse prescription drugs and the consequences of that life style, and the other is the appreciation you have when one learns all of the responsibilities adults take on. Children sometimes need to experience life to have an appreciation for why rules and boundaries are set in place. I had produced a few music videos in the past, and love music so supervising the music for Opposite day came naturally to me.

TAEM- In 2010 you produced the action film Tekken, switching genres once again. The multiple style of genre productions that you produced in the following years, Beyond; Between Jupiter and Mars; and Baby Geniuses and the Mystery of the Crown Jewels. This certainly upheld your ability to diversify in making good pictures. Please tell our readers something about these and how you were able to create such a mix of films.

JN-For Tekken, I only produced the Pick Up Shots needed after principle photography.

This was challenging for I had to make an elaborate futuristic, dark edgy bar, out of a single large white office room in a high riser office building.

I had to recreate the actual futuristic bar from the movie ( which was shot in Louisiana.) and with no production designer. If you watch this movie it has a unique style to this feature.

Beyond was shot entirely on location in Alaska outside in 30 below zero weather. Joseph Resnick who directed the movie was constantly challenged by weather and location conditions. However the talent in this movie and the story made it all worth it. This story is about a young girl that gets kidnapped and along the search for her, many paranormal events happen.

Jamee_Filmstrip_Collage_032013Jon Voight played a policeman , Teri Polo the mother and Dermott Mulohney ( Head of the police department) really an incredible cast. The local Alaskan police where so helpful. We shot in a real police station! …I fell in love with Alaska. What a beautiful state! The people were awesome to work with as well.

Baby Genius and the Crown Jewels was also shot on location in Alaska.

This time I got to enjoy the summer of Alaska but indoors !

We shot every scene on a sound stage with Creator and Producer, Steven Paul. He had this vision to build and create from scratch a mini TV studio in the middle of Anchorage. After all, Anchorage didn’t have one sound stage or pre-built set! So we decided to build it for them in three weeks. Dawn Ferry and Robert Hummel did an incredible job into making something out of nothing. Eric Brieman and Kelly Hirano where an incredible support system and of course we had an incredible director, Sean McNamara( Soul surfer). I had great production support. I couldn’t have done it with-out them! Espcially, Thankful to Steven Paul for allowing me to be a part of his creation.

TAEM- During this period you also formed your own company, Blueyed Pictures,  and had branched out with a global production network to serve both advertising agencies and clients. In doing so you opened offices in Los Angeles, London, and Tokyo. Tell us about this aspect of your career and the clients that you worked with.

JN- After I produced the short film, Submission I attended the Venice Film Festival. At the film festival, I was asked to interview for a producing gig with TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System ) in Japan. Initially, I was going just for an interview. I ended up being offered the job on the spot and never went back to the States!

I worked for TBS for two years. While I was there, I noticed a certain lack of western production knowledge with foreign companies. There needed to be bilingual crews and a more western work ethic implemented in the productions for foreign clients so they felt more assurance in the Japanese culture. I decided to leave TBS to create a company that would deliver these standards to Ad agencies, production companies and PR firms. In 1998, I opened Blueyed Pictures in Tokyo. My first commercial was for Mark Yamomoto and Richard Branson for Virgin cinema. Shortly after, word got out of how I was creating a production network in Tokyo. It wasn’t too long before clients approached me and came on board.

While I was starting my company, I was in a relationship with someone from London who worked in the finance industry in Tokyo. He got transferred back to London where I opened my next office. I hired someone in Tokyo to continue expanding the Blueyed office and made London the new principal office for Blueyed Pictures while Tokyo still ran and expanded its clientele.

In 2001, I was fortunate enough to meet Phil Dusenberry, Executive Creative Director of BBDO worldwide, and Tom Hollerbach,  CEO of BBDO West. Tom offered Blueyed Pictures to partner with BBDO- West in LA to create a strong production alliance.

I thought this was a big opportunity for Blueyed to be a part of BBDO and align itself with their holding company Omnicom. It was also time for me to move back to the States. So I decided to leave London and the boyfriend.

Partnering with BBDO put Blueyed Pictures on the map. However, 7 years later BBDO went through a great deal of restructure. They decided to close their LA office.  It was time to create my own office in Los Angeles and become more independent. Hence the birth of my third office, Blueyed LA.

To this day, I still work closely with BBDO Worldwide. I admire David Lubars ( Creative Director) and Andrew Robertson ( CEO of BBDO

Worldwide). They continue to create great work and Andrew is just a genius at what he does.

To date, Blueyed has worked with clients like Virgin Enterprises, Nestle, Toyota, Scion, Mitsubishi, Lexus, Under Armour, Proctor and Gamble, Pepsi, Visa , and many more.

TAEM- You are also still in high gear in the movie production aspect of your company, as well. We learned that you have two new films in the works. Please give us a sneak preview of them and how they may relate to one of your other successful films.

JN- Yes I am about to produce two new feature films. I will reunite with director Sean McNamara and work along with his producing partner David Brookwell to help produce ‘The Jessica Watson Story’. It’s the true story about the youngest Australian girl  to set sail around the world unassisted , and solo, at the age of twelve. We are very early in the development stage , but I am very excited to tell her story. I am also excited that Paramount Pictures is helping support this film.

The other project I will actually be line producing. I can’t say too much about this project, but I can say it’s a docu-style film set for theatrical release.

TAEM- Jamee, you are a beautiful and successful woman and you have created one of the most noted companies in the challenging world of cinema. You have worked hard to make this all happen and have given students of the arts the best tract to follow to pattern their own careers from.

   I want to thank you for spending your time in this interview with our publication. I am sure we will be hearing more about you, and your company, in the years to come.

   TAEM