Jason Reitman talks shop at Shortsfest
Before Jason Reitman became an Oscar-nominated director, he was an ambitious young filmmaker in the crowd of ambitious young filmmakers with a movie competing at Aspen Shortsfest. Before that, he was a kid visiting Aspen to ski with his family.
Today, Reitman returns to Shortsfest to discuss his career and influences on stage at the Wheeler Opera House.
Reitman, 37, has a career-long relationship with Aspen Film and a lifelong connection to the local resort. His family (his father is director Ivan Reitman) skied Snowmass in the winters when he was a child, and he began his career with short films that screened here, starting with “Operation” in 1999. He won the Shortsfest Audience Award for the comedy “In God We Trust” in 2000 and Best Short Short for the lawyer satire “Consent” in 2004. A 2005 short, “Lighting Will Guide You,” about airport life, had its only screening here and offered a preview of the themes he would explore in “Up in the Air.”
In the years since, he’s entered films in Shortsfest — most recently in 2013 as executive producer of the short “Whiplash,” which was later developed into the Academy Award-winning feature — and has screened all six of his full-length movies at Aspen Film programs, from his 2005 debut “Thank You For Smoking” to last year’s “Men, Women & Children.”
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In 2009, as his “Up in the Air” was racking up honors, Aspen Film awarded Reitman its New Directions Award.
In October, before the “Men, Women & Children” screening at Aspen Filmfest, he praised Aspen Film co-directors Laura Thielen and George Eldred for encouraging him from the outset.
“Laura and George made me feel like a filmmaker very early on,” he said. “My first short played Aspen when I was 20 or 21, and it made it eligible for the Oscar.”
In his early years behind the camera, he developed enduring relationships with other up-and-coming filmmakers, he said.
“It was the only festival I’ve been to that emphasized filmmakers talking to other filmmakers,” Reitman said. “You feel like you’re either at summer camp or graduation day for that year.”
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