What Are You Working On? with Jen Chaiken


7x7 checks in with a member of the local film scene and takes their temperature.

What's your name, how old are you, and where do you live in The Bay Area?

My name is Jen Chaiken, I'm 41, and live in San Francisco.

What do you do?

I'm a film producer.

How long have you lived in SF?

I grew up in San Leandro and Lafayette, went away for college and spent some great years in my early 20s in NYC before returning to San Francisco in 1997.

What did you do before you worked in film?

I've only ever worked in film–I don't know anything else!  I first interned under the movie critic Graham Fuller at Interview magazine for a summer and as soon as I graduated, moved to NYC, went to work at the Tribeca Film Centre doing various entry level work and then found my way onto my first film, a documentary called Family Name–I fell in love with the process of making films and have done that ever since.

So… what are you working on?

My producing partner and I finished two films that premiered at Sundance last year and both are being released right now, which is incredibly exciting for us.

The first is a narrative, Afternoon Delight, that writer/director Jill Soloway won the Best Director Award for at Sundance and stars Kathryn Hahn, Josh Radnor, Juno Temple and Jane Lynch. The Film Arcade is released it August 30th in NY/LA and expanding it to San Francisco/Berkeley and many more cities on Sept. 6th.  

The second is a documentary entitled Inequality For All, a big picture look at income inequality through the eyes of former Secretary of Labor and Berkeley Professor, Robert Reich. It was directed by local filmmaker Jake Kornbluth.  It won a Special Jury Award at Sundance and will be released nationwide by The Weinstein Company/Radius on Sept. 27th.  Between these two films, we haven't had much time to look ahead, but now that our babies are finally being released, we really look forward to getting going on some of our other projects.

What do you like best about working in the Bay Area?

I'd have to say, just being able to get my work done. I know that's not the sexiest answer, but it's an honest one. My producing partner is based in LA, we have an office there and I'm down there frequently–one has to be if doing narrative films. I have a great time when I go, find it incredibly productive to whip through meetings and do the schmoozing that's necessary in our industry. That said, I love to come back here, where it's decidedly quieter and a step removed, hunker down, and just get my sh** done.

Is there anyone you want to say hello to?

Yes, my mom, Carole Chaiken. She just passed away in July–I know she'd be proud to see this.

Afternoon Delight opens in the Bay Area on September 6th. Inequality for All is scheduled to open nationwide on Sept 27th.

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