Talking with movie producer/director/actor Jack Settipane by his rooftop pool in DTLA, I get the sense that he is both driven to work in the movie industry and at peace with where he is on that journey.
Jack, who won five awards for his thriller short film TICK and is now making his feature film directorial debut with Remnants and his comedy cartoon, Survivors, is building a strong reputation in Tinseltown across many genres and mediums.
Jack’s film Remnants follows three survivors living in a dystopian society as they trek north in search of a better life. “This film has been such a large part of my life for seven years now. The journey has been incredible and profound to my development as a filmmaker, actor and as a person,” he says. “We brought on a lot of talent, including E.R. Ruiz (Sons of Anarchy, American Sniper); Latin American TV stars Tavo Betancourt (4 million Instagram followers) and Nashla Aguilar (1 million Instagram followers); and Inna Moll (1 million Instagram followers). Behind the scenes, we had Alistair Fairbanks (Naked and Afraid) as our cinematographer.
This guy knows no fear and was able to get shots that will take the audience’s breath away. We also brought on Stephen Kaiser-Pendergrast (Line of Descent, Verotika), whose editing is highly respected in the film world.”
While the movie demonstrates Jack’s interest in plots that challenge perceptions and internal beliefs, he wants people to know that his work is not always intense. “My cartoon Survivors is… well it’s absurd.” he laughs. “Nashla is in it, and she plays a 60s hippie. Tavo is in an episode and we plan to have him back to voice several more characters. Those two have great timing and really know how to go all out.” The cartoon series follows four survivors in a 1960’s apocalyptic wasteland.
Behind these projects is Lesnik Entertainment, the production company owned by Jack as well as Dakota Kieras. Lesnik has produced several strong movies as well as TICK and was credited on Last Call, which starred John Malkovich and Rodrigo Santoro and came out in theaters last November. “We’ve been very fortunate with the projects we’ve been able to take part of through Lesnik,” Jack believes. “The key, I think, has been our ability to choose projects that are truly unique to their genre and have that X factor. That’s why we’ve been doing so well in festivals.”
Jack got his start in films when he was only 11 years old. “I made this short movie for history class… mind you, I was supposed to write a paper.” he remembers. “It was about a Roman slave who was forced to become a gladiator, and as you would expect, it had all the plastic sword action that we all love. I am actually pretty proud of it, although I did fail that assignment.”
Since those early days behind the camera, Jack’s skills have grown, of course. As a producer, director, and actor, he has worked with a lot of great talent, including James Charles, Bryce Hall, Tavo Betancourt, Nashla Aguilar, Paul Butcher, Manu Bennet, and Fred Stoller. TICK was very well-received, appearing in 30 festivals and winning 4 awards.
Jack looks out at the city, clearly lost for a moment in memories of his Hollywood journey. “When you show up in LA, you have a lot of ambition, and you are never quite sure where that will take you. You just have to keep plugging, work smart and hard – eventually something hits, so don’t quit. Some people have to work harder than others. That’s life, but you can’t quit.”
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