Kingdom County Productions co-founder, Jay Craven, is an award-winning director, writer, and producer, whose narrative films include five films based on writing by Vermont novelist Howard Frank Mosher – “High Water” (1989); “Where the Rivers Flow North” (1993); “A Stranger in the Kingdom” (1997); “Disappearances” (2008) and “Northern Borders” (2013).
His other narrative films include “In Jest” (1999); “The Year that Trembled” (2003); “Wetware” (2018); “Blood Brothers” (2021) and “Jack London’s Martin Eden” (2021) based on London’s autobiographical novel. Craven also directed, produced, and co-wrote the 2005 Emmy Award-winning public television comedy series, “Windy Acres,” along with four episodes of the “Queen City Radio Hour” -a comedy and music variety show performed before a live audience and broadcast over Vermont Public Radio. His documentaries include “Empty Stages” (2021); “Breaking the Silence” (2021); “After the Fog: Interviews with Combat Veterans” (2006); “Dawn of the People” (1984); and “Gayleen” (1985).
Craven founded and directs the biennial Semester Cinema program (formerly Movies from Marlboro) where 25 professionals mentor and collaborate with 40 students from multiple colleges to make an ambitious narrative feature film for national release.
Craven also founded and directed Catamount Arts (1975-91) in St. Johnsbury, VT and directed its wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary film and performing arts program. In 1987 he co-founded (with Rob Mermin) Circus Smirkus, America’s only touring youth circus. And from 1979 to 1991 he co-produced Don Sunseri’s G.R.A.C.E. project for older indigenous visual artists.
Craven continues (2009 – present) to curate and produce performing arts events through the KCP Presents series in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. He also curates the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and the Woodstock (VT) film series.
His film, “Jack London’s Martin Eden”, is part of BIFF 2022.
What was your first experience on a film set?
“My first experience was on the set of Oliver Stone’s film, “JFK,” where I’d been invited as a guest after contributing some research to the story – about JFK and the Vietnam War. It was a world unlike any other I’d seen, with departments working to be in synch for each momentous shot. Immediately after I arrived, Stone introduced me to a man who seemed out of place. I asked him who he was and he just said, “Ron.”
I asked him what he was doing.
“Advising Gary Oldman,” Ron said.
“What are you advising him about?” I asked.
“I was Lee Harvey Oswald’s best friend,” Ron replied, “for the last six months of his life.”
Ron was pretty interesting and we spent a fair amount of time together for the next week.”
What was the first film you directed/wrote?
First documentary, “Dawn of the People” – about Nicaragua’s 1980 National Literacy Crusade, First Narrative: “High Water,” about a teen-aged boy on the way to his first stock car race, off the 1959 family farm. Based on the short story by Howard Frank Mosher.
Who is your favorite filmmaker?
Tough to say. Probably Robert Bresson.
What are you working on that no one knows about?