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Interview with Oscar Nominee Jon Bloom ’73

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On June 10, 2020, Jon Bloom ’73, was re-elected to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Board of Governors. His re-election marks his seventh three-year term representing the Short Films & Feature Animation Branch.

Bloom is a filmmaker with broad experience as a director, producer, writer, cinematographer and editor. He has received an Academy Award nomination, six Emmy nominations, a Clio Award, and many Film Festival honors in addition to his Oscar short film nomination.

In 1980, Jon founded his production company BloomFilm which specializes in creative development and production of theatrical trailers and teasers for movie theaters, montages for special purposes, and television and radio spots for broadcast. Bloom has a long-standing reputation as a top trailer-maker, compiling an impressive list of feature campaigns, including acclaimed films such as Dances With Wolves, Sleeping With The Enemy, Far And Away, The Fast and The Furious, Throw Momma From The Train, Flirting With Disaster, Chicago, and Sling Blade.”

Earlier this month, Sophie Malon, Antioch’s digital content specialist, spoke with Jon about his time at Antioch College and how his Co-op experiences helped him get a leg up in the Entertainment industry.

Jon Bloom grew up in Westchester County, New York, graduating from Scarsdale High School in ’68, and was attracted to Antioch because of the Co-op program;
“I saw it (Co-op) as an opportunity to get out and work and do things around the world and across the country right away. It turned out very nicely for me because it gave me a real head start.”

Jon explains that the entertainment industry is tricky to break into, especially nowadays;
“I’m meeting more and more people who have come out to Los Angeles, hoping to break into the industry. Years later, they’re working in a video store or not at all in anything entertainment related.”

When Jon was a Co-op student, the entertainment-oriented jobs available for Co-op were limited, and he had to put a lot of energy into finding new jobs. He worked in New York for one quarter and then went to Los Angeles for what was intended to be a six-month period, but ended up staying for fifteen months;
“I got a job on a feature called The Andromeda Strain with a big director, Robert Wise (Sound of Music, West Side Story) and all kinds of other things were happening. I was 19 and got a good start in the business. From there, I went back and forth between Antioch College and LA; working and continuing to do things, including a job on a feature that was shot in Morocco and Paris! I worked with some other very big directors in the early days including Robert Altman and Francis Ford Coppola on Godfather II.”

Although officially graduating from Antioch College in 1973, Jon finished his studies in 1972. By that time, he had completed his academic requirements and was shooting a documentary at the Fels Research Institute;
“I finished in the summer academically and then stayed and shot the film, and left Antioch in November. That was the last time that I was in Yellow Springs; November of 1972.”

Jon recalls that Antioch College was hard to get into. It was a highly sought-after education and many students at his high school applied but didn’t get in. His Antioch class year had two full divisions;
 “There were times when I would be on campus during the other division and it was kind of weird because everything was the same except the people were all different. It was a strange experience to go through that one or two quarters when I was finishing up.”

 Jon spent seven academic quarters studying at Antioch over a four year period before graduating;
“I got through there pretty quickly with some credit for Co-op work, and I wrote an article for a magazine that I got credit for and just various things which allowed me to accelerate my academic time at Antioch.”

 Jon recalls that being able to go back and forth between the world of work and Antioch helped expose him to the real world and get a sense of what different areas were like. Jon explains that in the entertainment industry, you need to work your way up and that Co-op positioned him well to do just that;
“I was able to go from one job to another starting as a production assistant. Then, towards the end, I was a production manager, assistant director, and doing more within entertainment on the production side even while I was still in college. I was advancing my experience and expertise quite a bit by having the opportunities that the Co-ops afforded.”

 Jon’s advice to current students hoping to break into the entertainment industry is to be realistic;
“When you don’t have any experience in the field, you’re looking for obviously an entry-level position that’s going to give you a taste of it. In getting that taste—it may be a turn on, as it was for me—to continue to pursue it. Or, conversely, there were people I knew in college that had the opposite experience. They said, ‘gee, this is just not for me,’ and they got that experience to move them over to something closer to their interests.”

Jon became active in the entertainment business through his short films;
“I think shorts are an important way in for young filmmakers. We’re seeing a terrific stream of people come from the shorts to go on and do bigger things in the industry, including Taika Waititi who did Jojo Rabbit, and Marvel Studios’ Thor Ragnarok. There’s just a whole bunch of people who have come out of the shorts and gone onto big careers; Taylor Hackford and a number of big filmmakers have created this path with their shorts to important places in the industry and doing good work.”

Bloom adapted his short “Overnight Sensation” that’s about a hotshot LA photographer that has some difficulty accepting the sudden and phenomenal success of his wife’s first novel. When no longer able to avoid reading her book, he discovers something to really be concerned about. [Overnight Sensation is available on iTunes]

“Louise Fletcher played Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and received an Oscar for best-supporting actress with Jack Nicholson. She’s the lead in my short [Overnight Sensation]. And Robert Loggia, who danced on the piano keys with Tom Hanks in Big, was the mafioso in Scarface and the general in Independence Day; a well-known character actor. He was the male lead in my short based upon a W. Somerset Maugham short story, “The Colonel’s Lady,” that’s quite entertaining.”

In order to gain more understanding of directing, Jon joined the Theater department at Antioch College;
“One of the things I wanted to do was get some acting experience so that I’d get to know it from the other side; from the actor’s side and from the director’s side.”

During Jon’s time studying at Antioch, there was no formal Senior Project like there is today;
“I directed a play and I did do a bunch of things at Antioch, but there wasn’t this formal senior project situation that you have going these days. There may have been something as a degree requirement for the major I had. I did a bunch of stuff. I wrote an article that was published about a cinematographer on the feature that I worked on in Europe. And I had a number of jobs. That first job I got in LA on The Andromeda Strain really helped set me off to meet a lot of people and get opportunities very quickly. It was great in that regard.”

After finishing his Co-op jobs in Film, Jon would also help other students find Co-ops;
“For the one in New York, I said to the boss, ‘Would you like someone to take my place after I go back to school?’ And they said yes, and so I helped with that for a couple of quarters. I would try to do the same thing when I was in LA but the entertainment industry jobs are so sought after, even entry-level stuff. It doesn’t lend itself to an ongoing Co-op kind of situation. They want to know who they’re getting, and they’re hiring very specific people. They’re not just going to take whoever shows up. They’re choosing who they want. In the entertainment business, it was tough for Co-op jobs to become a permanent thing, but I did try to network. I was hoping that directors or film companies would want other students—even on an interim basis—to work for them even if they weren’t going to get paid.”

Jon looks back fondly on his time on Antioch for giving him a powerful head start in the entertainment industry.

Jon Bloom ’73 speaking at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences headquarters in Beverly Hills, CA, in June 2016.