Jay Robert Jennings (born August 23, 1965) is an American independent filmmaker, author, and voice actor. His debut feature was Loanshark in 1999. He has also directed a number of short films and documentaries. Jennings uses handheld cameras and cinéma vérité techniques, shooting his films among old Hollywood buildings and streets. Film Threat describes Jennings' cinematic style as "on-the-move filmmaking."
Jennings was born in Hollywood, California. In the early 1970s, his mother was the personal assistant to the Head of Motion Pictures at The William Morris Agency. He grew up making Super-8 movies and screening them for friends and family. He graduated from Beverly Hills High School and then attended film courses at Columbia College Hollywood, UCLA and the American Film Institute. He continued to shoot short films throughout high school and college.
Jennings writes, directs, produces, and composes the music for his films. He uses digital movie cameras and adds a grainy film look during the editing process. He shoots low-budget films, mostly without permits in a style called guerrilla filmmaking. Film columnist David Del Valle referred to Jennings as a "maverick filmmaker."
Jennings began his career making dozens of experimental films between 1989 and 1998. In 1999, Jennings directed his first feature, Loanshark, a drama which the Los Angeles Times considered the "Best Bet" for film when it premiered at the Vogue Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard. The film was also screened at several film festivals in 2000, including Silver Lake, South by Southwest, Digidance, Santa Monica, Seattle Underground, Conduit Digital, and Melbourne Underground. It depicts the stressful life of a ruthless money collector who drives around the streets of Hollywood looking for deadbeats who owe him money.
Jennings directed Tortured Soul in 2002, which was an official selection at the Silver Lake Film Festival. The film tells the story of a guilt-ridden father who tries to recover after the drowning death of his young son.
In 2005, Jennings produced The Weird Museum, a documentary about a circus-like freak show which was located in Hollywood for many years. The documentary was shot just weeks before the museum closed in 1995 and is believed to be the only existing footage of the exhibits. The film screened at the TromaDance Film Festival.
Jennings is also an amusement park historian, with an emphasis on Knott's Berry Farm. In the summer of 2009, he wrote the book, Knott's Berry Farm: The Early Years, which was published by Arcadia Publishing and features hundreds of rare photographs that haven't been widely circulated. The book goes into great detail in describing the history of Knott's Berry Farm and Ghost Town, including its attractions, shops, street performers, and founder, Walter Knott. In a June 2009 interview with KOCE-TV, Jennings explained that his passion for Knott's and collecting old souvenirs started from the many family trips he took there when he was young. As of 2006, he has been curator of The Knott's Berry Farm Museum, home to the largest collection of vintage Knott's memorabilia in the United States. A copy of his book is housed in the Library of Congress.
Jennings was mentored in voice-overs by Daws Butler, who felt Jennings had the talent to do many of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon voices “spot-on.” Jennings’ voice-over jobs have mostly been indie work; college radio station IDs, commercials, public service announcements, narrations, horror movie trailers, and of course, his cartoon voices.
- Loanshark. 1999.
- Tortured Soul. 2002.
- The Weird Museum. 2005.
- Knott's Berry Farm: The Early Years (2009) (ISBN 978-0-73-856921-5)
- Davidson, Ben (1999-09-10). "BH Resident's New Film Unearths Seedy Life of Loanshark". The Beverly Hills Courier. p. 1.
- Bertoldo, Brian (1999-06-09). "Loanshark". Film Threat. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- Bernard, Ethan (2000-03-02). "A Life in the Movies: Beverly Hills director Jay Jennings shares secrets of his trade". Beverly Hills Weekly. p. 8.
- Amiran, Eyal (2001-01-03). "Guerrilla Filmmaking". Los Angeles Independent. p. 1.
- Del Valle, David (2005-06-01). "Camp David: IFC Short Films". Films in Review. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "Best Bet: Loanshark". Los Angeles Times. 1999-08-03. p. 5. Around The Westside section.
- Amiran, Eyal (2000-09-20). "The Silver Screen comes to Silver Lake". Los Angeles Independent. pp. 2–3.
- Malloy, Judy (2000-09-19). "Second Annual Seattle Underground Film Festival". Arts Wire Current. New York Foundation for the Arts. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Baumgarten, Marjorie (2000-03-09). "Cinemaker Co-Op & Conduitfest". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- "Melbourne Underground Film Festival.". (2000-07-22). Retrieved 2009-08-28. Check date values in:
- "Silver Lake Film Festival". (2002-09-16). Retrieved 2009-08-12. Check date values in:
- "The Weird Museum (2005)". The Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- "TromaDance Film Festival". (2005-01-27). Retrieved 2009-08-12. Check date values in:
- Mello, Michael (2009-08-27). "From berry vines to the big time". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Larsen, Peter (2009-08-28). "History of Knott's Berry Farm in 200 rare photos". The Orange County Register. Retrieved 2009-08-28.
- Hood, Abbey (2009-08-28). "Jay Jennings Debuts Knott's Berry Farm Book" (PDF). The Beverly Hills Courier. p. 5. Retrieved 2009-10-01.
- "Real Orange: Knott's Berry Farm author Jay Jennings". Hosts: Maria Hall-Brown and Ed Arnold. Real Orange. PBS. KOCE-TV. 2009-06-24.
- Weil, Marty (2008-03-14). "Interview with Jay Jennings: Knott's Berry Farm Collector". Ephemera. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
- Mao, Nikki (2009-11-04). "Knott's Berry Farm Museum Curator Speaks". The Daily Titan. Retrieved 2009-11-05.
- Library of Congress Catalog Record (2009-08). "Knott's Berry Farm: The Early Years". Library of Congress. Retrieved 2009-10-01. Check date values in:
- Mulman, Doreen (2010-08-16). "Jay Jennings: Voice Actor Spotlight". Voice Actors In The News. Retrieved 2010-08-16.