We had the good fortune of connecting with Jason Cicci and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jason, every day, we about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
Breaking into the acting industry is hard. To gain more experience and exposure, I wrote, produced and starred in my own indie series that allowed me to show what I could do best as an actor. When an actor approached me and asked what sort of show I might create for them, I knew that a business idea was born. I figured that if I could create a vehicle for myself, I could certainly get to know someone enough to build a show or a short film or a pilot for them. Although there are businesses that offer actor reels, with actors getting to show themselves in scenes, I knew that they could benefit even more with experiencing what it’s like to be the protagonist in a story that has a beginning, middle and end.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
After many years of being an actor, I discovered that my true calling as an artist is in writing/producing – indie series and films, in particular. Always a lover of TV and movies, I realized that my obsession with my favorite films and shows was actually teaching me how to write them. I had an extra benefit due to my acting training. I knew how to develop characters and create dialogue that was not only accessible and real but written for actors to enjoy. A life in the arts is never easy. You have to juggle your love for what you do with your practical responsibilities in the world. It’s a delicate dance. I did have the support (sometimes financial) of my family which greased the wheels enough for me to be able to produce plays I had written before I began writing for the screen…but that was hard work, too. There are really no shortcuts to achieving what you want in the entertainment business, but if you truly believe in what you’re doing and keep at it, something will start to happen. It may not be the thing you thought it would be, but you have to be flexible. You may find that you love something else even more than the thing you sought out to do in the first place. The other lesson I learned was that storytelling doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have to collaborate with actors, designers, and sometimes other writers in order to achieve the main goal: TELLING THE STORY. This was sometimes a lesson that incurred some growing pains but I’m so glad I got it…eventually. As I found my place in the entertainment industry as a writer/producer, it hadn’t occurred to me that I could use my art to help people. With the creation of Make Your Show, it became apparent that we were not just creating films and series for clients but were also offering them a unique opportunity to express themselves and gain valuable experience not only as actors, but as producers and show runners, too. The path to where I am today was initially informed by my love of the arts but, perhaps, in a selfish way. When you’re 6 or 7, you just do what you love. What excites me about what my partner John Cramer and I have built in Make Your Show is that it is ultimately about helping people through storytelling. They (and we!) reap so many rewards. There are film festival acceptances and recognition, but each client takes away valuable assets that not only serve their professional careers but their lives, too.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This itinerary (in typical, non-pandemic times) would include a mix of New York City locales and events but also an offering of places I’ve recently learned to love in my relatively new town of Fairfield, CT. In the city, a Broadway show or even a reading of a film that me or a friend might be offering would scratch the artsy itch. I also try to support my actor/singer friends in whatever shows/cabarets/concerts they might be involved in. Some of my favorite restaurants in Greenwich Village and Astoria would be included, too. Drinks at various holes in the wall and hotel bars are always fun, too. In Fairfield, I live close to the beach. There are nature walks and restaurants near the water that are always a great getaway from everyday life. As I’ve grown older, the simple, quieter times with friends and family are what excites me. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Besides my friends and family, who have always been supportive of my creative life, I would have to mention a group that I was part of in NYC. We called ourselves the Pandas (I’m still not quite sure why) and we were a bunch of actors and writers who decided to band together in order to be resources for each other’s work. I could bring in something I was writing and get feedback and suggestions from a group of artists I truly respected. It is from this group that my first series, “He’s With Me” was born. As it put me on the map as an indie series creator, I will always be grateful to them. Thank you, Pandas!
I would also like to give a grateful shoutout to my business partner, John Cramer. His creative curiosity and ingenuity make our business possible. To be able to work with someone who makes your work better and with whom you can be open with, personally and professionally, has been a welcome surprise.
Facebook: @MakeYourShowCompany, @JasonWriterProducerTeacher
Maribel Balius Ashley Garrett