Getting To Know: Jonathan Kalafer

Jonathan Kalafer workshoping a student film with two Chinese Filmmakers

Jonathan Kalafer is an award-winning director/producer and an innovative educator serving at Dickinson High School in Jersey City for more than 10 years. In 2013, Jonathan traveled to Wuhan China organized by the U.S. Consulate General Wuhan. For more information on his trip to China, you can read his final report here.

What’s your first memory of sitting in a movie theater?

My first memory of sitting in a movie theater was to watch the original Star Wars. It was for my birthday party and my dad took a bunch of the kids from my neighborhood to see it. I remember being so happy because we got to stay up late and after the movie feeling so energized (maybe the concession candy had something to do with it too).

What do you love most about being a filmmaker?

I work primarily with documentaries, and I love the feeling you get when the assembly starts to come together during the edit. It is like watching something grow before your eyes. It is such an exciting time as scenes erupt and the story coalesces. I love that feeling of potential and genesis.

What do you like least about it?

I don’t like the effect it has on my bank account.

What is your favorite movie and why?

I’m so bad at favorites but I always love Ralph Bakshi’s American Pop I feel he really captured something about America in it. It is an epic and uses a fantastic story device.

If you weren’t a filmmaker, what would you be?

I am also a High School and College teacher. It is how I primarily identify.

What has been your favorite project to work on?

I had a blast on both films I have directed but I think I liked We Love You a little more. There is nothing like your first time. I learned so much about myself choosing to shoot my first doc deep in the wilderness of Wyoming amongst a group of Anarchists.