As a child growing up in Alexandria, Blake Jackson was interested in theatrical pursuits.
Many years later, he is living in Pasadena, California, and is waiting for the Academy Awards to hear whether or not "The Accountant," a short film for which he was the director of photography, will win the award.
Jackson's mother, Mary Jackson, who is the director of the Athenaeum, said, "He's always been a child who did a lot of pretending and played theatrical sort of games."
She said that his first theatrical production was at Aquinas Montessori School. While at Hammond Middle School, he played the lead in "The Boyfriend" and was in "The Princess and the Pea" at T.C. Williams. He designed sets for Little Theatre of Alexandria, including the first "painted floor" which was used in "Kismet."
When his family moved from Alexandria to Fairfax County, he opted to leave high school after his junior year, taking the G.E.D. exam to get a diploma. He spent most of that year in San Francisco with his sister, Virginia Britton, director of the Alexandria Ballet. Jackson returned to the area and spent some time as the primary art director for the United Way and working with local production houses.
After awhile, Jackson decided to go back to school and graduated from Tulane University with a BFA in set design. His interests were still evolving and when he attended the U.S.C. School of Cinema/Television, he concentrated on cinematography. After receiving his masters degree, he decided to settle in California and is married to Joyce. He has a son, Thornton, from a prior marriage who lives in Connecticut.
Since then, Jackson has been involved in over 50 film, television and commercial projects. He shot "The Entrepreneurs," which won first runner-up in the Coca-Cola Refreshing Filmmaker Competition and a short film, "Standing By."
Last year, Jackson became the Professor of Cinematography at Cal-State University in Los Angeles. He teaches two or three classes a semester.
"I enjoy it — it keeps me on my toes. It's the only film-related classes in the department."
His involvement with "The Accountant" came about after a lunch with Ray McKinnon. A well-recognized character actor and good friend of Jackson's, McKinnon pitched the idea of the film to Jackson.
"I loved it and I told Ray, 'This will win an Academy Award.'" His words turned out to be prophetic.
The film was shot in Georgia in 10 days. It was done on a very small budget and short time frame, but they achieved the effect they were looking for. Jackson served not only as the director of photography, but the camera operator as well. When asked which he liked better, he said that he loved doing both but being director allows for more creativity.
"The Accountant" has already won awards at several film festivals, but the Academy nomination will open the most doors for future opportunities. Jackson will not attend the awards on Sunday. McKinnon and his wife, Lisa Blount, will be there to accept if they get the nod. If they win, Jackson said, "Ray and Lisa will call us and we'll meet up with them at some of the parties."
Check www.apollocinema.com for information on future showings of "The Accountant."