To say that Jeff Churchill has lived an eventful life would be an understatement.
When Jeff was a teenager, he got involved in the local theatre scene in Toronto, focusing mainly on technical aspects like lighting and set design; eventually he started working on costume design and, with that, shoes. Jeff’s interest in shoemaking opened a lot of doors for him—some by his own design, some by getting the right phone call at the right time.
After many years spent traveling the world, getting involved in Cirque du Soleil and other circus and theatrical productions, Jeff created his company in 2005: Jitterbug Boy. Originally focused on producing footwear for the stage, Jeff and his team at Jitterbug Boy later became one of the most prolific shoemakers for film and television. Their work has appeared in numerous productions, including Mission Impossible, Jojo Rabbit, Rocketman, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a good chunk of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and so, so much more.
I had the chance to sit down with Jeff over Skype during a break in his busy schedule, and we spoke about Jitterbug Boy’s surprise breakout in the film world, the outfit’s unique approach to shoemaking, and some fun highlights from Jeff’s storied career.
Unfortunately for legal rights reasons, we’re not able to show all of Jitterbug Boy’s great film and TV work here, but we highly encourage you to go check out their portfolio on jitterbugboy.com.
Josh Bornstein: How did you eventually start getting involved in film and TV productions?
Jeff Churchill: Well, when I first started [Jitterbug Boy], I was doing mostly theatrical and circus stuff. When the business started, it was just me working on Le Rêve [a water-based circus show in Las Vegas], supplying them with shoes. I started getting more circus work, because while I was in Vegas for six months, there’s a lot of Cirque [du Soleil] shows down there as well. When they found out that I was setting up shop in Toronto, suddenly they started coming to my shop as well. So, I was doing little bits and pieces for various Cirque shows as well as the [Le Rêve] work down in Vegas. Then a big theater did a stage production of Lord of the Rings, a musical production in Toronto. It was massive. It was crazy.
Josh: I’ll bet.
Jeff: They ended up bringing me in on that. It was a British team doing it; they were opening here, and then a year later they were opening in London. I got along really well with the British team. They ended up bringing me over the following year to do the London production as well. Through that, I got to know a lot of the theatre people in London, started doing more theatre work there, theatre work in Toronto as well. So, for the next many years it was mostly theater and circus.
And then 2008 hit, with the recession. It hit a lot of the theatre stuff in London, a lot of it in Toronto as well, but fortunately the circus stuff kept going. We’d picked up another big show in China, in Macau. That stuff saw us through the recession and was kind of our backbone for many years. We were getting a little bit of film work here and there, but it wasn’t my prime focus at all. In those days, I didn’t really enjoy it. The size of shows that were coming to us were not big. So it wasn’t the best working circumstances.
Josh: Were they independent films or that kind of thing?
Jeff: Mid-range stuff shooting in Toronto. It was not as, I would say, professional as the big budget stuff. It didn’t treat people quite as nicely as the bigger stuff tends to, and they were less organized. I kind of got turned off it, and in those days, my world was Toronto and a little bit of London. I wasn’t thinking Hollywood or whatever, it would just be whatever’s shooting here.
Go forward a few years to 2012. I had been working on this show in Macau, and most of the team were British. I was chatting with them a lot, and they were saying how the theatre scene was starting to open up again in London. I figured it was worth just going over and reintroducing myself, ’cause it had been a few years since the recession, we hadn’t done a ton of work over there. So, I booked a two-week trip to London to just knock on doors and see what was going on. I heard the same thing over and over again: “Yeah, theatre is back, but our budgets are so small. We’re not having custom shoes made anymore.” And it’s like, okay, well this is a drag.
But then, through some cold calls, I ended up meeting with a couple film designers while I was in town. Just before that, I had a couple of better experiences in film. We did one that shot here called Pacific Rim that I quite enjoyed. We also did a show that shot in Montreal called Mirror Mirror with a designer who I absolutely love. So that got me thinking while I was in London, maybe I’ll see if I can get any ins with the film scene.
And then, it just took off like wildfire. I had like two dozen meetings by the time I left, ’cause word got out that I was a shoemaker. Suddenly we were working in film. It was literally like that [snaps fingers] because they just didn’t have a good shoemaker for that type of work in London. They were having trouble finding people that could do that weird, creative one-off stuff for film. By the time I left London, after two weeks, I came back to Toronto with three contracts, [including] Kickass 2 and Thor: The Dark World. It just ballooned from there.
About nine years ago we were maybe five or six people, and then the film stuff kicked in and we were suddenly a crew of 10 or 12. Fortunately I was able to get the studio next door, and kicked out the wall, so we’ve got about 2,800 square feet. Within about a year, a third of our work was coming from film. By year two, half of our work, and then by year three, it was like 75% film. And it all came from that one trip.
The nice thing with film is, well, it’s a really big world. It’s a really small world as well. We got to know a lot of designers, a lot of supervisors, a lot of coordinators within a few years, and suddenly we became really a go-to place for [shoemaking]. Suddenly we were getting calls from Hollywood, but for years, the primary focus was London. They’ve got a huge film scene there…I think it’s actually bigger than Hollywood now. That ended up filtering through, to Hollywood, to Australia, to literally all over the world. Now we do exclusively film, because all of our theatre stuff has disappeared in the past couple years.
Josh: I’ve told a few people that I was going to be speaking to you, and the number one question everyone had for me was, what is the difference between a pair of shoes that you wear on stage versus a pair of shoes that you wear for film?
Jeff: Like night and day, quite honestly. If you think of theatre, you’re seeing something from 30 or 40 feet away. [As a shoemaker] you’re more focused on the technical side: Are they able to dance? Are they able to do whatever movements they need to do? That’s the primary focus.
It’s totally different with film. You have very, very little time. Often we’re turning around stuff in a week, two weeks, sometimes even less. The aesthetic is really, really important because it might get a closeup, it might look 20 feet tall on the big screen. Also, you’re not dealing with a bunch of young actors who are singing and dancing. You’re dealing with big-name actors who need to be instantly comfortable as soon as they put on their shoes. There’s no breaking in. It’s much, much, much more…specialized.
Often with theatre, you’re doing stuff for a whole troupe of actors. So it’s like, okay, you figure out something that works for a lot of actors, something that’s a good dance shoe that looks the right style for this particular look. You can essentially base stuff off of theme. Film’s not like that. With the schedules, we’re often working on like 15 or 20 films at once, because everything has its different schedules. Some shows will be like three pairs of shoes. Some will be 50. You constantly have to feed the fire. With theatre, often it would be a larger contract, with months leading up to it, where you can prep everything, get it all going. With film, it’s totally different. It’s much quicker. It’s much smaller contracts. Even if it’s a big contract, it’s very limited. It might be three months’ work.
With theatre, often they would do a recast every year—you do this show, and a year from now, you’re probably going to get another order from them. With film, it’s not like that. They start filming, you do a little bit more, they finish filming, you’re done. And you’re onto the next, onto the next, onto the next. It’s much more stressful that way, but it’s also much more interesting. There is a chaos factor to it that I hate and I love at the same time. Every day, literally every day, is something new. Every day has its different challenges and you don’t really know what to expect. I’m not even supposed to be working this week, but things changed on a show that we’re shooting currently in London. Already today I had meetings with the designers, and have to change a couple of things so that when my crew is back on Tuesday, we can just dig right in and get stuff out by Thursday for them. Then they can shoot it the following week.
Josh: So within a few days, that’s the turnaround they’re looking for?
Jeff: Like, I will draft probably tomorrow [Thursday]. Then my crew is back Tuesday. They will cut and sew two pairs of shoes on Tuesday that I’ll have drafted, and they’ll be out the door by Thursday, two o’clock. And things will change. Suddenly it’s like…”This actor came in and he’s a size 16, so we can’t actually use what we were planning on. Can you make something for him?” Yes, we can, so we’ll do it. So yeah, often we work on stupid, stupid, short deadlines.
Josh: Well, okay. So in an ideal situation, how does it all work with regards to who you’re collaborating with? I’m assuming you’re mostly collaborating with the costume designer, of course. Are you also working directly with the actors as well? Do you measure them yourselves?
Jeff: Occasionally I would, but not lately because of COVID. Even still, like 90% of the time, 95% of the time the costume team would do the measurements for me. I’ve got a measurement sheet on my website with all the instructions, and they’ll do all the measurements, and send it to me. Otherwise, it really depends. Each project is different, each designer is different, so the process is always different.
In general, a designer or a supervisor will approach me, and say, “Okay, this is what we’re after.” Then we’ll take the drawing and start working through it. We’ll send them leather swatches and say, “Okay, these are the leathers that I think would be best. Which do you prefer?” They can pick A, B, C, D, E, and then I will make up the last based on the measurements that I’ve received, and then do a mock-up for it. I’ll send them photos, they’ll say yes, or we’ll work until we can get an aesthetic they like. Then I’ll send it off and they’ll fit it on the actors.
Often I’ll just do like a finished hammer-ready pair of boots for the first fitting, because often they’re shooting in England or in Australia or Bulgaria. There’s not a lot of time to do a back and forth. It’s better just to do them, send them, and if there are problems, you address the problems. Like, the project I’m working on right now today, it’s a superhero show. I’ve never met any of the actors. I’ve dealt exclusively with measurements and the designer. She gives me an idea of what she wants for each of these characters. We start developing stuff. Then we put it on the actor, see how that goes.
Then there’s a ton of other people involved like stunt coordinators, directors, making sure they can move how they need to move for the action, seeing if we need to tweak anything, and then just getting them shoes. And we’ll just repeat, repeat. Like on this particular project that’s in front of me, it’s some of the most involved shoes I’ve ever made. There’s one pair of boots that I think was over 50 pattern pieces. It’s like 150-odd components going into a single pair of boots for an actor who I’ve never met, who I’ve only ever done Zoom fittings with, or gotten photos of from the designer.
That’s just kind of the big project extreme, and then for smaller projects often it’s like, just getting calls saying, “Okay, this is the actor, this is the design. Just send me something,” we’ll do it and we’ll send it. It’s got to work because there’s no time to redo it. It really is dependent on the size of the show, on the type it is, on the designer and how good of a relationship we have. If I’ve worked with the designer many times, we have a shorthand, and that’s way easier. The more I work with the designer, the more they tend to trust me.
Josh: What time are you usually getting into the shop?
Jeff: On a normal week, 7:30. And I leave by like 6:30, 7:00 every night.
Jeff: Oh yeah. Five, six days a week. Saturdays are usually a bit quieter because it’s just me. But I’ve got a crew full-time so I like to be in an hour before they start. Then usually I have to stick around an hour and a half, two hours after they leave just to keep the momentum going. So yeah, long days.
Josh: Tell me a little bit about your crew. How are you finding the people that you work with and how are you training them?
Jeff: It’s a real mixed bag. “Misfit shoemakers” is what I always call them because Toronto doesn’t have a shoemaking scene at all. We don’t find experienced shoemakers. I bring in people who are just good at whatever. Typically how it breaks up is, I do the design development stuff. I’ve got roughly half the crew who do the stitching, cutting and sewing side. Then the rest of the crew do the lasting and finishing. There is some crossover, because even some of my sewers know how to last a pair of shoes. The lasters, a lot of them can sew.
I tend to bring in people who are just good with their hands. Like on the sewing side, it tends to be people with a theatrical background or film costume construction background, or even fashion, and we just kind of steer them in the right direction. There’s one woman who used to do bridal work. We’ve got three who come from a theatre background. We’ve got a couple of people who used to do fetish wear as their main gig.
Anson, who’s been with me the longest—he’s been with me over nine years now—he did custom body piercing jewelry. He was really meticulous, and he caught onto the process of lasting shoes, finishing shoes, and now he’s invaluable. He does so much of the really weird sculptural and really difficult stuff because he knows the process. Shae did some mold-making stuff, not shoe-related, but knew the process. We get people from the cosplay worlds because they know how to cobble stuff together, they know the alternative materials, so they’re good at the sculptural stuff. So yeah, there are very few people coming in with shoe experience.
But honestly, when I bring in people with shoe experience, it rarely works out. Often they come in and they just can’t adapt to the way we work because they’re so set in the traditional way that I’ve never known. In the past year, I’ve brought in two experienced shoe people and neither lasted more than a few weeks. There was too much, you know, butting heads and egos and stuff, and it’s just like, yeah, you know what, this isn’t gonna work. I find it’s way better doing the…I call it the Eliza Doolittle way. Like My Fair Lady, you bring in somebody who doesn’t necessarily know what they’re doing, but they’ve got a basis, and you just teach them. Then I can teach them my way of doing stuff, which isn’t traditional, because I’ve never learned the traditional. Also the traditional way of shoemaking doesn’t really work for what we’re doing. It’s really a niche unto itself.
Josh: Did you ever receive any sort of formal training on shoemaking?
Jeff: I’ve never taken a course. I learned a bit from Fred Mike [a theatrical shoemaker in Toronto] early on, learned a bit at Stratford [Festival, a theatre festival in Ontario]. But not a ton, it was mostly by doing and just figuring stuff out. My terminology is really bad because I’ve never learned the correct terminology.
Josh: Could you explain how what you’re doing is different from traditional shoemaking? It sounds like you’re working with not only traditional materials, like leather of course, but also some alternative ones as well.
Jeff: Part of it is materials, part of it’s also process. I’ve had to figure out how to turn around shoes in 48 hours, [which is] very non-traditional, as far as handmade shoes go. Often we’ll be using carbon fiber reinforcements through shanks and stuff like that because they need the structure. What we’ll do is reinforce with carbon fiber through the back two-thirds of a dance shoe, or just any high heel shoe, because it provides a lot more stability. It means they’re never going to roll through the heels. If we’re putting screws through carbon fiber, into a wooden or plastic heel, nothing’s going to move after that, especially because of the shanks. We’ve developed a lot of shortcuts because it’s necessary.
For toe caps, we’ll use things like heat-activated self-adhesive materials. For counters, we’ll often use celastics or thermoplastics, because we can turn them around the next day. We also do a lot of reinforcements because we can’t have something fall apart during a shoot, because the last thing you want to be is responsible for them not being able to shoot, because that is like $200,000 a day, and if you’re the reason that happens, you’re not going to work ever again. So we make sure everything is as reinforced as possible.
Everything is McKay stitched through all the layers, so they’re never going to have a sole that peels off. Sometimes we’re doing major reinforcements in a whole bunch of different materials. If they’ve gotta be on a motorcycle in these boots, we’re going to line everything in Kevlar and things like that, so there is a shred resistance just to be safe. If they’ve gotta stick somebody on the outside of a plane, we’re going to make the shoes differently for that, because they need to deal with condensation and cold and grip while standing on metal. Those are the things we tend to do best, the really unusual stuff that other people don’t want to touch because there’s so many problems that need to be solved for that. And that’s stuff that I love.
Say you need to make this guy into an alien that has hoofed feet. What are all the ramifications? What are the materials that are needed? What are all the physics behind this to put this six foot three guy into a pair of alien hooves? You’ve got to figure out all these problems, solve them, and figure out how to keep it comfortable, because comfort is key when you’re dealing with actors that need to be standing in the shoes 14, 16 hours a day. There’s always that mix between [these things].
That’s one of the things I like about film. It’s not a one-on-one process, it’s kind of a triangle, where I am here, the designer with their aesthetic vision is here, the actor with their comfort and their technical requirements is here. We need to find something that covers all three sides of the triangle in order to make it successful. A lot of that means just thinking about the actors, thinking about, okay, what can we do to make sure they don’t have to think about their shoes? We’ll make them as comfortable as possible, we’ll make them as resilient as possible. And there’s not going to be time to break them in. So what can we do? What materials can we use to aid in that?
We’ve had materials developed in Spain that we use for linings, because I was never able to find the right combination of things that work for a lot of the stunt-type stuff. We’re using linings that don’t exist in other shoes, that are kind of a crossover between athletic wear and regular street wear. It offers a little padding, it’s not going to need to break in as much as a traditional pair, and the actors are going to be more comfortable, but it retains the aesthetic of a regular pair of shoes.
Josh: I mean, it just sounds like such a crazy feat that you guys have to accomplish. You’re making shoes that aesthetically look good and match up to what the vision is for the production. You’re also making them with safety components. And then they also just have to be performance-ready. Like, athletic shoes basically. Insane.
Jeff: Yeah, exactly. And if you put a pair of shoes on an actor and they’re not comfortable, you’re not going to win the trust of the actor.
Jeff: Sometimes they’ll step in them and they just say, “Yep. These are good.” Even if there’s a little tweak needed, if they’re 85% of the way there, the trust is there. They might go, “Yeah, they’re great. I wouldn’t mind a bit more room around my toes.” Easy to do that. Nothing delights me more than hearing from a designer of going, “Yeah, we put so-and-so in their boots. They said they’re the most comfortable boots that they’ve ever worn.”
That’s what we’re after. The last thing they need to do when they’re hanging off the side of a plane or jumping 120 feet off a tower is think about how the shoes are feeling. Or even if it’s just a straight-up emotionally powerful film, they shouldn’t have to think about their shoes when they’re delivering their dialogue or having a heart-wrenching moment or making you laugh or whatever. They’ve got better things to deal with.
Josh: Are you able to get the shoes that you make sent back to Jitterbug Boy? What happens to the shoes when they’re done?
Jeff: It’ll depend. If it’s a Marvel or a Disney movie, they keep everything under lock and key afterwards in archives and stuff like that. Often I see actors wearing shoes we made for them in a film on a red carpet or on another show. So there are certain actors who are really known for just stealing all their shoes at the end of the show, which is great. Cause it’s like, well, who else is gonna wear them?
Josh: I’m sure it’s flattering!
Jeff: Yeah, exactly. Also a lot of them, if it’s for a smaller film or whatever, often they end up just being bought out by rental houses. I’ll get photos from friends of mine in England or LA going through stock at so-and-so costume house, and they’ll send me a photo of shoes that I made because they recognize our logo on the inside. That’s hilarious. But yeah, we get nothing back. If we end up with anything it’s just early prototypes.
Josh: I really enjoyed going through your website and looking at all the different stuff you guys have posted up there. It’s really cool. Now, I know that Jitterbug Boy is named after a Tom Waits song. Why that song in particular?
Jeff: There was something about it. It goes back to that trip in Europe. It was just kind of a life-changing trip in a lot of ways, just because it was the first time I’d done anything like that. That song was just stuck in my head for a lot of it. I remember coming back and chatting with a friend, and saying if I ever start a business I’m gonna call it Jitterbug Boy, and they’re like, oh, that’s a good idea. So that’s primarily where it’s from. And then, 12 years after starting the business, I got a call asking if we could make shoes for Tom Waits for a show!
Josh: I know that was probably really exciting for you!
Jeff: It was a project we were working on already, and the supervisor called me up and said, “We have this last-minute project. Would you be willing to do shoes for Tom Waits?” And I was like, YES. This was for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs. We had to do two pairs for him. We got one pair, sent them down for fitting, and he was really happy with them. So when we were doing the second one, I’m like, when am I ever going to have the chance to make Tom Waits another pair of shoes? So I made him a personal pair as well, and had etched the lyrics to “Jitterbug Boy” on the soles and sent them down and just asked the supervisor if she could pass them on.
She wrote back saying, “Yeah, he loved him. Thank you for doing that.” And then a few weeks later we ended up getting this picture in the mail of him sitting in his costume, wearing the boots we made for the film, carrying the boots that I made for him personally. Yeah, that was like probably one of three career highlights…holy shit, we got to make shoes for Tom Waits.
Josh: What are some other highlights that come to mind from your career?
Jeff: That film Mirror Mirror, which was one of the first films we did, was huge because of the designer. Her name was Eiko Ishioka, a Japanese costume designer who I’ve always loved. When I was 17 or 18, I went to see Bram Stoker’s Dracula in the theater. That was the first time I really noticed costumes in a film. I absolutely loved the design in that, and that’s kind of what pushed me in the design direction. That was her design and I’ve always loved her work. She did another film called The Fall, which was just absolutely gorgeous, and The Cell, with beautiful, beautiful design.
And then we got to do her final film. She passed away sadly before the film actually hit in theaters, but it was Mirror Mirror. And I got to meet her and went down to New York, did a bunch of fittings with her, and being able to collaborate with her to do these boots…it was phenomenal. We did one of my favorite all-time pairs of boots for Armie Hammer for Mirror Mirror. They were these black over-the-knee buckle-up boots, and they were just gorgeous. That really came from sitting on the floor with Eiko in a fitting room in New York City, cutting stuff up and piecing them together and trying to figure out how to do it. The final product was just gorgeous and I loved it. So that’s number two; number three would be Jojo Rabbit, which was just…I don’t know if you’ve seen Jojo yet.
Josh: I haven’t yet, it’s on my list.
Jeff: It is a stunning film. We did it more as a favor than anything for Mayes Rubio, who designed it. We had previously worked with her on Thor Ragnarok down in Australia. It was just, again, this weird coincidental thing, where we’d finished up with Thor, I sent her off an email just saying, “It was great working with you. Thanks for bringing us on board. I really appreciate it.” I think it was during Christmas time, so I wished her a Merry Christmas.
For some reason that email got lost, and she found it a few months later, and she’s like, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I just got this. I didn’t mean to be rude. Thank you. It was really nice to work with you for the first time, blah, blah, blah…I’m working on a project that unfortunately is small. I wish we had the budget, ’cause there’s some cool shoes in it, but I don’t think we can afford to have them made.” And I keep my ear to the ground in the film scene, so I knew she was probably working on this new Taika Waititi film.
And so I’m like, “You know what, if you don’t have the money, I’m willing to do this, and we’ll make up for it on the next project.” She’s like, “Oh, that’d be amazing!” So yeah, it was mostly as a favor to Mayes, and ’cause I’m a huge fan of Taika’s work. We did these shoes that were gorgeous, did a few different characters’, including making Hitler boots for Taika, and doing a couple of pairs for Scarlett [Johansson], and then for the kid who played Jojo [Roman Griffin Davis]. Then, like everything, you get it in a box, you send it off, and then you stop thinking about it ’cause you’ve got twenty other things on your work bench.
A year and a half later, Jojo Rabbit premiered at TIFF [Toronto International Film Festival]. So my wife and I went to see it and I’m like, excellent, I love Taika, and the fact that we worked on this is really cool. And there’s a whole part of the storyline actually based on the shoes that we made, which I had absolutely no idea about. There was one of the most powerful moments I’ve ever seen in a film that really revolves around a pair of shoes. And when I saw that, I was just like…blown away, like totally blown away by it.
It’s one of the best films I’ve seen in years, and the fact these shoes that we just did mostly did as a favor, ended up being so impactful…anybody who you’re talking to who has seen the film, if you just mentioned the scene with the shoes, they will know exactly what you’re talking about. I’m so proud of being part of such a brilliant film. It’s hilarious. It’s heartbreaking. It’s all this stuff rolled into one, and being able to be a somewhat significant part of that film, it’s huge to me.
Josh: Well, I’m definitely going to have to watch that now. What would you say was one of the most challenging projects that you’ve worked on?
Jeff: It’s really hard to say, because there’s so many challenges…
Josh: Yeah, I mean, it sounds like you’re basically fighting a dragon with every single project that you take on.
Jeff: Yeah. In a lot of ways. It’s hard to pinpoint because there’ve been so many—like every day is a challenge. So, you know, if I said one, I’d be forgetting 10 others. Like, Assassin’s Creed. It wasn’t a great film, but the designer, Sammy Sheldon Differ, was absolutely brilliant. It was such a physically demanding show, it was all parkour and we had to do hugely adaptable footwear, comfortable enough that they can do all this stuff, while sticking with the design aesthetic. That was a huge challenge.
Any of the Mission Impossible films are a huge challenge because the man himself [Tom Cruise] is very…”demanding” is the wrong word, but has a lot of very specific requirements because he does so many things. Often we’re doing ten pairs of shoes that look all the same, that all have to have a different purpose because he’s on the street, he’s hanging off the side of the plane, he’s climbing a cliff, he’s hanging off the side of a helicopter. There’s so many technical requirements for all of these different things.
Thinking back on Guardians of the Galaxy, those Gamora boots were hugely challenging because they pushed us in a completely different way, because we did these weird cutaway platform pieces, and we were using a lot of materials, like stingray and stuff. So they ended up being really, really challenging, but the end result was something that was just gorgeous. Everything’s challenging for one reason or another.
Josh: I’m wondering what the future holds for Jitterbug Boy. Are you gonna continue doing what you’re doing with the film and TV industry? Would you ever be interested in making shoes for the general public?
Jeff: I can’t imagine I would. I’ve been doing film long enough that I get bored too easily and I need the constant change. I don’t come from a fashion background, so that’s never really appealed to me. I find the process really interesting working with factories, which we have done on a few projects, but I have no desire to have like a Jitterbug Boy line of shoes or something. I imagine I’ll stick around the film industry, keep the shop going.
At some point I could imagine not wanting to run a business anymore, and hopefully just working specifically for a film. Go off to England or go to LA or whatever for one project at a time, working on that with the team there. That would be the ideal for me. I don’t know if that’ll ever happen, or if I’ll always be running a shop like this. Running a business is tough and it’s not a good way to earn your retirement or anything. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and that’s what keeps me going in it. But it requires a lot of energy. I’m working 60 or 70 hours a week. This was supposed to be my week off and I’m probably already nearing the 30 hour mark.
So yeah, I can see it changing at some point. But who knows. I was starting to wean myself away from having the shop before COVID. I was planning on shutting things down and doing things more one-on-one with productions, and then COVID hit and all that changed. So I decided to just keep the shop going, to keep people working until the world normalizes. I think we can all agree that the world is far from normal right now. What I’ve said to the crew is, we’ll keep going until the wheels come off.
You know, one thing about having to constantly adapt to the chaos of the film world is I’m really pliable, I can adapt to chaos really well. So if tomorrow I find out that Hollywood is closing down entirely and just doing CGI films from now on, I would adapt to that in some way, ’cause that’s what I do. I have always been that type of person. I make do with what I got, and I just make things happen. But for now, it looks like we’re in a good place and we’ll keep going with that until there’s reason not to.
Josh: Well, Jeff, thank you so much for being so generous with your time. I really appreciate it.
Don’t forget to check out more of Jitterbug Boy’s work for film, TV and more at jitterbugboy.com.