top of page

Shining the Spotlight on Jesse McAnally

It All Starts With 3 Note Cards

There are two things you will learn after having a conversation with Jesse McAnally about film. One is that he has a unique understanding of film and it makes you want to talk with him for hours, and two, he knows about the value of collaborating and he understands that any of his success, is also the success of his crew and collaborators.

Being an independent filmmaker means you may have to wear many hats. While McAnally tends to gravitate toward being a director and writer, he also understands that in order for things to work economically, he has to throw on other hats, as well. One of the keys to all the success of his films is his creative process. The After Ashes director says all his projects start with three note cards. From those note cards, he then collects opinions and ideas from people he trusts, until he can develop his first draft. Then he sends that first draft to his creative collaborators and crew. With their input included, he is able to develop another draft. Around the fourth or fifth draft later, he has a treatment and is planning to shoot. That beginning process can take about three to five months. But the After Ashes/Sunny Days director has been planning for his career in film, nearly his entire life.

McAnally didn’t just stumble across filmmaking. According to his parents, filmmaking is all he has ever said he wanted to do, since he was about four years old. It’s one thing to just enjoy films and enjoy the work of Ingmar Bergman as a child. But when you start to be influenced by his work, and when you get involved with everything media related throughout your childhood and high school years, and then attend film that’s how the dreams of a child turn into a career.

This Wayne State University alumnus understands that film school is what you make of it. He says “if you put the effort into film school and find the collaborators, you get a lot out of it. You’re able to make projects, work with people, and grow your community”. While film school may have played an important role in the filmmaker meeting like-minded individuals, he was able to learn about the practical side of filmmaking through YouTube and over avenues that creatives utilize.

Being creative is not the only side to filmmaking. The business side of filmmaking can be essential to the success of a project. As the Co-Founder and Creative Director of Fosca Features, LLC, McAnally is in a unique position where he has to be knowledgeable about the financial production side of filmmaking as well as the creative side. McAnally states that while it is important to know the business piece of creating a project, a lot of filmmakers don’t necessarily need it “if {they} can find a partnership where someone else can tackle the business side”.

Adapting and welcoming change can also be a great assistant to filmmakers. McAnally says his style changes from film to film. But the After Ashes film, he says, made him have more of a creative style, a more subjective style, and be more ideological with his shots.

McAnally may not have a favorite genre, but he enjoys movies where he can see the director coming out, and films that don’t take themselves too seriously, because “if you don’t have humor in a film, it becomes less human”.

However, one thing McAnally does take seriously is the scores for his projects. McAnally understands how important music is to a film, and it’s evident in every project he puts out. McAnally’s composer, Paul Emil Levasseur says it best when he states “Music is an emotional narration, and without it, you’re only watching half a film”. The hard work and dedication of Jesse McAnally and his collaborators can be felt through the screen. Everything from the writing to directing, the music, lighting, sound, and everything in between. Their work is something you have to see for yourself. You can watch the trailer for After Ashes here:

But, McAnally doesn’t stop at being a filmmaker. He makes it a point to educate others about the importance of film. Recently, he spoke to PR students at the University of Michigan Dearborn, explaining why cinema is important to public relations.

If you missed McAnally’s latest film, After Ashes, when it screened at the I See You Awards in August, be sure to check it out as it makes the rounds at the following festivals.

Royal Starr Film Festival- October 11-14, 2018

Desmond District Demons Horror Film Festival- October 26-27, 2018

Flint Fright Film Festival- October 27, 2018

Southeast Michigan Film Festival- November 2, 2018

We enjoyed shining a spotlight on Jesse McAnally and the work of him and his team. To McAnally, his crew, and his collaborators...we see you!

After Ashes Cast and Crew:

Directed, Written, Edited By:

Jesse McAnally


Miranda Moffat - Kali Kaminski

Perry Devon Quarker Jr. - Death (Physically)

Breayre Tender - Death (Voice)

John Thiede - Zombie


Jesse McAnally & Frederick McAnally

Director of Photography

Firas Allouch

Assistant Director/Assistant Editor

Dawn Turchin

Lighting/Assistant Camera

Eli Vail

Script Supervisor/Line Producer

Nathan P. Keelan


Jeff Kot

Post Production Audio

Dale Penner (Paradie Alley Studios)

Costume Designer

Inda Blatch-Geib

SFX Makeup

Dylan Sides

VFX Artist

Drew Cameron

Death Audio Recordist

Joey Mclennan

Music By

Paul Emil Levasseur

If you’re an indie filmmaker, or know a filmmaker who would like to be included in our Indie Filmmaker Spotlight, be sure to join our email list. You could be next!

Editor's Note: Photos courtesy of Jesse McAnally

Heading to see a movie? Get your tickets in advance from Atom: movies made easy!

93 views0 comments
bottom of page