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Jim Vendiola

Published January 23, 2017
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Instagram: @jimvendiola
Twitter: @jimvendiola


Jim Vendiola is a Chicago-based independent filmmaker whose work has screened internationally, and whose unconventional style has garnered critical notice. He was recently named one of Newcity’s FILM 50 of 2016, alongside such top production notables and influencers as Dick Wolf, The Wachowskis, and Joe and Kris Swanberg.

His 2015 psychological horror short, Violets, received the 22nd Chicago Underground Film Festival’s Audience Award, while The Independent Critic called it, “difficult to describe…but impossible to forget.”

Jim is currently crowdfunding his new film, Library Hours—a “love story about books and bondage,” co-starring up-and-comer Kat Scott and alternative/fetish model, Cam Damage. Check it out his campaign on Seed&Spark!


Q & A

What have you been doing since graduating from FSU?

I work in the legal industry by day, and devote most of my remaining waking hours to film-related endeavors; if not developing my own projects, then collaborating with others on theirs or helping curate festival programs and similar film showcases. I’m also regularly consuming all manner of narrative (and some experimental) content, trying to stay abreast of stylistic trends, storytelling trends, and industry trends related to how media is both delivered and consumed. Moreover, I travel a fair amount to Los Angeles and New York for related business and networking purposes, though I’m pretty content still calling Chicago my home.

What did you learn at FSU to get you there?

While earning my Bachelor of Science, I dabbled in a few majors including creative writing, photography, and eventually graphic design. Though it was a roundabout path—and took my staying an additional semester to earn said degree—it was a really formative time for my development as a visual artist, image-maker and storyteller.

Each major (including some art history and psychology courses) gave me room to experiment with my creativity in a different medium. In the case of the psych classes, I gained a better understanding of complex human emotion and motivation, which is indispensable for creating interesting fictional characters. Even though I knew since age 14 that I wanted to be a filmmaker, it was critical to explore other forms of expression during my early adulthood, as a student, to arrive at the distinct style for which I’m recognized today.

What advice would you give to art students?

Don’t tame or tone down your vision for your audience or cater to what you think they want. The viewer doesn’t know what they want, enjoy, or prefer until you show them. Nothing is too strange or “out there.” If you have a vision, go with it; be confident in it and proud of it. Defend it, but be humble and receptive to constructive criticism, because everything is always a work in progress, including artistic intent. I think that being a good listener is the key to knowing exactly when to staunchly defend your viewpoint, and when to learn, evolve, and get better.

I also wish I would’ve taken some business, marketing and project management courses, because anyone’s best shot at making a living as an artist (aside from your professional network and connections)—and, make no mistake, it is a slim shot—is to have your shit together. It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, and regardless of your work, persistent hustle (in an informed, strategic manner) is key. No one gets “discovered” on their creative work alone. It sounds soulless and disheartening, but you have to think of yourself and your work as a brand, or no one’s going to want to pay you for your effort.