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Last summer, young media savvy Jews were selected by leading Hollywood producers to come out to LA and make dozens of short internet films with ambitious goal of effectively communicating new messages about Judaism and Israel.

View what they produced here. Tell us what you think.

Below is a brief interview with David Sacks, head honcho of Jewish Impact Fims and producer of such shows as Malcom in the Middle, Third Rock from the Sun and The Simpsons.

Jewlicious: How was the production process?

David Sacks: Craziness itself. The entire program has been one wild ride. Basically, we got the idea to do this program “Jewish Impact Films“ and within a couple of months, with no advanced funding and almost no publicity — all of these phenomenal people came out of the woodwork, flew to L.A. out of pocket , and for three weeks, working under the most guerilla of circumstances, made about fifty short films.

J: What do you plan on doing with these films?

DS: Right now we’re putting them up on the site. Our hope is to create kind of a “Jewish iFilm” situation where people are tuning in to see the new ones, and other people are sending us ones they’ve made so that there can be a central location where theses films can be seen. Right now unless you’re lucky and someone sends you a link there’s no central place to go to see all the creativity going on in the Jewish world today

J: How do you feel the films turned out?

DS: I think they turned out great. Considering that the program was an elaborate exercise in barely controlled anarchy, I’m amazed that so many quality productions came out of it.

J: Who do you hope they reach?

DS: We wanted there to be messages that could be received universally. Right now, most of the films there are geared to young, hip Jews, but Torah is a message for the world, and everyone Jew/Non Jew has a share in it. The movie up there now called “Monster Feet” is an example of one made for everyone. Gossip is toxic. Originally, the card toward the end said Lashon Hora, but we changed that because we wanted everyone to connect. Hopefully, that one will spread to the four corners.

J: Will you be offering fellowships again this summer? If so, will you do more of the same, or will it have a different focus?

DS: Yes, we are offering two programs this year. One in L.A. and one in Israel. If last year’s session is any indication it should be a pretty amazing experience. The application is on the site, so all you have to do is download it. Also, we are running a movie making contest which is pretty cool, and the details for that are on the site as well. We’d like to do even more programs but for that we need a few more good sponsors.

J: What are your personal feelings about the connection between film and Judaism?

DS: A lot of what this program is about is getting our message out there. My Rebbe, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, said that when it comes to Judaism, every thing is in the kitchen and nothing is on the menu. I thought about that statement for a long time. I would have thought he’d have said, every thing is in the kitchen and nothing is on the table. Nothing’s on the menu means that not only aren’t our Holy Teachings being served, they’re not even on the menu, meaning people don’t even know that they’re available! This is a deep state of exile. Enter the internet, cheap dv cameras, and Final Cut Pro. All of the sudden you don’t have to be rich to make something beautiful and show it to the whole world. Jewish Impact Films is teaming Hollywood veterans with top young talent in the hopes that someway somehow, this yearning can lead to the fixing of the world.

J: Is there anything else you’d like to share?

DS: The Kotzker Rebbe says that it’s a big miracle to resurrect the dead — but that it’s an even bigger miracle to resurrect the living. If that’s the case, then let’s get moving! If you’d like to sponsor a film, or know sympathetic individuals or Foundations who’d like to partner with us — bring it on! www.jewishimpactfilms.com

About the author

Laya Millman

33 Comments

  • i was hoping to read something about them besides what’s on their website, this was just what i wanted. this project is a kick-butt idea whose time has finally come — but, I ask rhetorically, has the “15 minutes of fame” afforded to internet-filmmakers ever resulted in bigger future success for the filmmakers, or has it always just dissolved for them into cult-status novelty and one-hit-wonderism? i suppose it depends upon the filmmaker, but in the larger sense, what i mean is: this seems like a great jumping-off point for meetings-of-minds, brainstorming, and small, memorable productions… but i’m hoping the big picture is not just internet-movie-notoriety, which is too television-commercial-jingle-esque, easily memorized but not all-that meaningful or life-changing… the eventual target, in my humble opinion, should be full-length feature cinema!

  • Am I the only one who thinks these shorts are actually pretty bad? As in poke a sharp stick in my eye bad. Sacks wrote for the Simpsons? Maybe it can be excused as a freshman effort and hopefully the next batch of films will be better, but for right now, I remain not just unimpressed, but abjectly horrified.

  • i guess the thing i like about it, not so much the films themselves, but that they are soliciting people like YOU, thepain, to send in your own films, because they seem to be saying, “you got anything better? we want to see it!” don’t be so horrified — even if they’re no better than some of the cheeky jewish boy-bands out there, they at least deserve props for having the beitzim to start something up, right?

  • That kosher cow one was pretty bad. Compare and contrast to the PETA video at the kosher slaughterhouse.

    Sigh.

    I miss shwarma.

  • Plus, I want to recut that Shabbat video with a different nigun, like “Let’s Get it Started” by the Black-Eyed Peas. Or recast it with more women.

  • Those were freaking bizarre. The Shabbos Kodesh one reminded me of some freakish cult. Bomb with love! Bomb with love! Bomb with love! Bomb with love!

  • Those were the worst films, Jewish or otherwise i have ever seen.
    Did Jews not START hollywood? What, can only secular Jews produce films with taste and intelligence?
    This is so, so sad.
    If those are representative of what Judaism is about, I think i’d like to convert out now.

  • Kate – have I ever told you about the book of Mormon and the Church of the Latter Day Saints? We’re involved in all kinds of cool stuff like the upcoming Esther movie, this blog and every Wednsday is Wienie and Martini night!

  • *this* is what makes you want to convert out — not avraham fried music, or the slifkin ban, or the rubashkin PETA video, or kaballah strings on sale at Target — *these* videos? sheesh, you can’t have been jewish for very long!

  • I think she was kidding. I mean she’s still welcome to become a Mormon and join us, but she has yet to call …

  • There’s an upcoming movie about me? Cool. Am I in it?

    Sometimes I think Jews make films like these just to prove that they’re not in control of the industry. Sigh.

  • The supreme act of nepotism–Hollywood mogul-wannabe (Sacks) begets dreck from no-class Hollywood High “mogul-ettes”. Spare me. All the comments expressing pain and “tsures” are right on…What rhymes with Sacks? Why, “hacks”, of course. He’s probably trying to buy his way into heaven via the brucha’s of Reb SHlomo. Give me Shmuley Boteach anyday…!!

  • Most of them do suck, but two that have made my essay-writing suck a little bit less:

    1. Shofar So Good.
    2. Early Shabbos.

    Shades of Shaloooooom, almost.

  • These shorts are just rediculous. They are lame and cheezy. I really don’t like any of the messages. I don’t know what they are trying to do. They were not funny and I dont think they will ahve quite the impact they were hoping for. I wondr if anyones view on Judaism has changed from these shorts

  • I dunno … I kinda disagree with all of you. Call me unenlightened, but yes … Shabbos can be that much fun. And as for Shofar, So Good … I thought it was hilarious. I didn’t much go for the other films besides that … but to toss around comments like “What, can only secular Jews produce films with taste and intelligence?” and “Sometimes I think Jews make films like these just to prove that they’re not in control of the industry. Sigh,” are in EXTREMELY poor taste.
    I mean, granted … opinions are opinions, and you’re obviously free to express them, but what are you doing to bring Jews back out of the Diaspora? What could you do to get them to start observing Shabbos? Gotten anyone to make aliyah lately? And I’ll guess that you also take time from your day to teach the laws of Shmiras Halashon?
    JIF, “with no advanced funding and almost no publicity … and the most guerilla of circumstances,” is doing something about it. They are trying to reach Jews, tap into their souls and bring them back to Torah … not win Academy Awards [although that might come later on — sh’koyach!]. Good for them — I think they’re doing a great thing.

  • Somehow the fact that the videos weren’t made by the professionals but by young Jews in their 20 somethings from various backgrounds seems to have excaped most of you. Of course they are amatureish, they were made by amatures over the course of a very limited period of time. Sure the big guns helped fund it and even gave some counsil, but they didn’t make them. I think what they are trying to accomplish is fantastic. And if you think you can do better, then do it. They’ll gladly host the video on their site for you I’ll bet, that seems to be part of their mission. It’s meant to be a bottom up not top down initiative.

  • Of course some of them are cheesy. They were made by *beginners*.

    A friend sent me the one about the garage door remote (Shofar So Good). I did a search to figure out whether it was meant to make fun of Judaism or not… and found this site. Very glad to see the explanation… and young filmmakers, keep working on it!

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