Interview: NY Filmmaker Jim Strouse on Making Uplifting Indie Films
by Alex Billington
July 28, 2017
“You really have to drive your own train and you have to keep it running.” Yes indeed. Meet Jim Strouse. Also known as James C. Strouse. Jim is a filmmaker originally from Indiana, who now lives in New York City. If you don’t recognize his name, hopefully you will recognize his films – Grace Is Gone (in 2007), The Winning Season (in 2009), People Places Things (in 2015), and now this year he has brought us The Incredible Jessica James. Jessica James stars the talented Jessica Williams as Jessica James in an optimistic, engaging story of a struggling playwright in New York. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, like every film Jim has made, and is being released by Netflix – it’s available to watch now. I caught up with Jim at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year for a chat, and I’m happy to finally present the interview in full. I love his films and I’m glad I had the chance to talk with him out there.
Jim makes the kind of easily-enjoyable films that I wish more people would watch. They’re indie films, no question, but they’re also refreshing and upbeat and entertaining in a lighthearted way. They’re optimistic when so many other indie films are cynical, and they’re also genuine, in a way that makes them particularly endearing. He has a knack for casting and always gets great performances out of his actors. Jim first met Jessica Williams while making People Places Things, as she has a smaller role in that film. As he goes on to explain in the interview below, he then decided to make a film featuring her as the lead character, and so they made The Incredible Jessica James together. I reviewed the film at Sundance, saying “it will make you smile and laugh while watching.” It’s worth a watch when you have a moment and want something upbeat.
I met with Jim at a restaurant on Main Street in Park City at…