Based in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Jordan Wilson works nationally as a first assistant director (AD) for film, television and commercials. Her previous production credits include “Golden Arm,” “Iké Boys” and “Hostage House.” In addition to her work as an AD, Wilson also works as a nationally recognized director and writer.
How did you get started in the film industry?
Movies have always been something I’ve loved; however, growing up, I wasn’t aware it was an industry you could have a career in. During my senior year, I committed to law school, and visited an actor friend in Los Angeles as my senior trip. She was working on a film at the time and invited me to set, and I instantly fell in love with the entire process. Realizing I could be a part of creating the types of movies I love made me want to do nothing else. I returned home and immediately switched my major from law to film!
Did you have any formal education or training related to the film industry before starting?
I received my Associate in Arts through Oklahoma City Community College’s Digital Cinema Production program. However, thanks to the amazing support of the instructors there, I was able to begin working on professional sets during my first semester as a student.
Did you have any formal education or training related to your specific department on-set?
Unfortunately, training/educational opportunities related specifically to first assistant directing are rather limited. My preparation came from learning under the first ADs I was lucky enough to work with starting out and using them as a reference point for how to perform such an important job properly. As I began to transition from second second AD and second AD roles into first, I did complete available trainings through Contract Services Administration Trust Fund (CSATF) to understand on-set safety protocols and how to maintain a safe working environment.
What are some of your most recent successes (credits or accolades) related to your career in the industry?
I’ve been honored to have the chance to become involved with film education within the state. Last year, I was asked by Meridian Technology Center to create and teach a course on assistant directing. After spending months developing the curriculum, I finally got to teach the inaugural class earlier this summer. It was a wonderful experience, and I was grateful to be asked to guide a future generation of ADs!
What has your career in the state’s film industry taught you?
Never think you know everything. There is always something to learn, always multiple ways to be better at what you do. There is always going to be someone working harder than you, with more experience than you, that you can learn from and use as an inspiration to always be expanding your horizons in whatever position you choose to work towards.
What is the highlight of your career thus far?
Assistant directing has provided many opportunities for me to observe great directors and grow my own career in that position as well. Recently, I was honored to have the most recent film I directed screen at San Diego International Comic-Con. Having something you worked so hard to create show in front of an audience of that size at an event of that caliber was absolutely thrilling.
What is your favorite aspect of working in Oklahoma’s film and television industry?
My favorite part of the Oklahoma film industry by far is the people I get to work with. Oklahoma is full of incredibly talented professionals, on both the cast and crew side, that I love getting to collaborate with. Working in film can be amazingly difficult with its long hours and sometimes stressful situations, but being surrounded by people you trust and enjoy makes the process infinitely easier.
What’s the best piece of advice you have for someone starting their career in Oklahoma’s film industry?
Always be willing to learn and have a great attitude while doing so! I am 100% more likely to rehire someone who maybe needed more guidance on the job but was willing to grow and enjoyed the experience, versus someone who isn’t willing to take instruction and has a bad attitude. You can’t be expected to know how to do all facets of a job when you’re starting out; however, if you show a proclivity to continuously be learning, your enthusiasm can easily overshadow lack of experience.
How does someone in your field/department best promote/market themselves to those hiring in your industry?
Always do your absolute best. A vast majority of opportunities will come from word of mouth, so it’s crucial to maintain a reputation as someone who gets their job done properly and that people enjoy working with. Creating relationships with the crew around you and putting joy and professionalism into your work is the best self-promotion you can do, because everyone who loves to work with you will want to do so again and again.
Are there any local film organizations, resources or events that have been beneficial to you in your career?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many awesome people who I eventually got to work with at a number of local film festivals, such as Simply Indie and deadCenter, which are amazing events to network at. Any event where you can meet other industry professionals is incredibly beneficial. Working with Meridian Technology Center in the creation and teaching of their budding film education program has also been a great opportunity.
What’s the one item you can’t live without on-set, and why?
My annotated call sheet with my schedule notes for the day. My focus as a first AD is executing the plan to make the day, and having the blueprint for that plan is absolutely crucial in order to properly communicate the details to the crew around me.
Would you career be impacted without the state’s film incentive program? If so, how?
Absolutely, in a remarkably negative way. The incentive is what brings films to Oklahoma, and without it I would need to start relying on out-of-state work to maintain a living. It appeals not just to big shows that bring in a lot of their own crew, but to low and mid-budget projects that are the bread and butter of the film industry here as a crew member. Having a consistent influx of projects hiring local crew is what makes being an Oklahoma film industry professional possible.
Where do you see yourself – AND – Oklahoma’s film industry in the next five years?
I hope to continue on a path of upward mobility to be working on larger shows as a first, as well as consistently having opportunities to direct inspiring projects. In direct correlation, I hope to see Oklahoma’s film industry continue to grow with a draw to projects that put our ever-growing crew base to work.
What are you working on now or next?
As an AD, I’m currently working on a slew of commercials while in pre-production for a couple of films shooting this fall and winter. As a director, I’m in pre-production for a short film that will also be filming this winter.
Each featured individual or business is given the provided questions to answer in their own voice. Other than formatting and grammar, the answers are personal to each featured voice, and are not provided by the Oklahoma Film + Music Office.