Spotlight: VP of Insight Stream Jeff Jones

Feb 07, 2014


1) For someone who has built a career on their expertise in technology, it’s surprising that you have such an extensive knowledge of old movies. What is it about old movies that spark your interest and compare that to your interest in technology?

The more I think about it, the more I realize they are related. When you start watching a lot of classic movies you end up seeing HOW the film was shot. Whether it’s a silent film, like Metropolis, with early special effects or the first appearance of sound, color, etc., movies are often the first place technology shows up.

I think it’s also a way to disconnect from tech and spend some time in a simpler world.

2) Tell us how Orson Welles has changed your career. How have you used his professional choices as an example to inform your own?

Orson Welles was a rule breaker. In Citizen Kane he did some things that were new to the industry. I suspect some of the things he did was because he was a radio guy who got the chance to make a movie, and as a result didn’t know all the rules and thereby changed them. I admire that. It just goes to show you that jumping in and trying something new can create some interesting things.

3) It was a lot harder for you to watch movies when you were younger than it was for most people. Why was it so difficult for you to watch them and how did you get around those barriers?

Well I grew up in an extremely conservative environment. Almost everything was off-limits: no dancing, no movies, no rock n’ roll etc. So you had to get creative. We created what we called the Friday Night Bowling League. My friends and I would go to a movie every Friday. On the way home, I would go by the bowling alley and get a score sheet and fill it in. Then I’d leave it lying on the floor of my room for my mom to find. It was a lot of work; but if you’re gonna live a double life, you gotta be committed.

During that period I saw Rocky, Taxi Driver, All the President’s Men, The Omen and Carrie. ’78 was a good year.

4) What was the first movie you ever saw and how did that influence your appreciation for movies later on?

I was either 13 or 14. My friends and I decided to go to see a movie at the 20th Century in Oakley. We went to a Sunday matinee and said we were going somewhere else. The movie was The Exorcist. It scared the crud out of me. I didn’t sleep that night; but after that, I realized something. If movies can be that impactful, I wanna see more. That started my interest in films. Eventually, that led me to classic, foreign and silent films.

5) What is your favorite movie genre to see in a theater, specifically?

I love small, independent films; but if you’re going to go the theater, it’s gotta be a block buster with special effects. So usually something like a super hero movie or The Lord of the Rings or something like that.

I guess that means sci-fi or fantasy.

6) What is a nerdy thing about you? (I.e., are you a Star Wars buff? Do you know a stupid amount about a particular book, period of history, or hobby?)

I’m a nerd in so many ways I’m not sure what to say. I guess it would be science fiction: books, films, shows, etc. My family used to have these Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. One of the earliest “chapter books” I remember reading is 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea from that series. I loved it and started reading sci-fi a lot.

7) What is it about this nerdy thing that sparks your interest?

I’m not exactly sure; I suspect it’s about human potential and where we are going.

8) What is your favorite meal to cook for someone else?

Veggies dumpling soup. Sounds weird, but everyone in my family except for me is a vegetarian. I love chicken and dumplings so I created a recipe without the chicken. Rachel and the girls loved it, and it became something we have when we’re all together.

9) All-time favorite movie line, go. Why?

“Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

It’s really the centerpiece of the movie Casablanca. It represents Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart’s character and the protagonist of the film) desire to get back the life he wants versus doing the right thing. Besides, it’s just a great 1940’s line.