Jesse Quinones: Feature film producer
Jesse Quinones is about to release his first feature film, but his love for production can be traced back to his time as an international student at London Metropolitan University.
Hard at work ... Jesse immersed in the production studio at Woolfcub Productions.
IN 2007 Jesse Quinones, a graduate of the London Metropolitan University, embarked on a business venture with his brother Daniel and launched Woolfcub Productions. The independent London-based production company is about to launch its first feature film called Calloused Hands thanks to Jesse’s passion for filmmaking. But film-making wasn’t always so easy for this impressive graduate, here is Jesse’s story as an international student.
What is your nationality?
I am an Irish and US passport holder. My dad is Cuban, my mother Irish, and I was born and raised in Miami, USA.
Tell us a bit about your childhood?
I was born and raised in Miami, Florida up until the age of 18. I was very involved in sports back then, baseball was pretty much my whole life.
What started your interest in film production?
It started when I was a BA student at London Met. My brother used to do these short animations for his BA over at Camberwell College of Art and he'd ask me occasionally if I wanted to assist with the script. So I'd write out a script for the animations, and I really enjoyed that process. So we started making more and more short films. And then upon completion of our degrees we just kept at it.
What is it about film and documentaries that has you hooked?
It was definitely a slow burn for me. When I started I found the process of filmmaking painstakingly slow and boring. I never realised how repetitive and detail oriented it was. So I'd get very excited by an idea and then when I'd get to the stage of shooting it, I'd be ready to move on. But I suppose it was when I started to really understand the process that I saw the beauty in it, and I started to relish this challenge of seeing something through to the end. Film and documentary are beautiful art forms, and what I love about it is telling stories that connect straight to the heart.
Tell us about the production company you have with your brother.
The company I have is called Woolfcub Productions. It's been in operation since 2007, which is the time we graduated. Since coming to be, we have made short films, documentaries, promotional videos, and we are about to release our debut feature film.
What new projects do you have coming up?
I have a number of things in the pipeline. I have my debut feature film Calloused Hands. It's a coming of age story based on my life and stars some great actors including Andre Royo (The Wire), Daisy Haggard (Episodes), and Hans Howes (There Will Be Blood).
I also have a documentary coming out called Shoeshine Girls of Bolivia, which I am making with my long time collaborators Ann Marie Goodwin and Fabio Dominguez. This film was awarded funding from Channel 4, Worldview Broadcast Media Scheme, and National Geographic.
Also, I had my second feature film optioned, my first drama miniseries optioned, and have been meeting new producers and development executives both in the indie feature scene and television. I suppose things really started to turn a leaf in my career when I was picked up by the fantastic agents at Sayle Screen.
Why did you choose London Met?
I did my BA in Theatre Studies and Creative Writing from 2003-2006 and my MA in Audio Visual Production from 2006-07. I chose London Met because I liked that it was very diverse and had a wide range of students. It also had a lot of mature students and I felt that might work for me as I was going in at 22. It just felt like a fantastic fit for me, and I was right.
Had you been to the UK before you travelled for study?
Yes, I was living in London four years prior to my studies.
What was your first impression of London?
My first impression of London was probably Picadilly Circus. I remember thinking how cool it was at the time, and that I'd love to work there or go every day. Now I can barely stand going central. I suppose I have become very typical of someone living in London. I stay in my little patch and have become quite proud of that area.
What is your fondest memory of studying here in the UK?
My fondest memory was probably a theatre production we did of Anna Karenina. One of the main actors pulled out about three days before we were going on. So I had to fill in for him. That meant I had to learn all his lines in just a couple days. I was really stressed, and forced my girlfriend at the time to stay up with me all night and day running lines with me until I got it. We did the production and somehow I managed to keep about 90 per cent of what I learnt in my head, and the rest I managed to improv my way through. Performance went great, and it was such a rush. I loved it. For a split second I even thought I had acting chops! That notion went away pretty quick, but that experience was one of the first times I realised I truly loved this process and this medium.
Other than production what are you doing now?
Other than film production I spend most of my time being the father of a wonderful little boy named Alexei, who is four, and the husband to a wonderful wife, Katya. I also train in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. I am currently a Purple Belt in this and very slowly working my way to black belt. The goal is to try to get there no later than 40 years old.
What will you be doing in five years’ time?
Hopefully writing and directing films and television.