Jeff Saxon is a consummate songwriter, acoustic guitarist and now a music video finalist in the Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center Bi-Annual 2012 New Jersey Film Festival.
The Spring 2012 festival is set to take place at Voorhees Hall #105, 71 Hamilton Street in New Brunswick starting January 20. The festival will showcase independent films and videos submitted by both national and international artists according to Saxon, who is set to appear February 10 with his director Christina Eliopoulos.
"It is an international film festival," said Saxon. "Finalists are scored by a juried panel. It’s weeks of showings of independent films of all types and by filmmakers from around the world."
The four minute video, "High Time For A Hero," was directed by Christina Eliopoulos of Eatontown and features Saxon’s politically-charged song of the same name. Chosen out of hundreds of videos according to Saxon, the storyline behind the music video reflects a microcosm of Saxon's original song; one of more than 500 songs the musician has written during a professional career that has spanned nearly three decades.
"[Christina] found the smaller issue," Saxon said about his song, an issue "that involved a family with multiple kids where the oldest son goes to war and the other family members are living in an urban city and dealing with the issues of an urban city. It still blows me away that things evolved the way they did and Christina was able to get dancers from two major dance groups to perform in the video."
Saxon previously worked with Eliopoulos when he contributed a jingle to a documentary she produced in 2008 called "Greetings From Asbury Park."
"The [larger] meaning to the song is we, the country, need help right now," Saxon said. "It is basically a 'prayer-in-song' of sorts in hopes that someone will emerge with the wisdom, character and conviction to lead us back to being the country that we once were; where people looked up to us with envy."
All told, there were roughly 25 cast and crew members who worked together over a span of two days to create the music video, Saxon said, adding that the entire cast, including members of The Joffrey Ballet and Alvin Ailey dance troupes, volunteered their time to create the video. "It wasn’t a paid project," Saxon said. "Everybody who contributed did it out of their belief in the song and what it said, and to be associated with the project."
Other members of the cast include the graffiti artists from Red Bank Regional’s Visual And Performing Arts Academy, director of photography Edouard Nammour and editor Jake Mautner. The video, produced by Ken Barrows, was filmed in its entirety in Perth Amboy where Saxon now lives with his wife, Bridgette.
Saxon, an American University graduate who honed his craft in notable cities like New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, is also a gifted teacher. He is set to conduct a class at the called "Yes, You Can Write A Song." The practical and runs for six Saturday afternoons. The class is appropriate for songwriters of all levels, as well as those who simply are curious about how songs are written. Saxon has taught songwriting and music business courses throughout the U.S. and offers private guitar lessons to students of all ages.
According to the website, www.musicandartacademy.com, Saxon has "worked in the studio or shared the stage with well-known artists such as Dave Koz, Little Richard, Norman Brown, Hiroshima, and N'Dea Davenport." In addition to the numerous songs the Long Branch native has written over the years, he has also released three albums commercially. Saxon also teaches at The Music and Art Academy on Route 34 in Matawan.
The Rutgers Film Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center Bi-Annual 2012 New Jersey Film Festival will be held on weekends between January 20 and March 3 at Rutgers University. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit their website, or call 732-932-8482.