Long before he founded his wildly successful film and television production company, Jason Blum traveled a creative path paved by his parents.
“My father, Irving, was an art dealer in Los Angeles and hung out with the likes of Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Christopher Isherwood, and more. My mother was an art historian, so much of my young life I was immersed in various types of visual art.”
As CEO of the multi-media production company Blumhouse, Blum has made a killing embracing the grisly and gruesome. His studio has delivered high-grossing, low-budget flicks such as “Paranormal Activity”, “The Surge,” and Jordan Peele’s critically acclaimed thriller “Get Out.” But along with masterfully relaunching John Carpenter’s Halloween franchise, Blumhouse has churned out an impressive series of documentaries, television projects, and movies that include Spike Lee’s biographical crime film “BlackKklansman.”
“I’ve produced so many movies, but I feel like I’m just getting started. I like to think that it feels this way because I’m still having fun at what I’m doing.”
The early years
Growing up in New York City, Blum was always competitive, which he describes as a blessing and a curse.
I had street smarts, but my book smarts and grades were just ok. I wasn’t the best student, but I knew how to work hard, which to me made up for not being the highest performing student.”
Blum, 53, credits the Taft School in Connecticut for preparing him for college.
“Boarding school forced me to lean into all my interests, and to be okay with trying new things independently.”
A drama major and 1991 graduate of Vassar, Blum says the college helped shape his film career, which began with the early project “Kicking & Screaming.” A Hitchcock seminar cemented his interest in the horror genre.
“My time at Vassar also taught me the importance of friendship and networking, which is so essential in the entertainment world.”
Real world experience
With school behind him, Blum was more determined than ever to break into the industry. While hanging out with an eclectic mix of young actors and directors in NYC, he met Ethan Hawke, who suggested Blum join him in running his theater company.
“At 25, I decided to work with Ethan at Malaparte, and I was opened up to a whole new social world. I learned how to produce and how to work with and connect to artists.
“I always had goals of making movies with a cultural impact that would change the way people saw the world, but I never focused on monetary success,” Blum explains. “When I first started working on scary movies, one of the things I loved about it was all these directors were such misfit outsiders who never seemed to get much respect from mainstream Hollywood. I felt very at home with this cast of characters, and they really loved what they did, which I respected enormously.”
Follow your passion
Included in Time magazine’s 100 list of the world’s most influential people, Blum encourages aspiring filmmakers to give it their all.
“When I founded Blumhouse, I built the company on a model of keeping storytelling at the heart of each project, and I want to employ a new generation of directors, producers, screenwriters, and more to do the same.
“Technology has made it so that you don’t need all the fancy equipment or someone to help you distribute your work. You can shoot a movie on your phone, and you can upload it to YouTube when you’re ready. Go make your project and make it available for people to watch.”
He adds, “Be collaborative with people. Do more than just give and take orders. Be flexible, and have fun. Don’t chase what’s hot. The most important thing when telling a story is to keep it true to your experience and who you are as a person.”