When Charlestown’s Jonathan Spencer picked up a video camera, the results were usually high-quality fun for family and friends to see.
Now, though, his most recent video foray is currently being viewed and judged by renowned Hollywood Director Ron Howard and Hunger Games actor Josh Hutcherson as part of an exclusive nationwide contest for amateur filmmakers sponsored by Canon.
Thousands of submissions came in to the contest, dubbed ‘Project Imagination: The Trailer,’ and 15 finalists were announced in early June. The winning trailer out of the 15, which includes Spencer’s ‘The 18-hour Proposal,’ will be announced in the next few weeks. The winner will have his or her trailer re-written and made into a full-length feature starring Hutchinson and directed by Kat Candler.
“As a veteran filmmaker, I appreciate the value of edge-of-your seat creativity in filmmaking, and that’s what Project Imagination: The Trailer is all about,” said Howard. “Josh and Kat are the perfect complements to what’s sure to be an exhilarating exploration into the inspirational value of trailers.”
For Spencer, 29, he used home movies of his creative marriage proposal to his wife, Erin, for his 60-second trailer, and being chosen is an opportunity he is still grappling to believe is real.
“When I found out I was amazed and a little humbled,” he said. “It’s a big deal for me. I’m one of those personalities where I don’t let myself get too excited…I didn’t physically believe it until I saw it. Once I saw it, I had a private moment about what I had accomplished and then gave a lot of thought to it. Ultimately, I don’t think I could be further removed from Hollywood. I’ve never been to Los Angeles and it’s utterly hard to believe Ron Howard will watch 60 seconds of video I created. I thought about that and let my guard down a little – fantasizing about the fact that Ron Howard may watch my movie and be totally impressed with me and want to make me a director on the spot. Then I came back down to Earth after that two minute dream.”
Spencer, who grew up in Easton and has lived in Charlestown 10 years, went to Bentley University and started out his career in finance. After the financial crisis changed his job situation, he went back to graduate school at Emerson College to get a Master’s Degree in communication and public relations. Now, after changing careers successfully, he works as a video producer consultant for Liberty Mutual Insurance – producing such things as wellness videos for the company.
However, in his spare time, Spencer has made his home movies into high-quality features. He literally has a life on film.
“For me personally, I do this every day and every weekend,” Spencer said. “I spend hours turning my life into short stories on film. It’s a more professional version of your family album. I do it for myself and my wife and our family. Outside our family, I don’t think anybody has watched what I do. That’s the only people that have really seen my work, and now I’m a little nervous that so many people are going to see my work.”
That work involved the creative marriage proposal between Spencer and his wife in December 2012.
With his wife being from Florida and him from the Boston area, Spencer arranged for his whole family to travel to Florida. Once down there, he set up a time to propose to Erin. All of it was captured on video and the whirlwind weekend – the 18-hour ordeal – was part of their family album, until Spencer decided it was good material for a movie.
“She’s definitely the star of the show and she’s always the star of my movies,” he said. “So, when I was thinking about something to submit, it was the film of proposing to my wife. We had such a creative proposal. It was literally an 18-hour ordeal and it was really fun. I thought it would make a great trailer, and apparently I wasn’t wrong.”
Whether he wins or not, Spencer said he is glad others watched a milestone in his life and found the video and material entertaining and of a high quality.
“It’s amazing when you find that connection with someone,” he said, noting that he and Erin have been married for about 18 months. “
True love is really worth doing something very crazy.”
To watch the trailer online, go to: https://grey.box.com/s/oghgttyv0qoupswviqviex2dw9mya07b.
Canon officials plan to unveil the sole winner in late July, they said this week.