Jai grew up in Richmond, Virginia's vibrant film and arts community. He attended Hampton University as an English major, where he devoted much of his free time to making short films and screening them at Richmond,’s Project Resolution. It was at Project Res that he met Matt West and Chris Williams, the future founders of MadBox. While at Hampton, he was awarded a scholarship to study film at Oxford University during the summer before his senior year. Upon graduation, Jai was named a Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Fellow and granted admission to American University’s MFA Film program. At American, Jai distinguished himself early on as a stand out narrative filmmaker. He graduated summa cum laude and his thesis film, Speak Now, screened in festivals around the country. His hunger for experience is apparent with a resume of work on Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, supervising producer and editor of Hampton University’s “The View from Hampton U,” and recently the visual effects assistant on season 2 of AMC’s TURN. It's this burning desire to be better, and his relentless study of the narrative art form that has kept him so aligned with the folks at MadBox.
“We were big fans of Jai the moment we met him," states Chris Williams, "It's inspiring to meet emerging filmmakers, outside of the major markets, who have a solid grasp of narrative. With Jai, we knew this was someone we would support in anyway we could."
Since his earliest student and personal projects, Chris and Matt handed over whatever resources they could for Jai to fulfill his vision. Eventually, it was the fun collaboration on his thesis film, Speak Now, that really forecasted to Jai and MadBox what the future could bring. After his thesis film and a handful of impressive music videos for international artist Kanja, Jai's talents landed him in a major directorial role. His directorial debut would yield an award winning feature film, TRI, the first inspirational sports drama focused on the world of Triathlons.
TRI is the first fictional feature film about the popular international sport and presented Jai with a collection of challenges and obstacles. The short 25-day shooting schedule had to include filming at the actual Lurray Tri event and the famous Nations Tri event in Washington, D.C. To replicate a triathlon for filming purposes would have been an expensive task, so in order to capture what the script required, he had to command a camera crew that consisted of over 10 operators and assistants, coordinate with the event leaders, and strategically plan his needs for the film during these events. Most importantly, as the director, Jai had to take on the challenge of integrating his actors into the race as it was happening without disrupting the real contestants. This access granted him hundreds of hours of never before captured vantages of the Nations Tri event.
Jai approached MadBox to take on the Post for the film, from the edit to distribution. Chris gladly accepted the role of editor, Charles Bevan (MadBox Senior Graphics Artist) designed and created the title sequence, and Matt served as the film's colorist. It was during the post for Tri that MadBox was able to collaborate with Jai more than ever before.
"In the ten years I have been working on projects with Jai, he has always brought an excitement and eagerness to make each project as strong as it can possibly be" adds Matt West.
"When you sit in an edit suite and get to watch every minute of coverage and explore the nuances of performance in the actors, you really get a wonderful sense of the craft, talent, and quality of a director," says Chris, "I respected his work for years, but to see someone with a pure understanding of his role and how it was reflected in the film, I was blown away. I knew this was someone I wanted to see succeed. Jai makes everyone around him perform at their best, and thats a leadership quality needed in directors today."
MadBox is thrilled to present this talent to their clients and have him serve the projects they work on.