Born in Chicago and raised in the suburbs. Life was typical for suburbia and I developed an appreciation for nature and a love of the outdoors. I have an interesting family background that I enjoy sharing because I find it an amazing journey that I came to be at all!
There’s a screenplay inside me about all of this wonderful history! My father was born in a small German town outside of Stuttgart called Schwabsch-Gmund, which I recently discovered was known for the artistry of metal craftsmen such as Emil Holzhauer (Emil Holzhauer: The Portrait of an Artist by Audrey Edwards). As a young man my dad moved to England and became a sergeant in the British Army and later, after moving to Israel, in the Israeli Army. My mother was born in Baghdad, Iraq into a well off merchant family. When Syria attacked Iraq they fled with only the clothes on their backs. They lived in Tehran, Iran on the same street as the Shah’s Palace and had a wonderful life until war struck. Once again, her family fled, leaving all of their possessions behind. She lived in Cypress and in Paris before settling in Israel. There she became a sergeant in the Israeli Air force. On a blind date, these two sergeants were introduced and the rest, as they say, is (my) history. They immigrated to the United States in the 50's and started a family. I’m the second oldest of four siblings and the only one who doesn’t have at least one college degree. I justify that by being in the good company of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Michael Dell, Frank Lloyd Wright, Simon Cowel, Henry Ford, Debbie Fields, etc, etc.
I decided to leave college, walking away from a four year scholarship in my sophomore year at the University of Illinois. I began to follow my entrepreneurial desires. Forsaking my formal education I started several small businesses which included, independent food broker, stockbroker at a brokerage firm, Investment Advisor at a bank and lecturer on self responsibility and entrepreneurialism. Self educated in the information technology field, I’ve been employed full time in communications engineering for more than 30 years. My final job prior to my retirement was programming and troubleshooting the 3800+ surveillance cameras, 180 network video recorders and as many raid array systems for the Chicago Transit Authority. That, I can tell you was a great experience! But now I own my time. My passion and adventure will be writing, directing and producing full time! Backing up a bit; when the stock market crashed in 1989, the brokerage firm where I worked had closed. I and two friends bought the firms in-house educational video production facility, complete with three professional cameras and a full post production editing suite. One partner also owned a recording studio and a band is session heard about my video experience and asked if I would be interested in directing their music video. My first artistic effort "Vampire's Dance" for a band called The Dark Theater made it to MTV and from then on I was hooked! After several more music videos I wanted to direct films.
I began taking online classes and production workshops in Los Angeles. I soon found out that to make it in the entertainment industry you had one of three things; millions of dollars, extreme nepotism with a major industry insider, or talent accompanied by a burning desire to succeed against incredible odds. Also, that it had to be for the right reasons. If it was for the money I’d be much better off rehabbing HUD homes and becoming a mini Donald Trump real estate mogul. Since I had no money and no connections, I had only one option; cash in my hundred million dollar trust fund. Oh wait, I forgot… I don’t have one of those! The only way to be considered to direct a film is to have written a great screenplay and the only way you’ll sell it is to be attached to direct. So, I had to learn how to write. In college I remember dropping a writing class because I wasn’t interested in writing stories I had no passion for. Now, having found that passion, I began a self study quest reading hundreds of screenplays, taking classes online more writing/producing workshops in Los Angeles. I signed with a manager in LA and we decided that, although the music videos were creative, I needed to have at least a narrative short film under my belt to even remotely be considered to direct a feature film.
I came up with a list of ideas and decided on one that would showcase my abilities and talent. The process was a great experience and extremely educational. I now know first hand what it takes to make a movie. My 29 minute film titled "Molly's Gift" is a story about a very brave eight year old girl with terminal cancer and a mother who must deal with the possibility of losing her as well as her faith. I produced the play; Bohemian Nights which ran at the Chopin Theater in Chicago and was directed by Oscar nominee John Hancock. Currently in pre-production are two feature film projects. An action/heist movie titled "RAW", to be filmed in Chicago and the dramatic heart wrenching true story “The Doghouse Angel”, the screenplay of which I'm currently adapting with author Kimberly Steward, who penned the book by the same title. Additionally, I am co-producer of the film "Mind Over Mindy".
My passion for storytelling is fueled from unique life experiences and a diverse professional background. Besides, life is just too short to not pursue your passions!
"Jeff Marsten is President and CEO of New Horizon Films
and Managing Partner of Red Partners II, LLC"