Sunday, February 21, 2010


Jesse Harris, Class of 2004

At only 24 Jesse Harris, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY NNFTY), is leading the next generation of young and talented filmmakers. Variety agrees, and named Jesse Harris one of 25 talents who transformed youth entertainment in 2009 for his work at NFFTY.

Jesse was born and raised in Seattle and began making films in childhood. During his three years in the Ballard High School Video Production Program, Jesse won twelve awards and honors at regional and national youth film festivals. These included prizes in narrative, documentary, and news production. However, his most memorable accomplishment was his senior project: the feature length drama Living Life that he wrote and directed at the age of 17. The film tells the story of a teenage boy battling cancer and how he changes other people’s lives in the process of reconciling himself to his illness.

Choosing to live his dream as a filmmaker, Jesse financed Living Life through funds raised by rallying friends, family, local organizations and using a majority of his college fund. Jesse hired "the best in the business" using a professional Seattle-based crew and actors to film the production between his junior and senior years of high school.

His efforts paid off. In 2004, Living Life was one of 20 features invited to be part of the annual lFP New York Film Market. It was also an Audience Award winner at the 2004 Orinda Film Festival. That same year Jesse was a semi-finalist for the IFP Spirit Award "Someone to Watch."

Jesse then partnered with FilmMates Entertainment for completion and distribution of Living Life, becoming the youngest known American director to obtain multi-city theatrical release and distribution of a feature film. Living Life was theatrically released in April 2005 and bought by HBO Central Europe and TV in Israel. Vivendi Visual Entertainment purchased Living Life for DVD distribution.

As a result of his experience making, releasing and distributing his own film, Jesse decided to create an organization to support other young filmmakers. In 2007 Jesse co-founded The National Film Festival for Talented Youth (NFFTY), a new film festival and non-profit organization to support young filmmakers 22 and under. The first sponsor of the festival was Volvo Cars of North America, which became involved after Jesse produced a commercial for the Volvo C30.

Jesse continues to pursue filmmaking and is currently working on a variety of projects. Film and commercial clips can be seen at: