When I first started working with Jon Tomlinson he was working at Wade’s Comic Madness. I had been going to Wade’s since I was a kid since it was conveniently located near my grandmother’s house. Jon probably sold me a dozen or more comic books and action figures before I ever asked him to be in a film. I was a junior at University Of The Arts when I asked him if he wanted to be in a film I was doing for class titled Harrington Strange.
We shot Harrington Strange at my family’s house in Hulmeville in the fall of 2009. Jon came over with a bag of wardrobe options for me. He was far more prepared than either Lauren or Marissa, his co-stars. The film was shot in about four hours. This is how Jon and I began working together. I was so taken with his performance that I wrote my first film specifically for him called The Deadbeat, which we shot in a day early in December. After that, Jon was in almost all of my films for UArts.
Jon, being six years my senior, had an understanding about filmmaking, a kind of courage really. He was able to instill that courage into me. I remember preparing to shoot For The Love Of Marty and being nervous about asking Annie R. Such to do another film with me since her previous venture with Jon and I was a bit of a mess. Jon told me “it never hurts to ask”. I didn’t fully realize it till a few productions later that that sentiment is essential to the success of a project, at least with the kind of budgets I have. Since For The Love Of Marty I have employed Jon’s approach on every shoot and always with positive, and sometimes surprising, results.
By the time I graduated, Jon had acted in fourteen of my short films (Harrington Strange, The Deadbeat, Terribly In Love With Her, My Heart Once Wandered Free, For The Love Of Marty, She Called Him A Bastard, Bingo, The Man Who Loves Less Has More Power, The Baptism Of Isabelle, The Tenant Of Vanderventer Court, I Can’t Seem To Wrangle The Thoughts In My Brain, Preventorium Road, Scenes From An American Dream, and Film From A Dream). By 2012, he had been in four more (The Riots Of Spring, In The Wake Of Death, The Sweeter Dreams Of An Itinerant Woman, and Early One Morning). Sadly, for the first year of Zimbo Films I made my films without Jon. Often I had him in mind for different parts, but things just never followed through on my end. However, in 2013 I was able to get Jon to perform in two small supporting rolls in my first two features, An Atrocious Woman and Bitches.
It was very important to me that Jon was in my first features. He is a mentor and a friend, and to exclude him from that would have been terrible. When you work in film the very nature of the medium amplifies the roles people play in your life, forcing you to remember different things more clearly than you would sometimes like. Working as I do, using a number of the same players, one can clearly trace when someone entered and then exited my life by watching my films. I guess since Jon turned 32 yesterday I have realized how glad I am that he’s still doing my films and in my life. Thank you for everything Jon.