N'Jeri Eaton Answers Five Questions
June 16, 2016 by Screenmag
Documentaries are more popular than ever, yet finding financing remains a major challenge for independent producers. IFP Chicago steps into the information gap by hosting an event about funding opportunities with N'Jeri Eaton, Content Development and Initiative Manager for Independent Television Service (ITVS), a major funder for public television programs. N'Jeri and IFP Chicago will be at 2112, located at 4245 North Knox Avenue, this Thursday, June 23, 6:30 PM, but first, N'Jeri stopped by to answer Five Questions with SCREEN.
SCREEN: What do you love most about your job?
N'JERI: I get paid to talk about documentaries, watch documentaries and go to film festivals for a living. I’m so lucky!
SCREEN: Worst decision you made in college?
N'JERI: Oof. During my first semester of college, I went with my friends to a tattoo and piercing shop. All of my other friends were getting belly button rings but I decided to get an eyebrow piercing because I wanted to be “edgy.” It looked ridiculous even then. Eventually, while watching my 8 month old niece, she grabbed a hold of it ripped the ring from my face. While it was incredibly painful at the time, she was actually doing me a favor.
SCREEN: Best advice you ever received?
N'JERI: I studied documentary at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism under the legendary Jon Else. Whenever we were stuck on a problem, Jon would say, “All the easy movies have already been made.” It isn’t exactly advice but it’s a saying that I find a lot of comfort in when I’m struggling with an issue.
SCREEN: Celebrity crush?
N'JERI: Idris Elba. Do I even have to explain why?!?
SCREEN: Top five favorite documentaries of all time?
N'JERI: This is so stressful! I see so many amazing docs every year so I’m going to limit this list to the ones that made an early yet lasting impression on me...
HOOP DREAMS: I grew up in Oak Park and saw this in the theaters when it was originally released. It’s the first documentary I had ever seen. Luckily, I started with a bang.
HARLAN COUNTY USA: This is the one that made me want to be a documentary filmmaker.
AMERICAN MOVIE: This is the first comedic documentary I ever watched and it still makes me laugh today.
THE UP SERIES: It’s just a staggering achievement in longitudinal filmmaking that I doubt anyone else will ever be able touch. Plus, there’s always a new way to interact with the series. Watching 35 Up now that I’m actually 35 feels different from when I first watched it 15 years ago.
GREY GARDENS: Along with everyone else, I just find Big and Little Edie to be endlessly fascinating.
SCREEN: Guilty pleasure TV?
N'JERI: I’m addicted to Bravo and all of their reality shows, the Real Housewives brand in particular. During the day, I work with documentaries that have incredibly important but heavy subject matter. Watching Bravo is the equivalent of eating cotton candy: a short payoff but a tasty, consumable treat. And if you eat too much, you’ll start to feel sick.