Film Program Leads to Plans for Family Company
Walking in the procession with Mason’s Class of 2018 almost didn’t happen for Donovan Jones. “I considered dropping out multiple times,” he says.
Jones, a film and video studies major in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, minored in entrepreneurship in the School of Business. It was his ambitious, entrepreneurial mindset that made him reconsider higher education.
“As a freshman I thought, ‘I could be so much further than I am right now if I didn’t have school to hold me back.’ Honestly, [school] was easy,” he says.
But Jones found valuable inspiration in the form of supportive classmates and Mason professors who inspired him to challenge himself.
“I’m glad I stayed,” he says. “The opportunities and people I connected with and just being around the ‘FAVS family’ has definitely been life-changing.”
Jones came to Mason after graduating from St. Georges Technical High School in his hometown of Middletown, Delaware. He and his fraternal twin, DeShane, arrived at Mason together, studied filmmaking together (DeShane is the film editor to Donovan’s directing producer), and graduated together.
Donovan found such an opportunity with the Mason Film Lab, an initiative of the Film and Video Studies (FAVS) Program that gives students the chance to work with an experienced director on a short film. Donovan served as the assistant director on FAVS director Giovanna Chesler’s 10-minute short called The Pick Up. “It was a real film set, with 40-plus people,” he says. “I had to learn a lot very quickly.”
That experience, combined with the coursework, contributed to Donovan’s creation of his own films, about a dozen in all. He won FAVS’ annual Digital Pitch Competition for the best presentation of a proposed film. He added the $500 prize to the $500 he raised through an Indiegogo campaign to create his senior thesis film, a somewhat autobiographical short called Running.
DeShane also found his future here. “I think [Mason’s FAVS Program] was definitely what I needed to launch a potential career,” he says. “I was afraid of this major because I knew nothing about making movies. I just knew I liked watching them.”
“Donovan and Shane Jones bring vision, integrity, diligence, and an entrepreneurial spirit to making films that matter,” says FAVS professor Benjamin Steger. “Whether it be via the creation of nonprofit public service announcements, music videos, documentaries, interactive videos, or fiction films, they aim to change the world for the better through the cinematic medium, and I fully expect them to do so.”
After graduation, the Jones brothers are likely to start a film production company.
“I will look to start training in broadcast engineering while looking for other opportunities to work with digital media and content,” says DeShane.
As for Donovan, “I’m doing what I love,” he says. “I want to do what I love until I’m good at it. I feel like it can get me to the place I want to be.”