And as it’s Saturday, I’m so happy to have another Meet the Author interview for you. Today I’m talking to Michael Jolls about “jobs” he shouldn’t discuss, being blunt, scandals, politics, his most recent book Make Hollywood Great Again and more….
Film Studies & History
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Michael Jolls is a film producer who’s supervised over a hundred various productions. His most notable works include 6 Rules (2011); Cathedral of the North Shore (2013); The Great Chicago Filmmaker(2015); the #SelfieGuy series (2015-2017); Sell Me This Pen (2018) and A Sad State of Affairs (2020).
Jolls is also the author of the books The Films of Steven Spielberg (2018); Rev. William Netstraeter (2019) and Make Hollywood Great Again (2020).
How long does it take you to write a book?
So far my average is a year. Spielberg took me 13 or 14 months. Netstraeter took me 7 months, which was insanely fast, but in all fairness, I co-wrote it with my brother and I had done the bulk of the research years ago. Make Hollywood Great Again was 10 months.
That said, each of those books were, in some way, loitering around in my head for years prior. The same goes for any future books I do, the ideas are up there and I’m “poking” at it, but once I start the all sacred “writing process,” it’s go time. There was no way I could have honestly written Make Hollywood Great Again without consuming an array of political books, and I was doing that in the year and a half prior to starting on the book.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A police officer, but that was very early on. Movie making didn’t become the objection until the sixth grade. If some mystical savant told me I was going to have written three books before the age of forty, I would have not believed it. The book writing thing didn’t even pop-up on my radar until post-college… as in, after I left to go do movies on my own.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
Oh my dear sweet lady! I work in film production, so right off the bat there are many other “jobs” that I shouldn’t talk about.
The whole “author” thing didn’t come until I was in my late-20s. I had my eye on it, but it was in the distance — something that was years down the road. It just sorta fell into my lap with a company open to the possibility of letting me do something with film theory. Now, that company would go on to screwing over me and every other perspectful author they hired in the two years I worked with them, but that was the door that I wondered through. Even more so, when you realize that your time and energy are about to go down the toilet, then you really start taking yourself seriously, in a healthy way.
Here’s the honest truth, and I say for any other author who might read this: money is money. Work is work. Don’t spend another minute worrying about if you are forsaking your writing career doing something for income. A lot of the non-fiction authors I like are adjunct or tenured professors at a college somewhere. Here’s another: consider how Ian Fleming didn’t start writing his first spy novel until his mid-forties, and he died twelve years later. In that time, Fleming didn’t start seeing serious cash until the end of his life showbiz took an interest in purchasing the rights to his books and a character by the name of James Bond.
If a movie was made about your life, what genre would it be, who would you want to play you and what would its title be?
My life, as of yet, isn’t worth turning into a movie. I don’t have a clue who would play me. Finally, my preferred genre is thriller, and the few harry moments in my life wouldn’t make good edge-of-your-seat cinema. The closest I’ve ever come to autobiographical cinema was The Great Chicago Filmmaker, but that was lambasting idiots who I witnessed do stupid things. Also, if it were my life, the movie would be heavly sarcastic, breaking the fourth wall and insulting.
Now, with regards to the world of church business… I’ve had ample experience working for more Catholic churches and schools than I can count. I’ve had many people jokingly tell me to “write a book” or “produce a TV show.” But truthfully, if I did something about that topic, specifically my life from the perspective of working in professional church business, I would have to do it bluntly. Therefore, it would be too vulgar for a Christian audience. On the flip side of the same coin, a secular audience wouldn’t appreciate it because it would be too technical. With that said, I’ve joked more than once that if I were going to do something, I would call it, “I Warned You I Was Going to Write This.”
There’s so many pseudo-scandals I’ve come across in that line of work, but it’s all monetary related. Not very sexy for a book or movie, you know? If it were done like The Big Short (2015), then maybe.
If you could travel anywhere, world or universe, where would you go and why?
Germany. Specifically Munch or Berlin. I’m a quarter German, I’ve dabbeled in the German heritage a number of times and I have a fascination with World War II.
What is your favourite genre to read and why?
Of course, film studies sits at the top of that list. The Conversations with Filmmaker series from the University Press of Mississippi are my favorite, but you need to do some “research” to read those because you need to watch a large batch of films. Hollywood history is some of my favorite stuff; truthfully, if I get into a really good book, I can almost pause everything else in my life until I finish the book.
I have a weak spot for American presidential history, which I personally find rather educational in making sense of the modern world.
What is your favourite time to write, and why?
This depends on the book itself and the “writing process” that the book requires. Or, my own desposition to the book. My self-centered attitudes and whims. None of the books I’ve worked on have been the same routine, so as far as a “favourite time,” that’s changed over the years, and I’m sure it will continue to change.
A lot of times it could be when a sentence, or an idea hits me, and I stop everything to write it out by hand. And in those moments, occasionally, I’ll get lost in what I’m doing and a whole little chuck of the book might appear.
I would say it’s easier for me to research in the morning and write in the evening, but then again I recall times where I’ve done the exact opposite.
Tell us about Make Hollywood Great Again and where we can find it?
It’s basically a reading of modern cinema from the perspective of contemporary American politics. I wanted to give movie fans an examination that they could enjoy regardless of their political leanings. I’ve always watched movies with a contemporary perspective in mind, so if I’m watching something that released in the 1950s, I have to consider the era that the film released in. Anyway, Make Hollywood Great Again is a nice way of assessing the last four years.
Depending on the outcome of the election, will you do a sequel? Or an extended edition?
Extended edition? No. When the book released in early May, I considered how I would view it a year from then, be it Trump or Biden and I was content. What solidified my opinion was how the book touched on topics that became prevalent in summer 2020, such as the uptick in violence and “Obamagate.”
Sometimes I flirt with a post-2020 Election “Afterwards” to the book, but I think I can do without it. The moment I start tinkering, it becomes too temping to go in and start updating it with the last six months of material. Put it down and let it be.
Now, as for a “sequel,” truth be told, the conversation between cinema and politics is ongoing, so a “sequel” is very possible but it wouldn’t be like, “Make Hollywood Great Again 2” or “Keep Hollywood Great,” you know? Hollywood is going to react one way or another, so we’ll have to wait and see.