Jay Stone, a New Hampshire native, has worked in a variety of technical roles on major motion pictures filmed in and around the New England area and others. This includes working on special effects for, Paul Blart, Mall Cop, starring Kevin James, filmed at the Burlington Mall in Massachusetts.
HEC: How did you get started in special effects?
I was invited to join the IATSE (International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employes, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of The United States, its Territories and Canada, AFL-CIO, CLC, also known as the IA) by a fellow coworker in the theater. Having worked in the theater since eighth grade, I had done every school and community theater project that came along. As I got older and my skills grew, I became more serious about the theater as a career. I built my skill set working in the building trades; construction, furniture making, architectural model making and I attended school for radio and television production. Eventually I found a position at a design build firm that made architectural displays and theatrical scenery. While working at the design build firm, I was asked by one of their clients if I would be willing to help save a disaster of a season and become the technical director of the Boston Shakespeare Company. During all this time, I continued working in Community Theater and worked with other people I had met in these theaters at schools and colleges throughout the area. While working with one of these technical directors they asked why I was not a member of the IA and they invited me to join the IA Theatrical Local. As I worked with those people, I was asked to work on a film and I joined the IA Film Local.
HEC: What are the best/worst parts of your job?
Without question, the best part is working with intelligent, talented people every day. As one of the people I work with says, “All these people have a degree in clever”. It is remarkable to see the magic of this level of skill. To watch the painters transform a plywood box into a marble column or a construction team build a house in which you can remove any or all of the walls without concern, is in fact watching magic happen.
The worst part of the job is how time consuming it is. When we work, it is six days a week, twelve hours a day. We also live in a world where with twenty-four hour notice you could be gone five hundred miles away from home for six months. It does make life very difficult at times. The people in your life must be aware and prepared for this kind of insanity. We also work when the movies come here and there is no schedule that is reliable, so you must have options in order to create any kind of stability.
HEC: Any advice for people interested in pursuing a similar career path?
I wish I had known in school that it was all about the skills you bring to the table. I have had to learn many skills the hard way. Had I known a career in special effects required all the sciences, and construction required all the math and drafting skills, I would have taken these courses in High School and had a head start on my eventual career path.
HEC: What has been your most memorable experience so far?
Since I have been involved in theater since I was very young, and I had been in a production of “The Crucible” in high school, to see the look on the face of Arthur Miller and his son as they walked into the set of The Crucible we had built on Hog Island off the coast of Ipswich, was the most gratifying feeling I have ever experienced. The look of amazement at the scale of the project and the fulfillment of his vision in such a real setting was very satisfying.