Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Barry Jay Is Helping To Change Our World

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Surround yourself with people who have good experience making films. As a newbie, having too many other newbies around probably wasn’t the best decision, I needed more people to learn from. I had some… just needed more in the producing area.

As a part of our series about “Filmmakers Making A Social Impact” I had the pleasure of interviewing Barry Jay.

Barry founded Barry’s (aka Barry’s Bootcamp), which now with 90+ studios worldwide. In 2015, Barry penned his first horror film, THE CHOSEN, produced by Terror Films. Barry wrote the wraparound story for another Terror Films production in 2016, PATIENT SEVEN. Barry made his directorial debut with a script he wrote, ASHES. His follow up feature, KILLER THERAPY, was released in 2020, and his latest film, THE WAY OUT, will be released February 10, 2023.

Thank you so much for doing this interview with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to get to know you a bit. Can you share your “backstory” that brought you to this career?

Long answer but I’ll try to keep it short. As a kid I loved horror movies and musicals. I was in band class in 10th grade when the teacher stopped class and kicked me out (giving me a passing grade) because I wasn’t good enough. I took study hall in the empty music room next door where I taught myself piano and started writing songs. I moved to LA to be a songwriter. I met new friends that also wanted to write scripts… my chance to write horror! That’s how I got into it… it lead me down a very interesting path and I magically ended up in the fitness industry and did rather well there. From my classes, I met friends in the biz. I started writing scripts and songs again after a very long time away from it. My friends read some and asked to write together. That script became THE CHOSEN, my first script sold, thank you TERROR FILMS.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

There were many hard learned lessons, not sure if this one is funny but here goes: Once a picture is LOCKED, that’s it. No more changes. The music person gets it, the sound and effects person etc. I decided it needed some further edits after being locked… so I unlocked it. I don’t recommend this but, I would have rather fixed it than lived with it.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

Mike Manning comes to mind first to be honest. Not only did he play Shane in THE WAY OUT, but he was EP and someone who pushed me to be a better writer and director. What was it like? Hard at first. I didn’t really want to change the script as much as the notes were asking me to. There was one change for Gracie that everyone was championing for, but I was against. After lots of meditation, and tossing and turning, Mike said just what I needed to hear to make the change work for me, and I was able to join the others for this change.

Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?

George Romero — he created NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and used his own money, friends, favors etc., just to get it done. It was interviews with George about doing this that convinced me to make Ashes with my own resources.

John Carpenter — HALLOWEEN and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD are my two favorite horror films. What John Carpenter did for HALLOWEEN was groundbreaking. The POV camera, the score, Michael Myers himself as a character — and the first time I heard people yell at the movie screen in a theatre. I was all in after that!

Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview, how are you using your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share with us the meaningful or exciting social impact causes you are working on right now?

I always hope and make efforts to bring good to this world. I hope I’m succeeding. I do my best to help others where I can, and to show up for others when needed. My films, often surrounding abuse, recovery and forgiveness I hope spread the message that we can not only survive but create a much better life for ourselves. I am always looking to support rescue dogs, breast cancer (lost my sister to it last year) and suicide/mental illness awareness and help. I love sharing posts on my social media that (hopefully) help others that might be struggling a bit. And I am also in recovery so helping others get sober and stay sober is something I do almost daily.

Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were going to step up and take action for this cause? What was that final trigger?

Honestly, I would wake up every single day wanting to write. When THE CHOSEN was filming, I was on set daily, writing on the fly, there at my friend/the director’s side… That was it. It was my new happy place. I knew from then on, this… this is how I want to spend my retirement. Making movies!

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

I get many people telling me how my posts help them and uplift them. I have also helped others like myself by sharing my experiences, including on screen. People have reached out to me about everything from directing to depression.

Are there three things that individuals, society or the government can do to support you in this effort?

Give me money! Films aren’t free and I’m always looking for the next investor. It’s not always easy but it’s part of the process. I would also love for society to watch the film. It has amazing performances, a solid message and we all put so much into making it. As for the gov… eh, they need more help than I do right now.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Surround yourself with people who have good experience making films. As a newbie, having too many other newbies around probably wasn’t the best decision, I needed more people to learn from. I had some… just needed more in the producing area.

If you are a writer, make sure to find other eyes and PROFESSIONAL COVERAGE to look at your script. I know it’s hard, but the notes are invaluable. Other people see things we are too close to realize.

When directing don’t try and wear other hats. I know its indie filmmaking and that is part of it. But once in the director zone — be focused.

If you have established relationships that are important to you, hire them over strangers. I sadly, went with a few people I had never met to work on this or that… and I had only wished I went with the people I knew, who I knew did a great job.

This is technical but you only need one LLC, you don’t need to make them for every film when you are in the indie world. I had one for each and had to go through a lot to close them and move the films to the remaining LLC.

If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?

This is our world. If we don’t take of it, it won’t take care of itself. One day we’ll be gone, and you’ll be left with the world… do everything you can to make it the best, safest place to be. VOTE!!!

We are very blessed that many other Social Impact Heroes read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, whom you would like to collaborate with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Well… Stephen King and John Carpenter — because they have been inspirations for me since childhood. Ryan Reynolds, because I love his body of work, he seems kind, funny and never too busy to help others. I like that. He’d be fun to write for, I just know it.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

There are two….

The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old but building the new. (Socrates). I had many changes to make before I got sober, and still many to make after and today… focusing on “stopping” is not the same as focusing on new habits and behaviors for me.


Take the first step in Faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. MLK

If I waited to see the whole staircase I’d still be waiting. Once I decided to take the leap for the next chapter of my life, I just took it in faith … and it all worked out.

How can our readers follow you online?

Instagram @barryscares

This was great, thank you so much for sharing your story and doing this with us. We wish you continued success!

Filmmakers Making A Social Impact: Why & How Filmmaker Barry Jay Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.