Before reading this book I had never heard of Andrew Jenks, and now I’m something of a fan, albeit a fan who has never seen an episode of his MTV series, World of Jenks. I’ve also not seen either of the two documentaries that jump-started his filmmaking career, Andrew Jenks, Room 335 and The Zen of Bobby V. So I classify myself as a fan on the basis of the book and the video series I watched on YouTube called It’s About a Girl. (I recommend the video series. It’s sweet.)
The book grabbed me. From his childhood as a geek who carried around a video camera everywhere he went, to his first documentary in which he arranged to live in a nursing home for a few weeks, to his next project which took him to Japan and Japanese baseball, to his debut on MTV, I followed Andrew Jenks as he followed other people and made films out of the stories of ordinary, and extraordinary, people. And I started feeling all motherly toward. I hoped he wouldn’t get himself into trouble when he filmed a former criminal, turned rap producer, and a “houseless” young woman on the streets San Francisco. I wanted to give him some advice about slowing down and savoring the moment and being careful not to let his success go to his head. (I’m not sure he needs my advice, but I wanted to give it anyway.)
I guess you could say I was invested in the book and the young man who wrote it and who had all of the adventures. I know three twenty-something young men who want to make movies. One of them is my nephew, and two others go to my church. I think they would enjoy reading through Andrew Jenks’s adventures. It’s inspiring to read about or watch someone who is living his passion. In a way, it wouldn’t matter that Mr. Jenks has been so successful as a filmmaker at such a young age (except that it takes money to make movies so most of the adventures in filmmaking wouldn’t have happened without the initial success); I would just enjoy reading about someone who is doing what he wants to do and having so much fun and working so hard at it.
“The reward for all this work isn’t fame. . . No, the reward for working hard is getting to do more work. And better work. . . For me putting the world down on film is living. Giving people a voice.”
I like that, and I wish Mr. Jenks all the best in his filmmaking endeavors. Even if he is an Obama fan.
Andrew Jenks: My Adventures as a Young Filmmaker has been nominated for the Cybils Award in the category of Young Adult Nonfiction. The thoughts in this review are my own and do not reflect the thoughts or evaluations of the Cybils panel or of any other Cybils judge.