Avonian Turned Executive Producer Returns: Jason Puris '89
On Thursday, April 11, Executive Producer at RadicalMedia LLC and Avon alumnus Jason Puris '89 returned to campus to speak to students about his career path and how he grew to work with brands like Nike, National Geographic, and Apple. One key takeaway among many: "A career path is never straight and narrow; find what you are passionate about, take advantage of your resources, and work hard."
Jason started out by sharing with students that he has what he thinks is a ‘pretty cool job,’ through which he has many opportunities to travel the world and work with all types of people, but that it wasn’t always the case.
“I actually hated school—and that had nothing to do with the school, but everything to do with my attitude,” he shared before continuing to say, “Avon taught me that if you’re not taking full advantage of your surroundings 100% of the time, you’re wasting your time. The sooner you learn what hard work is, the better.”
Jason came to Avon Old Farms School after attending Indian Mountain School, and after Avon was accepted to Boston University where he studied film.
“When you decide to go to film school, you think ‘okay, I go to school, I graduate, I move to Hollywood and become a movie director.’ Then as a college senior about to graduate, you begin to realize it’s not that simple.”
Jason then relayed a few of the projects and challenges he encountered along the way. First, he thought he would produce a documentary on rock climbing—it hasn’t been done before, and he was personally interested in rock climbing, so it seemed like a good fit. He travelled across the country and filmed two climbers and produced a short trailer.
‘Then, I tried to sell my concept, but it became clear that that wasn’t going to happen,” he explained. “There simply was no place for it in the market at the time.”
But, by trying to sell his idea and showing his trailer, Jason began the process of networking and landed work at an ad agency. His next move was to become a commercial director for the agency, before he realized, ‘making car commercials is not want I want to do with my life.’
And so, he took what many would view as a step back, taking a job in the mailroom of United Talent Agency.
“Talent agencies are the hub of everything in the entertainment industry: nothing happens without an agent,” he said. “So, while the mailroom may seem like an odd move, it’s actually a role reserved for Ivy-league students who are just waiting to be given a chance. Some people spend years in the mailroom. I was lucky enough to be pulled out in just 10 days.”
Jason was pulled to work for an agent who handled book rights for movies. He did that for a year before deciding to try to go it on his own once more.
“I produced a documentary series called Guide House Montauk and sold six episodes to ESPN,” he said. “Which was great, until I realized that they only bought six episodes because they didn’t have the budget for a full season, and so the next time, there was no money for a season at all.”
But, once again, Jason’s efforts set the stage for his next opportunity: producing 100 episodes of the FLW Tour for NBC Sports. Then, five years ago, Jason began working at Academy-award nominated production company DirtyRobber.
“That’s when things really started to change for me,” Jason commented. “We were a better-recognized company, who had bigger clients, and more interesting projects. Then, Nike happened, which was a game-changer.”
Following Shalane Flanagan’s win of the 2017 New York City Marathon sporting Nike’s VaporFly 4% running shoes, DirtyRobber came out with the ‘Shoe Therapy’ Commercial.
And then, there was the Breaking2 project.
“Nike got it in its head that they were going to break a 2-hour marathon. And we, as a production company, were along to document their journey. The result was Breaking2.”
In all, the Avon community was impressed with all that Jason has accomplished. But, he told us that we are capable, too.
“If you’re interested at all in film, find something that you can make money doing: editing, filming, sound, etc., and start doing it now,” he encouraged. “I’ve shot commercials using an iPhone. You have one of those I’m sure.”