Christopher P. Jacobs
Senior Lecturer (Film)
UND English Department, Grand Forks ND
Office: Sayre Hall, room 302
held in Merrifield Hall, room 122
at 1 pm, Wed & Thur
701-777-3321 (English Dept. Office)
UND Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Engl 225 - Intro to Film
(general film appreciation class, every semester)
Engl 235 - Art of Moviemaking
(periodic class on screenwriting and/or video movie production)
UND Website: http://und.edu/faculty/christopher-jacobs/
Old UND Website: http://www.und.nodak.edu/instruct/cjacobs
MidcoNet HOME PAGE: http://myweb.midco.net/christopher.jacobs/ChristopherJacobs-homepage.htm
High Plains Reader weekly arts & entertainment tabloid based in Fargo ND
Weekly column reviewing and/or discussing movies, Blu-rays, and local live theatre productions
NitrateVille internet film discussion forum on classic films
Eight feature-length and numerous short movies produced and directed on film and digital video
TRAILER REEL of feature-length movies produced (18 minutes) mp4 Quicktime movie file (49 MB)
Text and reference books, novels, newspaper articles, movie reviews
Film: From Watching to Seeing, Bridgepoint Education, 2011, with Bill Goodykoontz
Introductory film textbook
Guide to the Silent Years of American Cinema, Greenwood Press, 1999, with Donald W. McCaffrey
Silent film reference book (Download introductory chapter: Development of the Cinema)
Instant Film School: No-budget Moviemaking with Digital Video, Akbar Media Services, 2004-09
Introductory movie production textbook (self-published) adapted from articles originally in the High Plains Reader
Basic Booth Operation, Akbar Media Services/Midco Theatres, 2006 (latest revision), 1988 (original edition)
Manual of 35mm movie projection for theatre employees
The Treasure of Isis, unpublished historical adventure novel - CLICK HERE FOR SAMPLE CHAPTERS -
The Honeymoon of Isis, unpublished historical adventure novel sequel
Several screenplays, produced and unproduced
OLDER MOVIES on BLU-RAY
An article about film and video technology (updated from articles originally in the High Plains Reader)
including a table of pre-1980 films that have been released on Blu-ray
An explanation of differences in frame rates and resolution between 35mm film and various video formats
from VHS to DVD to computer screens to HDTV and Digital Cinema, including a graphic comparison chart
OTHER FILM-RELATED ARTICLES (Adobe Acrobat pdf
D. W. Griffith (updated and expanded from version originally published in the High Plains Reader)
A Night at the Movies (updated and expanded from version originally published in the High Plains Reader)
Reviewing Movies (updated and expanded from version originally published in Northern Journalist)
Interpreting Movies (a brief summary of various approaches to film criticism and analysis)
Making Movies: Screenwriting Basics (NOTE -- large fonts: set Acrobat Reader for side-by-side page view)
Making Movies: Production Tips (NOTE -- large fonts: set Acrobat Reader for side-by-side page view)
Christopher P. Jacobs - short biography
Christopher Jacobs has been a film buff and collector since his junior high school days, with a particular interest in the silent cinema. The lure of film history eventually took precedence over an equal interest in filmmaking, although he has made several short films on 8mm and 16mm, and several feature-length movies on video (both analog and digital). He earned a Master's Degree in Film and Dramatic Production Criticism from the University of North Dakota, where he now teaches Introduction to Film as a senior lecturer, handling one or more of the Intro to Film sections since 1995. In addition, he has taught a Creative Writing class focusing on screenwriting, a Special Topics class on creative movie production using digital video equipment, and has done occasional guest lectures on film for the History Department and the School of Communications. From 2006-2011 he also conducted a summer moviemaking workshop for teens, and occasionally one for adults, along with fellow English Dept. lecturer Kathy King.
A movie theatre manager for over nine years until his company was bought out by a larger chain, Jacobs continued to work as a projectionist/“staff leader” at the former Midco 10 Theatre, now called the Carmike 10, until the theatre switched from 35mm film to digital projection in 2007. Besides teaching film and making movies, Jacobs is the movies editor for The High Plains Reader, a regional weekly tabloid arts & entertainment newspaper, writing regular film and local theatre reviews since 1994 and mainly Blu-ray reviews since 2009.
Drawing on his experience in theatrical film exhibition, film societies, and teaching film, and his collection of well over a thousand Blu-rays and DVDs, he holds frequent screenings of noteworthy movies (vintage and modern, American and international) in his basement theatre for friends and interested students.
Jacobs' other interests include filmmaking and video production; using computers for desktop publishing and graphic design; music listening, performance, recording, and occasional composition (almost all kinds -- classical, ragtime, jazz, blues, hard rock, heavy metal, etc.); live theatre (viewing, performing, and directing); and ancient history (particularly ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome).
In January 2013 Jacobs was asked to be one of the two judges for the 2012 Short Film and Video Competition sponsored by Dark Green Books for movies based on the work of British poet Luke Andreski. In July 2010 he signed a contract to co-author an introductory college-level film textbook for Bridgepoint Education, Film: From Watching to Seeing, with Arizona film critic Bill Goodykoontz, which was published in 2011. A second edition, currently in the revision stage, is planned for 2014.
In 2006 he adapted and expanded several of his High Plains Reader articles into a short handbook on do-it-yourself video production, Instant Film School: No-Budget Moviemaking with Digital Video, which he used for his moviemaking workshops. During the late 1990s he co-authored a reference book project with Donald W. McCaffrey for Greenwood Publishing, Guide to the Silent Years of American Cinema. It is a one-volume critical encyclopedia of notable silent films, directors, actors, and screenwriters, published in September of 1999. From 2002 through 2006 Jacobs helped edit and typeset two books by McCaffrey for other publishers, one on comedian Bob Hope, The Road to Comedy, and one on screenwriter Edmund Hartmann, Bound and Gagged in Hollywood.
In October 2001, Jacobs presented a paper at the Northern Great Plains History Conference on the history of movie theatres in Grand Forks. In the late 1990s he was on the building committee for the renovation of the historic Empire Theatre into a home for the North Valley Arts Council. In fall of 2002 he helped organize the first Forx Film Fest at the Empire Arts Center, held annually in November through 2009. Most of Jacobs' once-substantial book and memorabilia collection was lost in the Grand Forks flood of 1997, as well as a substantial portion of his film and tape collection, but his interest in film has survived.
Jacobs worked briefly on the Coen brothers' Oscar-winning film, Fargo, during their stay in Grand Forks in March of 1995, serving as location projectionist to run the footage they shot each day for the cast and crew. In the spring of 1998 he served as Associate Producer on a low-budget direct-to-video 16mm feature film entitled Dead and Too Stupid to Know It, which was a sequel to the even lower-budget 4 Cheerleaders of the Apocalypse. Filmed in Grand Forks that May, the comedy-horror-sex spoof appeared on regional video shelves in March of 1999.
In September of 1998 Jacobs was Script Supervisor on another independent film production, Dead Dogs. Also shot in Grand Forks, this 35mm black & white feature is a moody, character-driven film noir heist picture well-suited for the film festival and arthouse circuit. Although not acquired by a distributor, it won a number of festival awards, including “Best American Independent Feature” at the 1999 Seattle International Film Festival and “Best Picture” at the 1999 Chicago.Alt.Film Festival, and was selected as the climactic closing night film at the 2000 Minneapolis International Film Festival. Dead Dogs also earned glowing reviews in Variety and the Los Angeles Times, as well as at European festivals.
These film production experiences, coinciding with rapidly dropping costs of digital camcorders and computer editing equipment, inspired Jacobs to revive his moviemaking activities using digital video.
During the summer of 2001 Jacobs produced and directed a feature-length movie on digital video from his own script, entitled The Threat of the Mummy. He premiered the social-political satire/fantasy in April 2002 at the historic Empire Theatre, and released it on VHS in August. In May 2002 he began shooting on the movie’s sequel: Vengeance of the Sorceress, which premiered at the Empire the first weekend of November 2002, played at the Forx Film Fest in December, came out on VHS just before Christmas, and played at the Fargo Film Festival in March 2003.
Using several of the same actors, he began production on Working Nights, a sort of yuppie soap-opera/murder mystery, shortly before Christmas of 2002. When cast schedules caused its sporadic shooting to be put on indefinite hold after it was only half-completed by spring of 2003, he began writing a new screenplay and soon started production on another movie.
Dark Highways, a North Dakota neo-noir thriller, finished principal photography in August 2003, premiered at the Forx Film Fest in November, played at the Empire the following week, and came out on both DVD and VHS in December. Dark Highways was selected as an official entry in the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival, with public screenings in Los Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas, while its trailer and music video were shown at two other New York festivals. The feature was screened three times at the 2004 SMMASH Film Festival in Minneapolis, where it also received a “Best Screenplay” nomination. Dark Highways was represented by ITN Distribution at the Cannes film market in May 2004, and added to ITN’s catalog of movies for their pioneering SVOD (“subscription video on demand”) Independent Movie Channel on the Akimbo internet cable TV network.
Jacobs shot his next movie, another supernatural thriller entitled Miss Mystic, in spring of 2004, editing it over the summer. Miss Mystic premiered at the Empire in August, played a five-day run in mid-September 2004, and again at the Forx Film Fest in November, where it won the award for “Best Feature.” It later received an Honorable Mention at the 2005 Subrosa B Film Festival in Syracuse, NY, and played at the 2006 "It Came From Lake Michigan" horror/sci-fi/fantasy film festival in Racine, WI. All four movies have been carried for rent at Grand Forks Blockbuster Video outlets, Videos Plus in Mayville, ND, and Fargo’s Take 2 Video stores.
In summer 2005 Jacobs began work on an ambitious backstage movie musical entitled Music to My Ears, shooting largely at the Empire Theatre through January 2006. After premiering there in February and undergoing some minor re-editing, Music to My Ears was submitted to a variety of film festivals around the country. It was awarded third place in the "family feature" category at The Indie Gathering film festival in Cleveland, OH.
During the summer of 2007, Jacobs made Dangers from Within, a gothic thriller with some darkly comic elements and his first feature in the HDV format. Dangers from Within premiered at the Forx Film Fest in December 2007 and played theatrically at the River Cinema 12 in East Grand Forks, MN from February 22-March 6, 2008. DVD copies of two of Jacobs’ digital features can still be rented from the remaining Grand Forks Blockbuster Video store, and all six can be purchased directly from the producer. Jacobs has also made a number of short digital movies over the past several years.
Besides his various nonfiction writing projects and critical articles, and before embarking on nearly a decade of approximately annual feature-length movie productions, Jacobs worked on and off for several years at writing a series of full-length novels in the historical romantic-adventure genre. He completed the first book, The Treasure of Isis, in November of 1998. Throughout 1999 he revised and polished it while working on the sequel, which he finished on December 31, 1999. In January 2000 he started on the third in the series. The story is set in Egypt during the early 4th century A.D. (1087 A.U.C.) amidst the sociopolitical and religious turmoil of the late Roman Empire, while Alexandria, Egypt with the comprehensive collection of papyrus scrolls in its world-famous library was the center of scholarly research. To help get a feel for the period, he has been sporadically struggling to learn the (very rudimentary) basics of Egyptian hieroglyphs, Coptic, ancient Greek, and Latin. Other creative writing projects include several short stories and more screenplays, one an updated reworking of a classic Greek comedy by Menander. For fun, especially while working on his novels and taking ancient Greek and Latin, but also to create props for some of his movie productions, Jacobs has occasionally practiced ancient paleography on sheets of genuine Egyptian papyrus.
(NOTE: A few of the in-text hyperlinks on this page have not yet been updated and may not function properly)
Last Updated August 3, 2013