Jill Sprecher

Jill Sprecher

Sprecher grew up in the midwest town of Madison, Wisconsin and was an introverted youngster who loved to read. She was so shy that in high school she often ate her lunch in the bathroom, unable to face the social sharkpool of the school cafeteria. This experience would later translate into a similar scene played by Toni Collette's character in "Clockwatchers." Sprecher attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she majored in philosophy and literature. Drawn to the romantic vision of New York she had seen embodied in her favorite films, she moved to the city the day after she graduated from college and her journey toward her dream had begun. Upon arriving in New York City, Sprecher had little money and even less of an idea what to do first. She enjoyed taking in the sights and sounds of her new city and soon answered an ad for production help on an independent film. From day one she knew she had found her calling. She began taking New York University film classes at night, paying for one at a time. During the day she worked at odd jobs, including office temping. She rose up the production ranks of film jobs, starting as a production assistant and later working as a coordinator and manager. Eventually Sprecher obtained a master's degreee in cinema studies and decided she would like to make a film of her own. On her way to realizing her dream, Sprecher had an unfortunate experience which would ultimately help her in her filmmaking. In 1985, she was mugged and hit over the head with a bottle. Her belief in the innate goodness of people was somewhat shaken and even more so when less than a year later, a stranger hit her in the head exactly where her injury was. Alarmed at this bizarre coincidence (the doctor told Sprecher that another blow to her head could be deadly), Sprecher felt completely alienated by her fellow man until she received a smile from a random subway rider. Somehow this small moment revived Sprecher's faith and would serve as an inspiration for themes in her work. When Sprecher's sister Karen arrived in New York in the early 1990's, after having worked for years as a social worker, she began working with Jill on production jobs and writing screenplays with her as well. They approached their actor/director friend Bob Balaban and he helped the women put together "Clockwatchers." Balaban took a cameo in the film as well, playing the office boss. "Clockwatchers" premiered at Sundance and the clever comedy about the lives of low-level office workers was well-received. The film established the women as players on the indie scene and opened doors for them to continue pursuing filmmaking. Those doors were not exactly gateways to wealth and success however, and the sisters actually had to return to temp work to raise money for their next film. They toured festivals with "Clockwatchers" and won some modest cash awards but it would be five years before they released their next feature "13 Conversations About One Thing" (2001). That "one thing" was happiness and the film was inspired by Jill Sprecher's personal revelations following her mugging and subsequent random attack on the subway. The movie starred Matthew McConaughey, David Connelly, John Turturro and Clea DuVall and showed multiple views of what it means to find joy in life through the eyes of several hardened New Yorkers. After various festival screenings, the film was acquired for distribution by Sony. It was released in 2002, receiving positive reviews, but with little fanfare. At the very least, however, the director's promising track record will finally allow her to quit temping -- this time for good.