Q&A: Joliet native, filmmaker Preston Heights on his new documentary

His film ‘Choose the Right Path’ will be screened Dec. 7 at JJC

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Filmmaker and Joliet native Jason Pittman, who goes by the pseudonym Preston Heights, has released his second film project, a documentary called “Choose the Right Path.”

The film tackles serious themes such as violent crime in Joliet and how the city has tried to address those issues.

Pittman grew up in the Preston Heights area, hence the pseudonym. He graduated from Joliet Central High School before going to Columbia College in Chicago to study film and video production. He later found freelance work as a production assistant on film sets in Los Angeles and has written a number of original screenplays.

He released his first film, a fictional story based on true events, called “The Path Not Taken” in 2011. Pittman screened that first project at the AMC Showplace in New Lenox.

Pittman spoke with Herald-News reporter Alex Ortiz for a question-and-answer session ahead of the screening of his documentary at 7 p.m. ​Dec. 7 in the J Cafeteria at Joliet Junior College. Local eateries will provide refreshments.

Ortiz: What is your latest project about?

Pittman: It’s about my hometown of Joliet and some of the issues that have been taking place. And it’s kind of about myself as a community activist in Joliet and trying to make a difference to influence people to make good decisions. I kind of tell a personal narrative about my journey in becoming an independent filmmaker.

Ortiz: What went into making the film?

Pittman: We started the film in 2014. I got with the mayor at the time in Joliet who was Tom Giarrante, and we interviewed him. We got some feedback on the state of Joliet at the time dealing with crime and murders ... and things of that nature. We interviewed him to get his thought process on what he was doing to make Joliet a better community and a better place to live. After that, we interviewed the former police chief of Joliet, who was Chief Brian Benton. We talked about the road that the Joliet Police Department was taking to try to eliminate the crime and the violence.

Ortiz: Could you tell me more about your first film, “The Path Not Taken,” and what that was about?

Pittman: It’s a drama. It’s kind of inspired by true events. It’s basically about three friends and the paths they take after high school. Two of the friends decide to go to college and pursue their degrees, and one friend stays locally and decided to get a 9-to-5 (job). He eventually gets caught up into making some bad decisions, and his life begins to spiral out of control.

Alex Ortiz

Alex Ortiz is a reporter for The Herald-News in Joliet. Originally from Romeoville, Ill., he joined The Herald-News in 2017 and mostly covers Will County government, politics, education and more. He earned his bachelor's degree at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a master's degree from Northwestern University.