On a campus filled with talented young men with penchants for high achievement, Jacob Riddle ’24 has carved out a definitive niche for himself. Amid the thriving arts community at Wabash, Riddle has made a name as a motivated independent filmmaker—crafting short, but polished films across a wide range of subject matter. His most recent film, “One Man Show,” is his boldest work yet, pushing his artistic chops to the limit with a musical, a once great film genre that has largely fallen by the wayside. Riddle also partnered with a national charity for the film’s premiere in Salter Hall on Monday, October 9.
Riddle boasts an ambitious filmography, working at a prodigious and consistent rate with several shorts produced throughout his time at Wabash. Not one to tie himself down to one genre or topic, prior projects have ranged from pulp horror and cerebral science fiction to earnest explorations of masculinity and love. Nevertheless, “One Man Show” manages to stand out even in the midst of such a diverse body of work. The film stems from Riddle’s self-ascribed “obsession” with love. Such a distinct film offered unique challenges, as well as un- expected modes of expression.
“Love is such a difficult subject to write about. It’s so complicated that you just have to show it,” said Riddle. “That’s why I went with the musical this time. I open the movie with a dance number and I close it with a dance number. I feel like for me, that’s where the story really resides.”
In order to execute his vision, Riddle needed his production to be more than a literal one-man show. He assembled a fully professional cast and crew, drawing from the Wabash community and Purdue arts faculty, as well as several freelance professionals.
“When you want to hire people that are as professional as I’ve been able to work with, you’ve got to be able to pay them well,” said Riddle. “I was very grateful to get the Dill Fund from Wabash, because this project would not have been possible without it.”
Not only did the film’s premiere celebrate Riddle’s accomplishment as an artist, but the occasion helped benefit a good cause. Alongside the screening, there was an opportunity to donate to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, a charity near and dear to Riddle.
“I fell in love with AFSP specifically because of one of my favorite directors, Zack Snyder,” said Riddle. “His daughter passed away from suicide, and afterwards he put AFSP on the map as a giant global effort, so I wanted to jump on that.”
Riddle has partnered with AFSP for each of his film premieres, consistently raising over $500 each year.
As an artist, Riddle wears his influences on his sleeve. Along with his reverence for titans of the medium like Martin Scorcese and Akira Kurosawa, Riddle emphasized the influence younger filmmakers have had on him.
“This time, I studied Damien Chazelle’s work on ‘La La Land’ and ‘Whiplash,’” said Riddle. “I drew a lot of inspiration in terms of camera movement with the Steadicam from him.”
Riddle has already accomplished a great deal, and aims to achieve even more, but is grounded and practical with his plans as Commencement draws nearer and nearer for the restless senior.
“The film industry is not something where you can just graduate from Wabash and immediately become the next Christopher Nolan,” said Riddle. “I am currently applying to graduate school at Florida State, University of Southern California and ArtCenter College of Design, in Pasadena, California.”
Regardless of how he gets there, Riddle has his eyes set on his goal of making movies professionally. With his meticulous approach to production, diverse subject matter interests and passion for philanthropy, Riddle is well-equipped to outgrow Crawfordsville and carve out his own niche in Hollywood.