Jason Blum to deliver 156th Commencement address

Courtesy of Alex Berliner

One BAFTA nomination. Two Emmys. Three Academy Award nominations.

These are just a few accolades of producer Jason Blum ’91, who will address Vassar’s Class of 2020 at the College’s 156th Commencement. Blum sits on the Board of Trustees of Vassar College, the Sundance Institute and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

Blum has worked on award-winning films such as “BlacKkKlansman,” “Get Out” and “Whiplash.” He has also produced for television on projects including “Sharp Objects,” “The Loudest Voice” and docuseries “The Jinx.” He also produced critically acclaimed horror films “Us” and “Insidious,” among others.

Blum’s films have become aligned with the subgenre known as social thriller—what Blum calls “horror movies with a message” (Nylon, “How Jason Blum Makes Horror Movies With A Message,” 09.20.2019). His film “The Purge,” for instance, takes as its starting point the disparity between socioeconomic classes. “Get Out,” meanwhile, has been lauded since its release as both a terrifying film and a cogent critique of liberal racism. The latter film saw director Jordan Peele becoming the first Black person ever to win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. “BlacKkKlansman,” which was nominated for Best Picture in 2019, lost to “Green Book”—marking the second time in Oscars history that director Spike Lee was snubbed by the Academy in favor of a movie directed by a white man about an interracial friendship in the South between a chauffeur and the person they’re driving.

Like many in the industry, Blum got his start at Miramax, which was founded by Robert and Harvey Weinstein. Blum has not worked with Harvey Weinstein since 2000, but has recently been outspoken about the hostile work environment he experienced: “What I question now is why I remained as long as I did,” Blum said. “Clearly it was because I was ambitious … It makes me question my compass at the time” (IndieWire, “Jason Blum Remembers Harvey Weinstein’s Bullying at Miramax,” 07.16.2018).

In 2000, Blum founded Blumhouse Productions, a multimedia company of which he is CEO. Blumhouse is known for its unique production model that focuses on keeping the cost of production low, but the quality high. The model is intended to keep big screen films, particularly genrebased films like thrillers, competitive with movies that viewers can access through streaming services. Blum has said of the currently shifting face of the film industry, “It’s bigger than moving to color. I think it’s as big as the advent of television” (The New York Times, “Jason Blum: This Is the Biggest Shift in Hollywood History,” 06.20.2019).

As the Class of 2020 prepares to graduate into a shifting world, Blum may offer his own thoughts on the future of film and, by expansion, the cultural landscape as a whole.

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