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Jill Sprecher

Jill Sprecher

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Indianapolis, Indiana, USA Profession: writer, director, production coordinator, production assistant, production manager, producer, line producer, office temp

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A soft-spoken and modest filmmaker, Jill Sprecher has made a name for herself as a prominant independent director and writer. Along with her sister Karen, Jill wrote her debut film "Clockwatchers" (1997), while working as a production coordinator on independent films in New York. 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....

A soft-spoken and modest filmmaker, Jill Sprecher has made a name for herself as a prominant independent director and writer. Along with her sister Karen, Jill wrote her debut film "Clockwatchers" (1997), while working as a production coordinator on independent films in New York.

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.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Thin Ice (2011)
3.
  Clockwatchers (1997) Director

CAST: (feature film)

VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1966:
Moved with family from Indianaoplis to Madison, WI (date approximate)
1981:
Moved to New York city the day after graduation (date approximate)
1982:
Landed first job as a production assistant in sci-fi film "Liquid Sky"
:
Worked as an office temp and took night classes at NYU in cinema studies
1985:
Mugged by a stranger near the Port Authority Bus Terminal and hit on the head with a bottle; underwent brain surgery to remove a blood clot and spent almost a year in recovery
1988:
Worked as a production assistant and then a production coordinator on several independent movies
1992:
Sister Karen moved to New York and they began writing "Clockwatchers" (date approximate)
1997:
Workplace comedy "Clockwatchers," starring Parker Posey, Lisa Kudrow and Toni Collette, premiered at Sundance Film Festival
2001:
Sisters co-wrote second picture "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing"; Sprecher also directed
2006:
Produced episodes of family drama series "Big Love" (HBO); co-wrote with sister the 2006 episode titled "A Barbecue for Betty"
2011:
Directed first feature in a decade, the crime drama "Thin Ice"; also co-wrote with sister
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

University of Wisconsin: Madison , Wisconsin -
University of Wisconsin: Madison , Wisconsin -
New York University: New York , New York -

Notes

Sprecher cites the book "The Conquest of Happiness" by Bertrand Russel and the film "The Killing" directed by Stanley Kubrick as having had a stong influence on her work.

"I actually think it was film that inspired me to move to Manhattan, I loved to see Woody Allen movies, and I loved the image of Manhattan that I saw in film. The day I graduated, I got on a plane and moved there and didn't know what I wanted to do but just knew where I wanted to live. But of course the Manhattan I lived in didn't resemble that at all. It didn't have a Gershwin score!" --Sprecher on her move to New York City

"I think that direction is an extension of writing. I hope this doesn't sound too naive, but I think that the director's real job is to find the very best people to do their jobs. In both cases ["Clockwatchers" and "Thirteen Conversations About One Thing"] I surrounded myself with people far more experienced than I was. It's important for me, also, to create a comfortable and safe environment so that these people--the talent, the behind the camera folks--have the best environment in which to do their jobs." --Sprecher on her directing technique

The script for "13 Conversations About One Thing" was written in eight weeks.

Family close complete family listing

mother:
Phyllis Sprecher. Medical technologist (retired).
father:
Pete Sprecher. Insurance broker.
sister:
Karen Sprecher. Writer/producer; co-wrote "Clockwatchers" and "13 Conversations About One Thing". Younger.
brother:
Jeff Sprecher. Founder of Intercontinental Exchange, an electronic energy/metals exchange. Older.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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