Passages Alumni Jon Rothermel knew he wanted to be a filmmaker since he was 12 years-old making fake music videos. By the time he went on his Israel trip in Spring 2018 with The King’s College, he had made his dream into a reality after starting his own commercial film business, Cursive Films, with his brother earlier that year.

However, Jon decided to only bring basic camera equipment to Israel. He explained, “I kept it really light, because I didn’t want to have the experience bogged down by work. I’m a professional filmmaker and I can pack an entire van with gear, but there’s also just a lot of joy in taking one camera and capturing a moment as it is.” 

During his trip, Jon focused on the “small highlights,” individual moments that impacted him most. “That was a big part of going on the trip to Israel, a lot of the small stuff I remember really well,” Jon said. “I remember the first evening I was there, going to shore, right by the mediterranean in Netanya outside our hotel. And, just seeing that and, I had my camera along, filming that … that moment was the defining thing about the trip for me.” 

He also loved other detailed moments, like reading the writing on the walls of Masada and especially stopping by a date farm. “It’s just one thing I remember very fondly,” he laughed. 

But, in addition to these small moments, Jon also felt that going to Israel gave him a better understanding of the world.. 

“In [New York City] you’re open to so many different views and people groups and there’s no way that you can seclude yourself from the rest of the world,” Jon explained. “I felt like going to Israel did that for me too. Our bus driver was muslim and we met a lot of Palestinan people and Israeli people. It really did broaden my horizons and gave me a better understanding of the world on an international level and a local level.” 

“It’s always important to consider things at the big picture and at the small picture. Because just like countries matter, individuals matter too,” Jon said. 

The process of filmmaking for Jon is similar. While making a video involves technical details, it also requires looking at the bigger picture — the narrative and message that needs to be conveyed to an audience. 

“Filmmaking is something that I’m really passionate about as I’m a very technical person and a very emotional person in that I really appreciate stories told through art well. I think that if you can connect with someone’s emotions, that’s one of the best ways to get your message across,” Jon said. 

Jon’s advice to other alumni is, “Pursue what you are passionate about, put in the hours to become really great at it, and never stop learning. Those are some of the biggest things that I’ve learned as a filmmaker and a small business owner. As long as you’re learning, you’re growing, and as long as you’re growing, you can’t go wrong.”