Alumni Magazine

FAL-WIN 2016

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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Page 41 of 83

which won the Grand Prize at the 2014 Hollywood Book Festival and Southern California Book Festival, as well as accolades from festivals in London, the Pacific Rim, Amster- dam, Florida, and San Francisco. He and a friend are currently working on a pilot episode for a sitcom based on the book. "We'll be shooting what's called a 'sizzle real,'" says Lassen. "It's a three to five minute commercial to give potential buyers a look and feel of our idea of the show." "Jason is a talented, funny performer," says Perry. "I've only ever known him to be successful at whatever he's chosen to do." Doing it His Way Lassen knows that his career trajectory isn't typical. But he also knows that he's a survivor in a town notorious for chewing people up and spitting them out. Over nearly a quarter-century, he's been doing what he loves, on his own terms. Certainly a key to his success has been his own never-quit, find-anoth- er-way attitude. Lassen also credits Franklin Pierce with giving him space to grow and a place to experiment. "Phyllis [Zrzavy, Professor of Communication] gave us [Lassen and Perry] independent study credit for a movie we did at Pierce. We spent our spring break on campus one year working on it. Franklin Pierce really allowed students to be their own boss, and to never be afraid to try something different, or ask someone for help." The first in his family to go to college, Lassen's educational experience at Pierce was a lot of making things up as he went along, following ideas and inspirations to their natural conclusions. One of the things he loved about the Mass Communication program at Pierce was that he could take an active role in creating TV shows or working on programming from his first day on campus, a contrast to some other Northeast colleges' more established media curricula, which reserved production spots for upperclassmen. He performed in college plays, deejayed at WFPR and made two movies. "Jason was always friendly, always upbeat," recalls Zrzavy, who says that she was impressed with the de- gree of detail Lassen and Perry had in their movie production schedules, right down to locations for shooting and what equipment was needed. "Everybody who worked with him liked him. And he was creative, that's really who he was." That creativity has served Lassen well through his Hollywood odyssey. He realizes it's not what he started out thinking it would be, be he is well aware that he has had a number of opportunities and experiences most people only dream of. He's overcome more than his share of adversity, too, notably breaking his neck five years ago, the result of taking on construction side projects, and having to undergo nearly two years of rehabilitation. The accident meant that he couldn't audition for roles; he was a liability on the set until he was medically cleared. Today, in addition to working on the Hollywood Clown pilot, Lassen fin- ished editing Odious, a film directed by Robert Sparks, about an uncle search- ing for his kidnapped nephew and run- ning up against child sex trafficking in L.A. Lassen is co-executive producer on the film, which they are hoping to submit to the Sundance Film Festival. He's been married to his wife Annette for 16 years, and his freelancing work allows him to have an active role in raising their two children. "I'll get the kids off to school and have five or six hours of editing or working on projects," he says. "Odious should be out this fall, and I've got some special effects work lined up as well." Lassen says the takeaway from his experience has been to never give up. "I've used all of my skill sets in my career – acting, production, writing, even Photoshop," he laughs. "And I know coming out here was one of the best things I've ever done in my life. My wife asked me recently where I thought I'd be if I'd never left production at the studios. I'm not sure. But I know that I'm happy. And I'll take happiness any day." HE IS WELL AWARE THAT HE HAS HAD A NUMBER OF OPPORTUNITIES AND EXPERIENCES MOST PEOPLE ONLY DREAM OF. 40 PIERCE / FALL 2016 TOP: DALE BERMAN; BOTTOM: SHUTTERSTOCK.

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