Zeke Zelker has been striving to build a filmmaking career for over twenty years far outside the filmmaking epicenters of Los Angeles and New York, staying true to his commitment of making films in his hometown of Allentown, PA. It’s been a challenge, but that hasn’t stopped him from creating films that have been seen around the globe while breaking down barriers of distribution. This struggle has inspired him to think differently about his approach to his craft.
Zeke produced the first transmedia project at the Sundance Film Festival, Pandemic and most recently produced part of David Cronenberg’s Body Mind Change which is touring various museums around the world. His last feature film InSearchOf was one of the first to embrace streaming platforms such as Hulu ultimately being in the top 20 dramas viewed on the portal for over seven years. InSearchOf was also the first virtually screened movie, showing on Second Life aside from its theatrical, DVD, PPV/VOD release. None of this has come easy.
A product of the nineties indie film scene Zeke maintains a lean and mean approach when producing his projects. He creates with grit, unafraid of failure, taking the all-in approach to filmmaking. Working odd jobs, maxing out credit cards, refinancing assets such as vehicles and his home. He believes in his vision. He’s been a scrappy underdog, creating on a large scale but with very limited resources. If you will it, it can happen. If you dream it, you can create it, but you have to work hard to make it.
His latest project is Billboard, a transmedia project where he’s telling different sides of a story on different mediums. The project started with the creation of WTYT960.com, a web site that acts as a “radio station” where bands from around the globe have been submitting music to be on the “station’s” playlist, making them eligible to be considered for the project’s various soundtracks.
The story is told across different platforms that also segues into live events. The feature film Billboard focuses on the radio station who hosts the contest. A thirty-episode web series, The Billboard Sitters, concentrates on the four people who entered the billboard sitting contest. An interactive play is an amalgamation of the two where the audience can interact with the characters via a mobile app that he created. The fun doesn’t stop there.
Zeke and his team host live events with WTYT 960 featuring bands from the project bringing the story to the masses which also helps him build audience. He’s been ideating with leading cable providers on ways where viewers can consume the feature film and web series within the same interface, jumping in and out of various aspects of the story. This entire project has taken over eight years to create and was done with a budget that would buy you a modest house in Allentown, PA.
Zeke feels strongly about inspiring others to create. He’s the founder of Art Wars and Art Spark. Both organizations inspire people to create in public spaces where they gain exposure, earn and win prizes. Zeke is always willing to offer a hand up.
The son of a preacher woman, Zeke broke into the entertainment business as a clown, peddling balloons at an amusement park that his great grand father founded. His first job in the film business was as a dancer in John Water’s film Hairspray.