Jacob Dalton ’17 came to Lawrence with thoughts of a career on Broadway but discovered a passion for the world of film along the way.
Now Dalton, who majored in theatre arts with a minor in creative writing, has started his own Los Angeles-based company with director Adam Moses, focused on cinematic content creation.
Dalton, lead producer and writer, and Moses, lead producer and director, founded Hot Lunch Productions in late 2021. The company films narrative content, music videos, demo reels, advertisements, social media content, and more.
"We're capable of shooting anything,” Dalton said. “However, we mostly work on projects at or below a $30K budget. Our specialty is shooting these projects at a high quality regardless of the budget.”
They also continue to pursue their own films. Their latest, Dangerous, hasn’t been officially released yet but got a sneak preview at Lawrence in the fall when Dalton and Moses came to campus to talk about the film industry with Lawrence students.
A creative journey
Dalton said he arrived at Lawrence as a student not knowing anything about filmmaking.
“It was always about acting, it was always about theater,” he said. “It was like I was bouncing back and forth between wanting to be on Broadway or film and TV.”
It was in the creative environment of Lawrence that Dalton said he found his path.
Dalton first learned of Lawrence from his dad, who attended a yearly jazz camp at Björklunden in Door County. Dalton liked how many clubs and extracurriculars Lawrence offered compared to other schools.
“I really liked the campus culture,” he said. “…I loved how when everyone went to lunch they just left their bags outside the doors at Warch. I was like, ‘If everyone trusts enough to leave their stuff outside the cafeteria, I feel like that’s the place I want to go to school.’”
Once on campus, Dalton involved himself heavily in theater productions along with classics, writing, and history classes.
“That taught me more about acting than just classwork would have,” he said. “…You learn a lot about other people and working with directors when you’re actually doing productions, and in a lot of bigger schools, you don’t get that chance.”
Dalton was considering a Broadway route but found himself increasingly leaning toward filmmaking.
“I decided that I wanted to make movies instead of waiting for someone who decided to make movies to give me a job,” Dalton said.
Studying theatre arts at Lawrence is a seamless blend of technical practice and liberal arts learning
After Lawrence, Dalton got an internship in film development, which means taking intellectual properties like scripts and helping to develop them into movies.
“Creative producing gives you a very cool and unique opportunity to be creatively involved with all aspects of a project without being technically proficient in every aspect of filmmaking,” Dalton said.
A return to Lawrence
With six narrative projects under his belt, Dalton said he wanted to give back to the school that inspired his career path.
Working in the fall with Lawrence’s Career Center, including Assistant Director Laura Hoekstra, Dalton organized From Lawrence to Hollywood, an event for Lawrence’s aspiring filmmakers.
Dalton and Hoekstra presented two seminars about the industry and what Dalton does at his company. They also held a pizza social and spoke about getting started as an artist. They screened Dangerous and held a Q&A afterwards.
“It was really just an honest conversation where I was like, ‘Frankly, this stuff is hard…you’re going to have to sacrifice a ton and it’s totally worth it. You should get that into your mindset now,’” Dalton said.
Develop a deep knowledge of the art’s form and impact—past, present, and future
Being honest and realistic is important to Dalton. He said an essential part of the industry is how you present and sell your skills, abilities, and assets.
“Once you start to view the industry as an industry it stops being so terrifying,” he said. “…It’s not that you have the secret ‘it’ factor, it’s that you can provide a better benefit to a set.”
Dalton remembers a moment where he said his career path began. A fan of Renaissance fairs as a child, he told his mother he’d like to own his own stand at the fair someday.
“She was like, ‘That’s really nice, Jacob, but have you ever considered owning the Ren Fest?’” Dalton said.
That inspired him to be ambitious.
“I’ve realized that as much as I wanted to act, I wanted to create movies more,” Dalton said.