Jess Bowling is a filmmaker, writer, and the founder of De Facto Pictures.
Born in 1981 in Atlanta, Georgia, Bowling took an initial interest in film at an early age by creating short films with a family-owned Hi-8 camcorder in elementary school and an additional interest in broadcast journalism while working with more advanced video resources at his middle school’s TV station. As a high schooler, Bowling developed interests in history, philosophy, and documentary with a particular interest in indigenous peoples and ethno-documentary.
Thanks to an introduction by a high school friend to informal groups raising awareness of and practicing Native American ceremonies in the Southeastern US, Bowling began studying Lakota history, language, and mythology with a particular focus on how they informed Lakota tribal ceremonies and culture. From 1997-2001, Bowling enjoyed the opportunity to participate in a number of Lakota ceremonies and study intermittently with Oglala Lakotas visiting the Southeast from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
In 2005, Bowling obtained his BFA (magna cum laude) from the Atlanta College of Art. As an undergraduate student, Bowling studied in the ACA’s Digital Video program under second-generation video artist, Sara Hornbacher. Utilizing a diverse array of electric media technologies, Bowling’s early work focused on creating video and sonic environments, which incorporated large-scale projection, techno-interactivity, and computer-mediated imaging. As a writer, Bowling’s primary focus was on the theoretical and practical dimensions of the electric media’s relationship to cognitive development, human behavior, public thought, and their inter-relationships to politics, economics, ecology, and culture. His early critical writings on the complex relationships between mass media, public opinion, and political systems earned him awards such as the Atlanta College of Art’s Sappho Award for excellence in the liberal arts.
The experimental video work and writing produced during this period attracted the attention of collaborators spanning music, television, and film. Most notably, Bowling performed and intermittently toured with the internationally acclaimed, Atlanta/NYC-based band, Shock Cinema, as a member from 2005-2007.
Shortly after graduating from ACA in 2005, Bowling served as the CEO of the non-profit, ACA100, Inc., founded to spearhead the student legal effort to stop the controversial merger of ACA with the Savannah College of Art and Design, which was approved by the Woodruff Arts Center and SCAD boards of trustees later that year. As an activist & organizer, Bowling worked with numerous organizations committed to progressive and nonviolent social, political, and economic change. Both his creative work and activism from this period captured the attention of media sources from all over the world ranging from the Atlanta Journal and Constitution and the Associated Press to Al-Jazeera.
Concurrent to his work with ACA100, Bowling began graduate study at Georgia State University’s Mass Communication program and would go on to study at the Rhode Island School of Design’s (RISD) Digital + Media graduate program from 2006-2007. While studying in the Digital + Media program, Bowling co-developed and co-taught an introductory, media-based course curriculum under the auspices of RISD’s Art + Design Education’s after-school program. The class was taught to students from various high schools in the Providence, Rhode Island area and incorporated media theory and critical analysis as a basis for technical training in video production & post-production.
From 2008-2013, Bowling focused on contract and collaborative film/media projects and founded De Facto Pictures in 2010. Highlights of works produced over this period include short films produced in Italy for the Emory University School of Medicine in the summers of 2010/2011 and experimental video integrated into a series of sculptural installations for Artemis Studios in the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia (MOCA GA).
In 2013, Bowling began research into the subject of his next picture and in 2015 launched pre-production for his first feature-length film, 'Corpo: Portrait of a Colossus'.
Bowling currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.