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Okay, this thing is a beast! Feel free to jump around and/or ignore it entirely. I filled it with relevant links and tiny pictures if you find that at all compelling.
I was born in Baltimore on January 23, 1990 to Jean and Greg Ayers. When I was two years old, we moved to Southern York County, Pennsylvania and I started preschool at York Country Day School. As a kid, I liked bugs, cats, computers, puzzles, Legos, K'nex, and Rubik's cubes. I also taught myself to program computers, learned to play the piano, and grew a mullet.
My York Country Day School Education didn't stop at preschool; I attended YCDS for fifteen years until my graduation on Friday the Thirteenth of June, 2008. During my time in high school, I participated in many interesting activities, notably the York County Science and Engineering Fair, several musicals, jazz ensemble, etc. In addition to my high school classes, I enrolled in a cinema lighting class at Towson University and Photography and Calculus classes at York College of Pennsylvania. In early 2008, I was accepted to the filmmaking program at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, where I am currently a junior.
I started my ballet training at age ten (summer of 2000) at Greater York Center for Dance Education, my dancing home for the next eight years. With GYCDE, I participated in and performed with the Regional Dance America Northeast festival twice as I worked my way through the company's levels. On May 1, 2006, I was promoted to the level of principal dancer of the Greater York Youth Ballet. On scholarship, I attended the summer intensive program at the American Repertory Ballet’s Princeton Ballet School the following summer. In 2006, I performed the parts of Cavalier and Arabian as a guest artist in Art of Motion Dance Company’s “Nutcracker.” In 2007, I was inducted into the National Honor Society for Dance. My internationally recognized instructors have included: Finis Jhung, Laura Alonso, Kyra Nichols, and Davis Robertson.
Sometime around 1999 I borrowed my grandfather's VHS camcorder and filmed a truly terrible action movie starring my cousins. That moment sealed my fate as a filmmaker. I started exploring new ideas - Could I film underwater? Could I add music? Could I fake a fight? Borrowing this camera became a routine occurrence.
By middle school, I was making and editing short films on a regular basis - A Day in the Park is one of my favorites. When I received my own MiniDV video camera for Christmas in high school, it was like winning the lottery. At this point, several individuals and organizations began to hire me to complete editing work. I taught myself Avid and the Adobe Creative Suite. During the summer of 2005, I attended Young People’s Summer Stock at Oldfields School in Glencoe, MD where I declared a dual major in ballet and filmmaking.
In 2005, 2006, and 2007 I was hired to create video presentations to celebrate the annual induction of the Towson University Chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. In 2006, I donated my services to Wildlife Rescue Inc., a non-profit Maryland organization, by creating a promotional video. Also in 2006, I created a video presentation introducing Greater York Center for Dance Education’s 35th annual June Show. During the summer of 2007, I attended Towson University’s “Lighting for Film and Digital Cinematography,” for which I scouted the location for the collaborative short film and the class voted me editor of the film and director of photography for the exterior shots.
During my senior year in high school, I wrote and directed a short film entitled Axiom (which I hope you check out!). It received several awards including a Silver Award at the National Scholastic Arts Awards and Best Cinematography at a film festival in Baltimore. As part of my senior project and extending into the summer, I worked as an intern at Renegade Studios in Hunt Valley, MD - a job that exploded into a mini-career. Before I knew it I was teleprompting for Cal Ripken, traveling to D.C. regularly, and working on big-name shoots (BET, Chevrolet, DeWalt, Comcast, etc.).
Filmmaking and photography go hand-in-hand. After all, a film is just a million little photos. Aside from fooling around with my mom's old film equipment, my first real experience in the world of photography was my enrollment in Photography I at York College of Pennsylvania. We shot on black and white film and developed and printed in a large darkroom. I had so much fun that I routinely worked in the darkroom for hours after the class had left.
I loved Photo I so much that I dug up my mom's old equipment and built a fully functional darkroom in a storage closet at my high school. I proceeded to take Photo II the following semester. This time around, we shot on color negative film and developed and printed in a color darkroom before moving to a digital printing process. My parents and grandparents graciously bestowed a Nikon D80 upon me for my high school graduation and I put it to use immediately. While I was out shooting a boat race near Baltimore, I ran into professional photographer John Bildahl who later sold me a heap of great equipment including lenses and a flash that I routinely use. Currently, I am enrolled in Frame and Sequence at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, a class in which I am handed film and told to take pictures. How cool is that?
Okay, last section - keep it brief, Justin. I taught myself to play the piano ages ago. I cannot read sheet music but I can improv, read chords, and play by ear. I used to play the oboe in middle school. Other ventures include the drums (kit), guitar, and trombone. You can check out some of my work in the Audio section.
Congratulations to anyone who actually read that biography; I am in awe at your patience. Hopefully I didn't come off too cocky and confusing - I just wanted to get all of that down in one place.
About This Web site
This site (justinayers.com) is designed and maintained by Justin Ayers on a personal/non-commercial basis. All content contained herein copyright © 2009 Justin Ayers; all rights reserved.
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