JEFFREY SCHWARZ is an American Emmy Award-winning producer and director known for an extensive body of documentary film work. His feature documentaries include The Fabulous Allan Carr, Tab Hunter Confidential, I Am Divine, Vito, Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon and Spine Tingler! The William Castle Story.
A New York native, Schwarz is a graduate of the SUNY Purchase Film Department. His senior thesis documentary was Al Lewis in the Flesh, a short film profiling Al Lewis, famous for playing Grandpa on the television series The Munsters. The film observes Lewis as he interacts with the public at his Bleecker Street restaurant, Grampa’s Bella Gente, and judges a low-rent Halloween costume contest at a corporate event. The documentary, which observed the American pastime of celebrity adulation, led to Schwarz’s on-going interest in producing films about popular culture and Americana.
His first job in the film industry was as an apprentice editor on The Celluloid Closet, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s film adaptation of Vito Russo’s seminal book. Schwarz’s work on this project would later bridge into the development of his own documentary about Russo, titled simply Vito.
Schwarz spent the late 1990s working in the low budget feature world, editing movies and trailers for directors such as Gary Graver, Fred Olen Ray and David DeCoteau. In 1998, Schwarz was hired to edit a documentary about the making of Gus Van Sant’s controversial remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Psycho Path was included on the Universal Pictures Home Entertainment DVD release of Psycho, and was Schwarz’s first foray into the burgeoning world of DVD bonus features, also known as value added material (VAM). As the DVD format was introduced to the public, all the major studios began offering making-of featurettes and audio commentaries on their discs as an incentive to consumers to replace movies they already owned on VHS or laserdisc. Schwarz capitalized on this moment to segue into producing original bonus content, and soon became one of the leading producers in this field.
Currently in development are feature documentaries about the making of Paul Verhoeven’s “misunderstood masterpiece” Showgirls; the recently premiered documentary about Gloria Swanson’s attempts to mount a musical version of Sunset Boulevard starring herself; and the true-life murder that inspired William Friedkin’s 1980 thriller Cruising.
Schwarz appeared in The Advocate’s “Out 100 in 2013, and in 2015 was presented with the Frameline Award, by San Francisco’s Frameline Film Festival. The award is designed to honor those who have made a major contribution to LGBT representation in film, television, or the media arts.