A few of the newer interviews are going to have intros written by the subject to start them off. The prompt is kinda generic as I like to give these guys and gals leeway to intro themselves any way they want. There is no really good way to transition to/explain it, so hey that's why these clumsy words are here to say what is going on with the article starting in italics.
Film saved my life – I’ll believe that till the day I die. I’m a 32 year old rock n’ roll filmmaker – I love my music heavy and dirty, just like I enjoy my films – heavy and dirty, but with substance. I believe characters can make any story work as long as you have strong enough characters to drive the story forward and keep it interesting. I’m tattooed -- not because it’s cool -- and you’ll find everything on my body has a deep rooted meaning to me, I’m flawed in almost every sense of the word, and I have an affinity for the outrageous, but sometimes mundane. Did I lose you yet?
Not even remotely. Let's do this.
Okay, so, I've talked to a bunch of cats who put out short films, and as someone who uses way too many words to communicate simple ideas, I gotta know other than the obvious dramatically shorter, in a perfect world, turnaround time, how the process varies from popping out a feature or even a TV show. Everything from script to screen.
I have a big internal argument with myself when I’m writing a short film because literally every single idea I ever have when I sit down and start writing is much larger than a short film, which is probably why I have so many features written, 4, or far in the process, 5. I find it incredibly difficult to have a traditional beginning-middle-resolution in short films because you really want to be able to capture people’s attention and keep it within just a few short minutes while also trying to show what you can do as a director, which is why I leave a lot to interpretation in my short films and hope that the content that’s there speaks for itself on my capabilities. I think for me, since I learned and continue to learn on my own without any kind of film school behind me, the difference between short films and knocking out a quality feature is the word quality. I could totally bang out a feature film with the gear I have, the crew I have, and use all local actors and nobody gets paid and we attempt to get some kind of distribution and it would probably be good, however the style of films that I want to do and I want Burn Baby Burn Films to be known for requires more money than a few thousand dollars, and I really want to be able to shoot on better gear than DSLRs that are not-so-great in low light. That said, I am diligently working on fine tuning a feature script that we can shoot for a lot less money than most would think, while sticking with the theme that I want to do which is crime-drama and use some more relatively unknown actors, but have enough money to be able to hire someone to shoot on something better in low light. So I’m pretty excited for the next few months.
Using that very long-winded opener as a spring-board, I did recently watch your latest, Grind & Blow (official website here). I dug it a lot! What was the genesis of it? The characters felt really, eerily lived in, like maybe not including the end, these are some peeps you are intimately familiar with.
It’s funny that you picked up on that, the project actually began as a joke between myself and the other two producers. We were sitting around sharing a few cocktails making jokes and I blurted out that we should just knock out a quick short film of just us -- myself, Antonio and Geoff -- sitting around the table BSing with each other. Well, when I sobered up and sat down by myself I started taking a look at what we had to work with on a minimal budget and something we could shoot in a day or two and this joke turned into something very real and I really just let the story flow out of me just to see where it ended up. And what I ended up with was 40 pages of dialogue – so I started trimming to get to what you saw. But it really is just a dramedy to me because I feel like I was able to take certain parts of each of our personalities and bring them out in each character, leveraging everyone’s strengths. I’m not sure I answered the question – but I’m also long-winded, so I think I may have.
Okay we are going to switch gears a little bit, just because we've got something in common. In addition to film making, you run Loud and Heavy (official website here,) where you interview metal bands. That was pretty much what I did when I was in college and abusing the fact you could use college radio credentials to bullshit your way into concerts and conducting interviews you were not even remotely qualified for! How'd you get involved with that?
Loud & Heavy is my dysfunctional child. I used to be a music journalist for the now defunct magazines Fringe Mag, and Your Music Magazine out of the bay area interviewing some pretty large metal and hard rock bands, so that was where I learned how to work the system and really cut my teeth in the publication world. I’m a writer, so I have this weird strong connection with physical publications, but I also know that it’s pretty much a dead world. I've also been in and out of the Sacramento music scene for years now in multiple capacities, which really positioned me well with knowing a lot of club owners and being able to work the system and understand the nuances of the business. Loud & Heavy spawned originally from a production co. name that I was using to make music videos, but since I like to stay crazy busy and leave little time to sleep I decided I wanted to create a website where we interview on video and written interviews with unknown bands around the world as well as known signed bands around the world. Now it’s just ever evolving where I’m working with some smaller metal bands and trying to become a sponsor on some tours to help drive more people to the website, and also recruiting content creators…and with the help of my great web guy Geoff, trying to revamp the site a bit and logo a bit since we’re starting to gain some traction. I’m pretty open-minded with where the site goes, I’d like to get into the retail market someway as well doing some kind of merchandise designing, or sponsoring bands, etc.
Using your best judgement, and any NAME REDACTED tags you want, we've gotta compare war stories with regard to the previous question. What's your most absurd meeting a band story?
Hmm, that’s a good question. I would say that a few years back I was backstage walking with Brian from Shadows Fall to his bus to knock out this interview (and by the way, Shadows Fall guys are super cool and always great to interview), and as we’re walking up a super famous singer comes riding up on a motor scooter, cigarette hanging out of his mouth, beer in one hand, noticeably hammered, and the scooter was a bit wobbly. I don’t really get star struck anymore, however I really wanted to meet him because, well…that’s what I do in that line of work, so as he stopped to just nod his head at Brian he stared at me kind of wobbling around himself on the scooter, I said “How’s it going? I’m Josh with Your Music Magazine, it’s great to meet you, any chance you have a few minutes?” He mumbled something with some F You’s scattered about in it and quickly took off on the scooter wobbling around. Other than that I've had some interviews go badly, especially with younger bands that got too popular too quickly because they think they’re better than you or too cool or whatever, but for the most part, most bands are really cool with me.
I actually met Brian when Shadows Fall was touring with Lamb of God and Killswitch Engage. I interviewed him, Randy from Lamb of God, and Howard from Killswitch all at once. Their show was fantastic because they clearly were all friends and would interrupt each other's sets. I think the worst/best interview I did was with George "Corpsegrinder" Fisher, wherein about half way in, it just turned into us arguing about who Thanos could take in a fight. I mean, I had fun, I just doubt the listeners really wanted to hear us talk about nerdy bullshit for about forty five minutes.
Alright, back on track with the movies. You've got a little crew that's followed you through all the Burn Baby Burn shorts. Do you almost get a feeling that your films are a family business?
I’m one of those people that always wants to insulate himself with good people that work hard, collaborate well together and take direction well, which is where this crew has come from. However, Grind & Blow really was the last film I’ll be able to do with that crew because most of them have moved on to college or work or other things, so I’m working on building a new crew now. But yes, I feel like a few of them have definitely become like family to me…I know that when Burn Baby Burn Films shows up to a film festival, we’re always well represented.
I am a Cannon Films Junkie, so I have to ask everyone this: what makes the perfect action scene?
I wish I knew, really….
I grew up an action fan loving Hard Boiled, Top Gun, The Rock, Bad Boys, Die Hard, and I find myself still watching those films and loving the action sequences, but if I had to pick one of my favorite scenes of all time it’s in Face/Off at the end when Nicolas Cage comes into the church on the beach in slow-motion and the infamous doves come flying out from behind him and then the shoot-out ensues. I feel like action movies nowadays lack the drama that the ones I mentioned have, now it’s all about fast fights and realistic shaky cinematography, which is cool, I guess, but yeah. Let me make an action film and I’ll proudly represent the early 90’s!
Alright, you get asked to go on a world tour with Iron Maiden or you get offered to direct your first feature and it's written by Tarantino: which do you pick?
Easy-Tarantino…because if he asked anyone nowadays to direct something he wrote, it would be pretty damn special. Hell, look at True Romance!
You're writing your next film. What's on your playlist? And, okay, we're talking writing so let's not pretend this isn't true: what's your cocktail of choice?
My playlist is scattered with all kinds of stuff, but I usually crank my iTunes playlist that mostly consists of In Flames, The Haunted, Soilwork, Dark Tranquility, Omnium Gatherum, Insomnium, Disarmonia Mundi, and some slower more “rock” stuff like Witchcraft, Ghost and don’t laugh…but Stone Sour…sometimes it’s good to bring you down from being on such a high with the other tunes.
As far as cocktails, believe it or not, lately I've been easing off the booze…it was getting me in some trouble since I don’t exactly have an “off-switch.” But I prefer a good Amber or Red micro brew to sip on while I’m writing, or it used to be Sailor Jerry and Diet Pepsi. If I’m out, it’s Tequila…which is where I get in trouble. I ruined whiskey long ago.
EDITORS NOTE: This note exists solely to give Josh shit for picking the inferior Slipknot side-group, Stone Sour, and not the superior Murderdolls.
Speaking of next films, I know you have literally just finished Grind and Blow, but I gotta ask: what's in the pipelines? What'chu got up your sleeve?
Well, I’m currently editing another short film I filmed last summer called “The End of Me”, which is one that is very near and dear to me and a little away from the norm of what I normally would write. I’m also developing a short film that I plan on attempting to act and co-direct in that is about an alcoholic/drug addicted doctor that lost his license and will now pretty much work for anyone that will hire him. Somewhat in the same vein as “Playing God” but still much different in the approach. I’m also simultaneously developing my first feature film titled “Where Sleeping Dogs Lie,” which is a 100% complete return to form for me in a full neo-noir style crime-drama, in which we’re hoping to start filming by the summer. Other than that, I’m always looking to stay busy and knock out some music videos or commercials, et cetera.
And, finally: Is there anything you want to ask me?
How and why did you get into interviewing filmmakers, especially ones that are more unknown? And what do you do in your daily life? Do you like long walks on the beach?
It was always going to be the natural evolution for me. I've talked a little bit about the human aspect at the end of my interview with Heather Dorff, here, but, really it's just to make sure I am constantly discovering new things. I love finding the little films no one is talking about or paying enough attention to and showing it to other people. It really was gonna be the end game scenario where I just start bugging the cats making the stuff I love so's I can gush a bit.
It's also a reflection of how I talk about movies, in general. I rarely ever talk about films I hate, and don't feel like having conversation number 343234959 about how totally baller Casablanaca is. I'd rather discuss the brilliance of Ghoulies III: Ghoulies Go To College with the like, five other people who have seen it for the first time.
I spend most of my daily life drinking heavily and being as irresponsible as humanly possible as some kind of childish backlash against my very corporate and grown up day job. Basically, I want to be the thirty-year-old at spring break for the rest of my life.