February 8, 2013

Interview: Josh Soskin

By MOFILM

This week for our first interview of the new year, we’re speaking to a member of the extended MOFILM family, director Josh Soskin. Josh has a pretty good track record with MOFILM, having had three out of three entries take the top spot, including winning films for Microsoft, Chevrolet and Vitamin Water. Outside of the world of MOFILM, Josh has signed to the production company Station Film and late last year found success with his short Moving Takahashi when it was chosen as one of Vimeo’s top 12 films of 2012!

Hey Josh, thanks for taking some time out to speak to us!

My pleasure. I love me some MOFILM.

I guess to start things off, could you tell us just a little bit about yourself – how did you get into filmmaking in the first place?

Oh man I wish I had some great story about watching Hitchcock films as a child in some old movie theatre and making hand cranked films in a sand box. Sadly I don’t!  I guess I was into writing first (in high school), then acting (in college), then music (also in college)— after college I realized filmmaking just sort of synthesized everything I loved creatively and once I got the bug and started shooting and editing stuff I realized there could be no other path for me. I was hooked. Since then it’s consumed my life, for better or for worse. Mostly for better.

You started off making documentaries, before making before making the move to TV and more commercial work… Could you tell us a little about how this worked out for you, did it feel like a natural transition?

Yeah, I’m really glad I did have the doc stuff to begin with because I think it really informs how I direct narrative stuff. The transition is never smooth because you have to sort of rebuild a body of work to prove to people you can do it—and honestly MOFILM has helped out in that way tremendously. But it was also a transition that was inevitable. I enjoy doc stuff but I LOVE narrative and you gotta go for what you love, not what you like.

You’ve entered a few MOFILM contests now… do you think that MOFILM works as a platform for people looking to develop their filmmaking chops?

Absolutely! As far as commercial work goes, it’s a brilliant platform. You can quickly go out and develop, shoot and edit your ideas and evolve as a filmmaker and potentially get re-imbursed for your investment.

As a working director it’s always interesting to hear your take on the current climate of the industry – do you think it’s in a healthy place at the moment?

I think so. As long as there are human beings on this planet they will need entertainment. We’re in a pretty damn good line of work.

Not so far off from the previous question, but how do you feel the rise of online and digital have affected the way people are making films these days – I know that you shot a very successful online spot for Starbucks – was that an area that you envisioned yourself working in when you started off?

Good question! Man it’s happening so fast I don’t think many of us can fully grasp it. What Netflix just did with Fincher (House of Cards) is pretty amazing. I’m very curious to see how that pans out. I think in general the online/digital space is great in the sense that it’s an area in which companies are inclined to take more risks and as filmmakers that’s the kind of stuff we love being involved in.

Your short ‘Moving Takahashi’ placed in Vimeo’s Top 12 films of 2012 – a pretty amazing result, congrats! – could you tell us a little bit about how the project came about, were you expecting the reception it received?

Takahashi has been a fun ride. It’s been a little over a year and I’m still getting random requests to screen it in faraway countries, festivals, sites, etc—it’s on Indieflix and was also airing on Virgin flights for a while. It’s kind of fascinating. I think we were initially a little disappointed it didn’t make it into the bigger festivals but with the support we’ve gotten from Vimeo and Short of the Week ( a fantastic site if you haven’t visited it) it’s actually really exceeded what I expected. Top 12 of 2012 on Vimeo is cooler than Sundance. Straight up. 🙂

I know that you used Kickstarter to help fund the film – how did you find that as an experience, had you used any similar such crowd-funding platforms before?

Yeah our Kickstarter experience was insane. Very humbling to see that much money come in from friends and loved ones so quickly. I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention MOFILM’s support of Moving Takahashi. Their financial support was critical and we couldn’t have done what we wanted to do without MOFILM. That was huge. It was really an example of a company putting its money where it’s mouth is. They didn’t just say they were about helping young filmmakers, they proved it.  MOFILM had my back so as long as I’m alive and kicking, I’ll have MOFILM’s back.

Moving Takahashi wasn’t your first short, but in terms of developing your skill set to include longer forms of storytelling, would you recommend the medium to others?

Hmmm I’m sort of torn on shorts here to be honest. I think they are great for certain people at certain points in their career and at certain lengths. Short films are great when they are short (10mins and under), but when I’m at a festival and I’m watching a 30 minute short I’m just like – shit man, just make a feature! But yeah of course in general they are great way for filmmakers to get practice, to refine their voice, to do all of that stuff.

In terms of your current work, how are things going, anything interesting in the pipeline at the moment?

I’m always pitching on (and sometimes shooting) commercial stuff for Station Film, a production company I signed with this summer. And then my main thing is I just finished a feature length script. The movie’s called Smuggler and I’m trying to get that into production ASAP. If anybody out there has a few million and wants to make an amazing film—holler at me.

Finally then a few quick ones to finish off…

In terms of the Ad-world, who would your dream client be?

It’s a cliché, but who wouldn’t want Nike? Oh, and Durex—I love condom commercials. Audi, VW and Adidas are right up there too.

Proudest moment of your career to date?

Oh man…I think Chevy Volt picking Zombie Ride to be their European televised commercial is right up there. That was so unexpected.

If you were to offer one piece of advice to an aspiring filmmaker, what would it be?

Don’t make what you think other people want you to make—make what you love and take massive risks. It’s always worth it.

___

Once again then thanks to Josh for taking the time to answer our questions, if you want to check out a bit more of his work head over to his Vimeo channel and have a look!

Hope that you’re all doing well out there and sending you those Good Vibrations for Friday and the rest of the weekend!

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