This is the first episode of my podcast, The Starving Artist. Today, we are looking into the struggles of one up-and-coming filmmaker, Joshua Shute. You can listen to the audio below and read the transcription beneath that.
Andrew J. Stillman: Hello everybody, my name is Andrew J. Stillman, and I am here today with filmmaker Joshua Shute.
Joshua Shute: Hello, everyone.
Andrew: We are in Wellington, New Zealand. It’s pretty exciting, um, and I’m going to be asking Josh a few questions about his filmmaking career. So, first question: What draws you to filmmaking?
Josh: Um, well, it started when I was young. I was always watching films, my dad’s a film lover so we were always watching movies, and I always liked to make stories. I liked the process of, you know, creating characters and making a story, usually like something fantasy or something when I was really young. I wrote like, a silly book when I was young that my mom really loved. And, yeah, I just have a love for film from my childhood.
Andrew: What kind of early films do you remember watching?
Josh: Oh, like, um, this… I remember, this is probably the point in my life that everything changed for the first time. He had been talking about for years, he’d been talking about this film, Jaws. And we were, like, five, six, seven maybe. He told us it was terrifying and that we couldn’t see it because we were too young. Then one day after we begged him all day, um, he got it out for us from the video store, and we watched Jaws together. After the first scene, where the woman is being dragged around in the water, all of us kids were just like, “Dad, can we please turn this off? This is already too scary! We don’t want to do this.” And, Dad said to us, “Nope. You forced me to do this and you’re going to sit and watch the whole thing.”
Andrew: That’s what you get.
Josh: Yeah, that is what we got. We watched the whole thing, and, of course we were terrified and it was a crazy experience.
Andrew: But look at where it’s led you now!
Josh: Exactly! And that was the point where I was like, “Whoa! This thing really affected me, like, hardcore. It’d be really cool to do that to other people.” Then I started loving that film and it’s, like, one of my favorite films now. Definitely in my top five.
Andrew: So, what age did you decide that this was going to be more of a career choice instead of just a hobby or an interest?
Josh: Well, I definitely think it was during high school when I had, like, some opportunity to think about the future. Because before, kind of like everyone, you start off wanting to be an actor. You want to be a movie star, you want to be on TV and shit. I started high school still kind of thinking that, but, like everyone, I kind of went through a lot of stuff during adolescence and I got a little bit more introverted and started doing some more stuff behind the camera and, like, the process of making it rather than actually “starring” in anything or anything like that. So that’s when I kind of realized that it was something that I really wanted to do. Something I could be really good at.
Andrew: And then you went to school, right?
Josh: Yeah, that’s right. I took a gap year, a well-needed gap year, and, um, after that I decided to study it, filmmaking, and that was a huge step for me. Because I had no idea what I was going to do after high school, but I made the decision and I think it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, yeah.
Andrew: What is your creative process like?
Josh: Usually I’ll just get some inspiration… from some sort of art form or person.
Andrew: Do you just mass watch horror movies?
Josh: Yeah, I mean, I watch horror movies on the daily pretty much, it’s like they’re always there.
Andrew: Like me and fantasy movies.
Josh: Yeah, yeah, like, you just watch loads of the stuff that you really… A lot of it you really like, a lot of it is really crap, but, like, it’s still film.
Andrew: Get that dose of inspiration.
Josh: Yeah, you see these things being made, and you like them, or think some parts of them are interesting, and then you kind of get some inspiration. A lot of the time, for me, it has to do with music, and kind of the mood of a song and it usually, like, sends my mind to a scene that maybe I made up, or just a character or something goes on in my head where I’m thinking about how I could use this music. A lot of the time I’ll start a story off from that. The people around me, as well, very much help in that respect. Super inspirational, I’m friends with a lot of, like, “arty” people I guess? Lots of different fields, and they’re very inspirational people and it just makes me want to keep going with it, too, since everyone around me is doing it and we all love it. Personality traits is a big one for characters, as well, so the people around me usually, I’m gonna throw them in there a bit.
Andrew: Yeah, that’s what happens with everybody, don’t worry.
Andrew: Um, so, horror is basically your primary genre.
Andrew: But do you ever consider experimenting with other genres, or are there other genres that you’re interested in?
Josh: Um, I, in the future would definitely want to do more than just horror films. At the moment, I’m still kind of in the stage where I feel like I haven’t made all I can make with the horror thing. I’m quite early on and I feel like I have a lot of, like, resources to make that kind of film. So, I’m kind of sticking to that currently.
Andrew: You made a romantic horror film, too.
Josh: Well, not romantic horror.
Andrew: You should make romantic horror a genre. That could be your “thing.”
Josh: Well, I mean, it kind of is already, though, and I’m not a huge fan of that, you know? Like, back when I made that film, I guess I probably would have been, but, you know.
Andrew: It’s one of your best, though.
Josh: Pfft. I don’t know. I have fond memories of making it.
Andrew: Well, that’s good. Where do you usually draw your influences from?
Josh: Films like Jaws. Like, the experiences I had watching these incredible, magical films when I was young, and being amazed by them. Recently, it’s been music videos. Music videos has always been something I would want to do, as well, which is great, because, like, imagine doing that for a living? That would be really, really cool. So, yeah, music videos, usually they’ll just kind of have a idea and it’ll be to the music so it wouldn’t be like a fully fleshed out story or anything. That usually means you can kind of, like, take like little parts that you want to and maybe, like, put it with some other things and create a new thing.
Josh: And, of course, the people around me, like I said before, definitely.
Andrew: So, as I said earlier, we’re in Wellington.
Andrew: Which is pretty awesome —
Andrew: — because they made The Lord of the Rings here.
Josh: They sure did, as you say so often.
Andrew: Some of us think that’s really cool! I mean, going to the Weta Workshop is a fifteen minute drive from where we’re currently sitting. When I’m sitting 7,000 miles away in America, I could not just drive down the road, so, Wellington’s pretty cool.
Josh: That’s true.
When I’m sitting 7,000 miles away in America, I could not just drive down the road, so, Wellington’s pretty cool.
Josh: Yet, I’ve never been to Weta Workshop.
Andrew: Have you really?
Josh: Never. I’ve been here three years now.
Andrew: Crazy! Wow, that was one of the first things I did! But, I mean, I’m a tourist as well.
Andrew: So, with that all being said, if you were to ever leave Wellington, where would you go, and where do you think you would find the most opportunity?
Josh: I do plan eventually, sometime within the next maybe two or three years moving to Melbourne. I think that would be a pretty cool place to live because people… I know a lot of people that live there now, and they say it’s like Wellington, just a lot bigger and more things going on. That is very appealing. So I think I’m going to end up there, um, soon, but then in the future I guess I would want to be working all over the world if I was making films. I think maybe the U.S. would be a place I could end up.
Andrew: Just don’t say L.A.
Josh: Yeah, I already know I’m not going to be in L.A. I feel like I’m not really an L.A. kind of person.
Andrew: You could see the real Hollywood sign, though.
Josh: I mean, I could.
Andrew: You guys in Wellington have that really cute Wellington sign.
Josh: Oh, my god… Don’t even bring that up! We hate it!
Andrew: I love it, though!
Josh: I really don’t know why.
Andrew: Now I understand why the “n” is blowing away, because this city has a monsoon every other day!
Josh: Oh, well, “monsoon”… It’s just our regular wind.
Andrew: It’s a bit of an exaggeration.
Josh: But it is a lot of wind all the time.
Andrew: Oh, my goodness! It is absolutely insane! So, this is a pretty massive industry, obviously. I’m sure you face certain challenges, certain fears, certain doubts. Do you want to talk a little bit about that, and maybe how you face those challenges and fears? How you are overcoming them?
Josh: I think the main “thing” about it that is maybe holding me back is the fear of actually doing it, actually changing everything.
Andrew: So, a fear of success more than anything?
Josh: Yeah, I think that very much overrides my fear of failure.
Andrew: Because it is pretty scary.
Josh: Exactly. And I think I definitely would be okay if I failed, if I tried it and failed, but it’s the fact that it’s, like, there’s potential that I could try it and succeed.
Andrew: Because it changes your life.
Josh: It would definitely change a lot of things in my life. Pretty much that’s the end goal, really, is to change everything and get to be a professional and, you know, do some really cool stuff that I want to do with my life. It’s terrifying!
Andrew: So you would say that your main fear would be success over failure?
Andrew: Do you think that that plays a part in some of the decision making that you’ve made in the films in the past?
Josh: I think it’s always in the back of my mind whenever I’m doing anything of the sort to do with filmmaking. I think about, like, if I keep going with this project, there’s going to be another project, I’m going to have more experience and I’m going to be more willing to get further into it and it’s always on my mind and it’s, I always think about it, I just don’t usually confront it in my mind. I’m still getting there with that, I’m still working up the confidence to really push and go for it.
Andrew: Yeah. Um, well, how do you plan on overcoming these obstacles? How do you plan on tackling them and facing them? Think ambitious here, I like ambition.
Josh: I’m doing a few things, I’m looking at studying further. Not specifically in the film area, but something that would help me with areas of the filmmaking process, that would give me more experience and may also open up some more doors in maybe other industries. I’m not too sure yet, that’s just kind of on the backburner, but I still think about it a little bit. Um, I keep applying for some big jobs, some like, you know, proper stuff that would change everything. I’m still doing that, even though it’s a difficult thing to get into. I think there’s still opportunity for it to work out, so I’m still doing that, and I’m just working on my own stuff. Trying to make things that I am proud of and I think are worth watching and showing it to other people and, you know, getting my name out there.
Andrew: So where do you see yourself in a year?
Josh: In a year?
Andrew: What about five?
Josh: Oh, geeze.
Andrew: What about even ten?
Andrew: I know!
Josh: Well, one year, I think I’m still going to be here in Wellington. I think I’m going to have a few extra little short films or projects that I would have done, and I hope to be also in the process of making more at that time, in a year, which would be great. I think I’ll be close to the point of moving to Melbourne, as well.
Five years? Melbourne, with a film job, a real one, um, a lot of experience, and, yeah, just hopefully succeeding living over there in a different country, which would be cool.
Ten years I definitely want to be making films. Being, like, a complete professional, having a lot of work, a lot of projects that I care about and really like and really loved to make. And working on bigger ones. Just continuing that kind of way of life, that career.
Andrew: How exciting! So, where can people find the films that you’ve already made, including that romantic horror film?
Josh: You can find them on vimeo.com/joshuashute. That’s my Vimeo account and it’s got some things in there, some extra little, I don’t know, behind-the-scenes kinds of things as well.
Andrew: Great! Well, thank you very much!
Josh: No worries.