In 2018 I wrote and directed a short film, for the first time in 6 years, since my days in college.  I had been writing the script on an off for over 2 years (2015  – 2017), and it evolved over 10 different drafts.

While it was always my intention to make this film, it didn’t ever get off the ground during this time, and it was starting to seem like it would never happen.  Finally… with a much needed big push from my producer, Chris, the project entered Pre-Production in January 2018, and we built a team of talent that would bring this idea to life.

Originally, the film was called Alia, and it took place on an alien world, with a hideous alien creature having a lucid dream, where it experienced what life was like as a beautiful human woman on earth.  Despite the woman’s beauty on the outside, her personal life was a mess and very lonely, and she ended up committing suicide.  Ultimately, this concept of a hideous creature discovering what it means to be beautiful remained, while the more physical aspects of the film were changed.

It was clear to me that I did not have resources to create an entire alien world, as depicted in the early Alia drafts.  In addition, the early drafts weren’t quiet working as a script.  So, we simplified the film significantly so it took place entirely on earth, in a normal every-day apartment, while also rewriting much of the story so it became a lot more relevant and personal to me and my life.  The alien character was re-written into a creature (no longer an alien, yet still not quite human) lurking around inside the beautiful woman’s trashed apartment.  The woman’s name was changed from Alia (a non-human name, hinting at an alien) to Sophia, as we kept the “ia” at the end of her name, while also naming her partly after someone in my personal life, who caused me an intense amount of emotional pain (the earlier Alia drafts had nothing to do with my life whatsoever; it was all made up).  After all these changes were made to the script, it became clear that the name of the film should also change from Alia to something more fitting to the narrative, and hence the film ended up being called Shallow.

Chris and I hired a Director of Photography, Special Effects Makeup Artist, Production Designer, Camera Crew, Composer, Sound Mixer, and a Colorist to make this movie.  In April 2018, after the crew was set, we held formal auditions at CAZT in West Hollywood for the 3 main roles (The Dark Creature, Sophia and her boyfriend Joseph).  We struggled to find the right male actor for Joseph, but we got extremely lucky with John who nailed his audition and ended up being the perfect fit.  We found the actress, Ruby, for the creature off of craigslist, and also got extremely lucky with her, as very few other actresses were interested in getting into full body black creature makeup.  As for Sophia, we had nearly 30 different actresses interested… as EVERYONE wanted to play the beautiful girlfriend!  Casting Sophia was by far the most difficult part of casting.  I had no idea who we’d end up choosing.  In the end, after several tough decisions, we ended up with Marie, who was so perfect for the role and did an amazing job.

Shallow entered production in May of 2018, over the course of 2 weekends (4 full days of filming).  I self-funded the film, and paid the entire crew out of my own pocket (I did not use kickstarter, or any other fundraising resources), using the money I saved up from my current gig at the time while working in post-production on Godzilla: King of the Monsters.  I poured so much of my savings from that job into this film, having spent about $6,000 to get the film finished.  It was so worth it.

Post-Production lasted the second half of 2018, and the film was completely finished by the end of December of that year.  We entered the film festival circuit in 2019, and won several small online film festival awards, and got screened at Glendale International Film Festival in October 2019, which was the highlight.  Here’s a picture of the movie theater that screened Shallow, and a picture of Chris and I on the red carpet (click the images to enlarge):



Finally, I’m ready to release Shallow online to the public.  Without further ado, here is the final, finished film – please enjoy (set the quality to 1080p):

After the film was finished, I ended up putting together an additional short 5 minute Behind The Scenes video, which gives you a special exclusive look into the making of Shallow.  We had such a large amount of unused footage and outtakes, that I knew this featurette was begging to be made – please enjoy (set the quality to 1080p):

Shallow was intended to be the first of more narrative short films I plan on making in the future.  While I am not yet ready to officially announce any future projects, I can say that I have a handful in development, in collaboration with several different creative friends I’m working with.  More to come!

Where Are The Cutting Rooms For Blockbuster Movies?

You’ve seen the movies on the big screen.  You start to ask yourself questions about how it got made.  After all, you’re watching the end result of years worth of work and thousands of creative conversations and meetings that have taken place during that time.  But… have you ever wondered, WHERE these big movies get made?  Specifically, where they get EDITED during Post-Production?

Well, having working on multiple huge blockbuster feature films, I am in a rare position to shed a bit of light on this question.   While I can’t list EVERY single location these big movies get edited, because every movie is different, I can list many of the COMMON locations that many of the huge blockbuster movies use as their cutting rooms.

First off, who makes the decision to where the cutting room ends up being?  It’s definitely a political process, that is ultimately decided by the high ups, either the Director, the Studio, the Producers, and/or sometimes even the Editor/s.  It’s never a decision that is given to the crew to make; all of us lower-level workerbees just have to deal with whatever the result of that decision is.  So, what are the common locations used for blockbuster movie cutting rooms?

Once a movie reaches post-production, they almost always “come home”,  in the sense that there is no longer any point in the crew staying out in the field whether the movie was shot (usually OUTSIDE of LA),  so, we can start off by basically narrowing it down to the city to Los Angeles – that’s where the big movies do get edited during post-production (2 notable exceptions are New York City and London, which also do have some big movies being edited there during post-production – but NOT nearly as many as LA).  So, where in Los Angeles?  Well, LA is a huge city, but, I have observed that there are 2 main “hot spots” as I like to call them.  One of those areas is Burbank / The Valley (particularly the East Valley).  The other area is The West Side (Santa Monica, Culver City, and West Los Angeles).  There are some spots inbetween that have cutting rooms, such as the actual city of Hollywood (where Paramount and Netflix are located, which do have feature film cutting rooms), but overall it’s not as common for the big blockbusters -  I commonly notice smaller / lower budget movies and productions generally making Hollywood their home for post-production.

I would argue that Burbank really is the biggest overall spot – you’ve got Disney, Warner Bros, and Universal Pictures nearly next door to each other – that’s 3 of the Big 6 major studios.  Beyond that, you’ve got Marvel (on the Disney lot) and Legendary (who both usually host their own feature film’s cutting rooms inside their headquarters in Burbank), Burbank Studios (which hosts multiple big TV show cutting rooms), Warner Bros Ranch, and CBS Radford Studios nearby in Studio City.  Beyond that, there’s TONS of office buildings with various other production companies in that area, fully equipped with cutting rooms -  most notably, one of which is located across the street from Burbank Studios, and home to Pivotal Post, which has hosted numerous blockbuster movie cutting rooms over the years.  So Burbank / The Valley (the east side) really is the #1 spot for big budget feature film editorial cutting rooms in all of Los Angeles.

On the other side of the city, where it’s far more dense, congested, and difficult to get to because of hellish traffic, you’ve got The West Side.  First off, you’ve got Sony Pictures and Fox Studios near each other, which both have multiple big movie cutting rooms on their lots (just like all other major studios I’ve already listed earlier).  Then, in Santa Monica, you’ve got 2 different major office complexes which I keep hearing about over and over again as the years go by, which each host multiple big blockbuster movie cutting rooms: Tribeca West and Lantana – both are near each other off Olympic Blvd.  And both of those locations are major hubs for post-production editorial office locations.  Nearby in Santa Monica, there’s also Bad Robot, and Bruckheimer Films – both home to the editing rooms of some very huge blockbuster movies.  Beyond that, just like the Burbank area, you’ve got many additional office buildings, fully capable of hosting editorial cutting rooms.  Not to mention, if you go further south on the West Side, you’ll eventually hit Manhattan Beach Studios, which is a more isolated and lesser known hot spot for some pretty huge productions, including Avatar, and it used to be the home of Marvel Studios, just to name a select few.

I will also say, there is one office building way out in Pasadena that I also keep hearing about, which gets used for some major blockbuster cutting rooms as well – I know it’s been used for Batman v Superman and Star Trek Beyond, among others.  I’ve never been there, and don’t know where it is specifically, but I do know it’s in South Pasadena.  This mysterious isolated building (which I keep hearing about over the years) fascinates me and I hope to work there one day – it’s the ONLY spot in all of Pasadena that I know of that gets used for the big blockbuster cutting rooms  – so far away from all the other spots I’ve already mentioned.

There’s SO many more spots that get used beyond what I’ve listed, and it’s impossible to list them all, but this post really does give you a solid overall sense of where these cutting rooms are.  They do like their privacy, and there aren’t really many ways to find out publicly where these cutting rooms are – you really have to have some inside knowledge; knowing people working on these movies, to find out where they are being edited.   So there you go – I’ve just given you the inside scoop.

The Dream vs. Stability

You want a job in the film industry.  You, like so many others around you, moved to LA to find your way in on a feature film or scripted television show.  You also want a stable, full time job so you can pay your bills.  Did you know that most people who work on the big movies and television shows don’t have stable, long term jobs?

The vast majority of movies and television you watch, are made by an army of (a majority) of freelancers.  There are exceptions, which I’ll get to, but for now let this fact sink in.  Freelance.  There is nothing “secure” or “stable” about the type of work we do here in Hollywood.

If you’re looking for a stable, full time, high paying, long term, permanent job, I’ll tell you right now, you’re probably looking in the wrong place.   Not letting that stop you?  Ok, read on…

Each production (a movie or television show, etc.) is a job.  The making of that production is the duration of the job.  Eventually, after maybe a year or two (depends on the production, budget and deadlines, etc.), the show gets finished, and released, hence the job ends.  The movie’s release date is your guaranteed Unemployment date.

If you’re working in live action, in production, or post-production, odds are you are a freelancer, in the Union (I’ll cover the Union in another post, but just FYI, the Union is how freelancers get benefits and a fair, live-able rate of pay, etc.).

If you’re working in animation, odds are, you might be full time at the animation company (not always, but it is common).  For example, Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney Animation, Lucasfilm Animation, etc., all make their productions from a Full Time Team of permanent Employees.  Animation is a different beast than live action, so consider that (it generally doesn’t pay as well as Union rates though).  But the live action feature films and television shows, those are basically all freelancers, but they are the real deal (name any famous director, actor, producer, etc.).

There are exceptions to freelance in the bigger live action productions.  For example, the visual effects and 3D vendors, who are responsible for making most or all the visual effects and 3D conversion, are made up on full time, permanent employees of various vendors (a vendor is a smaller company, not always located in LA, many times Canada or somewhere else in the world, who is hired by the freelance production team to produce some aspect of the movie for them, whether it’s a bunch of visual effect shots, or even the Title / Credits sequence).  You can also be full time at the DI / Online facility that handles the film.  In addition, you can be full time on the Studio side, though that’s not really where the “filmmaking” aspect takes place, it’s more of an office environment (full time / permanent work though) where you communicate with the actual freelancer filmmakers who are actually touching the movie, an provide support to the production with various needs, expenses and deadlines.

But, again, the freelancers are the real Creatives behind the success or failure of any production – think the actors, director, producer, writer, editor, etc.  If you can line up stable work in freelance and keep that momentum going, good for you!  Somehow I’ve been doing it for 6 years now, and I keep telling myself I’ll keep doing it as long as I can.  Finding work is an art form in and of itself, which you need to get good at, and that’s a whole another post for anther time.

So, back to the question, of The Dream vs. Stability – you generally can’t have both (a few small exceptions listed above).  So take your pick.


Chasing The Hollywood Dream

Hi.  My name is Josh.  I Make Movies.  And I’ve been working in the Film Industry for the last 5 Years.

My area of expertise is in post-production, specifically Editing.  I spent four years studying it in film school before moving to Los Angeles.  I chose editing because I knew that’s where the jobs were, and because I was good at it.  Sure enough, I found work here, in my area of study (editing), and have been busy ever since.

My goal, and my dream, over the last 5 years has always been the same: Work On Movies.  The Big Ones.  Star Wars.  Star Trek.  I could go on, but you get the idea.  That is my dream, and my patience was tested.  Over the years, I accepted many different types of editing / post-production jobs at many different companies, most notably Reality Television.  That’s the secret to how I paid my bills as I continued to search for the jobs I really wanted but could never find.  I hated Reality, and I was loosing hope.  I was starting to doubt whether I would ever find the job of my dreams.  Then, finally, Destiny came knocking in my greatest time of need…

Through a connection from my old film school, I was offered my very first opportunity on a big budget feature film, called The Great Wall, at the major film company, Legendary.  If only I had found this job all those years ago when I first moved to LA, but it took me all this time to build the strong network of contacts needed to get here.

The secret to finding these jobs is WHO you know, not WHAT you know.  That’s it.  It’s that simple.  If you don’t KNOW someone who works on these types of movies, you’ll very likely NEVER find a way in.  I spent years looking for jobs on online job websites (Entertainment Careers, StaffMeUp, etc.), only to discover I was looking in the wrong places, and going about it completely wrong.  What I learned is I needed to reach out to specific PEOPLE, via their direct email addresses, in order to start finding these types of opportunities.  Once I started doing that, and changing my approach to how I found work, the opportunities started coming.

I have learned so much on my path to getting here, and I’ll share more of that in many blog posts to come, but for now I’ll leave it at that.

Want to work in the film industry?  Making the move to LA?  Don’t know anyone?  Learn from my 5 years of trial and errors, and save yourself the time: DON’T apply to online job ads (unless you are ok with getting trapped in the never ending circle of Reality Television and / or Trailer House and / or Internet Video jobs), and start REACHING OUT to as many people who work on the types of big Movies and / or TV Shows as you possibly can.  How do you find their emails, you might ask?  Good question.  The answer is IMDB Pro.  No, it’s not free, but for $20 per month, it’s worth it, to start opening doors to your career.


A New Beginning.

Today marks the launch of my new blog site.  I am very excited to share some of my thoughts and experiences with the world, as the early years of my professional career unfold.  Please join me in my journey as a filmmaker, and come back to visit every now and then for updates!

Though this post is called “A New Beginning”, it is really a new chapter of an older beginning that started just about five years ago, when I graduated film school and moved to LA to join the film industry.  Since then I have already come a long way, working in post-production at over a dozen different film and television production companies, meeting awesome people, learning new tricks in my craft, joining the lingo of LA lifestyle, and more.  But the journey has only just begun, and the best is yet to come.

Here’s to the future!