Indefinable Filmmaking with Joshua Powell

Powell (on right) reviewing a take on a film setPowell (on right) reviewing a take on a film set
Powell (on right) reviewing a take on a film set
Powell (on right) reviewing a take on a film set

The inside joke of most professionals whose career is in the Arts is that they are one job away from being unemployed. That’s applicable whether you just won the Oscar for best actor or play bass in a cover band. Of course, we are all one job away from being out of work but for the likes of filmmakers and musicians, this is a very literal definition. Writer/producer/director Joshua Powell doesn’t give much credence to this concept as he spends his time and energy in more positive ways like the creation of the many acclaimed productions he’s been a part of. As producer of Backlog (an official selection of LA Shorts, the Cleveland International Film Festival, and Burbank International Film Festival), he spotlighted the problems of the justice system regarding date rape. Powell directed Phantom, a lush early twentieth century psychological thriller/horror, collaborating with executive producer (and Oscar Nominee) John Watson. Jack and Lou: A Gangster Love Story (on which Joshua served as screenplay writer) was an award-winning podcast and is near completion as a feature film on the Warner Brothers lot starring Linda Hamilton (Primetime Emmy Nominated Actress widely known for the Terminator films). In the wake of all these, Mr. Powell finds himself immersed in the creation of several more projects, proof that constant motion is his ethos.

  Mr. Powell is presently in preproduction for Neither Donkey Nor Horse which will begin shooting this June. Set at the turn of the early twentieth century in the Chinese province of Manchuria, this film tells the story of Wu Lien-the, a Cambridge educated doctor who struggled against both experts of his native China and Western Medicine to prove his theory about the real cause of the 1910 Manchurian Plague. The theme has never been more timely than it is currently. Joshua finds the demands of this setting attractive and notes, “Most of cosmetic challenges, such as wardrobe, interior production design, even accents for the actors, are relatively straightforward to solve, given enough time, effort and preparation. This setting demands a very specific look for our locations, which is where I anticipate our greatest challenges will lie. Buildings will need to have both pre-war AND Chinese architectural aesthetics, and because the film is set during Christmas, we will need to pass exterior scenes as winter. Pretty challenging for a June shoot…just the way I like it.”

  Documentaries are more popular than ever with the ubiquity of streaming services which cater to fans who seek being informed rather than simply being entertained. Joshua is presently producing a web docuseries titled Athlete+ which presents celebrated student athletes and their personal/creative pursuits off the field. Track & Field star Brendon Stewart is the first subject with 2022 Heisman trophy winner Caleb Williams next and many more to follow. This Three Mask Media production is expected to be released before summer 2023. Continually cultivating different perspectives, Joshua is also writing a supernatural horror/thriller feature film with a distinctive Latino element. To some, it might seem that Joshua is allowing himself to be pulled in different directions constantly but he feels that the process rejuvenates him and creates a renewable cycle of ideas. He confides, “I am committed to bringing the best possible results to each project, and I am always looking for new ways to innovate and push the boundaries of what is possible in the world of media and entertainment. Overall, I believe that the film industry offers a wealth of opportunities and resources for filmmakers, and I am excited to be pursuing my craft in this vibrant and dynamic community. The most significant challenge I’ve faced in my filmmaking career is finding the right balance between networking and gaining professional experience, while still allowing myself the freedom to pursue purely creative projects. It can be a delicate balancing act to juggle these different aspects of my career, as each requires a different set of skills and demands a different approach. At times, I have found myself pulled in different directions, torn between the need to make the right connections and advance my career, which is incredibly challenging in and of itself, with so many talented individuals vying for the same opportunities, and the desire to explore my own creative vision. By staying focused and tenacious, and being willing to take risks and pursue my own unique vision, I have been able to find a way to strike a balance between these two important aspects of my work. I believe that both networking and creative exploration are essential for success in the film industry and I am committed to continuing to find ways to navigate these different demands and pursue my own creative passions.”

Writer: Arlen Gann

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