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Artist Spotlight: Joshua Friedman

“When I say I’m excited, I mean like there’s lightning shooting out of my eyeballs.”

A special thank you to our first ever artist to be spotlighted here at The Atlantis Awards. I’m pleased to introduce Joshua Friedman, writer and director of the exceptional short film ‘The Queen’s Jewels’, which is now an official contender in multiple categories of The Atlantis Awards. While nominees have not yet been announced; the team at The Atlantis Awards couldn’t help but recognize the professionalism in the work on your project. Based on that; we couldn’t help but reach out early and invite you here for a chat.

 Tell us a little about yourself, growing up and your passions. 

I grew up in Newtown, Connecticut, you may have heard it about it because of the tragedy that took place there. Though, my hometown is mostly known for what had happened there, it’s not how I remember it all. When I think home, I think of lush green grass, muddy knees, and storybook hometown friends that I used to sneak alcohol from our parent’s liquor cabinets with. I think belly-aching laughter and what it feels like to play outside on a “warm enough” day after the snow melts. I was definitely one of those kids who would tell myself one day I’d get out of this place and become a movie star; I thank my parents for that. Without them I don’t know if I would have had the same ambition, the same fire I do now. 

Currently, I live in Vero Beach, Florida and my passion for writing has grown into a passion for directing and producing. ( Outside of filmmaking ) I like to tend to my garden like an eighty-year-old man and of course, I love my dog and my cat ( Red and Sapphire ). I have an innate passion for adventure, wildlife, and exploration. Additionally, I love horses, there’s something special between the connection of man and horse unlike any other I’ve experienced with animals, a sense of intimacy that’s difficult to explain if it hasn’t been felt and / or experienced.

Did you have any specific influences growing up that lead you towards the film industry? 

Well, the first memory I have of anything film related would be my asking of my parents to let me see the Titanic in theaters, My parents wouldn’t let me go and my argument was that were dolphins in it ( I was 7 ). The next would be a memory from high school. One of my teacher’s had assigned us a creative writing assignment in which we had to write a 500-1000 word short story. I turned in my assignment and a few days later I walked into the classroom and my story was printed and on every desk in the class. My teacher, Mr. Keylock asked me to read the story aloud. Other teachers throughout my high school career would acknowledge my writing and I always appreciated that, because I thoroughly enjoyed getting to tell those stories. 

What are you currently working on? 

Currently, I’m working on developing The Queen’s Jewels feature film. The script is finished, though I do plan on Directing and Co-Producing this film and with that there are  many variables that come into play for preparation. Right now I’m working on the “Look Book” in which I’m accumulating different images that I can reference to my team in terms of lighting, location, style, color-tones, set design, casting, etc… 

Can you tell us about your experience in working with your team on ‘The Queen’s Jewels’? 

Low-budget film sets doesn’t come without it’s challenges. It can be incredibly stressful and bring out the best as well as the worst in people, so personally I find it to be very enlightening. I was pleasantly surprised to find some hidden gems lurking here on the treasure coast. Having my film background / education in Los Angeles, it was an incredible experience to bring a little of what I learned there, here, as well as discover incredibly talented individuals who understand what hard work means and have an incredible work ethic without any ego. Though, I feel like I’ve made it my personal mission to give them one. I’m incredibly proud of what we made here. 

 What were your main responsibilities on this film? 

Ensuring that the vision was executed and communicated effectively. My Co-Producer, Baylie Barnes and I accumulated 15+ sponsors…  To be honest, this question is a little tricky for me to answer, yes I had a team and of course it was a collaboration, though I oversaw the entire process from start to finish. 

What was the most important thing for this movie to achieve from a narrative and character standpoint? 

Anytime I make / create / write a story it’s important to me that each character is both grounded and relatable, though still maintains their own essence, per say. Sometimes, it’s how each character is depicted in contrast to the other that makes them shine. Other times, the characters simply shine on their own. I’m hoping that these characters will be remembered and will resonate with the audience in ways that character’s in the films and shows I watched growing up resonated with me. 

 ‘The Queen’s Jewels’ feels like the start of the adventure. Have you considered expanding this into a full feature film? 

Yes! The feature film is written and me and my Co-Producer, Baylie Barnes have begun the development process for the project. When I say I’m excited, I mean like there’s lightning shooting out of my eyeballs. 

While we’re on the topic; a lot of your projects (like ‘Your Name Is’ and ‘Sophia’s Song’) feel like they are part of a larger world. Do you visualize short form projects first, or do you create a feature script and then find a shorter story within that you can create independently?

Firstly, thank you for asking this question. So, each of those projects have the potential to be much larger projects, though when I created them I was writing to my allotted budget, which wasn’t much at all. I had to find creative, innovative ways to tell stories that could showcase what I believe I’m capable of doing as a filmmaker in a short amount of time. In some ways, you asking this question gives me hope, as the intention for each of those films was to have the audience wanting more. 

What makes a film interesting for you? What are three qualities that you look for in a movie? 

Style. Depth. Meaning. 

What project helped you launch your career? 

I’m really hoping this one; The Queen’s Jewels. As a Writer / Director most of my time is spent behind the camera or behind the scenes unlike actors who are front and center. An actor gets their break from being seen, so that’s what I did. I filmed myself in an interview and was just on Planet Vero’s radio in an interview about this project. I’m putting myself in the spotlight and hoping I’m being heard. 

What criteria do you use when building your team? 

Mostly instinct, intuition is always a solid tool. Each role of a film crew requires skill-sets specific to their expertise, so I look for individuals who I feel could both teach and be taught. This business is a people business and every team has a synergy specific to the project, so working with people or colleagues that I know can work well in a group setting as well as accomplish the tasks set before them in a professional, tactful, respectful and responsible way is highly important to me. A can-do attitude is essential. 

A common thread between many of your projects is an intense and musical soundscape, from Kevon’s deep and oppressive scoring of ‘Your Name Is’ to his heart rending strings in ‘Sophia’s Song’, now to your new collaborator Kanoa’s more escapist themes in ‘The Queen’s Jewels’. What can you tell us about the process of scoring a project – from finding the right collaborator through the production process, and into the final cut – how is it that you so consistently end up with such memorable results?

Again, thank you so much for acknowledging both Kevon, and Kanoa as they are both incredibly gifted and for the compliments. 

Making the music is actually one of my favorite parts about making films. It’s a different language, it’s translating feeling and emotion into sound and it’s something I thoroughly enjoy doing. I’m never not listening, if that makes sense. The musical process begins for me, actually, during the writing process. I’m typically listening to certain pieces that are helping to inspire character’s and scenes etc.. so it’s an ongoing process. 

A lot of times I have sounds in mind that invoke feeling within myself and I’ll send them clips or sounds that I feel do the job properly, even if it’s just a few sounds from one instrument in a song or a reel I find on Instagram. Both Kevon and Kanoa have an innate ability to receive the information and then translate it into a combination of both their interpretation of the sound, my interpretation, and then convey it in the story. No lie, my phone has hundreds and hundreds of notes of sound clips, Instagram reels, sometimes images I feel that help resonate with a sound. 

Working with composers, I mostly use my instinct as well as trust theirs. Their artistry, I feel comes from the heart, and I appreciate that.

There’s a rhythm to storytelling through sound, so placing the music in the appropriate place, finding the right sound, and then synergistically finding an encompassing theme to the project is an art in itself. I always enjoy when they play me something I didn’t think of and a lot of times I get teary-eyed when I hear and see the music over the project for the first time; call me a sap, whatever, I find it to be an incredibly beautiful experience. 

Working with Kanoa on this project was incredibly refreshing as I’d worked with Kevon on all my other project’s I’d ever made. It was bittersweet at first, you know, choosing to get out of my comfort zone, however, I’m happy I did. Kanoa is not only such a nice guy and a true talent, but he’s also becoming a friend of mine. 

As a screenwriter, what is the most important aspect of building a character? 

Each character is different, so that aspect changes per the story I’m telling. For this one, I tried to have Beau be as universally familiar and likable, though also grounded with a twinge of mystery and a dash of depth. 

What are your ambitions for your writing career? 

I mean, who in this business doesn’t aspire to win an Oscar or two one day? It’s the all-time feat to acclaim. 

What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to enter the film industry, especially as a film director? 

Listen first, act second, and that nothing is impossible so never give up on your dreams and what you believe in. 

 Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more?   

We have a couple social media pages, the Instagram is @thequeensjewelsFL and the Facebook is www.Facebook.com/TheQueensJewelsFL. Of course you can find me @Josh.Friedman1990 and follow any of the other members on the team if you’d like to keep up with us and perhaps find some “Easter Eggs” or hints about what’s to come. 

Thanks Josh! We appreciate you joining us and sharing some insight into your background and the project. We wish you and the team the best of luck with nominee announcements coming June 21st, and we hope you and the team can join us for the live show on June 25th. Take care and best wishes for your career moving forward.

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