Joshua Shultz | Director ‘STROBE’

By Candice Anne Marshall

A few short weeks ago, I connected with industry peer Joshua Shultz (Bellus Magazine CEO in Los Angeles, CA) and found out that he was completing the final touches on his first ever short film ‘STROBE’. Shultz has been featured previously on our Spotlight and an in-depth interview discussing the project and it is finally here and ready to launch publicly into major film festivals globally. The film will be visible to the public shortly for a limited time, and then will be submitted privately into film festivals. I was fortunate enough to be privy to a private viewing of the film recently.

Here is my summation:

STROBE is a thrill ride from start to finish. Los Angeles-based Director Joshua Shultz (CEO Bellus Magazine) has accomplished a film that is exquisite in composition, compelling in its theme, with powerful performances by lead Actors’ Chelsea Debo and her love interest, Charan Andreas (Selena Gomez video). Actor Mateus Ward brings this dynamic film to its climax with a combustible bang that will leave viewers craving more. Undoubtedly, Shultz’s first short film is the beginnings of a ‘Tarantino-Luhrmann’ style union that exceeds all film industry expectations in terms of quality and substance. If you know of anyone struggling with DRUG ADDICTION, or are wanting to catch a glimpse of just how it affects the lives of those around them, This is the film to see in 2017!”

We recently were able to connect with Shultz for an in-depth interview following our private viewing of the film. Here’s what he had to say:

Interview | ‘STROBE’ Director: Joshua Shultz – May 2017

SMC – Hello Joshua! Congrats on the production of your first film ‘Strobe’! Let’s begin first by chatting a little about your career – I know that you are the CEO of your own magazine ‘Bellus’ and I am curious what lead to this journey in directing a film?

JS – Since I was a kid I have had the dream about directing movies.  I used to build mini movie sets in the back yard with my brother.  We also practiced stunts.  We would watch movies over and over and study them. 

SMC – This is a very intrinsic and intense film. There are areas in it where the viewer can connect to human emotion, and then parts of the film focus on the ugly side of drug addiction. I saw that the film was dedicated to ‘Shane Drellen’ – is this a true story account?

JS – Thank you.  When I decided to make this short film, I wanted it to feel as real as possible.  Every character is based on someone in real life I know.  I was working hard to get someone close to me off drugs.  He had already almost died a few times.  I didn’t want to give up on him.  So, I was trying anything I knew.  I noticed that when I tried to convince him not to harm his body, he didn’t care.  He said it was his body and he can do what he wants with it.  But when he noticed his grandma emotionally hurt in a major way and crying, this touched him on a much deeper level.  He then started making major life changes that ended up saving his life.  I thought this was so fascinating.  I wanted to make a film showing a dramatic scenario of how drugs can destroy lives in more than one way.  Shane was a friend of mine and a few other members of the cast and crew who happen to pass away because of drugs.  After I had shot the film I showed him some of the scenes.  I had become close to him and so decided to dedicate it to him. 

SMC – Who is the creative team behind the film?

JS – I directed it and came up with the idea.  A talented film maker named Sandu Negrea helped me write.  The lead actors are, Chelsea Debo, Charan Andreas, Sammi Hanratty and Mateus Ward.  DP was Jake Isham.  Composer was Emmy award winner Ali Helnwein, colorist was Tyler Fagerstrom and many other incredible team members.  I believe you are only as great as your team.  I got lucky that I had the dream team.  I will list full credits in the film. 

SMC – Who wrote the script?

JS – Sandu Negrea and myself. 

SMC – When choosing your actors, what specifically were you looking for in a type=cast role?

JS – I cast people I knew that where the most like the character or who I knew could nail it as the role.  Every actor in this film blew me away. 

**Spoiler Alert**

SMC – Chelsea Debo plays such a key role in this film where she is the one who saves a life and inevitably is sacrificed by having her life taken. How do you feel she performed in this role?

JS – This was the first time I had worked with her in a narrative.  We are friends and I had seen her work and we worked together on a music video.  She met with me, asked a lot of questions and got really prepped.  She showed up to set and was very easy to work with and once I yelled action, she became the character and blew me away.   

SMC – What made you decide to choose such a powerful subject for your first film?

JS – I know several people who have had their life destroyed or passed away because of drugs.  So, I wanted to make a film that maybe would inspire someone to not destroy their life and take a much happier path.   

SMC – You had mentioned to me that ‘Strobe’ will be submitted for a film festival – can you tell us which one(s)?

JS – We’ll all the major ones and several smaller ones.  I am waiting for the sound to be done by the magazine Rob Felios and then it goes out to the world.   

SMC – You have been interviewed/reviewed by The Huffington Post and NBC prior to submitting your film – what were those experiences like?

JS – Amazing.  I am madly in love with film making and I am very passionate about helping people get off drugs and life a happier life.  Getting to share my story on a platform where I can get my communication out to many people is amazing.   

SMC -What has the support in the industry been like for your endeavor?

JS – You know occasionally you meet the crazies.  But for the most part I had had the great pleasure of meeting other film makers who are just as obsessed in making beautiful films as me.  So, we end up having fun making our films.   

SMC – Can you tell me exactly what kind of overall feel you were going for in this film?

JS – I wanted it to have a real and surreal look and feel.  I wanted to take you on a journey and create an emotional response  

SMC – How soon will the general public be able to see this film?

JS – In about 2 weeks I will release it for a limited time.  Then it will become private and I will submit to film festivals worldwide for the next year.   

SMC – Did you create this film with the thought that it could be used as an educational tool for youth in schools?

JS – I did not.  It might be a little too edgy for that ha-ha!

SMC – What is the intent behind this film – do you think the intensity in the film will affect society in some way?

JS – I hope that anyone who watches it, thinks about how their actions affect not just themselves but friends and family as well.  Maybe that will help them make decisions that are based off the greatest good for them and the people in their life.   

SMC – What are your thoughts on drug use in society today?

JS – I think it’s kind of a waste.  I have met people who are nervous or sad or whatever and so they take something not to feel.  But life should be lived.  You should feel love, excitement, fear, grief, interest, lust and enthusiasm.  Just like when I watch a movie and you have to work hard to overcome great barriers, once you do the reward is so much greater.  If you spend your whole life trying not to feel anything, then life to me becomes boring and pointless.  I say live life fully.  Get out of your comfort zone.  Ask out that girl or guy that you are sacred to ask out.  Push yourself to new levels and you will feel levels of happiness you didn’t know existed before!  I don’t think you can truly feel life if you are drugged up all the time or even worse if you are addicted and it is controlling your life and you are on your way to death.  Fuck that.  Go on the adventure called life!!

SMC – Do you think ‘Strobe’ has the power to educate and perhaps influence societies decisions on drug use?

JS – I mean, I hope so!  Even if it changes one life for the better it would have been worth it. 

SMC – Are you thinking about doing a full-length movie for this film that will fill the viewer into the story behind ‘Strobe’ a little more in-depth?

JS – No.  Just a short film.  But my next film is a full movie. 

SMC – Ohhhh exciting! Is this in the near future?

JS – Yes.  Working on my first full movie called Karma. 

SMC – When did the concept for ‘Strobe’ come to you?

JS – Jan 2016.

SMC – What was behind the name of the film – why ‘Strobe’?

JS – A Strobe is a flash of light.  Comes and goes and comes and goes.  To me drugs can take a life in a flash.  Also, we have a strobe in the first party scene and the lead actor has Epilepsy so he has to wear glasses when he is near Strobes.   

SMC – Do you think that the kinds of projects that an Artist/Director such as yourself works on define or is a reflection of yourself?

JS – Maybe.  So far, this film and the next one are based on real life situations I have seen or been through.  I feel like I can make a better film if I have real life experience. 

SMC – How long did it take to film this project from start to finish?

JS – Over a year.  Mainly because I had to juggle my other paid projects while making this passion project.   

SMC – What is the sequence of events behind making a film like this in terms of the production process?

JS – Write the concept.  Get a producer.  Figure out all the stuff you need to make the film.  Cast it.  Shoot it.  Do all the post production until the film Is where you want it to be. 

SMC – This had an almost Quentin Tarantino vibe to it in terms of shock value – you actually see the lead male in this film (Debo’s boyfriend) almost overdose in a park right beside her while she is off in la la land. That’s intense! What are your thoughts on my comparison?

JS – I wanted to have a scene where you are forced to confront an uncomfortable situation and sort of live it with the actors and have no edit.  Just one long take so you go through it just like he does.  Also, to be compared to a great director like Tarantino is amazing!

SMC – Can you tell us where you see yourself in the next few years in terms of all your projects in the film and magazine industry? What is your overall goal?

JS – I would love to have made a number of successful films that I love and the magazine being one of the major sources of information in the US.   

SMC – We are going to be launching this feature on our new SMC SPOTLIGHT! Along with our interview with Chelsea Debo, your lead Actress for the film, what are your thoughts on that?

JS – FUCK yes!  Love this publication and I am honored to be a part of it.   

SMC – What do you look for in terms of quality in your projects?

JS – Realism.  Also, beauty.  I want to be taking on a journey and forget that I am watching a movie.   

SMC – What does success mean to you?

JS – Having goals and achieving them.   

SMC – Can you tell us what a day in the life was like during the filming of ‘Strobe’?

JS – I didn’t sleep for 4 days shooting it.  It’s like going to war.  You make a plan.  You organize the troops and then you execute it and at the end you hope you have an incredible film.   

SMC – Final question: Can you tell us five things about yourself that others may not know about you?

JS – My favorite place is the beach, I grew up around motorcycles, I learned how to do most hats in film making, I got into Directing when I turned 30 and I love random adventures.

SMC – Thank you Joshua! We look forward to sharing this with our readers!

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Joshua Shultz Social Media Links (click to view)

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