Josh Roush [Interview]

Oh, do we have a special one for you fine folks today! Regular readers here know that based on the plethora of folks we have had featured on the site that have been involved in the world of Kevin Smith, View Askew, Smodco, etc…..we are HUGE fans of the world that Kevin has built around him. One of his greatest strengths and talents in the business has always been that he surrounds himself with wonderful and incredibly talented people. I feel as though he would totally agree with this statement. And today we have some wonderful words from another of the amazing people that he has on his team. It’s motherfuckin’ Dr. Josh, Ya’ll!

For fans of Hollywood Babble On, that last sentence probably made total sense. For the rest of you who may not have checked out this amazing live show/podcast, first of all how dare you?, and second of all I am talking about filmmaker and multimedia jack of all trades Josh Roush! Josh has been working in the Smith universe for quite some time. In fact, it was his work as a personal assistant to the legendary and sorrily missed Michael Parks on the set of Tusk that has led him to create a wonderful documentary about the life of Mr. Parks that seems so damn intriguing. It’s called Long Lonesome Highway: The Story of Michael Parks, and it is geared to be the most definitive story of Parks’s life you will ever need!

We were so honored that Josh was willing to grace our digital pages to tell us a bit about the doc, his work with Smith, and the plethora of other brilliant things he has managed to create in the world of entertainment. We learned so much about him and we are so proud to have him on the site today. So let’s just jump into it shall we? Please enjoy some amazing words from the brilliant Josh Roush!

What inspired you to get into the world of film and television? Was it an early aspiration you can always remember having? Or did you just find yourself in this line of work one day?

I’ve always been a movie buff, but growing up in a small-town in Ohio, it was hard to get your hands on anything outside of popcorn-fodder (not that there’s anything wrong with big flicks). So, the idea of being a filmmaker never even dawned on me. I honestly moved out to Southern California to pursue my love of Punk Rock and took out a massive student loan to do so. After a few years of playing live music and taking classes I eventually had to choose a major and film seemed the only thing I could see myself doing without being miserable in 30 years. So, I took classes, made a few friends, and suddenly I found myself doing quality control work for Sony.

After years of being in bands in the punk scene, I finally got tired of the egos it takes to make a band work. You have four or five people, all with their own opinions trying to make one group project work in a ten-foot by ten-foot practice space, so I quit music. But then I discovered something about myself and my nature: I’m an incredibly self-destructive person when I’m not being creative. That’s when I began treating film as more than a job I wouldn’t hate, but as a passion, and I began writing and directing short films, music videos, etc. Even today, my work on my newest project is winding down, and I find myself drinking more and more, so it’s time to start writing again.

We here at TWS are long time fans of the View Askew/Smodco world that Kevin Smith has created, having spoke with several different figures in that world. And you yourself are no stranger to the SmodCo world. So how did you find yourself working with Kevin on a multitude of projects. And what sets this world apart from other projects you have worked on?

One day I was sitting in class and I read a tweet from J.C. Reifenberg saying that he was looking for a few interns to work on live stuff he was doing with Kevin Smith and I figured what the hell, I needed an internship credit anyway. I worked at Sony during the day, got off, went to J.C’s house, edited all night, crashed on his couch, shot live shows on the weekends, and over the course of working 100 hour weeks, proved myself to be a valuable asset. One thing leads to another and suddenly I found myself shooting the Jay and Silent Bob tour in Australia.

I think working with Kevin and company right off the bat really kind of ruined me, and I mean that in the best possible way. It’s not a huge crew, so there’s a real family vibe to most of the work. It wasn’t until I showed up for a corporate shoot one day wearing my stupid punk rock vest and got weird looks that I realized, “Oh yeah, that’s not how most of the world operates.” So it’s a real family vibe all around, you’re allowed to be yourself which is unfortunately rare.

I was doing a lot of side gigs leading up to Tusk, so when I got there my instinct was to not wear my normal attire (I dress like a cartoon character, same dumb punk vest, same camo shorts). When I showed up Kevin’s partner Jen asked, “Where the hell is your vest?” and I remember breathing a sigh of relief that I was back in my little version of normality.

One of those specific projects you work on is being “Dr. Josh” for one of my favorite podcasts of all time, “Hollywood Babble On” with Smith and Ralph Garman. This damn show is just such a joy to listen to, and seems like a live show that I simply have to try and make it to one day. With that, I am curious to know how your experience has been working on this program? Has it been insane to watch it blow up to what it is today? What are some fond memories?

Well do come and see it live, I know a guy that knows a guy who might be able to score you a ticket.

Back when I was interning, I was working the crowd camera for Babble every show which meant I had to be on stage next to Kevin and Ralph. So, my history with them goes all the way back to some of the first shows at Universal City Walk. One of my jobs for the show is I help run their video service BabbleVision (unapologetic plug) and you can occasionally see me on stage with them in those older episodes.

It’s not been insane honestly. Kevin and Ralph are two of the funniest and most talented cats on the planet, I know I’m biased, but I see it as they’ve rightfully earned their status. As for fondest memories, it was only a few months back when I was having an issue with a documentary I’m working on and I asked Ralph’s advice after the show. He took me outside and we talked through it for more than an hour, which was not only an incredibly kind thing to do, but it made the project what it is. Working with people that support you and the projects you make is amazing, I’m very fortunate in that way.

You have done some impressive work in the world of horror, and we are huge fans of the genre. We even dedicate an entire month to showcasing the genre. So with that in mind, I am curious to know your thoughts on working in the world of horror? What is it about this world that makes it unique from the several other realms you have worked in?

I can’t stand horror. That’s not to say I dislike it at all, The Evil Dead franchise is my favorite series of films ever made. I can’t stand it. Like, it freaks me out, I have nightmares and I’m all out afraid of horror flicks. On like a 10-year-old level. One of my best friends in the world is the legendary Robert Kurtzman, I’ll go out and visit him and he’ll show me these fake cadavers, severed penises (you’ll have to ask Bob what that is about), random body parts and I can’t sleep for weeks! I recently went out to see the set of The Haunting of Hill House and I had to walk away from the set I was so freaked out. So, I appreciate horror, and I’m truly in awe of the storytelling, effects, and especially the fan base for it, but I can’t stand it in the fact that my mind (or perhaps a lack of testosterone) won’t let me watch it. I can work on the flick if need be, but I’ll avoid the special effects room like the plague. 

That said, I do have a life-size head sculpt of Justin Long in full walrus makeup in my hallway, which you can see from a certain angle when you’re sitting on my toilet (which CREEPS out guests). But I worked on that flick for so long I became a little desensitized to it.

I am very intrigued by the documentary you have coming out entitled Long Lonesome Highway: The Story of Michael Parks. I have read that you were his assistant on the wonderful film Tusk. So how did you manage to develop a fascination with Mr. Parks, enough so that you decided to invest the time and cash into creating a documentary about him?

Life is weird, and if you let go of the reigns it can occasionally take you to some strange and wonderful places. I showed up on the set of Tusk at the same time as Michael, but what no one knew was 6 months prior he had just had a massive accident that left him with a very aggressive brain injury. So, when he showed up, he was not so much the energetic Michael that had been on Red State. Kevin and Jen saw that he was having a hard time getting around, so thankfully they trusted me to take care of him.

It was strange at first, weird green haired dude and a crotchety old man buddying around the set. We had no idea what to make of the other, but when I mentioned Lenny Bruce his eyes went wide because come to find out, they had been great friends. So, talk about him led to all these other cats that Michael knew like Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra (who he swung on once), and even Martin Luthor King. That’s what most people don’t remember about the old man, in the late 60’s he was being groomed as an A list actor and as a result he knew everyone worth knowing. He had a 6-album music career, Tarantino once called him “the greatest living actor”, he had his own television show, his list of accomplishments really does go on and on. 

But, it wasn’t fascination per say, it was more appreciation. He did all these amazing things, and yet was born in the most impoverished of conditions (at 12 years old he was hopping the boxcars to chase farm work). He endured hardships that would have broken a lesser man (his second wife OD’d at 24, his brother drowned at 25, he had a 12-year-old daughter pass) and he continued on anyway. But, because he had flipped the bird to an executive or two along the way, he was blacklisted in Hollywood in the 70’s and the world kind of stopped paying as much attention as they should have. I got to be strangely close friends with one of the most talented humans that has ever existed, and it’s not fair that more people aren’t aware of him. Our goal is to change that.

 

What else does the future hold for you? Anything you would like to plug to our readers?

Thanks, as you can tell I always appreciate a good plug. You can check out ParksDoc.com to keep up on Long Lonesome Highway, and if you take a look at my website AntiCurrent.com (I’m always uploading my dumb projects there). Right now, we’re in pre-production on our debut narrative feature Wrong Reasons which my far-more-talented wife Liv Roush is producing and starring in and Kevin is Exec-producing as well. It’s not a horror film, but it is set in a cabin. Also, thanks to my buddy Cam Mosavian (the composer behind all our projects) starting up the band The Overrides, I’ve started to get back into music and sub in for second guitar when their main player is out of town so being back on stage has been exciting.

What was the last thing that made you smile?

Just now, you letting me tell people about Michael. Thanks for that.

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About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

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