Josh Itzkowitz [Interview]

 

Hello Folks! And welcome back to another weak in what will hopefully be our temporary new existence. We may have some time before we are back to normal, but until then how about we talk about some things that we found beautifully surreal before our actual lives became somewhat surreal themselves shall we?

Today we have some words from a brilliant filmmaker who’s work we have covered a bit in the past. It’s Josh Itzkowitz, Everyone! Josh previously worked as a producer on one of our favorite films of last year alongside our friend Yedidya Gorsetman entitled Empathy Inc., also featuring our friend Kathy Searle. Now, I came across the likes of Mr. Itzkowitz after being passed an extremely different type of film he wrote, directed, and produced himself, having never made the previously mentioned connection. That film is called Same Boat. And I assure you that we will be talking about this film in the days to come. As I mentioned before, it’s VERY different from Empathy Inc. Yet, it still has that breath of fresh air originality that it sometimes feels like we have to search for these days in the world of film. I won’t lie to you all, by premise alone I was a bit confused and not entirely interested in the film. But Folks, if you are somebody who is more like me who desires stories about human connections over sci-fi laced time traveling showcase, you are going to LOVE his new film.

I would never compare Josh’s work directly to anyone in particular, as his whole style seems to be coming up with something highly original. I may “liken” it to a bit of a strange genre of sci-fi that might have an origin linked (at least in my mind), to a guy like writer/director Charlie Kaufman. It’s that type of science fiction that takes an idea that is futuristic and exciting, but focuses more on the human reaction elements to a bold stance. A time traveling assassin who travels hundreds of years into the past to kill a woman but can’t because of the power of attraction? That’s on par, if not superior in my opinion, to how humans would react to living in a celebrities head for 15 minutes or fighting against time in your head to stop the erasure of a loved one from your memory while Hulk and Kristen Dunst dance on top of you.

So Folks, I assure you that you are going to love Same Boat. And you are going to love these incredible words we were fortunate enough to receive from this incredible filmmaker. Please enjoy some wonderful words from the brilliant Josh Itzkowitz!

 

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What initially drove you to the world of entertainment? Was it something you have wanted to do since your youth, or did you happen to find yourself in this world one day?

As a kid I loved playing music. I played drums, piano, guitar, and an accordion my grandparents got me as a gift. In high school, I started making videos and loved the collaborative and creative process. That led me to take on internships in college at a Public Access TV station and a photography magazine that was making digital videos to accompany their written pieces. All of this happened right as DSLRs began shooting video. Making higher quality looking films was becoming cheaper and democratized. It was a good time to be getting into film.

 

What was your very first paid gig in the world of entertainment? And were there any sort of lessons learned from this experience that still impacts your work today?

After graduating from school I started a production company with two friends, Uri Westrich and Yedidya Gorsetman. The first gig we got was for a glove company that wanted to advertise a new product they were developing. They paid us $2500 to write, produce, film and edit the video. It wasn’t a lot of money, but we were grateful that someone was willing to give us a job.  We treated the process seriously and spent quite a bit of time in preproduction planning the shoot. I think the major takeaway was how invaluable that preproduction process was. On Same Boat we tried to be as meticulous as possible with scheduling and planning out the shoot since we were so limited on the amount of time we had to film while on the cruise ship (7 days total). Here’s the glove video if you’d like to check it out. http://youtube.com/watch?v=KBFSM04CLVA

 

You recently worked alongside our dear friend and past guest Yedidya Gorsetman to put out one of our favorite releases of 2019, Empathy, Inc. I am curious to know what drew you to this project? What was it about this story that drew you in on a personal level?

I’ve known Yedidya since we were 10 years old. Like I mentioned above, we started a production company together when we got out of school. We spent a year making commercials, then used the money from those videos to make our first feature together Jammed. After making Jammed Yedidya and Mark Leidner (who wrote Jammed) began working on Empathy, Inc. When they showed me the script, I loved the story, but more importantly, I was excited to work with Yedidya and Mark again on another film. I think more than the story, it’s often the people that make me want to work on a project. It’s a multi-year commitment producing a film, and I want to make sure that it’s emotionally sustainable to work on a project together. Yedidya and I were both interested in taking the lessons we had learned on Jammed and seeing if we could do better on Empathy, Inc. We’re both proud of how Empathy, Inc. came out.

 

Can you tell us a bit about your new project, Same Boat? What should our readers be excited to check out soon?

Same Boat is entirely different from Empathy, Inc. despite both films having a sci-fi element. Same Boat has a fun, light, comedic tone throughout, and is about a time-traveling assassin who falls in love with his target on a cruise ship. I developed the film with Chris Roberti, who stars in and directed it. Chris and I had met on Jammed, where his character is the comedy relief, and I had wanted to collaborate with him in a more involved way after working with him on that.

We filmed the movie in secret on a cruise ship, and in large part that was possible because of our DP Darin Quan. Darin was also the cinematographer on Empathy, Inc. (as you can see there’s a lot of crossover between all the films) Darin was the perfect person to work with because he knows how to do a lot with very little and he’s usually the calmest person on any set. He also directs his own films, which on Same Boat was really nice, since Chris would often be in front of the camera, so Darin was a nice additional creative presence to have behind the camera.

 

 

If you were handed the opportunity, with an unlimited budget, to create & star in the biopic of any legendary figure in world history, who would it be?

Oh jeez. I’ve learned that I cannot star in anything. In Empathy, Inc. I was a background actor in a coffee shop, and they had to cut around me since my performance was too distracting. In Same Boat, I’ve regretfully left in a cameo where I play an ultra orthodox Jewish cruise passenger.

It’s a little cheesy, but I think it would be fun to create a biopic about my grandfather Arnon Hiller. He passed away a couple of years ago right as Empathy, Inc. began production. He lived an interesting life, born in Portugal, fled to Cuba before World War II, and then settled in the US. He had a large impact on everyone he met and reinvented himself a number of times, always taking responsibility for the people around him. I’d say he was legendary in quite a few ways.

 

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

Excited for Same Boat to get out there. Also, the film I made right after called An Exquisite Meal, just had its festival premiere. It’s funny like Same Boat and dark like Empathy, Inc. I love it and I hope other people will too.  http://anexquisitemeal.com/

 

What was the last thing that made you smile?

I watched Brittany Runs a Marathon last night. Seeing people hanging out in groups in NYC, reminded me that we won’t be quarantined forever. That made me smile.

 

 

 

 

 

About rontrembathiii
write. write. write.

One Response to Josh Itzkowitz [Interview]

  1. Pingback: Saturday Double Special: Zak Toscani Live in Portland [Stand Up] + Same Boat [Film] | TRAINWRECK'D SOCIETY

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