It’s rare if ever that I get to experience the art of film-making on a local level. I live in a small corner of New England where Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts meet but outside of my blogging hobby I also work as a journalist covering local stories for the masses. Recently I had the pleasure to put two of my passions together and sit down with a freshman filmmaker to talk to him about his new short film, “Joseph”. To say the least the interview was insightful and engaging. It was something unique to be able to speak with another lover of cinematic art about the process of creating even only a ten minute short film. For the first time on Cinema Spotlight I get the chance to shine the spotlight in this blog’s name on a local figure striving to make his art a reality, a short film that combines religious traditions with creativity and a personal touch called “Joseph”.
A film project three years in the making, Joseph is now entering the next phase of production to bring a Biblical story to the masses like never before. The ten-minute short film “Joseph” wrapped a five-day shooting schedule in recent months and utilized settings in Rhode Island and Worcester County, including the famed Old Sturbridge Village, to bring the untold story of Joseph, the human father figure of Jesus Christ to life. While you may think you know Joseph’s story, director and writer Alexander Diaz challenges that mentality because the Bible does not delve into the character as much as other figures in the story. To him Joseph is more of a step father figure to Jesus Christ the son of God born to Joseph’s wife Mary. It’s this realization that inspired Diaz, a lover of art and a first time filmmaker by every definition of the term, to write and direct his own vision of Joseph’s untold story.
A devout Catholic, a resident of Dudley, Massachusetts and a believer in the value of religion, Diaz has worked for years to bring his vision to life and recently received funding from the Charlton Cultural Council in nearby Charlton, Massachusetts to help support the production of his short film. With filming finally wrapped the next step in the process is the hardest part that Diaz said will bring the entire project together as a complete package. “Right now, we’re moving into post production. This is a critical time where all the magic happens. This is where editing, music, sound effects, computer imagery and all that takes place which is a lot of work,” Diaz said. “I never thought a ten-minute short film would require so much labor and so many hours to create. This is an intense project and being my first film I could have never believed how much work it is for ten minutes.”
“Joseph” follows the titular character as he is approached by an angel who gives him a glimpse into the good that will come from humanity if he takes responsibility for the baby Jesus. The production started as a play called “Joseph’s Dream”, also written by Diaz, but soon evolved into a much larger initiative that Diaz said was born from a personal connection to the character that he feels makes Joseph a relevant symbol of faith in modern society. Diaz confided in me during our interview that he was raised by a stepfather and seeing Joseph as a similar figure was a driving force behind his creativity and realization of the story, but he admitted it has been an intimidating challenge because he is dealing with material highly respected by individuals who demand accuracy and respect.
“If you go to the Bible there’s not much about Joseph. He’s a supporting character and I think we miss a little bit of the importance of that character. I put my soul into this character and tried to create a story that might not be exactly what the Bible tells you, because it’s missing, but is very relevant,” Diaz said. “I put my experience of growing up with a step father into the story and started seeing Joseph’s life a little bit differently than others might see it. If you go to the root of his story he’s a stepfather. Right now, the stepfather figure is an important and relevant role. These men choose to be in that position. The fact that this character is living right now, he could be you or anybody, is what makes him so relevant. He accepted a child as his own.”
Sitting on a small dock bordering a lake, the water softly washing over the shore, our conversation turned to the future of the film which Diaz says is completely open to all possibilities. He see’s “Joseph” as a “mission” to send a message and tell a story to the world they have never seen before. “These ten minutes are the most crucial and important ten minutes of my life,” Diaz said. “The next step is to get into Sundance. I always from the beginning thought that platform would help this project to grow and become what I want it to be – We want to explore other festivals as well and go through that step. That will help us accomplish even more.”
Despite having know prior experience and jumping into creating a powerful and relevant film with the intent of learning as he goes Alexander Diaz is proud to see his vision coming to fruition and excited to share his message with whoever is willing to take the time to see it. Speaking to me he provided an aura of confidence and a fearless sense of accomplishment that his work will be great and will open eyes once blind to a story few have taken the time to appreciate. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done because it’s so important that it’s done properly,” Diaz said as our interview drew to a close. “(With the art of film) you have to put your soul into it. It’s difficult, but it’s rewarding. We’re not even half way done, and I already feel like we accomplished so much.”
To learn more about “Joseph” and keep track of the future and production of this promising short film you can visit www.joseph.film. You can also view a behind the scenes look at the production of the film from Alexander Diaz above.
~ All photos and material presented in this post are courtesy of AJ Productions ~