By Leah Solomon
I’ve known Josh for over a year. I met him at an old club called Red Door in Pietermaritzburg. The first thing I noticed about him was the black plugs in his ear and the tattoo on his left upper arm. This was a guy I could get along with. I immediately jumped to the conclusion that he was part of the ‘core’ Maritzburg scene and in a metal band. I wasn’t completely wrong, but that isn’t what makes Josh a stand-out character. He’s actually a self-made wedding filmmaker.
I called Josh up on Skype for a smoke and a cup of coffee. We ended up speaking about how he got to where he is now, his passion for filming, coffee and chick flicks.
His passion for film and capturing the love that people share stemmed from an unlikely and unexpected source.
“My dad used to travel a lot, so my mom and I would spend evenings watching chick flicks together and, over time, I gained a kind of appreciation for those films,” he said, taking a sip of his coffee.
Josh grew up in Pietermaritzburg. Having spent 18 years there myself, I realised that although it is a great city to start a family in, it doesn’t allow for much self-exploration and creativity. It is claustrophobic and it can trap you. Josh was trapped for a while.
“When I first left high school I didn’t do anything for about three months and I learnt to hate doing nothing,” he said. “But I always had an appreciation for amateur filmmaking so I invested in a camera and I filmed my first wedding.”
His first wedding was awful. It was outdoors, it was rainy and it made him question why he even picked up a camera in the first place.
“Even though it was a terrible first time, people, for some reason, liked my work and I got booked one after the next,” he says.
It may seem rather left-field that a 24-year-old has chosen to film weddings as a career, but in doing so he has opened himself up to a world of culture. Josh films mostly traditional weddings, whether they’re Christian, Muslim or African. Spending the entire event capturing beautiful moments that truly represent the newlyweds’ love for one another and the importance of the sanctity of marriage allows Josh to learn about new traditions and cultural practices.
“The African weddings are the most interesting to me,” says Josh. “They have two celebrations: one very westernized wedding on the Saturday and then the traditional feast and exchange of gifts on the Sunday.”
After being in the filming business for over two years, Josh has established a clear brand for himself, a brand that is unexpected from someone covered in tattoos and with holes in his earlobes. He is a documentarian of love. Not only does he film, but he has picked up photography as a hobby too and has tried his hand at wedding photography.
“I am so stoked that I’m filming real life love stories,” he proudly admits, looking away from the camera as if he’s only realised this now.
In an age where divorce is common, Josh is hoping to provide the newlyweds with a memory that they can turn to for reassurance.
“It’s amazing that I can create something that can hopefully last their whole marriage and every time they’re despondent they can watch it and relive the happiest day of their lives and the promises that they made to each other.”
Josh manages to create these moving films with his unique filming style and his emphasis on the natural. “My style is very cinematic but I don’t stage or pose anything and I try to use as much natural light as possible,” he explains. “I also try to be out of the way and consider myself to be a documentary wedding filmmaker: capturing the day as it happens in all its emotional glory.”
With Joe Simon, a well-known wedding filmmaker in the United States, as inspiration, a strong belief in marriage and genuinely loving what he does, Josh has enough drive and motivation to keep his business alive and thriving.
“I’m the guy in the industry that everyone hates, the one who just buys a camera and starts a business,” Josh admits. That may be true, but that won’t stop him from succeeding even more and becoming a highly sought after videographer.
The world at the moment is at its technological peak. Most people have cell phones and other devices with HD quality filming capabilities which has given rise to the age of DIY media production. So what does Josh have that we can’t do ourselves? According to him, “technological capabilities will never equate with creativity.” You need an eye, a love and fervour for what you’re doing. “Many people can snap away hoping to get the shots they want by chance. But, there’s nothing more rewarding than knowing you captured something exactly as it is and should be.”
Who would you want to film your wedding day?
My wedding? If money’s not an option, Joe Simon. If not, then Jacques Crafford from Jeffrey’s Bay.
If you had to choose three bands to be stuck in a room with, who would they be?
Ah man. Okay. As Cities Burn, August Burns Red and Underoath.
What’s your favourite chick-flick?
Woah. Yassis. It’s everyone’s, The Notebook. You can’t deny The Notebook. But also Comet and Silver Linings Playbook.
Who is your guilty pleasure musician?
Justin Timberlake. 20/20 Vision – Pusher Love Girl. I swear I don’t listen to him all the time!
Who is your favourite South African band?
Yassis. I’d have to say Gangs of Ballet and Show and Tell. They’re two different genres but they’re equally as good.
How many tattoos do you have?
I have nine but way more coming in the next few months. Dzzz Dzzzz, it’s happening.