While I have known Josh Soskin, co-owner of Houseblend Media, for quite a while, I have never had the opportunity to really hear about the details of his craft. I’m always so impressed with the final products I’ve seen, but I’ve never even been able to fathom the work that goes into making his award-winning films. You can tell just through his tone and humor how much he truly loves what he does. It’s refreshing. The following is a lightly edited version of our email conversation after meeting up for tacos and “man-shopping” in Austin.
Tell me about your childhood: where did you grow up? What was it like?
I grew up in Carmel, California. Its beautiful but almost eerily quiet and small. Thank god I discovered surfing. Not much else to do.
Tell me about your parents. What do they do?
My parents met as lawyers in the same public defenders office in Salinas. My dad still works as a lawyer and my mom does a lot of non-profit consulting work.
What was your schooling like? Did you enjoy school? What kind of student were you? I did enjoy school, especially high school. By college I was more and more burned out by academia, but initially I loved it. I was a 4.3 GPA, obsessive kind of student in high school. In college, I focused more on partying but still managed A’s and B’s. (Fun Fact: Josh and I went to the same high school, just 9 years apart)
When did you become interested in film?
I wanted to write, make, or star in films from an early age, probably around junior high.
Who are your influences?
Oh man, I hate that question. They are so all over the place at the moment. I love pretty much everything made in the late 60s and 70s. French cinema from that period was amazing. Martin Scorcese, Danny Boyle, Steven Soderberg, PT Anderson, Julio Medem, Alfonso Cuaron, Inaritu. The list could go on but those are the main dudes.
Tell me about your company, Houseblend Media. How did you come to start it? What types of films do you specialize in or enjoy doing the most?
We started Houseblend in 2007. It was my girlfriend and I; and we quit our jobs, moved to Spain and decided to start our own production company. We specialize in short form web spots, narrative and doc. Personally I enjoy the narrative stuff (ie short films, music videos, anything with a creative slant).
What’s your favorite part of the process and least favorite part?
My favorite part is actually shooting the damn things. Writing and pre-production suck; and I especially hate courting clients and pitching. Yuck.
You’re fiancé is a co-owner, what’s it like working side-by-side? What do each of you contribute to the company?
Working with your lover can be hard for some people, but for me it’s amazing. It helps our relationship and I think it also helps our business. We have trust. We have the same goals. We really support each other. Plus we get to enjoy all the fun parts of the job together, which is pretty amazing. Sometimes, like when we have been on shoots for Starbucks in Indonesia or Costa Rica or shooting for Pepsi Co. in Argentina or Thailand, we have to pinch ourselves. It’s like— we’re being PAID for this? Holy shit.
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in the film business? How did you overcome it?
I think the biggest challenge for me personally is just achieving the perfect balance between making money and following your heart and creative goals. Recently I’ve overcome it by throwing caution to the wind and focusing fully on writing a feature.
I read that Houseblend Media was nominated for an Emmy – that’s awesome! Tell me more about that. What about other awards that you’ve won or been nominated for?
Well, that’s just something we write on our website…. Kidding. No, it was for the series of docs Current TV did for Burning Man in 2007. Our producing partner, Mark Rinehart produced them. Recently we have won a string of awards for commercials, one for our Microsoft spot, “Detention” at Tribeca (grand prize) and one for the Vitamin Water competion at Cannes (grand prize). That was nice. (P.S…. He’s only 30!)
Prize-winning Microsoft commercial
Prize-winning Vitamin Water commercial
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Photos courtesy of Josh Soskin.