Josh C. Pies; Innovative Cinematographer and Dedicated Family Man from Che

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Josh with family and a friend [Photos provided by Che Holloway]

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Che. See Rochester works for Che Holloway and Britton Bradford the Passionate Athlete

In Britton Bradford the Passionate Athlete, Rochester actor Che Holloway interviewed Britton Bradford, a professional basketball player, visual artist and occasional actor and model who graduated from the School of the Arts.

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from Britton Bradford the Passionate Athlete

And that is just the beginning. Exclusively for Talker, Che has solicited and is conducting interviews from about 50 Rochestarians working in a diversity of creative fields, including tv anchorwoman Jennifer Johnson and musician Alyssa Trahan.

We’ll call him Che of The Town!

Che recently interviewed Josh C. Pies who is based in Rochester and Florida. Josh is the Executive Producer, Creative Director and Head Writer at C47 Film Associates. Josh has achieved degrees from Nazareth College of Rochester (BS Business Admin, BS Economics, BS Philosophy) and RIT (MBA).

Josh C. Pies; Innovative Cinematographer and Dedicated Family Man

Q. Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.

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Josh [Photos provided by Che Holloway]

A. I’m an 80’s kid from NY. No, not that NY; Rochester. It’s 350 miles north of cool towers, seas of taxis and the Letterman Show. Letterman was a thing when I was a kid. I lived in Henrietta NY and attended a private church school from K-8. I went to a college prep high school called The Charles G Finney School. They are too cool for the full name these days, it’s just Finney or The Finney School. Sounds regal, doesn’t it? Great education – lots of art classes. I’ll tell you, the most important class for me though was one you won’t find anywhere but a school like Finney. It was called “Understanding the Times.” It dissected various worldviews and challenged us to see deeper into people’s meanings. It really helped me see how the formative depths of a person can affect even the smallest of interactions. Wanna be an informed screenwriter? Think like a student of “Understanding the Times.”

After failing as an engineering student – somehow I thought I was going to invent cool things. Chemistry and Calculus – blech! I turned my attention to a business admin degree at Nazareth College. It was interesting but too easy so I added 2 more degrees (against my advisors warnings). I graduated with degrees in Business Admin, Economics, and Philosophy. Wanna be a well organized screenwriter? Take Philosophy.

I also went and got an MBA at RIT. Though it is a Masters of Business Administration… I’d rather think of it as a Master-Of Bad-Assness.

Q. What inspired you to be an cinematographer? Early experiences worth sharing?pies 3 darkened

So, I was never inspired to be a cinematographer. In fact, I know a lot of cinematographers and I will let them have that title. Yeah, I shoot. I’m an above average shooter, too. I am more a producer, director and writer than anything else. My early days I wore more hats and how I got into the business? Well, that’s a weird one…

My best friend Dave hits me up one day and goes, “Josh, I need help. I’m gonna lose my job if I don’t have a comedy TV show on in 3 months.” You know, every-day-guy calls guy-chatter, right? The deeper story here is this: Dave was the media director at a church with a failing TV show. He had just come into the gig and did some digging. He discovered that NOBODY watched the show. So, he tried to cut it. That went over, well, like a fart in church. His challenge was to replace the show with a better show in 3 months or lose his job. Dave is no normal thinker. He decided he would take on SNL with a church based sketch comedy show. Crazy right? Well… He called equally crazy ME and we with a TON of other volunteers put heart and soul into this. We had little clue what we were doing but we had a camera, an iMac, a book on how to shoot videos, and a very small budget for pizza and props. Well, within a year we were on in regional markets (notice he still had his job) and then we went national and international with 360TV. We were a hit. It’s like Bugs Bunny not crashing when a rocket is plummeting to earth with him on it because it ran out of gas and Bugs had never heard about gravity. We didn’t know we couldn’t do it so we just did it.”

Q. Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.

Yeesh, this is a deep one. I’ll get super honest here… I owned a business once. A big one. I was, by the aggregate numbers, a millionaire and I was only in my 20’s. 35 employees, lots of assets, a strong paycheck that I signed myself. It all crashed. The short version of a very long story is that I had a manager who was robbing me and I trusted so much that I never caught it – well, not until it toppled my business. It was during that time that I was doing 360TV. My wife and friends were all a part of the show. They were there for me as my world crumbled. I was even featured in national magazines for how fast my business grew… very humbling to have all that disintegrate. Honestly, and you don’t have to agree here as you read this but, I wonder often if I had gotten so out of God’s will that he let my business crash to allow me to embrace the gift he gave me in film & tv work. I felt alive doing the show and I still feel alive in my work today. I was made for creative arts like this but I had no clue until I was challenged by losing it all. Interesting but important side note, my wife saw this in me far before I did. A good wife is gold and in that way, I’m a millionaire for life.

It was not a straight line from failed business to success in TV though. 360TV was a success but it payed nothing. It was all volunteer. I had to do something. I worked the paint desk at Home Depot to get some form of benefits for my young family. I was a martial artist (was… I’m a little too dad-bod these days). So, I worked private security for a while. I did what a good father and husband does – grinded it out in any way possible to get the funds to make a good life for my family. It was ugly. It was right. It was also right that I bootstrap to something better.

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I paid to print up 25 copies of our show on DVD and ran off 150 resumes. I identified 150 businesses – all in Film, TV and/or Advertising – and I figured out how to walk to each of them. I hand delivered all of them and insisted on an immediate meeting with a decision maker. 10 of 150 played my game. One gave me the advice and encouragement I needed to keep going – that was Fred Armstrong of Animatus. I mention him because I am forever indebted to him for his kindness to me. His words gave me life and energy to keep going. Thank you Fred. Another hired me for what turned out to be a year of formal film education.

So, yeah, that’s adversity. Oh, and if you’re wondering if that crumble included bankruptcy. Yup. I lost it all. A note to those who lost or are losing it all… You & the Big Man Upstairs make the difference in how this goes. Don’t let yourself be defeated and don’t get all woe is me. It’s time to suck it up buttercup. What little wallowing I did was useless. Life really can go on, I promise.

Q. What do you believe sets you apart from other cinematographers?

A. What sets me apart as a filmmaker is 2 things: LEFT & RIGHT Brain: I have the ability to be extremely creative AND run the numbers. I have written and directed many award winning narratives. I’ve also been the producer and line producer of the same. You don’t see that too often but, somehow, I can be the Coach and the GM at the same time.

Q. Do you have other interests or hobbies?

A. I don’t have time to do much for myself. I’m a film exec who has been in 20+ states in the last 12 months producing and directing content; I’m pretty slammed. I also have a family that I love to spend time with. We live near Disney World so we hit that up often.

As for interests, I draw tons of inspiration from music and I see whole stories in my head when I hear a new track so I do make a point of listening to EVERYTHING. (Cued up right now I have Sho Baraka, Kutiman, and Dweezil Zappa

I’ve recently rediscovered grilling. Today I hickory smoked a pork shoulder and some chicken breasts for my lunches this week. I had a laptop out while I did it. Grinders gotta grind.”

Q. Any projects you have out or currently working on?

A. My favorite project to talk about right now is Reality Redesigned. We (production partners from Edge Factor) came up with a student design competition that started with an online audition for teams of kids to pitch invention ideas to us. They’d send videos and sketches and we’d have judges pick the top 3 to be on a show we’d film where they’d battle it out on camera to create a new invention. There’s a lot more to it but the bottom line is that we had 350 students create teams and 17 teams are in a public battle for votes and judges will combine their votes with the public next week. We film in the spring and then we’ll have a new show in the can.pies 4 darkened

I’m also story consultant on a documentary on what success means and how to achieve it. We’re looking at the topic through the lense of masters of music – from the makers of the world’s greatest instruments to the world’s greatest players. Lots of big names, amazings visuals. My role was to make sure there was a story thread and assure that there was social & marketable values inherent in the project. So far? I think we’re doing very well. Watch for Master’s of Resonance to drop late this year.

I have about 50 other things going on but… ya know… too much.”

Q. Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

I see myself doing a mix of what I do now and helming the growth of one of our top client/collaborators. Watch for Edge Factor’s name. The things we’re doing there will make a difference in lives. That is where I want to be. Money? I need it because it’s a tool but it’s a tool to do what? For me… beyond feeding and caring for my family who is first always… It’s leaving a legacy of love and enrichment for future generations.”

Q. What advice can you give to aspiring cinematographers?pies 6 cropped

A. “Settle. Ha. Yep, I mean it. I see SOOOO many new entrants into the biz get mired down in perceptions of elitism. You start as a nobody. We all do. Good, now that you’re nobody, DO SOMETHING! DO ANYTHING! And FAIL. It OK, it’s even GOOD. Learn from it and grow!

Don’t have an Arri Alexa in hand? Screw it! Settle for an iPhone and shoot something. Make smart decisions and do your best with what you have and then raise your game incrementally. My first personally owned camera was a Canon T2i and my first light kit was a halogen work lamp and a used sheet for a diffuser. It’s a crap setup but we won international film accolades with the darn thing. You can too! If you won’t do now, when will you do it? Waiting for the perfect script to shoot your first film? Forget it. Starbucks is hiring and while you’re there I’ll take a Grande Pike.

So, better said perhaps, “Settle^UP”. Use what you got and work for incremental growth. You are NOT Steven Spielberg yet (Unless he’s reading this and then, Hi Steve, loved E.T.) and I’m very clear that I may never be him BUT… I do know that I can aim for his quality and with ever next gig I can do more, do better. Start somewhere and Settle^UP enough to allow you do something. That opposite of something sounds an awful lot like, “Do you want room for cream?

DISCLAIMER: I love baristas and I love coffee… I worked retail in the past and respect the hard work. But if your dream is to work in film and won’t just do it… better learn to dream of coffee beans.”pies 1 cropped

Q. How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?

A. “I am on Twitter and will interact there the most (@JoshPies). Also, I’m HUGE LinkedIN user. If you want to do business, I can be reached there or via my websites but again, if I don’t know you or know you’re coming I probably won’t accept a connection. You’ll likely need to have a paid account to or be a 2nd degree connection to get me. My social media information’s below:

Personal Website: JoshPies.com
Company Website: C47Films.com
Twitter: @JoshPies
Instagram: JoshPies