Five Questions With… Joel Haver

Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all fo your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.

TGG: Hey Joel, thanks for digitally stopping by! Can you tell us about yourself?

JH: I started making films when I was eight years old and knew pretty quickly that I wanted to be a filmmaker. I went to Pratt Institute for film and graduated in 2018 with a BFA in film. In my time at film school I realized pretty quickly I detested everything you are “supposed to do” and the industry at large. I really took advantage of my time in school and made hundreds of things, and the most valuable skill I left school with was the ability to comfortably make a film for no money. If you can learn that, you’re invincible and you’ll never lose your drive as a filmmaker.

Island – Official Trailer One

Island – Official Trailer from Joel Haver on Vimeo.

TGG: That’s so inspiring! So, this is your second feature, right? Can you tell us what it’s about and what inspired you?

JH: Island is actually my fourth feature! [look at me with egg on my face – TGG] The film began when I was thinking about Cast Away. As an filmmaker I believe it is essential for there to be synchronicity between the process and the product, otherwise your film will be a lie. With this in mind, I realized what a lie Cast Away was. It’s a film about a lone man’s struggle, but you know for a fact Tom Hanks had multiple assistants and a trailer and expensive catering. It’s a corporate product masquerading as a genuine depiction of loneliness. At this time I already had the idea to make a feature film entirely alone, and the concept of the desert island fell right into place. When is a better time to make a film about loneliness than from a place of pure loneliness? And how better to do it than completely alone? From there the film evolved to be my most honest and overtly personal yet.

Island – Official Trailer 2

Island – Official Trailer 2 from Joel Haver on Vimeo.

TGG: Completely alone! I’m not sure how many people could do that. So, in terms of production, what was the biggest difference between your first and current features?

JH: Before ever making a feature film, I spent a year making a short film every week. That was between May 2015 and May 2016. I actually made 80 films that year rather than 52! This was my self imposed boot camp and taught me everything I needed to know to make a feature. As far as comparing my features go, they’re quite different. I had a friend point out that I make very humanist films, and this isn’t something I consciously set out to do, but there is a consistent trust throughout my work that people being themselves will create for a compelling film. My first feature, We Are Sasquatch, saw me making a mockumentary with my childhood friends and family in my hometown over a summer. My second, 31 Days in Marshall, North Carolina, saw my friend and I going to a town we’d never been to for a whole month and making a movie with the locals we met. My third, Taking a Little Time to Feel Sorry for Myself, was my first with a script and was made for $10 total in NYC. All three are free to watch on my Vimeo!

Here’s “Taking a Little Time to Feel Sorry for Myself”

Taking a Little Time to Feel Sorry for Myself from Joel Haver on Vimeo.

TGG: Can you share with us why you decided to distribute through Patreon and PayPal?

JH: For the first time in the medium’s history, film is entirely democratized. The people have both the means of production and distribution. In such a time, things like film festivals start feeling oldworld. I’m supposed to pay someone to look at my film, wait 6 months to hear back and maybe be back to square one anyways? We live in a time where we can go online and watch what people did TODAY. There is immediacy like never before. An interconnectedness like never before. From the get-go, I knew I’d release Island online as soon as it was done for this reason. If you create a personal work, the last thing you want to do is be forced to sit on it for a year to the point that when it’s finally released it’s not even personal to yourself anymore but only to your past self. The fact that I can make a hyper personal film and release it while it still retains that power and be like “hey world, this is me, this is how I’m currently broken, please enjoy” is incredibly therapeutic. That to me is the backbone of the Patreon/PayPal release. We no longer have to bend over to festivals or distributors, if we’re making good stuff they can find it and reach out themselves. Imagine if a painter had to pay someone to glimpse at their painting and it took six months to hear a simple yes or no.

TGG: What’s next for you? And where else can we support you (follow you on social media)?

JH:I have an Instagram! I take a picture every time I eat spaghetti with friends –

View this post on Instagram

Just returned from a multi-week road trip. Along the way some strangers let me stay in their homes and as a thank you I made them my famous pasta! The last pic is Josh and Emily, not strangers, but I made them spaghetti too.

A post shared by Joel Haver (@joelhaver) on

Currently I am making weekly short films once again on my YouTube! The best way to support me other than Patreon is to just subscribe and watch those! They represent a far goofier side of my filmmaking that I hope can continue to co-exist alongside my more labored features. In a lot of ways Island is a logical extreme to a lot of the ideas I had been exploring for years, so for the time being I’m just waiting patiently for the next feature to come to me in a dream.

My YouTube –

What kind of man are you? (Slightly NSFW)

Link to “Island” on Patreon:

TGG: Thanks for answering our questions today!

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