We’re glad to have you here! Before we get started discussing the specifics of your setup, would you mind sharing with us some information about your past experiences and how you became involved in this industry?
Joshua: Thank you so much for choosing me. Just how far do you want to go back? Ha, I began this crazy journey while I was working my way through college. I was working as a linear tape-to-tape editor, building commercial loop tapes for various regional cable companies, and running the audio board and DJing on the same company’s FM radio station. After college, I worked in news production as a Technical Director (at the time I was the youngest Technical Director in a major market.) I left news and went freelance after the company that owned the station I worked for declared Chapter 11. After working a variety of odd jobs, I was hired for a reality pilot shooting in the small town I grew up in. The powers that be on the show liked me so much by the end that they brought me on for the rest of the season. I would switch from a Coordinator to Casting to Camera Op before I finally found DIT work and everything clicked. I love this workflow and the detail-driven aspect; I’ve been doing this since 2016 and I truly love it.
Joshua On Set as a Camera Op
What types of productions do you usually work on? What are the main ways in which they differ from each other?
Joshua: I try to work on a wide variety of projects but mainly for the last two years or so I have been doing Docu-Series. I like how each one is different from the next in style and flow, you never quite know the challenges each show will bring to you. My last two shows were very similar on paper yet vastly different in challenges. I did a show for Hulu where we followed embedded journalists on the campaign trail. The challenge with this show was that we were in a different city every other day, flying 3-4 times a week. Also, the episodes aired every Sunday so I had to get all the shot footage for the day, make sure it graded correctly, sync the audio, generate the proxy files, and then hope we had found a good upload center with fast internet so I could upload the proxy files to Post. Not to mention I also oversaw the other DITs that were in other cities across the country. My current show is similar because we have to travel but we do not have as hectic a schedule, the show airs on ESPN every week so we have to upload every night to Post. The other unique challenge is that we also cross-share footage, and I help the football league with their DIT questions and assist DIT teams across the country.
Joshua On Field for XFL
And a follow-up question to that, do you have a favorite type of production to work on?
Joshua: I wouldn’t say I necessarily have a favorite type of production, I will say I prefer any production with smaller tight-knit crews, the camaraderie is great and everyone jumps in and helps where they can.
Now everyone has different preferences and a different cart/workstation set-up, could you tell me about yours?
Joshua: Ha, I have been told my setup is pretty unique. For some reason, a lot of people want to take photos of it when they first see it. As I said earlier, I do a lot of shows where I’m required to travel a lot, so I have my entire kit built into one rolling 4-RU case. In the rack-mount part, I have my power conditioner, a Blackjet UX-1 Cinema Dock, and two Blackjet TX-2DS on the rack mounts. On the top is a MacBook Pro 2023, I also bring along the Blackmagic eGPU (it travels in its own custom case). Although it’s rarely called for, I do have an Inovativ Cart and a larger setup.
ABC News Studios Credentials & Rolling 4-RU Case Kit
For those that may just be starting to build their cart/workstation, or are in the early stages of it, what are some pieces of equipment that you consider absolutely essential?
Joshua: First thing I tell anyone I’m coaching is to pay attention to the type of projects you’ll primarily be working on. Commercial setups, Feature Setups, Reality Show Setups, etc…are completely different and have completely different needs. The basics are usually the same. Get a good computer, whether it is a standalone, laptop, or tower-style; Don’t skimp on the processor speed, the GPU, or your RAM. Get fast card readers (Yes, a lot of shows will provide you with card readers, but they are usually the cheapest, slowest ones and will kill your turnaround time). A good LUT Box will work fine, also get a subscription to your software so it stays up-to-date. If you want to have a cart but don’t have thousands for high-end ones, a Rock-n-Roller with the Multimedia Shelf will work just fine and save you a ton.
Joshua’s Inovativ DIT Cart Set-up
Going along with the previous question, do you have any tips for beginners in the field? What’s something you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Joshua: My Uncle taught me this, and it has always served me well in my life and career. Every single person has something to teach you if you’ll just listen, be a sponge on set, and soak up everyone’s knowledge. The other piece of advice is to always know your worth, and never let a show pay you less than what you should be paid for the job. A personal pet peeve that I see a lot, is when a show tries to provide the DIT kit for you. It’s usually someone in Production thinking they can save a little money by sending out a random computer they had in the office and it’s usually junk.
What resources were most helpful to you when you were first starting out?
Joshua: At my first freelance job I was extremely fortunate to work with some very experienced people, that became my good friends and mentors. They taught me how to navigate the industry, how to negotiate everything, and how to tell exactly what I’d be getting myself into even before I walk on set.
Joshua with Fully Packed Equipment
Do you have any on-set stories you’d like to share?
Joshua: On-set stories? Do I have any that are interview appropriate?…kidding. Let’s see, early on in my DIT career I was working for a company that tends to be very “run & gun.” Thinking back on the time I worked for them the only word that comes to mind begins with “cluster.” We were shooting one of their shows in New Mexico, in a little border town just across the Texas line, when we get a call from the home office informing us that we are going to be shooting the next day for this same show/episode in Dallas. They want to do a 7 am call time, it’s an 8-hour drive, it is already 6 pm and I have not received the first card of the day yet. I did the entire day’s worth of transferring, sitting in the bed of a pickup truck, while someone else drove so I wouldn’t get behind the next day. Crazy times, I don’t recommend it.
Anything else you would like to add that I didn’t ask about?
Joshua: I have been in this television/film/video world for…I don’t want to age myself too much…let’s just say a long time now. It can be a very rough, hard life. I know I struggled as I first began freelancing after I left News production. My family thought I was crazy, especially since my wife had just given birth to our daughter. Through the support I get from the two of them, I have been able to turn this into an amazing career. Sorry to get a little sappy but I couldn’t do this or be where I am without them so they deserve their shoutout, I love you Jennifer and Jayden
That’s amazing. Joshua, I just wanted to say a big thanks to you! Your answers were seriously insightful, and I’m sure they’ll help a lot of people who are new to the industry. Don’t forget to come back next week for another interview with a data expert!