Interview with Filmmaker Joe Smith (JUSTIN’S ONE YEAR WITH HIS TAXIDERMY LEG: RECOVERY STORY)

JUSTIN’S ONE YEAR WITH HIS TAXIDERMY LEG: RECOVERY STORY played at the Feb. 2022 Toronto Documentary Festival to rave reviews.

What motivated you to make this film?

Meeting Justin was kind of unexpected, I had been working on a documentary film about the taxidermist who helped Justin with his leg. I told Ben, the owner of Skullstore, that it would be great to have testimonies from past clients to add to the documentary film. That’s when he mentioned Justin, who lost his leg in an accident.

Immediately upon meeting Justin, I was captivated by the attitude he had. He lost a leg a year ago, but his spirits were soaring! This is what I loved most about him. His ability to find peace and a new, positive outlook.

Now that we were friends, it was easy to connect and see if he wanted to capture more footage for the short doc. Getting the chance to hang out with him and explore his world, getting a view of what he goes through each day.

I should mention that I felt very drawn to telling Justin’s story because of my years of experience working with people with disabilities. My family founded \a nonprofit for young adults with special needs, and I’m happy to say that my position as an in-house producer helped share many of the participants’ stories. This is one of the reasons I got into documentary filmmaking in the first place.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

It took me only one week working on his interview footage to realize that I had to make this documentary. I was originally working on a film for Ben, but it didn’t take long before I knew that Justin’s story needed to be told too. We spent another day together, from hanging out at the Skull Store to his home to capture footage for his interview. The whole short documentary film project probably took me about a month or so to piece together.

How would you describe your film in two words!?

I think it’s relatable because anyone can experience this at any second, and it’s inspiring because many people never knew this could ever be an option.

What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I’m still a newbie to the documentary filmmaking industry. so I’ve never had much experience at festivals or hearing feedback like this to my films in-depth. It helps me put things into better perspective.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

Pretty happy with everything so far, thank you.

What is next for you? A new film?

I love traveling and being adventurous, and I’m always looking for something new to do. I want to convert my car into a camper, finish up the documentaries I’m working on right now, hit the road, and explore Canada – from Toronto to BC, on my quest for stories. Planning and researching are always great when capturing a documentary, but I’m spontaneous too. Sometimes it’s fun to just do something unexpected. So driving around Canada is a great way to find these unexpected stories. I will also be documenting my journey as I go.

By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival www.wildsound.ca

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: