We’re very excited to feature Joshua Cordero in our next creative spotlight. Joshua is a fantastic filmmaker and photographer based out of the Central Valley in California. Joshua has a a touching life story, and inspires me to live each moment to its fullest. We’re excited to share this spotlight with you.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Joshua J. Cordero and I’ve been a professional filmmaker for over ten years. My wife, Allison, and I operated our business together and in 2014 we began venturing into short films and eventually made a sixty-minute movie. That opened the doors for us to make a major motion picture in New Zealand. We relocated there while my wife was five months pregnant with our first child. While finalizing the immigration process it was discovered my wife had an advanced stage of acute myeloid leukemia. After returning to the U.S. for treatment Allison was faced with the decision to either terminate her pregnancy to get the treatment she needed (which would’ve unquestionably killed our unborn son) or wait to give our child time to develop more and have a chance at life. Knowing full well the risk she was taking Allison chose to wait. Our son, Judah, was born August 1st 2015 in what was one of the happiest days of our lives. Just six weeks later Allison passed away, saving the life of our child in the process. For fifteen months I’d stepped away from filmmaking due to our relocation, staying by my wife’s side during her battle, grieving losing her and being a single parent, not sure if I’d ever pick up a camera again and resume living out the passion and career my wife and I shared together. Just earlier this past Summer I decide to reopen my business, Remscape, where I continue to make commercials, corporate videos and weddings. In the near future I’ll be writing, directing and producing a series of short films and a web series.
I continue to live as a single parent with my now one-year-old son, Judah, and be a freelance photographer and filmmaker. I enjoy writing and doing street photography in my spare time. Traveling and filming vlogs of my son and I on our different adventures has become a therapeutic passion of mine. I’m living what is unquestionably a very unexpected life and sometimes I continue to take it a day at a time. With my son in my life and the support of family and friends I keep moving forward though.
Where do you call home?
The Kings County area in Central California.
How would you describe your style of photography and videography?
Depends on the production. Sometimes things can be very run and gun but my preference is to do as much planning and preparation as possible as I find that actually grants you more opportunities to be spontaneous in your creativity. Aesthetically I prefer using natural light as much as possible. So much of what I see nowadays just looks and feels so unrealistic and I enjoy creating a photo or film that can detach from a distracting artificiality. To me the manipulation of natural light is almost more challenging but definitely creates a more rewarding finality. Sometimes I can tend to be a bit of a perfectionist. Like many filmmakers I rarely feel completely satisfied with my creations rather I’ve ran out of time to keep critiquing them!
What kind of work do you specialize in?
Corporate videos, commercials and weddings. This may sound limited but it really has resulted in a wide variety of productions and I’ve been blessed to travel all over the U.S. and even the world for projects.
How did you get into photography and videography? What or who got you started?
I’ve wanted to be a filmmaker since I was nine years old and never had the desire to be anything else. It’s the greatest career in the world and it’s an honor and absolute pleasure to do what I love and make a living by doing it. After studying filmmaking in college for two years I ended up dropping out because the idea of waiting another two years to do what I wanted didn’t seem appealing. In the beginning I simply reached out to every single teacher, business owner, pastor or instructor that I knew and made a pitch of how I thought professional video production could benefit them. There really was no job I applied for or even a demand for filmmaking where I was located. It originally required some clever marketing and a lot of patience. Thankfully I convinced enough people to take a chance on me, word of mouth snowballed and before I knew it I was working as a full-time freelance filmmaker. The photography aspect of my business is actually something newer that I began because of the repeated inquiries for it. Originally photography was just a hobby and I wanted to keep it that way for the longest time but it eventually spilled into business projects as well. I really enjoy both aspects of the medium for different reasons. Photography and Filmmaking have a tendency to sharpen your skills in each other I’ve discovered.
What role does light, both natural and strobe, play in your photography and videography?
Natural light is a constant factor in my work and art. Anything artificial I only use as an absolute necessity. I certainly do find myself using light kits often but if I can successfully manage manipulating natural light with reflectors and diffusors to get the look I want I prefer to go that route. I have to mention the film, “The Revenant” which has been a huge inspiration to me of what can be accomplished with natural light through patience, practice and preparation. I think ultimately there’s no right or wrong way to light something as it comes down to the preference of the director and ultimately what you’re trying to portray in your photo or film but this is definitely the style I’ve embraced over the years.
How important is post processing to your final images/are you a fan of color grading your footage?
Color grading is an extraordinarily exciting process for me and I wish I could do it in every single photo or video project I tackle. Sometimes budget and time is a restriction and I may find myself even using video as it was captured (with some careful planning in pre-production). Color really is a strategic aspect in telling a story though. I’m a particular fan of using Canon C-Log or if I’m filming with a DSLR one of James Miller’s Canon Deluts.
For photography everything I shoot is in RAW and I can’t imagine doing anything else. The freedom you have in your photo editing process is simply insane. I’m particularly fond of grading photos in Adobe Lightroom.
What’s your favorite photo you’ve taken? Favorite film you’ve made? And why?
My favorite photos have a tendency to change often but the one that comes to mind is a photo I took of my wife and I when she was hospitalized for her leukemia treatment. It had been a really rough week for us. We’d gotten quite a lot of bad news in a short amount of time and things for our son’s birth were looking grim. As Allison was laying in her bed crying I crawled into bed with her and she put her arm over my stomach and laid her head on my chest. After we cried and prayed together a very tranquil peace that I can’t even begin to explain overtook us both and despite our circumstances we were filled with hope.
I just knew it was a moment I wanted to remember with absolute clarity and simply taking my iPhone 6+ out I set a photo timer and placed the phone on a tray, non even bothering with checking my composition. The lighting and framing turned out just perfect. Allison has the most peaceful and confident look on her face that contradicts her bald head and hospital gown. My arms are tight around her and yet we’re both very relaxed. I see an almost ridiculous amount of love and hope in that image. The birth of our son defied every grim prediction and went smoothly with zero complications. That photo is constant reminder to me to never stop hoping and fighting and just how beautiful life can be regardless of the circumstances.
For video I’d have to say our movie, “Fovos”. It was the very first production of that type and scale we tackled. It was shot on a very low budget with friends making up the cast. My wife and I were very passionate about it and it’s existence almost entirely depended on our own creativity to make it possible. The funds to make something like it just didn’t exist so we had to be very creative even during aspects of production where you’d think creativity wouldn’t be a necessity. Our local community really supported us in an incredible way I was not expecting. It was story I had the pleasure of writing. Other than surviving the loss of my wife it was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done but I also loved doing it. It challenged me in a way I never thought possible. Creatively I was stretched farther than I’d ever been and it really stirred a hunger in me to take the next step in my filmmaking ventures. We were very proud of it, everyone involved and ourselves.
What gear do you shoot with?
Canon C100 Mark II ADORAMA LINK – When C-Log is desired or a necessity. My favorite HD camera and I’m especially fond of its Super 35mm sensor.
Canon EF 24-105mm AMAZON LINK– Best run and gun lens in my opinion.
I’m actually a BIG FAN of Saddleback Leather and while their leather bags are unconventional for camera gear they’re heavy duty, great at protecting your gear from impact and the elements and they’re the best looking bag you’ll ever own.
If you had to choose one body and lens, which one would it be and why?
Canon 1DX Mark II w/ Canon EF 85mm f/1.2 II – Hands down the best DSLR on the market. Stunning video and photos and easy to work with run and gun. As a filmmaker and photographer it’s more convenient and the 85mm lens produces some insanely beautiful shallow depth of field. My go to lens and camera for photo or video.
What would be your dream job/client/assignment?
Writing and directing an independent film and shooting in the Central Valley area of California.
What’s the best piece of creative advice you’ve ever been given?
“Art is meant to prompt a question not provide an answer.”
I think so often our creations are filled with an agenda that is typically far more transparent to our audience than we realize. As a creator or artist we feel an obligation to simplify our work and hammer our message into it because we’re afraid that people either won’t understand it or will be oblivious to it. If art is meant to tell a story though we must understand that we can’t feed audiences an answer to a question no one’s asking. Answers don’t spark curiosity or imagination but questions do. If your creations can make people wonder, ask or share than I think you’ve accomplished making something very special. There’s a signifiant amount of trust that needs to take place with yourself, which is questionably challenging, but like all things it becomes perfected with practice. Creating something that makes people question and wonder is what amplifies our most precious asset…our imagination.
If you could give other creatives one piece of advice, what would it be?
Never despise the days of small beginnings and never ever give up. It’s so simple and yet so difficult to wade through days that seem meaningless and redundant but the days of the mundane (that are often filled with failures) are the bricks that pave the way to our success.
Calvin Coolidge once said, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”
What holds just about every person back from reaching their goals is either laziness or fear. Success is birthed from relentless hard work. Success and laziness are strangers that will never find themselves in the same room together. Fear keeps us stagnant in shallow waters. You can’t wait for that right piece of equipment, relationship, education or experience. Laziness and fear are two sides of the same coin that if you’re carrying will never let you move forward. Wisdom mixed with just the right amount of recklessness are key ingredients in any successful individual.
Check Out Some of Joshua’s Content
Check out Joshua’s work at remscape.com