Joshua Lightle

Joshua Lightle


May 16, 2017


Freelance filmmaker, senior filmmaker at Root Inc., and chairperson of the Tree City Film Festival


Tell us more about some of your past projects?

I have been creating short films since 2005 - beginning with my undergraduate experience at Bowling Green State University, where I helped to develop short promotional videos for different departments and organizations on campus. After graduating with a BFA in 2009, I started my career at Root Inc. in Sylvania where I continue to work with a team of filmmakers to create training and internal communications for Fortune 500 companies. Likewise, since about 2012, I’ve contributed to a blog called Awesome Stew. Lastly, I’ve also been a freelance videographer for weddings, corporate videos, television pilots, and documentaries for the past four years. Lastly, since 2014, I have been the chairperson of the Tree City Film Festival in Sylvania, Ohio.

What current projects are you working on?

In addition to continuing to grow my career at Root Inc. and acting as the chairperson of the Tree City Film Festival, a few colleagues and myself have started a podcast, Story Machine 9000. Based on the concept of 48-hour filmmaking competitions, Story Machine 9000 is a podcast where we’re given a series of criteria (a genre, a prop, a line of dialogue, and a location) and we attempt to develop a short story based on those elements. We’re currently on our 9th episode and it’s available on SoundCloud, Stitcher, Google Play, and iTunes.

What advantages does being in Northwest Ohio/Toledo offer your efforts?

I believe one of the benefits of living in the Northwest Ohio area is the freedom and the accessibility that the area brings. In other words, I honestly don’t know if I would have been able to accomplish what I’ve been able to do in a more mainstream area – plus it’s kind of fun to bring something new or vital to the community.

Tell us about one of your greatest successes.

I don’t know about successes but I think one of the things that I’m most proud of is my work with the Sylvania Community Arts Commission’s Shorties U program. Shorties U is a four-day filmmaking workshop designed for students grades 5-8 where they are paired up with a mentor – a local professional who’s currently working in the film and video industry. During the experience they write, direct, and shoot their very own short film. It’s rewarding in its own unique way because the students have such wild imaginations and it’s simply an opportunity that I wish I had when I was growing up.

Tell us who or what gives you inspiration?

I honestly get a lot of my inspiration from podcasts. I’m not a big reader so being able to access new ideas audibly is a big deal for me. I listen to a lot of storytelling podcasts that not only inspire my work but also motivate me to be a better person. Some of my favorite programs include Radiolab, Freakonomics Radio, This American Life, The Moth, and 99% Invisible.

Tell us about your background.

While I’ve had many interests, I have always had a love for art and film. I grew up in Swanton, Ohio and – as a kid – my brother, my friends, and I would act out scenes from our favorite movies. Eventually, we started writing our own short stories that we’d film using my parent’s Hi8 camcorder. Years later, during my time at Central Catholic High School, I invested the money I had earned delivering newspapers for the Toledo Blade and working at a landscaping supply store into a MiniDV camera and a computer with which to edit short movies. When I enrolled at Bowling Green State University I also applied for a work study program where I helped create promotional videos for different departments and organizations around campus – the time I spent working at BGSU would be my introduction to documentary filmmaking. Ultimately, I was employed by Root Inc. and wound up in Sylvania, Ohio where I live with my wife – we are expecting our first child.

Do you have a motto or favorite quote you try to live by?

I can’t really explain why but something that’s always stuck with me is a quote by Garrison Keillor, former host of Prairie Home Companion – “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” I feel like that’s all you can really ask for in this life.

Favorite place for local culture?

Here in Sylvania’s Red Bird Arts District, there’s an art walk every first Friday of the month where, basically, some of the local businesses stay open a few hours late to host local artists. Whether it’s fine art, performance art, music, or films, the art walk is always a great opportunity to check out local art and culture.

Toledo’s “best kept secret” is . . .

While it might sound obvious to some, but I believe that the Toledo Museum of Art can go toe to toe with the best of them. I’ve had opportunities to visit other art museums around the country and I still and, at the end of the day, I’m really proud of our museum and I recommend it to just about everyone I meet that might be just passing through.

My favorite place to chill locally is . . .

That’s a tough one – if you would have asked me a few months ago, I would have said Treo Restaurant in Sylvania. Unfortunately, Treo closed its doors this past February and we’re still trying to find our new hangout.

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . .

My favorite natural space in the Toledo area is . . .

Oak Openings, not just because it’s one of the largest around and it’s close to where I grew up, but because there’s so much diversity in reference to the scenery. The dunes and the pines are probably my two favorite places within the park.

When I’m not working hard, I can always be found at . . .

I like to think that I work hard at everything I do but I can normally be found at home catching up on Netflix or listening to podcasts while tackling different projects around the house – it’s all pretty pedestrian really.

If you could change anything about the current landscape for creative, progressive people . . .

I’m not sure. Maybe regarding real estate, I would like to see a culture that embraces entrepreneurs. It’s kind of disappointing to drive around and see so many empty spaces that would be perfect for people who have great creative ideas – I can’t help but wonder if the bureaucracy of it all is a little too intimidating for startup types. In other words, it’d be interesting to see land owners work something out with progressive people who are looking for available and competitive spaces.

Any exciting collaborations (past or present) you would like to tell us about?

While I feel like I’m spinning a few plates, I can’t think of any specific collaborations that I have going on now. However, in the past, I’ve collaborated a lot with my colleagues from Root Inc., old friends from BGSU, other members of the Sylvania Community Arts Commission, a handful of local businesses, and even a few Toledo area natives that now live in other areas like Los Angeles.

Name one person (living or deceased) who you would love to collaborate with.

That’s a difficult question because I’m not even sure if the person with whom I’d want to collaborate would necessarily be a filmmaker. In other words, I think it’d be fun to attempt to make a movie with someone like, architect and inventor, Buckminster Fuller. I like to think that a collaboration like that would yield some pretty interesting results.

Name a CD, book or website you can’t live without.

Logic tells me to pick a website because I assume that it would be constantly updated with new information as well as provide an archive to the past. I believe I’d have a hard time functioning without I really respect a lot of the work that’s uploaded there and, truth be told, I tend get a lot of inspiration from the people I follow.

3 words that best describe me or my work are . . .

1) Minimalist – I’m a big believer that less is more.
2) Fun – if it’s not fun, I should ask myself if it’s worth doing.
3) Personal – it sounds obvious but I like to think that I truly put a little bit of myself in everything that I do.

Give us 5 Desert Island Album picks.

1) Orphans by Tom Waits
2) Fear Fun by Father John Misty
3) Leonard Cohen Live in Dublin
4) Weezer’s Blue Album
5) Curtains by John Frusciante

My biggest vice is . . .

I’m no stranger to a cold beer.

I’d like to see __________ in Toledo.

An art house movie theater; something a la Alamo Draft House that screens limited releases, classics, etc.

What’s the last dream you recall having?

I’m one of the unfortunate few that never really remembers their dreams but should probably keep a dream journal because I like to think that they’re pretty good.

The last lyric that moved me was . . .

Occasionally, a lyric will really hook me; sometimes for no good reason. I’d say the last lyric that moved me was from The Handsome Family tune “So Much Wine”. It goes like, “There's only so much wine you can drink in one life. And it will never be enough to save you from the bottom of your glass.”

One movie character I identify with is . . .

For making films for a living, you’d think this answer would come easily. But I’d have to say that I can relate to Louie C.K.’s character from the FX series Louie. Chiefly because, while it’s rooted in reality, Louie’s character is often a victim of circumstance and subject to his own shortcomings, but at the same time, he can be a profound voice of reason in a crazy world.

The best gift I’ve ever received was . . .

Tickets to attend a live taping of a Kevin Smith podcast in Philadelphia. Aside from the actual performance, the road trip to and from Ohio was one of the best times of my life.

My most inspiring moment was/is . . .

I honestly don’t know. It sounds schmaltzy but I feel like everyday offers a series of inspiring moments that keep me going – whether it’s an especially nice clerk, a funny piece of graffiti, or a certain song that plays at just the right time.

I want my last meal to be _______________.

A Cuban sandwich. I might change my mind on my deathbed but I could always go for a Cuban sandwich…

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