It’s been thirteen years since Josh Stewart made his mark as rookie Brendan Finney on Third Watch. Now with over a decade of playing some of the most interesting, memorable and fan favorite characters in both television and film Josh is gearing up to direct his second feature film Back Fork.
MV: Welcome to Movie Vine, Josh! To begin, let’s talk about your new film and its Kickstarter campaign. What can you tell us about Back Fork?
Josh: Back Fork is about a man struggling to hold his life together after a heartbreaking tragedy in Appalachia. With his inability to heal, it’s only a matter of time that he chooses to numb his pain with pills. Soon he’s at a crossroads. It’s only then he’s able to see that we’re all wounded animals. Sometimes we die, but sometimes we can live.
MV: Where can people find the campaign online?
MV: What are some of the special rewards you are offering to backers?
Josh: There are some options with the rewards. From getting behind the scenes videos, photos and updates, to the script, a digital download of the film, all the way to being a Co-Executive Producer on the film.
MV: What led you to the decision to take Back Fork to a crowdfunding platform instead of the traditional studio pitch?
Josh: This film is really personal to me and I want to be able to make the film that I see. I don’t want to give up creative control. This isn’t necessarily the type of film bigger productions target to make as well. Indie films take a lot of time and energy and resources to get the project completed for very little to zero pay. So finding that right fit with a company is an arduous task. That’s why I’ve decided to throw my hat into the ring of crowdfunding.
MV: Back Fork deals with the dark side of pharmaceuticals and the unfortunate rise of prescription pill addiction. What inspired you to write this story?
Josh: My home state of WV is absolutely sick from prescription pills. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected either directly or indirectly. The pills haven’t discriminated. I wanted to make a contribution to this narrative through film.
MV: Will you talk a little about the strain your character Waylon’s addiction has on the entire family?
Josh: Without giving too much away, I think when anyone chooses to not deal with something, when we choose to just be numb when we no longer want to feel, nothing gets better. The problems don’t go away, we’re just not dealing with them. No one can heal or move on when that’s the case.
MV: There are various paths that lead into addiction, but unfortunately only a couple that lead out of it. How will Waylon manage the labyrinth of his addiction?
Josh: I think in the end, we’re all wounded animals, right? We all do the best we can with what we’re given. If we lay down, we could die. But if we stand up and fight, we can live.
MV: Great answer! As a writer, what are some of the lessons you have learned tackling the subject of addiction that will help once you are ready to get into character?
Josh: I think anytime you’re the writer, you’ve done so much of the work already that comes into play later with acting. I’ve flushed out the story. I’ve dissected the character, so when it comes time to be Waylon, the work is mostly done.
MV: AJ Cook will be playing Waylon’s wife, Nida. After spending so many years working together on Criminal Minds do you have your own type of short-hand that will be beneficial when dealing with heavy moments in the script?
Josh: AJ is amazing. I think anytime you’ve worked with someone so long, and it just works, then there’s a comfort level that is established. It’s no different than football players that have been on the same team for years. You learn their instincts, you learn the way they play which takes away any of the uncertainty of “I wonder what they’re gonna do”. We’re able to just jump in and go.
MV: This will be your second time at the helm of a feature film. What were some surprising issues that you ran into when directing The Hunted that you hope to avoid during Back Fork?
Josh: To give myself more time when I’m on camera. I always rushed through my stuff to get to everyone, the other actors, and give them the most time. I still will, I know that, but I know to slow it down a bit when it comes to giving my character of Waylon the time the character deserves.
MV: The Hunted is set in the woods of West Virginia and Back Fork is set in Appalachia. Even though you grew up in West Virginia, what else attracts you to the more isolated rural mountain areas instead of an urban setting?
Josh: I don’t think it’s urban vs. rural, it’s just that there are stories in WV that I want to tell. There are stories in WV that deserve to be told. And it’s like with AJ, there’s a comfort level I have with WV because it’s my home. There’s an understanding I have that hopefully translates into authenticity.
MV: When location scouting what are a few key components that you hope to find to create the world of Back Fork?
Josh: Locations are only about servicing the story. If a place works for the story in the way it needs to, then it’s right.
MV: In addition to Back Fork you have a lot of other fun projects coming up. For one, you’re joining the Insidious family with the much anticipated Insidious: Chapter 4. What, if anything, can you share about that experience?
Josh: I’m locked tight when it comes to Insidious. We all have to wait till October. Ahhahahaha.
MV: Dang! I tried. Haha. You also teamed up with Brad Pitt again for the upcoming film War Machine. Does it feel like you’ve come full circle since The Curious Case of Benjamin Button?
Josh: War Machine was great. I didn’t get to work with Brad in this one in the way I did on Buttons. It’s a reminder though, of how small this business really is.
MV: What other projects do you have in the works?
Josh: I’ve got another film in the can called Malicious that will be out this year.
MV: Last question, since you will be returning to the mountains for Back Fork what is your favorite West Virginian folklore story that people outside of the area may not be familiar with?
Josh: Man, I can’t narrow that down. There are too many! WV is full of ghost stories. Everyone has one, too. It’s exactly the reason campfires exist. My personal one is The Hunted.
MV: Well The Hunted is scary enough. Thank you so much for hanging out with Movie Vine, Josh! Best of luck with your Back Fork campaign. We are looking forward to seeing Waylon come to life.
Josh: Thanks so much. Go easy.
*Visit the Kickstarter page for more details about Back Fork [click here]. Also be sure to follow Josh on his official Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. For the latest updates on Back Fork you can follow the film on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.