Justin Pinder is the owner of JackRabbitttProductions and director at Los Angeles production company SMASH. Originally from Philadelphia, Justin has now found himself in West Hollywood making making award winning films and commercials, and finding himself as this week’s Zooppa Featured Member!
Tell us about yourself, personally and creatively.
I like to think of my team and myself as juggernauts. No matter how big or small the task, our goal is to perform and make it look like we’ve done it with a hundred people. For myself, creativity can be applied to everything and everywhere. From a commercial brief to getting out of a traffic ticker, to hand crafting a bar in my backyard.
What first interested you in film?
I always have and still do imagine myself in different roles, like a Dr. or a pilot or a time lord. What better way to do all that than write it, shoot it and enjoy it.
I was a storyteller from a young age. And when I say storyteller, I mean, I was a little fibber. When I was a kid I would come up with these grandiose stories to explain who broke what, or where we had been etc… Eventually the stories became more and more believable and I got away with, well, pretty much everything because no one could prove I was full of it. I quickly discovered writing and wrote several novellas (none of which I care to share now, but they were good starts). The writing focused my energy and creativity.
My dad started letting me use his camcorder and that was pretty much game over from there on out. I started making stop motion movies, but this was before editing software was available (did I just date myself?) so when I presented them to my family, I would hit fast forward and the movement would be fluid. I used title cards for dialogue. I’d have a side stereo playing background music as well. I eventually went on to make live action shorts with my brother and sister; although they grew tired of my demanding 12 hours shoots and would rather sip on juice boxes in front of the TV set.
In HS I took our only TV class that ran the mid day news. The AV guy showed me how to input footage into FCP. After I wiped up the drool I started shooting silly how-to videos and teaching myself how to edit late night on the FCP system. For my final assignment in the class I made a 20-minute short called Long Days. It was great, by high school standards… I shot that film much of the way I shot my 3 features in college, with no clue what I was doing. But I had watched enough movies to get a sense of pacing and framing, and what really made things cinematic.
From there on out it’s been a smorgasbord of knowledge. I love picking up anything and everything dealing with film. But also, things that have nothing to do with it because films aren’t about films, they’re about people, places, time etc…
What drew you to the Zooppa community?
The ability to work with and get paid by brands.
What do you like most about crowdsourced film contests?
How awesome is this concept? Instead of a brand like say, Microsoft, shelling out 1 million dollars (you have to say it in the Dr. Evil voice) for 1 commercial, they give out a much lower amount of money and get 5 or so quality spots. Then, we get paid for being creative. It’s great material for our reels. Everyone wins.
Seriously, how cool is it that I don’t have to PA or be an assistant getting coffee thrown at me to work in this creative field. Before this whole crowdsourcing thing blew up, it would have taken me 10+ years to get serious momentum with my career. Now I can honestly say all of the hard work my team and I put in is paying off in dividends.
What do you like to do when you’re not creating video masterpieces?
Writing, editing, more writing, more editing. I also shoot TV pilots, and edit. I have a new feature I’m finishing up writing, which the company will be pushing into high gear in the next few months.
As for non film industry related things: I play rugby, DJ, rock climb, do standup comedy, brew craft beer, travel a lot (I’ve almost been to all of the 50 states) Canada, Haiti, China Morocco, France Spain, and I’m working on getting my pilot’s license.
Where is home for you?
I’m from Philly, and now reside in West Hollywood CA.
Where do/did you go to school? How has your education influenced your filmmaking?
I went to the University of Pittsburgh. I was originally going to transfer when I figured out their film production program wasn’t what I thought it was, but then I was introduced to the student run TV station. There, I was able to do pretty much whatever I wanted with the illustrious equipment we had. Being that I’m a self-taught figure it out as you go type of guy, learning in the field instead of the classroom was much more appealing.
What/where do you find inspiration for your films? Share a bit about your creative process.
I’m going with the cliché answer of everywhere. For example, I was walking down the street trying not to step on the cracks so I wouldn’t break my mother’s back. Then I thought, what if I replaced mother with father… Well, that spawned into this Chevy spot: https://vimeo.com/85493413
It really only takes the gentle breeze of wind to get me going. That’s why I have this app called fetchnotes. It’s a great way to keep your ideas in order and is very accessible.
Which was your favorite Zooppa contest to participate in? Why?
Bud Light so far, but we just started with Zooppa. The ort cloud is the limit.
What are you currently working on (job, films)?
Currently a feature film is in the writing works that will definitely get at least part of the funding from the crowd, and of course I’m always writing and pitching.
What are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My plan is to be a sought after director in commercials and films.
Link us to any work/a portfolio that you would like mentioned.
This is my personal page
This is the page of my partner company I work with now. Michael Gray, my producer, and the rest of the guys & girls are an unstoppable force that really know how to get things done and let me be creative. We do commercials, music videos film and also rent out a massive green screen and office space in Pasadena.
And here’s that Chevy spot that I mentioned before: https://vimeo.com/85493413