Our latest Best Performance of Fest winner, Josh Mann, is an Award-Winning writer, producer and actor with credits spanning over Drama, Comedy, Thriller and Horror.
But if you ask him, he enjoys acting the most.
Josh recently won Best Performance of Fest at the Actors Awards, for his leading role in "Frederick", as a high profile painter and art gallery owner, who suffers from an intense version of “artist’s block.”
In the following interview, Josh takes us behind the scenes of "Frederick", and shares some of his thoughts about acting, storytelling, and the way he deals with “artist’s block” in real life.
Josh, tell us a bit about your background. Where did you grow up, when and how did you get into acting? What were your first steps in the entertainment world? Did you take acting lessons?
I actually grew up in Los Angeles. I wrote a monologue that I performed in 6th grade about being a cool “freshman,” which brought me a new sense of joy and freedom I had never experienced. I also performed in a touring production of Godspell throughout the Bay Area. It was an intense commitment, and I thought I will either love this or hate this. It was the former. Additionally, during this time, I had several inspirational teachers in High School (Lyn, Carol, Susan, and Davida), and they all contributed to discovering my passion.
You previously wrote, produced and acted in shorts like Dystopia (which you also directed), Distrust, The Dolphin, and Underground Man. Clearly, you have much experience in that field! What do you enjoy the most - writing, producing or acting? And in your opinion, what are the most important ingredients of a great short film?
I enjoy acting the most. For me, acting is the most expressive. I feel it on a visceral level more than anything else. Sometimes I enjoy writing, when I am inspired, especially when ideas pour out of me organically and effortlessly. Acting is always a privilege, always an inspiration, even during its challenges.
I think story is very important for a great short film. The best short films I’ve seen were also incredibly moving and had a powerful vision. I think a short needs one unique characteristic that separates it from other projects, but it also has to be universal and relatable.
You recently won Best Performance of Fest at The Actors Awards, for your lead role in Frederick. Frederick is a very interesting character to portray. Like a canvas, there are many dimensions and colors in his character. How did you prepare for the role of Frederick, who represents both the prolific and struggling artists of our time?
I had a very interesting journey preparing for this role. After I wrote the first draft, I realized that I needed to be more familiar with the art world. So I started going to art galleries and museums nearly every week for about 6 months. Every week I would see or hear something that made an impact on me and often wound up into the script as well. I heard quotes and conversations that made me think about art differently. I witnessed fascinating behaviors that inspired and intrigued me. The art itself spoke to me and helped shape what I was doing, as well as individual artists I met. I got a feeling for what it was like to be apart of this world. It was as if I was writing the script and building the character simultaneously, through my interactions with the art world.
Frederick - Official Trailer
What scene in Frederick was the most fun to shoot?
I think the opening scene was the most fun to shoot, because I got to play Frederick incognito. It was like playing a character within the character. In the scene, Frederick goes into a gallery disguised, to hear what other people (and in this case an attractive female art critique) say about his work.
What was it like to star in opposite James Morrison (who won Best Supporting Actor for his performance)?
He is so gracious, talented, and experienced. It was such an honor working with him. I learned so much through observing his skill, professionalism, and humility. He has great stories to tell and is a very generous actor. He was also extremely encouraging and supportive; I felt extremely fortunate to have worked with him.
Josh Mann and James Morrison in "Frederick"
Frederick is an art gallery owner as well as a high-profile artist, who suffers from an artist's block. As a writer, producer and actor - do you ever feel you have an "artist's block"? How do you deal with something like that?
Yes. I have felt it many times. I think most artists do in one way or another. Sometimes it is just a matter of doing it. Deadlines are good motivation. Sometimes other feelings get in the way and create the block, like anxiety. Ironically enough, “artist’s block” became part of the inspiration for this story. So I used it against itself in a way. I used the block to create a new opportunity. Reconnecting with deeper inspirations is what ultimately helps me overcome these kinds of challenges. When I am deeply connected to myself and the work, the artist’s block usually lifts. When I am disconnected, I embark on a journey searching for the hidden connections and inspirations waiting to be uncovered. More often than not, they are usually right under our noses.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years? What are some of your future plans?
I want to continue to create work that I am proud of and inspire others. I hope to be experiencing a deep sense of joy working on projects that are meaningful and fulfilling on all levels. It would also be nice to work with some of my favorite directors and actors one day.
Is there anything else you'd like to mention to our readers?
I was very impressed with your organization and truly honored to have received this award.
Thank you for this wonderful opportunity and for appreciating actors in such a profound way.