Local filmmaker and West End Film Festival finalist Joel Stephen Fleming admits to a lengthy love affair with film, and an indecent adoration of controversial stuntmen series Jackass.

Joel’s lust for comedy began as a child, progressing in his teenage years to a fully fledged relationship. “My friends and I would film stuff on a handicam for fun, like pranking each other and all that juvenile stuff,” Joel chuckles. “It’s probably the earliest stuff I did with a camera and then that developed into making my own comedy series.”

Although seemingly linear, Joel’s journey from film and media student at Griffith University to director and business owner has been a demanding one, he says. Joel and a fellow classmate at the time started their own production company, 13th Street Films, giving the budding creative an avenue to write and direct multiple short films without the restrictions of assessment.

Joel’s stab at mystery, a film titled Ascension, played at this year’s West End Film Festival, only bolstering the artist’s love for the 4101. Affirming an affection for showcasing his flicks locally, Joel even admits West End is at the centre of his coffee addiction. “I love going to Three Monkeys, with the Turkish vibe and all the carpets.”

Joel’s love of comedy is still strong, with his most recent web series Summer School was a crowd favourite among its audience. The pilot episode is available online and Joel says the goal is to get funding to film the rest of the season and get it hosted on a streaming platform. When asked where his love of film came from, he says, “It developed from doing something for fun which became a bit of an obsession; I just love the idea of storytelling.” He finds inspiration from his favourite director, Rian Johnson, who got his foot in the door of the film industry with an indie film called Brick. “It got played at Sundance and launched his whole career — so I aspire to do that kind of thing; where you just show your unique perspective and it happens from there. That sort of trajectory is my goal.”

Small but supported, Joel is already climbing up the ladder of success in the Queensland film industry, gaining attention for his various award wins. “I always personally feel great when I see someone from our University class get an award or grant. We always encourage each other and it’s a close-knit community.”

Joel’s advice for anyone wanting to get into the film industry is simple — be resilient. “You’re going to hear a lot of NOs from every avenue — from approaching people to work with them to film festival applications. Also, just get on set, no matter what job you want to do — you should just get on set, and it will help you develop your skills.”

In the depths of winter, summer can be a distant memory. But with Joel’s web series Summer School on the rise, the young Brisbane creative is in for a season of success. Follow 13th Street Films on YouTube, or find them on Facebook and Instagram.

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