We first met Justin Parker when he was just 8 years old. Adam Rotenberg recently caught up with JJ to find out where his journey has taken him over the past 4 years since he joined us on HI and what’s next for this talented young film maker, who will surely be making his mark on the industry!
HI Director Lilly Dawson met you when you were just about 8 years old. She saw something wonderful about you at such a young age. You flew from Sydney to Melbourne to do an acting workshop on a scholarship. Tell me what you recall from that experience.
Lilly Dawson, wow, a true mother figure to me in this industry. The unique experience with Lilly was one of those moments that you know would be a defining chapter in your life. One exercise was how to walk the catwalk. I had been exposed to modeling before, however, this was different. I lined up to walk, I took one step and was told to stop. “I don’t believe you.” In short, I tried again and received the same answer. On the 3rd time round, I walked in such a way, it didn’t feel natural however it felt true to me and what I expressed, unknowingly, was confidence, maturity and a clear sense of a destination. Lilly taught me… to walk.
You’ve gained a reputation of being mature beyond your years. What would you say to young artists who are just starting out and how to conduct themselves as professionals?
Research, experiment and apply. Confidence in yourself and who YOU are at that point in time carries in itself, maturity. It doesn’t matter if you are changing career or picking up a side job as a bartender. Be interested in it and others will look to you and believe it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what a Manhattan is… go on the internet and install fact and knowledge into your character to deliver a believable performance… even if it’s to your highly intoxicated mother who has kindly offered her time to try your concoctions.
Confidence is key… even when you have no fucking clue what the key is.
Besides acting, you are establishing yourself as a filmmaker in directing. Who are some directors and films that have inspired you?
Well, at the end of the day there is no ONE or COLLECTION of films that define cinema for me. Of course there are influences but storytelling is what drives this fire inside of me. Whether its, directing, cinematography or acting, I start to create a natural uncontrollable hype around the script, characters, relationships, situation, risks etc, adding to a more tangible story for the audience to be invested in.
We are all innate storytellers. There is a reason why some are more interesting that others.
Along with directing you have become very proficient in cinematography. You’re an academic when behind the camera. You study lenses, and the latest camera technology. You flew yourself to the United States for a course in the RED camera. How was your experience? What did you learn?
Technology is rapidly changing entity, its important to stay up to date in the cheapest and most immersive way possible. Master classes and Academy courses are a fantastic way to dig your fingers into new gear with industry professionals around to pick their brains. I took a chance, gathered some funds and flew to Idaho, USA to experience large format digital cinematography lead by Stills and Motion Picture Cinematographer Ivan Agerton (Blue Planet II). Overall, unforgettable experience, incredible people and high performing cinema cameras.
You own the skill of the craft. The tools do not define your skill
Let’s get real. You are very impatient and you call people out on their B.S. Do you think that helps or hinders you?
Where did you pull this question from Adam? I sense underlying tones of revenge. Yes. The truth is sometimes the hardest thing to hear or digest although it is sometimes exactly what an idea or situation needs. Of course this can greatly hinder an individual with good philosophies based on their delivery. We are all the same alien on this planet trying to figure shit out. Being mindful about the delivery, composure, audience, situation, risk etc, will greatly alter the outcome. Perhaps in your favor? Don’t beat around the bush though, address the issue straight up. Be real and logical.
Raw and uncompressed.
Along with film, you have a taste for the finer things such as Porsche automobiles. Tell me about your interest in them, and how that started.
My father has always had a great interest in motorsport. It’s a common interest we share. I asked him one day what his favorite car in the world was, he reply “the Porsche 911”. I never really gave it much though, at the time he owned a 3 series BMW and seemed happy. That same year I shot my first documentary about the E30 BMW M3, “Homologation”, and what I found would change the way I saw the automobiles forever. In short, the E30 BMW M3 was one of the first German production cars to be designed purely for the track and THEN homologated for the road. To this day, Porsche is one of the very few car manufactures that design and create their vehicles in this fashion. Of course these are just luxuries or a hobby, however, after my father finally achieved his dream of owning a Porsche, I can safely say I can understand what it feels what its like to drive a sports car engineered this way… although…he doesn’t know I took it for a spin.
“Attention to detail, my son” – My Father…on a daily basis.
You are constantly busy working on projects. Can we see your work? What’s next on your agenda?
As I reach the conclusion of my 5 years at film school, I can safely say I will have work to show. The years prior are filled with experimentation and exploration into the world of filmmaking and story telling. Mistakes, yes. Regrets, never. I constantly look avenues to get away from the theory and immerse myself into the controlled chaos of a film set. Small roles, such as coffee boy, just to get close to the camera, the actors, the director. Bleeding enthusiasm and the lust to learn will never go unnoticed. Recently, picking up a credit as Junior Camera Assistant under one of Australia best 1st AC’s, David Elmes (The Matrix, Hacksaw Ridge, Thor: Ragnarok, Ghost in the Shell) on an Australian feature, Judy and Punch. Truly an unforgettable experience and learnt more than I ever did at the 5 years in film school.
School isn’t just an establishment of rules. It’s a place to break them.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? Still in Australia, or will you be making the leap to Los Angeles?
I am only just coming to the end of my 5 year plan I first wrote out in 2014, Hollywood Immersive. Yes of course it has changed since then. But to where I see myself in the next 5 to 10 years isn’t really a mystery. I have a gut feeling, like a magnet, pulling me in a direction of my career. There is no right and wrong path, only the one YOU manifest. The path is already made… all YOU need to do is start walking it. WRITE down achievable goals and outcomes and chip away at them every day. Time + Intensity = Results.
We are only Human, after all.