Josh Burnell is a filmmaker, podcaster, coder, and writer who lives and works in California. Josh has written several short stories and two feature films, “Boon The Bounty Hunter” and “The House By The Lake” which was just released in 2017. He lives with his supportive and loving wife and his cat, who is quite disapproving of him altogether.

In a recent and exclusive interview, Josh discussed his career in show-business and his hopes for the future.

Movies, screenwriting, and stories

Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover your talent for making up stories and what prompted you to go into screenwriting?

Josh Burnell (JB): I was a sick kid, and I spent hours in bed reading books, watching movies, and obsessing over Jennifer Connelly in “The Rocketeer.” When I saw something that thrilled or affected me, it made me want to have the same effect on other people. So, I started writing stories as soon I knew how to draw, but it wasn’t until I was a teenager that my focus became screenwriting. I think it was a combination of anger and being inspired by the indie films of the early-1990s. I’ve always been into really loud, desperate music and I wanted to tell stories that punched people in the same way, and, since I didn’t know anyone that wanted to start a band, I started writing movies.

MM: So far, how many different pieces have you published?

JB: “House By The Lake” is my second genre film, and I’ve published two short stories, a dark fantasy piece and, because I’m always on brand, a story about my cat in “Chicken Soup For the Soul: The Cat Did That.”

MM: What was the inspiration behind the plot of “House on the Lake” and are there any “sub-themes” that you hope viewers will catch?

JB: The producer, Mike De Trana, had the idea of a little girl who keeps talking about an imaginary friend that may or may not be real. I was inspired by that concept and was curious what that would do to the parents of the kid. To me, the story is all about connection. Four people in a house are constantly missing each other, constantly trying to share a moment and each incapable of doing so for a different reason.

That’s the pretentious screenwriter answer. The other answer is that we wanted to make something thrilling and fun..and leave the audience talking.

MM: The concept of a “Fish Man” for an imaginary friend is somehow very creepy--especially when the child who claims to have this friend is terrified of the water! Did you ever have any fears of the water and/or any boogie-man type figures in your imagination when you were a boy?

JB: I wasn’t afraid of the water, but I was pretty sure that a helicopter would fly over my grandparent’s pool and drop a Great White shark into it when I wasn’t looking! I mean, that happened in the 1980s, right?

Characters, films, and entertainment

MM: Out of all the characters, which are your favorites and are any inspired by real people?

JB: Karen was always my favorite character, and Anne (Dudek) brought her to life, so it’s a wonder to watch. She’s just trying so hard. Trying to be a good mother and an attentive wife and a quality person. To not overreact, but not to under-react and always keep everyone’s emotions in mind. Anne brought so much honesty to it; it knocks me out.

MM: How did you go about getting this film picked up for production and how involved were you in the casting and filming?

JB: I was onset for everything, it was quite a trip. We made the film on a microbudget, so it was all-hands-on-deck. The crew killed it, the producers ran cable, and my wife did the catering. Everybody pitched in. The producers and crew even lived in the house where the Movie was shot.

It was like cinema summer-camp.

MM: What was it like to see your screenplay turned into an actual movie and did you have any favorite scenes?

JB: It’s always bizarre seeing my words come to life. At this point, Isaw the movie so many times in so many iterations that I know the etymology of every line in the movie. The line I brainstormed, the one I wrote, the way it changed between drafts, the way the actor tweaked it and way it edited into the final cut. A finished film is a like blender of intentional, accidental, and mystic creativity. And if you do it right, the audience won’t be able to tell. All they’ll see is a story that takes them somewhere.

MM: How do you envision your screenwriting career evolving over the next ten years and do you have any new projects in the works?

JB: I’m always looking for new ways to tell an entertaining story, so I’m currently in development on a VR movie, but I also love the freedom of plain old prose, so I’m also writing a novel called “Tear Us Apart” which will be out in 2018. It’s a thriller about a woman on the run from a serial killer, except the serial killer is her husband. Yeah, I’ve got a thing for writing about troubled marriages. Ironically, my marriage is the best thing that ever happened to me, so it's anybody's guess how a writer's mind works.