Years ago I met John for the first time at an alleycat race in Oshkosh and didn’t know of his filmmaking career at all. This past summer was the first time I actually got to know him as we worked together at EAA Airventure 2015. Shortly after I started this artist feature project I asked and he obliged to be a part of it. But not without asking me several times if I was sure he was feature worthy… which made me even more excited to get the ball rolling. He is a humble character not just in his talent, but in all the ways he sacrifices so he can work on big dreams all the time. It is so refreshing to see someone who isn’t in it to crush competition or critique every aspect of what being a creative entrepreneur is.
John loves movies and the world that encompasses them, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to see that ~ but what I pulled away even more about diving into this project with him is how much he enjoys people. He has a nack for making everyone feel included and finding similar interests and passions between himself and them, creating amazing conversation. Someone who genuinely wants to know your story is definitely someone who should be telling them! Thanks again John for letting me into your world a bit and for being such great guy!
Name: John Pata
Business: Head Trauma Productions
When you were a kid what did you want to be when you grew up? A Ghostbuster, without a doubt. Hell, I’d still love to be one.
What does a typical day of work look like for you start to finish? My main focus is on my filmmaking, but I work part-time at House of Heroes Comics and Games in Oshkosh, WI to pay the bills. On top of that, I also pick up freelance design/photography/videography gigs. I juggle all of that (and sometimes more) most days. Oh, and I just started a new podcast with my buddy Mike Heyer called Nerd Soup, so there’s that too.
The best way to put it is a typical workday starts around 9:30am and goes until at least 1:00am (sometimes later). Yes, there’s small breaks here and there, but the work is pretty constant.
I also talk to myself. A lot.
Any favorite projects you’re currently working on? We’re currently seeking funding for my new feature film, The Northwoods. This means lots of meetings, spreadsheets, and head-scratching. All the while, I’m doing as much pre-production work as possible – storyboards, script revisions, reference photos, budget breakdowns, location scouting, etc.
I also edited The Stylist directed by Jill Sixx Gevargizian, which will be having its world premiere at the Etheria Film Night in LA on June 11th. It’s a pretty big, one-day festival that focuses on female, genre-based filmmakers, so we’re quite stoked to premiere with them. Should be a super fun weekend.
How do you use social media and what is your favorite way to connect with your audience? I don’t use social media as much as I probably should, to be honest. It’s a great, viable tool for creative types and businesses, yet, I’m kind of burnt out on it. At times like this, when the next project isn’t officially locked in yet, I’m pretty reserved and don’t want to speak too soon. Plus, I don’t want to keep posting the same shit for a film like Dead Weight which has been out for four years now. These are probably just excuses to mask the fact that I’m kind of lethargic with social media now.
Filmmaking is weird, though, because in the grand scheme of things, you don’t really get to connect with your audience a whole lot. Most people will watch your film at home, and while I haven’t tried this, my guess is that people aren’t cool with a random dude just showing up at their house while they watch your film. I absolutely love attending screenings, though. I’m not always able to go to them, but when I do, it’s the fucking best.
How do you find inspiration? I stay observant. Our brains are constantly assaulted and stimulated everyday, there’s bound to be something worthwhile every now and then. Or, on the flip side, there’s plenty of bullshit in the world that causes a negative response, which could give me enough inspiration for decades.
Who or where is your go to for creative criticism when you are questioning your work and why? Throughout this journey, I’ve met some truly incredible filmmakers who were foolish enough to become friends with me, and they are my go-to for criticism/feedback. When I finish a script and/or cut of a film, I have a group of about ten friends who I sent them out to. I feel I work best when I can talk and hear about my work.
What was the best piece of advice you ever got? To answer in a very non-direct way, adopting and embracing the core meaning and message in a lot of punk rock at a young age was key. The idea of staying true to yourself, not giving into societal pressure or influence, and realizing you don’t have to live like everyone else is something I still follow and believe in.
What’s your secret for productivity? Over the past six years, I’m made quite a few huge changes and sacrifices to pursue this passion of filmmaking. My life (or lack thereof) is designed by choice. I remind myself it’s either this or true adult life of a 9-to-5, and that shit scares me to no end.
Who are some of your other favorite creatives to follow? My friends. I’ve been fortunate to know a lot of creative people, between filmmakers, actors, musicians, artists, photographers, comedians, writers, business owners and entrepreneurs, record label owners… Shit. It’s kind of wild when I break it down like that. Friends are cool.
Anything we missed that you would like to share? Take chances. Try things. Don’t be afraid to fall on your ass a bunch. You’re more likely to learn from experience than anything else.
And if you’re looking to kill seven minutes, check out our most recent short film, Pity.