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Meet Braden Joe of Expedition Film Company in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Braden Joe.

Braden, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My first camera was a GoPro Hero 2. It didn’t have a screen on it, so I was never fully aware of my framing until I got back home to edit. Years of messing around with cameras helped develop my passion for filmmaking, and aspirations to learn more about the industry. After making my first short film in my junior year of high school, I began to freelance PA on short films, eventually migrating to reality television, documentary and eventually narrative. Those years in TV taught me a lot–I was often the youngest on set by more than ten years and learned that hard work and passion were the easiest way for me to gain rapport, experience, and respect. I learned from some of the best producers I’ve ever worked with and was taught the importance of treating cast and crew with respect and integrity. By doing so, one is able to create the best product while simultaneously creating a loyal and hardworking crew. I was very tempted to drop out of film school on multiple occasions. By my 21st birthday, I had made countless shorts, worked on over 40 episodes of television and had promising connections into producing for documentary. One day, when talking to one of my mentors, I was reminded of why I joined the entertainment industry–I want to share my stories. I stayed in school, and took on a second major in Anthropology, where I now combine the two disciplines–ethnography and directing–to help find, develop, and tell challenging stories with ethics, integrity, and my authentic voice.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
My first days on set were very, very challenging. At 17 years old, I had barely any experience and had only previously worked at a summer camp. I made lots of little mistakes, constantly, but was lucky to work with producers who showed me compassion and patience. I never made the same mistake twice. I often found it hard to balance my social life with the demanding film industry–high school students seldom work 12-hour shifts, so for a few summers, I was very aloof. Beyond that, I spent most of my nights writing and developing my own ideas. Often born out of my own anxiety, these stories were tough to write and forced me to analyze my own struggles to create an authentic re-creation and expansion of my thoughts. My first three years in the industry also had me face a lot of very difficult subject matter. My first episode of documentary television followed two gambling addicts and ended in us checking someone into rehab. My next project worked with the real-life heroes of the Boston Marathon Bombing, a very formative event in my childhood, that forced me to address my own crowd anxiety. On the second season of my next show, we lost two cast members. These events really made me grow up quickly. I was a kid playing in the real world and learned that there is pain everywhere. The mentors and experiences I had throughout all of this shaped me and how I now treat my own cast and crews.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Expedition Film Company story. Tell us more about the business.
I started Expedition Film Company, LLC in 2016 after a life-changing trip to the Galapagos Islands. That summer, I had worked on my first film projects and realized that I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. EXPED—a founding nickname that has stuck around for the last four years—believes in the fusion of narrative and documentary filmmaking to share powerful stories. We love combining the empathy of anthropology, the ethics of documentary, and the cinematic methods of narrative to help people tell their own stories. A lot of our projects are untraditional by nature. As an Anthropologist, I enjoy spending months and years researching topics and subjects for our projects. Our most recent project—Alive—took almost five years to write, develop, then finally shoot a proof of concept sizzle. There is so much great content out there by incredible filmmakers. We have found success by trying to come up with radically different concepts and approaches to bring a new genre. We currently have a great team of filmmakers who work with us from all over the world. Self-reflexivity, cultural-relativity, and innovation guide us in our approach to redefining empathetic, fearless filmmaking—documentary and narrative.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck is the combination of fortune, fate, and hard work. It’s a cliche, but I believe it’s true—I’m the luckiest guy on earth. I would be ignorant not to acknowledge the privileges afforded to me. My childhood was pretty great, and my transition into adulthood was full of support and love from my family. I dealt with my own adversity, both with physical ailments and mental health, but I am a stronger because of them. Today, I am able to do what I want to do. I am a firm believer that you are not defined by your resources or adversity, but how you use both. And when you are afforded these privileges, you are obligated to help others. Philanthropy, gratitude, and humility are strong family values of mine that I have transitioned into my professional life as well. Luck is nothing without hard work, but hard work plus luck is everything.

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Property of Expedition Film Company, a Limited Liability Company registered in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. All Rights Reserved 2020.

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