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Portland, OR

This is a site for Josh Young's directing work. Have a look around. 



Leaving Portland

Josh Young

Mt. Tabor, where I fell in love with Portland

Just as I blame places for the hardships and failures they contained, so too can I love places for their joys and successes. Even if they are equally not of their doing.

Portland taught me that there is basic goodness in people. That there is an interiority, both in them and in myself, that deserves recognition and respect. It taught me to sit in silence again, something I hadn’t done since childhood. To introspect, to meditate. To love and feel. It called to me to be vulnerable and open. It allowed me “Mr. Peterson”. It allowed me Samantha. It allowed me a truer version of myself.

I can’t help but feel unfinished here. Like I have forgotten these lessons until now, when it’s too late to act on them. Leaving LA felt like failure and triumph all at once. Leaving here feels… wrong. Like I’m leaving home. I am leaving my home. I can deliberate all I want, but the flow of life is taking me along in its current regardless. Only late-in-life reflection will allow the objectivity I need to see if these decisions are correct. But even then, it’ll be infused with nostalgia and experiences. Maybe there is no “correct” way. Maybe we just collect clutter in our minds and hearts until one day it overwhelms us…

The fact is, I can’t keep doing this forever and still have the life I see for myself one day. It hurts to admit I don’t have what it takes to make directing a sustainable career. But in doing so, I may be telling myself it isn’t worth the cost. To enrich myself creatively would be to deplete myself of honesty. I would live a deluded existence, maintaining the veneer of vulnerability even when it wasn’t true. I’d continue to worry about money, family, future - and the stress of which would derail my pursuits in the end.

It’s the same song, repeating over and over and over…

This is an opportunity to try something else. To take what is good, and carefully extract the tedious. To nourish myself and those I love, while side-stepping the land mines that would take years to feel, but will blow me apart nonetheless.

This isn’t a rewrite, Josh. It’s a continuation. It’s the next chapter.

Old Drives...

Josh Young


There is a boy. 

I watch his work. Like a drawing come to life as I flip the pages, the boy reveals himself. 

There is a boy making movies, idolizing his heroes. He doesn't have an aesthetic to call his own, but he wades blissfully in the images of others. He doesn’t have a voice of his own; his voice is an amalgam. He relishes in simple cuts that bridge gaps in time and stitch together a sloppily contrived narrative. He loves making these videos more than anything.

There is a boy with purpose, slashing at his roots as quickly as he can unearth them. He defines himself by film. By having a unique vision. 

The boy starts to feel his limitations, so he adjusts. He starts to learn to direct actors instead of friends. He starts to consider camera movement, the pacing of the cut, the dance between image and sound and music to create a feeling, an emotion. 

The boy sits outside of Lindley Hall and sobs in the snow. The film he meant to be his grand unveiling has crashed against the rocks below him. He is heartbroken. At that moment, he decides that he will make this film himself if he needs to. That he will not stop until it is brought to life. And he achieves it. Through sheer force of will, he achieves it. He is strong.

There is a boy. 

He now goes inward. He feels around for the next story to tell. He finds one, one that he must hold carefully with delicate fingers. It’s fragile, exposed to air for the first time. Removing it nearly kills the boy. 

Already reeling, the boy then feels betrayed. Betrayed by those he thought wanted the best for him. 

This kills the boy.

And so I take hold, and continue on. I finish school and move to LA. I slowly learn what is acceptable and what is not. What is easy and what is not. I drift to the background. Why expose myself to the same pain and suffering the killed the boy?

I bludgeon myself. I bludgeon myself for half a decade, attempting to snuff out any reminders of the boy. Of the weakness I now carry with me. Of the desire to open myself up again. 

I pretend what I produce with friends is tiding me over. I pretend the money is all I need. I fool myself. I fool myself until I don’t anymore. Until I want to shake out of my skin and peel back my scalp.

Until my dad dies in front of me and all of the facades and half-truths I’d been telling myself come crumbling down. 

I don't want the LA that I had. I don't want the life that I had. I want connection. I want to create again, fully and passionately. I want the boy back. 

I want the boy to come back. 

Making the films I want to make takes tenacity. It takes taking rejection. It takes facing fearful situations. It takes caring, at the risk of having my heart broken. It takes loss. How can I willingly volunteer for that? How did the boy?

How did the boy?

I lost him somewhere back there. Going back, I can see traces of him, his footprints in the mud. They stop at the cliff's edge. 

I’m making a film. 

I need the boy back. 

I need him. 


I need me. 

Me. I have it, the power and knowledge and taste and passion. I can do this, but only if I want it more than anything else. It’s scary and difficult to do what I love. But it’s also the only passion I’ve ever really known. I don’t need to keep looking for my meaning or purpose, I know it already. I've known it since I was a boy. 

It’s down there, lapping against the sharp rocks. No sense in continuing to hike, it’s time to dive again. 

About Me...

Josh Young

After spending nearly five years in Los Angeles working in the camera department on features, tv shows, commercials, and music videos, I've decided to move on and reconnect with my true passion - Directing. I've landed in Portland, OR, a place that feels like a home I've never known. I can't wait to make things here.

Exploring, Pt. 2

Josh Young

Today marks my first full day in Portland, and I feel like there is so much to see and do I'm a bit overwhelmed. Friends and strangers have been generous in suggesting things to see and do. Last night, I got dinner at 'Tasty n Sons' off Williams Ave in NE Portland. The bartender had plenty of suggestions on areas to check out, and suggested I go to Mississippi Studios if I'm interested in live music. So I paid my tab and headed over. 

At Mississippi Studios, I struck up some light conversation, but otherwise people-watched and focused on the music. The middle band, Cayetana ( was excellent. They had songs about mental health and wanting to start anew, both things that resonated with me. 

I'm trying to put myself out there and strike up coversation with locals, but at the same time have to acknowledge that the first night in a new place is always rough. It's isolating to leap into the unknown, surrounded by a community that knows itself. However, I will say that Portland is doing its best to penetrate the walls I tend to build. The people seem kind. I find myself having to check my impulse to assume the worst, as people here seem to assume the best in me. There is an openness here that I'm trying to adjust to. 

This time spent introspecting always wells up new theories and pseudo-insights into my thoughts and actions. Last night during the performance, I spent time thinking about man's evolution. Man isn't supposed to be alone, we are a social animal. We learned early-on that without the nurture and protection of the group, we'd be eaten or beaten or otherwise defeated. There's a strength in numbers. So after a span of time alone, when I tend to feel depressed and agitated, that's instinct calling. I may yearn for connecton with others because if my ancestors didn't do the same, they'd die. It's human nature.

Another "insight", more personal, is that my anti-social, borderline phobia of people directly correlates to my own insecurities. When I run, eat healthy, meditate, and otherwise feel "myself" and present, I'm much less burdened by this fear of others. I actually tend to reach out to others in times like this, building bridges and connections with people I tend to shun when the reverse is true. If I've ever disappeared from your life, or seemed distant and hard to access, only to suddenly reemerge as if nothing ever happened, this is probably why.

When I'm not taking care of myself, I retreat inwards. I think I might believe so resolutely that I'm without value that I trust that others will feel the same. I play the scenario of casual conversation over in my mind, seeing myself being rejected, and so, I stay in my place. Or, I perceive a scenario where things go smoothly and they want to have conversation, but I freeze or get hung-up and immediately want to pull the ejector seat and get the hell out of there. All of this flies through my mind and there I stand, in the corner, watching everyone else interact.

But as I said, the air and people of Portland are knocking on this wall I've built, and I'm slowly getting more comfortable. Like wading into unknown waters. There was a span of time last month where I was present and comfortable in my own skin. I was able to force myself out into the open with the confidence that once the shock of vulnerability wore off, I'd survive whatever party, group, or individual interaction I was faced with. I need to find that confidence again.

Onwards to see more of this cool city!


Josh Young

We claim to want American exceptionalism.


We claim to want American exceptionalism, but half of our population still has to protest for basic equality.


Our black brothers and sisters are demonized for demonstrating any way they can to get our attention. If they can't shout, they silently kneel, and yet we still ignore, or worse, villainize them.


Our most vulnerable scream into the deaf ears of our most powerful.


If you truly care about American exceptionalism as you claim, YOU must march. YOU must protest. Raise YOUR voice, which sadly may be louder than that of your brother or sister.


It's easy to fall into cliche that is easily ignored. "A house divided cannot stand." "United we soar, divided we fall." Etc. But these words, and more, were spoken by great men and women that shouted so others could hear. They still prevail today because they hold truths that should be self-evident. 


I am not a special, delicate snowflake, and not all of these people are either. This is an awakening. This is a reality no matter where you get your news. We are fighting the only way we are able to - a way that is protected by our tax dollars, our rights, and our citizenship in a country we love enough to stay in and fight for. We are Americans. 

Divisiveness isn't bred by the weak bringing attention to injustice, it is bred by the powerful doing their best to ignore it. You have asked me to hear your plight, your desperation. I have heard you and respect your struggle. So hear us and respect us. 


Don't disregard your fellow Americans, who bleed and sweat the same colors as you. If you truly are a patriot, educate yourself and do something about what you learn.


We need you to care. I need you to care.




Exploring, Pt. 1

Josh Young

I'm a bit sleep deprived so this may not be the most poetic entry. I was laying in bed last night at 2AM, wide awake, knowing I had to get up at 5AM for my flight. My mind was on fire with potentialities and projections of my looming travels. I finally slept a couple of hours, then packed up and got on the plane to my first potential home - Austin, TX.

There are a few reasons why I see this as a prospective home. Admittedly, after my decision to make a dash for the border and leave LA, my initial impulse was one of panicked scouring of the country for other film industry hubs. I've since backed away from the strategy a bit, instead looking for a place that speaks to me first, having a film community second. But of the options observed in that initial burst of research, Austin remained. 

I went to Austin several times in college for the Austin Film Festival. It was my first taste of the industry and was a lucid dream. I was honored to sit in on talks from screenwriting legends like Michael Arndt & Terry Rossio. I sat stunned in the premiere of Blue Valentine. I had a lot of valuable interactions over the two years I attended that I still carry with me today. That being said, that was attending a film festival, not really getting to know the actual day-to-day city life.

I'm staying in a room at an AirBnB'ers house near South Congress ("SoCo District"). From what I've read, this is the up-and-coming area that's laden with coffeeshops and record stores. AKA Hipster. My hope is either my host or a nearby local will care to show me around or give suggestions on places to hangout. I've gotten advice on where to look for the film scene, so I'm definitely checking that out. Otherwise, I'm planning on seeing a lot of live music, meeting some locals, and just generally seeing if the culture is one in which I can see myself assimilating. 

My preconceptions are as follows:

Pros: Very Liberal City in an otherwise Red State (meaning demonstrations and protests actually have a chance of reaching the hearts and minds of those we're trying to reach). Quirky "Keep Austin Weird" environment. Great music and food. Tough folk that are willing to work hard. A tight-knit film network that, once within, will be supportive and daring to create. 

Cons: Very Liberal City in an otherwise Red State (meaning people I'll meet being affected adversely by Texas' obsession with restricting benefits, women's healthcare, and pushing religion into textbooks). A southern sensibility to the culture that I'm wary of it too heavy-handed. Country music. A defensive/impenetrable film community that doesn't want or need interlopers coming for their jobs.

I'm going to do my best to keep an open mind and check these prejudices at the state line. Regardless, I know I'm going to have a nice time and am confident I'll meet some great people. 

Mountains of Air

Mountains of Air


Josh Young

Most of the time, I find it hard to know if I'm doing something truly for myself or for some ulterior reason unknown to me. Is monogamy what will make me happy, or is it just what I've been raised to believe and pursue? Conversely, will pursuing my dreams without baggage (a "trail of ducks" as a man once said) lead to happiness, or will I find myself isolated? Does one have to fail at one to achieve the other?

Maybe it isn't universal, but maybe I need to minimize one to achieve the other. Different creative minds thrive on different circumstances. Maybe I need to use film to brace myself against unfamiliar or unsavory circumstances. Why, then, did I not make it happen in Los Angeles, a town I have so many conflicts with? The hum of the city is like a porch light, attracting moths from all around the world, who feel they deserve time in it's glow. I can't be one of the many special moths here. It breeds an unhealthy cynicism and competitiveness in me. It's not good for my soul. 

So best case scenario - I move to a new place, one lacking in moths. I establish roots and quickly dive into a new life as a director. I hustle. I make connections to local potential and together we make things. Then, as I've found my voice and am using it full-throated, I find that not enough people are hearing it. I then spread out, calling out to more people. I need to rebuild my foundation first though. I can no longer stand on stilts and pretend to be stable. I need to dig my heels into the dirt. 

At 27 years old, it's a bit of an existential terror to think of restarting. But if I don't do it now, I either continue on without assuredness or wait to rebuild later in life. Now is, perhaps unfortunately, as good a time as any. 

This guy stopped to hang out with me for a bit in Rocky Mountain National Park, CO. Closest thing to a Moth photo I had...

For nothing.

Josh Young

I need to admit to myself that this could all be for nothing. I am severing ties, selling my things, and saying goodbye to my first pet, Llewyn. It all could be for nothing.

It will be for nothing unless I commit myself to true change. It's relatively easy to take the steps I've taken thus far. It'll be relatively easy to move cities, to find a job to sustain myself. All of this is to create a space in which I feel I can create. The creating is the thing that this all comes down to. It doesn't matter where I end up, or what I'm doing, if I don't take the very real steps necessary to find my voice and use it. 

I need to disconnect in some ways, and to connect in others. I need to detach from our fractured, distracted way of consuming media, skimming headlines and eternally scrolling. I need to avoid places where I feel marketed to without end. I need a place where I can be in touch with nature and quiet.

However, I shouldn't seclude myself entirely. If I end up in a shack in the middle of nowhere, I'll be in the very place I strove to escape in my adolescence (and really my whole life thus far). I need to remember to socialize, to find like-minded people and meaningful connections. I need to strike a balance between solitude and society. To find a place I can hear myself think, and focus on what others are saying.

That surely isn't here, but where is it?

My first blog... ever.

Josh Young

Let that set the standard for what you are about to read. Aside from thoughts on movies and media, I plan to use this space to talk to myself. I don't plan to censor myself much, since nobody is going to read this. I hope to revisit this somewhat frequently, so as to create a rhythm of journaling that'll help me process my life. 

I'm moving.

I'm breaking ties with my life as it is now and heading out to see what else is out there. I've said since moving to Los Angeles four and a half years ago, that I was very fortunate to find a network of great people to help me support myself by crewing on commercials and occasional films. However, this created contentment. I could stay in this path forever, without truly challenging myself to get out there and make my own way. All of my heroes have stories about how they were in a rut, barely scraping by, and they decided once and for all to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and commit themselves to their dreams. Sometimes ruts are just more difficult to recognize because they're too damn comfortable. 

So here it goes. Maybe I'll miss out on a bunch of opportunities while I'm gone and come crawling back in a few months. But at the end of those few months, I'll know a little bit more about myself and a little bit more of what lays out there, beyond the amber glow of Los Angeles.