Los Angeles Producer, Joel Shapiro was originally from Newark, New Jersey. He started his first business at the age of fifteen, creating a babysitting service staffed by high school friends and employed by local families. In Autumn, he racked leaves and in winter Joel shoveled driveways and sidewalks for five dollars. While attending Rutgers University for a degree in Political Science, he also spent considerable time studying abroad with Columbia University in China and the National University of Singapore.
Upon graduation with Honors, Joel studied and received in MBA in Finance from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management. Joel Shapiro is currently a resident of New York City; Joel is now considered one of the most active independent film producers.
Looking into his 2020 vision, Joel and his production company Bluegrass Pictures have an exciting slate of social message dramas, romantic comedies, and science fiction action thrillers in place with top tier writers, directors, and talent. Joel has emerged as an activist in the industry, by words and actions, actively working with and promoting female and minority writers and directors to tell stories that not only entertain, but can help impact the national and global conversations taking place regarding race, sex, and equality. Joel is excited by the great strides that are now taking place in the industry, but there remains so much more to be done. Most importantly, Joel is the obnoxiously proud father of triplet daughters, and considers himself to be the luckiest man on the planet.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I love everything about my industry. I love storytelling, and all the creative aspects of film making. There is a saying…” The worst day on set beats the best day in an office.” I thrive under the pressures of an active film set, with the constant demand for teamwork and finding solutions. Then, there is an overwhelming sense of pride, pleasure, and appreciation when watching the final tangible product on the big silver screen.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
A good friend of mine was a volunteer spitfire pilot who joined the WWII to fight the Nazis. He later hired Lee Iacocca to turn around Chrysler, and he co-founded a startup company called FedEx. Even though he has now passed, many of the lessons he taught me serve as a guide for success.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
It’s important to not take phone calls during meals, or whenever in a conversation with someone. Nighttime and weekends are reserved for family and friends.
What traits do you possess that makes a successful leader?
My goal is to be the dumbest person in the room. By surrounding myself with the best of the best, I view my leadership responsibility is to provide the team with the tools and assets they need to reach and execute their visions for the project.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Start from the very bottom. Literally start as a production assistant, sweep floors, and learn the basics of every department, ranging from locations and art department to transportation and hair and make-up. By learning the needs of each film department, you will gain the knowledge of how-to problem solve on an active film set. You cannot present the best solution without properly understanding the problem.
What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?
One want is worth ten reasons. If someone wants to do something, you just have to help them understand the reasons why they should. A want can be very powerful.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I am the obnoxiously proud father of triplet daughters. Two are freshman at Ivy League colleges, and one is attending the US Naval Academy. They are student athletes, highly intelligent and hard working. They are three of the most impressive young women I have ever known. I am truly blessed.
What trends in your industry excite you?
The world is finally becoming more tolerant, but there are still long strides for social equality that need to be taken. I am proud to be working with a number of female and minority writers and directors. Inclusion in Hollywood is long overdue.
Explain the proudest day of your professional life.
It starts off with the words….” I would like to thank the Academy, my family, the actors……”. That day hasn’t happened yet, but I know that by working with the right combination of talented people, it will.