Rising Star Joe Logli: “If I could inspire a movement, that would help the greatest amount of people, it would be to promote clean energy, and discourage the use of fossil fuels, and other sources of energy that harm our environment”

War, hunger, homelessness, poverty, and racism are all significant problems that affect many people, however climate change is the one issue that affects every living thing on this planet. There is no escaping it. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, gay or straight, black, white, brown, yellow, purple, or green, climate change affects […]

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War, hunger, homelessness, poverty, and racism are all significant problems that affect many people, however climate change is the one issue that affects every living thing on this planet. There is no escaping it. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, gay or straight, black, white, brown, yellow, purple, or green, climate change affects everyone. Taking this into consideration, if I could inspire a movement, that would help the greatest amount of people, it would be to promote clean energy, and discourage the use of fossil fuels, and other sources of energy that harm our environment. That, I feel, is how I could do the most good, for the greatest number of people.

As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Joseph A. Logli, Executive Producer for A-Level Pictures. Joe Logli was born in Rockford, Illinois, and spent most of his life in the Chicagoland area. After a successful career in sales and business, Joe decided that it was time to switch things up and seek new challenges, so he set his sights on Hollywood. Upon moving to Los Angeles, Joe enrolled at the Los Angeles Film School, and studied audio engineering. Joe excelled at his courses, and graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. At his graduation, Joe met the Valedictorian of the film program ,Judah Ray, who also was being honored for graduating with a perfect 4.0 GPA. The two hit it off immediately, and a couple weeks later, Joe was handling the audio duties on one of Judah’s project. As their relationship progressed, Judah quickly recognized Joe’s communication and deal-making skills, as the assets that make a great filmmaker, and offered Joe the position of Executive Producer, for his motion picture company, A-Level Pictures. Through his extensive networking, Joe has developed strong, working relationships with many of the biggest names in the industry. Joe has worked on productions for ROK Films, Gordis Productions, Seismic Sound Productions, and A-Level Pictures. Joe has worked on several films, documentaries, docudramas, and reality shows, and is currently on the staff of A-Level Pictures, as an Executive Producer.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

It’s my pleasure! I was born, and grew up in Rockford, IL. My father was a successful businessman, who owned a large, local Supermarket chain. My mother was a full-time housewife and supermom. I couldn’t have asked for better parents. When it came to business, my father was a genius. His creativity and his amazing work ethic, made him a fantastic role model for me, growing up. My mother was, and still is, an angel. She was always there for my younger sister, and I. My dad spent most of his time working, so the majority of my time, growing up, was spent with mom. I had a very happy childhood. I had a big family, lots of friends, and I have many fantastic memories. I was truly blessed to have been born into such a wonderful, supportive family. They never gave up on me when I experienced failures, but rather encouraged me to learn from those failures, and apply those lessons to future endeavors. No matter what, though, through all of life’s ups and downs, they were always there for me, and it was the influence that they had on my life, that made me the man that I am today.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

That’s an easy one. The day I got a call about John Horton. About a month after my graduation from LA Film School, I posted some pics on Facebook, from a movie set that I was working on. A day, or so, after I posted the pics, I received a message from a woman named Melissa, who I grew up with. I hadn’t seen, or talked to Melissa, in over 25 years, and out of the blue, she sent me a message, telling me that she was John Horton’s fiancee, and asking me if I could use my influence in Hollywood, to help raise awareness about his wrongful incarceration. John Horton and I were very close friends, all through high school. John was a great guy! He was a good student, a talented athlete, and just the nicest person you could meet. After my high school graduation in 1993, I left Rockford to go to school at The University of Iowa, and on my first trip home, I was greeted with shocking news. John Horton had walked into a McDonalds, executed a man in cold blood, robbed the place, and then turned himself into the police, signed a full confession, and was sentenced to natural life in prison. I was floored. I was in shock and disbelief. This was not the John Horton who I had been close friends with for years. It could’t be….but it was. I remember being so confused, and so angry at John for doing something so senseless and horrible. It never sat right with me, but he did sign a confession, so I just tried to block out any memory that I had of him. I was so heartbroken, everytime I thought about the situation, that I just trained myself not to think about it. I didn’t think about John Horton for nearly 23 years, until I got the message asking me to help him. When I called Melissa, she told me a story that would change my life. John was innocent! John had nothing to do with that murder! He wasn’t even there! Melissa went on to tell me that the police had been given John’s name, as a possible suspect, and when John learned that the police wanted to talk to him, he walked into the police station, alone, at seventeen years old, with no parents, or no attorneys, to voluntarily answer any questions that the police had for him. The detectives, eager to close the case, and put a young African American man on the news, locked John in an interrogation room, and brutalized him for over 11 hours, finally forcing him to sign a confession at gunpoint. This story sounded outrageous, but knowing John, like I did, I believed it. I did extensive research about John’s case, and learned that all the evidence supported Melissa’s story. I called Judah, the director that I met at my graduation, and told him about the situation, and after reading all of the evidence, he was excited for the opportunity to tell John’s story. Since I got that message from Melissa in 2016, John has been freed from prison, after serving nearly 24 years, he has been fully exonerated, and has been awarded a certificate of innocence. I have reconnected with John and Melissa, who are now close friends with Judah, and the entire A-Level Pictures team, and in the coming months, we will begin working on “The Blackbird Project”, a movie based on the true story of John Horton.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake that I made, actually happened at my graduation from the audio engineering program of the LA Film School. I had received an email, stating the time and place, for the graduation ceremony, and apparantly, I didn’t read it carefully enough, because when I showed up for graduation, I saw nobody from my classes. It was a room full of strangers. When I asked the Dean of the school what was going on, he informed me that the audio students graduated at 9am, and that this 1pm graduation was for the film students. The Dean was really cool about it, and let me walk the stage, and graduate with the film students. It was at that graduation, that I met Judah Ray, who is now my partner in A-Level Pictures, and one of my best friends. Had I shown up to the earlier graduation ceremony, that I was supposed to attend, I never would have met Judah, I never would have been sent the message about John Horton, and I probably would be in the music business instead of the movie business. I guess I could say that the lesson here is to read emails more carefully, but had I done that, I wouldn’t be where I am now, so I will have to say that the real lesson is to just go with the flow. Instead of being bummed that I didn’t get to graduate with my classmates, I used the situation as an opportunity to network, and it paid off. Had I gotten anxious, or undone, about the situation, nothing good would have come from it, so the lesson here would be to just do your best in whatever situation you happen to find yourself in. Even if the situation doesn’t seem ideal, keep your goals in mind, keep your attitude positive, and try to make something happen.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We just finished shooting our short film, “Making Peace”, and it is currently in Post Production. I have been excited about this project since the first time I read the script. It was a masterpiece! The best script that I’ve ever read, and the festivals obviously agree, as it’s won over 25 awards. The cast and crew were phenomenal, and just from the rough cuts that I’ve seen, I know that we have something truly special. I am beyond excited to view the finished product, and show the world what A-Level Pictures is all about. I firmly believe that “Making Peace” will be the project that really puts us on the map, and I can’t wait for the premier!

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is important in the entertainment industry for many reasons. First and foremost, it is important to recognize that we live in a diverse society. Movies, for the most part, are a reflection of life, and without diversity, they are quite simply, not an accurate reflection.

Another reason that diversity is important, is because it allows everyone to display their art, for the world to enjoy. Diversity brings in artists from different backgrounds, with different life experiences, that serves to make the entertainment experience far more dynamic for the audience, while providing opportunities for every artist, to live their dream, and showcase their talents.

Diversity is also important, because television and movies have a profound effect on people. Many people, throughout their lives, will be helped through challenging times, by relating to a character in a TV show, or a character in a movie. If there isn’t something out there, that everyone can relate to, than the entertainment industry has failed to realize it’s potential to change the world for the better, and that’s a tragedy.

Diversity in the entertainment industry has many positive effects on our culture, It promotes unity, tolerance, and togetherness. These are essential components of a strong, healthy society, and should always be promoted by the entertainment industry.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. It takes a VERY long time. Success in this industry doesn’t happen overnight. Coming from a sales background, I’m used to closing a deal, in a matter of hours, and getting a commission check within a week. There is not that immediate gratification in the film industry. It takes months, sometimes years, to make something happen, in the movie industry, which can get extremely frustrating, at times.
  2. It is incredibly draining, financially. If you are trying to do your own, independent thing, you have to invest all of your time into it. There aren’t enough hours in the day to devote to your projects, and a full-time job, to pay the bills. You have to be willing to sacrifice a lot, in order to devote all that is needed to become a success, in this industry.
  3. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. So many times, in this industry, I have been promised so many things, and 99% of the time, the promises have been empty. Everyone in Hollywood talks a big game. “Sure, I can get So and So to read your script,” “Yes, I can get some funds to bring to the table, to help get this project off the ground.” I used to hear statements like this, and take them to the bank. I’d excitedly call my business partner to tell him the good news, and then I’d look like a fool, when the person who made the promise, flakes out. Where I come from, people mean what they say, and if they make you a promise, most of the time they will make good on it. I’ve learned the hard way, that things are done differently in Hollywood. Everyone makes promises, and few actually deliver. That has been a frustrating thing to deal with.
  4. It’s who you know. Networking is the key to success in Hollywood. It’s important to remember that there are thousands of people out there, trying to achieve the same dream that you are. Who makes it, and who doesn’t is determined both by talent, and by whom the artist is able to showcase that talent to. You can have the most amazing film, or screenplay, but if you don’t have the opportunity to show it to the right person, than it will most likely go nowhere. Considering that there are thousands of people out there writing screenplays, and making movies, the best way to ensure that your project is viewed by the right people, is to make friends, and establish strong relationships, within the industry.
  5. Know exactly what you’re getting into, when a director invites you into the editing bay to give him/her notes on a rough cut of their movie. So, this is where you watch a movie, and make a list, for the director, of everything that you don’t like about it. Now, keep in mind, this film is the director’s baby. Could you imagine being invited by a new mother, to come to the maternity ward, to look at her new baby, and write out a list of everything that you don’t like about it? That’s essentially what this is, and it’s every bit as uncomfortable, but it’s necessary. Someone, besides the director, has to watch the movie, and objectively analyze it, while it’s in the editing bay. Just know, walking in, that’s it not going to be your typical day at the movies. There will likely be passionate arguments, and possibly even hurt feelings, but everything will end up working out, as long as everyone remembers that they’re all on the same team, and they all share the same goal, of making the film, the best it can be.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

The best advice that I could give, is to manage your expectations. Nothing will burn you out more than disappointment. The stress and anxiety that come from disappointment, definitely takes a toll on your physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. Keep yourself centered. I like to start my days off with meditation and exercise. That keeps me grounded, and fit to handle whatever is thrown my way. I recommend adopting, and sticking to a healthy routine. Remember, as important as your career may be, taking care of yourself should always be your first priority.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

War, hunger, homelessness, poverty, and racism are all significant problems that affect many people, however climate change is the one issue that affects every living thing on this planet. There is no escaping it. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor, gay or straight, black, white, brown, yellow, purple, or green, climate change affects everyone. Taking this into consideration, if I could inspire a movement, that would help the greatest amount of people, it would be to promote clean energy, and discourage the use of fossil fuels, and other sources of energy that harm our environment. That, I feel, is how I could do the most good, for the greatest number of people.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I wouldn’t be where I am right now, without the guidance, and support, that I have gotten from my parents, throughout my life. They were always there to cheer me on during the good times, and to love, comfort, and encourage me, during the bad times. Life is a roller coaster, full of ups and downs, and my parents have stuck with me, for the entire ride, and never thought of stepping out of the car, even when things were suddenly turned completely upside down, which is an expected occurance on any good roller coaster ride. My parents gave me all the tools and encouragement that I needed to succeed, and I shudder to think where I would be, had they not been there for me. Also, I wouldn’t be where I am without the support of my fellow EP Stephany Mullen, and our first investor, Mary Louise Miller. They believed in me, and A-Level Pictures, and it was their support that really helped us get off the ground, and to them I am forever grateful.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My grandfather used to always tell me, “If you want success, in this life, you have to suffer for it.” That quote always stuck with me. Everytime something didn’t go my way, I would think of that quote, and it allowed me to look at whatever the situation was, as necessary suffering, rather than a pointless inconvenience. This really helped me to keep a positive attitude, when life would inevitably throw disappointments my way.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have breakfast with Keanu Reeves. I love his movies, but more importantly, I love what he’s about. I’ve never had the honor of meeting him, in person, however, I’ve heard from many people that he’s an absolutely wonderful guy. I’ve also read many articles about his extremely generous donations to children’s hospitals, and other worthwhile charities. Those things matter to me. When I read about people, like Keanu, who go above and beyond, to help others, I can’t help but smile, and think to myself, “Now, THAT’S a quality human being!” So, Keanu, if you’re reading this, You pick the place, and breakfast is on me!

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Our Website is www.alevelpictures.com

My email is [email protected]

You can find me on Facebook, under my name, Joe Logli.

My instagram is Joseph_Logli.

You can follow me on Twitter: @JoeLogli

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure!

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