Meet Joe Massa, a filmmaker from Connecticut, and the oldest child of 2 – he has a younger brother Christian Massa, who also shares a passion for acting and filmmaking.
In high school, Joe really began to immerse himself into the world of acting and filmmaking – frequently going on auditions in New York City for whatever role he could get an audition for. In between going on auditions and studying to get into college, he would study film, teaching himself the ins-and-outs of working behind the camera, in addition to being in front of it.
“I have always had an affinity for film, not only from a viewer’s perspective, but froman artistic perspective as well – I love getting lost in the story that is being told by awell written film, but at the same time I like to break downthe waythe film’s cinematography, sound mixing, and editing are executed in really well-made films.” –Joe Massa
By the time Joe was finished with college, he was well versed behind the camera. While he spent most of his high school career going on auditions and focusing being in front of the camera, he dedicated much of his college years to learning how to edit, color-correct, pair audio, light scenes properly, studied camera movements, etc. In addition to these technical aspects of filmmaking, he also began writing screenplays.
“I would google all the nominees for best original screenplay for that year, print out one at a time, and read the script while watching the movie. I figured, like anything else, the art of screenwriting is always evolving and changing, and what better way to keep up with the most relevant formatthan to model my writing after Oscar nominated screenplays.” Joe recalls.
In his first year out of college, Joe was finally able to dedicate some real time to filmmaking. In 2016, he and his brother Christian decided to make a short film and submit it to film festivals. After weeks of brainstorming, they decided to create a short, silent film that focused on depression and suicide. The short film titled, Pressure, featured a man (played by Christian) burdened by the constant thoughts of suicide, who was played by Joe, depicted as a dark-cloaked, pale figure.
“We chose a silent film because we really wanted to focus on the visualization of suicide. We didn’t want the dialogue to take away from the gravitythe ‘suicide’ character brought to the film. Depression is often a‘silent’ disease, much of the time we don’t know when someone is suffering from it, and we wanted my character to mirror that.” Says Joe
The film was accepted to several film festivals nationwide and premiered at the Regal LA Live on October 7, 2016. After creating Pressure, Joe shifted focus to writing for a couple of years, taking a brief hiatus from acting and filmmaking.
In 2018, he was back at it. When one of his good friends Kenny, brought up that he was a survivor of suicide during an impromptu conversation, Joe immediately wanted to share his story with the world. He filmed his friend’s story and uploaded it to YouTube, titling it “Kenny’s Story” under the channel name, My Suicide Story. Almost immediately after uploading the video, other survivors began reaching out to Joe, requesting to share their stories in an episode. When he saw the impact that Kenny’s Story was having on people, he decided that he would continue capturing survivors’ stories thus giving birth tothe series.
In the time since uploading Kenny’s Story, the series has been praised and has garnered national attention from several news outlets, mental health organizations, schools, and other survivors of suicide. To date, there are five episodes that make up the series, with more on the way.
Featured in these episodes are survivors from all demographics; a former bodybuilder, a man who was kicked out of his house by his mother for his sexuality leading to him being homeless, a successful New York Times Bestselling Author, and a college student named Alexandra, who tried to end her pain by drinking a toxic cocktail of bleach, aspirin, and psychiatric medications.
Currently, Joe is still doing a combination of acting and screenwriting, along with continuing the afore-mentioned series, on which his brother Christian is acting as the Assistant Director. Both plan on moving to Los Angeles, California soon to further their careers in the industry.