Joth Riggs has accumulated an impressive list of film and television credits working with many of Hollywood’s most talented directors. His illustrious career began with an internship on Pet Semetary II then getting hired on by Steven Spielberg’s film company, Amblin Entertainment. Nowadays his focus is on faith-based films such as Amazing Love, Grace Unplugged, and Adrenaline.
How did you first get involved in filmmaking?
When I was in high school I started making movies with my friends and absolutely fell in love with the art of visual storytelling. I decided then that I wanted to make a career out of it so I enrolled in film school.
What was your filmmaking training?
In addition to graduating from film school, the best training I’ve had is hands-on training. I not only directed my own film in college, I also interned on a studio feature film, Paramount Pictures’ Pet Sematary II. Getting right in the trenches alongside other professional filmmakers and observing how it was done was extremely valuable for me in pursuing my own career in film.
I then went on to work on the Universal backlot on the television sitcom Coach before being hired to work for Steven Spielberg at his production company, Amblin Entertainment.
From there I was accepted into the prestigious Director’s Guild Training Program (which takes fewer than 1% of their applicants each year), where I had a further 2 years of training as an Assistant Director. This experience fast-tracked me into the A-list Hollywood studio system where I went on to work on over 60 movies and television shows for all the major studios in my 20+ year career in the film industry.
What are some of the Hollywood movies/television series you’ve been involved in?
Over the years I’ve worked on films like End of Days with Arnold Schwarzenegger, Suicide Kings with Christopher Walken, Switchback with Danny Glover and Dennis Quaid, Duets with Gwyneth Paltrow and Huey Lewis and Starship Troopers, along with television shows C.S.I., Baywatch, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Party of Five, Lois & Clark, Ally McBeal and 7th Heaven, just to name a few.
You can check out my complete filmography at this imdb link and it will tell you everything I’ve worked on over the years.
What led to your shift to exclusively working on faith-based films?
There were a number of factors that lead to my working on faith-based films and they all center around faith and family. I came to a realization that my career had become more important to me than my faith and my family and it was a very unhealthy place for me to be. Like a frog in a pot of boiling water, I didn’t initially recognize the effect that environment was having on me, but that it was slowly eroding my personal values. I realized that the type of projects I was working on did not reflect my personal values and faith in God, and, in fact, were often completely contradictory to my beliefs. Eventually I realized I needed to get out of that environment completely and focus on projects that glorify God and that I can proudly show my family.
What faith-based films have you been a part of?
I have been very fortunate to have worked on many faith-based films such as Grace Unplugged, Amazing Love, The Lost Medallion, Not Today and recently wrapped up filming on two projects – Revelation Road 3: The Black Rider and Adrenaline starring John Schneider.
What’s the biggest difference between working on faith-based movies compared to secular films?
Well, there are a lot of differences. The most obvious is the intent of the film and it’s filmmakers to honor God and deliver a message of hope and grace to their audience. Another big difference, which is one that I’m trying to help change, is the lack of experience of those making faith-based films. There are lots of people with big hearts and good intentions that have no formal training in filmmaking, not realizing that it’s much harder to make a movie than Hollywood makes it look. My advice to those who want to make Christian films is to realize that it is a skilled craft that requires training to do it right. Please, take the time to study the craft of filmmaking and be humble enough to learn from those who have done it before you, whether secular or Christian. We should always be striving to learn more and to be better at whatever we do. One thing I always say is, “know enough to know you don’t know enough”. Together we can raise the bar on Christian films.
Tell us about your current project Adrenaline.
Recently, I wrapped up filming on the set of the movie Adrenaline, a faith-based film set in the world of drag racing starring John Schneider. I was the First Assistant Director on the film, which shot on location in North Carolina.
What are your filmmaking goals for the future?
I have been Assistant Directing for almost 20 years now and have directed several award-winning short films, but right now I’m looking to direct my first feature film. I have several possibilities, including a faith-based romantic comedy as well as a faith-based suspense thriller, that’s in the development stages, so hopefully that will happen soon.
If anyone is interested in having me help with their film or just wants to reach out and connect, I can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To watch my Director’s Reel – http://vimeo.com/whitestonefilms/directorsreel