I’m a big fan pf young entrepreneurs. My husband started buying and selling cars when he was just fourteen and our daughter bought and sold antiques when she was six and did websites for clients when she was fourteen. So when I saw fifteen-year-old Josiah Stendel posting about his filmmaking and video production company, I knew I wanted to interview him. I’m glad I did because I just love his story of how he got into the business. Such a well spoken and obviously talented young man, I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him. 

josiah Stendel

When did you first decide you wanted to be a filmmaker?
Well, when I was younger I often made little home movies with a point-and-shoot camera with some of my friends. They really weren’t anything special, but I enjoyed putting together a little script and organizing the short films.

Josiah Stendel

What led you to starting your own video production business?
Actually, a few years ago, a world-renowned ministry held a conference in our city. I was really excited about it, and just for fun I made a promotional video for them. Well, “made” is a funny word – I downloaded their old promotional videos off of YouTube, chopped them up, and edited them into my own video. Just for fun. Apparently, it got passed around and the director of the ministry got a hold of it. After seeing it, he actually contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in editing their official promotional video. They’d filmed it over the past summer and were just looking for someone to edit it. So after doing that video, I realized that I really enjoyed this. The ministry has been a return customer – hiring me to edit videos occasionally – so about two years ago, I decided to make it official and started www.menlolights.com!


What types of projects do you specialize in?
Although I started by doing only promotional videos, my business has expanded to doing all sorts of client based projects (music videos, promo videos, family history videos, house tours, etc.) as well as narrative projects like short films! When I make videos, I focus on story – whether it’s a short film or a house tour. Each video has a message.


What are some of the projects that you’ve worked on?
I’ve worked on a variety of projects through the last few years. My first short film, Every Man’s Pryce, has won multiple awards including Best Filmmaker Under 17 at the Best Shorts Films Festival. In April, I completed my second short film, What You See, as a part of the world’s largest short film contest. My film placed third out of 244 action films from filmmakers all around the world! As I’ve mentioned before, I do a lot of client based projects. I’ve done videos for dance studios, conference centers, and businesses! Right now I’m even working with a product demonstrator to make a video for Yamaha!


What is your strength as a videographer or filmmaker?
I hope I don’t come across as pretentious by saying this, but I think that I have an eye for filmmaking – what looks good, where to place people, how to place the camera – it just comes naturally to me. When doing videos for clients, what makes me unique is the way I communicate with them. From beginning to end I keep them involved. It’s their story being told and I want to keep it that way. I’m just there to help them tell it.


Tell us about Every Man’s Pryce.
Every Man’s Pryce is about a gifted pickpocket whose life is radically changed when he finds a Bible in the pocket of one of the people he tried to rob. It’s an incredible story about grace, redemption, and transformation that you will never forget. Although this was my first film, I think in many ways it’s the best thing I’ve ever made. It’s the story that really sets this film apart. it’s a powerful story. I’ve had many people contact me and tell me that this film really touched them, even changed their lives. One guy contacted me and told me that a neighbor friend of his that he’s been trying to tell about Jesus for many years saw this film and was absolutely wrecked. You can see the film at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxmpos9Vfl4&feature=youtu.be.


What are your goals for the future?
I do have a few films in the works right now – hopefully we’ll be releasing some updates about that within the next few months. As for the future, we’ll see where God takes me! I’ll keep telling the stories He puts on my heart, and we’ll see what happens! Even just one life touched makes it all worth it.

Anything else?
Just an encouragement to any young filmmakers out there: just make films! Nowadays even iPhones have decent video quality. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. The worst thing a filmmaker can do is not making films. Your first one doesn’t have to be great, but you know what? If you keep doing it, you’ll get better and better. Challenge yourself by making short films with no dialogue or with only a limited amount of dialogue, and just focus on telling stories! You can do it.


Check out Josiah’s website and social media.

www.menlolights.com (homepage)

www.menlolights.com/portfolio (past work)

twitter.com/JStendel (Twitter)

www.youtube.com/user/RoyaltyInCode (Youtube Channel)

About the Author Sharon Wilharm

Sharon Wilharm is a female filmmaker, blogger, and speaker. Her movies have screened in theaters, festivals, and churches around the globe, aired on multiple television networks, and sold in stores and online outlets throughout English speaking countries. She's accumulated dozens of festival accolades including the “Shibboleth Award for Visionary Leadership in the Field of Christian Film Making”, numerous Best of Fest awards, and 4 ICVM Crown Awards. She's passionate about storytelling and loves entertaining and inspiring audiences with her filmmaking, writing, and speaking.

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