Alright guys -- I gotta sign off! But thanks so much for showing up for this. Great questions!! I'll check back in over the next day or two and try to answer anything I didn't get a chance to get to. In the meantime, go see If I Stay!!!!


Hello people!

I used to play cool guys. Now I play dads.

I also write and direct sometimes with movies like THE LIE, BEAUTIFUL LOSERS, and music videos for bands like Fitz & the Tantrums.

My latest project is the film If I Stay with Chloe Grace Moretz... I play her dad. In theaters, just came out last Friday.

Looking forward to your questions, AMA.

Comments: 111 • Responses: 49  • Date: 

ifistayfan15 karma

how was it working with Chloe Grace Moretz??

Joshua_Leonard10 karma

Humbling, but totally fun. I'm 20 years older than her, and was amazed every day by her level of talent and professionalism. Chloe is exactly where she is supposed to be, doing exactly what she was born to do.

Evilton12 karma

How do you feel knowing you help start the whole found footage thing?

Joshua_Leonard20 karma

I think its kinda weird that "found footage" has become a genre unto itself. When we made BWP, we made it the way we did because it was the only way to execute the film with super-limited resources. I love that it's become an acceptable punk/DIY way to go out and make a film... but I will admit, it always seems a little strange to me when I hear of a big-budget studio making a found-footage movie. Kind of like if Kanye decided to record his next album on the same equipment that the Sex Pistols recorded in order to sound grimier.

Frajer7 karma

Is Chloe Moretz as cool as she seems?

Joshua_Leonard7 karma

Absolutely. But also a total pro.

fatbatcatrat1236 karma

what was the process of filming blair witch like??

Joshua_Leonard23 karma

fatbatcatrat123 -- It was pretty strange, but I'd never made movies before that, so I didn't actually know how strange it was. We got very cold and tired, and the directors stopped giving us food after the first 5 days. Their intention was to make us feel like the events were actually taking place. "Method" filmmaking is what I think you would call it. It worked!

TehNewDrummer4 karma

So where exactly did you get your food from?

Joshua_Leonard3 karma

We didn't get food for the last 3 days. That was the point! We were really hungry.

beyondtherainbow6 karma

Did you read the If I Stay book before or after you filmed If I Stay? Or you didn't read it at all?

Joshua_Leonard5 karma

I read it after I read the script, but before we filmed the movie.

cornponious6 karma

How many Rush albums do you own?

Joshua_Leonard9 karma

Sadly none. But I did once have a girl tell me that she lost her virginity to Tom Sawyer -- and have been obsessed with that song ever since. Maybe it's time to buy one, eh?

cornponious4 karma

Great story, and yes it's time to buy one. Moving Pictures is the easy choice, but I'm going to suggest Permanent Waves. (But what's really odd is that I was listening to Tom Sawyer as I read your comment. And that is the truth. )

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

Ok. Permanent Waves it is. I'm on it!

Frasierfan4 karma

Joshua, can you tell us something about you we'd never guess, and something that would make us laugh? ;)

Joshua_Leonard10 karma

I have a tattoo on my chest of a ghost holding a baby's hand.

amandatickles13 karma

Hi Joshua! What's the difference between preparing to do a movie as an actor, and preparing to do one as a director? Which type of work do you prefer and why? :)

Joshua_Leonard8 karma

Good question! I'd say the biggest difference is that when I'm preparing an acting role, my primary focus can be selfishly on my own character... whereas when I'm preparing to direct, I'm thinking about the best way to tell the story as a whole -- from the acting, to the cinematography, production design, etc... Also, I eat way more donuts when I'm directing.

AussieBoyJon3 karma

Josua, i thought your were fantastic in If I Stay, i was wondering how tall are you, what's your shoe size, and what are your most sensitive spots??

Joshua_Leonard3 karma

Thank you!! 6' size 11 shoe. And, my heart.... awwww......

seismicor3 karma

Can you tell us anything about The Blair Witch Project 3?

Joshua_Leonard6 karma

I wish I could! I hear rumors every so often, but nothing concrete. That said, anyone who wants to see another Blair Witch, should definitely harass Lion's Gate!! They're the studio that owns the rights to the franchise and are the ones who would have to approve us making another film.

ifistayfan2 karma

did you ever while filming the movie throw out suggestions to Rj Cutler?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

Once in a while, but honestly RJ knew that movie better than the rest of us combined. He lived and breathed it for months before we showed up on set, so I always trusted him to keep us all steered in the right direction.

Maccas752 karma

Hi Joshua! In what ways do you think Blair Witch changed the landscape of the film industry? And; in what ways is directing music videos different to short films? Love your work!

Joshua_Leonard6 karma

I think we came around at the right time in the right place. We certainly weren't the first micro-budget film on the block, but because of the exposure we got, we were able to remind folks that you don't need huge movie stars or special effects to engage an audience -- you just have to tap into their own imaginations!

My work is mostly narrative -- even in music videos. The biggest difference to me between MV's and a short film is that if you're missing a shot to tell the story in a MV, you can usually get away with putting something that looks cool in its place and the audience will forgive you.

seismicor2 karma

Hi, Joshua. Is there any story behind the Night Shark 3D rap music video that was played after the movie ended? Who came up with the idea? It was cool but it sure caught me by surprise in the theater.

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

Oh, man -- there is, but now I totally forget who led the charge on that one. Sorry!

ayfilm1 karma

1) What's it like working with the Duplass Brothers? 2) Do you still keep in touch with any Blair Witch people?

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

Mark and Jay are two of the most fun dudes out there to work with. It's always half work/half chess match, because everyone is always on their toes trying to come up with the coolest/most-surprising way to do a scene.

I keep in touch with almost all the BWP folks! It feels a little bit like a way-less-important (and traumatic) version of keeping in touch with the soldiers from your platoon 15 years after a war. They are your touchstone to what really happened -- like it would all feel like a dream if we didn't have each other to talk to.

Ed's new TV show, Exists, just started airing last week... And Mike now has two kids of his own and works as a high-school guidance counselor.

ryglvn11 karma

Wat is your favorite scene from If I Stay to film?

Joshua_Leonard4 karma

The spontaneous jam session in the yard. All that love -- all that music.

ifistayfan1 karma

you were so funny in the movie! do you think you will work with any of the people you worked with in "If I Stay" again?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

Thank you! I would work with any of them in a heartbeat. It was the sweetest/most-talented group of people. One of those movies that really spoils you by reminding you how awesome the experience can be.

ifistayfan1 karma

where there any hard parts for you in "If I Stay"?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

Chloe had most of the heavy lifting to do in terms of dramatic material. We mostly got to be awesome and have fun, since all the sadness came after the family's accident. The only hard part for me was trying to make sure that we did justice to Gayle's beautiful book.

MuffinPuff1 karma

Do you know you scarred my childhood in the most wonderful way? I first watched BWP when I was 7, just a day after I came home from a camping trip. I have never had more surreal hindsight in my life. I swore something followed me home and was gonna kill me if I went outside at night... I had a nighttime phobia for years o_o

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

7 is WAY to young to watch that movie!!! What were your parents thinking!?

zakbro1 karma

I wanted to thank you for helping scare the shit out of me when I was a preteen with The Blair Witch Project. What's your favorite scary movie?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

The Shining. Still scares me every time.

mikey3_61 karma

I am an aspiring actor/director and have done some extra work, would you have any advice for me getting my foot farther in the door?

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

My biggest successes have come out of projects that I made for practically no money with my friends (Blair Witch, Humpday). It's a rough business, but if it's your true calling, then my only real advice is to keep making stuff!! Find friends to work with and never stop creating. The business stuff will come to you if you have the dedication and the talent. Mark and Jay Duplass have an amazing story about how they launched their career for 3 dollars -- the price of an HD video tape. That was what it cost to make their first short film, This is John. That film got into Sundance and they've been working nonstop ever since!

hashi19961 karma

Were there ever moments during the filming of the Blair Witch Project in which you were actually frightened?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

The babies crying outside the tent was pretty disturbing.

meldrew11 karma

Hey, Wait! Can I get my money back for Blair With Project?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

calvy_cakes1 karma

Why was there a Blair witch 2? And where did you get your idea for If I stay?

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

Simple answer for why there was a BWP2? Greed. The studio just wanted to milk the success of the first one for whatever it was worth.

And I didn't come up with the idea for If I Stay -- I just acted in it! The script was based on Gayle Forman's beautiful book of the same title.

AlcidesGirl1 karma

Joshua, what was the best part about waorking with Chloe Moretz & what attracted you to the role of her dad in If I Stay??

Joshua_Leonard4 karma

I love Chloe and I love Denny (The dad character in If I stay). I think the family in Gayle's book, and now in our movie is really unique and one that I haven't seen on screen before. I felt very lucky to help bring them to life.

jacksrenton1 karma

I saw Blair Witch on my 12th birthday. I stayed up all night staring at the trees outside my window because it backed up to the Tahoe national forest. My question is, how do you plan on compensating me for the lost sleep and emotional trauma? I am willing to accept the Super sweet interactive CD-Rom game that came with the VHS of the film.

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

Ha! Amazing. I guess we will just have to break it down by minutes of sleep lost and therapy bills paid. Come up with a final tally on that and send an invoice to my agent. :)

koolguru1 karma

Do you still meet people who think that the Blair Witch Project is real?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

Occasionally... and let me tell you, it is VERY weird. They think I am an actor hired to play Joshua Leonard after the REAL Joshua Leonard was killed in the woods. Hmmm...?

itabashi1 karma


Joshua_Leonard1 karma

Ha! It's not for everyone, that's for sure. I've done all kinds of stuff, so depends on your taste. But Humpday is one of my personal favorites.

Hisoka5481 karma

Hey Joshua, I see that you worked on the fourth episode of the awesome show True Detective, I was wondering myself how was it to work with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson and what are your thought about the show?

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

Those guys were great. Matthew is one of the funniest dudes I've met in a long time. My old buddy Cary Fukanaga directed all 8 episodes and KILLED it. He just won a well-deserved Emmy for his work. I'm super proud of him and was personally excited to be a small part of such a groundbreaking show.

aldobloodraine1 karma

Hey Joshua! I have a question about Blair Witch, seeing as how you used method filmmaking, did you guys have trailers in the woods, or did you just sleep in tents or something?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

Ha!!! No trailers. No Crew. Nothing fancy at all. Just a wet tent, a sleeping bag and some protein bars. It was TRUE independent filmmaking.

Noctizzle1 karma

First off, thanks for this IAMA. My Mum loves some of your films!

Here is her question.

Can you please explain the ending to the Blair Witch Project?

I get what happened, but would like a clearer explanation, or rather an expanded explanation.

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

I have my own theories, but what I love about it is that everybody gets to come up with their own ideas! I always think the imagination is far better than when stuff gets spelled out and wrapped up in a bow.

ryanprobro1 karma

Do you still talk to Eduardo Sanchez or work with him on anything?

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

Not working on anything with him currently, but we still keep in touch. Here's the trailer for his new movie, which I'm super stoked to see:

page_mathews1 karma

Hi Joshua! Here are some random questions: Boxers or Briefs? Socks or barefoot? Coffee or tea? Beach or mountains? Mani or pedi?

Joshua_Leonard5 karma

Boxer-briefs! Socks with boots, barefoot with Vans. Coffee always. Mountains/woods are my jam. Love the ocean, but the trees are where I feel at home. Pedi -- 2-3 times a year. Keeps me from getting gnarly dude toes.

josephine_amos1 karma

Hey Joshua, fun quest, what makes you laugh & wha's your biggest weakness?

Joshua_Leonard7 karma

I'm a pretty easy laugh. And I have very funny people around me, so that helps. I love a well-told joke. I love Mitch Hedberg. I also love inappropriate farts, people falling down, and kitten videos.

My biggest weakness is probably letting myself spend too much time in my head.

AussieBoyJon1 karma

Isn't spending too much time in your head where all the inspiration and ideas come from? :)

Joshua_Leonard5 karma

It is, but it can also be where you get paralyzed by options or fears. In my experience, better to just think a bit, then get to the doing part. in the 'action' of it is where I've always learned my greatest lessons.

dragonslayer_perseus1 karma

What role have you found to be more rewarding, acting or directing?

Joshua_Leonard3 karma

Most proud of my acting work in Humpday (although I do really love Denny in If I Stay), and my directing work in The Lie. Both were homegrown projects that I got to make with my friends. I feel like that spirit of making something for the love of it is very much infused in them.

missamandarahl1 karma

What inspired you & what actors would you like to work with the most? :-)

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

People inspire me. Especially weird people and folks who march to their own drummer.

So many actors I would love to work with, but I think we can all agree that Cate Blanchett is about the coolest/most beautiful/talented human on the planet right now.

lena_hamilton1 karma

Hi Joshua, do you have a favorite classic movie? If yes, which one and why? :) Best of weeks, Lena X

Joshua_Leonard3 karma

Harold and Maude is probably my favorite movie of all times. It's about weirdos with huge hearts and love in unexpected places. I've probably seen it 50 times, and love it more every time.

beyondtherainbow1 karma

If you could play any other character in If I Stay, besides yours, which would it be and why?

Joshua_Leonard3 karma

An interesting question, but not sure I can answer it. I loved the cast so much, that it's hard for me to picture anyone else in those roles! That said, how about that Stacey Keach??? He crushed it so hard. I hope to be able to play a role like that with the sensitivity and gravitas he brought to Gramps when I'm his age.

operation_hennessey1 karma

Can you remember the first time you were recognized in public as an actor? Do you have any interesting or memorable fan stories?

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

Around the time that Blair Witch came out, our faces were everywhere. It was truly like an overnight success story, where one week nobody had any clue who we were and the next week our faces were on the cover of Newsweek magazine. It was very strange, because I'd be walking down the street in NY and someone would yell "Josh!" and I would just figure I knew them... I actually get recognized a lot less these days, but when I do it's still strange to me!

operation_hennessey1 karma

What was it like acting with Stacy Keach?

Joshua_Leonard6 karma

Stacy Keach is a baller. It's ridiculous how good he is. Sometimes I would forget to act because I'd get so caught up just watching him.

As a man, he is lovely. Kind/quiet and true-blue.

operation_hennessey1 karma

Top five favourite films?

Joshua_Leonard4 karma

Top of My head:

Harold and Maude The Breakfast Club Hearts of Darkness Hal Hartley's Trust Boogie Nights

prettykittymiaomiao1 karma

Hello sir! I was wondering if you read the book If I Stay to help develop your character? If so, did it help? I absolutely loved the story, I'm having reservations about seeing the movie adaptation.

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

I did! And you should go see it! Gayle was with us every single day on set. We did our best to always remain true to her story. In fact, the leather jacket I wear in the movie is the actual jacket owned by one of the people who inspired Gayle to write the book in the first place.

mmmfo0d1 karma

What's your all time favorite horror movie?

Joshua_Leonard3 karma

The Shining. So good. Sooooo scary.

SRManev0 karma

Hello Mr Leonard, I'm curious, how do you approach writing a script and do you always do a lot of research? How long does the writing part take you and what do you enjoy the most about it?

Joshua_Leonard3 karma

I always start with characters. People that I care about enough to live with them for however long it's gonna take to finish the project. None of my projects to-date have been very research-based, but I'm also not writing about the Russian revolution or neuroscience.

I find writing very hard, but also extremely satisfying. It pushes me to be my best. In recent years, I've found a couple of partners that I really enjoy writing with. This definitely helps with the loneliness aspect.

hannahstorm50 karma

Hi Joshua, I've been a fan since The Blair Witch Project and I think you're awesome, here's a silly question, are you a ticklish guy? If yes, where? Kiss from Scotland!!

Joshua_Leonard3 karma

Thanks! So ticklish. And I HATE being tickled. Ever since I was a little kid. It's an awful dilemma, because your laughing, so nobody believes you when you tell them you're miserable. But I am! And I will never tell where are my weak spots. That would be like superman standing on the corner handing out kryptonite.

katherinedevir-2 karma

Salute Joseph, I think your work is fantastic, my question is, what's your best memory from the set of "If I Stay" and were there any fun shennanigants behind scenes? Kiss from France!!

Joshua_Leonard2 karma

Joseph says thank you! But sadly, it is only me, Joshua, answering questions here today.

katherinedevir0 karma

Ohh Worst typo ever, I apologise, I'm on Facebook as well, and have gotten mixed! SO sorry so stupid!!

Joshua_Leonard1 karma

No worries, my dear. My father calls me by my brother's name all the time. My favorite scene to film in If I Stay was the backyard bbq/jam session.