Young director frames up documentary on men’s mental health

Local filmmaker Josef Perszon is vying for a Telus Storyhive grant, with voting ending on Friday

If you count the stop motion films Josef Perszon used to make with Lego, he’s been a filmmaker for eight years now — a sizable chunk of his life.

But while his early days were amateur efforts, he’s gone whole hog into the professional world. For the past three years, he’s been working at local picture joint Joy Factory Films and soaking up every bit of knowledge he can.

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“Recently I’ve been on kind of a detour into cinematography and editing, learning more technical work,” he told KTW.

The 22-year-old filmmaker said through shooting wedding videos, he is “learning how to create stories from reality,” and has found a love for telling stories that already exist, rather than creating them from nothing as he did before.

“But I feel myself coming back around and turned on to more directing. I would really love to do some of my own indie work and on documentaries,” he said.

He might get the chance.

Perszon has made his pitch for a Telus Storyhive grant worth $50,000 and is vying to be one of the 30 people selected to receive a grant of more than 300 who wound up in the voting stage of the competition.

The film is called Boy Man King, a documentary focused on Jake Birkeland, a local man who started his own gym that addresses both physical and mental health among men. It’s where Perszon met his subject.

“We started out making educational videos together — about how to work out together, proper form, but it morphed into other advice and how physical training can train you mentally and help you in everyday life,” he said.

The idea of physical training to stay mentally healthy has resonated with Perszon and through Birkeland, he’s pursuing these ideas.

“These aren’t things I necessarily have answers for, but I do want to explore the topic in a documentary,” he said.

The mental health link is strong with Birkeland, whose mother died in 2017 just as he was starting his company. She suffered with mental health issues in her life.

Perszon called it a pivotal point in Birkeland’s story.

“It’s kind of his driving force behind trying to help people,” he said.

The interview list thus far is made up of local fitness experts, but would also include a foray into Florida to interview Elliot Hulse, the founder of Strength Camp — upon which the gym is based — and Birkeland’s mentor.

“We’re going to try to follow his (Birkeland’s) story, but along the way we’re also learning lessons as they relate to men’s physical and mental health,” Perszon said.

Perszon is also getting some help from fellow Kamloops filmmaker Vesta Giles, who will produce the documentary.

Voting ends on Friday, and 15 winning entries will be chosen from votes and another 15 by a Storyhive panel.

Among the other local Storyhive documentary projects up for votes are Sit Stay Search, Unfound, Outside People, Video Village, I’m All Right Now, Kind Heart and Secwepemc Matriarch, Dead to Rights and A Way Home.

To vote, go online to

© Kamloops This Week


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