This producer, director, and photographer is considered a filmmaking genius, and could even be a top contender as “Dad of the Year.” Joel Banta, a Dove Award-winning director is currently working at Bilby Films and creates music videos and commercials, while continuing to rock the world of social media as an influential storyteller and dad.
We had the opportunity to talk to Joel about his journey to becoming a director, his award-winning work, and his life as a dad. Read on for an exclusive Q&A about this tea-loving, filmmaking, modern-day father.
Harney: Tell us a little bit about you! Your background and how you got to where you are today.
Joel: My name is Joel Banta. I’m a producer, director, photographer, software developer, entrepreneur, and daddy to two of the most creative and adorable human beings on earth (I may be biased). I have gotten to where I am in my career by promoting other people’s life’s work and literally shining a light on them and telling their stories. I have been lucky to work with so many wonderful people and professionals promoting their work and their brand(s) through visual storytelling.
Harney: Where did you find your passion for directing, filmmaking, and photography?
Joel: The ultimate reward for me was to watch people’s faces as they experience what I’ve created (pre-YouTube days). Filmmaking is the juxtaposition of everything that I like: Art (light, music, storytelling) and technology (software, optical imaging, sensory). It is a very persuasive medium in today’s culture, so it’s rewarding to see the positive impact from moments of joy for viewers or call to actions for brands. There is always something to learn in filmmaking; always new puzzles and problems to solve when crafting stories. What I look forward to, is technology continuing to make it possible for storytellers to arrest even more of the viewer’s senses.
Harney: Tell us about some of your proudest accomplishments.
Joel: Honestly any professional success pales in comparison to being a dad. Becoming a dad puts life very clearly into perspective. Growing up, my family was always very supportive in my endeavors; they’d pitch in together to help. I had a mom that was always my cheerleader, she was diagnosed with ALS (right when the ice-bucket challenge went viral); that same year I won a Dove Award for the MercyMe Shake music video. I just remember facetiming her right after getting off stage and thanking her for always being so supportive of me. She died shortly after, so that will always stick out in my mind because that award was for her.
Second would be making a short film to help raise money to help children victimized by sex trafficking. We raised a lot of money which will help those children find the help that they so desperately need. Telling stories through media has such a power to connect. I was just happy to help. I have also had the honor of making videos to raise money for organizations that help orphans in Haiti, and for organizations that help victims of natural disasters. That type of work is always especially rewarding because it gives back to others who need it most.
Harney: What are some of your favorite pieces of work and why? (By you or other people!)
Joel: As a dad, I watch a lot of kid’s shows these days, so if you want to talk about my fav kids shows: I’ve got a list: Pokoyo is solid, The Clangars is brilliant, but nothing beats The Cat in the Hat...Martin Short is spot on in it. Before kids, I’ve always been a fan of the Golden Age of Hollywood era, especially the musicals. Probably why I LOVE the art direction in Wes Anderson films and the cinematography of Robert Yeoman. I have more old-school Walt Disney in me than Stephen Spielberg. I think we need more movies like “La La Land.”
Harney: What’s next? Do you have any upcoming work that we should keep an eye out for?
Joel: There is only so much I can’t talk about until after it is released! Most of my projects I work on a year before they’re released to the public. By the time it comes out, I’m always like, “oh wow I forgot about that, well that turned out nice.” hahahaha
Harney: From your Instagram, you seem to be a family man! How do you typically balance work and your home life?
Joel: Life in the digital age is so full-on 24/7. I have found that creating boundaries, as much as possible, to be extremely helpful in creating work/life balance. There is time that I guard every day by turning my phone off and just being present with my family and giving them my full attention. No one can be “on” all of the time, but it seems that it is increasingly becoming expected in this economy. Everyone needs downtime to recharge. Finding that balance can sometimes be elusive, but it is something I strive toward every day. Also, my robot vacuum. I love that thing.
Harney: What are some of your favorite things about being a father? Tell us about the adorable kiddos in your photos.
Joel: The moments… just sitting back and watching them develop and grow...it makes ALL the sleepless nights worth it. Our two little ones are treasures and jewels. Seeing the world through their eyes helps me see it clearer through my own. Each of their unique strengths and personalities are a joy to watch. What blew my mind is each child is literally who they were when they were infants. My daughter has been very linguistic from birth! This girl, I could communicate with her at 5 weeks old...I’m not joking… she’s this May baby that is made of nothing but sweet sugar. My son’s mechanical aptitude is off the roof! It’s amazing! His first word was ‘Wheel’. He loves taking random household items apart. We haven’t gotten to the “putting it back together” part, but not I’m not too worried, because that came in time for me too. I’m so proud of these two little people.
Harney: Why do you love tea? Tell us how tea helps you through your workday.
Joel: There’s nothing better than a relaxing yet invigorating warm Cuppa. I will make tea in the morning and put it in my stainless steel thermos and sip it whenever I need a pick-me-up. Being the dad of small children, there is the element of sleep deprivation so caffeine is my friend, especially on production days. I enjoy drinking all kinds of tea from all countries; so that is my go-to caffeine. I love the WORLD of tea...Tea is such an ancient art. I LOVE finding new teas.
Harney: What’s your favorite tea memory?
Joel: Tea time with my daughter and son has quickly surpassed all of my other favorite tea memories. It is magical to them and that makes it magical to me. They love the Harney and Sons Strawberry Kiwi tea, and ask to have tea time often. It has become a bit of a ritual.
Harney: Do you have any favorite types of Harney & Sons tea?
Joel: Yes! There are so many wonderful Harney and Sons tea varieties but I love the Hot Cinnamon Sunset. Whenever I make a cup of that tea for myself, I just take a deep inhale from the tin. It smells incredible!
Thank you for taking the time to share your story with us! To learn more about Joel, his work and his passion for fatherhood, head to www.joelbanta.com, or check out his Instagram. All photography has been provided by Joel and his Instagram account.