Joe Eckardt: Desktop filmmaker

Home-based creative juggles the pros and cons of house as workplace

After spending a few years as a celebrity personal assistant for the likes of Nicolas Cage and Cuba Gooding Jr., Joe Eckardt began making movies with a 16mm Bolex, cutting “the old-school way,” he says.

He edited at home — a practice he continues today — on projects for his and wife Cecily Gambrell’s the Film Emporium production company, including the upcoming “A Happy Death.”

“It lets me work 24/7,” he says of his studio in a converted garage in the couple’s three-bedroom home in Sherman Oaks, Calif. “I’m not reliant on a post-production facility, and I can work as long as I want, which means I’m also not limited by a budget.

“If I wake up in the middle of the night with an idea, I can just go turn on the system and do it, and see if it works.”

That, of course, can be a disadvantage as well. “The downside of working at home is that you’re working at home. You never get rid of your work. It’s always there.” As are the couple’s dogs, whose barking can interfere with that subtle audio mix.

And pooches are no substitute for real people. “Sometimes I wish the studio was outside of the house. Sometimes, I just need another place to look at.”

But Eckardt is able to do essentially everything he needs to at his studio, from editing to 3D animation. Though it’s equipped with amenities such as a leather couch and miscellaneous “lucky charms,” he’s learned it can be better to communicate with directors by uploading QuickTime files to the Internet. “You get less notes that way,” he says. “If you put it on the Internet for them, you have one phone call.”


Victor and Eddie (short) (2003) (director, producer)
Champion (2005) (director, producer)
Nice Guys (2005) (director, producer)

A Happy Death stars Chevy Chase
I Write Alone stars Hulk Hogan

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