Local Filmmaker Keeps Hollywood Alive in Newport

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Hollywood is just a concept—merely a place in the mind.

That’s the opinion of Newport Beach-based writer-director-producer Joshua Colover, president and CEO of award-winning Aperture Films.

Aperture is one of nearly 350 entertainment companies doing “show” business in our coastal communities, including Newport Beach.

The largest studios from the earliest days never truly resided in Hollywood, and the biggest stars from cinema’s golden era migrated outward from the Sunset Strip and the Hollywood Hills to Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Brentwood, Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley, Malibu, and Newport Beach.

A few of those marquee luminaries that helped to elevate Newport into its starring role as a luxury destination included Claire Trevor, John Wayne, Shirley Temple, Rock Hudson, Sterling Hayden and Bogie and Bacall.  Over the decades, Newport’s celebrity roster has rolled nonstop like the forever-marching credits at the end of a movie.

Aperture movie poster
Aperture movie poster

Aperture’s Beginnings

As a child growing up in Seal Beach, Colover loved images over words; his first passion at age 12 was photography. However, at 14, he moved out of his homemade darkroom to start making movies, and hasn’t stopped since.

This interest carried him first to UCLA, then to New York University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Film Production.

Then came underpaid writing gigs and freelancing in New York. Although Colover admits to having “never enjoyed writing,” he nevertheless won a “Wasserman and Scorsese Award” for his scribing and directing efforts on his senior thesis film at NYU Film School.

Colover returned to West Los Angeles, where for several years he worked with and learned from the production genius of  “B-movie king,” Roger Corman.

Wanting to be closer to his family, Colover moved back to Newport (an environment he finds exceedingly conducive to creativity), and quickly found work with Laguna-based McGilvery-Freeman Films, producers of IMAX mega-screen movies.

But entrepreneurial blood flowed, so Colover left to spawn Aperture Films 13 years ago.   Though not without hard work, his company took off with the speed of a P40 Warhawk – a feared fighter aircraft featured in one of Aperture’s award-winning documentaries, “World War II, Valor in the Pacific.”

Over the past decade, Colover has piloted his company into a variety of realms: large screen productions and documentaries, commercials and PSAs (Public Service Announcements).

In fact, the word “film” may be a noun/verb metamorphosing into disuse – at least technologically.

Most productions now are digitally produced, Colover said, and more often are designed for on-line and social media. In other words, the stereotypical media for the masses (TV, movies, newspapers, etc.) are now produced for the individual.

“The power is with the individual…in an insanely over-stimulated world that no one, even the mega-ad agencies, seems to understand,” Colover observed. “Individuals are picking and choosing the content; it’s a paradigm shift that’s constantly evolving.”

Aperture movie poster
Aperture movie poster

Aperture Productions    

In the “film” wing of Aperture Films, Colover produces unique, giant screen format films that are viewed in museums and visitor centers by more than 25 million people annually in diverse global locations including France, Italy, the Grand Canyon, Pearl Harbor, and the Klondike in Alaska.

Film, of course, is that generic term for a product using all the latest technological wizardry for a visual presentation. To date, in addition to more than 100 commercials, Aperture has produced 35 films.

Since 2008, Colover’s films have won more than 50 prestigious industry and media awards, including “Outstanding Achievement in a Short Documentary” and two “Audience Award Winners” in the Newport Beach Film Festival.

Five of his favorite Aperture films are:

“Farther Than the Eye Can See,” an inspirational documentary about Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to scale Mt. Everest. This production also achieved film history by being the first high definition footage from that altitude.  This film “shatters viewers’ perceptions of what is possible, and re-defines the word “challenge,” Colover offered.

“The Battle of Fort McHenry,” a computer animated film seamlessly blended with “living” historic re-enactments that places viewers in the center of the conflict that inspired the “Star Spangled Banner.”

“World War II: Valor in the Pacific,” a feature that embraces eye-witness accounts coupled with 3-D tactical animations in a “state-of-the-art, three-screen immersive presentation with more than two-hours of original historical footage.”

“Grand Canyon: a Journey of Wonder.” The result of a two-week adventure through the canyon that utilized all the marvels of film production for what Colover calls an “incomparable journey.”

“On Great White Wings,” more a feature film than a documentary that takes viewers soaring as the Wright Brothers’ achieve flight. Filming was truly unique, in that a full-size model of the Wright’s aircraft, made in 1905, was used. U.S. Air Force cooperation was required at Huffman Prairie in Dayton, Ohio, for the production to take place. Securing all the required government agencies’ involvement demonstrated that there was more red tape than adhesive tape used to secure the plane’s skin. Helping to make the filming truly special, descendants of the Wright Brothers were at the location site to witness the plane flying for the first time since that iconic flight.

Aperture’s PSA division watched proudly during the recent Super Bowl as Fox featured emotional “spots” for Goldstar Pins: the U.S. Army’s multimedia campaign to recognize the sacrifices made by all military families of deceased military members.

Said Colover, “Fox donated more than $4 million in time for our spots during the Super Bowl, at a cost of $133,000 per second. “

“With so many millions of people viewing our films, it’s a great feeling to know that all the ideas started here in Newport Beach,” Colover beamed. “And what better place than Newport for the creative brain to breathe?”

Contact the writer at [email protected].

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