Spring 2010

[Alumni News]

Josh Murphy

Science meets filmmaking

Janet McCray Photo courtesy of Josh Murphy.

For Josh Murphy (‘04), earning a master’s degree in Fisheries Biology has become a natural fit for his career in filmmaking.

“Film, like science, should be approached pragmatically. Think pragmatically, then go achieve that elegant solution, that’s what I think science should do and that’s what film should do,” says Murphy, who was co-producer, second unit director and fish wrangler on the upcoming feature “The River Why,” a coming-of-age tale told through the eyes of a young fly fisherman.

Murphy’s production company, Unparalleled Productions, has been turning out a wide range of films and commercial spots since 2000.

The company began with Murphy, a group of friends and a 16mm camera he purchased on eBay. The Unparalleled ski films were some of the first pieces the company produced and gave Murphy a way to showcase his love of competitive skiing. Besides studying at the University of Vermont, Murphy spent plenty of time on the state’s famed ski runs. He even taught science at the Mount Mansfield Academy, a high school for competitive skiers.

Murphy cites Jacques Cousteau as a role model, not so much for his daring experience as a deep-sea explorer, but for the films Cousteau crafted that showed audiences a world they could not visit. Connecting the audience to the experience is where Murphy saw a chance to combine science with film.

“I wanted to find a way to combine my background in science and start telling stories about what happens when mankind and natural resources go toe to toe.”

At HSU, under the tutelage of Professor Eric Loudenslager, Murphy found a down-to-earth approach to science that would help him earn his master’s degree and could be applied to filmmaking. His first film was actually made for a class project at HSU and investigated the cause and effect of an oil spill on Humboldt Bay.

“Dr. Loudenslager told me ‘Choose something you can do well. Then you can prove your hypothesis and be done with it.’ And it’s the best advice I’ve ever received.”