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Joel Paul Reisig

Independent film producer, writer, director, actor and entrepreneur, Joel Paul Reisig, has developed an expertise in packaging, financing and monetizing independent films in the United States and abroad.

Reisig grew up in Birmingham and graduated from Seaholm High School. He then attended Hope College, where he majored in Business and English – both of which have served him well in his career.

“Growing up in Birmingham now feels like Anytown, USA, during a better time to grow up. There were no little screens. We rode bikes, played sports and drank from backyard hoses...I feel like we now talk about the '90s the way people used to talk about the '50s,” Reisig mused.

His sense of nostalgia also extends to his college years. “Attending Hope College was a really formative time for me. I formed meaningful friendships and realized afterward that I took for granted having 50 guys who lived within half a mile.” He added, “During that time, discussion and disagreement was a good thing rather than having your opinion shouted down.”

After college, Reisig worked odd jobs and backpacked in Europe, where he developed a sense of adventure and travel.

When he returned, he didn’t have a set career plan but was open to new experiences. He became a standup comedian in Chicago and considered a boxing career on the Golden Gloves circuit.

"Around that time, my friends and I would watch one bad comedy after another, and they would say that I was so much funnier than the movies we were watching, and they encouraged me to write one of these movies.”

This led Reisig to visit a local bookstore to read a guidebook on film production which inspired him to make his first film in 2008.

“I didn’t even purchase the book. Even though I never took a film class in my life, I thought ‘I can do this.’ I wrote my first movie, ‘Fraternity House’ using funny stories from college – things that happened to me, people I knew or heard of.”

Since then, the Bloomfield Hills resident founded JPR Studios which has produced a wide range of films including “Christmas at the Holly Hotel.” The movie was filmed at the Historic Holly Hotel in Holly, Michigan, a few months before the devastating fire in 2022 and subsequent rebuilding. While Reisig often films in Michigan, he has plans to travel to the Philippines, Egypt, and India for future film projects.

In addition to films, Reisig has published four adventure travel books and is in the process of writing a “realistic dystopian future” series of five books.

“My adventure travel books are true and comedic stories of my adventures, including boxing, alligator wrestling, bull riding, racing in the world’s longest kayak race, dog sled racing in the U.P., driving in a demolition derby and as a former wrangler at Colorado’s Bar Lazy J [Guest Ranch].”

The busy creator also shares his knowledge on financing and selling independent films through his company, Be Your Own Hollywood.

When Reisig is not working, he enjoys travel, hiking, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, a form of martial arts. He is also a father and teaches his son’s jiu-jitsu class.

Reisig offers encouragement to future film makers, “Start actually making films. Many people make excuses not to make their first film. There is no reason not to. Many cell phone cameras are incredible. Buy some professional lights and start telling your stories. Especially if you are young, get your friends involved. Each film you make will get better.”

Story: Tracy Donohue

Photo: Laurie Tennent


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