Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

UTSA alumnus’ newest short film receives rave reviews

Josh Collins’ ‘Gem Mint’ begins its festival run

Josh Collins does not condone violence in his films. This does not mean that his newest short film is void of violence. During an interview with The Paisano, Collins told a story about the production of “Gem Mint” not going as planned. 

“My assistant director, her name’s Eleanor, is like, ‘Hey, do you want to call cut?’ and I’m whispering like ‘No, let’s just see how it goes,’” Collins explained. “And the guy in the jersey, he just slaps his friend, and we were in shock.” 

Collins is a film director, screenwriter and producer from San Antonio. He just graduated with a major in communication from UTSA and is now attending St. Mary’s University for his Master of Business Administration. Collins has released two short films this year: “Master Sommelier” in June and “Gem Mint” in October. 

Collins shared that his newest short was filmed continuously over the course of a full day. Yes, you read that correctly, “Gem Mint” was filmed in one day — 22 straight hours to be exact.

“I wanted to show my friends that on a super tight budget, I can do a movie in ten minutes that takes place in one area — like we don’t leave that little room,” Collins explained.

But making a movie is expensive. Collins realized this when learning that he could only afford a sound guy and lens rentals for one day, hence the tight schedule. 

Making a movie also takes a lot of time. Luckily, Collins got the opportunity to collaborate with The Sauce Productions, a video production company made up of UTSA students. The Sauce provided Collins with Netflix-grade cameras, lights and an entire production team. Unfortunately, all of this extra equipment meant that filming “Gem Mint” was going to take a lot longer than the 12 hours Collins had originally estimated. 

With the enticements of cigarettes and free food, he convinced his sound guy, Tallon Rock, and the majority of the crew to stay until production wrapped up at 4 a.m., in the middle of the summer, with no air conditioning. 

“We can’t shoot with a.c., you’ll hear it,” Collins explained. 

No a.c. and 22 hours of filming can lead to violence. By the time they were shooting the last scene, the two main actors, Jackson Aden, a sophomore majoring in multidisciplinary studies, and Joaquin Ortiz, went off script, one slapping the other. This worried Collins. He had already sent the makeup artist, Elithia Muratalla, home, and now one of the leads had a cartoonish red handprint forming on his face. 

Collins thought quickly, telling Ortiz, “He might hit you again, so if he does, hit him back.” This series of events culminated in the intense ending and killer “Breakfast Club” inspired freeze frame that ends the short. 


Collin’s inspirations are channeled through his film’s storytelling and pacing. For “Gem Mint,” he wanted to recreate the tension and anxiety that the Safdie Brothers create in their movies “Uncut Gems” and “Good Time.” These two films, along with episode seven of “The Bear,” made up the watchlist that Collins gave to his crew. 

He also explained how tired he is of feeling pandered to by production companies trying to appeal to a Hispanic audience. 

“Let’s get a movie with Hispanic actors, and have it not be about that,” he explained.


This journey to the final scene of “Gem Mint,”  and all of Collins’ accomplishments, are attributed to UTSA. 

“My new short film is 100% UTSA,” Collins stated in an email to The Paisano. 

The majority of his crew is from UTSA, including Sarah Quintanilla, who designed the poster, Max Acosta, who photographed behind the scenes, Michael Smith, the producer and director of photography and many of the production designers, assistants and actors.

“I think we’re super talented,” Collins explained. “Why can’t we compete with anyone else?” 

This confidence is what has pushed him to submit both of his short films to as many festivals as he could afford. Already, “Gem Mint” has won the Best Student Film in Rome at the Roma Short Film Festival and Best Cinematography at the Busan New Wave Short Film Festival.

“I think for us UTSA filmmakers and students, the hard work is finally paying off,” he stated.


Collins’ future is looking successful. Already, his shorts have gained numerous awards, and he is hoping to strike a deal to get his creations onto streaming services come 2024. 

Additionally, the script for his third film — about two broke friends who become hitmen — is already written. 

Thanking the UTSA community several more times, Collins ended our interview with, “I love it, I wouldn’t wanna do it with any other school.”

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About the Contributor
Lauren Hernandez, Assistant Arts & Life Editor
Lauren (she/her) is a second year English student at UTSA. After graduation she plans on attending law school. Outside of The Paisano you can usually find her at a concert taking pictures, hiking in the woods, watching movies or thrifting with her sister.

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