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Photo courtesy of Joshua Salzberg.

Get to Know the Filmmaker: Joshua Salzberg Talks ‘The Performance’

Joshua Salzberg is a screenwriter who got his start reading scripts for Ridley Scott and Alexander Payne before joining the editing teams of directors Adam McKay and Judd Apatow, working on films such as Step Brothers and This Is 40.

Salzberg went on to edit Shira Piven’s Welcome to Me, Paul Feig’s Other Space, Netflix’s Ibiza and the FOX series Welcome to Flatch.

Salzberg’s résumé also includes producing credits and reflects his multi-hyphenate abilities. But when he sat down with Casting Networks — via video call — we wanted to learn more about his latest screenwriting credit, The Performance, while getting a window into the person behind the impressive résumé.

Our questions began with asking Salzberg about the moment he realized that filmmaking was the right career path for him. The screenwriter mentioned growing up in Missouri and not traveling much as a kid. That changed when a trip to Chicago gave him a new outlook and inspiration.

“Being in downtown Chicago [for the first time] with just so many different people from all over the world really inspired me to want to tell their stories and tell stories about people and what it means to be human,” Salzberg said. “And that’s what got me going.”

We wanted to know Salzberg’s top casting choices for the lead role of a hypothetical movie about his life story (you’ll have to watch the video for his full response). One of the three thespians was Daniel Day-Lewis. “Just because, I want my life story to pull him out of retirement, for that to be the thing that does it,” Salzberg said.

Director Joshua Salzberg and Shira Piven working on a laptop on set wearing masks. Photo courtesy of Joshua Salzberg.

We then asked about the screenwriter’s latest project, which is his second collaboration with Shira Piven. The two co-wrote The Performance, adapting Arthur Miller’s short story of the same name for the screen. The film had its U.S. premiere at the Palm Springs International Film Festival on January 7. Salzberg shared with us some insights into his new feature.

The Performance follows Harold May (Jeremy Piven), a Jewish American tap dancer in the 1930s whose troupe is on a European tour when a German attaché spots them and leads them into doing an exclusive performance for Adolf Hitler. “The story’s about the possibility — that all of us have — to do monstrous things,” Salzberg said of the high-stakes premise.

Before the interview wrapped, we asked the screenwriter about his process as well as how he gets past writer’s block. His response included such things as drinking coffee, watching old movies, traveling and keeping in mind an impending deadline.

You can catch all these insights and more in this on-camera installment of Get to Know the Filmmaker.

This video interview has been edited and condensed.

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