George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University
Meet a Student

Joshua McLean

2021, Film and Video Studies

“It’s fun to entertain people, but also film can be a powerful medium to inspire people, to educate people, and to help people. And that’s why I do it.”

— Joshua McLean, Honors College junior and Film and Video Studies major

Honors College student Joshua McLean, film major and a creator of Lemon Jerky Productions, seeks to “create content that connects the world while inspiring other people to do the same.”

In his first year as a Film and Video Studies student at Mason, McLean stepped out of his comfort zone to produce a fellow film student’s senior capstone. “It helped me find what I wanted to do,” says McLean. “I realized I liked producing, and that was likely the route in the film world I wanted to take.” The experience working on a large-scale project was a stressful undertaking at the time, but became a catalyst through which McLean discovered his own style of producing, inspiring him to create films of his own.

In May, 2019, McLean produced one of his first films: Goodies.

A man and a woman stand stiffly behind opposing tables, exchanging aggressive glances over their cupcakes and muffins. The goods may be sweet, but the competition is anything but, and these bakers are willing to do whatever it takes to win more customers. In the short film, Goodies, produced in part by Film and Video Studies major, Joshua McLean, viewers can see what chaos emerges when a bake sale becomes a war zone. 

“The film [Goodies] was made on a $200 budget,” says McLean, explaining the ever-present struggle to keep costs low, especially as a college filmmaker. “There was a time one of our actors pushed [another actor] down in a scene – which was not the goal. He ripped his pants and his knee was bleeding…. We had to buy him new pants.”

Still, Goodies is only one of McLean’s portfolio of projects, and through the time and effort of each project something else was formed: a brand, Lemon Jerky Productions. “Originally [Lemon Jerky] was just an idea for a Youtube channel, but now it’s beyond that. It’s turned into this big collaborative effort,” McLean emphasizes.

Honors College junior Joshua McLean happily poses as he gets ready to produce a film.

Photo provided.

Now a recognized name in the FAVS department at Mason, Lemon Jerky Productions has produced a film that was picked for the Best of Film and Video Studies program at Mason and was shown at the Virginia Film Festival in Charlottesville and the Washington West Film Festival in Reston. Creating Lemon Jerky Productions was a pivotal moment for McLean and others in his team, and as the brand grows, so does the push to encourage others to create meaningful content.

McLean further continues to practice producing video content as the Videography and Photography Intern for George Mason’s Honors Communication Team.

“We are the support system for the Communication Director, as well as other people that facilitate Honors College marketing,” McLean says. “We basically help populate the social media, so the Honors College can have a voice outside of George Mason’s walls.” Through short videos posted on Twitter, as well as content that populates George Mason Honors’ Youtube channel, McLean strives to connect students with opportunities and news regarding ways for them to explore their passions and challenge their academics. “Reach for those opportunities,” McLean adds, “because you’re going to grow from them. You don’t know what you’re going to find.”

For Lemon Jerky’s next large-scale project, McLean is working on a documentary about the white supremacist rallies in Charlottesville, enabling a student who had witnessed the events to share their perspective. McLean explains, “It’s a touchy topic and we need to make sure we approach it in the right way.”

Whether raising awareness for current events, connecting students with the Honors College institution, or providing a laugh to an ever-growing audience, McLean reaches out and inspire others.

“It’s fun to entertain people, but also film can be a powerful medium to inspire people, to educate people, and to help people. And that’s why I do it.” More information on McLean and his projects can be found on the Lemon Jerky Productions site.

By Audrey Butler