Justin Thomas was born in the Bronx, New York, but was raised in the suburbs of New Jersey. From a young age, Justin exhibited special abilities in drawing and illustrating, and was eventually writing his own short stories and books by elementary school. By the time he entered high school, Justin’s writing had evolved to incorporate poetry and for a short time he dabbled in spoken word performances; in 2002, he became a member of the Live Poets Society. As a teenager, Justin displayed promise in the medium of oil paints and charcoal illustrations, and his portfolio enabled him to be accepted into the School of Visual Arts at SUNY Purchase College, NY as a graphic design major.
During his tenure at the university, Justin discovered video art, and became engaged in creating his own short experimental films. For two years, he was an intern for the college television station, editing contributed content to be aired on the channel, in addition to writing, filming, and editing his own weekly music showcase. He also garnered a reputation from faculty and fellow students for his graphic design talents, designing posters for many of the college organizations and their respective events/promotions.
In 2007, Justin began an internship with Baeble Music, an indie music website operating out of New York City. During his time with Baeble, Justin wrote reviews of album releases and live performances. In the winter of 2007 and into 2008, Justin created a commercial for the website and edited several music news segments that were broadcast on the site weekly. Upon graduating SUNY Purchase in the summer of 2007, Justin lent his writing and editing abilities to People’s Television, an upstart film company founded by colleague Nicholas Bruckman, and contributed to the creation of the documentary short The Grey Movie as the film’s Associate Producer. The Grey Movie was sponsored by the Cinereach Foundation, and in March of 2008 had its screening debut at the Grammercy Park Hotel in NYC. It was later screened by Rooftop Films and by The Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).
In the fall of 2008, Justin took an intensive course on film and video editing at the New York Film Academy; that same year, he filmed and edited a documentary on the theatre project “Men Always Leave”, a play written and directed by playwright and spoken word artist Naima Yetunde Ince. In 2009, Justin contributed to the production of the short film The Bridge, directed by Philipp Wolter of The Film Gym production company; on set he assisted in grip and lighting. Beginning in 2009, Justin initiated work on his first documentary, a profile of underground hip hop community and culture entitled The Lost Tapes; the project included interviews with hip hop legends Rah Digga, DJ Disco Wiz, and Easy Mo Bee, among others.
Beginning in 2011, Justin enrolled at the graduate program at the prestigious School of Visual Arts in Manhattan for their Social Documentary program. It was during his tenure that he directed, filmed, and produced two feature films; for the first film, he traveled to Haiti to capture the resilient story of Haitian citizens who are training to become medics and EMTs to pull their country out of the devastation of their 2010 earthquake. The second film is a biographical account of the life of Dennis Flores, a Brooklyn-born media activist who films police brutality and misconduct in his community. This film, Truth Through A Lens, won the coveted Best Documentary Feature Award at the 2014 Workers' Unite Festival, and was an Official Selection at the 2015 Socially Relevant Film Festival in New York City.
Over the past several years, Justin has contributed to a wide range of media outlets. In 2011, he became a certified studio producer for BRIC Art Media's BCAT Brooklyn Independent Television and wrote, directed, filmed, and edited the showcase "WORD: Hip Hop Television". He also wrote articles for Brown Eyez Magazine, a holistic health and entertainment publication created by colleague Pojanee Fleury. Beginning with his graduation from SVA in 2013, Justin became a freelance videographer and produced video content for Arvato Systems North America, Firelight Media, USA Today Sports, and And Now Media. He has also continued to facilitate his own film projects; in 2017 he documented the historic Women's March in Washington, DC. Justin is currently developing a screenplay for his first narrative film, which is tentatively slated to go into production in 2020.