How A Movie Producer’s Mission Can Change and Lessons From Making 6 Features by John Paul Rice

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Film Courage: When you think back to producing ONE HOUR FANTASY GIRL which (forgive me) was your first producing credit? Now you have 6 and you have two more in pre-production. How has your vision of being a producer changed? So for this first one you have one set of ideals and beliefs and now all the way to these upcoming projects.

John Paul Rice, Producer: So I think when I got into Hollywood and as a producer I had waited three years to get one project off of the ground. It fell apart over one weekend.

Film Courage: Oh wow.

John: Yes…and that happened in 2007. Edgar (Director Edgar Michael Bravo), the writer/director and my partner at No Restrictions Entertainment, he and I had been working for years for trying to get these projects off the ground, there were like two or three of them. And we had gotten very far. We were talking about getting into CAA, getting into the studio system, getting meetings with people that could make things happen very quickly if they got behind you.

So we had amassed a good momentum and we had put a large portion of the financing together. So when we did ONE HOUR FANTASY GIRL I was not happy (to be quite honest), I was not happy. Because we were starting from a budget on another project for a budget of 2.5 million and now we were going to ten thousands of dollars. It’s a huge drop off there.

And so emotionally it’s very difficult because there’s a huge drop off there because you want to be where you had the potential, you always knew that you had the potential, it was validated by all these other people that said you were good, took meeting with you based on the script. That kind of stuff. Those are meaningful things. You’re going over to 20th Century Fox, you’re meeting with the head of production who read your script and wants to take a meeting with you, it’s a pretty big deal and you don’t have any agent or representation, it’s a big deal. You feel good about that.

So to lose all of that and start from square one…I was upset. I loved the script. When I read the first draft that he had made, it stayed with me for hours. And I knew that that was always where I wanted to go was to make films that were moving to me. I didn’t have to sit there and think about it. It’s just like it stirred in my head. So that was the motivation to get back to where we were by doing that film, what I wanted obviously when I created that movie I wanted it to launch our career. I wanted it to change everything, the doors were going to open because now all of the relationships that I had been building up to the last three and a half years would see a product of something that I was able to do on a micro-budget, and it got critical acclaim and it did really well in sales.

Joey Burke as Tim in A CHILD’S VOICE – Photo courtesy of No Restrictions Entertainment

I mean we were talking to people at Netflix, the head Ted Sarandos (the CEO), I mean this was when they were still smaller and still open. I wrote to them and he handed me off to [someone there]…yeah…it was serious.

I know it’s frustrating for filmmakers to hear that because everybody wants that. But at the same time, my idea of producing was to get into the Hollywood studio system and become a big producer and have lots of money. But I didn’t realize that in essence what we were doing was separating ourselves from that part of the industry. Not that I reject them or think that they’re wrong. I think it’s their business and they can do whatever they want.

But today coming forward 6 films later and we have the Internet, we have alternative media, we have other methods and ways in which you can reach thousands of people very quickly with little to no overhead, that’s the sweet spot for me as an independent producer.

I mean you have to imagine there are also companies that exist now (kind of like ours), not as production companies, but companies out of New York and elsewhere that have a team of people and an overhead and a set budget that actually go out and do the same work that I’m actually doing as a producer, one-on-one with a producer, with all the people in the alternative media because the subject matter speaks directly to that group of people.

Whereas in a larger system where you have more overhead, more risk, you have a lot of other things, you have to spend millions of dollars to insure that you’re going to get a delivery on payout for your investment and your distributors and all of your talent and everything else that’s in there. So they are hiring these companies now to go and find these groups of people that exist online, in these communities and market the film to them.

Angela Mavropoulos as Kristy in A CHILD’S VOICE – Photo courtesy of No Restrictions Entertainment

It’s quite interesting. Now it’s not first tier distribution that focuses on theatrical, it’s not television or cable. But these secondary areas like social work groups and other groups that are dealing with causes and all of that. They would have to cast as big of a net as possible. Whereas if you go directly to them today and you have credibility and you create a relationship with someone who is interviewing you, all of the sudden you are opened up to their entire audience. And we’re talking like thousands of people some of these people on Youtube have, two to three, four hundred thousand or more subscribers. They also have Patreon which is another…and you get email blasts.

We saw when we went out and did A CHILD’S VOICE (our latest film) on human trafficking, we went directly to these individuals and the moment that we did the interview and it was published and the moment that the Patreon went out, we got hundreds of sales within days.

Film Courage: On Vimeo?

John: On Vimeo alone. And we haven’t even gone to Amazon, Amazon Prime and all of that. So when you’re looking at that and you’re seeing the potential plus  the reaction, the reactions are instant. They are writing comments in the Youtube comments, they are writing them on IMDB, on Vimeo organically. Organic growth, organic spread. You go on doing keyword search on Twitter and none of these people follow you, they don’t even follow people you follow, they heard about it, they shared it, they were moved by it. You receive comments, you receive emails. You hear firsthand testimonies from people. These are the things that I feel are far more important than trying to get access to the industry and their press machine (which is important, don’t get me wrong) but relying solely on that to make your message of your movie and your work get out there.

So today from ten years ago to now, I’m not saying this system is wrong but I’m saying there are other opportunities out there that fulfill what you want to do that don’t have to mean going through the Hollywood media and Hollywood studio system in order to achieve what you really want to do. So for me the evolution was one of feeling that I had to be a part of that and included in it to being important or successful and instead realizing that my work and my commitment to it and the people that it’s affecting, that’s like the best compliment you could ever get.

When you read stories about people who have gone through some of these hardships…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).

 

A Child’s Voice from No Restrictions Entertainment on Vimeo.

 

WATCH ‘A CHILD’S VOICE’
Vimeo.com/ondemand/achildsvoice

CONNECT WITH JOHN PAUL RICE
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About John Paul Rice:

John Paul Rice was born the youngest of four, in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. At the age of 7, in addition to baseball, he took up theater until his senior year of high school. Mr. Rice attended Georgia State University to pursue a degree in Business. While at college, Mr. Rice was given the opportunity to work on Jerry Bruckheimer’s Remember the Titans as a Titan football player. He enjoyed the experience and turned his focus toward film, working in production on a handful of low budget independent films before moving to Los Angeles a year later. 

In 2001, John landed a position at the Los Angeles division of the German distribution company Senator International (which later became Mandate Pictures) led by industry veteran Joseph Drake (The Hunger Games, Don’t Breathe, Juno, The Grudge). Under Joe’s mentoring, John developed an interest in producing independent feature films. 

In 2008, Mr. Rice formed No Restrictions Entertainment with filmmaker Edgar Michael Bravo. The duo has produced five films together. The critically acclaimed indie feature One Hour Fantasy Girl, written and directed by Mr. Bravo. The following year they produced the psychological drama The Magic Stone and shortly thereafter produced the dramatic and surreal thriller Mother’s Red Dress. One year later Bravo and Rice created a compelling supernatural thriller in Mark’s Secret to Eternal Life. Their latest film A Young Man’s Future is a heartbreaking yet inspiring story about love in the face of mental illness. All five films deal with challenging social issues while telling an entertaining and original narrative story. The team just released their 6th project in 9 years with A Child’s Voice, a supernatural thriller that takes on child trafficking. 

Some of Mr. Rice’s favorite films are Training Day, Chinatown, Midnight Cowboy, Being There and The King’s Speech.


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