Film Courage: So if you’re driving out to Riverside, I don’t know if you’re working a full day and then you’re having to get in your car [and go to set]. But that hands-on approach versus this thing I keep throwing out which is the ‘Red Carpet Producer’ and I know I’m making light of it. But I remember when you told it to me years ago and I don’t think I ever forgot it? I’m wondering if you can just explain to the viewers what it is?
John Paul Rice, Producer: Well…so…there was a very…my former mentor who told me that there are a lot of producers out there who want to have their name in a film and they want to walk the red carpet with a starlet. And it’s a kind of more…it’s a status thing. As opposed to the producer who will be married to that project for the rest of their life and gave me some examples of that.
So the red carpet producer is the one that, it’s the glamour life, it’s the one where you’re sort of just there as a figure that you were a part of this yes but you’re sort of there to just cash in on the experience of it as opposed to the filmmaking process. That’s not every producer but there are a ton of them out there. They’ll help make a movie and put their name in the credits and they really just want the kind of social benefits of all of that to kind of play and do their thing.
I don’t know…does that answer the question?
Film Courage: It does. I was thinking though if someone comes with a checkbook (and I realize this sound sort of callous) and you know that this is their very defined role and they are like “I have the money. I just want to invest in this.” Then I feel like they get a pass, but not everyone comes with that I realize. And there are a lot of red carpet…(insert any title).
John: Yes, there are a lot of people who say they just want to make a movie and that’s fine but it’s not producing I don’t think.
There are line producers that are amazing people and there are creative producers that are amazing people. But if you just show up with a…obviously if someone came to me with money and said “Hey we want to invest” but it would really have to be that we had shared principals sort of in the sense that who I am as a person I don’t just want to be taking someone’s money not knowing who they are…I mean I wouldn’t start a business with you right? Unless you and I talked through some things and go “Oh yeah, we kind of feel the same way about this world.” And you’re bringing X and I’m bringing Y to this vision that we’re going to create. But if someone is just showing up with money and you just don’t…it’s like….hhhmmmm?
Film Courage: And they are flippant about it “Yeah, sounds good.”
John: “Yeah, it’s a great idea. Keep me posted, keep me posted.” I’ve met so many people that they literally walk around…actually the thing that kicked off ONE HOUR FANTASY GIRL [one of the film John produced] I believe we had a person like that.
I’ve even been offered money, like lots of money, through debt instruments. You’ll hear about that term a lot and it can get really tricky because ultimately the loan that you’re taking out to finance your movie is on you to repay. And so it’s not really financing in terms of venture capital which is risk. It’s ‘I’m going to get paid whether this movie makes money or not and it will be off of your back and your name is on the loan,’ it’s not the person providing the financing. We’ve looked at all the paperwork and there are many different instruments out there that are backed by banks.
An in reality for an independent film producer this is one of the dangers. I don’t think there have been many people that have done this but when you’re a big studio and you have a whole slate of movies and you can afford to lose money on some where others will make up for the loses of the other, you can play that game.
When you’re talking about one movie and 5 million dollars and 5 million dollars being in your name and you are responsible for paying that back within a certain amount of years irregardless of how the film turns out, irregardless if a distributor buys your movie up only to hold it. I mean theres are all sorts of things that can go wrong that prevent you from getting that money back. So it’s best to work with people who share your vision, who believe that you’re capable of implementing this goal, this dream, this thing you have, not just on a business plan but when they sit across from you and they’re asking you questions like a smart investor would who is cautious where they are going to put their money. That they are not just out there ready to sign up and “Let’s make your movie!” But yet at the same time there isn’t this other process that it goes through. It’s going back to that validation when you’re a young actor out here and someone says “Hey! You’ve got a good look. Hop in the car!” You know? But it’s the same thought process. If you’re investing money into a film, you want to know who you are getting involved with on both sides of that table because at the end of the day if anything goes wrong, you don’t want to be countersued, you don’t want to sue, you don’t want to countersue. You’d rather go “Hey, we tried, it didn’t work.” It was all written out obviously, you do the contracts and everyone knows what the investor and what the accredited investor is. But at the end of the day, you don’t want to have troubles when things don’t go right. You want to be able to be like “Hey, we all got in this together, we have the best intentions working together, we’re people. And I need you. You need me.” This is what we want to do, make money or tell this story or both hopefully. And if it doesn’t go the way we think it is then we have to learn from it and move on. That’s what investors do. Good investors are people who have made bad investments and have learned from making those bad investments what not to do the next time around. It makes them a little bit more cautious, maybe a little bit more cynical. But the only thing that you have at that point is just yourself and what you’re bringing to the table. And if that person sees you as a value as to what they are trying to achieve and goes “You reflect all of the qualities that I’m looking for in people that I know in other industries who invest in products and materials and businesses. You share the same qualities that these entrepreneurs do and those are the kind of relationships that I want to go forward with and I’ve been very blessed to have those. I learned a lot of lessons early on…red carpet producer, ready to write that check, “Keep me posted.” You know?
And nothing is on the record, ever. They can never put anything in writing for you, everything will be a phone call, “Let’s have a conversation? Let’s talk about.” …(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
WATCH ‘A CHILD’S VOICE’
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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