Bad Decisions Are Easy In Hollywood by Producer John Paul Rice

Film Courage: When that person said to you “Hollywood will only make you more of what you are,” what did you think in that moment? This was 10 years ago?

John Paul Rice, Producer: No…18…19 years ago? I got a little scared because I didn’t know what does he see in me? And I knew that I had certain family issues when I grew up. That’s kind of what got me into art (if I can say it), a creative role.

But I think also he was genuinely concerned because he saw a decent person who had an idealistic view and there is nothing wrong with that. But at the same time I think when you are younger is just a position of not stupidity or foolishness or maybe just ignorance because you don’t have that experience yet to know when you are tempted with something that you…if you had your parent there it certainly wouldn’t be happening. You wouldn’t be contemplating well maybe I should. But in the moment you don’t realize that when you are open and you’re sensitive, some of that can come from trauma. And you don’t realize that your reality as you see it in front of you is actually a reflection of that. So every choice you make seems reasonable but it may be coming from a place of fear, it may be coming from a place of reaction where you had to do something (this is some of the stuff I’ve learned) where people who are criminals (I’m just taking this as an extreme), we see high-speed car chases all the time, right? We all know how that ends for the last 20 years, we see that when the car chase ends when the cops are following you, you don’t get away. But time and time again people continue to do that. Reason being that I’ve learned in my research and my own discovery (not that I’m a criminal) but a lot of what we do that is irrational to the outside is in fact rational to us because it’s a positive behavior that warded off something else that has been imprinted in us that this is what gives us a positive outcome totally unconscious of it, totally about a set of choices. You wake up every day and you have a set of choices and this person over here has a different set of choices and when he said that (I didn’t understand the depth of it) but coming full circle now I would give that same advice to any young person now, I would give that same advice now to any young person who is coming out to LA. Not as a caution about them but to be mindful of yourself. And watch how you respond, how you think, how you act according with what is presented in front of you. And that sometimes takes some experience of some very difficult decisions that you make that at the time seemed right or maybe not so bad but as it played out you realized “Wow I really did screw up there.” Or “I made a bad choice and I went against my gut instinct.” 

And I think that’s the best…I will say this to anyone who is listening, your gut instinct is probably your best choice. The first thing that you think about in reaction without knowing any information is probably the most honest of anything as opposed to logically talk your way through it. I’ve had situations where I wanted certain people to be part of our project and didn’t realize that they didn’t want to be a part of our project, they needed a paycheck. Fine…that’s their right but because I felt that I needed them I limited my choices to that individual and attached myself to the idea that I had to make that work as opposed to opening up and looking at all the other possibilities that are out there. 

Now that sounds very rational and logical but at the time it was personal, it was emotional and I was attached to needing to have that person validate what I was doing and win to get it. That’s my own personal issue. But if I’m not exploring that and looking at the consequences of that thinking and that behavior and the outcomes that it gives me then I only have one or two choices. I’m going to be completely stubborn and I’m going to force it. Or all of the time and energy that I’m using to look open and outward and look at other people who may be able to use that may be able to give me what I want, that they truly want to find and find the best match and experience has taught me that’s the best thing to do.

Film Courage: It’s not just falling prey to temptation. I know I’ve heard that recovery meeting conventions are held in Las Vegas because what better place to test your sobriety and every trigger you have would be Las Vegas.

John: Trauma bonding!

Film Courage: Yes, but flattery. And that’s something that as a young person, you walk down the street and you get someone stopping your car and saying “You would be perfect for this…” And especially to if you’re coming with (let’s get really “therapist-y”) tools that are maybe the best, that is going to be…you are going to hear angels singing. So if you see this enough you would be prey to other things as well so I think flattery can [be dangerous]. And it can happen later on and you’ll never realize that you may never hear from that person again and that’s something you have to guard yourself against.

John: Yes, that’s an experience that I’ve found. I’ve had people sit down with me full tilt with meetings, having watch their previous films, having read their previous scripts and offering a ton of things and I’m like “This sounds great!” And then nothing and “Oh I’m going to introduce you to this person, that person.”

I don’t know what that person’s motivations were or not but to spend my time getting upset about it or obsessing over it or trying to figure out that person’s problem.

I guess it only hurts me in the end but I’ve encountered that before early on in my career as an actor in fact.

Film Courage: Yes, they exist!

John: You know…going out on a business meeting and having things…we’re talking about an era of Me Too, it happens to guys too and it’s not being talked about.

Film Courage: Sure.

John: But there are people in Hollywood and they have a right to do what they want but when they cross the line you are not able to conduct yourself as a person. You have to sort of adjust according to them. Now you are selling yourself into something that is not really about you anymore. It’s about what you do for that person. And compliments are very easy to give. But at the same time you have to have your own center (your own self-worth) so that you know that if you are dealing in business, and you are talented, you believe in your talent, or you have something to offer, find someone who is looking for that.

The look and everything…I mean I do cast all of our films. I have seen random people and have gone up to them and said “You have a great presence. I’d really like to see what you look like on camera.” And I mean that truthfully because I love discoveries of talent, that’s how we’ve been able to make all of our movies with these talented people who are not Union (most of them are not).  And not because I’m against the Union but just because of the cost and everything else that we are trying to do and pay everybody but it has more to do with being authentic and being genuine and being professional. And I think you can be all of those things and still get the desired result that you want without having to do all this other kind of stuff which is more of like like “I’m going to make you feel good” so I can get something from you. Which is all I have to offer you is the truth according to what I see and I could be totally wrong. And you tell me “Hey, go ahead with yourself. Get lost.” But that’s your right.

All I am trying to do is say “I see something here. I think there is something really good here. And I’d like to see if it would work for what I’d like to do.”

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

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

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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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