Monday, August 29, 2011

Filmmaker Drew Rosas

Drew Rosas is an independent filmmaker currently living in Los Angeles, CA.  He is the owner and CEO of The Surgery RoomProduction Company. His work experience includes several feature length film projects including Public Enemies, Modus Operandi, Handmade Nation, Hamlet ADD and his directorial debut Blood Junkie (recently selected for distribution with Troma Entertainment). In addition to his work in feature films, Rosas has produced and directed dozens of commercials and several Television pilots. His current feature film project, Billy Club, is slated to be shot in September 2011.


What is the current project you are working on?

Currently I am producing and co-directing a feature length horror film project titled Bill Club. This is the story of four old friends from little league that reunite 15 years later an end up unknowing in the cross hairs of a serial killer that shares a hidden past with the teammates. The entire film is wrapped in a baseball theme. Our Killer wears an antique umpire’s mask so he “controls the game” and decides who is safe and who is out. We are currently raising money to make this film come to life. We’re nearly at our goal but we need everyone’s help. Visit www.BillyClubMovie.com and click on kickstarter to pledge you support and we’ll mail you a copy of the DVD when the film is complete.

What is "microbudget" filmmaking?

I’m not sure where the cut off is exactly but I believe anything below $100,000 for a feature length film would qualify as “micro-budget”. Independent filmmaking can range anywhere from no dollars to $10,000,000. That would put film I make with my friends in the same category as films like Little Miss Sunshine. Someone invented this term “migrobudger” to differentiate from the big guns with real money and the filmmakers that are creating entire projects with the money they spend on one shoot day. My first feature film, Blood Junkie, was shot for a ultra-low budget of $7000. That project has been picked up for distribution with Troma Entertainment and was released on DVD in May of last year. It is now available online and on the shelves at Family Video.

What do you do to keep your production costs down?

The biggest cost is paying for help. Most people need to throw out serious day rates to get cast and crew to dedicated their valuable time and energy to the project. I build my crew from close friends (they are also professionals working in the industry) and passionate supporters of the project. When you work on a Drew Rosas film, you are not doing it for the paycheck, you are doing it for the amazing experience and adventure that will undoubtedly ensue. If you make it fun, your crew will bend over backwards for you.

How do you handle rejection?

I am always growing as an artist and a filmmaker. Every project I make is bigger and better than the previous. So by the time someone has rejected my work, I’m probably years beyond it already on a professional and emotional level. It does not really bother me. Everyone has different tastes and different senses of humor, if anything, I chalk it off to a difference of opinion and keep a positive outlook on my next project.

Did you always want to be a filmmaker?

When I was really little, I wanted to be a trucker. I don’t’ know why exactly. I guess I just really loved going on road trips with my family and seeing the country that way. I started making movies, like many filmmakers, in my parents basement with my close friend and brothers. Our first serious video project was a sketch comedy show called “In The Bucket”. Just found the tape of this recently and it took me back. I continued making films all the way through high school but it was always just a fun way to get extra credit for a class or make something with my friends. After high school I decided NOT to go to college and took a year off. I worked some shitty jobs and partied a ton. It was in this year that I realized… if I was ever going to succeed at a career, it would have to be something I loved to do so much that the time spent would not be a chore but pleasure. Filmmaking and music were the only two things for me at the time, so I enrolled in film school and haven’t stopped making film since.

What inspired you to become filmmaker?

Well, watching movies of course. It was really a bug that I caught when it dawned on me that someone was behind the camera creating the stories I loved so much. As a child, this was a profound moment. I tried to make a movie and it worked. I would try to make a special effect and it would almost work. So I would figure out a different way to make something work. Once I discovered camera tricks and editing, the rest was just a blast. There is always someway to improve or something to create that you never thought of before. I got hooked and I am still hooked today, more than ever.

 What is the best thing about being one?

I could never subject myself to the routine 9-5 workday. I would much rater work 12 hour days doing something new and exciting. The time passes much faster. This need for diversity is just one of the results of being an unmediated ADD case from the 80s. Everyday on set is a new location, with a new list of challenged and an entirely new adventure. It keeps everything interested and makes me into a creative problem solver.

 What is the worst thing about being one?

Stress and anxiety. There is so much unbelievable pressure when you are in charge of a film project. You have 20 or more people looking to you for the answers to all their questions. You have investors that are trusting you to make something amazing with their money. There is a tight shooting schedule that has to line up day-by-day for months and tons of unforeseen problems. Some women describe a moment of euphoria directly after childbirth when they hold their baby in their hands and forget about all the pain and trouble they went through over the past 9 month. The same goes for filmmaking. When it is all over and you are watching it on the big screen, you forget the horrible parts and all you want to do is make another one.

What is the estimated number of projects you have worked on?

If you count short films, commercials and friend’s projects probably well over 100. I’m not keeping track.

 Who is your favorite filmmaker?

The greats are all great for their own reasons. The current filmmakers that I am most excited about are Paul Thomas Anderson and The Cohen Brothers.

 How has your life changed since you became a filmmaker?

I have always been a filmmaker so that is hard to say. It feels like this is just a way of life for me. I can’t really remember a time where I wasn’t working on some kind of film project.

 What is one piece of advice you can give to someone who also wants to make it in the movie business?

Don’t try to “make-it” in the film industry. You should only get into the world if you love making films so much that it is the only thing you know to do with yourself. I haven’t “made it” and I don’t plan to. I just plan to keep doing what I love.

What do you like to do besides filmmaking?

I am a musician. I have always used music as a form of instant gratification as an artist. Filmmaking takes years of hard work to finish a project. Whenever it is getting overwhelming, I love being able to just pick up a guitar and writing a song in the moment. Then get back to work.

Have you had any other jobs before you decided to become a filmmaker?

I used to be a pizza delivery driver for about 4 years. It was actually a pretty decent job for a teenager in a small town. Made good money and got to cruise around town all night listening to music. Seems so easy compared to what I do now.

How would you describe your film education?

I studied film at the University of Wisconsin: Milwaukee, a school with a strong support of experimental filmmaking. This was an incredible program for someone like me because it allowed me to gain exposure to all kinds of films and filmmakers I would not have other wise. I created several experimental shorts and experimental narrative projects before I started making straight narrative films. Unlike most Hollywood film schools,
UWM teaches students how to make a film independently, through each step of the process from conception to completion. This is the basically filmmaking method I still use today.

What is the casting process like?

I really like to cast friends or friends of friends if they have what it takes for a part. If you can write a role for someone that is already half way there in their real life it will make my job as a director and their job as an actor much easier on set. Otherwise, I have actually had a large amount of success casting using craigslist. It is free and you only get people that are super serious about dedicating time to a project.

 How would you describe the film "scene" where you live?

In LA, everyone works in the entertainment industry, or at least most people you meet. It becomes a little cliché to call yourself “a filmmaker” or “a director”. Out there everyone is in it to win it and the rat race is a little overwhelming. I try not to make it the center of conversation. I’m more interested in the Milwaukee film scene. Here there are dozens of artist, filmmakers, musicians all living passionately for their respective arts. My goal is always to surround myself with the most talented and enthusiastic people and get them to collaborate with me on something bigger.

What's your opinion on crowdfunding?

Kickstarter has allowed me to raise nearly $15,000 for Billy Club. This is incredible! A few years ago I would be charging this on my credit card, so how could I not love crowdfunding? There are so many people in my life that want to pitch in and help out with a project. Crowdfunding allows them to all throw in on one project and piles little bits of donations into something bigger and better.

 You could go back in time and see any film being made. Which film would it be and why?

Star Wars. No doubt.

 What is your opinion on movie remakes and sequels?

I’m not a huge fan of remakes and reboots. To me is seems like a pretty obvious attempt by a giant Hollywood studio to try and squeeze some more money out of a dying franchise. Sometimes they are pretty great, most of the time they are pretty horrible and a shadow of the original. Sequel are okay. That is a big part of the American cinema tradition. I mean what would Friday the 13th be with out 9 or 10 sequels?

What is your opinion on book to movie adaptions?

The book is almost always better in my opinion. I don’t think the page necessarily translates to the screen. I’m more interested in original screenplay work because it was written for the motion picture medium.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Thank you very much for the opportunity! If anyone out there is passionate and interested in supporting “microbudget” independent filmmaking please visit www.BillyClubMovie.com and click on kickstarter to pledge your support for my next project. $25 buys you a copy of the DVD when it is finished.

Thanks for doing the interview Drew. I'm going to check out "Blood Junkie" in the near future. Keep me posted on the status of "Billy Club". I wish you the best of luck with your campaign