Thursday, 2 May 2019

5 Things I Learnt From Producer Brandon Waites

Into The Script's assistant - Laila Resende brings today's interview, with Producer and Co-Founder of The Film Empire - Brandon Waites. Brandon is currently running the campaign for upcoming horror Director Matt Sears, and his latest short film 'My Friend The Demon' - which has Mama star Javier Botet and Les Miserables actress, Isabelle Allen attached. 

Brandon shares exactly why he believes social media has been instrumental in finding a fantastic team of other writers and filmmakers to collaborate on the project, as well as why he believes a good indie-film still has commercial power in comparison to their blockbuster competitors. 

Let's hand over to Laila and Brandon! 

1- As a producer, you team up with independent filmmakers to help their passion projects become a reality. As opposed to million-dollar horror blockbusters, why would you say well-produced indie films have the ability to affect the audience just as much?

First, thank you for having me. I think Hollywood producers like Jason Blum and Oren Peli have really revolutionized the industry for independent filmmakers.  

There are so many opportunities with technology and social media now to get independent films made. With well-produced indie films, there’s more creative freedom for the filmmakers to try things that they think may work.  

I think artistically, it allows for filmmakers to attempt non-traditional methods that the studio heads may otherwise not approve.

Filmmakers like George Lucas had issues with the studios back when he was starting out. That’s why he financed Star Wars franchise from his own pockets.  

In our current era, it’s even easier to pick up a camera, find some great unknown talent, editing software and tell stories that can capture the audience’s attention.    

2- Your current horror short, My Friend The Demon, is written and directed by Matt Sears and gathers well-known talent heavyweight—creature actor Javier Botet and Oscar-winning  makeup artist David Marti, to name a few. How did you guys manage to assemble such amazing cast & crew?

I have been networking since 2009 and it has been growing upon itself.

After getting my bachelor’s in business, I reached out to Hollywood producer Chris Bender of Benderspink.  I was lucky to have him offer me an internship which I jumped on.

It was a great learning experience for me. Not long after that I co-founded MixKnowledgy and The Film Empire with my business partner Erman Baradi.  MixKnowledgy held industry mixers/panels within intimate settings for our audiences of filmmakers.

The Film Empire holds contests for writers, directors, composers and cinematographers that allows them to submit their material for the chance to win mentorship meetings.  Doing all of these things has enabled us to increase our network of collaborators.

By utilizing my network, I’ve been reaching out and discussing collaborations with people I want to work with.  Javier was perfect for the demon in My Friend the Demon so I asked Matt, did you want him?  He said “yeah!” I began my outreach and got him.

I also reached out to Isabelle Allen’s management team to see if she’d be on board.  They sent her the script and BOOM...she liked it!  

3- You and Matt aren’t the only people behind MFTD—you’ve put together a team consisting of remote and on-site members to hype up the film and its crowdfunding campaign. How important do you think social media is for campaigning and creating connections?

I have an amazing group people working with me for My Friend the Demon.

They’re all essential in helping get My Friend the Demon made. They’re handling the graphics, social media, emails, perks, etc.  They’re all important to the process of making the story come to life and I appreciate the time they all are putting in.

The cool thing is that our team is making this movie from different places in the world.  I have people all over ranging from London, South Carolina, Arizona, California, Brazil, etc. I keep saying it but technology and social media is making it easier than ever to connect with like-minded individuals to do whatever you set your mind to.  That has been my trick to doing things and using it to our advantage.

4- You are the co-founder of The Film Empire, alongside producer Erman Baradi. TFE hosts numerous filmmaking and screenwriting contests for entrants all over the world. What’s the importance of embracing cultural diversity in the film industry?

The Film Empire has been fun.

It’s a great program that Erman and I started to open doors for up and coming screenwriters & filmmakers who want to find mentors in the industry.

The importance of cultural diversity is very import.  Everyone has a story to tell and they’re just as important in being told as the superhero movies.

That’s the great thing for independent filmmakers is we have the means of finding a stories that aren’t necessarily familiar to the market.  You can find diverse stories with strong cultural differences and they can become Oscar contenders.

Hollywood has recognized that these movies are becoming meaningful and as a society, we want to hear them. These stories a fresh breath of air from these Hollywood blockbusters & tentpole films that have been thrown our way and Hollywood has realized this. It’s why independent films movies like The Florida Project, Moonlight, Slumdog Millionaire and Fruitvale Station and such have found success.

Screenwriters and filmmakers have recognized they can now embrace cultural diversity by telling original stories to a mass audience with favorable responses.   

5- What’s your advice for independent filmmakers who work on tight budgets, but still want to get their idea out of the script?

Working on tight budgets can be stressful.  As producers, our job is to find solutions.

There is always room for compromise.  

So if something isn’t working out or is too expensive, find that solution to make things work.  You hear horror stories of producers freaking out because things aren’t going their way...that won’t solve anything.

Find alternative methods and stay level-headed. Things will work out.

Laila shares all of Into The Script's news on her Instagram page (@lailarsnde) and Facebook.

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