ProduChat – Shawn Angelski of Twin Engine Films

We’ve two great Interviews on The Movie Guide Blog today, why not wrap it off with a third, with the first of a series of new articals, ProducChat. ProduChat is where we speak to the producers of the films and I’m delighted to say that we are joined by Shawn Angelski of Twin Engine Films. Enjoy!

MG: First of all I wanted to know how you first became Interested in the Film Industry and what was your main inspiration to become a producer?
SA: I grew up in a very small town called Kaslo, In the Kootenay region of British Columbia (500-1000 people), and I had no idea that making movies was something that somebody could actually do for a living. When I was 16, a big Disney movie with Mark Harmon and a young Josh Jackson came to shoot in my town for the summer, and my friends and I got to be extras in the movie for the whole summer, and they paid us! The extra work was very boring, but I was very fascinated with all of the crew and equipment, it felt like such an amazing thing to do. I had no idea what I wanted to do in the film industry, but I knew I wanted to be involved.

MG: Apart from the Twin Engine projects that you’ve worked, was there anything that you worked on before?
SA: I have been working on music videos, commercials, TV Series, and feature films for the past 15 years. I’ve worked with some of Canada’s biggest artists including Michael Buble, Carly Rae Jepsen, Marianas Trench and Hedley. I produced 4 videos for Carly Rae Jepsen, and the video we made for “Call me Maybe” has become the #1 video in the world with over 500,000 views on the internet.  I’ve Produced over 100 music videos, several commercials and a mix of other types of shows like a sports MMA show, and a children’s TV show. I’ve pretty much done everything.

Now we’re going to talk to you a little a bit about Twin Engine Films.

MG: Can you first tell us how Twin Engine Films came to be?
SA: Twin Engine Films started as a loan out company for my own services as a Producer or Production Manager. The intention was to develop original content that Twin Engine could own a stake in, while keeping the bills paid working on others projects, which is something I still do. Grave Encounters was my first venture into original content partnering with the Vicious Brothers. We all invested in the project, and took no pay for making the film. Instead we all took back-end ownership. It paid off.

MG: When Researching about you’re company for this interview, I knew that you produced films but I didn’t know that you offered other services apart from feature films can you talk to us a little bit about your other work that you do?
SA: We offer a wide range of services to other filmmakers or Commercial clients. For Productions that wish to shoot in BC to take advantage of the locations, or tax credits, or both, we offer full production services. We make sure the production value is the highest possible for the budget. We have access to A level crews and have access to any piece of equipment you could ever need. I have a Twin Brother Dave, and he Produces all of the Music videos that we do now, and I have a network of Line Producers and Production Managers that I hire to execute any given project. There is no budget that we can’t tackle. I’ve done shoots that cost $4 Million and shoots that cost $10,000

MG: Can you talk to us about the partners that you work with, alongside Twin Engine?
SA: I have a few strategic partners, and am always looking to make new connections. My business partner is Martin Fisher (odpn.ca) who is a very smart guy and has a lot of skills I don’t have. The Vicious Brothers are my creative and business partners. I have been working with these guys for 10 years, as before the feature they worked in the commercial space making music videos and editing trailers. They have written 5 scripts and continue to delelop new ideas, not only for themselves to direct, but for other new filmmakers that we are supporting.

We have a great partnership with Tribeca Film in the USA. They are the only distributor that has fully collaborated with us on the release. We have great communication with them, which is important to us. We have partnered with Arclight Films on Grave 1 and 2 for our foreign sales.

Now we’re going to talk a little about Grave Encounters!

MG: Grave Encounters, is now one of my favourite found footage horrors can you talk to us about the whole experience of Grave Encounters?
SA: The first Grave Encounters was made on a very small budget. It was our first self-made feature, so we called on a lot of people to help us out. We knew how to execute, and we shot the film in 12 nights. It was very non-complicated, as it was our own money and we didn’t have a lot of pressure to deliver. It was almost an experiment to see if we could do it. Once we had finished it, we knew we had something special. At first we were rejected by Distributors and Film Festivals in Canada, nobody thought it would go anywhere. We decided to shop it around LA, and we also got rejected by a lot of US distributors, but we knocked on a lot of doors, and started to get interest.

One day we got a call from the Tribeca Film Festival, because the Fest programmers loved the film. The Tribeca Film Distribution is a separate company, so they requested a screener from us, and once they viewed it we had an offer for US Distribution. All of a sudden we started to get interest from around the world. It actually took almost a year to get a distributor to license it for the UK. Overall it has been a great learning experience, as I got to do a lot of things you don’t do when you are just servicing a production and we’ve gained amazing relationships along the way.

Grave 2 was a whole different experience. We managed to pre-sell several territories including the UK and US, however we had to finance these sales through the Bank along with our Canadian Tax Credits. This was a very difficult and stressful process, but a great learning experience. The big difference is the amount of people that are now involved, and the fact that we had a delivery date for the film, which we didn’t have on the first one. On Grave 1 we got to tweak it until we were happy, on Grave 2 we were making changes right up until we had to deliver and got the Masters flown in right on our deadline. We are very happy with how it turned out.

MG: If you were on Set, could you tell us a little bit about what it was like on a set of the film?
SA: Being on set for me is mostly relaxing, except for bursts of moments where decisions have to be made very fast. The first few days are always hectic until you get the groove going. We work with a lot of talented people, which is the key to great execution. Of course things go wrong, and you get behind, so decisions have to be made on what has to be cut or changed in order to make the day. As Producer all the Major decisions flow up to me, so I’m never dealing with just simple problems. I have to make hard decisions that affect the budget, because we only have so much money. Half way through the shoot we lost 2 major locations, and we had to scramble to find new ones, which was very stressful. We were constantly fighting the budget on this film, as we were pushing it as far as we could to get the highest production value. Our whole budget is up on the screen.

MG: Can you tell us what it was like to work with the Vicious Brothers on Grave Encounters?
SA: It is great working with those guys because they are very driven, and know exactly what they want. They are also very multi talented, as they direct, write, edit and do VFX themselves. These guys push themselves harder than anyone else I have ever worked with, and they care deeply about the quality. They also care a lot about the marketing of the film, which is rare. They cut the trailers and make all of the posters themselves. We’re all friend as well, so there is no bullshit allowed.

MG: If you can, Can you tell us a little bit about the cast and crew that worked on the film and what where they like to work with?
SA: We always work with great people, because we get to choose who we work with. Many of the crew are crew we have been working with for several years, and some of the crew were new to us. The cast were all great. We had a very small budget, so there were no trailers or perks and no egos. They had to get themselves to set, and share a greenroom. The performances were all amazing and they were all excited to be on set everyday.

MG: I know that I’m very excited for Grave Encounters 2; can you talk to us a little about that without going into much detail?
SA: This film starts out as a college comedy, and is really funny… then it turns into a really scary ride of a movie. I’m very excited for people to see the film, because I think it is a serious level up from the first Grave Encounters without changing what made it special. It has a very unexpected twist in the 3rd act that changes everything and I think will be completely unexpected. It’s an entertaining movie, and I’m really looking forward to see how the audience likes it.

Thanks for Shawn for taking the time out to talk to us!, Join us again soon for another interview in ProduChat on The Movie Guide Blog.

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