Can you tell us about La Rosa Productions, what you look for and what you do?
As an Executive Producer, my role varies with every project. Initially, I look for or to be associated with projects that not only have commercial value and viability, but also cultural importance or significance. If it’s not something that I wouldn’t want to watch, why would I want to be involved in it, right? Aside from the many coffee meetings (I don’t drink coffee either) and reading scripts, some of the things I do are prospect and seek out investment funds, assist with budgets, planning and permits, administration, strategy planning, marketing, sales and distribution as well as sourcing of crew. I like to be an active EP on film sets when I can, there’s nothing like the buzz of a film set, so happy to jump-in and assist directors, the crew and cast where required.
You started off as an actor, was it just circumstance that took you into producing?
I did, and I’m still acting when the work comes.
The inception of La Rosa Productions was in 2014, when I had an opportunity to be an Associate Producer on a then short film which very quickly grew into an iconic feature film called The Legend of Ben Hall. As a result, my position and responsibilities within the film then changed and I was subsequently one of the Executive Producers.
This sparked an interest within me as an alternate and viable path or avenue that I could take into film production and being involved in the industry from a very different perspective. I’d spent years in the corporate world and had utilised many different and valuable business skills, so here was an opportunity to utilise those skills within an industry that I am so passionate about.
Do you hope to continue to act?
I certainly do, but that of course is all dependent on how good my last audition was, right?!
How did RAGE come into your orbit? Was it a script that you then went to director John Balazs with?
RAGE came into my orbit through Matthew Theodorou, an actor that I had previously worked with several years ago on a short film. He updated me on everything he’s doing, which at that time was a new independent crime thriller feature film. One of their investors unfortunately had to pull out and Matt, knowing my involvement with The Legend of Ben Hall, mentioned my name to John Balazs, the director.
After an initial phone conversation with John, we met in person several times. I was given the script and all the production notes and budget. Due diligence was done, I spent a day on set whilst they were filming and wanted to be a fly on the wall so I could see just how smoothly and professionally his set and crew were. Needless to say, I’ve spent plenty of time on film sets over the years, so can definitely tell when it’s a well-oiled machine; in this case, I was very impressed. I agreed to step in and help out.
Not long after, John travleled to the USA to represent his previous film Night Shift which was nominated for no less than 5 awards, he ended up returning home with 5 victories. This confirmed to me that I had made the right decision to join John in bringing RAGE to audiences.
What do you think that John brought to the piece?
John has brought several things to RAGE. Firstly, he’s brought his immense passion for quality storytelling. Although RAGE is an Australian film, it’s very un-Australian in that it’s not the typical kind of film that is made here, despite it being the kind of film that audiences love to watch. So, in this sense, John is very visionary, he sees the big picture. He’s not making anything that’s politically correct or in vogue, he’s making what audiences want to see. Lastly, he’s bringing his professionalism. John has dedicated years of his life to making films and it shows, his films are getting better and winning awards and his sets are run like clockwork. The industry needs more people like John.
RAGE looks like a genre piece, however with something to say about our world. Can you comment?
RAGE tells the story of an everyday person in extraordinary circumstances. Circumstances that hopefully no one ever has to endure or experience. It tells the story about love, emotions and our impressions and judgements of other people, but with a twist. That’s all I can comment on for now.
Do you think that the film will resonate with local audiences, or will it be something that you think will be better embraced by more genre loving territories/markets?
Australia is an interesting market for homegrown content. We don’t want to be stereotyped to the world, but the films that have done this are still some of the most successful Australian films ever made. I feel that once RAGE is released to various overseas markets, the uptake and interest by Australian audiences will soon follow. Genre lovers will embrace it regardless, but I feel that to have a wider appeal, it would first need to spread its wings in other territories and markets before it will truly resonate locally. Only then will local audiences see that we too can make quality genre films.
In your blog piece you speak about the stop in production, and that there’s a need for content. Can you expand on that for us?
Unfortunately, for reasons outside of anyone’s control, the majority of the world has been hit with a pandemic and thousands of industries have come to a grinding halt. With the temporary restrictions of gatherings and social distancing, the film industry has been hit hard. At any one time across the world, there are thousands of film productions taking place in various stages of completion, this includes TV series, documentaries, reality, sports broadcasting and even short films. In an instant, virtually all of these productions have had to stop. So you combine this with the now increased and unprecedented need for content as most people are house-bound, it’s actually created an amazing opportunity for filmmakers like us who were fortunate enough to be in the final stages of post-production just as the pandemic approached our territory. We now have a completed and market-ready feature film available for sale and distribution in a market that desperately requires new content.
Do you think that RAGE is a film that would resonate with audiences right now, who are consuming content in a big way digitally, or do you hope that it will have a cinema run?
Genre films like RAGE will definitely resonate with audiences. Many people are afraid and unsure, they are experiencing unprecedented behaviours, new experiences and foreign feelings. Though RAGE is vastly different to what is currently happening in the world, many of the feelings are reliable and transferable and in that, would resonate with audiences. We of course were going and planning for a theatrical release, but as the current state of affairs has no definitive end point, it would be too risky to shelve the film and turn away any potential offers for sales and distribution. In fact, this would be the best time for us to guarantee a huge audience, bigger than any theatrical release could offer.
What’s coming up for La Rosa Productions?
Right now, I’m attached to or involved in several different projects, both feature films and documentaries. My recent involvement in the feature music documentary SUZI Q saw a successful world premiere in Melbourne and London and is set for release in the USA on July 1. There’s a documentary that we were planning to shoot around August, but that will most likely be pushed back now due to everything that’s happening. I also have some early involvement in several other productions, including some major international feature films. Money is what we need at this stage, so I’m more than happy to divulge more information to the right people or companies who are interested to collaborate.