Richard Janes, husband, father, director, writer, actor and FIB founder.The Movie Whore no comments
I recently had the chance to talk with Richard and it was a great conversation. We talked about movies, the state of the film industry and what led him to create Film Industry Bloggers (FIB) with his wife Amy. Come take a trip with me to learn more about this remarkable filmmaker.
TMW: What led you to create the FIB?
RJ: It was a number of things, the catalyst being the recent writers strike. A group of us that were struggling were very nervous about what was going on. Instead of going out for breakfast and spending money we hosted at each others homes. So very quickly because we have the kids it became our house where everyone would come to for Sunday breakfast. When it started there were six of us and when we were at our height we were at about 20 people.
They would all come over and we would talk about what was going with the writers strike, what the stories were people were hearing from the picket lines. There these brilliant stories about how different movies got made and the difficulties with his or difficulties with that. One of my partners was having a hard time because while she was working as head of development for a big name producer she had to drive by the picketers, some of whom were her friends. She would want to have lunch with these friends but they would not meet her in public because they did not want to be seen as crossing the picket as it were having lunch with a development exec.
So there were all these really cool stories and I said here " this is so useful for every one to hear and if more people understood what was going at the time of the strike and had a grasp for point of view for what people were going through. There was a production assistant that had no work. You get in this situation where you are living from week to week paycheck to paycheck. Suddenly you are out of work for a month and you can't pay the rent. Some of the writers had a good pot of money and could cope with it. It was everyone else that was being affected.
I thought if there a strike situation again, wouldn't it be great if there a place where you could to hear from all the people working in the film industry.
TMW: That in itself is a great story. Was there anything else that influenced you into creating the FIB?
RJ: I grew up in the industry as an actor and one of the wonderful things about that is that as an actor I could ask any question of any one I wanted. Because I was actor they could never tell me to shut up and go sit in the corner. They would always answer me. There are very few positions on a film set where you can get away with asking questions. Really it is the actors and the director. As a director hopefully you know enough by that time that you are not asking those questions but as a 14 year old kid I was asking loads. I realize coupling those 2 together where so many people that want to be in the industry can learn about what a key grip really does. Most people wouldn't have a clue or some people that want to write can learn and ask questions of a real screenwriter "How long was it to get your first film sold?" and get a real answer.
Then also for those people in the industry to have empathy and understand what others in the industry are going through. It's amazing how a director of photography, how a production designer, and how a studio exec know what other people do but don't really understand it fully. I think if you can introduce that level of understanding it can really cut away a lot of the shit in the industry which will make for making films in a better way with a nicer environment.
TMW: That is sounds like something that is needed in the industry as much as it is educational for those outside looking in. It is kind of what I try to do with a lot of my interviews, you know get that inside look on what really happens and what it really takes to get a film made.
As we move on the next question I have is more about you and your past. You started as an actor and then became a director. What spurred that transition and what was it like to make that transition?
RJ: There were 2 things. How I got into acting was my dad was a caterer and at the age of ten there was open air theater in Wimbledon and I would go watch the rehearsals of operas and Shakespeare and such and I saw these gorgeous girls in costumes and though that was fantastic, then I saw the director with he power and giving them direction and what have you. My initial thought was I want to be a star, I want to be an actor. So I caught some ones agent why they were rehearsing. I asked "How do I become an actor and he gave the name of an agency. My mom and day said there was no way I was going to become an actor. They wanted me to have proper career. At 13 I snuck away and auditioned for an agent and he took me on and I went to my parents and said "I have got an agent."
They told me my grades needed to improve and I said "Well I have an audition on Friday can I go and do that and I promise my grades will improve."
So I went to the audition I got the job my grades picked up a month later and started doing great because I was working all hours to do so and I was acting. My first job was a small British kids drama and then a BBC kids drama and I was in a group of 15 other kids and I was probably a foot taller than the other kids. It had been 2 months since I had been cast. The director pulled me aside and told me "Look you are the oldest and when we cast you, you were shorter and you have gone through a growth spurt. The reason I have cast you in this is because I want all the other kids to look up to you. So when we have to get serious about acting and we have to get serious and shoot I need you to be really serious because all the other kids are going to look to you. You are going to their leader and they are going to look to you and they are going to want to be like you.
I said "That's fine"
He said "But I can't put the camera on you too much because you are too big but we are going to cheat some stuff and don't worry we are going to use you but I need you to know you are going to be leading the kids."
I said "Thanks thanks very much"
He said "Is there is there anything you are going to need from me?"
"Well I would to love to learn about how all this works because I know nothing."
He said "Fine you do you 3 hours of tutoring a day and then you can come and I will put you in a different department."
I went back to the hotel and I got up at 3 am and did 3 hours worth of work and showed up at the studio handed it to the tutor and said "This everything I have done"
She said "Wow you got up early this morning."
I said " Do you agree this is 3 hours worth of work?"
She said "Yeah absolutely"
"So I don't have to anymore today."
"No that's fine"
So I went to the director and told him I had finished my work for the day and asked what I could for the day. He put me with the camera team for a week and then the sound team and the week after that the production designer and eventually I was sitting there in the producers office and they said "look it is amazing how much you are taking in and you are enjoying this and the fact you are doing all this work early in the morning. Why don't you go back to school since we are finishing this week. Why don't you come up once a week and sit in the edit room."
That is what I did. From that moment on I knew that I wanted to be a director. I continued acting til the age of 19 because it always gave me that chance to be on set and ask those questions no one else could really ask. The last thing I did was an A&E drama called Longitude with Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon. I told Charles Sturridge, the director, this what I want to do and talked to the producer Selwyn Roberts. He is the top line producer in England. If there are any kind of big projects like X-men or Pearl Harbor or anything that needs to be shot they always go to this guy to organize it for them. I told him I wanted to go to film school and I wanted to be a director.
To get the rest of this interview tune in tomorrow for more with FIB founder Richard Janes. This is also the kick off to FIB week with The Movie Whore. Be prepared for a week of interviews and one film review to wrap the week up. This is an education you don't want to miss. In the mean time here is a list of the founders and partners in FIB
Richard Janes - President / Co-Founder
Richard has a degree in professional broadcasting and has spent the last ten years working in both traditional and new media. In 2003 he raised $1.8 Million to shoot his first feature film, FAKERS, which received its US theatrical release in 2007. Shortly after he co-produced and directed his first television pilot, a rockumentry series called BEHIND THE LYRICS, which won him a Los Angeles EMMY. In 2007 he produced over 1200 clips to launch Mogreet Inc a new mobile video messaging company based out of Venice California which is backed by the Draper Fischer Jurvetson Frontier Fund. Before launching the Pro Bloggers Network Richard spent time developing online content for Disney, ABC and the Huffington Post as well as producing the 2008 webby honoree webseries DORM LIFE.
Amy Janes - Vice President / Co-Founder
Amy is a UCLA graduate of the Producers program and ran the Paramount Pictures-based film department of Parkchester Pictures. At Parkchester, Amy developed both independent and studio feature films with her most recent credit being the feature length documentary AS SEEN THROUGH THESE EYES with Myer Angelo narrating. Subsequently she has returned to her roots of education and now specializes in the producing of social awareness documentaries. Amy blogs as 'The Documentary Producer' for FIB.
Sasha Mervyn - Board Member / Co-Founder
Sasha Mervyn has an honors BA in Modern European History from Harvard University and an MFA in Motion Picture Producing from the Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California. Upon graduation from Harvard, Sasha was a product manager for MicroStrategy a leading provider of business intelligence, performance management, and dashboard reporting solutions. She then consulted for Bearing Point (formerly KPMG Consulting), one of the world's leading management and technology consulting companies. She left consulting to get her MFA, after which she has worked her way up through the film and television industry. She is currently the Director of Development for Sony Pictures-based Laura Ziskin Productions, best known for the successful Spider-Man movies and producing the Academy Awards (Oscars).
Jerry Offsay - Board Member / Co-Founder
Jerry Offsay is an independent film producer operating out of Los Angeles. Most recently he ex-produced the cross media webseries CARPOOL for Turner classics and consulted for LiquidGeneration.com an entertainment portal that receives over 5 million unique visitors per month and has 2 million weekly newsletter subscribers. Offsay holds a B.A. degree from Harpur College in New York and a J.D. from Columbia University Law School. He is currently on the Board of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation. In 1994 he joined Showtime Networks as President of programming and before that served as Executive Vice President at ABC Productions for Capital Cities/ABC Inc., and held the position of President at RKO Pictures. He began his career as an entertainment attorney for the Los Angeles law firm of Loeb & Loeb, where he was a partner.
Adam Asher - Board Member / Technical Consultant
Adam is a chartered computer software consultant with a diploma in financial markets and is certified by Microsoft as a solution developer. He specializes in web and windows application development alongside data integration services. Having worked for many blue chip companies including AMP Capital Investors, Henderson Global Investors, BUPA and Intuitive Systems Ltd, Adam now runs Blue Fish Software a Gold Certified Microsoft Partner and Small Business Specialist that offers a complete IT package to Small and Medium Sized enterprises as well as SEO and web development consultancy.