By: Jacob Elyachar, jakes-take.com
What would happen if you accidentally found yourself on a film set?
Brian Raider turned that accident into an opportunity, when he traded in his financial career at Wells Fargo and JP Morgan for various production jobs. Some projects included stints on the production teams of Judge Joe Brown, Judge Judy, Hannah Montana and Germany’s Next Topmodel.
Early in the 2010s, he formed his own company: Northfield Films. He produced numerous films such as Grey Skies, Uncle Melvin’s Apartment and the Americons. In addition, Brian also continued on numerous television projects such as Fuse Network’s G-Thing and the Velocity Network’s Car Crazy.
In this edition of A Conversation, Brian opened up about the decision of starting his own company, his thoughts on where he sees film and television going in the Digital Age and his latest project: 6 Days Watching.
Jacob Elyachar: When did you get interested in working in the entertainment industry?
Brian Raider: I was interested in working in the entertainment industry, while I was working at Wells Fargo. I landed on a film set and gave the producer my 30-second elevator pitch. I told him that I always wanted to be in the entertainment industry and after I convinced him, he offered me a job on the spot. While I was working on that film, I bumped into three other producers that were scouting for locations. Before I knew it, I had producer credentials on two back-to-back films.
When the Writers’ Strike happened in 2006, I transitioned into Reality TV, became a producer and continued to build my credits from there.
JE: What were some of the most interesting projects that you worked on?
BR: The biggest (and most exciting) project for me was when I worked with Steven Spielberg and George Lucas on Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. They filmed in Connecticut and I got to work with them. That film is the biggest budget production that I worked on. It was in the range of $300 to 400 million. One of the more fun projects that I worked on was Grey Skies. The film was shot in Michigan in 2010 and it focused on aliens.
JE: What lessons did you learn from your experiences that helped further your career?
BR: I like to surround myself with positive people that love what they do. For me, I love the art of filmmaking and the entire creative process that goes with it. If people are not into it, it will show in their work.
JE: How important is it in Hollywood to have a diverse set of skills in order to gain employment?
BR: At first, I think it is imperative to have a diverse set of skills in your toolbox when you are starting out. But, once you move on up and have an agency or director that supports you, you will be able to develop careers in Hollywood.
JE: When did you decide to form your company: Northfield Films? What were the challenges that your company faced? How did you overcome them?
BR: I started Northfield Films in 2010. My company provides a diverse group of services for our clients. We produce music videos, commercials, films and reality shows. I think that the challenges are all on me. When I first started my career, I did whatever gig I could get. Now, I am being very selective in the projects that I choose. I choose films that I am very passionate about and not films that are focused on money or going into production right away.
JE: Let’s talk about your project: “6 Days Watching.” Could you please describe the project to my readers? How is it similar or different to previous projects?
BR: I optioned the script a year-and-a-half ago from Scott Longnecker, who became a good friend of mine. It was the first time; I wanted to option the script instantaneity, after I read it. At that point, I needed to get a director involved in the process. During that time, I was working on a movie called the Americons with Jon Gries, which will hit theaters later this year. He has been in over 145 films and while I worked with him on set, I told him: “I have a role that I think you would be great at.” I sent him the script and he told me: “I like it, and I was wondering if I could direct it?”
We talked about keeping the budget within a million dollars. The budget is within the low-budget side, which is big enough to get some names…but small enough that investors are willing to put up that kind of money. I have sent the film to 10 producers and seven financiers to get the movie underway. While Jon directed the teaser, my company shot it, hired all the crew and casted look-alikes for the roles.
JE: What direction do you see film and television going in the Digital Age?
BR: Everything is going digital! Netflix has several successful series including House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. More television shows are going into that digital portal. In addition, a lot more movies are being streamed online or virally within all of the distribution channels. I think that there will still be films out and television shows to occupy the time slots, but there is more to be done with digital content, because it is going to be cheaper to produce these products.
JE: If you had the chance to meet with hopefuls who want to go into the entertainment industry, what advice would you share with them?
BR: It is interesting that you asked me that, I did an interview three years ago with my old high school newspaper. They asked me the exact same question. I told them: “Get your ass to LA, as soon as you can.” I think I would have been further ahead, if I went out there earlier. While I was in New York City for three-and-a-half years, I was only able to work on a few film and television projects, If I moved out to Los Angeles quicker, I would have been surrounded by managers, actors, production companies and studios. My recommendation is go out there! You do not have to go to USC, UCLA or film school. You just need to be surrounded by the people who are doing what you want to do.
To learn more about Brian and Northfield Films, visit their website: http://www.northfieldfilms.com/