Monday, July 28, 2014
Tío Louie Reporta: RASHAAD ERNESTO GREEN and REINALDO MARCUS GREEN
HOLA is proud to present Tío Louie Reporta, where filmmaker and Executive Producer of Prime Latino Media, Louis Perego Moreno (also known as Tío Louie) interviews actors and multimedia-makers in the business.
In this edition, Tío Louie interviews filmmakers (and brothers) Rashaad Ernesto Green (Gun Hill Road, an episode of NBC's "Grimm") and Reinaldo Marcus Green (Stone Cars), who together have created Green Brothers Films. The interview took place at the July edition of the Prime Latino Media Salón (presented by Tío Louie, HOLA and United Latino Professionals-New York) on Thursday, July 23, 2014 at Meridian 23 Bar and Lounge in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood. He asked the Green Brothers about their recent work, their philosophies regarding casting and even their $0.10 worth (what used to be known as your opinion, or your "two cents", but has since risen in price due to inflation) about the importance of creating a community of artists.
Is it about brotherly love or a recurring theme among Latino multimedia-makers and actors who have attained success? Sticking together and the old adage that “two heads are better than one” is not only pragmatic, but it’s a proven business model. It’s about getting projects accomplished well and through a tight-knit circle that can lead to rightfully securing opportunities in front and behind the camera. As they were introduced at the last PRIME LATINO MEDIA Salón, the 19th Century was for the Brothers Grimm, but the 21st Century belongs to Brothers Green – Rashaad Ernesto and Reinaldo Marcus. Their father firmly set the tone many years ago, “You’re brothers... you have only each other... stick together.”
Meet the two brothers who are blazing trails successfully in their own respective way and collaboratively as proven recently with the acceptance of their film project, Big Man, at New York’s Independent Film Project (IFP) in the Project Forum for September 2014.
Being our brothers’ and sisters’ keeper is more than a philosophical belief; it’s an essential business principle that drives our community in order to gain an edge ensuring a great degree of success. These were the pearls of wisdom they shared at the event.
• Reinaldo, what prompted your career change into filmmaking? I was Director of Talent, Acquisition & Diversity at AIG. It was a great role and I was making nice money. Diversity is tricky when it comes to the corporate world. There was lots of window dressing, which happens in many of these departments. I had gone through a break-up with a girlfriend and then wondered if something happened to me, what would define my life? My brother at the same time was making his feature film, Gun Hill Road. I was 27, 28 [years old] and wondered what other options were out there. I came across the NYU website and explored getting an MBA and MFA and thought I could leverage my corporate experience and merge it with the film side. I felt NYU was the best film school. I had to make a short film with my brother and someone else. I had a friend act in it. I didn’t think I would get in and then I did and had to make a decision. I figured I was young enough and did not have a family and that was 3.5 years ago and I have not looked back.
• Rashaad, explain how you got the opportunity to direct episodic television on "Grimm" for NBC when executives don’t like to gamble with a $4-5 million budget for one program? They have a valid concern. It takes a pro to be in there and deliver a show on time. It’s fast-paced and stressful. You have a responsibility for 100 people. If you don’t have a feature that can demonstrate your ability it’s difficult. My agent had forewarned me that it would be difficult to direct for TV. He felt that it would be easier to direct a second film. Many of the showrunners and networks rely on the Old Boys Club. That is the business formula and it’s not going to change. But we need to be improving our game and producing great works to prove that you’re cut out for it. I wound up recommending a fellow filmmaker from a 2009 New York International Latino Film Festival. She thanked me for the letter of recommendation that helped her with the Emerging Writers Fellowship at NBC-Universal and she suggested that based on Gun Hill Road, which she loved, that I should participate in the NBC-Universal’s Directing Diversity Fellowship.
• Reinaldo, as a narrative film director how did making Stone Cars, your short film set in Africa, tap your casting capabilities? As a young filmmaker the assumption is that you always need a star aligned with a film. If you look at the basic human instinct that anybody can be an actor, that’s how the non-traditional form of casting was helpful in this process. We used non-professional actors and made them professional. The acting is superb, because they desire to act. They study theater and they want to be acting. This film gave them a platform. When I ride the train in NYC, there could be someone who fits a part. It’s about keeping an open mind and someone who has a burning desire to engage in the arts can also do it given the right platform. Which of my professional colleagues in the business world would have thought four years ago that I would be having the filmmaking career I have now. It’s about keeping your eyes open. You never know where you will get a story or actor.
• Rashaad, what do you look for when casting? I look for truth. And that goes from the second that they enter the room. It’s how they present themselves, before they even read anything. Are they putting on a show or are they being a human being? It’s okay to be nervous, because it shows truthfulness. Sometimes actors feel that they have to blow you out of the room and you never got to the real them. I like actors that are grounded. Familiarity with the material is a major plus. It’s okay to look down at the paper– as long as they keep the pace alive. As soon as they start and stop and apologize and have to start again, it’s awkward for the two of us.
• Reinaldo, how was going to the Cannes Film Festival with your short film, Stone Cars? It’s the cream of the crop. They do take care of the filmmakers there. It is a spectacle. It’s everything you can imagine a film festival can be. They care about the film and the filmmakers. They care about your future. It’s about the film and the actual work that goes into it. It’s amazing. It’s inspiring for someone who goes there. I am over the moon that I was selected. I try to analyze, was it luck or did I deserve it? I have to enjoy and believe that I deserved to be there and they made me feel that way. I was one of 16 films from a total of 1,600 films submitted.
• Rashaad, what are your $0.10 worth of wisdom in regard to the importance of community and networking for someone’s career in our industry? It’s who you know. That’s how this business works. Your work speaks for itself. People like helping people that they like and that is very important in this industry. I would be remiss, when it comes to my brother. It was my father who instilled that philosophy with us growing up. He always said that you only have one brother. He had only one brother. We would bicker as children and he would always say, “You only have one brother.” We lost our father last year. He was a single father. We’re very blessed to carry his legacy as we continue in our careers.
• Reinaldo, why a production company with your brother? My brother is the whole reason I have entered this field. I have read all of his scripts and every iteration. I knew him when he was acting. When I see others with their own business or family-owned business and then I thought, “Why can’t I?” Moreover, if I had to open this business, why not with my brother and what would it be? And that’s where the idea arose, “Why don’t we make films together?” I was around while he was making his feature-length film, Gun Hill Road, and it was a grueling experience. I then thought, “Why can’t I make his experience better by supporting him through the process– and to make our own films and content? How can we join forces– two are always better than one? The happiest day in my brother’s life was the day I got into film school. However, there are risks and we are brothers and I don’t ever want this business relationship to put that brotherhood at risk. But we’re grounded. We are a team and whatever we produce, we put time and effort into it– rendering quality that is well thought out.
For more information about Green Brothers Films, click here.
To see more photos from this event, click here.