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Vanessa McMahon

Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)



Interview with Producer Bobby Rock

Interview with Producer Bobby Rock at 2019 AFM
A veteran in the film industry, Bobby Rock currently heads acquisitions at Lightning Entertainment Group.  Previously he was Senior VP of Acquisitions at Eric Doctorow’s Random Media.  Prior to that Rock was Head of Acquisitions at Echo Bridge Entertainment for six years (2008-2014).  For the previous eight years (1999-2007) Rock was at Francis Coppola’s American Zoetrope as Senior V.P. of Production and Development, Rock has guided PUMPKIN, JEEPERS CREEPERS II, and KINSEY through to completion, as well shepherding the development of the adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On The Road and several short stories from American Zoetrope's All-Story magazine. Before Zoetrope, Rock worked as a V.P of Acquisitions at Trimark Pictures (EVE'S BAYOU, PHOENIX), Triton Pictures (A BRIEF HISTORY OF TIME, HEART OF DARKNESS), and Atlantic Releasing (WISH YOU WERE HERE).
In a recent interview with Bobby during AFM, here is what he had to say:
How long does it take to produce an indie film today?
BOBBY: The length of making an indie film can be years if you’re including the financing and development of the script.  If you’re talking about the average length of the shoot of indie film I would say 3-6 weeks, depending on the budget.
How do you pick the movies you want to work on?
BOBBY: As for how I pick the films I want to work on, I would say it’s a function of the script’s being great, emotional, truthful, and attracting cast.  Sometimes it hits me in the gut or the heart, and those are the best. 
How do you go about casting a film?
BOBBY: Usually casting is done by a trusted casting director, although quite often I enjoy the process of casting the lead role myself.  Of course it depends on the financing and the size of budget whether I can afford a casting director.  And whether I can afford to cast a famous actor.
Is it difficult or easier for producers today with new distribution modes? 
BOBBY: In some ways these days it’s easier for producers with new modes of distribution as the Netflixes and the Amazons and the Hulus seem to be injecting money into the system.  At the same time many studios have taken to making only tentpole films, and thus it is up to the smaller financing sources to pick up the slack.
Do you have any stories from filming that stick out the most?
BOBBY: All the stories of making my films stick out.  It will all be in my memoirs.  Honestly the films I’ve made have come off fairly smoothly.  Nothing really leaps out as especially significant during the making of those films.
How important is it to have a sales agent on board from the start?
BOBBY: It is important to have a sales agent on board if you, the producer, is not familiar with the various mechanics of putting finance together.  However, it is not important if you are already familiar with these mechanics.  I would recommend the first time filmmaker to have someone, whether it’s a sales agent or a lawyer or another producer, who is familiar with the seas that need to be navigated in putting your film on the right track.
How important is it for filmmakers to attend markets like AFM?
BOBBY: It is important for filmmakers to attend markets such as AFM to familiarize themselves with the foreign sales companies and the various financiers and bankers and production entities that also attend.  It’s a social occasion as well as a business occasion that can put you at ease with the process.
How was this AFM for you compared to others?
BOBBY: This year’s AFM has been the same as previous years.  All the usual suspects were present, and it was good to catch up with them.
What will you be working on next?
BOBBY: My partner and I have several films that I am trying to finance next.  One is a film about Sammy Davis Jr.’s affair with Kim Novak and how the studio head, Harry Cohn, tried to break it up.  It took Frank Sinatra’s intervention to save Sammy’s life, as Cohn put a hit out on Sammy in order to “save” Kim’s career.  We also have several screenplays that were Nichols award finalists written by women.
Interview by Vanessa McMahon



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