A great number of entertainment hopefuls want to be film producers but don’t quite understand
the job. Most people have no clue of the amount of “red tape” and hoops producers have to jump
through in order to get a film made. But in the case of film production partners, Nicole Rocklin and
Blye Faust, the picture is crystal clear.
I Am Entertainment spoke with Nicole and Blye to get a good understanding of what it takes to
make movies in today’s market, through the eyes of two of Hollywood’s brightest young filmmakers.
IAE: Can you please tell us where you’re from and what inspired you to pursue a career in
BF: Nicole grew up in Calabasas (California), but I’m originally from a small town in the state of Washington,
called Monroe. I don’t think either of us actually knew we’d end up in the film business. I went to college in the
San Francisco Bay Area and then came down to LA and entered law school at UCLA for Entertainment Law. I
did some acting for about a year before law school, and during that time I met a lot of people in the
entertainment business. A lot of them were in the film program at USC, so I got to work on various student
films. Upon graduating from UCLA with my law degree, I got a job with a large LA law firm. While I loved law
school, I didn’t like being an attorney; many of my friends at USC were established writers, producers, and
directors and their jobs looked a lot more fun than mine (laughs).
Nicole attended college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and at that time she was considering the music
business but hadn’t made any definitive decisions that she had to work in entertainment. After graduating
college, she came back to LA and was considering law school so she took up a job at an entertainment law
firm. She worked there for about 2 years because she wanted to be absolutely sure she wanted to practice
law. She found that her heart wasn’t really into entertainment law, but she still wanted to be a part of the
entertainment business so she got a job working at Jerry Bruckheimer’s production company. After working
there for a short stint she decided to try it out on her own.
IAE: When did Rocklin/Faust form and what were the early on challenges in establishing your
NR: We sold our first script to Alcon Entertainment (where we currently have our first look deal) like 4 years
ago, so we have been unofficially working together for about 4 years. After doing our first project with Alcon we
started putting more and more projects together. We felt that we had dated long enough, business wise, so
decided to make it official in fall 2009.
BF: In terms of difficulty, there are always challenges when you’re a producer on your own. Nicole and I were
young when we first started working in this business and we didn’t have a huge list of contacts, but you need
the contacts and a good slate of material in order to be taken seriously. No matter how aggressive, smart, and
hardworking you are, it takes a long time to build everything up.
NR: Even if you have great relationships and access to all these people and resources, it doesn’t happen
overnight. Speaking from experience, as a young producer I had a lot of great relationships with Literary
Agents, Directors, and the list goes on, but things didn’t happen as quickly as I thought they would. People told
me early on to give it 5 years to see a movie made, and I was like, “Yeah that’s not going to happen!” (laughs)
Blye and I have ‘Type A’ personalities, so we were working our butts off, but it still takes a really long time to
get movies made. Yes, it’s a glamorous business, but we don’t really go to premieres or spend our time trying
to do the “Hollywood” thing; for us, it’s about the work. I think a lot of people have this perception that everyone
in Hollywood is making a ton of money, but the truth is, if you want to make money don’t come to Hollywood
IAE: How do you select the projects you want to help to find financing for and produce?
NR: I think it’s changed for us over the years. We’ve had to change our mandate if we want to stay in business.
The mandate can’t just be what we love, but it has to be commercial comedies and thrillers. What we’ve really
figured out is that these properties have to be franchise worthy, based on underlying properties (i.e. well
known books or graphic novels or video games) and need to be packaged. It could also be a big idea that we
can create a graphic novel or video game from, and then we can exploit multi-platforms and avenues with it.
Now-a-days, a producer has to do a lot more up front work before pitching a film idea to a studio or a third
IAE: What do you mean by packaging a project?
BF: I think it depends on what type of a project it is. If it’s an independent film that’s not a release from Warner
Bros or one of the other major studios, oftentimes you need a budget, a director, and actors attached before
you hand it to a financier. Most of our projects, before they are sold to the studios or third party financiers,
have talent attached. In order for studios to acquire a project these days, they (studios) need to have a pretty
solid idea that they can make the film, because they’re hedging their bets.
IAE: What projects are you currently working on and when can we expect them in theaters?
BF: We have a project called ‘Wedding Banned,’ which is a project about these parents who kidnap their
daughter on the day of her wedding in order to prevent the marriage. We worked with two veteran Disney
writers, Jack Amiel and Michael Begler, to put the script together. The end result is that we sold it to Disney
about 18 months ago and it was one of the largest spec sales of the year. We are working with Mandeville
Films on it and they have their deal through Disney. In the project package, we attached Robin Williams, Diane
Keaton, and Anna Farris. Even then, it doesn’t mean the movie will get made right away either (in fact, with the
regime change at Disney, the project was put into turnaround, but we are working on finding a new home for
it). We love that project and it’s something that’s hugely commercial and is a major priority of ours.
We also have several other projects in the works that we’re very excited about.
IAE: What would you say has been the most rewarding aspect of your job?
NR: I think as young producers in the business, when you’re able to see your projects influence positive
change in the lives of others, it feels good. We’re not here to get rich and famous, we’re here to tell important
stories that are very meaningful and that inspire people.
BF: Nicole and I love our job and we have a lot of fun with it. It’s very rewarding to do what you love to do for a
living. Of course there is a lot of hard work involved, but at the end up day it is fun to be able to start from
scratch, come up with an idea, put it together, and then see it come to fruition.
IAE: If you could change anything about this business, what would it be and why?
BF: What wouldn’t we change (laughs)?! I think I would change the expectations and the remuneration for the
work producers do. Nicole and I always talk about how the amount of work that is expected to go into a project
before you even show it to a buyer, in terms of packaging, is insane. It takes an enormous amount of time and
effort to package a project, and unfortunately, even when you sell a project to a studio there’s only a small flat
$25,000 fee paid to the producers, across the board. If there are two producers, then you split that. What’s
worse is that you don’t get paid the entire amount upfront; it’s half now and half later. If your movie gets
“greenlit,” then you get your full fee which can be a nice salary. It’s daunting to see that the number of movies
actually in the theaters has shrunk due to studios cutting their slates down. So now you have a lot of wildly
talented people who should be doing film for a living, but they just don’t have the financial wherewithal to
sustain their daily expenses.
NR: I would also like to see the financial aspect of filmmaking change, because if it doesn’t, then only the
extremely wealthy will be able to survive as producers. If you look at the Oscars each year, only a handful of
the contenders for “Best Picture” are independents. When you only have a small group of people who can
afford to produce films, then you end up with a limited amount of creativity being expressed.
|Nicole Rocklin & Blye Faust, Film Producers
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