~ CFDb Interviews Eric Bugbee
Eric Bugbee ~ Executive Producer/Director/Writer & Owner at Blue Trail Entertainment, Inc.
= > Can you tell us a little more about what you do? For example can you tell us what entails being an Executive Producer?
An Executive Producer (EP) is basically the person ultimately responsible for securing the ownership of the property (screenplay), getting the movie funded, produced and sent out to market. Itʼs also the person with the final say over all elements of the project.
In any business… the executive sits at the top and is ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the company. My wife, Jill, has the title of producer – as she handled all the day-to-day elements of the production logistics while I was directing – butin many ways, sheʼs the EP too, because I really canʼt make a move without running it by her first! Marriage.
I really only did the EP role because I had to. In the partnership I have with my Jill, I understood more of the process behind filmmaking than she. I studied film at Penn State, while she has a business degree (among others) from USC. Weʼve been working together and running our other company, Bugbee Productions for about eight years. In that, weʼve done a lot of commercial, documentary and marketing work, so the move to make a feature film was relatively easy on the business side, as opposed to someone who has a good story and wants to get it made into a movie, but lacks the business experience.
Even with a film school education and years of production experience, having a solid business background is essential. By the time we started making Heroes of Dirt – on top of our production and story-telling abilities, we had already amassed skills in the areas of project management, marketing, fundraising and negotiations. In those former years, we helped a lot of companies and organizations reach their goals, so we figured we could use the same skill set to get our movie off the ground. In fact, when we initially came up with our storyline for Heroes of Dirt, we built a preliminary marketing and PR strategy – which is now in effect. Of course, weʼve had to adapt it to the current times – making decisions and adjustments based on how well that initial strategy worked as we launched out of the gate.
= > How long have you been involved in filmmaking?
I started film school in 1995, but I had been putting BMX films together since 1991.
Though, it wasnʼt until a couple years into the program at Penn State that my filmmaking instincts started to become refined – with the understanding of how to implement, within the story structure, the elements of theory and psychology to lead the audience in the direction in which Iʼd like to see them to move emotionally and mentally. Itʼs a very subjective process.
As a filmmaker, I feel a responsibility to move the audience to a place where they will hopefully gain some wisdom in a certain area, or perhaps are motivated to go out and do something good for somebody else… maybe even change the way they ʼve been doing things for the better.
= > Let us know about the most current film you are involved in, “Heroes of Dirt”?
Log-line: A young man’s passion to achieve greatness in the sport as he realizes true significance by mentoring a troubled teen.
Synopsis: Passionate BMX dirt jumper, Phin Cooper, wants nothing in life but to attain fame in his sport and get paid doing it. After missing out on a competition when he lands in jail for unpaid citations, he is court-ordered for community service and reluctantly mentors Blue Espinosa under the watchful eyes of youth center director Jordin Armstrong.
As Phin leads the troubled teen on exciting adventures of riding dirt trails, big jumps and cityscapes, Blue becomes more than an obligation – he becomes an unlikely friend. But Phin also becomes unwittingly involved in Blueʼs secret world of drug trafficking.
Just as his second chance to compete comes around, Phin learns that Blue is held hostage by a dangerous gang, and everything becomes a race against time.
Featuring some of the best pro stunt riders in freestyle BMX, Heroes of Dirt is more than adrenaline rush – it is the story about a young manʼs journey into real significance, and the price it takes to get there.
Since I was a teenager, I ʼve felt the calling to speak positivity into the lives of younger kids – whether it was at school, sports or at the BMX trails. This film is sort of an extension of myself – a person who battles pride and often fails.
When ambitious people focus only on themselves they may succeed, but it ʼs only temporarily – like being a hero for the day. That ʼs all selfish ambition really gets you –temporary acclaim, then itʼs off to striving for more and being discontent until you get to that next level. No matter how many levels you succeed at, you never really arrive until you realize that nothing can make you truly happy and content – except by trusting in the Lord and releasing that ambition to Him. I also want to make note that itʼs only when we step outside of ourselves, sacrificing our own dreams and desires for the sake of somebody else, that we have the capacity to become a hero for a lifetime – it may not get us fame or fortune, but if we can change a life and set someone on a path of hope, rather than dissipation and rejection, then we not only have the power to transform that personʼs life, but all the other lives of the people with whom that first person comes into contact. Itʼs a ripple effect. Thatʼs the essence of Heroes of Dirt.
Within the movie, we created a BMX contest series called Heroes of Dirt (our take on the X Games or Dew Tour), but just as important, the name is a metaphor for describing someone who steps into a dirty situation, or life, and is willing to lay down his own life for the sake of a person whose life never had any hope. Even Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this than he who lays down his life for a friend.” … or my addition… “for someone who once was a friend and seriously wronged you, whom you have to choose to forgive.”
= > How can people help with your current project and is there an expiration date for assisting in the project?
There isnʼt an expiration date to help with Heroes of Dirt. Even though our first Kickstarter.com fundraising campaign ends July 15th, we may have to do another fundraiser if the current one doesnʼt pan out. It will certainly delay our expected release date, but we just have to trust that all these things are happening in Godʼs timing and be at peace with it… but of course that ʼs challenging to do. Other than that, we just have to continue to be responsible to spread the word more and try to get more people into the mix, who in turn, will spread the word.
We also need to get a grassroots team in place to help us book theaters in the places that want this movie to come to their city. Since our budget is long gone and itʼs only really been Jill and I doing all the post-production work and marketing for the past year and a half, weʼre relying on people psyched on Heroes of Dirt to partner with us to spread the word locally and get their people to buy tickets, via pre-sales, which would guarantee that the movie will come to their area. We canʼt do this alone. When you have no more money left, every day on a project like this is one less day youʼre bringing home any funds for your family. Weʼre just praying that God opens up some doors. As Joyce Meyer wrote in her book, Be Anxious for Nothing, weʼre hoping our camels come in soon.
= > Is this your first film? If not, how many films have you personally produced?
Yes, this is my first feature, but I ʼve done hundreds of other smaller-form productions – from music videos and shorts, to newsmagazines, documentaries and web videos.
= > Do you have any plans for future films that you can tell us about?
We currently have several other feature films in development. The one thatʼs closest tobeing shot is called, Beauty from Ashes. Itʼs a vengeance/redemption themed film, with a strong female protagonist, to be shot in New York City and Eastern PA. Within that theme, it deals with issues of deliverance and forgiveness. Itʼs pretty hip and actionpacked – itʼs sort of like a La Femme Nikita with a redemptive twist. That script has been finished since before we started Heroes of Dirt, but the budget is significantly higher.
Back in late 2007, we started looking for investors, but the real estate bubble popped and a lot of our potential backers lost a lot of money. It wasnʼt the right time, so Jill and I said to each other, “Hey, letʼs make a BMX movie for a hundred grand! We can definitely get that! Itʼll be awesome!” Since I grew up in the sport, I had a lot of pro and magazine connections. It was a natural fit. But the story grew and the production, action and stunt elements increased. We also had a lot of bad weather and needed to do reshoots, which increased the budget significantly – the majority of that came out of our savings. All our chips are in at the point.
The other project thatʼs closest to being ready for funding is an action movie, set in Los Angeles, called The Fight. Itʼs a cross between the Bourne Identity and Blood Sport. We have a really solid scriptment – a little more than a treatment but less than a full script,we just need to flesh it out a bit more. Our associate producer, Manny Ribau and I are co-writing that. Weʼre planning to attach a well-known young A-lister for the lead role – Iʼm not gonna name names, but we hope to approach that dude later this summer to see if heʼd be down for the role. If he likes the story and signs a letter of intent, then I have no doubt that weʼll eventually get our financial backing – either independently or through a studio. I love action movies with internal character conflict and a strong arc.
This is definitely going to be bloody, but will have contain my usual underlying theme of redemption.
We also have a supernatural thriller trilogy, called The Prophets in development. In all of these projects, I need to be clear that they will be movies that are geared for the general market (my motivation is to reach those outside of the Church walls) but will contain themes that we, as Christians, will be inspired by and hopefully, will encourage us to step out beyond ourselves for the greater good.
= > Does your film company help other people produce their films?
We really havenʼt partnered with any other companies yet – in terms of working on a project where our resources are combined. Currently, our resources are tapped – we canʼt get into anything else until Heroes of Dirt is finished and out in the market. Maybe down the road, but it would have to be the right combination of personalities and the right story. Some people work great together and tend to do so over the course of many projects. In this industry, folks tend to work with those they love to work with. Thatʼs a more important component than whether or not a person is qualified technically or creatively. Obviously, your colleagues have to be competent, but projects can go on for several years, so production partnerships are like a marriage – you need to seek wisdom before entering into something like that.
On the flipside… if you mean, would we consult with other companies as they prepare to make their movies – offering them wisdom and insight?… Yes. Thatʼs definitely something weʼd be open to, but again, it would have to be the right fit.
= > How can people find out more information about you and your film company?
Check out our websites and follow the social media feeds.
Heroes of Dirt Website:
Kickstarter Campaign until July 15th, 2012:
Become a Fan:
Blue Trail Entertainment: