The billion dollar industry of movie making is experiencing rapid changes thanks to social platforms, available tools, and knowledge on how to do it now being made available. Shifts in the big players presents opportunities but surprisingly Miami offers little to no incentives to cinema creators even with the reputation of being a cultural mecca. The people that do end up filming here face challenges and their successes should be celebrated.
Rolando Viñas is a native South Floridian with over 20 years experience with the craft of screenwriting and production. With his background in management on the theatrical exhibition side at Regal Entertainment Group he has been able to see success in the industry. His company is Gorilla Studios Miami recently released Investigation 13, a horror movie that tells the tale of a group of students who investigate the urban legend of the Mole Man, an ex-patient of the Black Grove Psychiatric Asylum who is thought to live within its walls.
I sat down with Viñas to learn more about what it was like producing the movie. He shared his knowledge openly. He will be showing a teaser of the movie on October 10th during a fireside chat. Read the full interview below.
“Producing this film has been not only a major highlight in my career but it has also provided valuable lessons and challenges.” Rolando Viñas
What have been some highlights of your career or memorable moments?
I’d have to say that producing this film has been not only a major highlight in my career but it has also provided valuable lessons and challenges. Raising money for a movie is one of the most difficult challenges to getting the process going. We acquired our funds from private investment. Assembling a solid team can be a tough process because there are a lot of exterior factors that can determine if you can even get certain individuals to work with you. The particular challenges of making Investigation 13 were those plus the building we filmed in was not only filthy but it was also lacking in air-conditioning! Working in a facility that used to house the criminally insane was sweltering during the summer months. It was not fun at all. We had to feed the cast and crew popsicles to keep them hydrated and pat them down with ice cold towels to keep them cool. And don’t even get me started on all the paranormal activity that was experienced by the cast and crew during the shoot. Let’s just say that they have no interest in going back in to the building to shoot again.
WOAH! That sounds intense, and definitely adds to the scary factor of the movie! What makes this movie unique?
The director and the director of photography really tried to make use of all of the technology that paranormal investigators would normally use in a real life situation. So we, and the audience gets to experience what the characters are experiencing through all of these devices. Another aspect of the film that brings some uniqueness to it is the incorporation of animation to tell the backstory of Leonard Craven, the killer in the film.
What advice would you have for up and coming artists in the industry?
Anyone who gets into the entertainment industry must be slightly unhinged. This path we’ve chosen is not a straight path. It is jagged and rocky and not for the weary. You must be patient and forge ahead because if you don’t love what you’re doing you will fizzle out and quit.
“Getting the distribution deal signed and sealed was very satisfying.”
How easy was the process to get your movie on Amazon?
I wouldn’t necessarily say that it is easy to get on Amazon or any other platform for that matter. Some platforms require lots of documentation, clearances and deliverables. Our attorney was very helpful in getting us ready for distribution and our distributor, Uncork’d Entertainment has done a fascinating job of giving the film the best chance possible of succeeding by getting it on all of the major platforms including iTunes, Google Play, Vudu, FandangoNOW, DirecTV, YouTube, Xbox and many more.
What drove your choices to put the video up on these platforms and make it available to everyone?
This is all the distributor’s doing. I follow his lead because frankly he’s experienced in these matters. How could we not follow his lead? The market is so saturated with content right now. You have to fight to compete. You really don’t know which platform is going to get the most views for your film so you need to place it on however many platforms you can.
Very cool. What did you enjoy most about the project?
Film making happens in stages. First is development, where you take the script through the process of improvement. Next is pre-production, where you put the pieces in place to get the film made. Then it’s principal photography, when you shoot the film. Lastly comes post-production. This is when all of the footage gets assembled and you incorporate things like music, sound effects, colorization, etc. Making progress with any project is what I enjoy and this experience was no different. When things are stagnant, it’s a nuisance. It’s tough right now for indie filmmakers, especially when it comes to distribution. Studios and networks are barely shooting in Florida anymore due to the absence of film tax incentives. There are some spots in Florida that seem to have some activity such as Tampa/St.Pete. But as far as Miami goes, it’s mostly a commercial and music video town. Finally getting the distribution deal signed and sealed was very satisfying.
That does sound very satisfying, to see it all come together after all those stages. Congratulations! Let’s talk about the future. Who would you most like to collaborate with on a future project and what’s next?
At the moment we’re raising capital for a few of the projects we have in the pipeline including the thriller “Bully Bully” and the SciFi ”The Donor.” I enjoy leading a team, so the best part is working with talented individuals who excel at their craft. As far as South Florida filmmakers, I would like to collaborate with horror film director Lou Simon. But my ultimate goal is to collaborate with producer Jason Blum. He is excellent at what he does and is one of the top producers in the business right now.
If someone would like to get involved in the future movie that you make what is the best way for them to go about that?
Just reach out. I try to keep an open mind about who I work with. If you’re talented and you have a high EQ then anything is possible.
To learn more about Rolando and his projects visit the Gorilla Studios Miami website.