WASHINGTON WATCH: Using New Media To Beat The Old Hollywood System (VIDEO)

It’s a new media world out there, and folks are finding ways to beat the old Hollywood system. Director/producers Russ Parr, Matty Rich and Chris Spencer joined Roland Martin on Washington Watch to explain how they are doing it.

MR. MARTIN:   It’s a new media world out there, and folks are finding ways to beat the old Hollywood system.  Here to tell us how they’re doing it are producers Russ Parr – he also said, “Look, I’m a director.  All right, you know.  Matty Rich – he also said, “I’m a director as well” –

MR. MATTY RICH:  [Chuckles.]  That’s right.

MR. MARTIN:  — and Chris Spencer.  We have no idea whether he’s ever director.

MR. CHRIS SPENCER:  I d- — I direct –

OFF CAMERA:  Traffic.

MR. SPENCER:  — but –


MR. MARTIN:  — I call this panel “guerilla marketing,” if you will, because you guys are basically saying, “You know what?  You guys keep saying, ‘No, we don’t want’ – ‘know how to make it.’”  You’ve said, “Forget it.  I’m going to do it myself.”

MR. RUSS PARR:  Right.

MR. MARTIN:  And so, Russ, give us a sense of – of why you said, “I’m not wasting my time with your system.  There’s an audience out here.  There’s a way to get it done, and I can get my product out to the world.”

MR. PARR:  Well, I will say that it is difficult, first off; but I think one of the big things is that I sat around, and I waited for ten years – ’cause I thought, “Okay.  Somebody’s gonna buy my script, and they’re gonna embrace it, and they’re gonna love it.”  It – it never happened.  So, I – I sat, and I wasted a lot of time.

So, what I did [is] I went out and found some suckers – I mean people that had –


MR. PARR:  — some interest in – in –

OFF CAMERA:  Shouldn’t talk about your family like that.

MR. PARR:  — yeah, my dad – Dad, sorry.


MR. PARR:  But basically, you know, you have to find people that believe in your vision –

OFF CAMERA:  Um-hum.


MR. PARR:  — because if you don’t – if they don’t believe in it, you’re not going to get any money.  A- — and a lot of times, you – you get a lot of actors nowadays that will work with you, which really helps the process; because, you know, I can’t afford a Lou Gossett, Jr.  You know?  I – I can’t afford Isaiah Washington, you know?  But, you know, they’ll work with you.  They believe in your script.

MR. MATTY RICH:  What Ru- — Russ is saying is you’ve got to have the tenacity as a[n] independent filmmaker to – to really want to do it.  Outside of Hollywood – and when I do – did “Straight Out of Brooklyn” when I was a kid, no one could tell me that this was not going to happen.  You know, I – I d- — I did a little – small, little – little test pilot.  I went on a radio station.  I got people who would want to invest in my project, and they did.  So, you[’ve] got to believe in yourself, and –

MR. MARTIN:  And that w- —

MR. RICH:  — once –

MR. MARTIN:  — that was the first one.

MR. RICH:  — it was the first one.

MR. MARTIN:  Then came –

MR. RICH:  Now, then —

MR. MARTIN:  — the big studio –

MR. RICH:  — came –

MR. MARTIN:  — film, “The Inkwell.”

MR. RICH:  — the big studio film, and this was, like, my Hollywood coming-out thing.  I – I – “Inkwell” was an amazing project.  I had some great, talented actors I worked with.  But I[’ve] got to tell you, honestly, the studio system was not really for me; because, you know, I would develop projects and develop projects – I think I’ve developed maybe about 15 movies that nobody has – will ever see –

MR. PARR:  Right.

MR. RICH:  — [chuckles] – the l- — the light of day.

MR. PARR:  Yeah.

MR. RICH:  And then you find yourself in what they call “development hell.”

MR. MARTIN:  Um-hum.

MR. RICH:  That means that years go by.  Okay, that doesn’t work.  Years go by.  That doesn’t work.  And next thing you know, people are like, “What happened to Matty?”

I’m still here.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

Chris, in many ways, same thing.  People will sit here and say, “Yeah, I remember Chris Spencer did” – “he did some movies and did ‘The Vibe’ show”; but you’ve been working, you know, away from the traditional Hollywood system and finding your own way and doing your own thing.

MR. SPENCER:  You have to.  Like, if – if you think about it, there would be no Justin Bieber, or a Soulja Boy – whether you like them or not – if there was no Internet.  So, this is not – these – this is like a bigger way to audition.  Like, you’re showing your entire project for the world to see, and then now you don’t have to wait for this guy in Hollywood, or these people in Hollywood, to go, “I’m not sure if” – “Do” – “Do you think he’s good?”  No.  These one million, 2 million, 3 million, 5 million hits that let you know that this kid is incredible.  So, then they’re jumping on the bandwagon.

So now, it’s weird.  It’s like before, you would – you would – you auditioned, do whatever it takes to get on TV; and then you could blow up.  But now, you can actually create your own niche.  You can get your own camera – they’re shootin’ movies on iPhones –


OFF CAMERA:  Um-hum.

MR. SPENCER:  — okay – and create the vehicle that you figured that you should be a star of, and sell it.

MR. MARTIN:  Is it –


MR. MARTIN:  — important for all of you to have what I call “freedom and flexibility”?

MR. PARR:  Yeah, I – you know, I’m learning how to take other people’s – [chuckles] —  you know, I d- — I’ll take advice, but a lot of times when you’re written –


MR. PARR:  — and directed your own stuff, it’s really tough to have somebody come in and go, “Hey, man,” you know, “you should do it this way.”  You know?  ’Cause it’s your baby.

MR. MARTIN:  Um-hum.

MR. PARR:  And chances are – ’cause I – I’ve invested in all my movies.  I have a movie that’s out now called “35 and Ticking” that was all my own money.  And out of the five films I’ve made, that’s probably the only one I’ve made money on.  So, we’re not getting rich as independent filmmakers.  We[’ve] got to jump through so many hoops in order to be able to – to put out a product that’s good enough quality to get picked up by, like, TV One, or – or BET, or whatever.

But I – I think the big – the big issue is – is that we – we put ourselves in a pozish- — [sic – phonetic] – in a – in a position that allows us to be able to see there’re other people out there that had the s- — your same vision, that want that opportunity.  There’re a lot of actors out there, man, that, you know, want an opportunity to work.  And because there’s limited – your s- — there’s reality series and – and all these other things, it’s putting a lot of actors out of work.

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. PARR:  So, independent filmmaking is the way a lot of people are going.

You know, I – I’ve learned to keep my budgets down i- — in a respectable level in order to – to turn a profit –

MR. MARTIN:  Right.

MR. PARR:  — but I – listen, I – I’m not eating, right now, off of it.  I’m really not.  And I’m just keepin’ it real.

MR. SPENCER:  Are you –

MR. MARTIN:  Matty.

MR. SPENCER:  — sure?

MR. RICH:  Well, I think –

MR. SPENCER:  Are you –

MR. RICH:  — I –

MR. SPENCER:  — are you sure you’re not eating?

MR. PARR:  Well – [looks down at his midsection] – a little bit.


MR. RICH:  Well, I think flexibility is important for any business.  I – I had to learn at a very young age that you have to be flexible.  If somebody’s going to give you any kind of money to produce a project, you[’ve] got to be flexible to o- — be open to their ideas.  It’s – it’s – we are creative people.  Sometimes, creative people – they want to hold their ideas, but that’s – you – you – you make a movie, you make a TV show for other people to enjoy.


MR. RICH:  So, you eg- — I have to hear your point of view, Roland.  I[’ve] got to hear your point of view and your point of view, if you’re going to give me the money.

MR. PARR:  Right.

MR. RICH:  Okay?

MR. PARR:  Yeah.

MR. RICH:  So, that is what – you know, I’ve learned as a young filmmaker [that] you have to let go.  And when you let go, and you get involved, and you get involved, the project becomes so much better.


MR. MARTIN:  Gentlemen, thanks a lot.

OFF CAMERA:  Thank you.