ADRIENNE BIDDLE GOES ROGUE ON HOLLYWOOD!!!!
Mychal: Hello Adrienne. I hope you are well. Excellent! We have Washington, D.C. in the house! Besides us, there are a few of us Capitol Hillers out here in the biz. Did you hear the historical Eastern Market recently burned down which will cost about Twenty Million Dollars to renovate? So, did former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry partake in that deal or what? (LOL) Speaking of Barry, and with all due respect to his Civil Rights contributions, do you remember his infamous quote when he was arrested by FBI agents in a 1990 crack cocaine sting operation – “I’ll be goddamn…Bitch set me up.”? (LOL)
Mychal: (LOL) OK. So, as Senior Vice President Production for Rogue Pictures, what are your job duties?
Adrienne: Essentially, my job is to find movies to make – whether I find the material from pitches, screenplays, comic books, or manuscripts. Once we acquire the material, I’m involved in packaging the script with various elements: producer, director, and actors. I report to our Co-Presidents Andrew Rona and Andrew Karpen who report to our CEO James Schamus.
Mychal: You know, after I gained experience in the Indie Film world as an actor/producer, I then decided to attend Southwestern School of Law’s entertainment program. During your rise through the Hollywood ranks, you attended the USC Stark Producing Program, is that correct? So, why did you decide to attend Stark?
Adrienne: Yes. Well, I came a little late to the entertainment industry. When coming from outside of Hollywood everything is sort of shrouded in mystery. Generally, most film schools are tailored strictly toward the creative side. But, Stark does not require you to have a film background. I never considered myself a creative person, but rather a businesswoman, so, for me it was perfect because I had business management skills that enabled me to effectively put projects together. Stark is also considered to be the “Harvard” of the graduate producing programs, so by attending Stark, I was able to compress two (2) years of learning as opposed to four (4) years of learning from being an assistant. For someone a little behind in her industry knowledge, but with work experience in the professional world, it was the perfect program to catch me up. Stark also has a great networking system and I still keep in touch with my classmates.
Mychal: Rogue was formed in 2004 correct? Can you please tell us the mission statement of Rogue Pictures? And, please describe a little about the company?
Adrienne: We became a fully staffed division in September of 2005. Our mission is to make filmmaker driven, youth oriented, high concept and modestly budgeted genre films – comedies, action, horror, thriller, and urban…but lets not use that word….I hate that word.
Mychal: (LOL) Interesting, I always ask execs if there is an alternative for Urban, but no one can seem to find one. Why does the term “Urban” make your hair stand up?
Adrienne: Well, the term is very misleading. Just because a film has a black cast does not mean it’s Urban. For example, the “Best Man” had a black cast, but that movie was not Urban! On the contrary, a film such as “Assault on Precinct 13” had a very diverse cast, but I would definitely label that film as Urban. I am not really a politically correct person, and would thus rather someone be more specific instead of stereotyping and putting a film in a “Box.”
Mychal: So, Focus Features created Rogue make high quality suspense, action, thriller, urban and franchise entertainment. What makes Rogue’s approach to filmmaking more innovative than its competitors?
Adrienne: Great Question! Every studio now has their own specialty division. We are thinking outside the box and looking for filmmakers with distinct points of view. I grew up with visionary genre filmmakers – Hughes, Speilberg, Cameron, Craven – and more recently Peter Jackson, and Guillermo del Toro. Our mission is to provide both an opportunity and a home for the next wave of these filmmakers. We also believe in the power of mentorship and have various projects where established talents are lending their expertise to up and comers. Our recent partnerships include various elite filmmakers such as James Cameron, Wes Craven (Midnight Entertainment) and Michael Bay (Platinum Dunes). Our goal has always been to provide a great support system allowing filmmakers to focus on bringing their vision to life. We like motion pictures to be what they were meant to be first, and then tackle the distribution and marketing. I really admired what Michael De Luca accomplished when he ran New Line Cinema and lot of that came from his own love and passion for filmmaking.
Mychal: On that note, who do you see as your main competitors? What about Lions Gate and their Horror/Thriller Franchises?
Adrienne: Thankfully, we’re all swimming in slightly different waters. We’re very respectful of Screen Gem’s ability to market their product. Clint Culpepper knows how to make a certain type of film and he has done great! Lions Gate has also had success in certain arenas, but their model is very different from ours. New Line back in the day would be comparable to us.
Mychal: Speaking of director’s with a vision. How do you deal with that arrogant self-entitled filmmaker, especially with giving him/her too much power?
Adrienne: Generally, the best artists are the ones who are opinionated. We want that director to fight for his vision, but at the same time he/she has to pick their battles. (LOL) There is a fine line between a well reasoned argument and one stemming from ego. Arguments are embraced but it has to come from a place of reason. And for first timers, well, we can afford to let them take chances….no pain no gain! We try to get into business with people we like and it’s about partnering up make a great movie!
Mychal: Is Rogue both acquiring and producing its own content for its distribution pipeline?
Adrienne: Jason Resnick heads up acquisitions for both Universal and Focus/Rogue, and we work closely with his team. As for production we are not forced to release films to satisfy outside pressures allowing us to make the best movies we can. However, we have the capacity to release six (6) to eight (8) films per year.
Mychal: Can you discuss Rogue’s upcoming slate and development pipeline?
Adrienne: Yes, well, we recently released the hit “Hot Fuzz” and coming soon are “Balls of Fury” – a ping pong comedy slated for September 2007 release, “The Strangers” – an original horror film slated for Fall 2007, and “Doomsday” – a Neil Marshal action movie sometime in early 2008.
Mychal: What are the budget ranges for Rogue’s content?
Adrienne: Our film budgets vary depending on various elements of the project so it’s hard to talk about a specific dollar range. We like to make films economically, but we also want to make sure we respect the filmmaker’s creative vision. It’s always a balance…
Mychal: How accessible are Rogue execs to the creative community? What about first timers?
Adrienne: We are pretty accessible, but we are a small company and our workload is extremely hefty. I really wish I was more accessible because I love filmmakers. However, in order to get through our gate, filmmakers must be referred by someone we know – usually an entertainment attorney, agent, or producer that we have a relationship with. We do not accept query letters!
Mychal: (LOL) Has Focus/Rogue started to acquire and develop its content for the digitalization of Hollywood?
Adrienne: Well, our primary focus and job is to produce content and our marketing and strategic planning departments handle the other matters. But, we do explore relationships with filmmakers who use new technology to shoot their films. I will say that our head, James Schamus who also teaches at Columbia University, is a very forward thinker with a great game plan.
Mychal: Can you tell us an anonymous production nightmare involving talent, writer, director or producer?
Adrienne: Nothing comes to mind recently, but I could write a book on horrific assistant stories – the one time I knew an assistant who was asked to drive sperm to a fertility clinic, to another who had to drive around the block until his boss’s lunch arrived so they could see he was being driven to lunch, to having Powerbars delivered across town and hand walked in during a meeting because the boss’s tummy grumbled, to the itinerary needing to include the make and model of the exercise equipment at a hotel’s gym. If you ever hear a story that sounds outrageous, I guarantee it’s fact
Mychal: Can you give any advice to aspiring filmmakers and “creatives” who want to make films and/or work in film production in some capacity?
Adrienne: Yes, Just do the work! If you want to direct, direct. If you want to write, go and write. It is about developing your craft. A director does not have to go to an elite film school to succeed. He/She can go and buy a cheap digital camera and direct a short film. If it’s inventive and tells a great story, it will get noticed. There are so many opportunities now for filmmakers to get their work out there….whether its film or digital….the internet has made it easier for filmmakers to break into the biz. As filmmakers, we must tell stories. Do not be trapped by certain technical aspects. Again, just do the work!
Mychal: Sounds great! Ok, wrapping up. Last question. What separates Rogue Pictures from other finance, production and distribution companies? Why should the creative community look to Rogue to lead the way?
Adrienne: Fundamentally, we respect the movies we make and our motives are pure which arise out of the love for filmmaking, not marketing and finance. Although we are a studio, we are not “Suits” in that sense. Our service is valuable and we make great partnerships. The filmmakers we partner with will say working with Rogue was a collaborative and enjoyable experience!