“There’s an old filmmakers’ axiom that says ‘you should always make films with other people’s money’. While at first it may seem a bit crass, when one really analyses the statement, there is a lot of truth and sound logic in it,” says founder of Braeburn Entertainment Rich Iott. For the former President of Seaway Food Town, if you want to stay in the business for a long time, your films have to be marketable. “If you can’t convince other people to finance it, maybe it’s not such a hot product after all,” explain Rich. “And if you as a producer think it’s so hot, then you’re thinking about your personal investment may be clouded and biased.”
Having produced many successful films including “Insight” and “Separation Anxiety” and worked with plenty of production companies such as GC Pix, Rich Iott knows there are exceptions to this rule. “There are exceptions like for example Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ”, but they are just that, exceptions,” Rich explains. This 2004 Mel Gibson film was about the last twelve hours of Jesus of Nazareth’s life. Mel Gibson directed “The Passion of the Christ” and co-produced it with Bruce Davey and Steve McEveety. “My daughter, Devon, also passionate about the entertainment industry, was fortunate to have interned with Gibson’s Icon Productions , where she had the opportunity to meet him.” Rich says.
For the President of Braeburn Entertainment, the process of deciding whether or not to produce a movie involves shopping the project around to acquisition agents at different distributors to get their take on it. “It isn’t very often that they’ll commit to purchasing it, but they have a good feel for what sells,” explains Rich. “Occasionally they’ll agree to a ‘Minimum Guarantee’ (MG) which means they’ll buy certain rights: foreign sales, domestic television or worldwide DVD and so on for an agreed upon amount, possibly half the production costs.” Knowing that half the costs are covered makes it easier to raise additional funds. The MG though isn’t paid until the production of the movie is over and the product is delivered, so that can also create additional challenges to make the movie come to life.
For Executive Producer Richard Iott, the entertainment industry was always his passion, having majored in drama in college. Today, he shares that passion with various production companies including GC Pix and Glass City Films. This year, Rich is working on a movie called “180” starring Lacey Chabert and Amanda Schull and also has production credits on a film titled “The Closing Broadcast.” “Show business is great. I’ve always loved it. Even in high school, I was creating short films,” Rich says.
For movie producer Rich Iott, the Academy Awards have become somewhat irrelevant. “They’ve become terribly politicized, a bunch of millionaires patting each other on the back,” he says. As the founder of Braeburn Entertainment, there’s no doubt that for Rich the entertainment world is first a passion, then a business. “I use to create feature films when I was in high school and in college I majored in drama,” Rich recalls. Eventually, Rich took on the family business and made a career for himself with Seaway Food Town, a chain of 75 supermarkets and drugstores. He was elected President in 1989, elected Chief Executive Officer in 1997 and retired in 2000.
The Entertainment industry however was his first passion. So the recent Academy Awards were something movie producer Richard Iott is definitely opinionated about. The former political candidate thinks the Oscars are no longer really in synch with the viewing public. “ ‘The Artist’ as Best Picture? It was a novel. Well done and a bit of a risk, but Best Picture?” Rich wonders. For this movie producer the quality of movies coming out of mainstream Hollywood has declined. One movie that does stand out for Rich Iott is the latest to hit the theaters, called “Act of Valor.” “It’s an excellent movie,” he says.
The founder of Braeburn Entertainment found the “Act of Valor’s” story a little predictable, but the fact that the six main characters were real active duty SEALS made up for it. “Several actual missions that Spec Ops has done in the past few years were woven into one story. All of the action and stunts in the movie, were things that these guys really do in real life,” Rich explains. “All of the high-tech wizardry is real, current-day, operational Navy hardware in action, not some screenwriter’s fantasy,” he continues.
These days Richard finds that many of the successful movies hide behind fantasy worlds and computer graphics. “In some respects, the ability to digitally create everything from special effects to entire, populated worlds has numbed our imaginations and grossly inflated our expectations,” he explains. With his successful movie-making company, Braeburn Entertainment, Rich was able to produce films he’s very proud of… with great stories, complex characters and wonderful collaborations in the production world. He produced a thriller in 2011 called “Insight” with actors Sean Patrick Flanery and Christopher Lloyd and co-produced it with GC Pix. Richard Iott also produced “Separation Anxiety.” This successful movie appeared in significant film festivals including 2011 Columbus International Film and Video Festival (Honorable Mention) and the 2011 Grand Rapids Film Festival.
On Sunday, February 26, millions of people sat in front of their television, at the edge of their seat, in anticipation of the Academy Award winners revelations. Millions watched as one by one of the nominees paraded their red carpet fashions, gave interviews and waited (also in anticipation) to hopefully pick up their Oscars. 2012 was the Academy’s 84th year recognizing the best of the best in the entertainment industry. This year, stiff competition took center stage as George Clooney and Brad Pitt were nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role, creating even more buzz for Hollywood’s biggest night.
In the end, it’s newcomer Frenchman Jean Dujardin who won Actor in a Leading Role for his portrayal of George Valentin, a silent film star who was unwilling to make the transition to talking movie pictures. This year’s was Jean Dujardin’s first Academy Award nomination. This wasn’t the only award for the “The Artist.” The film also took the Best Picture Title, making Producer Thomas Langmann a very happy man. Show business is a family affair for now famous Producer, just like for Executive Producer Rich Iott who shares his love for the movies with his a daughter who’s also in the entertainment industry.
For Producer Richard Iott, the entertainment word was always his passion. In 2008, the former Chief Executive Officer of Seaway Food town founded Braeburn Entertainment. Rich has been backing remarkable movies ever since, including the thriller “Insight.” “We had the wonderful Movie Director Richard Gabai on Insight and worked with GC Pix,” Richard says. Braeburn Entertainment also produced “Separation Anxiety” with the help of Glass City Films which appeared in significant film festivals including the 2011 Columbus International Film and Video Festival (Honorable Mention) and the 2011 Trail Dance Film Festival (Best Director).
Thomas Langmann’s father was Claude Berri , an actor and producer of some of France’s finest films including “Jean de Florette” and “Manon of the Springs.” It has been well-publicized that Thomas Langmann borrowed money and sold his house to make “The Artist” come to life. Then he met Harvey Weinstein and, as they say in show business, the rest is history. “We did this movie as a tribute to Hollywood,” Thomas was quoted saying. This silent, black and white movie was up against stiff competition: “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “MoneyBall,” “War Horse,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Midnight in Paris” and “The Tree of Life.”
The stars delivering their acceptance speeches weren’t the only must-see moments of the night. Who can forget Cirque Du Soleil’s once-in-a-lifetime magical performance. There were over 50 artists, acrobats and aerialists showcasing their talent with movie clips from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Titanic” and “North By Northwest” as backdrops. Their flips, stunts and tumbles were a reminder to all why the Oscars are Hollywood’s biggest night.