Tag Archive for: producer


Meryem Ersoz is one of Colorado’s top film producers and has worked on projects ranging from the $200,000 to $3,000,000.  Her local production company, Red Pine Studios provides local Colorado production services and supported the major motion picture Dear Eleanor, directed by Kevin Connolly.

Meryem has worked as a cinematographer and digital imaging technician for the Discovery Channel, Nova, Nat GEO, CNN, Vice and more.  Her latest venture, Blackwing Air Sea Land Cinematography is set to be a game changer in high-speed productions.

Meryem’s background as a Ph.D. academic and professor give her a unique and cerebral take on the business of filmmaking. Meryem talked with us about her unique insights into everything from understanding and distilling film, to her favorite adrenaline-inducing moments with her latest venture.

Show Notes

[0:53] Meryem is one of the only high-end producers who has her own cinematography reel.

[1:11] These days, Meryem is largely focused on running productions for Blackwing Air Sea Land Cinematography and being the occasional driver of “The Porsche.”

  • Blackwing Air Sea Land Cinematography is a specialty camera company that focuses on getting the difficult shots.
  • The Motocrane is a crane that can do 360 degree turns around a car from high to low

[2:36] Partners are John Firestone and Chris Delagarza.

  • Chris is the DP for the Discovery Channel show, “Shifting Gears with Aaron Kaufman.”
  • The team launched the product with a guaranteed set of uses on the Discovery Channel show.
  • “Shifting Gears” shoots in Dallas, but the team was able to shoot in Pikes Peak Speedway for the first use of the car.

[5:20] The high-end industry standard for markets outside of Colorado is to run these on a high-performance Audi or high-performance Porsche.

  • “We have ours on a Porsche Cayenne Turbo. It can carry all that weight and all that gear and still keep up with anything you could throw at it.”

[7:11] The team’s gimbal operator is John Firestone who has been a dedicated gimbal operator around Colorado ever since the Movi Pro came out.

[8:48] They want to be able to work with everybody in Colorado.

[10:15] “The way this car rig works…it’s camera ready, it’s meant to be driven.” The car can travel 30-40 miles fully rigged, which is value added for the industry.

[12:20] “We call ourselves Blackwing Air Sea Land because that’s our intention. For our demo reel, we’re going to rig up one of our jib systems to a boat, because we can do that.”

[12:35] The company has “three flavors of crane.”

[14:46] Meryem is excited about the flexibility the systems offer. “We can do high-end productions and smaller budgets as well. We’ve got choices.”

[17:19] Contact Meryem directly on www.blackwingasl.com to talk about pricing and services.

[21:00] Meryem has an unusual pathway into the business

  • Meryem has a Ph.D. and taught Film History and Theory at the University of Oregon and the University of Denver until her daughter was born in 2000.

[23:43] Meryem took a leave of absence in 2000 to raise her daughter Lucy, but quickly started looking for a creative outlet.

  • Made a documentary after Lucy was born.
  • In 2000, she started a women's film group.
  • “I was very compelled by shooting…I basically caught production fever.”
  • Two years later Meryem started doing it as a business in Boulder.

[26:23] Started making web videos.

  • Within a year, we had managed to land a gig shooting and producing for Television—The Boulder Peak Triathlon
  • In way over our heads, but we worked with a couple of mentors to make sure we succeeded

[27:41] That business partnership eventually dissolved, but both partners took away from it a vast amount of experience in a short period of time.

[28:06] Today there are so many great models and so many great reels.

  • If there would be one thing Meryem would tell aspiring filmmakers, it would be “look at the models, look at the reels.”
  • All the great masters studied under other great masters. They are all constantly learning from each other.
  • Fincher and Deakins didn’t work in a vacuum.

[32:34] Meryem's new business.

  • Services are run under Red Pine Studios.
  • Meryem owns a lot of gear and can bundle services and be flexible for clients.

[33:43] In 2006, Meryem connected with Jim Jannard (Red Digital Cinema Camera Company) on DVinfo.net and began having a conversation about frustrations about camera manufacturing.

  • Jim was collecting info to build this disruptive camera technology, which became the Red One with 4K resolution, raw recording, red code.
  • “These cameras just had a film-like quality. So I put down my down payment.”
  • Getting the RED camera was a defining moment in what she describes as leveling up.

[38:22] “My interest in film as an academic was turn-of-the-century film between 1895 and 1920.” Being involved with this new shift in filmmaking felt like living through a huge revolution in film.

[40:00] Making features was another leveling up process because it was a whole new way of seeing….”seeing actors turn themselves into someone else on camera…I was taken with that transformation.”

  • She asked herself again, “what can I do to level up?” Which led to her decision to produce a film called Minds Eye, also known as Quantum Voyage for DVD.
  • Meryem loves Donnie Darko and David Lynch movies. Anything that's cerebral and mind-bending.

[42:40] She admits that there are things that turned out well in the film and some that didn't. The cinematography was great, while a lesson learned was ensuring that the script is impeccable before the film is shot.

[43:26] A big problem in independent filmmaking is too few people wearing too many hats.

  • She tried to not do too many things on the film and primarily shot the secondary cameras.

[46:36] Working in a smaller market, everyone does some ‘one man band' work.

  • Meryem points out that the higher up the food chain you get, the more focused you get and the more dedicated operators you get.

[48:52] The film Dear Eleanor was yet another leveling up for Meryem.

[49:16] Mind's Eye was produced under the old tax incentives that existed before Donald Zuckerman came into town.

  • Meryem had applied for and received those incentives.
  • Mind's Eye was the first film in four years in Colorado (in 2010) to qualify for the film incentives.
  • The reason qualifying for the incentive was significant is because it shows how dead feature filmmaking in Colorado was. No one was making films that qualified for the incentives ($100,000+).
  • Denver Post article about Mind's Eye.
  • Today, the Colorado scene is very different….the state now has Robert Redford and Quentin Tarantino…and other films like Dear Eleanor.
  • Meryem says that now as Denver has grown significantly there is a lot more demand for commercials and other film content.

[53:39] Dear Eleanor really needed to be coast to coast and the team felt that Colorado could accommodate the production of it.

  • She got the script for Dear Eleanor and started the process of validating whether it would work by personally taking photos of potential sites for the films.
  • She says that doing the front end leg work is what likely cemented the decision to film in Colorado.
  • Dear Eleanor was filmed all over the state, with the crew stationed at a local Best Western.

[01:00:18] Meryem recognizes that making a living in Colorado as a film professional is a scramble.

  • You have to take every job you can until you get to the point that you don't have to take every job you have.
  • “You gotta love it. You've got to have production fever.”

[01:04:37] Colorado has a number of unions including SAG, Local 600, Local 7, and the Teamsters.

  • Colorado is a right to work state, which Meryem says has its upside but it also has its downside. It can be advantageous in bringing money in, but there is a disadvantage because big productions can't get the right crew.

[01:12:37] Meryem's number one piece of advice for people aspiring to make movies is: “You can't skip the steps.”

[01:13:44] Meryem's favorite projects include shooting at the Snowmass Fossil Excavation.

  • Snowmass ended up being one of the largest boneyards ever found.
  • “They were digging up bones so fast, they were having to devise whole new techniques on how to dig.”
  • “We were seeing all kinds of stuff… Ancient leopards, ancient buffalo, gigantic sloth teeth, teeth from mastodons and whole skeletons from whole mastodons….that was an experience of a lifetime.”

[01:19:47] The weirdest thing she ever shot was in Steamboat Springs.

  • She explored a series of connected caverns with an experienced caver known as ‘Caver Dave'.
  • Meryem had the opportunity to explore one cave, in particular, that was filled entirely with Sulfuric acid.
  • Caver Dave had discovered a life form–a sort of worm–that was able to live in the cave.

[01:27:00] Meryem says that the industry has a lot of ups and downs and that there are times when she is waiting for the phone to ring.

  • She now feels like she has done the work to trust that the phone will ring eventually.

[01:28:57] Meryem is an introvert in an extroverted industry.

  • She concedes that it's been hard for her to push herself and says that working with partner Chris on Blackwing has shown her how important it is to put yourself out there.
  • Meryem says that branding can be a lot like learning film. Look at people who are doing it well and accept the fact that you are, in fact, a brand. The sooner creatives can learn that lesson, the better.
  • “[Your brand] is as important to focus on as your craft.”

[01:36:01] Meryem’s biggest learning lessons are compounded into two sayings:

  • “You can't skip the steps.” Skipping the steps, rushing the thing that you want to do vs. doing what you need to do doesn't work. There are reason and logic to the order.
  • The other is: ”It's never about what the other guy is doing. It's always about how you are going about your business.”

[01:39:12] “Filmmaking is a vast expansive universe.” There are always people that are going to be accomplishing more than you. If there are people doing better than you…they are working hard to do better.

Links and Resources


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!


A true renaissance man of film, Alex Ferrari worked his way up through the ranks from the bottom to become an award-winning director and writer, as well as a producer, editor, colorist, cinematographer, podcast host, consultant, and all-around indie film guru. His commitment to making the art of indie filmmaking accessible and relatively inexpensive to the masses has garnered a massive following of dedicated fans worldwide. He can often be found on the guest list as a speaker at any number of film and media events, and his films have screened at festivals around the globe.

In addition, Alex Ferrari is the creator of the Indie Film Hustle website and podcast. He has also created the podcasts Bulletproof Screenplay and Ask Alex, and has recently launched Indie Film Hustle TV, which is a fantastic resource for filmmakers on the internet.

Show Notes

[2:06] Alex’s background

  • Born in Fort Lauderdale, FL, raised in NY, living in L.A. for the past ten years
  • Full Sail Film School
  • Inspired to create a guerilla film school on DVD to make it affordable for lower-budget filmmakers in order to give back to the film community  

[6:42] Alex’s take on the value of film school, then and now

[11:11] Connections that filmmakers make and their value

[12:27] Alex’s experience with his first job as a tape vault operator, and how he got it

[13:50] Building his first demo reel

[17:06] How Alex discovered that he was meant to be his own boss

[18:05] How Alex made his first director’s demo reel

[19:15] Going into business for himself

[20:06] How Alex got into color correction and a brief history

[21:52] Jumping on the Red bandwagon, and adding more tools to the toolbox

[23:13] “You always ask for forgiveness, not permission… you just gotta hustle, you gotta be bold.”

[24:20] The highs and lows of Alex’s career

[26:49] Alex’s take on the allure of the film industry

  • The sizzle of the American media industry
  • Discussing the Indie Film Boom
  • Advances in technology and the next generation of filmmakers

[36:21] Building your entire business on someone else’s platform

[37:25] The history of Indiefilm Hustle and Alex’s olive oil “odyssey”

[45:43] Alex’s initial motivation and plan for developing Indie Film Hustle

[51:31] The benefits of having your own podcast

[54:02] How Bulletproof Screenplay was born

[58:27] The art of curating guests according to Alex Ferrari

[59:40] The exploits of Faith Granger

[1:05:02] Alex’s favorite podcast episodes:

[1:09:44] Indie Film Hustle TV and how people can get involved

[1:12:28] Alex’s typical work day

[1:19:06] The top ten books that will change your life… (see Links & Resources)

[1:13:32] Maintaining a balanced life

[1:21:35] Who would benefit from watching Indie Film Hustle TV? What kind of content is available?

[1:25:08] The best piece of advice Alex has ever received…

[1:32:35] ”I’m super happy making small, little independent films that mean something to me, mean something to my audience.”

Links and Resources

Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!


Trai Cartwright is a 25-year industry veteran and a creative writing and business development specialist. She teaches, produces and writes screenplays and novels. While in Los Angeles, she was a screenwriter, independent film producer and story consultant, and development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and New Line Cinema.

She was the assistant director for Leonardo DiCaprio‘s online endeavors, and the manager for 20th Century Fox‘s Mobile Studios. Trai currently teaches creative writing, screenwriting, and producing for Western State Colorado University, Denver University, and CU Denver. Conferences, cons, and one-on-one as a development and story editor. She's the screenwriter of Secret Ellington, and the producer of a docu-webseries called Hidden Tigers, and a short film called Sundown Road.

Show Notes

[1:20] Trai’s background

[2:36] Growing up as a child writer and storyteller

[3:09] Trai's introduction to screenwriting, film, theatre, and community at NYU

[4:52] The discovery that crew work was not her calling

[6:17] Trai's first studio job at Orion Pictures, Sharon Bidal, and Wordperfect

[7:50] Lessons obtained (in hindsight) about education

[9:59] The film industry and the adventurous spirit

[11:50] Figuring out how you want to work

[12:48] The value of being a PA

[13:22] How Trai earned her money

[16:29] Decompressing in Fort Collins

[18:02] Doing time in Chicago, and a fortuitous encounter in a pool hall

[19:50] Gary Marshall, Northwestern University, and Avid editing systems

[21:38] The Honeymoon Period, and learning when to call the fire department

[25:43] Heading to LA with Dawn Wildsmith, Surf Nazis Must Die, and being a PA in LA

[32:19] How temping changed Trai's life

[33:54] Working in the industry, and The Irv Scheckter Company

[36:12] Adventures with Prelude Pictures

[38:24] Lost in Space in Marilyn Monroe's old dressing room at Paramount Pictures

[39:33] VP of Creative Services and Peter Saphier

[41:11] Side work with writers

[42:47] Working remotely as a viable option in the film industry

[44:25] Amassing skills as a crew person in Colorado

[45:24] The need to go where the opportunities are

[48:00] Filmmaking as a career vs. a hobby/project

[49:30] 10,000 hours to expertise, 5,000 hours to competence

[50:30] Ambition vs. heart – for writers, directors and producers

[51:47] Having the persistence and be willing to truly commit in the film industry

[53:15] Savoring the brilliant moments and learning to fall

[55:21] Living in Colorado while working in the industry

[56:55] Building businesses in Colorado vs. California

[59:40] Working in Colorado

[1:01:22] The coup at Creative Artists Agency

[1:04:57] Teaching the business of show business

[1:06:37] The value of education

[1:08:00] Never stop learning

[1:09:45] Vet your educators in order to build yourself a community

[1:12:27] Leaving LA

[1:17:36] Creativity defined

[1:18:37] Marriage and creative people

[1:20:20] Shifting perspectives in order to succeed and be happy

[1:23:03] Pulling back in order to move forward, and lift other people up

[1:27:20] Creating a Master's Program with Denver Media Professionals

[1:28:28] Women in Film and Media in Colorado (WIFMCO)

[1:32:00] Find an organization that resonates with you, and become a part of it

[1:34:25] All the cool things that WIFMCO does

[1:37:05] Giving back and investing within the Colorado film and media industry

[1:40:16] The lesson learned over the last year

[1:42:11] The biggest life lesson

[1:44:40] Advice for aspiring screenwriters

Links and resources


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!


Tom Malloy is an actor, writer, and producer, a passionate and driven filmmaker committed to telling compelling stories with commercial appeal. Many of these projects are developed through the production company he founded in 2005, Trick Candle Productions.

In 2016, Tom co-founded the sales and distribution company called Glass House Distribution. Glass House maintains a presence in all the major film markets including AFM, EFM, TIFF, MITcon, and Cannes, and has grown from two people to a seven-person operation, recently adding a TV-series department.

Tom's unique ability to both write projects and raise funding for them has been a primary factor in the success of the company. In fact, Tom shared his expertise on the subject in the best-selling book about independent film financing called Bankroll. In 2019, Tom co-founded Filmmaking Stuff HQ, which is one of the premiere online training platforms for filmmakers.

Show Notes

[1:37] Dividing time between LA and upstate New York

[2:48] How Tom got into the film business

[4:45] How his various roles all work together

[6:33] Motivational speaking and getting started in fundraising

[8:50] Creating the perfect pitch

[10:53] Improving on earlier pitches

[12:18] The average day of a producer

[14:29] Juggling multiple projects

[16:14] The advantages of partnering up and building your network

[17:50] Moving from working with friends to working with pro talent

[19:26] The difference between a producer and a fundraiser

[21:47] Defining different types of producers

[23:57] Tom's take on crowdfunding

[25:41] Investors motivated by ROI vs. vested interest

[29:12] What kind of package do filmmaker's need to pitch a studio?

[31:35] Movie Plan Pro

[33:01] The merits of various funding sources

[35:19] What do producers take into account when producing a first-time director's script?

[38:13] How do find producers and investors?

[41:36] How to approach pitching single projects versus a slate of projects

[43:07] Pitching for the hot genre

[44:37] How does an aspiring filmmaker turn this passion into a business?

[46:45] How much does it cost to go to a film market?

[48:29] Investing in your career

[49:42] How do you keep the executive producers/backers out of the creative process?

[51:13] How do you figure the budget of how much you need to raise for a film?

[52:30] Quick tips, the most effective strategy, and advice for first-time fundraisers

[55:12] How do you know you have a great script?

[57:42] Advertising for readers

[58:10] What is involved in the pre-production development?

[59:30] Bankroll Your Film

[1:05:33] “Stay out of the movie business!”


Links and resources


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!


Sara Elizabeth Timmins established Life Out Loud Films in 2008 to create quality, inspiring, impactful films that champion women. Her films have been seen in theaters, the Hallmark Channel, Starz, Showtime, and internationally. She's worked with talented actors such as Jane Seymour, Ellen Burstyn, Chris Cooper, Josh Lucas, Mackenzie Foy, and writers like NY Times best-selling author David Baldacci. Most recently, she field produced an HBO docuseries for Mark Wahlberg‘s company and is in development on several feature films and a series. She also works as a consultant for both films and filmmakers and has produced national campaigns for companies such as Meyer Natural Foods & Laura's Lean.

Sara Elizabeth believes she has a responsibility through film to spark conversations that spark action, that spark change, and remains dedicated to encouraging the work of talented writers – and championing female leaders behind the camera while providing strong female roles in front of it. She is a member of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, SAG, both DGA– and PGA-eligible, and was a qualified independent producer for NBCUniversal/IFTA.

Show Notes

[1:39] Sarah's Background

  • Grew up in Warren, Ohio
  • Attended Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio
  • Was always very involved in front of the camera and theatre until graduation
  • Discovered her love of film while volunteering her time on the production of Tattered Angel with Lynda Carter
  • Moved to LA for 7 years producing for others
  • In 2008 she decided to start her own company, Life Out Loud Films
  • Did a lot of work in Southwest Virginia, now works out of Atlanta

[4:06] The impact that working in Atlanta has on Sara Elizabeth's business

[6:44] How does a market make its own work when incentives are small?

[10:26] The production value of working in rural communities and locations

[12:29] What About Bob? and how to give back to the community as a filmmaker

[13:50] How Life Out Loud Films dealt with the economic downturn of 2008

[18:44] Braveheart and finding the proper perspective

[21:21] Finding the balance between business and creativity

[24:35] How constraints of business can be a boon to filmmakers

[25:54] How Sara Elizabeth fosters quality, inspiration, and impact to produce films that champion women

[30:21] Crew building inclusive sets and finding a balance

[34:13] A day in the life as both a creative director and producer

[36:41] Sara Elizabeth's workshops, and working with the assets you have

[42:47] Budget ranges and saleability

[45:36] The merits of attaching recognizable talent to smaller-budget films

[50:14] Ways to sabotage your film

[53:06] Some of the realities of commercial and theatrical distribution

[55:50] Walking the fine budget line with your cast and crew

[59:06] The feasibility of involving SAG and union workers in low budget films

[1:05:16] Fundraising money as an independent filmmaker

[1:14:18] The quality of investors and why they invest

[1:19:37] Developing a community model for filmmaking projects

[1:21:35] What you should have in-hand when approaching investors

[1:23:04] How much a professional-sounding pitch can cost you

[1:27:11] Consulting services can be a source of invaluable shortcuts

[1:31:20] Finding funds to put towards professionals to elevate your project to the next level

[1:33:37] Sara Elizabeth's advice to young filmmakers

Links and Resources

  • View Sara Elizabeth's credits on IMDB
  • Visit Life Out Loud Films
  • View the Life Out Loud Films Demo Reel
  • Connect with Sara Elizabeth and Life Out Loud Films on Instagram and Facebook
  • Keep an eye out for a new program coming soon: No Film School, No Trust Fund, No Problem!


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!


Jacob is an award-winning Colorado fillmmaker, a former mayor, and a former U.S. senate staffer. His films include a family short called Chasing Rabbits, and the feature documentary Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution, which is currently in national and international distribution. He's also the executive director of a local government coalition advocating for stronger climate policy in Colorado.

Show Notes

[1:09] Jacob's Background

  • Grew up as a military brat, settled in Aurora, CO in middle school
  • Currently lives in Golden, CO

[2:16] Jacob's career path in environmental advocacy and politics

[5:25] Senator Bernie Sanders and Waking the Sleeping Giant: The Making of a Political Revolution

[9:00] The evolutionary process of budgeting when making a film

[14:59] “Making money” on a documentary; documentaries vs. narratives

[18:40] Getting access to characters for a documentary

[22:28] Building trust

[27:15] Utilizing referrals and taking chances with different location crews

[29:46] The difference a good editor and color correctionist can make

[30:47] Judging production length

[33:47] Thoughts on distribution

[36:31] A few different ways to offer screenings

[38:37] Working with distributors

[44:23] Where the most of the budget goes

[49:43] Mistakes were made

[54:30] Dancing on the Elephant

[57:26] Budgeting for a narrative feature

[1:00:33] Requirements for the investors

[1:05:00] Doing things differently with distribution for Dancing on the Elephant

[1:09:44] The costs of hiring locally in different locations

[1:14:24] The biggest “AHA” moments

[1:18:25] Jacob's biggest reaffirmation in the last year

[1:19:29] Jacob's biggest life lesson

[1:22:21] Advice for other aspiring filmmakers


Links and Resources


Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!


Denise grew up in Texas and graduated from Texas State University with a bachelor in Fine Arts and Theatre Arts with an emphasis in Directing. After working her way up in the film industry as an intern, PA, location assistant, and second assistant director, she became a member of the Director's Guild of America in 1993 in the category of Assistant Director. Since then she's moved from Second Second AD to Key Second AD, and on to First AD where she currently works on commercials and feature films.

During her career, Denise has worked on known projects such as Dumb and Dumber, The Bucket List, Switchback, The Laramie Project, and Things to Do In Denver When You're Dead.

Show Notes

[1:39] Denise's Background

  • Grew up in Bay City, Texas
  • Went to school at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University) in San Marcos
  • Lived first in Houston, then moved to Denver in 1986
  • Currently lives in Arvada, CO

[02:19] The roles and responsibilities of an Assistant Director

[04:08] Defining the layers of an AD

[06:51] Applying creative problem-solving to people/time management

[09:02] The myriad of ADs on larger sets and what they do

[11:12] Denise's career path

[15:01] How much time does it take to become a First Assistant Director?

[18:25] How to do the time to keep your rep as an AD

[20:14] Scouting for commercials versus 30+ day projects

[21:32] The ups and downs of being an AD

[23:36] The advantages of meticulous planning in advance for every project

[25:09] Why Denise chooses to live in Colorado

[26:55] Advice for people new to the industry

[28:29] The value in going where the work is

[31:38] Making a living in Colorado

[33:50] What all is involved is a typical microbudget project?

[36:36] Trying to find microbudget projects

[39:52] A history of self-promotion and how it works best today

[43:54] The universal truths of being nice, working hard, and being ambitious

[45:12] Dealing with slow times in the industry

[48:41] Denise's current projects

[49:52] Current trends in the industry in Colorado

[51:30] How does an Assist Director get hired, and who does it?

[55:46] Denise's mentors

[58:49] How to turn troubles on set into triumphs

[1:00:57] The feminine First AD experience

[1:06:29] Unsafe and safe sets; car jobs

[1:11:26] Working with David Sosna; Denise's book recommendation for ADs

[1:13:14] The best piece of advice Denise has ever received

[1:15:53] Advice for people looking to get into the business

[1:18:19] The biggest lesson over the past year

[1:22:29] Denise's great piece of wisdom

[1:24:28] The evolution of the industry in Colorado

[1:34:05] Speculation on incentives in Colorado versus other markets

Links and Resources



Be sure to check out podcasts with other great guests in the film and media industry on our DMP Podcast Page!