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Director discusses the making of ‘Bro’

Two filmmakers spent years searching for the means to bring a film to silver screen

Posted: June 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Director Nick Parada watches a rehearsal for a scene at the track shot at Pala Raceway in Pala. The film has been a journey years in the making for Parada and friends.

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A chance meeting between two colleagues, a positive return on stock investments and a job interview led to two filmmakers attracting a veteran film actor, motocross professionals, major sponsors and a run of their movie at a major theater chain.

The movie "Bro" is premiering at the AMC Orange 30 theaters June 22.

The independent film, featuring actor Danny Trejo along with extreme sport and freestyle motocross professionals, tells the story of an awkward college kid who gets sucked into the drugs and partying lifestyle of a motocross group in an attempt to gain acceptance.

"The film does have some redemption qualities to it and a moral," said writer and director Nick Parada, of Lancaster. "The kid, Johnny, does make it."

But the journey from story concept to a film running in a major movie chain was not a short one.

Chance encounter

"I tried to be a filmmaker for long time," Parada said. "For years, I could never get any financing. That's the hardest part of making a movie."

In 2007, Parada took a media job with the city of Palmdale as a videographer when he met Shaoky Taraman. Both dreamed of one day making movies, but each eventually went off to other jobs.

While interviewing with Fuel TV, an adrenaline and thrill-seeking sporting events content provider of the FOX Sports media group, Parada admitted he was working on a motocross film.

Rather than dismissing Parada, the interviewer hooked him up with Leah Steiger, executive director of the American Freestyle Motocross Association. Professionals in the freestyle motocross world came on board to act in the movie, he said.

"Leah ended up helping us produce the film," Parada said. "She connected us with Metal Mulisha and took us to Brian Deegan, a gold medalist and founder of the freestyle motocross."

Once the sporting apparel company Metal Mulisha came on board, the film was able to attract other name-sponsors like RockStar energy drink.

"It snowballed after Metal Mulisha got involved," Parada said. "From there, we attracted other major sponsors."

Still, making a film requires more than star names. Parada needed money.

Financing

One day, Taraman, a former co-worker of Parada's, called him with news that some of Taraman's stock investments had paid off.

"My financial situation in 2009 changed for the better," Taraman said. "We both had submitted different screenplays in the past and wanted to work together on bigger things. When my situation changed, I said, "Let's just do it."

Parada had a script, but it needed $1 million to finance the film, and Taraman didn't have enough. So, Parada fleshed out another story he'd written a decade ago and sent it off to Taraman.

The film started out as a one-location movie with a $10,000 budget, but grew in scope once name actors, motocross professionals and sponsors came on board. Also, a couple private investors joined Parada and Taraman. The film has probably crossed the half-million mark now, he said.

"It's funny how you think you want to go to Hollywood, and you'll find all this money to make a movie," Parada said. "Instead, I find it working a video job in Palmdale and in a job interview."

Someone like Taraman really has to believe in you to give you that financing. It's hard for someone to just trust you with money and take a risk for you to be successful, he said.

Financing a film is tricky, Taraman said. Banks will actually lend money to film projects, but mostly for projects with a minimum budget of $1 million. And it's very difficult to get money from private investors unless it's from individual investors, he said.

What's been lacking in the United States, Taraman said, is government support for filmmaking like the National Film Board of Canada. A lot of directors migrated to Hollywood but got their start in other countries that had government support, he said.

Film financing can pose a tough challenge for filmmakers, he said. The filmmaker needs money to attract "name talent," but banks usually want to know that name talent will be on board before they offer investment.

The team was very fortunate to have Danny Trejo come on board, he said.

The biggest step after raising money, however, came next: figuring out how to get their movie into distribution.

AMC theater

Taraman, who owns a controlling stake in the film, was making short films at age 14. In the intervening years, he attended CalArts, working as a grip (an on-set technician) on films and worked with the city governments.

Taraman found niche in producing short, promotional videos for the local governments in the cities of Palmdale and Beverly Hills, he said.

Parada and Taraman worked on distribution for their film through AMC's independent movie exhibition program, where the chain sets aside 20 percent of its screens for independent films.

AMC didn't think the film was right for that program, but believed it had some strong points and was willing to debut it, Parada said.

"The film booker at AMC saw the film "Bro" and was very supportive," Taraman said. "It seemed that booking the movie at the AMC Orange would be the best location to premiere the movie, based on demographics and proximity to the motocross community."

The name sponsors involved in the film were good for marketing, as well, so AMC was willing to take a chance on the movie, Parada said.

"If it does well, they could extend it to more time or open it in more theaters."

The success of "Bro" could prove to be a stepping stone, allowing Parada and Taraman to raise more funds for future projects, the two men say.

"It's been a stressful but interesting ride," Taraman said. "We're very grateful to all the people that came together to make the best product we could."

jadkins@the-signal.com

 

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