03 Mar CASE STUDY: Digitz Film
-Can you introduce briefly yourself, your company, and the history of the company?
- My name is Felipe Morell. I am the executive producer and CEO of Digitz Film a production company in Columbia in South America. We have been a production company for five years, working in co-productions usually between Latin America, and the United States, and Europe. I should say for film, for feature film and TV Series.
-How did you get into industry? What were you doing earlier?
- I got in the industry living in LA. I grew up in Los Angeles in California and went to design and film school in California. In a school called Art Center College of Design. From that, I started working at Warner Bros. for one of the studios in Hollywood and worked there for a while and from that, I moved to DreamWorks. I worked at DreamWorks on a couple of feature films that DreamWorks made. Then I went to Disney and worked at Disney. Then I moved to New York and I worked for Blue Sky a studio that does the Ice Age movies. I was born in Columbia. Five years ago, I came back to Columbia and started our production company which is Digitz Film and started working on our own projects.
-What was the biggest challenge for you when you decided to start Digitz Films?
- The biggest challenge was to be independent as far as like an independent film producer. Even though I think things in the world have opened up a lot for independent film. It is still independent film. It is still a challenge to find financing to get the productions done with smaller budgets compared to the big studios. The big studios they control most of the big financing and the big distribution and all that stuff. I would say that was the biggest challenge is to be independent in a world with big major studios. They have all control and all of power. But at the end it is really good like I said it is opening up all over the world. There are a lot more opportunities now for independent film and we are finding them.
-What is your inspiration working on films?
- As far as from the production, from the producer side I would say an inspiration would be Steven Spielberg. I worked with Steven Spielberg in the past. Even though he is a director and he is a very good director he is in many ways a producer. He is a huge producer as far as his production company and most of the films that he has done are his production in many ways. He is an inspiration as far as how much work he can produce in such a short period of time. Because he is not really that old yet.
From the directors’ standpoint, I worked with Brad Bird. He was the director of The Incredibles at Pixar. I worked with him in a movie called Iron Giant and he is an inspiration to me as a director. He is a very good director.
-What is your favorite film?
- My favorite film it is more a classic film. I love 2001 the Stanley Kubrick Film. I would say that since I was a little that has been my favorite film. When I saw it, I was young and I thought it was actually a much newer film, because all the science fiction effects and everything looked like it was a newer film. It did not look like it was a film from the ‘60s even at that time and because of not just the special effects but because of the story and the brilliance of the movie. In many respects that is my favorite film.
-That is nice. Let us talk more about Digitz films. Do you have any current projects and if so, what is their status?
- Yes, we are finishing a an animation movie at this moment which is going to be released in Spain in December and it will be released in the rest of the world at the end of next year at the end of 2017. We are also in production of 52 episode animation series that will go into production until the middle of 2017. That is for TV.
The movies are for theatrical release. And we have a live action science fiction feature film in pre-production that is scheduled to shoot in March next year of 2017. In development, we have several animation feature films and we are looking at two which will be co-productions with Canada. We are looking at another one that will be co-production with Spain. Another one we are looking at that will be a co-production with Argentina. And two more of our own projects that as of now are our own developments in-house of Digitz Films and still looking for how we’ll structure those ones with action producers from other countries.
-That is really so much. How many people are involved in all those projects?
- We have between 30 and 80 people involved in the last two projects that we have been working on: the feature film and the most recent series. Those are the people that we have involved in our studios in Colombia, which is two studios in Colombia right now. And additional to that we had close to a hundred people going through the two projects as well in the studios in Spain.
- When did you realize that you need some kind of software for managing it? When did you understand that you could try Cerebo?
- We found it from our co-producer on this last feature film because they had been using it for a while. I understand that they had been using it not only for this movie but for a previous project or for previous projects. I do not know how many but that is how we found Cerebro. That is how we got connected to it because they were already working with it. We have liked it a lot.
It is very useful. It is very friendly to use. It works really well for everybody. You can visualize, you can follow the process. Everybody else or the supervisor can go in and follow the process and share information. It is very good.
-That is really nice to hear. What was your first project in Cerebro?
-This last feature film. The one we are finishing right now. That was the one that we are with the co-producer that was already using it and they are the ones who introduced us to it.
- How long did it take for Cerebro to be accepted by the team?
- I would say that it was accepted right away. I think it is very friendly to use. As soon as somebody signs in and starts looking through the information I think it is a matter of minutes probably or maybe a few hours for anybody to get familiarized with the program.
Whoever went in to use it accepted it right away. As far as us, as a production company to go in to use it. It came very well recommended already because, as I said our producer had been using it and they were very happy with it.
We had an initial meeting with our co-producer because they were very familiar with the program already. We had an initial meeting with one person at the co-producer’s company to look at it the first day. She explained it to us and how she uses it and it was very easy.
-What are your favorite Cerebro functions?
- (Laughs) Since I am the executive producer I did go in to look at the work and what was going on. People in the production are actually really using it every day and really working with it as a tool. Because I am the executive producer I am going in every day to look but I am not really the one really working with the tool so much.
-What do production team love in our system?
-For the production team, for the management team I think it is great to have a view of what’s going on in the production as far as like what somebody is doing or some end of the production is doing and how the other end is receiving it.
Not only with the internal communication in the project which it has the messages that they are writing to each other, but also with the actual piece of the movie that is uploading in the program as a video. For myself, I could go in and look and take a visual video of the work that they are exchanging between the parts and the communication that they are writing to each other. I could look at what they are doing and to me that was great. Without having to go through each part and ask them or have to call each one of them. I would have a view in real-time on what was going on between the parts.
- I am glad it saves your time. Do you have any suggestions on how to improve Cerebro?
- I have not thought of anything. At least for my part, for what I was using it I was very happy with it with what I was seeing there. The way the product was working for me and for us, the people we are managing.
- To conclude our interview, can you please tell me about your plans?
- Yes, plans for the movies and the series that we are going to fall from next year on. It is development of a few featured films and pre-production of one that we start shooting in March. And three other projects that are in pre-production now in the stage of finding financing and some of the concept work and things like that.