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Thursday, November 17, 2011

It's Still About the Story as Unconventional Media and Award Winning Filmmaker Eric Mofford Shares Some Unconventional Experiences.

Eric Mofford is a producer and director that has been involved in over 50 film, television and on-line productions and numerous music videos. He has worked as an Assistant Director and Production Manager on another 30 feature films and television programs, including the Emmy award-winning 24, CLOCKWATCHERS, KALIFORNIA and DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST. He has just completed producing, HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM, a feature Documentary Festival favorite, on the loss of domestic oil and energy alternatives; the live action portions for the EA video game, NEED FOR SPEED: UNDERCOVER, with Maggie Q; MANDALA, and a five camera live concert performance by world musician, David Arkenstone (also Directed. Previous producing credits include BLACK. WHITE. for FX television, EXTREME MAKEOVER:HOME EDITION for ABC and the IFC critically acclaimed comedy series, MINOR ACCOMPLISHMENTS OF JACKIE WOODMAN. In 2001, he co-produced the 13-part documentary series, SENIOR YEAR for PBS. He served as the Supervising Producer on the Docu-Dramady film, WE'LL ALWAYS HAVE DINGLE, shot in Kerry County, Ireland.

Eric has taught numerous media workshops (including the International Film and Television Workshops) and been a panelist on funding councils and numerous film festival seminars. For the last 5 years, he has been mentoring filmmakers with an individualized, tutorial-based instruction program One on One Film Training.  Eric still considers his best and most challenging work to be raising his two daughters.

GP MEDIA:  What would you say are some of the key ingredients to becoming a responsible and ethical documentarian? 

 ERIC MOFFORD:   It always starts with story. What is the story you are trying to get across to the viewer.  How is it the truth?  Then you need to find the elements that support that vision, be it people or places.   Ethically, you can’t change the story to fit your needs because then it becomes reality television or a fiction piece so you need to find the elements that are true to the story you want to tell as a filmmaker.

GP MEDIA:   Name two or more experiences in your life that have greatly influenced your work.

ERIC MOFFORD:  I went to Emerson College with the ambition to direct narrative feature films and animation. I took a documentary class which included work on a documentary entitled, "Woburn: Who Bears the Costs?" It was all about the toxic waste in the drinking water of Woburn, Mass and children getting cancer, later told in the feature film with John Travolta, "A Civil Action."  This Emerson project turned me on to the power of documentaries. Each film inspires me to tell another story.
Having children was the other big experience. You want to make the world a better place for them. I’m a filmmaker, I know no other way to change the world. Narrative films can be entertaining, but look at the power documentaries can have to make us rethink our world, who we are as people.  "A Thin Blue Line," "Inconvenient Truth," "Food, inc." "Paradise Lost," these films have helped free innocent people from jail, changed public eating habits, etc. That inspires me as a filmmaker.

GP MEDIA:  How have electronic media and the internet played into how you find audiences?

ERIC MOFFORD:   These days the Internet is your only hope for survival and finding an audience. We are not only filmmakers but we have to be fundraisers, sales agents and PR marketers. It’s just too hard to get anyone to do that kind of work without charging you a lot of money. Most movies don’t make the kind of money they once did. And no one will have the passion that you do for the project. You’ve got to be out there blogging, posting on social media, twitter updates, emails, always working to increase your fan base. It’s not fun and I don’t really enjoy it, but it’s got to be done.

GP MEDIA:  Do you think documentarian filmmaking has become less adventurous, less rebellious, more reality TV based in theme and messages?

ERIC MOFFORD:   Short answer, No! I think it may be true that many documentaries on Network television are more reality based in style, but that’s been going on for a long time. When we produced the series, “Senior Year” for PBS in 2000, everyone saw the style as new ideas for reality television, but we were just using old ideas from Cinema Verite. Today, everyone has a camera. At Occupy Wall Street, I think people with cameras outnumbered police. There is an endless supply of styles and information presented in documentary form on YouTube. It isn’t all good storytelling, but it inspires the creative art for everyone. When we were at the Emmy’s this year with our film, “Houston We Have A Problem,” I was really impressed with how many documentary films I wanted to see that had aired on television, this year alone.

GP MEDIA:What do you envision the future of documentarian filmmaking to look like in the next 20 years and how might delivery methods to audiences change in this competitive marketplace?

ERIC MOFFORD:   Well, I’m real excited by Transmedia, which is why my company is called Unconventional Media. Basically, it’s the idea of your smart phone, ipad, kindle, computer, television, all connected together to help tell the story you are interested in. So, let’s say you visit a famous place, you can watch short documentaries about the location on your phone, while you are there or if the film you are watching on television is important to you, a list of numbers to call for change appears on your phone. Basically your film is only part of the bigger experience so story is still going to be the most important aspect for it to stand out.
We'd like to thank Mr. Mofford for his masterful insight into helping contribute opinions and progressive thinking about the future of documentarians...To learn more about his company check out the Unconventional Website and if you're in the Los Angeles area where Mr. Mofford is based, explore some of the many wonderful films his company has produced and enlightened us with.  His work not only tells stories but leaves the viewer with a message that we can all take home and think about as we apply it to our day to day lives.  That's all for NOW...  From GP MEDIA,  GALILEO PRODUCTIONS, LLC,  I'm James Ford Nussbaum.

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