Amanda Carr sits down with BWME member Judy Coleman, Executive Producer, WILD BEAGLE PRODUCTIONS

 

AC:
A fun way to start is to ask if there really is a wild beagle that inspired the name of your company, Wild Beagle Productions and if so, does he or she get to do any cameos?

JC:
Yes, it’s true! Wild Beagle Productions has its own “wild” beagle – her name is Cassie and we have had her for over 15 years.  Whenever possible, she has a cameo in our pictures – in fact, in our first movie, “27 Down”, she was the dog running across the street that caused the bicycle accident which set the film in motion.

AC:
I think we can all agree that it is very difficult to dream big dreams, execute ideas and then make them a reality by yourself. How did you and your husband, John Depew, morph from Bradford Billing, a medical billing company to founding a successful and thriving movie production company?

JC:
It does seem like a a big step to go from medical billing to movie production – John had always dreamed of being involved in the movie industry and took the opportunity about 20 years ago to get involved in community theatre and from there he acted in college films, industry commercials and landed some bit parts on the “big screen”.  This fueled his ambition to direct his own film.  At the time, I was totally involved in our medical billing company and my support came in the form of simply being an enthusiastic audience participant and helping to clean up on closing night.  However, I had to start thinking “outside the box” when John’s contact to produce his first film didn’t work out. I decided to try on my producer’s hat and it’s been on my head ever since!

AC:
Many artists are successful because they master the ability to use both sides of their brain: balancing the art itself and the business of the art.  You and John seem to have a clear view of your roles. Did it start out this way, or did it take some time to realize who was good at what?

JC:
My approach to John’s involvement in the film industry had always been “that’s your thing”.  So, I was totally on board for him to “create” and for me to “make it happen”.  But like any endeavor, as we grew and expanded our dreams, we became even more in sync with respecting each other’s strengths but also adding “another viewpoint” when necessary – and sometimes when not necessary!

AC:
Obviously, there was no guide book to teach you how to do what you’re doing, but do you feel that much of your success has come from learning from your mistakes?

JC:
We have just completed our 4th full length feature film and it has been a total learning curve.  Luckily, some things seem to come naturally, but there was a lot of “jumping in the deep water” and hoping to come up swimming.  We have learned so much with each production and we hope that shows in the professionalism and creativity evident in each project we bring to life.

AC:
When we were first getting to know one another for this interview, you told me a very funny story about one of your first on-location shoots at a gas station in a suburb of Boston… and the lesson you took away from that experience. Can you share that story in the Entertainment Corner? I think our readers will get a kick out of it!

JC:
For our first movie, “27 Down”, we had a robbery scene in a local convenience store north of Boston. We got approval from the owners and they were even on set with us.  We don’t use real guns, but very authentic looking fake ones.  As it happened, a passerby reported what he thought was as a robbery in progress and called the police – the real police – not my actors.  And they came in with guns drawn ordering everyone (with a gun) on the floor.  It took a few scary minutes to straighten everything out.  But it ended well and we invited the two (real) police officers to our premiere as our guests.  The moral of the story? When any action scenes are being shot, whether inside or outside – notify the local authorities and let them know what you are doing.  To this day, I have the Haverhill and North Andover police departments on my speed dial!

AC:
What role does passion play when it comes to being successful in the entertainment business…or any business for that matter?

JC:
It’s everything. If you are not passionate about what you are doing, it shows.  I believe that passion for the craft, for the story being told with clarity and purpose brings life to what you are doing.

AC:
Your most recent film, “Lazarus Rising” has garnered some notable film industry awards and stars veteran actors, like Eric Roberts (Julia Roberts brother), Lenny Clarke and C Thomas Howell. Does this feel like a milestone in some way that you’ve gone from not knowing about producing or directing ‘anything’ 8 years ago to Wild Beagle Productions recognized as a legitimate player in the film industry?

JC:
We always knew we would need a “name” actor if we wanted to achieve any kind of financial success in our industry.  We have been extremely lucky to have “picked” such wonderful actors to work with us, but even more – such great people.  I can’t begin to tell you how nervous I was when I first had to talk to an agent, or the actor himself. The idea of setting up price, wardrobe and lodging were all daunting to me. I can’t say enough for the wonderful actors we have worked with and how easy they made my job.

AC:
What advice can you give to anyone who wants to enter the entertainment business, whether as an artist or a business professional?

JC:
People often say, it’s who you know….and that’s true in some ways, but the old adage “hard work pays off” and “it pays to persevere” are also true.  For me, “the devil is in the details”. You need to work at every aspect of your craft, whether that be acting, directing, producing, etc.  The entertainment industry is a community and you want your reputation to precede you – and it will – so make it a great one.  That is one of the things John and I are striving for at Wild Beagle Productions.

wildbeagleproductions.com