By Sundown and The United
“Are you not entertained?” quoting a line of one of my favorite movies “Gladiator” with Russell Crow (when he was cool) appropriately with a slant smile and smug look on my face of “I told you so!”, as my friend and fellow staff writer Omar Chavez’s mouth drops to the amazingly written conclusion of Odd or Evens “No way!” he exclaims. The same time Jordan (writer of Hale! Down To The Reel – LA life and Films) emailed me asking, “Who are these guys? Who filmed this?”
The short cinematic film starring Charles Baker and Lydia Mackay was co-produced by Ludus Studios, The Lusidian Legion Entertainment Company.
I first heard about the people of Ludus, early this year, when I got a call from Chace (writer of Live Fierce, A constant Chase). She told me about an award party she was attending at a film studio in the middle of Dallas Design District.
She felt I should meet some of them and talk. She felt I could get some much needed creative conversation and encouragement. For I was just barely starting Sundown United and I definitely needed it. But I was going through my own “5 Year Dream” (another short film the SDU staff watched, that touches on love, lust, and loss.) Now as the year ends I have become a big fan of theirs and all the work they are producing. Only being in production for several years they have evolved rapidly and garnered much success throughout the region.
The studio has focused on music videos, commercials and experimental films with a small, efficient, and hyper reality sensibility; a sensibility that has sent some of the artist from Dallas to New York, producing films with mind bending pleasure. We had a chance to sit down with Dave French (owner), Michael Traverzo, Jeff Adair, Shane Connelly, Julio Alonso and the many other great artist at Ludus Studios as we dig through their film vault giving us the rundown of the studio itself and all its layers. Ludus Studios is the new collective creative of film in the heart of Dallas.
SDU: First thanks guys for taking time for this interview i know you guys have been busy and allowing us to get a glimpse into another group of creative-hard working people who inspire to do big in the city they call D.
SDU: Dave French introduce yourself and what do you bring to the studio? And a little bit of your background?
Dave@Ludus: I am the founder and president of the studio. What I bring to the Ludus is years of experience. Leading a group of highly creative people on the road to living their dream. Starting off as a Magician at age 9, DJing at 15, Years of Television production that includes master control, live shows, promotions, viewer events, meet and greets, commercial production, infomercial production, weathercast, and 24 hour telethons. Producing, shooting and editing short films, a few features and demo reels for actors and news/entertainment talent. A few indie TV Stations as well as FOX, CBS, UPN and The Texas Rangers. I’ve won awards for Producing & Cinematography for a feature shot in Houston, An Addy and a FOX Monument Award among others. I’ve even had a segment air on Oprah’s show. All of this and probably more lead me where I’m at today.
SDU: What has the environment in Dallas and the experience at Ludus Studios done to achieve your goals?
Dave@Ludus: Dallas is a great city. We’ve had great cooperation with the majority of the people in the metroplex. From talent, locations, and other people in working roles, we have a great pool of talent in this town. You don’t have the stigma of the LA scene, or the brash attitude of NY. Everyone we have dealt with has truly been excited that productions like ours are being done in Dallas Texas.
SDU: Jeff Adair and Shane Connelly I love both of your work! Jeff i watch Blue Whisper (indie-short film) at least once a week. Shane, we need to talk about 5 year dream (indie-short film) there was so much symbolism going on i have to many questions but later. For the readers who don’t know what are your positions and what do you achieve in your work for Ludus/DWC films to be major player in the film industry?
Shane@Ludus: I am a pretty all around production guy (Shooting, Lighting, Editing, ect.), but I know there is a bit of a stigma behind multi-talented individuals. For all intents and purposes, I am a Cinematographer and Director.
Jeff@Ludus: I’m the Creative Director for Ludus Studios….my job is too think of cool ways for you to remember us by. tell people what they need to hear. show people what they need to see. I hope Ludus to be one of the premiere studios in the Nation one day. and one way to do that is consistency of good work and forever evolving into more greatness. I’m the Owner/Director of Dream.Work.Conquer.Entertainment, LLC.(DWCFilms) dreamworkconquer.
SDU: Michael, What is your major role here and what do you believe is the key component to get to the next stage of artistic expression in film?
Michael@Ludus: Hi my name is Michael A Traverzo CEO here at Ludisian Legion Entertainment LLC aka Ludus Studios… High production value is the key component in what we do at Ludus Studios. We pride ourselves on pre production and getting all that we can ready before shooting. In my opinion to be major player in the F.I. we have to be on par with communication and technology, The Film industry in all its illustriousness always calls (as it should) for a higher quality of work; to be the best. In truth we love the challenge.
SDU: How did all of you meet and find your way here at the Studio? was it an Ad? A friend of a friend? school? A crazy night of drinks and The Worst. Movie. Ever. Moment?
Michael@Ludus: It’s a story of fate the way we hear at Ludus came to becoming friends and colleagues. What is most novel of all things is our passion to be film makers; that being the case we magnetically pulled together. We started working as a team for the first time when the Ludus started back in 2010… and haven’t stopped yet.
SDU: Wait, I think Esme (Art Director of Ludus Studio) has a way much more epic version on how she found her way to Ludus!
Esme@Ludus: (British trailer voice) This epic tale of 2 independent individuals, on two different continents. Both creative, ambitious, youthful & used to the lifestyle of little sleep & fast deadlines. She traveled the world organizing huge conferences. He was an entrepreneur & aspiring director. Having mutual friends for 2 years, never knowing these would eventually become as close as a family. Finally their paths passed, in New Orleans. Their connection was clear from the start & he began to share his passion of filmmaking with her. Seducing her with his charm, to stay with him forever!
Esme@Ludus: Esme Traverzo, My role is Art Director. High quality, if we’re going to do something, do it to the best! No matter what the value of the project, and its even better when we exceed the client’s expectations. To be a major part of the industry, you have be eat, sleep & breathe filmmaking! I definitely see things in a different light since entering the movie world. Even the way I watch blockbusters is totally different from the past. I look at the shots, camera angles, sound effect, & spotting continuity hiccups!
SDU: We got a lot more to talk about with all of you guys, about the studio and some of our hand-picked favorites. So as we close up with part 1 of this interview, last question to Dave. What does this Studio mean to you? As you all move forward, what does the future of entertainment in Dallas and the surrounding areas of Texas reveal to you?
Dave@Ludus: The name “Ludus” was taken from the Roman era when the gladiators would prepare for the great coliseums. They would live, eat and train in the ludus… We named it Ludus as it is our training ground. A place where we can try new and outrageous ways of film making and video production. I think the moment I knew we really had something was the night of our 1 year anniversary party. We gave away our “Ludi Awards” to a few of the artist and clients we had worked with the year before. There was about 200-250 people in our studio. We had a stage on our back lot, a giant video screen showing clips from the work we had completed and as I was up in front of all our friends, family and the people that supported us in our start. I knew Ludus Studios was going to be an inspiring adventure that was here to stay.
SDU: Part 2 To be continued….