|By Sundown and The UnitedWhat is your position and what do you achieve in your work for Ludus/DWC films to be major player in the film industry?I am the founder and president of the studio. What I bring to the Ludus is years of experience. I have been in the production/entertainment game for quite some time. 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. Leading a group of highly creative people on the road to living their dream.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?When I left the corporate world ten years ago this month, I always dreamed of opening a studio where talented people could come together and create. I even drew up plans for a studio back in 2004, but I hadn’t found the right group of people that shared the passion I have for this industry. I met Mike when I was contracted to streamline an event company’s production department in Carrollton TX. He was organized and knew his craft… At that same job, Jeff Adair became one of my shooter/editors. This kid had talent that was being wasted on the job at hand. Mike and I started hanging out and found out the similar experiences we shared in the wonderful world of production. After many discussions, we decided that we could live in an empty warehouse and build a studio. Might be fun! Julio was Mike’s roommate at the time, the three of us set out to find the building that we would call home. We looked at several places in Deep Ellum, but found that the growth in Dallas was coming from the Design District near downtown. In this time Jeff was now working for the corporate world again and it was like a captured animal.. Production work, but ZERO creative freedom. He left that job and became a member of the Ludus Family. We started with five daring souls, Michael Traverzo, Jonathan Traverzo (Original member – Offered a bad-ass job, couldn’t refuse.) Jeff Adair, Julio Alonzo and myself. This became the core of the Ludus. We lived in different sections of the studio as we built it. None of us had any money so we were on the streets, trying to drum up business for the studio. As jobs came in, we continued to build, we’re still building. Some of our friends and family has supported us, and believed in us since we opened. Josh, Ez, Tony, Renzo and Lori have seen us through some great times and a few not so great. Our family is continuing to grow. As it does, we already have our eye on the location next door to expand in the next few years.What has your environment in Dallas and experience at Ludus Studios done to achieve your goals?
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.
I receive motivation from several genre’s and artists. Electronic Techno is my favorite. Makes driving in Dallas more like a video game, plus its a blast to build graphics or edit video to that beat! I also enjoy running FOH (Front of House) sound for the band “A Moments Notice”. These guys are some great friends, who just happen to be bad ass musicians. It allows me to go back to roots of quality production, make the mix as good as it should be on any video we produce… but in real time.
Best movie theme music?
Indiana Jones… Get that stuck in your head and you feel like you can do anything!!! (you’re singing right now, aren’t you?)
What’s your genre of film, you can picture yourself getting lost in forever?
Any. I have been involved with several genres and can’t see limiting myself to just one. As long as it is entertaining to the viewer, tells a great story and will leave an impression on the viewer.
Equipment, what you packing? Your favorite and why and where is the best time to use it? For all those film students that don’t have a clue.
Canon 5D and 7D, all equipped with a Traverzo rig. (The Traverzo rig, a custom built camera support that is built in our studio by Michael Traverzo) The cameras have great resolution, you can use different lenses for a variety of looks. We use a random array of lights, Within the Ludus is a 450 square foot green screen seamless syc. (we paint it up for what ever the production calls for, currently it is black) Just ordered a new edit rig, A 12 core Mac with 24GB of RAMM to start. A few 40″ LED monitors, Surround sound… 22 foot crane/jib with a robotic, remote control camera head that attaches to the top, allowing us to grab those killer shots. Snorricam, Car mounts, GoPro Cameras, ProTools recording studio we use for tracking and ADR…. lots of toys. Not too long ago, I would of whole heartily told a film student that Final Cut Pro was the way to go for learning , but with the newest version, it’s a bit more user friendly, but less professional control. But that is from someone that has been editing with FCP since version 2.0. I hear that the newest version is great for someone starting out and hasn’t gotten set in their ways.
I had a choice when I started college, go to film school or go into video production. This was a time when not everyone had a video camera on their phone or the millions of random videos on the web. I chose video production, learning all that pertained to working in that field. I never learned to load a gate, or any of the knowledge that was needed for film. I had always sought after a look that couldn’t be achieved with broadcast video cameras. Thankfully the technology advanced and it allowed us to acquire that look without the hefty expense of using film. The aspiring filmmaker today has better equipment available at a much lower cost. I personally think this allows those that are truly passionate about filmmaking a much better chance at seeing their ideas come to life.
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?
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.
Chace, a colleague of yours and one of our writing contributors, mention that you guys literally eat sleep work there. How does the living situation create the dynamic there at the studio?
As with most creative people, we keep very strange hours. For many years, I worked where I lived, now, we live where we work. There is always something going on in the studio… Meetings at Midnight, 3 am painting session for production the next day.. building and gathering props for shoots at all hours of the night and day. We have finally built a doorway to separate the living area from the working area. Need a bit of separation. Nothing like sitting down to an early edit session and having a roommate stroll to the front in his boxers. As we grew, and business became.. well, busy, it was a much needed addition. Plus it keeps clients and artist from going into our living area. It has been joked we are “Living on Ludus Time” sang to the old tune, “Living on Tulsa Time” The days of waking up and getting to the office by 8:30, then leaving work at 5 are gone for all of us. I personally have been living these hours for several years… some days will last 28-40 hours long, then involuntary hibernation takes over. It’s not for everyone. You have to have a certain level of passion to run with the Ludisians! Ludisian Legion Entertainment, Passion Required.