After serving 13 years as an active duty U.S. Marine with two combat tours in Iraq, Kansas native, Paul J. Porter earned a BA in Film from the University of New Mexico and his MFA in Producing for Film and Television from the New York Film Academy in Los Angeles. While in New Mexico, Porter founded Rogue Taurus Productions, which he runs with his wife, actress Hayley Derryberry. Porter freelances as an independent feature film producer/director in addition to his weekly posts on the Rogue Filmmaker Blog.
Now relocated to Los Angeles, CA, the couple’s latest project is the ambitious comedy, “Oktoberfest”, which has racked-up nearly $20K of its $50K budget on the film fundraising website, Kickstarter. Many in the local film community have worked with this dynamic pair. Below OHI catches up with the filmmaker regarding his experiences in the industry and ask for his advice to his peers.
OHI: How long did you and your wife, Hayley, work on making films here in New Mexico?
PJP: It was about five years, and we wouldn’t have met without the NM film industry. Back in 2008 it was just starting to really pick up, and we met at a wrap party for a project that Hayley and a friend of mine worked on. From then on we worked constantly on film projects in the state and still come back there every once in a while for projects.
OHI: What can you say about the climate of indie filmmaking in NM versus the rest of the country?
PJP: It has a really great balance. There is a huge range of projects from the big studio and network shows down to tiny student films. We got our start there and I think it’s a great place to dive into the industry because you can get a ton of experience very quickly and keep moving onto bigger and better projects much faster than you would be able to in L.A. where things are so saturated, or a smaller market where you would hit a ceiling very soon. It also has a lot of the opportunity of L.A. without a lot of the restrictions, so it’s a much more pleasant location for filmmakers at all levels.
OHI: Do you think indie movie making needs to be mobile just like big picture productions or do you think a strong team can make a strong showing in any environment?
PJP: Yes and yes! Filmmakers need to be able to adapt to any environment but also use what is available to bring their projects to life. I think NM is a perfect place for almost any project, but there will be rare occasions where you need to get out of the state for whatever reason and the same filmmaking skills will need to be applied then.
OHI: What are some pros and cons of both NM & L.A. for other filmmakers and talent to consider as they are working to broaden their careers?
PJP: There’s no one way to ‘make it’ or become successful but here are a few things we’ve learned along the way. I definitely recommend getting experience in different parts of the country to see how things are done outside of areas your familiar with. We started in NM and went to L.A., then shot our first feature in Kansas; now we’re back in L.A. for our current feature (the Oktoberfest Movie) and plan to come back to the Midwest and New Mexico for future projects. Both L.A. and NM have their particular circles and cliques that can help and hinder projects, but in general I would recommend NM over L.A. any day because of the headaches of producing out here like permitting and the fact that everyone is used to filmmaking out here and expect a lot of money for every little thing. L.A. does have the best film schools in the world along with some of the best actor training available, but any educational opportunity is what you make of it. The strategy that worked for Hayley and I was to build up our resumes and experience before coming to L.A., which worked out great because our time in NM put us way ahead of all the people that came to L.A. as their first attempt at a film or acting career. Another great thing we got in New Mexico is a network of friends that we still work with whenever we can.
OHI: What led you to the Oktoberfest project?
PJP: Hayley started working at the location we’re shooting the movie (the Alpine Village) a few years ago, then I came on last year to shoot photos and video for the annual Oktoberfest celebration and the whole experience just screamed to have a movie made about it!
OHI: Your fundraising efforts for this production are impressive. What do you attribute the popularity of the concept to?
PJP: [It] is coming along nicely and we’re very happy with it. The popularity of the concept is what made me move forward with the project because the Oktoberfest audience is huge, but we haven’t really ignited that crowd of fans like we had hoped yet. The reason our crowdfunding is successful so far is because we started planning it almost 8 months in advance, did tons of research, started building our audience online early, and have a dedicated team of producers working on it full-time right now. We made sure to execute a professional campaign and even hired a crowdfunding expert/manager to help guide us along the way. It’s the hardest work we’ve ever done for a project and it’s taken a lot of time and effort to get to this point.
To follow & support the efforts of this New Mexico trained duo, click here.