by Edwin L. Carpenter, Editor – The Dove Foundation
Rick Eldridge, producer, has a long list of credits to his name including Running the Sahara, The Ultimate Gift, and The Crippled Lamb. He not only has been the driving force behind some outstanding films, but he has nurtured some talent along the way. Rick chatted with us recently and shared some insight into the difficult task of raising funds to make movies and helping to develop talent along the way.
We began our interview with Rick with this question: what advice would you give to young producers just breaking into the business?
“I think it’s really important to number one, network. You hear about people all the time who find a group of friends and do a student film or do a project together, but it requires interacting and networking with others. Your film is not a solo project ever. You can do a solo album with your guitar and sing some songs but not be a band. There are not too many people who can make solo movies. It is a collaborative effort, so I think networking with people of like-minded spirit, thought, passion, idea and being able to collaborate on a project together is really the best way to do it at whatever level.”
Rick said this applies to student level films with semi-pro home video set-ups or “if it’s a 35 mm shoot with some money. Telling stories is a creative process that requires a collaborative effort. There are so many things that have to happen to make a product at whatever level. I always say great people make great product, and when they collaborate it gets even better.”
We asked Rick to comment about Running the Sahara being up for a Crystal Dove Seal Award and he said, “I was happy to hear about that!” He won a Crystal Dove Seal a year ago for The Ultimate Gift.
We wanted to know how difficult it is for producers to find production funds with the economy being what it is today, and Rick replied, “It is tough. We work very closely with studios on a lot of our products that provide a minimum guarantee or a guarantee upon delivery, and then typically that’s something that you would say would be bankable. With a major studio you could take that (guarantee) to a bank and they would give you a loan against it. That’s not so true anymore. Banks are tight and they’re very careful with their lending practices as we all know, in whatever industry it is, and it makes it a lot more difficult.
“Private equity money is the same thing. People just don’t have the same amount of discretionary income with the market the way it’s been. So it is difficult. We have to be much more creative in the way we do things. We have to look at bringing things in maybe with a little less money. It’s a challenge but we’re still committed to telling great stories so we’ll find a way.”
Dove wanted to know what film Rick might have recently viewed which he personally liked. “Probably the one that stands out to me most, and it was on an Academy list this year and I tried to get it nominated because I liked it, was one of those obscure films that didn’t quite make at least the political run, Boy in the Striped Pajamas (which received our Dove “Family-Approved” Seal).
“That, I thought, was just a dynamic film. I think the relationships the kids had with one another, with no pretense, was great and it was just a great film. My wife and I both certainly love the Jewish people and anything that deals with content in that way (a respect for life). I think it’s something we kind of gravitate to. It’s a powerful film.”
He appreciated the innocence of the children in the film and that it is a story that crosses racial and cultural lines. “There’s an unconditional love there that’s pretty amazing” said Rick.
Rick also has nurtured new and raw talent. He got behind Dog Days of Summer and backed a new talent named Mark Freiburger, the writer/director.
“Mark Freiburger has been someone we’ve kind of watched grow up. He went to school in my hometown of Charlotte. His oldest sister went to school with my daughter.”
Rick produced Dog Days of Summer and predicts a bright future for Mark, whom he says has a lot of talent.
Rick Eldridge believes in grooming talent for the future and The Dove Foundation recently interviewed Mark Freiburger, and his interview will be posted here on our website very soon.
Rick Eldridge has experienced a lot of ups and downs with more than twenty films to his credit. He has found ways to produce movies in the good and difficult times. And his eye is fixed on helping up and coming talent. He is a man who gets things done and knows how to collaborate. The film industry is blessed to have his vision.
Read Dove’s Review of “Dog Days of Summer“