The evening started with Hellion, starring Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad and produced by Tanner Beard’s production company, Silver Sail Entertainment. They also screened a trailer of an upcoming film from Silver Sail Entertainment. Filmmaking instructor Eric Conner moderated the Q&A that followed.
One of the first things the group focused on was the importance of being a positive person to work with, with Ryan Rottman saying, “In this town, the nicer you are, the more real you are…people appreciate that.” Rottman has acted in several TV series, including 90210, The Lying Game, and Happyland. He’ll be appearing in the upcoming film, Billionaire Boys Club.
Steven Garcia, VP, Current Programing and Development at B17 Entertainment, added, “I’m thankful I’ve surrounded myself with good people. I’ve been a good enough teammate to have them keep me around.”
This went along with the question they were asked about how to network. The whole panel agreed when Rottman said to “talk to other people.” Beard added that students should “surround [themselves] with people who love what you love and do what you do. Once you get out of school you’re so hungry for it, you forget it’s going to take time.”
They did admit how difficult the business could be, but their hope was to show that it is possible to succeed. Beard said that “it never gets easier. It was something I wanted very badly. I took the glass half full approach.”
Rottman advised that students “not [let] it beat you down…just keep going. I know people who booked it…do your best.”
Ashley Eberbach, who works as a photographer and runs a multi-media production company in Los Angeles, chimed in, saying, “I think we all have war stories of like ‘I can’t believe that worked out.’ Make the best of it—the minute you break, that’s when you have a disaster. Making movies is supposed to be fun.”
They reminisced fondly about their time at NYFA, and Beard said that “it is so cool…we are so happy to be here.”
They concluded the evening with a movie trivia contest with prizes like Silver Sail Entertainment T-shirts and a signed event poster. We hope this will be the first of many visits back from these thriving, successful graduates.
Already with an extensive list of noteworthy credits in producing, writing, directing and acting, 8-Week Filmmaking and 4-Week Acting for Film graduate Tanner Beard has recently released his newest feature, 6 Bullets to Hell, which Tanner stars in, co-wrote, co-directed and is Executive Producer of through his production company Silver Sail Entertainment. His film is a Grindhouse style Spaghetti Western shot and made to look like the classic European Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s. 6 Bullets to Hell is loyal to its predecessors as it even stays true to the form of how these were filmed in the late 1960s, all the way down to the dubbing of the audio. In the film, Beard plays a bandit, Bobby Durango, who heads up a ruthless gang in the West.
Aside from Tanner paying homage to Sergio Leone, his company is actively producing projects including: a travel show, award-winning short films, award-winning documentaries, commercials, music videos, two seasons of a web-based television series and feature films such as the critically acclaimed Hellion starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis. Established during the 2008 writers’ strike, the company set out to create professional media content, and exploded from there.
Outside of the company, Tanner has been the Executive Producer of three films under the iconic director Terrance Malick and producer Sarah Green, starring some of Hollywood’s most well-known actors like Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Cate Blanchett, Michael Fassbender and Natalie Portman. The third of which is a documentary, Voyage of Time, executive produced by Brad Pitt, who also narrates the film.
Tanner’s next two projects are an animated feature entitled Fridgeport, which he co-created with Paul Khoury and is producing alongside Liam Hemsworth and Ashley Greene. His latest passion project is a Christmas comedy Just Be Claus, which he co-wrote with director Tim Skousen and is producing with Jeff Kalligheri and Jared Hess of Napoleon Dynamite.
We caught up with the extremely busy actor / filmmaker following his recent trip to Cannes.
Congrats on all of your success thus far! Can you bring us back to your time at NYFA. What stood out for you the most?
I remember how incredible it was filming on the [Universal] backlot (and with actual film in the cameras). Even though that is obsolete these days it gave me a great appreciation for all the moving parts that go into each and every shot, each and every frame. I hope NYFA still has students shoot on film—it can train you for anything. I also did the 4-Week Acting for Film program immediately after. That was the first real “acting for film” study I had, as I came from theater studies in London.
Would you say your experience at NYFA was useful in terms of what you’re doing now: writing, acting, producing, directing, etc. ?
Absolutely. The requirements of the week-to-week assignments prep you well for the intense competition of the film/tv workforce. You have to stay creatively sharp to write, direct, and shot list your own projects, and the editing courses helped me immensely. It also shows you the importance of doing your best for someone else’s project because you would want them to work hard on yours. I’ve always loved that design of the 4 to 5 person teams.
How did your working relationship with Terrence Malick begin?
I produced a movie with Aaron Paul called Hellion and I met and worked with Sarah Green who has produced almost all of Mr. Malick’s films over the last couple of years. They had already been working on these projects I was involved in but there was still work to be done; and after we had seen Hellion through to the finish line, we continued to work together and she brought me in on the Malick films. And that’s another interesting thing about NYFA — I still work with three people who went there the same time I did.
You started your production company during the writer’s strike. Did you get any backlash for that or do you think that it actually helped jumpstart the company?
Well, during the strike, we were all out-of-work actors living on the same street. One other NYFA student—Phil Donohue and some other friends—just said, well, we own some cameras. People are talking about making these “series” and putting them on the “web.” It was the “Wild West” of web series and we just starting shooting on our street, really for something to do, or just to feel like we were working/acting. Once we started seeing what the results were, and we were also flying so far under the radar, no one was going to stop “a couple of kids with cameras.” It turned into something more lucrative than we thought and I never looked back with Silver Sail Entertainment which is now a company with credits I’m very proud of.
Indeed the company is something to be very proud of. Anything else you’d like to share, specifically about your most recent film, 6 Bullets to Hell?
I’d like to share something that’s new to us. Silver Sail has created a mobile app video game as the films advertisement. It’s an arcade or “duck hunt” style shoot ’em game based on the movie, with direct links to buy or rent the film. Kinda of an experiment competing in the indie world of the 2016 market!
We hope you get a chance to check out 6 Bullets to Hell, which also comes in a “Drive-in Style’ version with two Grindhouse trailers before the film begins.