Published on November 15th, 2011 | by Jeremy Brown0
Re’Shaun Frear – Producer
By Jeremy Brown
You know when you’re at a Hollywood party and you meet yet another Film Producer? They hand you a card that reads “Producer” but when you ask them what they’ve worked on or what a producer does they have no real comprehensive answer. Well Re’Shaun Frear is a true Producer and Executive Producer in Film and Television and can tell you not only what a producer does, but what projects he has worked on.
A California native, Re’Shaun was born in West Hills and grew up in Calabasas. He has an impressive resume by anyone’s standards prior to finding his path in the Film industry as a Producer. But you can read his bio on IMDB.com to find out that information. Let’s find out more about being an executive producer in film and television.
Re’Shaun tells us that the hierarchy of Producers in film is directly related to what they bring to a project. The Executive Producer brings in the most important element for production: money! The Producer, however, is the first person to touch the project. It is the Producer’s job to believe in the project, find the talent, find the crew, and make sure the project flies. The Co-Producer and Associate Producers bring an element to the project that is gravy, but not essential; like negotiating a contract or bringing on an actor. It all depends, but this is where it gets a bit more vague.
With Television, the Networks supply the money, so the Executive Producer is more like the person who (literally) runs the show. It’s a bit more cut and dry.
The journey to becoming a Producer is as unique and diverse as there are people in the world. For Re’Shaun the journey started upon returning to LA and knowing that he wanted to work in Film and Television in some capacity. But like so many, he had no idea how or what would be a good fit. So he grabbed a boom mic and became a Boom Operator. Then he moved on to be a Grip. This went on until finally he was having a conversation with a childhood friend who was producing the film Re’Shaun was working on. His friend pointed out how great Re’Shaun was at bringing people together to make a project work. This is what a Producer does, and Re’Shaun was a natural. The rest is what Frear refers to as “God taking over” because he was on the right path.
In 2005, Re’Shaun’s first script came to him from a long time friend. She literally dropped it in his lap and asked him for his opinion of the project. After reading the script, Frear knew that the story needed to be told. He found Dirty Laundry to be a story of tolerance and love, and he knew he was supposed to be a part of its success.
Next, came the task of putting the cast together, telling the story in a way that was respectful and inclusive. In all his projects, it’s important to Frear that the audience leaves the movie feeling or thinking differently than when they entered. He also wanted to make sure that the film would be relevant five years later. Congratulations! Not only has the film been successful in winning an NAACP and GLAAD Award, but also has seen a revitalized success on television and is finally monetizing in residuals.
Frear says that it’s great to see the success of the project years later, but one of the hardest parts of being a Producer is waiting years for a project to be successful. He has three films coming out in 2012 and is just seeing the money from one that was produced over five years ago.
So what was the recipe to Dirty Laundry’s success? Timing! Frear says that the same friend who introduced him to the script was working on a local production and had access to the film’s stars, Loretta Divine and Jennifer Lewis. Lewis and Divine joined the cast almost instantly and helped to make the project an easy sell to others who would later join the cast. They also became quick favorites of Re’Shaun, who says he loves working with them both and looks forward to his next projects with them. “They simply make the set a fun place to be,” explains Frear when asked who his favorites in the industry are to work with.
Despite how much fun it was to make Dirty Laundry and the film’s early success, there were many… learning opportunities that came with Frear’s first movie. The main lesson he admits to learning was the importance of strong P&A in pre-production. Prints and Advertising has the power to make or break a project and in Frear’s recently released film Pastor Brown, he made sure that it received great marketing in the Black and Church Communities, taking advantage of YouTube and Facebook in addition to holding a number of test screenings to get the feedback of his target audience.
Re’Shaun smiles as he tells his favorite story of a woman who “hated films about the Black church.” The skeptic went to the screening as a challenge to Re’Shaun’s statement that it would change her life. Sure enough, after watching the tale about redemption and forgiveness, the skeptical woman gave her life to Christ (along with fifty or so others who watched the film and answered the Alter Call that followed). Frear said that he wasn’t surprised, since he went into the project with a strained relationship with his estranged brother of years and felt the need to reach out by the project’s end. How does someone follow up with a movie as powerful as Pastor Brown?
Pawn is the answer Re’Shaun gives. Re’Shaun was excited to talk about a jump into mainstream film. “Forrest Whitaker is on the project and he makes things happen.” The newest feature is a crime thriller that drops names like Ray Liotta, Common, and Michael Chiklis and that’s just in front of the camera!
Does this mean you’ve made it?
“I will know I [have made it] when I can truly help someone realize [his] dream in this industry. And when I can fly my entire family and group of friends to an island for a weekend.” Re’Shaun and I laugh as he says this, but I smile knowing that I am one of the people he has continued to help keep a foothold in the tough world of Black Filmmaking. I guess he doesn’t realize that he is more than halfway there.
You might wonder how a man with so many accolades in the industry stays this humble. Re’Shaun attributes this quality first to his journey and second to the Producers he models himself after… the Smiths. Having met Jada Pinkett-Smith on the set of All of Us, Frear says Jada’s down-to-earth approachableness and genuine grace and generosity is merely the beginning of why she and Will Smith are on the list of people Re’Shuan would love to work with. “No matter where they are, they are the same Will and Jada. You always deal with the same people… They set the standard on how one should act as a producer no matter their race or level of success,” says Frear, whose compliments are no small feat to pull (I speak from experience).
What is the hardest part about producing?
“You are always chasing the money.”
Sorry folks, but this doesn’t change in film. No matter how successful you are. It does get easier as one moves into the mainstream, as studios are more willing to take on projects that speak to a larger audience. Frear says that one of the reliefs of moving into producing television is getting funding from the Networks. A small, but welcomed breather Frear saw on his latest project, Raising the Rileys, which features R&B Legendary Producer Teddy Riley and his modern family of six kids and their four varying mothers.
Re’Shaun is also excited for the release of his film Christmas in Compton, slated for release and distribution this Fall from the company where he and I met, Bright Ideas Entertainment. Good Luck, fam!
What advice would you give young Producers of Color?
“Believe in what you are doing. Believe in your project and have faith that if it’s right for you it will come. Remember that no one owes you anything. You have to make a way.”