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Jonny Diaz and Eric Townsend Story

September 28, 2010 | By | 1 Comment

Jessica Green

Jonny Diaz and Eric Townsend

Solo Picture Studios’ company motto is “Create, Make & Believe.” That couldn’t be more accurate for this local independent production company. No fancy business tricks or marketing schemes for these guys- they credit nearly all of their achievements to dedication, good old fashioned hard work and the support of friends and family.

Directors Jonny Diaz and Eric Townsend are living proof that you don’t need much money to do what you love and do it well. They’ve found that networking and forming relationships with others in the industry can truly make up for having no money. Their most recent project, “No Respect,” cost less than $300 to make, and was done in three days.

“We’re blessed by having people who want to help. They liked the script, gave up time and helped out for free. That’s how we’ve done a lot of our stuff,” Diaz said.

Eric Townsend and Jonny Diaz at work

Diaz and Townsend are completely financially independent, and do have to work side jobs to maintain stability in this tough industry and weak economy. But they firmly believe in doing what you can with what you have, and have really seemed to make it work.

“With “No Respect,” we decided to just do it,” Diaz said. “Eric wrote the script in college and we wanted to explore it. We pushed each other to get it done by the end of May.”

“It helped having no choice,” Townsend said. “It was do or die. If you don’t give yourself a deadline you’ll never finish.”

Eric Townsend

But when it came to actually filming “No Respect,” Diaz and Townsend’s friends and family didn’t just give their support, they directly contributed to the completion of the film. When their make-up girl quit the night before the shoot, Townsend’s mom found a recipe for fake blood and saved the day.

“Her motherly instinct kicked in,” Townsend said.

They were also able to shoot at the studio where Townsend used to work for free, due to the report he had built up with them over the years.

“I basically called in every favor I had from the past,” he said.

Nearly all of the equipment they use belongs to their crew, saving them money and time to not have to deal with buying or renting.

“Our crew brings their own equipment,” they said. Good people and good friends help us out, just like we’d help them. If they didn’t have what we needed, we’d find three or four guys that would. No matter how busy people are, they’re still there to help us out.”

Another time saver for Diaz and Townsend comes with their organizational skills. Diaz claims they rarely make mistakes in planning a shoot due to having structure and storyboarding every single shot.

Jonny Diaz

Diaz and Townsend speak highly about Chicago’s filmmaking scene, but stress the fact that you need to know people in order to really get anywhere. They say that it’s difficult to break in, but once you do there’s a lot of work to do and you can make a living doing it.

“You have to be willing to work for free [in the beginning] and help people out,” Diaz said. “Have a good heart and be there for people. It’s tough, but at the end of the day everything is a lesson. Good people are asking for help, and it’s kind of like ‘help us and we’ll help you.’”

They also think that big Hollywood productions have helped out Chicago’s independent scene. Townsend uses “The Dark Knight” as an example of this, stating that it helped put Chicago back on the map.

“It brought a steady stream of film here. Chicago is a wonderful city,” he said.

“No Respect” premiered at the Chicago International Reel Shorts Film Fest Sept. 16, and Solo Picture Studios currently has several projects in pre and post production. They have made a number of music videos, and are available for collaboration on everything from films to animation and documentaries.


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