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“Chicago Overcoat”: Interview with Beverly Ridge Pictures

September 21, 2011 | By | Add a Comment

Joshua Sinason

Chris Charles and John Bosher are relatively new to the Chicago film scene but they’ve quickly hit the ground running with some award winning work that has gotten national attention and shot them to the front of the Chicago indie film scene.  Their “Click it or Ticket” PSAs garnered the duo and their team Emmys and some great national press.  Now they’ve tackled their biggest project yet: a trench coat and guns pulp thriller called Chicago Overcoat.  The buzz just keeps on building for one of Chicago best filmmaking teams.

Joshua Sinason: How did you get your start in film?

Chris Charles: All of us met at Columbia College Chicago, where we studied various concentrations of Film & Video. We got to know one another after collaborating on dozens of short films, spec spots, and features. Then John Bosher, Kevin Moss, and I teamed up to shoot an ambitious 35mm short film called The Small Assassin. The film was unlike anything we had ever tackled. It was an adaptation of a short story by Ray Bradbury, a period piece, and a SAG film. That’s when we started Beverly Ridge Pictures, and when our professional careers began.

JS: What do you like best about shooting in Chicago?

Chris Charles: Chicago is an incredible city for production. The city has it all – classic older buildings for period pieces, and sleek contemporary buildings for a modern look. You can find almost any kind of location, from the slums to the suburbs. Add to that some excellent film offices, talent agencies, and rental houses, plus a 30% tax credit, and what more could you ask for?

JS: What projects are you currently working on?

Chris Charles: We are currently developing two crime/thriller scripts set in Chicago. We are also working on a revenge story based on a graphic novel, also set in Chicago.

JS: As a writer I find the hardest thing to do is go back and look at your stuff and be objective, but that’s a necessary skill for a producer.  What have you learned from watching your older films that you’ve applied to films like Chicago Overcoat?

John W. Bosher: Chicago Overcoat was really what taught us about objectivity. There are several moments in the film and even more on the editing room floor that we are a little embarrassed by. We were in our early twenties when we wrote the screenplay and stuck in our own subjective tastes. It wasn’t until the film was complete and we were screening it for audiences that we began to notice some of our immaturities. Table reads and test-audience screenings are invaluable. You’ll never get a more objective look at your own work than when you see it with an audience.

JS: One of the things I found consistent through all your company’s shorts, regardless of who is directing, is that they’re all about looking at a single moment as opposed to trying to cram a huge story into a few minutes.  What is your personal philosophy when deciding to shoot a short film?

Still from "Chicago Overcoat"

Chris Charles: On our website you can only see clips from our short films. We decided to show the moments that best demonstrate the style, tone, and theme of each film. Those projects and any others are chosen based on how passionate we feel about the story. You really have to love something if you’re potentially going to spend years of your life working on it.

JS: What is the biggest challenge facing a young indie filmmaker today?

John W. Bosher: Independent film producing is very much a chicken and the egg scenario. You need distribution to get money, you need money to get actors, and you need actors to get distribution, so where do you start?

JS: How is the process of getting an indie film onto one the new forms of mainstream video distribution, i.e Netflix and other streaming video sites?

John W. Bosher: There are two sides to that coin. Streaming, digital download, and other new technologies save on the cost of manufacturing and shipping DVDs with unlimited inventory and unparalleled convenience for the consumer. However, revenues generated from Internet-based distribution methods represent pennies compared to the dollars previous home entertainment mediums earned.

JS: Can you give an example of how marketing and selling independent films has changed in the last few years?

John W. Bosher: As the supply of independently produced films continues to grow, so does the competition for distribution. The days of distributors buying up dozens of movies at film festivals and deciding what to do with them later are over. No one wants to let inventory sit on their books in this economy, so distributors are waiting as long as possible to commit to acquisitions. It’s become a tough, slow process that’s all about patience and managing expectations.

Still from "Chicago Overcoat"

JS: How does being in Chicago help marketing on a small budget?

Chris Charles: Being in Chicago helps marketing on a small budget because you can be a bigger fish in a smaller pond. The media responds well to filmmakers here because people are still genuinely excited about movies.

JS: What’s the biggest challenge facing young filmmakers in Chicago today?

John W. Bosher: Honestly, there is a shortage of capable post-production facilities, experienced financiers, and creative talent. We’ve tried to make several films entirely in Chicago/Illinois and have always ended up having to outsource something to the coasts or neighboring states.

JS: Which Chicago filmmakers are your biggest influences?

Chris Charles: We’ve had the privilege of meeting several actors and filmmakers from Chicago that we admire, including Harold Ramis, Virginia Madsen, and Nora Dunn. We’re inspired by them and people like the late John Hughes, Gary Sinise, Garry Marshall, and many others.

Chicago Overcoat is at times heartbreaking, exciting, and funny.  Sometimes it’s all three.  It’s a great movie that shows off the city of Chicago in some unique ways.  You can find it on Netflix now.

Chicago Overcoat (Trailer) from Beverly Ridge Pictures on Vimeo.

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