Film Connection grad Steve Pitts talks Passion Projects, Relationships and Ego
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Film Connection graduate Steven Pitts is clearly dedicated to building the film career he wants to have, brick-by-brick, project-by-project each and every day. Knowing that where there is a will, there definitely is a way, the now director and camera operator made the most of his apprenticeship with mentor, Steve Carmichael, which has led, years later to a creative/professional friendship that just keeps on giving. He also took whatever opportunities he could to be on-set and assist with projects, no matter if the position was big or small. Thanks to his can-do, will-do work ethic Steve is now a core member of an eclectic, in-demand filmmaking collective and he hasn’t looked back since.
On how he became part of Rite Media Group:
“We all came together very organically. I started doing the Film Connection program” and the guys who started Rite Media “had office space in the same building … and I was in there with Steve Carmichael, I met those guys. We all just really got along and had the same goals in life, so we started doing it together… We were just loosely doing music videos for, one of them is an artist, and the other one is a music producer, so they were working together musically. Then we were like, we need some visuals to go along with this so we started shooting stuff.”
On Rite Media’s Passion Projects:
Every year, the members of the Rite Media Collective get together and produce a project completely in-house that Steven describes as “very unique and out of the box.”
Following their creative interests alongside commercial success is a win-win combination. The cover music video for Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” wasn’t only beautiful, lush and mysterious, it also yielded Rite numerous commercial offers.
This year’s Passion Project took it to a whole other level. Steve explains:
“We just had one of our most ambitious passion projects ever, which we did on on the 30th of December. So New Years Eve, we were shooting. I think we had a majority of his students helping on that one. We’ve never done anything like it before. It was futuristic, sci-fi, space adventure movie. It was a music video but we did it kind of like a short film. It has a lot of c.g. elements in it. We got the most high tech, hot shot camera we could get, the Phantom Flex 4k, which does insane slow-mo. So we were doing a lot of cool stunts, slow-mo, and all that stuff. Everybody had a good time. It was a huge benefit to have all those hands there.”
**Video at the bottom of this blog post.
It’s really about relationships in this industry. I kind of nurture them, grow them, and keep people happy because most of your work will come from repeat clients, and not from just people calling, and hiring some random person. So usually it’s got to be somebody referred you to somebody else, and they referred you to somebody else. You know, it’s extremely important, word of mouth.
And if you have to bow out of a gig:
“If you just bail on people, that’s where the relationships get hurt. I still direct, and I camera op. So say I get booked for a camera op job, then I get a directing gig pop up, most of my clients that I’m opting for are aware of that thing, and I can probably explain the situation. But if some random person that I don’t have a personal relationship with calls, I can’t bail. I have to either just show up, and do it, or find someone that will be a good alternate to myself.”
“None of us really have egos (at Rite), we all work together. I fill-in for people whenever they can’t make a shoot on position that I don’t really have any interest in filling, but I know how to do it. I made it a point (before) becoming a Director to work every job on set, just so I’d know what I was asking people to do and how long it would take…Within our company, we kind of share the work. When it’s like outside, we’re still friends but we try to be as collaborative as possible because Atlanta’s a pretty small community. It’s never beneficial to try to screw someone else over. So you try to sway them by helping, more than screwing people over, then you have a better chance of them not screwing you over. Be nice to other people and they’re nice to you, for the most part. So that’s kind of our policy.”
On future goals:
“This year, from the beginning of the year, as my goal, I’m going to make a movie this year. So right now we’re writing the script. I’ve got some potential investors already. That’s my goal this year, as a director, and for my company, is to have us making “start to finish” concept to post all of it in-house, us making it. The movie that we shot in September, they worked out a deal with the ICM distribution company. They’re in L.A., editing, doing the assembly edit on it. Then, it’ll come back to Atlanta, and we’ll end up doing the final but I want to keep everything in-house for this one.”
Check out Rite Media’s latest Passion Project, a music video for artist Totem: