Everyone loves a good story. Whether you are into teary dramas or hysterical comedies, we all have our favorites. Sometimes though it is not your typical genre that touches you, but rather an outlier of sorts, an oddball character or perhaps an incredible soundtrack that piques your interest in ways you have not felt before.
You leave the theater or pause Netflix for the evening, but the movie stays with you. You find yourself wondering what the characters did next as your head hits the pillow and awaken with the feeling of wanting to delve deeper into this film that has filled your headspace. It is a great storyline above all else that captivates, then consumes, your thoughts. Sometimes a powerful story and enviable chemistry between principal actors can evoke real change in your own life. Great films hold much power.
The Sarasota Post had the distinct opportunity to speak with SRQ’s powerhouse filmmaker Shaun “SOLO” Greenspan on what it is like to have integral knowledge of every facet of great storytelling. From writing, directing, producing, editing and pretty much everything in-between, this guy understands the business. He has brought his treasure trove of talent back to his hometown of Sarasota and is proud of the team he has assembled at Triforce Pictures.
SP: Did you always know you wanted to be a filmmaker or when did that realization hit?
SG: In 1996 I bought my first set of Technics 1200 turntables and at 17 years old decided to become a Florida Breakbeat DJ. Realizing that the nightlife wasn’t sustainable for myself, I realized filmmaking was another way to take the audience on an emotional rollercoaster and in 1999 began film classes with Del Jacobs and David Beaton at Manatee Community College. In 2001 I transferred to Columbia College in Los Angeles where I lived for 11 years working in the biz.
SP: As a Riverview High School graduate and someone who understands the area well, are you seeing more films being made in Florida?
SG: I can promise you I’m not an authority on filmmaking around the state, but I can say as a filmmaker who began his career at the beginning of digital cameras, and a filmmaker who has moved back to Florida from Los Angeles, I did so because I knew that “I” could make films in Florida. Since the equipment is more easily accessible, filmmakers, storytellers don’t have to be tied down to the major cities if their only goal is to create beautiful images and tell stories. If their goal is to work with large studios, then yes, it’s easier to stay in the bigger cities.
SP: You have years of experience in the Los Angeles market, do you foresee a day when Florida could contain a California-style “Hollywood?”
SG: No, not unless Florida brings back its tax incentives. It would be financially irresponsible to spend millions of dollars on moviemaking in a state with no statewide tax incentives. Now, Sarasota has its own incentives. First, we have our own tax incentives thanks to Jeanne Corcoran and Kimmi Heath-Carrico at the Sarasota Film Commission. Second, Sarasota has 3 brand new sound stages and a state-of-the-art post-production facility at Ringling. That is a huge selling point! Lastly, Sarasota does have the infrastructure to create a California-style “Hollywood” with our own local benefits, and if statewide tax incentives would kick in, Sarasota would be a no brainer for large productions.
SP: What projects is Triforce currently working on?
SG: The most exciting project I’m working on at this moment is collaborating with Tony Stopperan from House of John Productions to create “THE SKYWAY FILM FUND.” Over the next 6 months or so we will be raising 1 million – 2 million dollars to produce many films with many different production companies. One of the films will be a property I developed, written by a good friend named Steven Vivell called “SPACE CAMP X.” “SPACE CAMP X” is a kid’s sci-fi camp / space adventure rated PG, about four preteens who are into SFLARPing (science fiction live action role playing) who all attend SPACE CAMP X, a role-playing camp. They are surprised to arrive at camp to find it dilapidated and are also surprised to be transported to space to be trained by two Scientific Aliens to be heroes since the aliens disclose to the kids that there is an oncoming threat to Earth. Thanks to the Scientific Aliens and the machine they created called a “reality drive,” the kids’ homemade costumes become fully operational, every SFLARPing kids dream come true.
Over the last year I helped produce two feature films for MAVEN PICTURES out of NYC called “SKIN” and “DRIVEWAYS.” The short film “SKIN” was a proof of concept for the feature film “SKIN” and won an Oscar this year for best short live-action film. The feature film “SKIN” was bought by A24 and DIRECTV and will be released in theaters July 24th, 2019
SP: Will Triforce have anything premiering at the Sarasota Film Festival or other film festivals in the next year or so? Can you speak about the Sarasota Film Festival and how you have seen this event grow?
SG: Over the last 12 months, I’ve had films premiere in Toronto, Berlin, and most recently Tribeca. Since these films had a very specific festival run, timing prevented us to have screenings at SFF. I wish otherwise. Moving forward, for any films I’m solely in charge of, an opening night or closing night premiere at SFF would be a dream come true. The Sarasota Film Festival is one of the jewels of Sarasota. It brings stories of life and interesting people from around the world to our beautiful yet sheltered town. If it wasn’t for SFF I probably wouldn’t have been so excited to move back to Sarasota from Los Angeles.
SP: Let’s get a little personal! Do you enjoy creating documentaries, music videos or commercials more? Do you have a favorite film that stands out above all others?
SG: I like working with people. Whenever there is a day to be creative and use filming tools, that’s what I enjoy. At the end of the day, I feel accomplished with my team, and I appreciate the bond we created. If I had to pick one film as my favorite, it’d be Penny Marshall’s “BIG” with Tom Hanks. First and foremost, I love movie magic and I believe “BIG” is the epitome of that. No VFX, just an event that occurs and a wish is fulfilled! A dream come true, any one of us would appreciate. This time in Tom Hanks’ career is some of my favorite because I found him to be so endearing and funny. Also, Tom Hanks at the age of the movie with his goofy playful character reminds me of my brother Peter at that age, maybe even now. Yo Pete! If I had to pick one film for its cinematic aesthetics, hands down “The Shawshank Redemption,” for every reason including storytelling, acting, cinematography and score, this film is the best.
SP: As a Sarasota native, please tell us what you love about Sarasota as far as favorite restaurant, beach, and downtime activities?
SG: My favorite restaurant is Selva. My favorite activity in Sarasota is paddle-boarding solo in Robert’s Bay at sunset. Many times, I’m lucky enough to see playful dolphins and pods of manatees cruising with their little ones. The sights and sounds remind me that life is full of wonder. Alternatively, the little Buddha inside of me would remind me to remember that everything in life, not only the beauty, is full of wonder.
Photos from Triforce Picture’s FB page.