ClartebyAmanda: You grew up in a rural Minnesota. What encouraged your move to California to pursue film? When did the possibility of film become a reality for you?
Chris Ward: It was never about pursuing film more so about pursing life. I wanted to grow as a person and thankfully I had dream and the silver lining of that dream was to go to California. I didn't plan on being in Los Angels. I originally moved to Sacramento but was there only 7 days when I took a job opportunity and ended up in Los Angles and that’s when every thing began
It wasn't until the age of 25 when I knew I really wanted to be a part of the entertainment business. I started at the bottom of a Post production facility called Hollywood Intermediate and through them I worked my way up to DI producer. It wasn't much but it was as like film school for me. I was soaking all of the information in and making great connections. I remember closing my first deal as if it was yesterday. You never really believe it until your actually shooting a film on location. So many things have to align in order to actually make a movie. I was 26 years old in Iowa shooting “Lucky” a feature film and prepping a short film that Kirsten Dunst had written and was going to direct. I was shooting in Iowa, Sunday – Thursday. and then flying to NYC over the weekends to prep Bastard and that’s when it really was a reality for me. It was happening.
ClartebyAmanda: What are some examples of the challenges you faced working in film? How did you overcome those challenges?
Chris Ward: Oy vey –Some of the challenges are finding something your truly passionate about that you want to work on for the next couple years. Now I look back and it all comes down to great content. Choice wisely who you work with as well. When your on a project or in production company you’re a family and your all working towards a common goal so there’s is a lot of synergy to the process. I think people can be the most challenging part of this business. Your dealing with everyone’s ego and trying to keep every one happy and that can be draining. From actors to agents, directors, writers, and managers - I call the producers fire fighters. We are always putting out fires. I think the biggest challenge of this industry is staying current. Your only as good as your last film and to overcome those challenges like anything else you need persistence.
“When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock, perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before.”
ClartebyAmanda: Being a producer involves a lot of networking. Who has been the most influential person in your life? What makes this person significant?
Chris Ward: That’s a good question. I've met a lot of incredible people and had the chance to work with some of them as well, but I feel there is a few people that stand out. One would have to be Aj Dix. He’s genuine and real with me. That sounds cliché but I’ve been able to learn from his mistakes as well as grow with his success. In the beginning I was trying to build a relationship with him and he would always ask why I wanted to be in film, and I never could answer it and he would say it’s not for me or I couldn’t do this or do that. It was those words that challenged me pushed me. I wanted to prove to him that I was capable of pulling something of this magnitude off. I went out produced 2 feature films and short film titled Bastard which closed Cannes film festival in 2010. When I went back to him in 2011 and told him what I had been up to. He smiled and said, “I always saw something in you that reminded me of myself when I was young”. Once I established a relationship with him I had a total different view on the industry and more importantly my goals. He thought long term and diversifying your portfolio and doing only studio films. I started to really think outside the box and focus my energy on a larger scale.
ClartebyAmanda: What advice would you give someone wanting to start a career in entertainment?
Chris Ward: Believe in yourself most importantly. There will be people that doubt you or do not support you but all of that is fuel to the fire. Let that be your motivation.
It’s all about timing. I don’t care what it is – when it happens it’s because you’re in the right place at the right time and you seize the right opportunity. Nothing is ever given, it’s earned.
Be prepared, be passionate, and be persistence.
"Achievement is a pat on the back when you least expect it or recognition for what you have done. That too does not have a limit."Chris Ward
"If I accomplish/achieve something once. My goal is to do it again, but better in one way or another. What can I learn from that last experience and apply it to the next one."Chris Ward
Film is art and a business. It’s a thin line you need to walk in order to accomplish both." Chris Ward
Many thanks to Chris for so graciously taking the time to do an interview with ClartebyAmanda!:)
Have a good day everyone! xoxo Mandy