Brenna’s Words

In Interview on February 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm

IMG00669-20101021-1609 copy

Brenna Erickson is sassy, giving, thrifty, smart and independent. I met her in 2010 on a study abroad trip in London. She was wearing pink tights and shared her vinegar-covered chips with me. Along with the aforementioned, she’s incredibly driven and is currently working on her fourth feature film. These are her words.

Hey, hey Brenna! In my presentation for The Travelogues (event series I put on where people shared travel stories) about studying abroad in England, I talked a bit about going to the Raindance Film Festival and ringing up pain au chocolat as rolls at Sainsbury’s with you. What are some of your favorite memories from studying abroad and completing your internship? What are some of the things you think the trip taught you?

1. Interns are free labor, which actually made me pretty jaded about the arts industry, even though I don’t think I should have been surprised. I watched other interns volunteer 40hr weeks without getting paid a penny and companies either not being abe to hire them on, or just not bothering to tell them that they weren’t going to hire them on.

2. I learned up close and personal the ‘American’ quirks that people complain about, traveling in Barcelona with my parents was funny in a cringing sort of way. My Dad’s ‘small talk’ in Spanish was pretty hilarious. Even though he took me out for Sangria at a dessert bar, which was really sweet. We also got tapas at a bar and I think I ate a duckling.

3. One of my favorite memories was going out to a bar in Sterling, Scotland where the bottom level of the bar had traditional music and a Ceilidh dance, and upstairs there was an indie-rock band from London. It was such a delightful mix of old and new all in a smoky Scottish bar.

4. I think the most impressive story that I have is working the after-party of the 2011 British Independent film awards. After a long weekend of filling all the swag bags with the most ridiculous assortment of things, from an alternate score for the original ‘King Kong’ film, to ‘Black Swan’ promo postcards, to an energy drink called ‘Pussy’, we got to attend the after-party of the BIFA awards. We worked the coat check in shifts, which meant that we drank a lot of free champagne, and then walked around talking to movie stars, or just brushing past them without recognizing them. There were a lot of double takes for me as I recognized Helena Bonham Carter, Jason Isaacs, Carrie Mulligan, Liam Neeson and others. It was a lot of fun.

When did you figure out you wanted to be a producer? Who or what has helped you build a path to guide you?

The funny thing about that is that I recently realized that I am not actually a producer. What I do is called “Production Manager”. Producers fund the films that they produce and consult along the way.
What I do is a mix of “Assistant Director” and “Production Manager” with a dash of everything else thrown in. I do a lot of the organization of making the film happen and figure out logistics. I help manage and find locations, costumes, props, actors, hep setup meetings and set schedules. I keep in contact with everyone as constantly as possible and go on location scouting missions. I do a lot of writing, revising, and input on scripts. I help with hair and make-up. I do a good portion of the catering generally. I help set up car pools, and give rides to people. I make sure we have everything we need before we leave, and set lists, deadlines, etc. That’s just the stuff that I do on set.

Off of set, I manage the money, help facilitate the post-production process and try to keep in touch with everyone. I don’t do all of this myself, I am part of a team and we divide up tasks. Otherwise, I wouldn’t get anywhere near the amount that I needed to get done. I work a full time job in addition to doing all the movie stuff and trying have a small social life.

If you weren’t producing films, what would you be doing?

Ha, it’s funny that you ask that. I am actually planning on going to school to become a chiropractor next year. So hopefully, I can be working as a doctor in the next few years. But that particular adventure will take me to San Francisco, so it depends which love comes out on top there. Maybe I’ll find a bunch of film gigs out there, but maybe not. It just depends. Minneapolis actually doesn’t have much in the way of film production jobs, so whatever we make we kind of have to fuel ourselves. Which is great as a hobby, but doesn’t work out great as a career, because, as it turns out, filmmaking is very expensive and time consuming. Even if it is really, really fun.

What is something you’re excited about for your upcoming film project, “The Untitled South Carolina Movie’?

Well, it is now graced with the fabulous working title of ‘Her Tragedy’, which will change again once we decide what a good title that doesn’t sound completely stupid is. I’m pretty excited for everything about this film. It’s one of the first scripts in a few years that I was a large part of the writing process on. We team-wrote the script, and have been revising it ever since. I’m really excited for the team we have to work with. We are collaborating with a very talented team from South Carolina who will be driving up to be part of the project. We have a 2nd camera person, which is cool. We have a for-real costume designer, and a real art director who is taking on some of the other production manager tasks. And I am really excited to work with the cast that we ended up with. We have exactly the cast we need and want. And each one of them is smart and talented. They really bring the script to life and have been so much fun to work with. It’s really been an amazing experience.

What is going to be difficult about it?

Right now, there are a few things I am worried about. Right now, we are a few days into our crowd sourcing campaign on Indie Gogo and I am really worried we aren’t going to meet our goal. We have set kind of a high budget for ourselves, but in the perspective of Hollywood films it is so, so, so small and we are hoping that if everyone we know gives $5 to the project, that we can make it into something really great. So, we are doing everything we can to get the word out, and try to raise some money for our project. We have been lucky so far that we have made 10% of our budget, but there’s a long way to go and not that many people have contributed yet. I really hope that changes in the next few days and we can start pulling some weight with awareness on the internet.

The other thing I’m a little nervous about is the film. It’s a drama, which I’ve never shot before. This film was originally supposed to be a short, but apparently, Vanessa and I can’t write a short film to save our lives. I think this is because we like character-driven stories, so we always want to go more indepth with exploring the human condition. So, I hope we can get everything communicated that we want to in the film. I feel like it’s an ambitious project, but we’ll get it done, one way or the other.


Can you tell me the story behind the name of yours and Vanessa’s production company, Oxford Comma Films?

Well, Vanessa and I are big grammar nerds and we wanted to have a name that both nerds and the arts community could appreciate. We threw around a few different names and decided on the Oxford Comma because it seemed both a little nerdy and a little sophisticated. Also, theoretically it made for an easy logo. Do you know what an oxford comma is? the oxford comma.

train(The cast and crew of Oxford Comma Films’ most recent feature, ‘He Gave Her His Phone’)


What are you looking to accomplish in the next year?

I’m trying to finish all my outstanding films and move to a new city.

Five years?

Become a Doctor of Chiropractic! And find a career path that I love.

How has Minneapolis been treating you?

I love Minneapolis. It’s such a fun city. It feels like a bunch of small towns put together, and I feel really lucky to have had the experiences and made the friends that I have here (even though we imported a few of them from Wisconsin). So far, I’ve had a really rich 5+ years here. Plus, we have a killer community. love all the co-ops, theaters, farmer’s markets, thrift stores, bands and local breweries around it. It sounds really hipster, but it really does feel like a small community.

Is Seattle still on the horizon?

Eventually, the West Coast is more immediate, and if I can get to the coast, maybe then I’ll migrate north to Washington.

If you like what I had to say, please take a look at our Indie Gogo page, give what you can, and help spread the word!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: