Rick Schwartz is an American domain name entrepreneur.
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My short bio: Hey Reddit! It’s Rick Schwartz. This is my first AMA. Do your worst.
I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of movies like The Departed, Black Swan, and Machete, and tv shows like Lip Sync Battle. I also produce digital content at Jerrick Media. I hope to someday play shortstop for the New York Mets.
UPDATE: Thank you for all the great questions! Reddit is now my third favorite website, right after TMZ and donaldjtrump.com...
Does it depress you at all that Lip Sync Battle is as popular as it is? Do you have any response to Bo Burnham's scathing review and breakdown that the formula of 'man lip-syncing a song by a woman, or a rich, young white actress lip-syncing to a hip-hop song' is basically the death of culture?
The success of Lip Sync Battle resurrected my years of depression, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome. Thankfully there are many helpful professionals out there to deal with making a tv show that seems to bring joy to millions of people. I didn't know Bo Burnham was a tv critic now, perhaps I should review one of his comedy specials?
Just because his title isn't TV critic doesn't mean he's wrong.
That's true, I suppose everyone is a critic in some form or another. I don't really pay that much attention to critics - professional or otherwise - I'd imagine it would be pretty paralyzing. I root for everyone to make great content, film, tv, digital, etc. just purely as a fan. If someone doesn't like Lip Sync Battle they shouldn't watch it.
I do feel like attributing the death of culture to a 23 minute tv show is overstating things a bit.
that's a pretty diverse resumé. But what does a producer actually DO? Are you just the money man?
There are several different types of producers, but generally it can be broken down into ones that find the money, ones that maintain the budget and schedule, and ones that are creative. Because I have no skills in the first two categories, I fall into the third.
Hello Rick! Nice to have a producer on here.
What will it take for mid-ranged budgeted movies ($20-50m) to make a profit again?
Good question, I've been trying to figure that one out for a while, along with many other producers. Some films I've been a part of - like The Others or Black Swan - were made for under $20m and I don't think they would have gotten made today. The audience for "low budget" commercial movies has shrunk considerably; even the box office returns of successful ones like Spotlight and The Big Short pale in comparison to the Marvel flicks.
How did the development of the lip sync battle tv show come about?
I partnered with Jimmy Fallon on it. John Krasinski appeared on The Late Show to promote the series finale of The Office and he and his friend Stephen Merchant came up with the idea of a lip sync battle between John and Jimmy. Jimmy called me right after they taped to say he had never had so much fun doing something and thought it could be a "thing." He was right, as usual. The segment took off, and we developed it as a full fledged show...
What was your favorite moment while working on "Machete"?
It was really fun and interesting to work with Robert Rodriguez and his team. He shoots all of his stuff at his own private studio in Austin Texas and has a great rapport with actors. Kind of a producer's dream. Super easy, very clever and creative, and took me out for the best barbecue I've ever had.
I guess my favorite moment was on Robert DeNiro's first day. Danny Trejo had been shooting for weeks at that point, and when Bob came on set, there was a respectful hush. I was going to introduce them but wasn't quite sure how, when DeNiro came running over to Danny and gave him a huge hug. They'd worked together years earlier on a great movie called Heat and had great respect for one another.
So cool to see a veteran actor like Danny, after all those years of character roles, finally stepping into the spotlight.
As a kid, did you dream you'd ever be doing something like this?
As a kid, I didn't even know that producing was a job. I dreamed about sports and girls, and not in that order.
It's a much more acceptable way to make a living now, working in a creative field. My parents are still disappointed I'm not a doctor. Or an accountant. Or anything they can understand and explain in 1 sentence.
What was your introduction into the film world and how did you get into producing?
I've been trying to enter the film producer world for around two years now after years of wanting to be a producer since I was a child and confirming my love for it with producing commercials and brand campaigns but even with a couple contacts, I haven't been able to break in, even as a producer's assistant!
I went to school for writing, but most of the people I started out with at Miramax had gone to film school. So I felt behind before I really even started. I gradually realized that producing is one of those fields better learned in a practical setting as opposed to an academic one.
It's a notoriously tough industry to break into, but people that are passionate, perseverant and slightly intrusive usually end up finding jobs. Once you get in, of course, it helps to kick ass however you can.
If your last name happens to be Bruckheimer or Spielberg that would be good too.
What is the behind-the-scenes life of a producer like?
It's exactly like the show Entourage. Except for the fame, fortune, beautiful women, private jets, dramatic fights, Lloyd, gorgeous mansions, girls named Sloane and diminutive/argumentative agents.
Other than that it's the exact same thing.
Would you ever get Insane Clown Posse on Lip Sync Battle?
I'm scared of clowns, and I'm extra scared of clowns with a posse. Why would a clown need a posse? Why not an entourage? Maybe just a few close friends? I'd consider them if they changed to Insane Mime Posse.
Best advice to aspiring filmmakers ?
This feels like a great time for aspiring filmmakers. When I was starting out (in the 1800's), everything was so expensive - film, crews, permits, etc. Nowadays the new technology has created a much lower barrier to entry for everyone.
Equally importantly. there are a ton of cool platforms to get your stuff seen: YT, Vimeo, Netflix, Amazon, with new ones popping up every day.
Part of why I got into digital content is to level the playing field for everyone. We have sites that feature first time writers, directors and actors all the time. For example, I met a student while speaking at Cornell and now his cool short film is being seen by many people. Nothing better than helping people show their goods!
Do social media and youtube views matter to you when looking at rookie filmmakers? Has that changed the game? Someone pitching used to be able to say 'people will love this idea,' but now a Producer can more or less ask them to prove it.
Personally, I don't think it matters much. I look for an interesting perspective, or a visual flair, or great storytelling. A social following is secondary.
If your video or reel gets seen by a lot of people, that in itself is the reward.
My grandmother fell into the wedding cake at my niece's nuptials. It got 3m views on YT (and ruined her relationship with the caterer) but I wouldn't turn it into a feature.
Biggest regret of your career?
I read the script for The Sixth Sense on a plane and wasn't adamant enough trying to convince my boss to make it. You can't win them all...
You were working right next to Harvey Weinstein during the Troy Duffy year(s)? Did you see Overnight? Do you remember the reaction to Troy and his approach at the office?
The scene about a third of the way in when he's blustering still, but noone at Mirimax will take his call anymore is chilling. He had it all in the palm of his hand, then on a dime he didn't.
You're giving me PTSD with that question. I remember it vividly, as I remember everything from my 6 years working with Harvey. Too complicated to get into the Troy episode specifically but let's just say there was poor behavior on both sides.
Who is the most famous and powerful person you could get on the phone in the next 5 minutes if you needed to?
's cousin Murray Trump.
How does it feel to work for a company that is constantly losing money?
The same as working for a company that is constantly making money.
Do you feel guilty on any level about stealing, diluting and just straight ripping off Infernal Affairs shot-for-shot and winning Oscars for it?
The Departed is a remake of a great film. If you watch them side by side, you'll see it's hardly a shot by shot comparison. That being said, many films are inspired by other films - even Scorsese himself often cites major influences in his work. I love the original Infernal Affairs; just because a film is great, doesn't mean remaking it in another language is either easy or will work.
I personally loved the original Oldboy but didn't care for Spike Lee's version. They're all different and unique, filmmakers and actors bring their own voice along for the ride.