Quick Brown Fox Productions was founded in 2015 by Michael A. Livingston and Amanda Dreschler in Los Angeles, CA. Together they form a creative team writing, directing and producing independent films and web content. The talk briefly about their production company from its inception to their work with the Nat Geo film Take Me Back.
PH: Can you tell us about the history of your production company?
Michael Livingston: We started working together in 2013 on a short film. Amanda had an idea for a film and she approached me to help write and direct it. We found that we worked so well together that when the film was finished we decided to form a company.
Amanda Dreschler: It’s actually the title of the first short, Quick Brown Fox. We’ve been writing, producing and directing together ever since.
PH: What type of projects do you work on - who are your clients?
Livingston: We work on all types of projects from short films to documentary, music videos and commercials. We work with a lot of indie artists as well as bigger brands.
Dreschler: Most recently we did a short film for NatGeo as part of their “Genius” TV series.
Livingston: Another bigger client is Nvidia, and we also work with lots of local companies and brands.
PH: Can you share about your recent films?
Dreschler: We just did an independent short film that we wrote, directed and I starred in called “The Diet.” It’s a comedy about me struggling to get off sugar. Emphasize on the word struggling.
Livingston: Before that, we did our NatGeo short called “Take Me Back.” This was a bigger short film and it’s about a woman who travels back in time to prevent herself from getting into a toxic relationship. This was a really exciting collaboration for us working with NatGeo. The film has over a million views on YouTube and Facebook.
PH: How did you get involved with NatGeo?
Livingston: There’s a great website called Tongal that helps filmmakers connect with brands. They had a pitch contest for NatGeo and we submitted.
Dreschler: I’d had this idea for a short film about time travel for a while, and the pitch was too perfect to not pitch. So we submitted our concept and it won.
PH: Was it an intense pre/post process?
Livingston: It was very intense.
Dreschler: We had only one month to finalize the script, do all the pre-production and post, including sound design and color correction.
Livingston: Our crew really came through for us to make it happen so quickly.
PH: When working on a project as large of a scale as this one, how do you make sure you're prepared and make the best use of your time?
Dreschler: Whether it’s a big or small production it doesn’t matter. You do the work, make the calls and it comes together. We have a rockstar crew of amazingly talented artists that we work with regularly. We’re always ready to handle many different size productions.
Livingston: Every project is different and how we prepare depends on the project’s needs. We do a lot of outlining, always outlining and shot listing, getting everything down on paper so we can minimize surprises on set.
PH: It did garner a lot of views on FB / YouTube - what do you feel drove that?
Livingston: I think NatGeo’s fan base definitely. It went out on their official channels and they have a pretty large reach. It definitely got more views than we would have been able to get just using our own social media.
PH: What goes into creating something shareable like this?
Livingston: That’s a good question. Most of our work is more niche, and this was one of our more commercial films. Having something that can reach a large audience definitely helps, and for this, we wanted to be in line with the aesthetics of NatGeo and what they were looking for.
Dreschler: Writing short-form content is its own art form. Things need to be quick, but still draw you in and give you an emotional attachment to the characters. If it’s longer than 5 minutes it’s less likely to be shared, so it’s really just about tightening up the writing and being economical with our storytelling to create something short and compelling.
PH: How do you balance the corporate work with developing your own slate?
Livingston: We’re always writing and developing our own scripts. We have at any given time 3-4 different projects that are passion projects, be it feature films or TV series in development.
Dreschler: It’s a challenge though, balancing our own work with our corporate gigs. We dedicate certain days and hours to different projects. Organization is key.
PH: What kinds of tools and technologies do you use to shoot/cut with?
Dreschler: This is all Michael.
Livingston: Amanda hates talking tech. We shoot on any variety of cameras depending on the project and the budget. We love the look of ARRI cameras most, but we work with RED, Sony and Canon, etc. As far as editing, we use Adobe Premiere. Their whole creative suite of applications is fantastic and it’s really the best tool in the industry right now for the level of production we’re doing.
PH: How’d you learn your craft — producing, writing, directing, etc.?
Livingston: I had a pretty straightforward path; I went to film school. Film school taught me a lot of theory, but I really cut my teeth when I moved to LA in 2008 and dove right into making my own content.
Dreschler: I started as an actor. I had no previous training behind the camera when I approached Michael about making a short with me. It was really just learning from my mistakes. I was shy to even call myself a filmmaker in the beginning because I was just learning as I went. But now, many projects later, we are a well-oiled machine.
PH: What are you guys working on right now?
Livingston: We have several TV shows in development and we’re also working on a short documentary that is in early stages about sustainability. We also just finished a feature script, which we collaborated on with another producer. It’s about 18th century France and we are in the pitching stages of that project.
Dreschler: We’re also gearing up to shoot another indie short this summer.
PH: What are a few things you’ve learned during some of your recent projects?
Livingston: We’ve learned a lot over the last few films we’ve done about not doubting your vision. Collaboration is very important, but sometimes we can get caught up in being too democratic. One of the most valuable lessons we've learned is to respect the talents of your crew and be open minded on set, but it's most important to trust your vision and stick to it, don’t be afraid to tell your collaborators no.
Dreschler: That goes for notes on the script as well. We love doing table reads and getting people’s input before we even jump into pre-pro. Knowing when to take a note and when to trust your instincts is valuable.
PH: Where can we view your work and recent films?