Col­in Warde and The Film Indus­try in Okla­homa

CL Har­mon

Have you ever won­dered what it’s like to work on a movie set and in the show­biz field? I have, and so I asked some­one who knows, a native Okla­homan who is a big part of the still small, yet grow­ing film-mak­ing indus­try in our state. His descrip­tions of his expe­ri­ences read much like a Show­biz 101 class for all those inter­est­ed in var­i­ous aspects of the field while giv­ing insight as to what it’s like to pur­sue a career in the film and tele­vi­sion career. This Still­wa­ter res­i­dent recent­ly spoke to Unique­la­homa about fol­low­ing his yel­low brick road to a field of dreams amid an indus­try where jobs come and then are gone with the wind.

Col­in Warde is one of the thou­sands of cogs in a machine nec­es­sary for the pro­duc­tion of any prod­uct. As with any func­tion­ing piece of machin­ery, each cog, nut, bolt, and han­dle is a must if the machine is to keep run­ning smooth­ly. Over the past ten years, Warde has played many roles in the big machine that projects new worlds on the big screen and the small one. His role in this capac­i­ty has led him to work in many places and among many fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple. But just as Dorothy on her yel­low brick road, his path too leads him back home too. And there is no place like home…to be in the movie indus­try!

Behind The Scenes

Warde’s dream was not that of the actor who wants to make it big in Hol­ly­wood. Although he does act on occa­sion, he always felt that the act­ing gig was finan­cial­ly volatile. He, instead, chose a dream of doing some­thing that he enjoyed which was still men­tal­ly and phys­i­cal­ly chal­leng­ing. As an Eagle Scout, he had been chal­lenged, and that was some­thing he want­ed in a career as well. Although unaware at the time in 2003 that work­ing in the film indus­try was the path he would fol­low, an invi­ta­tion to work with a friend on an ama­teur film project would set him on that course. His friend and fel­low stu­dent at OSU asked him to act in a hor­ror movie. (Think Blair Witch Project type of film.) How­ev­er, the act­ing didn’t intrigue him as much as every­thing else did.

Adver­tise­ments

It wouldn’t take long before he began to real­ize how many dif­fer­ent aspects are in involved in mak­ing a movie. As this was low bud­get, there wasn’t any mon­ey to pay for all of these dif­fer­ent aspects, and so his friend was jug­gling them all on his own. This issue became an oppor­tu­ni­ty for Warde to begin work­ing behind the scenes to help out his friend. After grad­u­a­tion, he was unsure as to which direc­tion to go. He was not sure about act­ing, but he felt some­thing in the enter­tain­ment field was call­ing to him. He ini­tial­ly thought Chica­go was a good place to get his feet wet…he was wrong. There just wasn’t a mar­ket there at that time.

FILM 101

The lack of mar­ket has become a real­i­ty that I deal with all of the time, Warde said. He was learn­ing how quick­ly the wind of for­tune can sweep in and how quick­ly they can be gone to the wind. He moved back to Okla­homa and set­tled in the city (OKC). He had bought into all the hype of crime and gang activ­i­ty in Los Ange­les and New York City, and it had made him uneasy about mov­ing out to one of those places where there was a thriv­ing mar­ket. As such, he was at a stand­still. Then his moth­er sug­gest­ed that he check out Okla­homa City Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege because she had been told that it had a very good film and video pro­gram. At first, he was skep­ti­cal. After all, this was Okla­homa, not exact­ly a mec­ca for the film indus­try.

His skep­ti­cism was laid to rest though when he learned that Fritz Kier­sch, Direc­tor of Chil­dren of the Corn and Gray Fred­er­ick­son, Co-Pro­duc­er of The God­fa­ther Part II and Apoc­a­lypse Now were teach­ing class­es in the pro­gram. So at 25 years of age and with a Bach­e­lor Degree already in hand, he became a stu­dent again and loved it. His involve­ment there would lead to an inter­est­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty. Kier­sch and Fred­er­ick­son were pro­duc­ing a hor­ror movie enti­tled “The Hunt” over spring break and nat­u­ral­ly put out that they were look­ing for help.

The Tie That Binds

I have a friend who always tells this sto­ry about me. While all of the oth­er stu­dents were show­ing up for inter­views in sweat­shirts and dressed like they were going for a job at Piz­za Hut, I came with a tie and resume pre­pared for a pro­fes­sion­al inter­view. He found out lat­er Kier­sch had said he hired him as soon as he saw he was wear­ing a tie. He was employed as a pro­duc­tion assis­tant and had a great time learn­ing how a movie gets made. He con­tin­ued liv­ing in OKC and began mak­ing con­tacts and build­ing his resume by work­ing in pro­duc­tion depart­ments one movie or com­mer­cial at a time in the mar­ket that was grow­ing in Okla­homa.

Warde explained that when peo­ple see you on set and notice that you work hard and show up on time, some­one will even­tu­al­ly ‚“scoop you up and ask you what you like doing and what inter­ests you‚”. When this hap­pened to him, he end­ed up in the art depart­ment, which con­sists of the set and props. Some­thing about cre­at­ing an atmos­phere and devel­op­ing an ambiance appealed to him. This would ben­e­fit him great­ly when he moved to Los Ange­les. He was lured out there by a friend who got him a job on a tele­vi­sion series. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, that mid-sea­son replace­ment didn’t  go any­where, and four months lat­er he was out of a job, but not for long. He then worked on the Jeff Gold­blum cop show, Raines. Work­ing in tele­vi­sion was excit­ing for him even though the shows he worked on did not mate­ri­al­ize into long-run­ning series.

Winds of Fortune

But hey I was work­ing in LA, and it was excit­ing,” Warde said. He explains that every­thing on tele­vi­sion as far as suc­cess and longevi­ty is like throw­ing spaghet­ti at the wall and see­ing what sticks. Because of this, one might get on a show and have a job for ten years or one that lasts only a few months. He explains the type of is work like an adren­a­line rush where there is intense ener­gy fol­lowed by a calm noth­ing­ness. The film and tele­vi­sion indus­try is not a steady pay­check, but there are so many avenues in show busi­ness with so many peo­ple involved that one can usu­al­ly find work of one sort or anoth­er. A phone call from a net­work exec­u­tive who remem­bered him from the first series he worked on remem­bered him and offered him a job that count­less peo­ple must have envied.

ENERGIZE!

Nobody knew that I had been watch­ing Star Trek my entire life when they hand­ed me the keys and code to the build­ing with all of it‚ every­thing from the fran­chise! Warde was a huge fan who had just been giv­en the respon­si­bil­i­ty to sort, cat­e­go­rize and sell the entire lot of mem­o­ra­bil­ia from one of the most suc­cess­ful fran­chis­es in cin­e­mat­ic his­to­ry. He was in awe, and although it was not what he came to LA to do, he couldn’t turn it down. The tough­est part was decid­ing what had to be destroyed. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, not all of it could be sold. This was “heart­break­ing” he said. There were six ware­hous­es of every­thing from phasers to cos­tumes to large set com­po­nents. “It looked just like the ware­house in the Indi­ana Jones movie, Raiders of the Lost Ark with crate upon crate in a des­o­late loca­tion. Over the next three years, he ran online auc­tions aver­ag­ing $100,000 per week in sales while mak­ing a very good liv­ing for him­self. Although he was not work­ing on a set at the time, it was an incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ty to be work­ing in an atmos­phere of such his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance.

The Voy­age Home

Sad­ly though, all good things come to an end. With­out anoth­er job lined up and a child on the way, the next step up was the voy­age home. He came back to Okla­homa, became a father and began rein­vent­ing him­self to fit into what was hap­pen­ing, pro­duc­tion-wise at home. At that time, com­mer­cials were the big thing, and he found him­self immersed in that aspect of it, again in the art depart­ment. The tim­ing was per­fect. The Okla­homa City Thun­der had become a big deal, and sud­den­ly huge com­pa­nies like Nike and ESPN among oth­ers were there to cash in. This influx of new busi­ness made his tal­ents in the art depart­ment very valu­able. He was local and avail­able. All of his hard work and patience was pay­ing off.

August Through December Osage County

I was hun­gry and fierce. It was awe­some! I was build­ing my kit and all of my equip­ment and gear,” he said. All of the com­mer­cials would final­ly lead to his big oppor­tu­ni­ty in Okla­homa, work­ing on August: Osage Coun­ty with an all-star cast includ­ing Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep, Chris Coop­er, Ewan McGre­gor and Sam Shep­ard among oth­ers. An inter­est­ing fact from behind the scenes, Warde said that August Osage actu­al­ly went all the way into Decem­ber Osage. As per his job of keep­ing the set look­ing like it was sum­mer (Set Con­ti­nu­ity), the art depart­ment was paint­ing the grass green and using zip ties to replace fall­en leaves from the trees. There is no busi­ness like show busi­ness as the say­ing goes. Since his return to Okla­homa, he has become one of, if not the top art per­son in Okla­homa. This accom­plish­ment is some­thing he is very proud of and val­i­da­tion that he has been on the right road these past ten years. He also now works in pro­duc­tion design as well which puts him work­ing with the direc­tors on the over­all feel of the pro­duc­tion.
Warde has worked with and loves men­tor­ing peo­ple and con­sid­ers him­self a teacher to those who tru­ly have a desire to work in the indus­try. Dur­ing his career, he has had the oppor­tu­ni­ty to work in a lot of loca­tions due to his desire to be a part of the film indus­try. Also, just like Film 101, he is always will­ing to teach new­com­ers how to find their role and become part of the big­ger pic­ture that is movie mak­ing.

Adver­tise­ments

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