Today’s Feature, April 21-22, 2007: Ed Bedrosian

January 18, 2008 at 6:07 pm (Today's Feature)

As a kid, Ed Bedrosian knew he wanted to make films. He attended the artistically acclaimed Emerson College and then headed out to LA, holding every title from camera operator to producer. Hard work paid off, landing him work with Hollywood icon, Michael Douglas’ company Furthur Films, 20th Television, where he wrote and produced content for Fox’s new network, MyNetwork TV and even running his own shop. That was only a start. His award winning, historical documentary, The Human Hambone, a film that traces the evolutionary path of body percussion, stemming from slavery in the 1800’s, has helped put Bedrosian’s name on the map. The Human Hambone, which toured the American embassies throughout Africa as part of a cultural exchange through The Guggenheim Foundation has been screened in over a dozen countries and featured on PBS affiliates as well as Link TV. Not too bad for a guy that says if he wasn’t for films, he’d still be searching universities and student loans to find out what he wants to do. Thankfully for us, Bedrosian has found his calling. “It’s still early”, he’ll tell you but we don’t care. Our culture works in the present, and presently, Ed Bedrosian is looking to remain a lock in the film industry. His new documentary, Pirating, hits the festival circuits this summer. Call it a hunch, but something tells me he’ll need some more room on the trophy shelf.

XXQs: Ed Bedrosian

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did you first get into films?

Ed Bedrosian (EB): I’ve been a big fan of movies since I was kid. My parents had great taste in movies and I got exposed to some interesting stuff at a pretty young age. We also had a TV channel in my high school, and to be involved you had to produce a segment a week for the public access channel. The topics were usually limited to school policies, such as school lunches and basic local news, but we were allowed to produce one “creative” segment a month. I tried to take advantage of the resources that I had at my high school.

PEV: Did your time attending Emerson College, which is known for its huge creative environment, help shape your drive for working in film?

EB: Emerson was definitely a great place for me. It was small enough so it wasn’t overwhelming, and you had access to a lot of creative and technical resources. If you were disciplined, you could really take advantage of the possibilities. I’ve kept in touch with a lot of alumni, and I’ve made some great contacts in all areas of production, from publicists, to cinematographers, to talent. However, I’ve found that Emerson doesn’t carry the same weight of the bigger schools such as USC and NYU. You need to hustle a little bit harder in LA as an Emerson alumnus.

PEV: After graduation you moved to Los Angeles. How is the film industry different on the west coast as it is on the east coast?

EB: I went to school in Boston, and the “film industry” was fairly non-existent. I’ve heard that it’s gotten a little better, however. There were a few “coveted” feature PA positions available here and there, but for the most part it was commercial production. I remember Good Will Hunting shot a good share of the movie in Boston. After the success of the film, you would read all these articles about the “booming” film economy of Boston. I didn’t really find that to be true. Through college, I worked at a rather large commercial house. It was great, but they tended to shoot most of the big jobs in LA. So I guess I would say the major difference is that as competitive as Los Angeles is, there’s a lot more opportunity here.

PEV: What made you decide to focus on documentaries?

EB: I’ve always loved documentaries and a friend of mine was starting production on a new film. He asked me to get involved for a couple of weeks. 2 years later, I was still working on it, and I loved the process.

PEV: You started out working for Michael Douglas’s production company, Furthur Films. What was it like to work for someone as well respected in the film industry?

EB: It was a pretty cool experience working for Michael Douglas’s company. I only met him a couple of times, but I spoke with him on the phone everyday. He’s an interesting guy and he produced one of my favorite movies of all time, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. A lot of people just associate him with the oversexed, smarmy, businessman that he plays in his films, but he’s actually been extremely politically active for the past few decades and he uses his celebrity to do some very positive things. Overall it was a great experience.

PEV: Los Angeles is one of the entertainment capitals of the world. What is it like trying to break into the industry in such a competitive time?

EB: It’s been tough and I’m still trying break in. I’m still fairly young, but I’m not getting any younger. Sometimes I go through periods where I don’t make any money for months, and that can be scary.

PEV: Tell us about your award winning, historical documentary, The Human Hambone?

EB: The Human Hambone is a film that traces the evolutionary path of body percussion. The human body was the first instrument and it continues to be the most organic. It was a fun film to make because we met some very talented musicians.

PEV: How important is it for Americans to be educated on the historical roots of body music, which dates back to 18th-century American history?

EB: Well people have made music on their body since the beginning of time. What’s interesting about Hambone is that it stemmed from slavery in the 1800’s. There were slaves from several different African cultures that were stolen from their land and brought here and forced to live together. The rhythm of Hambone is an amalgamation of the rhythm of several different regions in Africa.

PEV: Describe the feeling of having The Human Hambone shown in American embassies throughout Africa (as part of a cultural exchange through The Guggenheim Foundation), featured on PBS affiliates as well as Link TV and screened in over a dozen countries.

EB: It was a great feeling. It was nice to get recognition for all the hard work we put into the film, because it certainly wasn’t financially rewarding.

PEV: How has the transition from making movies on your own to working for someone else at Chemical Entertainment been?

EB: It’s certainly a safer bet to work for someone else, but it can be frustrating going from being the boss to taking “orders” from someone else. However the luxury of making to contributing to films with someone else’s money is invaluable. It’s stressful funding your own movies. I worry about my investment from our last documentary on a daily basis.

PEV: How is working in television different then working with films?

EB: The process is different for several reasons. People spend years on films when production companies can crank out 12-24 episodes of an hour-long drama over the course of a year. There’s also a lot more money and stability in television. I prefer film, but that’s not say that one is better than the other. There are some amazing television shows out there.

PEV: When you aren’t working what can we find you doing?

EB: You used to find me traveling and snowboarding in my free time, but I don’t find myself with any free time anymore. It’s sad but true. My social life and my work life have started to blend together.

PEV: What is one thing that people would be surprised to hear about Ed Bedrosian?

EB: I have a mild case of Tourettes syndrome.

PEV: If you weren’t working in films, what else you do you think you’d be doing?

EB: If I wasn’t working in the film industry, I’d probably be collecting college degrees and stacking up student loans, still trying to figure out what do to with myself. Even now, I’m still trying to figure out what to do with myself in the film industry.

PEV: What kind of atmosphere do you prefer to do your best writing?

EB: Anywhere that has a window, a desk, and headphones. I can’t write without listening to music. I also can’t concentrate with my back to a door. It drives me nuts. I must be paranoid about something.

PEV: With all your travels, which city do you find to the best place for art and film appreciation?

EB: I really liked Prague. They have a very interesting film industry there.

PEV: What kind of advice could you give to someone who wants to break into the film industry?

EB: Keep making short films in your free time and get as many people to see them as you can. The Internet has been a great platform to showcase work. Agencies have full time staff scouring YouTube, looking for new talent. Also, your first job is very important. It helps to focus on the big picture so you can position yourself in the right place. I didn’t necessarily do that and, it definitely held me back.

PEV: Who do you have in your CD player or on your iPod right now?

EB: I usually do the play list thing with my iPod, but my friend’s band just finished their LP, and I can’t seem to listen to anything else. They’re called Maryandi, and they will be a household name really soon.

PEV: Is there one actor/actress/director that you would love to work with?

EB: I really like the films Michel Gondry has been putting out lately, and I’ve always liked the Coen Brothers. Werner Herzog would great to work with too, because he seems extremely obsessed with the process, which would, at the very least, provide for some good stories.

PEV: So, what is next for Ed Bedrosian?

EB: I’m working for a new company, and we should be in production on a feature this summer. We’re also hitting the festivals with our new documentary, Pirating, this summer. Right now, that’s as far ahead as I know. To find more information on Ed, check out these sites: Be Ed’s friend on his MySpace page, Ed’s latest work at http://www.piratingmovie.com or http://www.myspace.com/piratingmovie and visit Open Road Movies

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