Science Fiction is one of the most popular genres in film and this March Gravitas Ventures is releasing “Alienated” which tells the story of a married couple that are forced to confront their fatal relationship issues while on the brink of a possible alien abduction. To date, “Alienated” has won twelve awards including three for Best Feature, several Best Actor awards (including honours for the late actor Taylor Negron), and Best Director for Brian Ackley. Needless to say, all of this has been very favorable news to producer Princeton E. Holt.
Princeton E. Holt has amassed some impressive credentials over the years. In spring of 2008, he produced and directed a full-length movie titled “Cookies & Cream” which premiered at many film festivals worldwide to glowing reviews, and within a year of its premiere landed a multi-platform distribution deal. From there, Princeton began working in the production office of the hit NBC TV Show “Law and Order SVU.” Whilst there, he used the opportunity to intensely observe the business from the inside. He regularly picked the brain of executive producer Ted Kotcheff, whom he considers to be a mentor. He learned how to turn out multiple projects in a short amount of time and was determined to use this method and apply it to independent filmmaking.
Princeton began feverishly building a catalogue of niche-specific, critically acclaimed, low budget feature films. Those films include Brian Ackley’s critically acclaimed debut feature film “Uptown”, which has won awards and also secured a distribution deal, and “The 10 Commandments of Chloe,” his second feature as a director, which won nine awards and premiered in Calgary in Alberta, Canada. He is currently directing his third feature, the star studded relationship comedy “The Butterfly Chasers”, which will be released this year. Recently, Princeton spoke to the Examiner about his experiences working in the entertainment industry and his hopes for the future:
Meagan Meehan (M.M.): What inspired you to become a producer?
Princeton E. Holt (P.E.H.): I was never inspired to become a producer. I was forced to become a producer out of necessity. To make the films that I wanted to make, I found myself being the one raising money from investors, writing business plans, learning the ins and outs of distribution, and watching the changing tastes and trends of the industry more than I was actually writing and directing movies. But what was happening is that I began using my left brain to solve my right brain problems. I gradually became more analytical and comprehensive in my thinking about independent film. One day I looked around at all my friends and peers and realized that every one of us was creative in some way so creativity wasn’t really unique anymore. Everyone wanted to write or direct or act, but there was no one around us that was knowledgeable about how to actually get those projects seen and make money from them. Because no one else was mastering that side of the business, I had to assume that role. And then it stuck with me because it fit both my innate interest and personality traits.
M.M.: Growing up, what shows and/or stories had the biggest impact on you? Why?
P.E.H.: It wasn’t really until my teenage years that I began to pick up on the marriage of music and film and it really had an impact on me when I saw it done right. Robert Zemeckis was doing it right in “Forrest Gump”, but Spike Lee nailed it for me. He was the first one that married music and image in a way that really spoke to me on a personal level. By the time Tarantino and PT Anderson came around and started taking that marriage to an even higher level; that is when I went back, studied, and fell in love with the people that influenced them.
M.M.: How did you get involved with “Alienated”?
P.E.H.: It started as a question to Brian Ackley, my business partner and the writer/director of the film. “What if you woke up, looked in the sky and saw a UFO? What would you do? How would you tell the people you in your house when you went back inside?” That was it. Then he took that, and over one weekend he came back with the first draft. And it blew me away. It was angry, and funny, and very personal. He took that question and answered it the way he wanted to, with what he felt he really wanted to say at the time. Then we put it through our machine and went into pre-production. I sent Brian several actors and he chose George Katt and Jen Burry, and we asked Taylor Negron to play Griffin and he agreed. We were in production a few weeks later.
M.M.: What other TV show and/or movies have you worked on and do you have a favorite?
P.E.H.: I work on “Law & Order,” “Elementary” and a couple others. I don’t have a favorite because I don’t watch the shows. I don’t watch network TV or drama/comedy series because I don’t have the time. We have done a lot of movies but “Alienated” is by far my favorite.
M.M.: What would be your “dream project”?
P.E.H.: I’m doing my dream projects now. “Alienated” is a dream project, and the next couple we are almost done with are dream projects that came together as a result of how well “Alienated” is being received.
M.M.: So far, what has been the most rewarding thing about being involved in the entertainment industry?
P.E.H.: My favorite thing about it outside of anything money or attention related is being able to call an actor we cast and let them know that they won an award for their performance. Until this day it’s still my favorite thing to do. My favorite memories so far on “Alienated” are being there the night Jen Burry won her first award for Best Actress and watching her walk up and receive it. Then calling her (which I just did yesterday morning) to inform her that she was about to get news of winning another award and how proud of her I am. We are working with her again soon so it’s especially rewarding for us to share these moments with her.
M.M.: Career wise, where do you see yourself in ten years?
P.E.H.: Doing the exact same thing that I am now, with larger budgets. But that’s the only thing that is different in 10 years. Other than that, it’ll be the same. Same team, same family, same hustle.
M.M.: Do you have any upcoming projects that you would like to mention?
P.E.H.: There are a couple of exciting things but right now we are focusing on “Alienated”. We are excited about it being in theaters in six cities including a week in Boston, and we are excited that it will be available on VOD, Cable VOD, etc., on March 31, 2016!
M.M.: What advice would you give to someone who is aspiring to become a producer?
P.E.H.: I’d tell them to stay away. Stay away from doing this unless you are prepared to lose friends and sleep year after year. And most people are not prepared to do that.
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To learn more about Princeton E. Holt visit his official IMBD.