Tall Order Productions: Committed To Quality Cinematic Storytelling — and to the Needs of Storytellers
In the constantly competitive world of independent film, individual filmmakers must do more than give audiences a thoughtful alternative to the blockbuster franchise-based offerings that dominate box offices worldwide. For those filmmakers, the quality of resources offered to them — be they production, distribution or financial — can dramatically improve the opportunities for their work to succeed beyond the screen.
The co-founders of Los Angeles-based production company Tall Order Productions, filmmakers Mike Hogan and Mitchell Orcino, know from experience that having and providing outstanding support in every area of the filmmaking craft can make the difference between a project that succeeds for its creators and an endeavor that’s doomed to jeopardize those talents.
Working closely with its collaborators in every step of the production process, Tall Order’s personalized approach to the creative and business sides of filmmaking is born from the company’s singular objective: to help filmmakers working in all visual mediums present quality entertainment made with the highest professional standards. As Hogan and Orcino explain, that objective is at the heart of Tall Order’s work.
“The mission of Tall Order Productions is to tell great stories — whether that’s narrative, commercial, music video, etc. it all begins and ends with storytelling for us. We are always looking for what is the core of the story, and what is the most appropriate way to tell it. We are a boutique production company and (we) take care to handle each project from concept to delivery with the utmost attention to the project’s needs and respect for everyone involved.”
Two recent examples of that objective are a pair of projects recently produced by Tall Order. First among them is the LGBTQ virtual dating comedy web series in[APP]licable, created for the 2020 Louisiana Film Prize and starring Cam Owen (who also wrote and directed) as a lovelorn man whose reliance on a dating app makes his attempts to find his match in the real world all the more complicated. in[APP]licable continues to play on the virtual festival circuit, and production of its next episodes will take place later this year.
Also screening at various festivals is the dark thriller Torpedo, directed by Joshua D. Amar and shot with a five-person crew in such spots as Chinatown, East Hollywood, and Glendale, California.
Told in a visually and sonically intense fashion, Torpedo follows a heartbroken lover (Francis C. Edemobi) teetering on the edge of an emotional collapse as he frantically texts his soon-to-be ex-girlfriend to see if he can keep their failing relationship alive. The film is a story of how modern technology can build or destroy a romance — and possibly, a life.
Hogan and Orcino began their partnership while working as set electricians during a long and rainy evening’s film shoot in 2018. “What started as an easy afternoon throwing up lightweight LEDs all of a sudden turned into an overnight of running gigantic HMI lights around on mambo combo stands in the rain-saturated City Park till 6 A.M. the next day,” Tall Order’s co-founders recall. “After that 17 hour day, the bond was sealed and we realized there wasn’t much we couldn’t accomplish together.”
Though neither of them were even contemplating the possibility of turning their collaboration into a full-fledged production company at that time, it wasn’t long until Hogan and Orcino figured out that their working relationship could go farther than the laborious duty they put in during their initial pairing.
“By the end of (2018), we had realized a mutual passion for being more than just a part of the filmmaking process. We wanted to follow in the footsteps of the filmmakers and companies we admired and learned from, and create our own path to success. We filed our LLC (limited liability corporation), taking the name Mitchell had used since he was a ten-year-old making films any way he could, and Tall Order Productions was officially born.”
Given the ongoing health dangers posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, filmmakers and production companies realize that establishing a safe set for cast and crew is a task that’s greater and more urgent than that of pulling off a professional shoot under normal circumstances. Like their peers in the film industry, Hogan and Orcino work hard to ensure that all of Tall Order’s films are produced with exact adherence to on-set safety regulations.
“We follow all of the industry guidelines set forth by the various guilds and unions on how to operate a COVID-safe set, even if that means that sometimes, such as this past December and January, postponing shoots until conditions improve. When the cameras are rolling though, it’s paramount to us that everyone on set feels safe and every precaution is being taken to ensure we can come together and make something special, without compromising anyone’s health.”
Such was the case with in[APP]licable, completed just in time for Hogan and Orcino to submit the film to last year’s Louisiana Film Prize competition. With both men arriving in New Orleans to help Owen and co-executive producer Lizzie Smith on the project, in[APP]licable’s cast and crew faced the challenge of shooting safely during both the global coronavirus pandemic and the conditional hazards of a Louisiana summer.
“Working alongside Owen and Smith, we were able to condense the project into a manageable and COVID-safe production, which was a top priority of everyone involved. Principal photography in the middle of June during a pandemic was as wild as it sounds. Three days of on location production, dealing with the unforgiving Louisiana summer rains, and the usual production challenges later and we wrapped.”
Thanks to its presence in the event’s prestigious top 20 field, in[APP]licable — and by extension, Hogan, Orcino and Tall Order Productions — made an outstanding first impression on Louisiana’s blossoming indigenous film landscape.
“in[APP]licable being selected as one of top 20 films for the Louisiana Film Prize helped to establish our presence in the Louisiana independent film scene. We set out on this project with the goal to make this into something bigger, and with the accolade(s) and love we have received so far from the Louisiana film community after its premiere, we have confidence it will continue to grow. We were honored to be featured in the top 20 at the Louisiana Film Prize, and hope to land in those ranks again.”
Inspired by Amar’s painful real life separation from his former love, Torpedo employed a fast-paced guerrilla filmmaking style during its two-night shoot. Key to that style was the work of director of photography Patrick Ouziel.
“To lend the film a chaotic and tense feel, Ouziel shot the entire film handheld, and regularly utilized long lenses. To further the gritty effect, he also underexposed and added grain to the already digitally noisy image in post. In contrast, the hospital scene (at the end of the film) was shot with high key lighting, as well as lens whacking, to create the disorienting point of view.”
When principal photography ended on Torpedo, the final ingredients that made the film such a chilling experience came together. “The edit, also done by Amar, was a great process of seeing the film really take shape and find its voice. We also brought on a previous collaborator, Julian Nunez, to do the score, which was the last layer of anxiety, tension, and heart that the film needed.”
Just as in[APP]licable has won plaudits from audiences, Hogan and Orcino hope for similar success for Torpedo while continuing their collaboration with the same people who made that film possible. “Torpedo is currently on the festival circuit, where we hope it will get some love before we debut it publicly. We’re continuing to work with the same team from Torpedo and have a follow up in pre-production right now that we can’t wait to share more about.”
While the creative side of their partnership in Tall Order has resulted in success for Hogan and Orcino, they’ve found that managing their business has been an equally satisfying part of their work. “Running the company has been immensely gratifying for us as we’ve been able to evolve as filmmakers while also creating opportunities for others to do the same. Managing the day-to-day (operations) of a company can inform the filmmaking process in ways we hadn’t anticipated, but that makes us shrewder as creatives.”
Part of that shrewdness, according to Hogan and Orcino, comes from their commitment to making every production released by Tall Order a top-notch effort from start to finish. “The responsibility of seeing projects through from inception to completion is an eye-opening experience that makes us more well-rounded, considerate, and focused in how we approach a project that we will put our name behind.”
With more outstanding projects still to come from Tall Order’s growing portfolio, Hogan and Orcino have high ambitions for the future of their company. “As creators we are always pushing for more,” they say. “We plan to keep moving forward in the scale of productions that we produce, ranging from feature films, larger budget commercials, and bigger challenges, all while maintaining that story and quality comes first.”
For more information on Tall Order Productions, its films and production services, visit:
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