Name: Kent Rabalais
Hometown: Kirbyville, Texas
Kent is Chief Creative Officer of Edmund Pevensey, LLC and Executive Producer at BFM Creative, a boutique video production agency. Prior to Edmund Pevensey and BFM Creative, Kent served as an award-winning Creative Director for The Pursuant Group, worked as a Creative for Apple Inc, and produced Between Notes, an iTunes top 10 independent film. Kent has overseen creative projects for clients like Dallas Children's Medical Center, Conference USA, and the University of Notre Dame. Early in his career, Kent spent six years as a Writer and Producer with an independent production company based in Los Angeles. His feature script Galveston received positive reviews from several companies and individuals including Lightstorm Entertainment (Titanic, Avatar) and Academy Award-winning producer Jerry Molen (Schindler’s List, Jurassic Park). Kent graduated with a BA in Professional Writing from Baylor University and lives in Lewisville with his wife, Kristen, and son, Drew.
AHD: Seven Poets and the Assassin’s Secret has been described as “a modern day cross between Dickens and 24.” What’s the gist of the story, and where did the creative inspiration come from?
KR: In our fictional story, the world is forever changed on August 12, 2012 by a devastating terrorist attack at the London Olympics. Seven Poets and the Assassin’s Secret is the story of seven children’s escape from the terrorists behind the attack, and their flight to new lives filled with mystery, danger and adventure. Matt Brown (noted author of Seven Poets) would be the ideal person to answer the creative inspiration question, but I can say I was personally drawn to the story because of the various resonances it had with authors like C.S. Lewis, Charles Dickens and Dostoevsky, and stories like LOST and Christopher Nolan's Batman Trilogy.
AHD: Seven Poets and the Assassin’s Secret is unlike anything we’ve seen. How did you get involved with the project, and how is the story’s unfolding unique?
KR: My journey with Seven Poets started when the author and creator of the story, Matthew A. Brown, approached me with the idea when we were both working at the same creative agency in town. I was immediately drawn to the plot, characters, and potential themes it contained. One of my passions is helping talented storytellers develop and produce their work and so I signed on to help Matt bring this project to life. Matt told me that the story continued to grow as he wrote and so pretty early on, we thought the story would be told over several years and through several different mediums including mobile apps, print, video games and films. However, rather than see the same story repeated throughout those mediums, we plan to have our story and characters progress through each so we can take advantage of each medium's unique capabilities. We did a lot of research, put a business plan together and went around pitching the concept to potential investors. After many of the usual ups and downs with that process, and several overhauls of our original plan, we were able to secure the funds necessary to make the iOS version of Seven Poets and the Assassin’s Secret.
AHD: This project is the latest offering from the team that brought us Between Notes, a feature film that premiered at the 2011 Dallas International Film Festival. If Between Notes set the bar, do you feel like Seven Poets and the Assassin’s Secret has raised it higher still?
KR: I don't believe any of us involved with Between Notes feel like it set the bar for us. It was more of an experiment to see how our team would work together on a feature film after producing various short form stories as a team at our previous agency, or in the case of Matt Brown and director Christopher Grissom, during childhood. We only had $10K and two weeks to make the film and we all had full time jobs during this time, so I think the biggest achievement was just getting the film produced. The music in the film is incredible and the ability to feature such gifted musicians as David Ramirez and Summer Ames really drove many of us on the project. Looking back on it, we are all proud to have made it given the circumstances, and it did confirm that we all worked together in a way that doesn't come along too often in the creative world. We also learned so much that we’re excited about incorporating into the next film. I’ve never been more excited about a creative project than I am with Seven Poets and the Assassin’s Secret. It combines so much of what I love about storytelling and it weaves in these fun and hopefully insightful challenges that push the audience to think about how this fictional story they are spending time with intersects their own lives. I also believe it is the result of many different gifted artists doing the best work they are capable of at this point in their careers. That is a rewarding experience.
AHD: A goal of BFM Creative, the boutique production company you serve as Executive Producer, is to “make Dallas the storytelling capital of the world.” Why do you think Dallas is poised to provide quality commercial production without the 7-figure price tag?
KR: (Laughing) Well, that goal is obviously very lofty. I don't think it would necessarily mean developing and producing projects that come in under 7-figures. It's more about building a foundation of writers, directors and producers that can tell stories at the highest levels. It means having intellectual property creators working in the city. The vision we have is to see a place like Pixar located in Dallas. I don't mean that in terms of the genre they work in or even the style they use, but the quality of their storytelling. There are places like Reel FX that are doing great work in this area and others I’m sure I don’t know about, but I'm being greedy and would like to see more.
AHD: A portion of Seven Poets and the Assassin’s Secret was successfully crowd funded through Kickstarter, an online funding platform for creative projects. How affirming was it to have so many backers supporting your project during production? Would you recommend the tool to others?
KR: It means a great deal that so many people supported Seven Poets on Kickstarter. It started out like it usually does with friends and family, but we ended up with people as far away as Australia backing it. It's difficult to sustain your energy in the middle of any creative project and having those votes of confidence come in helped us press on. Kickstarter has pros and cons like any tool. Most projects on the site raise about $5K and if your project falls at or below that level, you should really consider it. If you need more funding than that, you probably need to have a decent sized existing fan base or have a product that's very easy to understand but also one that people will immediately want. That’s usually not fiction. One key to using it well is thinking through the fulfillment of your rewards. How much will it take to produce and ship what you are offering? After you deduct that and the percentages Kickstarter and Amazon payments take, how much will you be left with to use on your project? The initial goal you set and the time you give your project to reach that and even exceed it are important too. I would recommend going through Kickstarter's "school" and their stats page before beginning a project as it will not be the right tool for everyone.
AHD: You’ve gone public with your personal testimony in hopes of helping others with similar struggles. Would you say the stories you and your team produce have similar redeeming qualities? Do you always try to infuse a story with something positive?
KR: The stories my team and I produce do have similar redeeming qualities because it's the lens through which we see the world. Speaking for me individually, every story I help create will be coming from my identity as a man who has been saved and redeemed by Jesus. In my past, I didn't know how to reconcile my passion for films and books with my love for Christ. I now see that these stories and my love for telling them are just leading others and me to the Creator.
AHD: You’ve come a long way from your days as a student in Professional Writing. Does a blank piece of paper still excite you, or have you moved on to enjoy other aspects of the industry even more?
KR: I've gone through different seasons since then, but for the most part, the producing and creative direction aspect of the industry appeal to me the most. As I said at the beginning, I love helping others tell their stories whether that's through producing, teaching, or even a lunch meeting for encouragement and discussion. It gives me great joy to see people mature as artists and individuals and see their dreams come true. Oh, and the blank piece of paper has and will always scare me. It takes a lot of courage and determination to move past that point. The biggest thing is just to show up everyday and try.
AHD: What’s your favorite Dallas spot for thinking up the next big idea or making the next big connection?
KR: I spend a good deal of time driving since I live in Lewisville and work in Dallas so the honest answer is my car. My absolute favorite spot in the city is the Winspear Opera House at the AT&T Performing Arts Center, especially at night. Every time I go there I'm inspired to create.
AHD: Where do we go to learn more about Seven Poets and the Assassin’s Secret, and how can we keep up with all of the Edmund Pevensey and BFM Creative happenings?
KR: The best place to learn more about Seven Poets and the Assassin's Secret is sevenpoets.com or on twitter @sevenpoets. That will also be the best place to keep up with Edmund Pevensey for now. You can follow BFM Creative at bfmcreative.com We are planning to shoot our next feature film this fall with a release in 2013 so there should be some fun news over there in the coming months.