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Meet Kipp Tribble of MRP Entertainment in Glendale

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kipp Tribble.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Kipp. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I started in radio, but also stayed busy in the theatre world, performing in lots of local productions while writing screenplays on the side. Once I had a few plays under my belt, I decided to make the leap to film – which had always been the goal. My first film was my film school because I had no idea what I was doing and HAD to learn by doing the work. Sure, I read all I could get my hands on about the filmmaking process, talked to everyone I could that had some knowledge of making a film, but actually going through the process and making it was worth way more than 4 years of film school. I was inspired by guys at the time like Robert Rodriguez, Ed Burns, Kevin Smith and Richard Linklater – maybe not exactly for the films they were making, but HOW they were making those films.

Being an actor and a writer, I knew I was going to exercise those creative muscles, but no one else in my circle – or my town, for that matter – had made a full-length narrative feature film before and then seen it through to a release. So, I also took on the role of director and producer, which made me truly learn every step of the process from scratch. And since this was well before digital filmmaking, we were shooting on film, which comes with a whole other set of steps and issues. But after diving in and making the film (SUGAR CAIN), we got lucky enough to sell it after a week-long trip to Los Angeles. That started the ball rolling and through that distribution company, I was introduced to some other filmmakers and co-produced and acted in an action thriller indie, MOVING TARGETS, shot in Vermont. The film did well for us (premium cable deals, Blockbuster Video release, wide foreign release, etc.) and by the time it was coming out, my wife and I decided we needed to move to L.A.

I signed up for acting classes when we got to L.A. and I did the audition rounds, but I found right away that I really missed the whole filmmaking process and I also wanted to be more proactive in my career beyond just putting all of my hopes into auditioning. UP, MICHIGAN!, a romantic comedy with an ensemble cast, was my next writing/producing/starring effort. We shot that in Chicago almost exactly a year after I moved to L.A. and we cast several actors from our acting class. Then, I headed back to the stage for a while and only focused on acting, before jumping back into wearing multiple hats on a film with RUNNING SPRINGS, co-written and directed by another former classmate. That film, an ensemble drama, was one of the early DVD sales to a new company called Netflix. I next just focused on producing a few films while my wife and I started a family. I produced THE WAITERS, BACHELOR PARTY MASSACRE, SAFEHOUSE and STILL WATERS, along with several short films, music videos and commercials. But, it was my relationship with the Executive Producer of SAFEHOUSE, Spencer Johnson, that would start the COFFIN franchise.

Spencer and his company, Skyrocket Productions, are based in Maryland, but he wanted to work with me on producing a film in L.A. COFFIN came from that idea and went on to garner a cult following worldwide. I wrote the film and co-directed and produced, along with my longtime collaborator, Derik Wingo. We both also starred alongside Kevin Sorbo, Bruce Davison, Johnny Alonso, Sunny Doench and Patrick Barnitt. After COFFIN went on to finish in Redbox’s Top 20 Weekly Rentals for the week it came out, we joked about doing a sequel, but never had any serious plans to do one. After a few years of working on other projects, I was at an anniversary party for the same company that distributed my first film (and also handled COFFIN), and some of the foreign buyers that were there asked why hadn’t I done a sequel to COFFIN. Within the same week, Spencer had called me to congratulate me on finishing a couple of films I had done and we started discussing the idea of a sequel. Fast forward to now and we have COFFIN 2, which has also performed very well in Redbox and is currently on iTunes, GooglePlay, FandangoNOW, and soon to be on Amazon Prime. And we have foreign sales starting to roll in, too. So we’re developing COFFIN 3 now, among other films!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m not sure there are too many “smooth road” stories in this industry! Everyone’s situation and struggles are different for so many reasons… their own situation, timing, etc., but it is rarely a smooth road.

It’s an every-man-for-himself type of industry, which can be very damaging to the creative process, and one of my personal struggles has been to find people that are like-minded and want to truly roll their sleeves up and do the collaborative work, and tell stories. It’s shocking how many people lose interest as soon as they see how much work it is. It’s easy to get people on board in the beginning, but as soon as the real, very unglamorous work begins, people start to disappear.

Another struggle is navigating the b.s. You could ask 10 execs or producers what scripts are selling or what you should be focusing on, and you will get 10 different answers. Whether it’s shopping a script or getting new headshots, the opinions will be wide and varied. It took me a long time to learn how to sift through all of that and decide what works for me.

Please tell us about MRP Entertainment.
Our company is MRP Entertainment. We are focused on producing lower-budget films and TV projects, usually in the horror and thriller genres, although we are always open to a great story. Along with COFFIN 2 and now COFFIN 3 in development with Skyrocket Productions, we also have four other films in active development, as well as one series. But aside from features, we also can handle commercials, short films, music videos and can see a project through from concept all the way through to delivery.

We have also ventured into the distribution realm, which is an exciting part of our company. So far, we have one film in release, which is a re-release of THE WAITERS and we have two more features that we are readying for release, along with one documentary. My goal in branching out into distribution was to help indie filmmakers get their films out there to the world… and not get screwed over in the process. Releasing your film can be very tricky and it is easy to fall into a trap. I also have seen way too many filmmakers finish their film and then not know how to get it out for the world to see – and perhaps make a little money in the process! MRP will always be extremely filmmaker friendly. I am a filmmaker myself and have been in the trenches, so I know the blood, sweat and tears – and soul – that go into making a film. We will guide these films by, drawing from our experiences.

I think what sets us apart from some other indie production/distribution companies, is that we truly do know and understand each facet of filmmaking: from the idea stage, to the page, to pre-production and securing talent, to the technical aspects of production, telling a story and then, to the post-production process and how to ‘retell’ the story in post. And finally, understanding release strategies and the ins-and-outs of distribution. Many great companies have to outsource for some parts of this process. We can do much of this in-house beforehand, thus saving money.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood?
I don’t know if I have a specific favorite, but I grew up in Kentucky and there are lots of favorites about that place… the breezes, the clouds, the massive moths that come out at night, catching lightning bugs, canoeing on the Kentucky River with my dad and of course, watching U.K. games. Lots of fun memories there.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Monica Giselle, Rob Zazzali, Skyrocket Productions, Leomark Studios

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