Brooke Lemke and her friend and business partner Rachel Grubb, have always been great friends to Rogue Cinema. So when Brooke asked me if I’d like to interview her about her new life in L.A. and what her and Rachel are up with with their production company, Silent But Deadly, I jumped at the chance. Brooke’s been a busy girl, so let’s find out what she’s been up to.
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DLM: So Brooke, it’s been a while since we’ve last seen you here in the magazine. Let’s start like I always do and have you introduce yourself to everyone and tell us all a little about yourself.
BL: I have been an aspiring filmmaker for the last six years. I started pursuing this dream in Minneapolis, MN in 2005 and have been pursuing it in Los Angeles for the past year. I started as an actress, then went on to work behind the camera as a shooter, director, producer, production assistant and assistant director. I developed a production company, Silent-But-Deadly Productions, in 2006 with my co-producer and now, best friend, Rachel Grubb. Together we have produced five films, three of which I directed and we don’t plan on stopping anytime soon!
DLM: In April of 2010, you packed up your whole life and moved out to L.A.. What prompted this life changing decision and how long did it take for you to decide to finally just go for it?
BL: I had been wanting to move out to Los Angeles since 2004, after I worked on "Invasion Iowa" with WIlliam Shatner. I had this feeling that I needed to learn a lot more before making that move, so I moved to Minneapolis. I didn’t know how I would learn what I needed to learn, but I started by studying the art of acting. Through acting, I fell in love with the behind the camera roles of Producer and Director, but I wanted to become an even better Producer/Director, so in 2008 I began freelancing as a PA and 2nd AD to learn more about the "below-the-line" jobs and the needs of the crew. In 2009, I worked for an LA production company that was in Minneapolis shooting a television show for TLC. After working on that, I realized I was ready for the move. They thought highly of me and respected what I was capable of bringing to the table. In January 2010, after starting a new healthcare job, I finally said to myself "I can’t do this anymore (working in healthcare). It’s time to make this dream of living in LA and being a professional producer happen." So, from January to April 2010, I sold what I could, gave away what I couldn’t sell, and packed up my car and left.
DLM: What sort of work have you been doing at your new job. Can you tell us about some of the projects you’ve worked on between then and now?
BL: I thought moving to LA would mean starting from the "bottom" (PA) and working my way back to the "top" (Producer), but the first two jobs I landed were Line Producing jobs for a couple of TV show pilots. From there I worked for a production company, putting together a couple of film budgets for them. I went on to work as an assistant doing data/research for three months before returning to freelancing as a 2nd AD on two features (one I got bumped up to 1st AD) and Line Producing another TV pilot and drawing up more budgets for a production company. For the past three months, I’ve been trying to make my other dream of professional equestrian come true and it’s going very well. I teach riding lessons on a regular basis.
DLM: Your partner in your production company, Silent But Deadly, Rachel Grubb, also moved out to L.A.. Was she planning to do that from the beginning, or did you convince her after the fact to pack up and move out there so you guys could keep things going?
BL: Rachel, did not want to move, initially, to LA. Our plan was for me to move here and Silent-But-Deadly to stay based in Minneapolis. After I got out here, I saw how much potential was here and I expressed that to her. She had been struggling with the decision until last July/August when she realized she was ready to push herself as an actress and filmmaker and make the move, too. I found her a job and she moved out here. Naturally, we had to move the company once she got here.
DLM: Once Rachel moved out to L.A., you guys changed your company from a non-profit to an LLC. What are the advantages of doing this, and what did you lose by doing it?
BL: We actually changed from non-profit to LLC when I moved out to LA. The advantages are the ability to get more funding from investors and to be taken even more seriously as a professional production company. The disadvantages are the taxes. You pay a lot in taxes as an LLC.
DLM: You guys have been developing a feature film called Sky is Falling. Tell us about that and what stage of development is it at currently?
BL: The script for Sky is Falling is solid after over a year of workshopping it. We have a Cinematographer attached to the project and our schedule and budget and treatment are ready to show investors. We have found another production company that we would like to team up with so we are waiting for their schedule to clear a little more before we proceed. But we’re ready to make this film as soon as they are. We could shop around for another company to team up with but we want them because we all have the same vision for the project and we work very well together and that is very difficult to find. It’s best to wait and to make a great product than to rush and make an okay product.
DLM: You have a couple of documentaries in process as well. Tell us about those.
BL: We have two documentaries going right now. The first was a television show we were trying to sell as a docu-series, but we couldn’t make that happen in a timely manner, so we’re going to turn it into a documentary film. It’s about an all girl rock-band. It’s a very uplifting story that needs to be told. We have sixteen hours of footage that our editor is working with and we’ll do a couple days of pick-ups to fill in any missing gaps. The second documentary is about the worlds of philanthropy, charities and volunteering. This one is in the brainstorming stage.
DLM: When do you expect all of those to be finished? What kind of a timeline are you looking at for all of these projects?
BL: I would like the rock-band documentary to be completed by the end of September so we can just do color correcting, sound design and graphics through the holiday months and have it completed by the 1st of next year so we can begin submitting to festivals. The charity documentary will be on the back-burner until we feel we have enough of an angle to make it into a solid film. It could be a couple years before we make this one.
DLM: You’ve started writing your first feature length script called After Ever After. Who’s your co-writer and what’s the story about? How long do you think it will take you guys to get it completed?
BL: My co-writer is Donna Beard in Minnesota. The story is about a woman in her late twenties who is redefining her ideas of happily ever after after she lost what she thought was her happy ending. We have act one written and act two almost done, so that’ll just leave act three. We hope to have the first draft done by the end of summer and have a solid script by the end of the year after a ton of rewrites. I would like to produce/direct it in 2012.
DLM: Have you gotten to do much, or any acting since you’ve been in L.A.?
BL: I have put acting on the back-burner since moving here so I could focus on the production company and my horse work. I did act in a short film we did for fun about text messaging while driving called 1-866-Texters and it can be seen on youtube.
DLM: Do you want to continue working both in front of and behind the camera, or do you feel like your behind the camera work has become the main focus, at least for now?
BL: My main focus right now is Producer/Director and also writing my first feature film. Ultimately, I am in this field to be a storyteller. Sometimes, it’s through acting, sometimes it’s through writing and other times it’s through producing or directing. I will never say I won’t act again, because a day might come when the best way for me to tell a specific story is through acting. I never thought I would write a script again, but here I am co-writing a feature because that is the best way for me to tell this particular story.
DLM: You and Rachel’s film, Why am I in a Box?, which Rachel directed, is now available in a release that includes the first two films you directed, A Broken Family and Young Eyes. Tell us about these films and where people can pick up a copy for themselves.
BL: A Broken Family and Young Eyes are two short films that address issues that are close to me: happiness/love and teenage girl body image. Why am I in a Box? is a dark comedy feature film about creative people getting stuck in the nine to five world and being forced to make something of their talents and aspirations. This DVD can be purchased on the store page of our company’s website: www.sbdproductions.com
DLM: Moving on to a couple of non-related topics now, you’re a big horse lover, and since moving to L.A., you’ve had the chance to start giving lessons. Tell us about that.
BL: This has been a dream since I was a kid. And I moved to Los Angeles to make this dream happen as well as my film dream. I teach at two different barns. One barn is a hunter/jumper barn where I teach lessons and ride the horses in Dressage (aka "flat work") when the head trainer needs an extra hand with the workload. The other barn is for girls who live in under-served neighborhoods of Los Angeles. It’s a non-profit and it teams up with other non-profits in the area to provide riding and gardening lessons to girls who normally wouldn’t have access to these environments. If anyone is interested in donating to this cause, they can check out www.takingthereins.org.
DLM: A lot of people don’t realize this, but you were the blonde girl on that show Invasion Iowa with William Shatner. Tell us about some of your more notable experiences with that show.
BL: I just remember how much fun that was. It was a reality TV show about crazy Hollywood coming to small town America to see how the two would interact. I remember getting the part of Linda and I was shocked because I had never acted before and my audition was definitely not great! And I remember receiving the fake script which was a horrible sci-fi script but I thought, might as well go along with this. What would it hurt? My favorite memories were having dinner with Bill which included a fake phone call, watching the dailies (where you watch what was filmed that day) and always trying to chase down the head production staff to ask for a copy of my contract that they refused to show me. The people were all wonderful, though, and I do think about them every once in awhile.
DLM: Of all the career accomplishments in your life so far, what are you the most proud of?
BL: Dang. I’m so proud of everything I’ve done. I’ve made the stories I’ve wanted to tell. I’m happy with how everything has turned out and their successes with awards and getting into film festivals, but I always hope to be proud of everything I start and finish. I would say I have three really proud moments. The first came when Rachel told me that she would have never directed Why am I in a Box? if it wasn’t for me. To know that you inspired and helped make someone’s dream come true is an incredible feeling. The second would be leaving my comfortable surroundings in Minnesota to move to Los Angeles. I had never visited LA before I moved here, I had only dreamed of it for 6 years. Now, I am surpassing all of my dreams, so that is something to be very proud of. The third, but proudest accomplishment was when my mom told me she was impressed with all I have come to accomplish and that she is very proud of me. There is no greater career accomplishment than these three moments: helping another person reach their dreams, to step into the unknown & fulfill your wildest dreams and to have a parent who is proud of you. Hopefully, they aren’t the last of my proud moments.
DLM: Ok, in some magical world, a leprechaun rides up to you on a unicorn and grants you an unlimited budget to make your dream film…and then the unicorn craps a rainbow on the elf standing under it. Anyway, what kind of a film would you make?
BL: There is a film I really want to see be made called "Prescription Happiness". It’s a script of my friend, Ryan Strandjord. It’s a film that could be brilliant in the right producer’s hands with the right size of budget. He’s in Minnesota making the short film version of it in hopes of making it into a feature. While I wish it happens, I don’t know it I’ll get be a part of the process, so I’ll say the next project I would love to get my hands on is a trilogy idea of my friend, Anne Westcott. This would definitely need a huge budget because of the action and special effects, but it also has a story concept that is incredibly strong.
DLM: Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap this up?
BL: I always like ending my interviews thanking everyone who continues to support me, Rachel and Silent-But-Deadly Productions. One thing I have learned on this journey from being a dreamer in Iowa, to being a struggling artist in Minnesota to a working producer & horse trainer in Los Angeles, is that everyone has their own dream. No one is wrong in what they want, as long as one is true to oneself. No one can tell you what your dreams should be and no one can tell you how they can come true. All I can tell you is that they can come true.