Welcome to Circle Take, the podcast that delves into the experiences of indie filmmakers/creators. We ask how they do what they do, from documentaries to narrative and horror films to branded content and music videos.
Today I am so stoked to learn that our feature film Hopped Up has been picked up by Amazon Prime Video. You can now watch it for a meager price in the comfort of your living room; now anybody can see it.
Please, if you watch it, rate it and leave a comment on Amazon and, of course, tell your friends! This will help us out.
Today we have an incredible guest. Director/ Writer Rick Castaneda, whose latest surreal comedy film ALL SORTS also has just come out on streaming services.
It showed at the Seattle International Film Fest and in theaters around the pacific northwest. Hailing from Grainger Wa and now in LA, Rick walks us through his process of creating a couple of independent feature films.
Check out his bio:
Rick Castañeda is an award-winning writer and director of original series, narrative films, and branded content. His work heavily emphasizes a multi-media approach, including live-action filmmaking, animation/motion graphics, and interactive experiences.
Rick grew up in Granger, WA, a town so small it has no traffic lights. In high school, he achieved recognition as a National Merit Scholar and National Hispanic Merit Scholar. He later attended the University of Southern California, where he studied under acclaimed American novelist T.C. Boyle and earned a degree in Creative Writing with a minor in Cinema.
After graduation, Rick founded the production company Psychic Bunny with a few fellow Trojans, which he ran for 15 years. His first short film, “The Golden Egg” premiered at SXSW in 2008, and the following year he released the web series COMA, PERIOD., starring comedian Rob Delaney (of CATASTROPHE fame), which the New York Times called “so good that we’re almost afraid we’re going to wake up and find out we dreamed the whole thing.”
Following this early success, Rick began work on what would become his first feature film, CEMENT SUITCASE, released in 2013. The film won the Audience Award at the Dances With Films Festival, and has a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Mark Bell of Film Threat wrote that the movie was “a humorous romp” and “high quality entertainment all around.”
After Cement Suitcase, Rick made the natural next step—writing, directing, and producing a 10-episode series for LEGO Ninjago, which aired on Cartoon Network. He then turned his attention to the world of tech and streaming, becoming the showrunner for the futuristic talk show parody “The Sushi Dragon Show” for VENN TV, which featured augmented reality, motion capture and facial tracking as part of a live broadcast. He continued to explore the world of live streaming and virtual production when he created a cyberpunk gameshow for Twitch, starring virtual avatar Codemiko.
All the while, Rick kept steadily working on his second feature film, the surreal office comedy ALL SORTS, which premiered in 2021. The film has played in numerous prestigious film festivals, including the Seattle International, Raindance in London, and the Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival, receiving praise from critics and audiences alike. Chris Hutchinson of The Stranger wrote that ALL SORTS was “a sentimental and surrealist comedy, unlike anything else I’ve seen at the festival.”
Rick isn’t limited to the traditional narrative mediums, and continually takes on projects that push his creative boundaries. He’s directed interactive projects for Pokemon and The Venetian in Las Vegas, and also produced an interactive, anti-IED training program in Bulgaria, Romania, and Poland for The United Nations. His work has also taken him into the world of music and Esports. He documented the band Imagine Dragons’ first trip to South Korea, where they performed at the opening ceremonies for the League of Legends World Championship in Seoul, and directed a celebrated VFX-heavy music video for the international Esports team G2.
In 2020, Rick founded his second production company, Vibrant Penguin, which has placed an emphasis on exploring new and exciting technologies, while uplifting unique perspectives and voices. Rick has written articles for Movie Maker Magazine, No Film School, and IndieWire. The content he’s written, produced, and directed has won awards, accumulated more than 75 million views, and received positive review after positive review.
I hope you enjoy the show.