We had the good fortune of connecting with Rich Varville and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rich, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
I have been self employed most of my adult life. From the early days of being a fine finishing contractor, to building and operating a recording studio, followed by a small record company, the transition to starting a film production business was really second nature to me. The difficult part is acquiring new clients and building sustainable business relationships. Especially in today’s Covid climate. But, I have never been the type to shy away from a challenge. So far, it’s been paying off.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My journey of being in the entertainment industry started at an early age. At 18, after completing two years of video and news production classes at Pikes Peak College in Colorado Springs, I decided to move to California. At that point in time, 1987, being a freelance videographer really wasn’t feasible. Cameras were very expensive to rent, editing was done on VTR machines only available at news studios and facilities way out of my price range. But, I had an incessant desire to be artistic and create so I followed my heart down the path of music. Having played several instruments since the age of eight, I eventually took up guitar. The love of guitar playing lead to many years of playing in bands and performing on stage. After writing and performing I realized the need to be able to record my songs. This lead to studying sound engineering and eventually starting my own recording studio. As the recording industry changed (home recording via computers became more popular and accessible to the consumer) I felt the need to move in a different direction. Shortly after, I was playing in a band that needed to shoot a music video. I said “I can do that.” Which was met with some skepticism from the other band members. Rightfully so. I had never made a music video. But that wasn’t going to stop me! After making my case they allowed me to produce and direct the band’s first music video. Which did very well for the band, btw, lol. Almost immediately after the release of that music video other bands started calling, wanted me to produce videos for them. So… 30 plus music videos later I think I did ok… one showed at Canne, another won Best Director, and another won Best Music Video at San Diego Film Awards over the span of a few years. The style of music videos I was directing helped set me apart. I insisted on making story based videos with actors, sets, costumes, etc. My thought process was that if you make a music video similar to a movie people will want to watch it to the end to see what happens. Well… hundreds of thousands of views later with great analytics helped support my theory. Why mention all of this? Well… Making story based music videos launched the next phase of my business plan: RSVP FILMS, LLC. If I can understand storytelling and produce music videos I can surely branch out and tell other stories, in other mediums, right? Right. Since that time a few years ago RSVP FILMS, LLC has produced two feature films, several short films, corporate training videos to help businesses during the struggles of Covid, company profile films, two comedy series, a proof of concept film for a horror feature film that got funded and green lit, a concept reel for a TV series that has been recently purchased by Lionsgate TV that will air on Amazon (which Rich Varville will serve as Director of Photography and Direct at least one episode), and is currently in post-production on another big budget concept reel for a fantasy/hero TV series. Although we started with simple music videos RSVP FILMS, LLC has made the jump to the next level with the help of so many talented technicians, crew, artists, actors, producers, and family. I have always maintained that every single person on my set is equally important. Team work makes the dream work. Advice for others: Be someone that people WANT to work with. Be respectful. Have integrity. And have FUN!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would probably tell them to grab a few brochures from a local hotel lobby. Seriously, 30 plus years living in San Diego and I have not even seen enough of it to qualify as a tour guide!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
RSVP FILMS, LLC has flourished with the help of too many people to give just one shout out. Filmmaking is a team sport… a collaborative effort of many technicians, crew, artists, writers, actors, and producers that bring so many varied talents to the table. To single one person out would be a disservice to the multitude of people that make RSVP FILM a success. Except… my wife, Gail. If I don’t mention her I will be in trouble, lol.
Photos: Jeff M Zook Logo: Rich Varville