Recently students, graduates and faculty in the digital video program* at Minnesota School of Business-Richfield (MSB) hosted local filmmaker Todd Cobery as he screened his film and discussed his career and the creative process.
Todd moved to the Twin Cities from the Boston area 20 years ago. He makes his living producing and directing television commercials and shows, and works on film crews when they shoot in town. He’s worked on commercials for the Minnesota Twins, TCF, and the television series “America Unearthed” for the History Channel.
Todd’s true passion, however, is his own creative work. “The most fun is directing my own films, but I’m not making a career out of that! It’s also really hard to find time for personal projects,” Todd stated.
One film he did find the time to make is called “Eden.” Todd told his audience that he initially had the idea to write a film about a world set 30 years into the future, and then became inspired to produce a shorter version as a type of backstory to the feature length idea.
Todd financed the film himself, built his own sets and had friends work for little or no money.
Todd explained that it was difficult to produce a film while working on character arc: “You are worried about providing lunch for the crew,” he said.
The film took four days to shoot but was prepped and pre-lit for weeks. Post-production took another six months. Todd said that the project headed in many different directions during and after the shoot. “I wasn’t interested in making it so people would understand it—I wanted them to be like ‘What the [bleep]!’ It was more divisive than I thought it would be,” he stated.
Todd shared this advice with his audience: “Figure out what success looks like to you. Be good at something and work really hard at it. There is an element of luck [to success], but work really hard, harder than anyone else. You never know who is out there who is going to hire you—just get on set, whether it’s paid or free—and be passionate about it,” he said.
Although he acknowledged that maintaining a good work-life balance can be challenging when you are working so much, Todd also recognized the importance of your network. “I’ve met filmmakers from across the country. My films got better because I found more people to help me.” he concluded.
Student Eric Chan said of the discussion: “It was very informative, fun and educational. It was much needed! I haven’t seen anything like this since I’ve been at MSB. It’s very exciting!”
“I thought [the presentation] was very well done and well organized. Todd’s film was something I’ve never seen before—it challenged the structure I knew,” said student Nathan Ringham.
If you would like to check out a teaser for “Eden,” go here.
*Interested in the digital video program? New students can learn more at IPR.