Maybe it’s the wild, diverse landscape or a similar assortment of inhabitants, but the Columbia Basin region and Tri-Cities inspire creative endeavors revealing both an individual spirit of imagination and collective collaborations that leave ego to the wind.
This is the gist of what filmmaker Greg Martin says about the interplay of forces at work within 2047 Productions, one of the Columbia Basin’s local film production companies.
“We’ve all known each other a long time and done various things together over the years,” Martin said in an interview about the producers with 2047 — friends Greg Martin, Randy LaBarge, and Nat Saenz.
“We’ve just found that we each have our strengths, and we respect what each other brings to the table,” says Martin. “The egos are out the door.”
The collaboration works because each of the partners brings a unique skill set to the projects, along with a common desire to create.
Nat Saenz is the main director and also does camera work, lighting, and editing. Randy LaBarge recently directed his first film and coordinates to make the pieces come together as executive producer, with the other team members acting as assistant producers.
“Randy and I take turns with writing and story development,” Martin says. “He has the screenwriting chops and does a great job of taking short stories or ideas and getting them into a script form. Besides writing, my forte is sound and music. I do all the sound design and will usually write original music for the shows. I have experience with costumes and make-up, but we all share in all the duties.”
LaBarge and Martin also make appearances in some films. Martin is seen climbing out of the Columbia River as Captain Black in “Black’s Treasure.”
The film production company was started by Saenz over ten years ago.
“I believe 2047 came about as a result of a short film that got made during our local RadCon sci-fi and fantasy convention,” LaBarge says. “Over the years, the group has discovered a broad range of talented local individuals who either act or love to work behind the camera. As a result, we now have a full cast and crew for all of our films. Following each project, we critique both the film and the process we went through to make the film, with an eye to what we can do better next time.”
“We’ve all known each other a long time and done various things together over the years,” Martin says of the collaboration.” I joined the other two about a year ago after being the sound designer on one of the shows. I had an idea for a horror short story that Randy took and turned into a screenplay.”
Music was also a factor in bringing the friends together and music’s influence is evident in the sound scores for the films.
“Interestingly, each of us is a musician,” LaBarge adds. “Greg and I played in a classic rock and blues band together, and Nat has played in big band for more years than I can remember.”
The filmmakers agree that the collaboration works because of the spirit of friendship and vision each member brings to the table.
“The vision is the best product possible,” Martin says. “Again, the egos are not into play here, and we do a lot of give and take. We will try various ideas and see what works best. It’s a good working environment.”
2047 Productions’ films have screened all over the world, including in Reno, Nevada (Renovation Film Festival), Las Vegas, Nevada (Silver State Film Festival), Chicago, Illinois (Chicon7 Film Festival), Kansas City, Missouri (MidAmeriCon II Film Festival), San Antonio, Texas (Lonestar3 Film Festival), San Jose, California (WorldCon 76 Film Festival), Twin Falls, Idaho (Twin Falls Sandwiches Film Festival), Spokane, Washington (Sasquan Film Festival), Seattle, Washington (Crypticon Film Festival) and Tri-Cities, Washington (TRIFI Film Festival) and internationally in Helsinki, Finland (Worldcon 75 Film Festival) and Wellington, New Zealand (ConZealand Film Festival).
But, despite their worldwide appeal, 2047 Productions’ films feature actors, scenes, and even history local to the Columbia Basin.
“We know there are a lot of talented people locally, and we love to connect with them and let them come out and play. We like being able to let people fulfill a desire they might have to be in a movie or work on a movie set,” Martin says. “We have a good group that we generally work with, but we are always looking for new people to get involved, and it’s usually through word-of-mouth or even being approached as we are shooting a scene. The beauty is – at the end of the day, we are all friends that have come together to make something special.”
“It’s really about the relationships and having fun with friends,” LaBarge says.
Local history and legend are also a big part of the company’s productions. From Prosser’s Gravity Hill as a focal point for the out-of-this-world storyline in “Gravity Hill” to legends of lost treasure and pirates washing into the Columbia River, the film settings capture a sense of the surreal and fantastic landscape and history of the Columbia Basin.
Other recent films include “Strowger’s Revenge” and “Renewzit,” with a film titled “Gamma Man” currently in post-production.