Bafia-Stamey Productions’ co-founders Nicholas Bafia and Julia Stamey started off as college students with an idea for an independent movie musical. Nearly two years later, Fix is an original musical film, brought to life by a group of 40+ young artists with the goal of activating a dormant award category at the Oscars: Best Original Musical. Fix is the story of 3 estranged friends that cross paths at a concert. They must confront the dreams that life had forced them to abandon, as they struggle to heal their relationships, futures, and themselves. The musical had its first Oscar-qualifying showing on Friday, October 22nd at the Sunset Cinelounge in Los Angeles. We had the chance to speak with Bafia and Stamey to discuss all things Fix and what we can expect from Bafia-Stamey Productions in the future!
Hi Nick and Julia, how are you both?
Nicholas Bafia: We’re doing pretty amazing actually. We just finished submitting to the Academy for the 94th Music awards and Fix’s theatrical run in Hollywood went pretty well. We got to premiere it in a theater in Chapel Hill, NC, which is our college town and where we made Fix, so it was an exciting homecoming on Nov. 13.
Julia Stamey: Like Nick said, pretty fantastic! It was such a blast getting to have our film screen at the Cinelounge in LA, and I was eagerly looking forward to our Chapel Hill “homecoming” on the 13th, especially as so many of our friends, loved ones, AND cast & crew are still in NC.
I wanted to ask first, what inspired you both to pursue filmmaking professionally after college?
Bafia: I got casually involved with the Student TV station (STV) and Film Association (CFA) at University of North Carolina my Junior year, but by the end of the year I was the elected leader of STV and I had worked on 5-6 short films with CFA. So needless to say, I quickly fell in love with the whole experience of producing videos and being able to tell stories through film/tv. It was a no-brainer to head to LA after graduating in May 2019, so that I could help tell some stories and support all the talented and creative people I’ve met along the way.
Stamey: I was lucky entering college that I had already worked on a few shorts, & knew I wanted to pursue filmmaking at Carolina. However, it was all of the mentorship I received at Carolina, from Media Production professors in the Comm Department and Film Studies professors in the English Department, as well as all of the talented friends I met working on shorts for the Carolina Film Association that really cinched it for me.
You both have a goal of winning an Oscar for your original musical movie, Fix. Can you walk us through the category of Best Original Musical and why it’s been overlooked in the past?
Bafia: Bafia-Stamey Productions (BS Pro) and Fix was a response to a challenge. We heard about Dan Mirvish’s attempt to activate the little-known category and decided we’d give it a shot too. The most obvious obstacle to the category was that it was for “Original” musical films, meaning adaptations like In The Heights, West Side Story, and The Greatest Showman don’t count, and recordings of stage productions like Hamilton and Diana also don’t qualify. The extra caveat of needing at least 10 submissions that meet all of the Academy’s requirements (40+ minutes, 5+ original songs, theatrical run) in order to even be considered, we knew we had our work cut out. Our goal was to pool our resources from the film and theatre orgs we had access to and experience with, to unite a bunch of students that wanted to try and do something crazy with us.
What is it about Fix that sets it apart from other movie musicals? What are some of your proudest moments on camera or behind the scenes?
Bafia: The main thing that makes Fix unique is that it is an entirely-original musical film. Adapted from an outline by Head Writer Matthew Keith, we had a team of students turn it into a screenplay, while another group wrote 11 original songs, specifically for the project. Our talented Director, William Leitch, was able to translate their musical theatre directing background to this film medium, and they were supported by our Cinematographer Sean Crane, who had years of experience in the film/tv space as a student. This meshing of experiences and backgrounds is one of the many things we are proud of, as the production is a fusion of different story-telling art styles.
On screen, we were able to feature most of our original songs as “oners”, meaning the shots are continuous for the 3-7 minute songs. Our actors worked incredibly hard to get the timing and performances down pat, which was aided by some stellar camera work from our operators Zach Elliott, Q. Wyatt Grennan, and Michael Sparks.
Stamey: I think what really sets the film apart is how much our team accomplished with so little time and so few resources! The film was written & shot while everyone was a full time student, with a micro budget raised through Kickstarter and bakesales. This was truly a shoot for the moon, land among the stars kind of project, and land among the stars they have.
You both have spoken about the importance of aiming higher with your aspirations, what would you say to current college students looking to pursue their creative passions?
Bafia: There are many things that are hard and there are also a lot of barriers to certain things, but nothing should be impossible. One of my favorite quotes is from Muhammad Ali, where he says “Impossible is not a fact, it’s an opinion”, and I love that as a mindset. We started as 2 students with pretty much no money and no professional connections to the industry. We built a team of 40+ volunteers by asking them to believe in us and believe in their own creative ability. We raised nearly $15,000 through a crowdfunding campaign and the community so that we could get the equipment and resources needed to meet Academy-requirements. We pulled more than a few all-nighters and have some new gray hairs, but it has been so very worth every minute of stress to be able to show off an 85 minute original musical film that came from the hearts and minds of a bunch of 18-24 year olds. If you have a passion, go for it, and don’t listen to anyone that laughs or scoffs at you, because even if you don’t succeed in your ultimate goal, the process of getting there will make you so much stronger.
Stamey: If you’re a musician, you can pick up your instrument and record whatever ideas you have, whenever you’d like. The same goes for writers, and for visual artists; there are barriers to commercial success sure, but few barriers to creation for creativity’s sake. And yet for filmmakers, I think there is this myth that you can’t make a film until you’ve worked your way up the industry ladder, and our goal with this project was to prove that it just isn’t true. In the end, who knows what will happen with the Academy; even if we’d never been selected by a single film festival, we’ll still have accomplished the most important goal, which was to show that anyone can be a filmmaker with enough passion & community.
What can we look forward to next from Bafia-Stamey Productions?
Bafia: We got to take our project home after a successful academy-qualifying theatrical run in Hollywood. The project that is a love-letter of sorts to our college town gets to go home. Beyond Fix, Bafia-Stamey Productions is committed to telling compelling stories and raising the voices of those that aren’t normally heard. We’re excited to elevate voices from underrepresented communities as we aim for the stars.
Stamey: Like Nick said, we just had a Chapel Hill, NC showing on Nov. 13th, and a Winston Salem showing on Nov. 15th, which was such a blast. We’re now moving onto VOD & uploading the soundtrack for streaming, stay tuned!
And finally, where can we connect with your company further?
Bafia: You can learn more about the story of Bafia-Stamey Productions and Fix at bspro2020.weebly.com. Email us at bspro2[email protected] if you have any questions or ideas. People can also connect with us on social media for BTS content, updates, and exclusive content. Instagram, Twitter, and Tik Tok @bspro2020, on Facebook as Bafia-Stamey Productions, and on IMDb and Letterboxd as “Fix (2021)”.
Stamey: If you’re on the East Coast, you can also check out our website or Facebook to find tickets to our next theatrical showings!
Learn more about Bafia-Stamey Productions via their website. Thank you for reading!