Multi-talented producer for film and branded content, and co-founder of Big Pig Production Co, Mark Delottinville, recently wrapped production on his short film, Cruise. The film is a thriller-comedy satire about telemarketers that try to sell you a cruise and the aftermath once you hang up on them. Mark recently produced the Thrillist’s web series Wine and Cheeseburger, starring Harley Morenstein. Read on to learn more about Mark’s work as a producer and all about his experience with Cruise.
Tell us a bit about yourself. What was your first project as a producer and how did you decide to create Big Pig Production Co?
My name is Mark Delottinville and I am the owner of Big Pig Production Co and producer of Cruise, my new comedic-thriller short film about what happens to the people you hang up on who are trying to sell you a cruise. I have grown my career in the commercial advertising space for the past decade shaping branded content for paper towels, blenders, clothing brands, and sports equipment. All of this is probably the furthest thing from narrative storytelling but what it has allowed me to do is to really focus on the importance of story, character, tone and what is needed and not needed when trying to tell a story to someone through a visual medium. It is helping me in more ways than I thought it would as I now switch more into narrative storytelling. It is also really interesting to see where I started, creating an ad for a small insurance firm in Canada to now sending out original content to major film festivals.
I initially created Big Pig Production Co. to have more control in what I wanted to make, which I realize now was probably not the best idea for a young man in his 20’s with no experience or contacts to build that foundation. However each filmmaker has a different path and I am really happy with how things have turned out for me thus far. It’s only now after a decade of working in the production space where people now seek us for work, wanting us to tell their story, which is something I always wanted from the beginning.
Who are some of your favorite long term collaborators?
A lot of my long term collaborators are people that I brought in to work on Cruise. The director Sam Rudykoff I have known since film school, the director of photography Peter Schnobb I have known for almost the past decade and has filmed numerous projects at my commercial production company. Shantelle Canzanese and her company Flawless By Design has done the make up for a variety of our projects both narrative and commercial. The production designer Rebecca Petro designed our last major web series, Wine and Cheeseburger where she effortlessly created a Pizza Hut inspired diner of the 80s, and now shaped the draconian world in which Cruise takes place. As most filmmakers will tell you the people you tend to work with are the ones that you can trust but also feel like you are safe in terms of bouncing creative ideas back and forth on, these are the people I like to work with. I find that I am drawn to people that are immensely talented yet don’t seem to exhibit an ego that goes along with that. It’s great being able to work with people or discover new collaborators that exhibit this same mindset. A film, web series, or television project all demand an immense amount of work, long hours and time away from your friends and family so you want those people you work with to be people that are worth that sacrifice and lucky for me so far I have been able to find those.
What scene was the most fun to work on for Cruise?
This one is an easy one, it’s the opening part of the movie. Myself and the Director Sam Rudykoff wanted to get people’s attention quickly, and when working on a short film you don’t have that much time to do it. We felt that short films tend to drag sometimes to get into the action but it’s short, so it doesn’t have that luxury. The scene itself immediately sets the stakes for the rest of the film, and throws off the audience from what they were expecting, and what character they might be connecting with. What’s also great about the scene is that it is the most technical setup we had on the day of shooting and wouldn’t have been possible without the help of our SPFX team from JMS Special Effects and Matt Barnett our post animator that brought the scene to life. When you watch the film, you will know what I’m talking about. I am also sure it is the favorite scene of most of the crew as everyone was on pins and needles before and then applauded once we executed it.
Could you go into more detail about your role on Cruise and could you talk about your favorite part working on the project?
On Cruise I was the Producer and Editor on the project, two completely different jobs but both important for their own reasons. Normally through my production company I would have another editor come in but for this project it was special and I wanted to see the project from its inception to its completion. Cruise was almost two years in the making and the one project that stuck with me over lockdowns and being out of work during the pandemic’s early days. It was the one project I needed to see through to fruition and meant a lot to myself and the writer & director Sam Rudykoff. For Producing, I was in charge of making sure we had everything we needed for the shoot day, whether that was fake blood, fake guns or lunch for the crew. The all encompassing overhead position to make sure that things ran smoothly and quickly.
As an editor, it was my job to work with Sam (our director) to make sure his vision was executed correctly and clearly, all while at the same time trying to keep the story to under ten minutes. Something that I think we did accomplish. As any editor knows the easiest part is the broad strokes, cutting out the parts in chunks you know won’t work. The hardest part is getting the minutiae of the edit correct, and once you have sat in front of a screen and watched your film hundreds of times that can be really hard to accomplish. What’s been satisfying is that the film seems to be connecting with the people we have shown it too privately thus far and we hope it to be the same should it get into festivals this year.
My favourite thing has not happened yet, watching the film with a large audience. Seeing a film on your computer versus being with a large audience in the dark are two totally different experiences and I am curious to see if it connects in the same beats that we connect with watching it at home. As well being stuck in your house for so long and not being able to watch a film with a large audience is something. The smell of popcorn, the trailers, the energy of strangers all together in a room not knowing what they are going to experience, I just miss so much. When the lights go down and our film plays on a big screen it will be that much sweeter.
Who are some of your influences?
When I think of influences I can’t help but think of the movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s what I grew up around and I think subconsciously has the most effect on me today as a filmmaker. I can still remember sitting in the theatre and watching Jurassic Park for the first time. To this day I remember being terrified of when Wayne Knight’s character Nedry is eaten by the Dilophosaurus in the Jeep. It’s those filmmakers of that time that certainly shaped my initial thoughts on film, whether that is a Steven Spielberg, a Robert Zemeckis or a Tim Burton. I am almost sure the VHS tape (am I dating myself by saying that) of the original Batman was completely worn out by the amount of times I watched it as a child. When I look at my favourite films it tends to be character, story and score that really influence my enjoyment of a film, and what I strive to replicate with my own work. Most of my favourite films have those three elements in common and most of them have a particular scene, character action or music cue that I can close my eyes and see the exact circumstance in which I watched it for the first time. For example in Back to the Future, the scene where Marty drives the Delorean and hits the cable at 88mph right as the lighting strikes the clock tower. When that score kicks in and everything works out, I don’t think there could be another more perfect scene in film.
It’s also interesting now because you are seeing how children or younger teens/adults who grew up during that time and are now making films themselves incorporate those influences into their own work. For example any crime film today is inevitably compared to Michael Mann’s Heat, the epitome of crime films. Or the psychological horror film that is always compared to David Fincher’s Seven. I think it all depends on the project I would be working on for Cruise for example we relied heavily on Terry Gillium’s Brazil and the Coen Brothers’ Burn After Reading, so it can vary depending on the project. What is great about film is that there are so many different filmmakers from so many different genres which really allows you to draw on influences from anywhere depending on your next project.
What is your dream project? Dream collaborators?
I feel this could be the hardest question to answer, there are just so many incredible filmmakers working today I would love to work with. People like Robert Eggers, his film the Lighthouse was one of my favourites. The Safdie brothers have made two of my favourite films of the past ten years with Good Time and Uncut Gems. I am always on board with whatever they are doing. Rian Johnson is one of my favourite filmmakers, Knives Out I can rewatch endlessly and always seems to be one of those movies that I recommend to really any age group knowing that they will enjoy it. Jordan Peele is another person I would love to work with not only because he is an incredible filmmaker but so I can talk to him about how he came up with Star Magic Jackson Jr. the Hollywood sequel doctor, and my favourite comedy of all time.
If I had to really pick someone or something I would probably have to pick two currently, the first would be working with a fellow Canadian Denis Villeneuve. Dune was a cinematic masterpiece, it is one of those films that I feel in ten years from now will be said in the same breath as 2001 a Space Odyssey or Star Wars: A New Hope for what it did in the science fiction fantasy genre. When I first started in the film industry I worked in distribution of short films and his short Next Floor came out the year of my first foray into this industry. After watching an endless amount of short films, I screened his and it was just immeasurably better than anything I had ever seen in that format. I still remember the Rhinoceros on that front cover. Any project I could work with him on would be a dream. The second would be anything to do with Star Wars. What Jon Favreau has done with the Mandalorian, and now with the Book of Boba Fett is just amazing. The Mandalorian could be my favourite piece of Star Wars storytelling since the original trilogy and I would love to be a part of that, wherever it is going. I have been a fan since I was a kid, and working on one of the new series or possibly doing a film would just be incredible, plus I could create props that I would have had an influence on myself to add to my movie memorabilia collection.
Where can we find you on social media?
There are a variety of places to follow myself and the film. For day to day updates you can follow @bigpigco on Instagram and for all the updates on the film Cruise including behind the scenes, trailers and updates with our festival run you can follow @redoceantours.