My Interview with MARIO DOMINA
I was recently blessed with speaking to one of the most fascinating
people of my life, Mario Domina.
Not only is he the CEO-Producer-Founder of Thunderball Films, LLC in America, but he's also the partner and Co-Founder of Thundermania Productions, LLC with Nuala Barton in the United Kingdom!
Furthermore, this incredible man is a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Science (Production Executives and Diversity Group), The American Film Institute, The British Film Institute (BFI Champion Member),
and also Film Independent (Filmmaker Pro Membership)!
I have to tell you, I was quite nervous, though tremendously excited to speak with Mario. I was honored that he agreed to be interviewed and that he'd take time away from his demanding schedule to actually speak with me!
I was so flattered and thankful that my friend and colleague,
Brian L. Porter coordinated the meeting for me!
Mario was genuine, honest, intelligent, and approachable. He was available to me for as long as I needed, even when it came to following up on additional questions I may have had.
Mario's compassion for his family, dedication to his craft, passion for excellence, and generosity in wanting to help others reach their potential is so sincere that he just awed me!
I am forever endeared to him!
I cannot tell you how much I respect this man! It was such a pleasure to speak with him and I know you'll understand why when you read what he has to say in the interview!
There are so many amazing things I could share with you about Mario Domina!
Still, I'm going to let the interview speak for itself.
Someone as talented and kind as Mario is both rare and enchanting!
It is a gift to know him!
Mario was also interviewed by Creativia author, Carole Gill.
Just click the box below to read her amazing interview!
Just click the box below to read her amazing interview!
My Interview with MARIO
1. How would you describe yourself?
Ø I would describe myself as someone who works very hard and believes in working as a team. I’m a staunch believer in ‘no egos’ and I’m driven to do the right thing. I’m not motivated by money; sure, everyone wants to have money, but that's not what I base my decisions on. My choices are driven by the desire to surround myself with ‘like minds” – people who are talented and passionate, but are dedicated to protecting the integrity of a project from beginning to end. I believe in bringing the entire team along on the development and success of the work we do.
Ø I’m an instinctual man. When I know something is right, I feel it and I take immediate action. Although I always listen to suggestions and feel being flexible makes a project better, if they are consistent with the foundation; otherwise, I don’t waiver and I stand firm in my choices and my undertakings. I have always seen potential in others, so I don’t mind taking chances on people who haven’t achieved any credits because I think hard work and talent need to be rewarded. Where there’s talent and passion, there’s potential! Once you have that as a foundation then everything else will fall into place.
2. What inspired you to get into the film industry? Were you always interested in the “behind-the-scenes” work or are you an actor as well?
Ø I never really saw myself in the film industry; I was a minor league and overseas professional basketball player. I was focused on my athletic career and when I retired from that, I was fortunate the college still honored my basketball scholarship even though I was not eligible to play collegiately anymore and able to complete my degree. Still, the foundation was there and I loved the film industry. Growing up, I would go to the movies with my mother, my aunt every Wednesday night, and my grandfather Sunday’s. Those moments are very special to me and I think inspired me to pursue my film career.
Ø My involvement with film production was actually by chance. I was on my way to meet with a former pro basketball friend and there happened to be a NBC Movie of the Week filming there. The casting director was standing beside me and asked if I was in the next shot. I said no, I was meeting a friend. She said that she would like to use me in the show and she offered me a 4-day position as a loan officer in the production. The other actor who played a loan officer on the show with me had the best talent agent in Arizona and he arranged a meeting between us.
That led to my introduction to two producers from my home state of New Jersey that ended up involving me in the business side of a project where I was able to rewrite the Regulation D business plan to specification, raise the production financing and secure distribution with Blockbuster on a film with no names and producers with no track record. So, the role I thought that I was auditioning for had nothing to do with on-camera, but building my career as a producer.
Ø Though I had done some college commercials and color commentary on a few basketball games here in the US and abroad, I had not acted until the casting agent pulled me in as the loan officer. I was able to land several national commercials through my talent agent and I made a good amount of money, but ultimately, that wasn’t what I wanted to do. That was when I decided to formed my own production company. My first project was securing an agreement to develop a reality series with the United States Postal Inspectors. That led to incorporating elements of high-profile stories from the DEA, INS and US Border Patrol. I’ve always been fascinated by true stories. First, you need to tell the true story and build your audience and then you can functionalize compelling and unique stories from there. With that in mind, I believe that you always have at least two stories for every project; the documentary and a spinoff of creative fiction based on the actual facts.
Ø My 2007 production of “The Real Zodiac Killer” was really the moment when I started to expand my thinking and restructure my company. The story was very high profile, but I had refused to work on it five or six times before I finally agreed to take it on. I didn’t care how popular it was, I wanted facts; I wanted a story that was worth telling. I wasn’t interested in working with the story until I received feasible new evidence about it. That was when I finally agreed to move forward with production on the project.
3. Please tell me about your production companies, Thunderball Films, LLC and Thundermania Productions, LLC. How did you make the transition to an international own of multiple agencies?
Ø I have had other production companies and partnerships in the past, but I have streamlined my businesses. Thunderball Films, LLC is my American film production company. Thundermania Productions, LLC is the United Kingdom film production company that Nuala Barton and I formed.
Ø I first formed an international company when I happened to meet a CPA in the UK looking to do international production accounting with films and television. We had similar goals and the same desire to help people, as well as entertain them, so we ended up joining forces and had him create Thunderball International Films in the UK.
I disbanded ThunderBall International Films earlier; however, it was eventually replaced with Thundermania Productions, Ltd.
Ø I have always had an interest in foreign and independent films. I also enjoy traveling, so I have looked at various foreign locations extensively, choosing international partnerships. I learned through various Canadian and European dealings with Co-productions, International partnerships would become are a large part of independent filmmaking for financing and global economics; and it became a vital part of my business, whether it’s found in social media outlets or massive campaign enterprises. But that’s not why I have sought out these partnerships. I prefer being overseas because I am fascinated by the diversity of cultures and the incredible scenery. Isn’t it everybody’s dream to get paid to travel to exotic and exciting places?
4. How did you begin your partnership with Nuala Barton? What motivated you to forge your talents into a collaborative enterprise?
Ø When I met Nuala Barton, I was considering dismantling my UK production company, Thunderball International Films. I met Nuala through an Internet financing website for film financing. She introduced herself, telling me she was Misha Barton’s mom and that she had some film projects for Co-productions she was interested in working with me to produce. We were working on separate projects both in Canada and Europe, so it actually made it easier for us to work on these projects, as well as our own, by combining our efforts, which started as Co-production and evolved into ThunderMania Productions.
5. You’ve recently signed a co-marketing agreement with the independent publisher, Creativia. This is something new in the industry. What lead to this ground breaking endeavor?
Ø Actually, I was introduced to Creativia and the owner/creator of the company, Miika Hannila through Brian L. Porter. I value Brian’s opinion greatly and I rely heavily on him because he is such a talented and insightful person. So when he had spoken so highly about Miika and the dedication he had to his company and his authors, I felt compelled to meet him. Of course, meeting Miika and experiencing his passion and commitment first hand just sealed the deal; I knew I wanted to work with him.
Ø To be a team and to work as team, the work must benefit the entire team as a whole. I find that even while in the infancy stages of development, a book’s value could be increased substantially when it is slated for translation into film or TV.
Baring this in mind, I felt like our co-marketing agreement would not only benefit Creativia, but it would give more opportunities and attention to the indie authors as well. My benefits from the agreement would manifest both personally and professionally because I was able to help hardworking writers while getting access to some fresh new ideas.
6. Recently had the privilege to interview Creativia author and Thunderball Films screenwriter, Brian L. Porter. During that interview, Brian told me that you had contacted him to work with you and that had started the film side of his amazing career. How had you heard about Brian and what lead to your contacting him?
Ø I was immediately drawn to Brian because of his incredible talent initially then, beyond belief, I got to know his character and work ethic. He is an honorable family man, which I hold in high regard. I loved his work and to see a man already so successful as a novelist despite his medical issues, was inspiring! Brian can accomplish more in the few hours he’s able to work a day then most people can over the span of several days or even weeks. His character and being the perfect team player is a person who deserves to be rewarded in every way!
Ø I saw Brian’s potential and started putting plans into action to bring him into my company as a screenwriter and co-producer. Very few people can excel at writing scripts the way Brian does as his uncanny ability and insight to translate a book into a screenplay is even more precious and rare. Brian instinctively has an understanding of what is required to have a successful film project. In a book, you can simply describe a scene to give context to your audience, but when you write a script, that is absent. Film is a visual media and vastly different from the way you approach a novel. Brian has the ability to shift back and forth between the two distinct disciplines. He has the ability to maintain continuity over the long duration of time that a film project requires and to work independently, as well as collaborating with any number of people. His kindness and humbled nature makes working with him a perfect situation.
7. How has your relationship with Brian contributed to the Creativia co-marketing agreement?
Ø Definitely! Not only did Brian coordinating the introduction between Miika Hannila and me, but I look at the books that Brian recommends to me, first and foremost. Like me, Brian can see the potential in a story. He is also drawn to hardworking and passionate people. I trust his judgment and with my already hectic schedule, Brian is an invaluable resource to me and to Creativia!
8. What is your vision for the co-marketing agreement with Creativia?
Ø I want to help all of Creativia’s authors as much as I can. The process of developing and creating a film project takes a long time. There’s a lot involved, so things aren’t going to happen overnight. Still, I am encouraging Miika to pursue more marketing outlets, such as book trailers. Trailers are an incredible marketing tool and one that is often overlooked in the literary world. Of course, upon my suggestion, Miika is creating some fantastic book trailers and he’s an asset for his authors!
Ø Our industries, both literary and film are trial by error in a lot of ways. The point is to try to find what fits the best with your goals. I am sure that will be the case with the Creativia and Thunderball Films co-marketingagreement. It will develop as time passes and it will be exciting to see what is created from our co-marketing partnership!
9. You’ve already signed Tony Lewis and Doug Lamoreux for film adaptions of their novels. Do you plan to sign all of the authors for film adaption? If not, what are you looking for specifically?
Ø Generally, I like projects that take place abroad and are independent works. I typically look for two main things from a story I am interested in working with.
· First, I want to know if the story is a part of a franchise. Is the story a part of a series? Is there potential for spinoff projects with the story and characters that would work as a television series or feature film?
· Second, I want a compelling story. I will work with a writer who has a great story, even if it's not in the best language or format. I can help a writer restructure their work to bring a good story to life. You can fix grammar, format, and typos, but you can’t make a bad story good and that’s the heart of all we do!
10. During my interview with Brian L. Porter, he stated that you try to maintain the integrity of a story by remaining as true to its original as possible. What is your process for transitioning a book into a screenplay? What steps do you take in order to maintain the truth of a subject while managing the continuity and time constraints of a film?
Ø A published book already has an audience. If you are struggling with a script, you should always go back to the original source, which is the author’s novel. The answers are already there in the story. You just have to maintain the integrity of the foundation of the book and remain consistent with the tale all the way through or you are doing a disservice to the author.
Ø I am a huge fan of the James Bond franchise based on the novels by Ian Fleming. Barbara Broccoli was quoted to say that her father, Albert “Cubby” Broccoli had always told her, 'Whenever you're stuck, go back to Fleming' (http://www.hollywood.com/news/movies/43749776/skyfall-producer-barbara-broccoli-on-serious-bond-and-9-11-s-impact-on-the-series). I definitely live by this philosophy! If you are stuck, go back to the original and see what the author was thinking when they wrote it. The answer is always there!
Ø I find the more people who input ideas into the story or characters, the more you end up deviating from the original story, unless they follow a game plan with the team. If you retain a solid foundation from which everyone works on then the film stays on track.
11. If you have to deviate from the original story your film is based on, what does that process look like? What motivated you to retain one element of a book while eliminating another and who has the final say about such decisions?
Ø Again, I have to say, as long as you are consistent with your storyline and keep the integrity of the piece intact then everything will fall into place naturally. As far as who’s “in charge,” it depends on if you’re dealing with a feature film or a television production. Furthermore, it will depend on the contracts you make as well.
· Typically for a feature film, the director is the person who is the captain of the ship on the set. They are responsible for coordinating everyone’s efforts for the visual translation from script to film for the production.
· When it comes to television, it’s usually the creator-executive producer who has the overall responsibility of the project.
Ø Contracts vary and they will dictate responsibilities as well. As with any business, your contracts will all have basic key points, but then you negotiate the finer points. This can cause variances in the roles and responsibilities of the crew from one project to another.
12. How involved do you want a Creativia author to be when it comes to translating their work into such a visual media as film and why?
Ø I want to have the authors involved through the whole process. I would like to see them, if possible working on writing the first draft of the script or at least a treatment. My philosophy is if possible and they are the screenwriter, I’d like to bring them on set during shooting as a consultant. I want my directors to have everything they need to be a success at their disposal and if there is a concern about the story or a character, I want them to have the author there to ask. I don’t want them taking time to stop production to try to track down the author.
13. In general, how involved are you in the overall process?
Ø I am involved all the way through a project. My involvement changes as we move through the production because I need to address different elements at different times. For example, I’m heavily involved in the development of a project and the creation of the screenplay. Then, during filming, I become more of a supportive role for the cast and crew depending on my schedule or responsibility on that particular project. As the film nears its completion, I am thrust back into a more active role because I have to start working with the promotions and distribution of the product.
Ø When I was playing professional basketball, I had tunnel vision. The only thing I needed to worry about was playing the game. In the film industry, the rules are constantly changing. I have to be sure that I am staying on top of all the changes as I oversee the multiple projects being worked on. Life for me is about balance and I find that I am constantly multitasking! Of course, when you surround yourself with talented, motivated people who believe in a project and are willing to work hard to produce the best product possible then that helps make my job easier!
14. What comes next for you? You have achieved so much already, are there still things you aspire to obtain in your professional life?
Ø My greatest joy will be the day I see my friend and colleague, Brian L.Porter receive the recognition and praise he deserves. I want to see him celebrated by receiving much earned awards.
Ø I want each one of my clients and partners to get their due. A person’s struggles and hard work should count for something! I am dedicated to helping talented people reach their potential and obtaining their goals.