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Fluid Films Q&A with Paul Barranco, Founder

March 22, 2012

Fluid Films Q&A with Paul Barranco, Founder

Paul Barranco "Took a Trip" right out of film school at San Diego State University by creating Fluid Films. His first surf video, "Take a Trip" kicked off his career in media creation and production. Well over a decade later his company, Fluid Films, is going strong. Paul talks past, present, and future in this interview. Enjoy and watch a few clips, while you're at it.


2012 Fluid Films Reel from FLUIDFILMS.NET on Vimeo.

The following video showcases the work we have completed over the past few years and into 2012. Our focus is in the creation of commercials and TV programs. Last year we were lucky enough to produce the content around the 2011 Surfer Poll and Video Award Show and Billabong's Design For Humanity on the Paramount Studios lot. Please send us a comment or email as we'd love to hear from you.


What was happening in the creation and production of film and video in action sports back in the late 1990s that enabled you to see the opportunity to create a production house? 

After finishing up film school at San Diego State University, there wasn’t much going on in the area as far as production was concerned. But I was hearing that independent videographers were creating projects with a little financial help from a few brands. I kept hearing stories about a lucky few getting distribution deals for their independent surf videos creations. That was exciting to me because I knew I had the skills to play at that level. So I started Fluid Films and began creating my own independent surf projects out-of-pocket. Luckily, I struck a distribution deal for my first surf video "Take a Trip." And that deal was just enough to help pay for my second and third projects.

What were the first projects and customers taken on by Fluid Films?

After finishing those first three independent surf videos (which, by the way, were a lot more difficult to make than I had imagined), Fluid Films was contracted to create an action sports-based television show called “Be It,” which aired on ESPN2 in Japan. We shot the show here in the United States for the most part, and we created 42 episodes over two-and-a-half years. That's when we really cut our teeth in production -- "Be It" taught us how to deliver an engaging and entertaining show under a tight budget, and more importantly, on deadline.

2011 Design For Humanity from FLUIDFILMS.NET on Vimeo.

We were the production company for the 2011 Design for Humanity event which was held on the Paramount Studios Back Lot. With over 4000 people in attendance the event featured an eclectic art gallery, a fashion show and multiple band performances including Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zeros.


Over the years, Fluid Films' services expanded to include everything from pre-production and casting to post-production, DVD replication and all points in between.  Was it challenging to become a full-service house? 

Expansion happened naturally. To be efficient and cost-effective, we needed to build all of these services into our production house. We can handle all aspects of the media-creation process as a one-stop shop for our clients. If can make things easier for our clients, it’s a win-win.

How has the evolution of content creation and distribution affected Fluid Films? 

Well, these are two different animals. The evolution of distribution has changed drastically over the years. When I started, everything was analog. We were mastering to Beta SP and creating VHS tapes from it. Now, we deliver the same digital files that we are putting online to television, as well. For example, when we produced the 2011 Surfer Poll and Video Awards for FUEL TV earlier this year, we simply delivered the program digitally ready to be aired. That makes things a little easier for all us.

As far as content creation goes, I’d say the biggest change that has affected us is the introduction and demand of the DSLR rig.  Previously, the shallow depth of field that you can achieve with this camera was only available with the use of film, which is very costly. I'm definitely drawn to the look of the shallow depth of field but the camera still lacks during panning or while tracking fast-moving action, in my opinion. Also, there are some grain issues when shooting in less-than-perfect light. I think there are some minor bugs to be worked out, but overall, I'm happy with the images these cameras output. And so are my clients. 

Has need and demand for professional-level services in this area changed over the past decade?

Over the past few years, the quality and the level of professionalism in action sports productions has been raised to a higher level. We are constantly raising the bar with aerial shots from helicopters, time-lapses, dolly track and slider work, as well as making shots look cinematic via lighting and composition. Editorially, we are always pushing to output the best product we possibly can journalistically and visually. So, yeah, the bar is set high right now, and it’s not going anywhere but up. 

Looking forward, what are Fluid Films most compelling opportunities to grow?
We have positioned ourselves in the action sports world to deliver high-quality television, commercial and web products, from long-form event coverage to a 30-second spot. Specifically, I think there are a lot of production opportunities with the ASP World Tour, and I think Fluid Films is perfectly suited to deliver content of that caliber.  


Role: Director, Producer, Editorial
Format: HD
Output: Fuel TV

What opportunity does the evolution, sophistication and professionalization of content online present?

These things all play into our performance and they all go into creating standout content. By staying current about what’s out there, it’s allows us to be on the forefront and to drive the company upward. Also, one of our event specialties is creating daily webisodes to engage online audiences. We've done this for Globe Pro Fiji event and for Surfing America during ISA events. We also, over the course of two years, documented China's now-famous tidal bore wave, “The Silver Dragon.” In a nutshell, the quality of these videos demanded wide online distribution. It allowed the companies that hired us to create a lot of organic impressions with nominal financial commitment. We embrace the online platform and see it as opportunity to put our clients in the largest and best-possible light for a relatively low cost.    

"Surfing the Silver Dragon" Teaser from FLUIDFILMS.NET on Vimeo.


To see a lot more of Fluid Films' work, visit the company website: