5 Questions with... Phoebe Brown

There are so many talented folks working in the Atlanta film industry, we should learn more about them! In this regular feature, CinemATL asks "5 Questions" -- hence the title (clever!) -- of one of Atlanta's talented film professionals...


Phoebe Brown moved to Atlanta in 1997, so be Atlanta standards she might as well be a native. Since moving to our fair city, Phoebe has held many roles on productions big and small. She has served as producer, set dresser, and now is a partner/owner at ATLiER Props & Design. But don't think she just sits behind a desk now; she still has time to produce her own indie projects as part of YEP! Films International.

Phoebe was gracious enough to answer 5 QUESTIONS about her career in film and her transition to the "other side" of the film business.

The warehouse at ATLiER Props & Design

The warehouse at ATLiER Props & Design

1. So you recently opened a prop house (ATLiER Props & Design). What led you to do this and can you tell us a little bit about it?

So I started ATLiER Props with Eric Bomba-Ire almost exactly one year to the date [this July]. Eric came to me with the concept and with our collective background in set dressing it seemed like a natural fit. If you recall Mike, I was your prop master/set decorator for the Bomba-Ire directed 48 Hr film comedy Dropping The Gloves back in 2004 [writer's note: I was the producer on the project]. And look at us now!  It also felt like maybe the last opportunity to try to launch before the competition gets too steep.  We did some extensive research and tried to model ourselves in the mold of a few prop houses in NY and LA we both loved.  Our goal is to have a very curated and unique selection of vintage props from the 1900's to the 1990's with a smattering of glamorous contemporary pieces because everyone loves shiny things.

2. How is life different for you being on the "other side" of things, so to speak? As opposed to being on set, I mean...

The big difference in working with the film and television industry and not for the industry is quality of life -- in terms of a shorter day and a regular schedule.  The 12-16 hour days, erratic hours and unpredictable employment gaps that you endure working on set is really what takes it's toll.  I'm a big believer in the 10 hour shoot day.  I think if it was the industry standard you'd have a lot less burn out.  But, it's great to be able to launch a business that lets Eric and I keeps in touch with old crew buddies and be contributing to the part of production we both really love. 

3. Based on your experience as a set dresser, what would you suggest to those that would like to get into the business in that role?

The first thing I like to try to do when someone asks me how to get into the business is to see if I can scare them out of it. The hours are long, you work ahead of the shooting crew so you are rarely actually seeing anything in the process of shooting,  you'll break your back, be hot in the summer and cold in the winter and you'll have to be on the core crew to get your name in the credits...so if you are still itching to get into set dec -- you probably have a solid future in it.  I've helped some people migrate from a general PA into the set dec department.  That's a solid way to go. 

Talk to the people doing the work you want to do on set (not while they are working or when you should be), take a few free/or low paying gigs on shorts or indies...do a great job, start getting day playing work -- work harder than everyone else, don't talk all day or wait to be told what to do: make yourself useful.  When you find a crew you like working with, be loyal -- don't jump ship or leave people in the lurch just because you think you have a shiny, better opportunity -- those will evaporate but people who you've really come through for and worked hard with will always remember that.  

Phoebe producing on location

Phoebe producing on location

4. You've also done a lot of work as a producer. Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming projects?

I was very excited to qualify to join the Producers Guild a year and a half ago and am participating in the PGA mentor program this year, which is just fantastic.  Since I've worked more in unscripted and doc producing, I'm working on developing my narrative skills.  I've got two short narrative projects that I'm aiming to produce this fall with my filmmaking and ATLiER partner Eric Bomba-Ire directing, and we have a feature project in development after that.

I'm also getting some footage shot in Kolkata, India in August to build a fundraising trailer for a passion project doc that I'm directing and producing over the next year or so and I'll be working on a sizzle for an art based reality pilot with Micah and Whitney Stansell.   That's what I've got coming up that I know about.

5. Better movie concession... popcorn or candy? Go!

Oh, I didn't realize you thought there was a actual contest here...Popcorn, natch.  No question.  

You can find out more about ATLiER Props at their website, and also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You can learn more about Phoebe's projects at YEP! Films International.