By the time Rocky Shores began apprenticing with the Film Connection
in Miami, Florida, he already understood a thing or two about the film process and the importance of connections. In fact, as he tells us, the “connection” in our name is what first drew him to the program.
Rocky’s interest in filmmaking was piqued during his teen years. “I started seeing films by [directors] like [Quentin] Tarantino,”
he says, “and I started seeing a lot of independent films. I realized there wasn’t a rhyme and a reason: you could do it your own way, and you could tell different stories in different ways. And that opened up my eyes to a lot of other types of films: foreign films, older films that young people usually don’t see. And that’s when I realized, I want to tell stories. I’m a very visual person, and I want to tell stories. You put stories together with a visionary outlook, and that equals films.”
By his early 20s, Rocky began learning to use the camera when a local website hired him to make some documentary videos. “That was a very rewarding experience,”
he says. “I was a one man crew. I had the camera, and I had to film these events. And I would a lot of times shoot from one angle, and I would rush to the other side real quick and shoot from another angle. And then in the editing process, I would learn how to make that look as though I had two cameras, so, a lot of running around.”
But Rocky first began understanding the importance of connections in the film industry when a friend suggested he go to a casting call in Savannah, GA, near where he lived at the time. He wound up as an extra in the Robert Redford Civil-War drama The Conspirator,
where he met actor Norman Reedus (who went on to play Daryl in the hit series The Walking Dead
). But he heard something else among the on-set banter that got his attention.
“One thing that everyone I spoke to kept saying—the one word I kept hearing was ‘connections,'”
says Rocky. “It’s a business. You need to know people, and make connections and contacts.”
After moving to Miami and getting married, when Rocky decided it was time to start pursuing his film career in earnest, the word “connections” came back to him. “The reason I chose the Film Connection was because of that word,”
he tells us. “I’m looking at film schools, thinking, Do I want to spend a lot of money for a film school? How do I get into the business? And I find this place called the Miami Film Connection…The connection word was there, and it just kind of lit off a little light in my head, and I said, ‘You know, I think maybe this is the one.’ They had a reasonable price. They said it was all hands-on. It was mentor based, and I liked that aspect of it. It was about connections, which is what I heard on set.”
The Film Connection paired him with mentor Kevin Sharpley of Kijik Multimedia
in Miami, Florida, and the two hit it off right away. During his apprenticeship, Rocky says Kevin involved him in a film project he was working on, a documentary short called Ayikodans Rise,
about a Haitian dance troupe. Rocky had no idea at the time how involved he would become.
“[Kevin] shot some raw footage, and I went out and shot the rest of it with him,”
Rocky says. “He’d say, ‘Hey, I want you to edit me a piece.’ And he gave me a big chunk of footage, and I think he was expecting about a three to five minute piece. Well, I’d frame him a 15-minute piece, and it floored him…He said I was a storyteller. He could tell that I knew how to edit these pictures and sound into a story.”
Because of his contribution to the project, Kevin shared credit with Rocky on the finished project, which is currently making the film festival rounds, appearing last April at the Fort Myers Beach Film Festival, and just last weekend at the Miami Filmmaker Shorts!
Now graduated from the program, Rocky is currently staying involved with Kevin on a freelance basis. He’s also developing his own screenwriting chops with a long-term goal of being a writer-director. As a new father, he’s juggling family responsibilities with paving his way in film, serving as an asset to every production he works on whether he’s in the art department, the location department or is working as a P.A. “I bounce around set however I can,”
he says. “It’s been a challenge, but that’s how you do it. You’ve got to work around those things. You’ve got to make it work.”
The work ethic in particular is something Rocky understands about the business he’s in. “This industry, it doesn’t stop,”
he says. “That’s something that I’ve always admired about it when I got on set, and started to see it doesn’t matter how hard it rains, it doesn’t matter if so-and-so got sick, the shooting will go on, the show must go on…Very rarely have we lost a day here. I think I’ve twice in my life, I’ve lost a day, and it was because of torrential rain, I believe, for outdoor shooting.”
Meanwhile, Rocky is clear about what he’s learned about the film industry, particularly about connections and patience. “It’s all about making those connections,”
he says. “You can’t be in your shell if you’re going to be in this industry. You need to be personable, you need to talk to people, and you need to work hard, and you need to be patient.”