Filmmaker of the Month • October 2019 • Rob and Letitia Capili
Letitia and Rob are a wife and husband filmmaking team based out of Monterey, Ca. They started making films together so that they wouldn’t have to spend time apart while at work. Rob is a writer. Letitia is an actress and director. And they edit as a team.
Letitia Capili is an actress, artist and filmmaker based in Monterey, California. She graduated early from high school in Colorado with notable achievements in Art and began her acting career shortly after. She moved Monterey in 2005, where she expanded her interests to include painting and dance. She is a salsa instructor with Monterey Salsa and sells glass and mandala art under the label Aethereal Artist.
Rob Capili, also known by his stage name - Rob Hustle - is a writer, musician, and filmmaker. His work has been featured by organizations such as Anonymous, The Pirate Bay, InfoWars and Reason and in mainstream media outlets including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and Fox. He is best known for Call the Cops, a music video exposing police corruption that generated over 2 million views on YouTube and 50 million+ views worldwide.
Filmmaker Interview with Rob and Letitia Capili
Tell us your backstory. How and why did you get into the filmmaking?
Letitia: I wanted to make movies ever since I was tiny. I grew up watching Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly so, as a child, I thought that you had to know how to sing and dance to be an actor. I could dance, but not sing, so I didn’t think it was possible at first. But, after I graduated, I did it anyway, and I got hooked.
Rob: I started out as a software developer and graphic designer. I always knew that I wanted to be a writer, but it never felt practical. When Letitia and I got together, we came up with a plan that would let us use all of our talents and do something fun together. I would write. She would direct and act. And, with my background in tech, we could edit the films as a team. So far, so good.
And what drives you to continue making films?
Letitia: The thrill of the whole process. I love it, start to finish, all of it. I love being on set. It’s my favorite thing in the world. Being able to work with a group of super creative and talented people, with everyone coming together… there’s nothing that matches that.
How do you know when your story’s finished, when to walk away?
Letitia: I don’t feel like they are ever finished. Sometimes, you just get to a place where you are happy with where it is at, and you have to let it go.
Rob: During the writing phase, I know exactly where the story is heading. Sometimes, the characters will take a left turn on their own, but in general, I have everything mapped out before I start, so it’s not an issue. During editing, it’s tougher. Letitia and I almost never fight day to day. But during editing… It’s good, though. We serve as a double filter. We are both stubborn and have strong opinions. If we both agree on a choice, we know that it’s good. If one of us has a bad feeling, we will just keep going back and forth on it until it gets resolved. We are pretty good at admitting when the other person is right, so eventually it works out.
How many films have you completed? What is your favorite project you have worked on and why?
Letitia: We’ve done a lot of guerilla projects, but the Inconsiderate Houseguest was the first film that we did with an actual budget and professional crew, so that will always hold a special place in my heart.
Rob: Yeah, most of our previous projects were us shooting unpermitted, looking out for cops, and using our own money to pay the cast and crew. Making the Inconsiderate Houseguest was one of best experiences of my life.
What is your favorite aspect of film production?
Letitia: By far, being on set. There is an energy that happens on set that doesn’t happen anywhere else. It’s so fun making something creative. It never goes smoothly. But, as long as you’ve made sure to surround yourself with the most talented crew you can get, it’s spectacular.
Rob: Being on set also, but for a different reason. Most of my work is solitary, done at night, at my desk, alone. I don’t have a role on set. But there is something magical about seeing words that you wrote down on a page being transformed and elevated by amazingly talented people in real life.
Why did you choose to submit to the Breckenridge Film Festival? What do you look for in a festival where you hope to show your film?
Letitia: Honestly, submitting to Breckenridge was a shot in the dark. It had such a great reputation, I didn’t know if we would be able to get in. But I really wanted to do it, because I grew up in Colorado and Breckenridge was one of my favorite places as a kid. I really love the festival. My family still lives in Colorado, and I wanted them to be able to see our film on a big screen.
Rob: A lot of festivals are scams. There are so many to choose from, it can get overwhelming, and you can go broke applying to them all. It was important for us to find quality festivals that have been around for a while and that really care about filmmakers.
Letitia: I wanted to make sure that the festivals we submitted to showed quality films. So, looking at their past selections also had a big influence.
You are a collaborator. Did you make any connections at the Breckenridge Film Festival that have led to collaborations with other filmmakers?
Letitia: No collaborations, but in terms of meeting people, making friends and having fun, Breckenridge is one of my favorite festivals. And, I have to mention that the festival takes such good care of you as a filmmaker! We really felt loved and appreciated. The staff went above and beyond. They’re great. Shout out to Wayne Werbelow, best liaison ever! Thank you!
Can you describe the business behind independent filmmaking and how you are trying to get your film seen?
Rob: As far as getting your film seen, you have to have a plan and be proactive. I know a lot of filmmakers that have wonderful films that have never been seen. They think that someone else is going to discover their masterpiece, swoop in, and tell the world about it. No, buddy. That’s got to be you. I’ve done the online marketing for about a dozen independent films now, and, on a complete shoestring budget, I’m getting about 1 million views per film, including ours. As of right now, the Inconsiderate Houseguest has 1,083,270 views on Facebook. And, I got over 50 million views on Facebook for my song, Call the Cops, with no budget at all, so it’s possible. With today’s social media platforms, a savvy marketer can get people to watch their film. But it’s up to you. You can’t sit back and hope to be discovered. You need to take charge.
What are the hurdles you have had to overcome in order to recoup the costs of producing the film? (If you feel comfortable discussing exact financials, you are welcome to do so.)
Letitia: There were no hurdles recouping costs because Rob won a screenwriting grant through TalNexus, so the Inconsiderate Houseguest was completely funded. It finally felt like filmmaking should be. I mean, there were some hurdles. We had to deal with stakeholders, follow a budget, do reporting, and things like that. But it was brilliant not having to worry about raising the money on our own. I guess our major hurdle was staying on budget and delivering on time.
What are the next project or projects you are beginning work on?
Letitia: We are pitching a reality TV show based on psychedelics, and Rob is nearly finished with a feature length horror script.
Rob: I also have a song about to drop protesting the mandatory hijab laws in Iran. It was inspired by Masih Alinejad, the #WhiteWednesday movement and MyStealthyFreedom (https://www.facebook.com/StealthyFreedom/).
If there is one or more thing you think would make the film industry better, what would it be?
Letitia: More films by Rob and Letitia Capili :)
Rob: More film grants for Rob and Letitia Capili :)
Letitia: And more awesome festivals like Breckenridge!