"Made with 100% minitrucker style" is the motto SoLo Films promotes with each of their DVD releases, which document the shows, rides, and people that define our culture.
Every full-length title and video teaser from this tight-knit camp displays an evolution of style and quality that is undeniable. And although there are a handful of extremely talented videographers out there creating killer art on film, we sat Sean "Frenchy" French and Koapono Patrick of KP Koncepts down for an extensive question session to find out what makes SoLo different from the rest.
MT: So … who are you?!
Frenchy: I'm Sean French, 26 going on 30, born and raised in Oklahoma City, OK. I had a '79 Chevy fullsize longbed when I was 16—it was lowered on 15-inch steelies and had a poop brown custom flake paint. I was sucked into the minitruckin' lifestyle when I was 17. I had friends in high school who were tinkering with trucks, but I have to give credit to Daniel Pugsley for really bringing me in. I was hooked after seeing how low he would drive his 2-door second-gen Blazer
MT: Who else makes up the SoLo staff?
Frenchy: I formed the business with Grant Garen. He convinced me to start filming more seriously and travel to more shows, and stepped down moving on to bigger things with his wife. Without him, this would have never happened. Shortly after, Ryan Marx stepped in as my right hand man. He helped film and edit our third film Trifecta, but after it released in 2011, he decided to go back to college and moved away from the "scene" to further himself. Since then, the staff we have now has helped the company grow to a level I never imagined. But without the help of the guys who stood by my side and supported me in the past we couldn't have come this far!
Currently, our staff consists of myself, Kristi Hutson/French who handles sales, advertising, and photography duties, Erin French who also helps in the sales and advertising department, and Koapono Patrick who contributes with videography, digital design, and photography. We've also have freelance photographers Josh Fleetwood, Jason Hayes, Jose Luis Rodriguez Jr., and Tim Smith assist on shoots.
MT: So you're the big cheese behind SoLo Films, huh? How long have you been filming?
Frenchy: Yep, I serve as the CEO/producer/editor/videographer. I started filming about 6 years ago at shows just for fun. My friends and I would watch the footage, and it then progressed into the level we're at now.
MT: How about you, KP? You've been sitting quiet over there in the corner.
KP: It's been about a year since I took video work serious. Before that, I would just make quick little videos of my truck to put on YouTube. Frenchy was the reason I started taking it seriously.
MT: What camera equipment did you start with and how did you come up with the cash for it?
Frenchy: My very first camera was one of those Sony Handycam camcorders that writes video directly to a mini DVD. That's what was used to film First Time Around. It was fairly inexpensive at the time and was all I could afford. Initially I purchased that camera for my own personal use with no intentions of starting a video company.
KP: I used to have a regular cheap-o point-and-shoot–type camera, then as a graduation gift from votech school I got a Canon T1i (thanks grandparents!). I used that for a little bit until selling it to upgrade to the T3i, which wasn't a whole lot more. I bought the rest by keeping busy with my rendering work.
MT: So far, SoLo has four DVDs out, with a fifth, Inspired Lifestyle Part 1, due out later in the year, and Part 2 scheduled for Spring 2013. How would you describe it compared your other masterpieces?
Frenchy: That's a good question. Our fourth DVD The Catalyst has been a huge success compared to our other films. We made leaps to increase our quality level for that film and have strived even more to progress for the next release. We are trying to focus more on the untold story, to get down to the "nitty gritty" of the trucks we feature. With Inspired Lifestyle, I am hoping that it will live up to the hype that it has developed.
MT: Why did you decide to make a two-part film?
Frenchy: In my opinion, The Catalyst was too long. We are hitting more shows now, and will have enough footage to produce two films that will run approximately 90 minutes each.
MT: Now, there are quite a few video companies out there putting out awesome work such as Cambered, Surface, Weekend Celebrity, and Grinder to name a few. Do you guys have any favorites? Be honest.
Frenchy: That's a tough one! There is no way I could narrow it down to just one. My first would have to be Domination the Video. Reason being that my first minitruck video was a Domination video and I will always have love for Oliver and his work!
As for current favorites, Crime Pays/Weekend Celebrity would have to be my favorite. They are producing some of the best quality work in our area and are some of the most down to earth guys around. I hope to see more films from them in the near future but I respect their decision to end the Crime Pays series.
KP: I'd have to say Weekend Celebrity Productions is my favorite. I love their style and flow and use that as an inspiration for my own work. Grinder would have to be my second choice. Their quality and experience is bar none but they have a different style than WCP. I <3 Brian though!
MT: So who are these bands you feature in your videos? We aren't too familiar with any of them, but we need to be.
Frenchy: I'm glad we can touch on this subject a little bit. We try to find local bands/artists looking to get more exposure outside of our area. To name a few that you might have heard recently are Distal, The Suspects, Tastebuds, Tinn Man, and Johnny Be Hood. Distal is no longer a band, but two members are in another band named Signum A.D. so be on the lookout for some new music from them in our upcoming film Inspired Lifestyle.
MT: So, Mr. French, you mentioned that SoLo Films is a full time gig for you now?
Frenchy: That's correct! Last summer I had a full time job at a machine shop here in town. I was let go due to the fact that I needed almost every weekend off for a truck show. To me, it was a sign to put my all into this company since I am so passionate about it. That was right after Camp N Drag in 2011. Since then, I have been able to travel to a lot more shows, meet a lot more badass people, and live "the dream". Currently, I am working on getting a wedding portfolio together to start doing wedding videos as well. That is my long-term goal—to be able to offer any type of video/film that anyone needs.
MT: Got any advice for guys and gals out there looking to break into the minitruckin' movie biz?
Frenchy: First thing I can advise is find yourself a decent HD camera. With technology changing everyday it's hard to keep up. The majority of people starting out will be posting their videos online, and your audience will want to see clarity. Next thing—education is at your fingertips. Utilize that and search tutorials and videos online to help learn different techniques and find your own style. Everyone is always looking to stand out and share their vision. Lastly, don't give up! Keep at it and keep watching all of your favorite minitruckin' inspired DVDs to keep you motivated. I will watch at least one minitruck DVD a day … SERIOUSLY!
MT: OK, it's almost time to sign off, any last words before we cut you off?
Frenchy: First, thank to all of our fans—without the love and support we get from them our success would mean nothing. Also, I would like to thank my staff, they deal with the good and the bad. Thanks to my fiancé Kristi, without her support, we would not have made it this far.! Thank you.
Finally, a big thanks to Mini Truckin' for this opportunity to give our fans a deeper look into our lives and see that we are somewhat normal people just trying to do our part to keep this thing we all love going. We try our best to portray the positive side of everything we do and hope everyone enjoys our viewpoint! Thanks again everyone and see you at the next show!