Get in ‘The Loop’ with the Ragsdale brothers at KNR Productions
KNR Productions is an independent, award-winning international production company founded by brothers Rich and Kevin Ragsdale. The brothers have won acclaim for their dark and eerie horrors, music videos, and, most notably, their experience and admirable skills in directing, producing, and film scoring.
Founded in 2006, brothers Rich and Kevin Ragsdale envisioned a new era of filmmaking where visuals and compelling stories come to life. The Ragsdale brothers’ craft is known for its unique style, as it incorporates a variety of different genres, from experimental to silent, to lively music videos.
Most recently, Rich Ragsdale directed and released a short horror film called The Loop, and won the best editing award during its premiere weekend at iHorror Film Festival. The Loop also screened at Beyond Fest and will screen at other notable festivals, like Screamfest and others not yet announced.
Another movie which Rich Ragsdale directed is available on Netflix, titled Ghost House. A young couple go on an adventurous vacation to Thailand only to find themselves haunted by a malevolent spirit after naively disrespecting a Ghost House.
Tell us about your histories in the film industry. How did you start your journey?
Rich: I studied film scoring and composition at Berklee College of Music, then moved out to LA, only to be unemployed for a few years. Eventually, I went on to write music for TV shows like According to Jim and King of Queens, as well as scoring a number of video games and indie films.
I fell into filmmaking by accident, really. An experimental film I made in my spare time went on to win a number of awards at film festivals. After that, I thought I’d give this filmmaking thing a shot.
Kevin: I attended Maryville College where I earned my Bachelor of Arts in Business. A few years later, I earned my MBA from Chapman University. While at Chapman I hung out with some of the film students and got to see them work on their projects and I was hooked.
A couple of years later, I co-founded Pretty Dangerous Films which led to me producing 10 movies. A few years after that, Rich and I founded KNR Productions together and here we are.
Who were your early influences?
Rich: So many: John Carpenter, David Lynch, Ralph Bakshi . . . too many to list, really.
Kevin: Mine mirror Rich’s pretty much (add Cronenberg in there), but they really go all the way back to the Friday Night Fright movies when we were kids. Dracula vs. Frankenstein, The Dr. Phibes movies, The Illustrated Man, etc. Even the edited down versions of movies that you could rent from the Big K on 8mm. That was how I saw Planet of the Apes for the first time.
How was founding KNR productions? What did you learn from the experience?
Kevin: Founding KNR productions was cool because we both have our own skills (Rich being a director/composer and me a producer/actor) and it has been a great experience seeing the whole process through – Such as seeing all of our own ideas come to life and having the opportunity to work with and support other filmmakers who we really like. We’ve been fortunate to be able to see many of our films make it to the big screen.
What we learned: How to network and talk to people, which is a huge part of being recognized in the industry and making your film stand out to film festivals.
Tell us about your careers before film. Were you always involved in the production side of film?
Rich: Before running off and joining this circus, I worked a number of menial jobs as a landscaping assistant, fast food delivery boy, and sitting behind the counter of an underground video store. I was terrible at all those jobs, so I guess it is good we ended up here.
Kevin: I started my professional life working in the headquarters of a hospital management company in Nashville, TN. From there I went on to a career in money management before leaving and pursuing filmmaking.
Tell us about your creative process. What does a normal day look like in your production company?
Coffee, editing, meeting, shooting, coffee, editing, sleep.
What tips do you have for new filmmakers?
Rich: Put your head down, white-knuckle it, and don’t let the crew see you cry.
Kevin: Learn as much as you can about every position in the crew so you understand the crew’s needs and what it takes to keep the project on schedule and running smoothly.
You’re very hands-on with your projects. How hard is it wearing all the hats?
Of course, it can be. It’s impossible to think of/control everything you want to accomplish at once (cinematography, acting, sound). So, it definitely has been a learning curve figuring out how to manage that. We love every aspect of it and we get to honestly say that we love our jobs.
What’s your next project?
A prequel to our most recent film Ghost House, a supernaternatural horror film we shot in Thailand. Super excited to start promoting this film as the first Ghost House had great success internationally and can be seen streaming on Netflix right now. We have begun presales on the prequel and we look forward to announcing a start date in the near future.
Have you worked with mentors in the past? How would you recommend people go about finding them?
Rich: Kev was a producer on Stuart Gordon’s film, Edmond, and I got to write a lot of music for the film, so I was with Stuart through most of the post production process. Stuart was very generous with his time and advice. He really taught me a lot. Growing up, I was a big fan of his movies, especially Reanimator, so you can imagine how cool it was to get a little mini film school crash course from a true master.
Kevin: My dad was my first mentor and has had the greatest impact on me. I still call him for advice. In film, the people whom I have learned the most from were people like Chris Hanley for his eye for cool properties and directors like Stuart Gordon and Nina Menkes for their vision and ability to execute those visions into incredible films.
If you are looking for a mentor, I’d pinpoint the few people whose work you admire and try to make contact through email or by networking at festivals and other events. Don’t be shy, you’ll be surprised at how willing some people are to talk and/or point you in the right direction.
What’s your filmmaking mission? Name the most important thing you want viewers to experience when watching your movies.
Our mission is to make each project better and more ambitious than the last. We would like our films to stick with people for a while after they see them.
Can we expect to see any episodic television from you anytime soon?
We have a few different episodic projects, all in different stages of development. One of them that we are very excited about involve clowns. Lots of clowns. Ghost House is also one that we are very hopeful about.
Who are your major partners?
We have a core team of talented artists, technicians and producers that we work with all the time. They help us realize our projects and make us look good. Without our team, we are nothing.
What’s your five-year plan?
Our five-year plan is to produce at least 5-10 full length features and to see at least one of our episodic projects find a home on a major streaming services.
What filmmakers should be on our radar?
Rich: We have been to a number of genre film festivals lately, screening our new short film, The Loop. Let me tell you, there is a huge number of really great filmmakers making very interesting work out there. Too many to list, but the future is bright for these up and coming horror filmmakers.
What’s your favorite film of all time, and what did you learn from it?
Rich: My favorite film changes almost daily, but if I had to pick just one, I guess I’d say Eraserhead. It’s the one movie I keep coming back to. Being a weird little kid growing up in Tennessee, I didn’t have access to art films and outre movies, so when I saw finally Eraserhead on a crappy VHS tape it was a revelation.
I didn’t know movies could be like that – mysterious, funny, strange, disturbing and magical, but still narrative and meaningful. I have probably seen it something like 50 times and I still find something new in it everytime I watch it.
Kevin: Yeah, I’ve seen too many movies to choose just one, but I do absolutely love the silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc. The images in the film and the acting blow me away every time I watch it. After that, my favorite film is Escape from New York. I mean Snake Plissken? Come on.