TAEM Interview with Executive Producer Greg Centineo

gregcentineoTAEM- The Arts and Entertainment Magazine is now exploring many of the upcoming films that will be hitting the silver screen next year. One of the latest is Legends of OZ: Dorothy’s Return the animated film just coming out of Cannes. We had just interviewed producer Ryan Carroll for this production and would now like to introduce another executive producer for this film, Greg Centineo, to all of our readers.

Greg, before we broach the subject on this film, we understand that you had a different start for you career. You had previously went to Florida to work with youth . Please tell us about this aspect of your life and how it might have prepared you for your work on Legends of Oz.

GC-  I have had a few careers in my 49 years. My brothers and I owned a landscaping business back in the 1980’s. I spent about ten years of my life cutting lawns, which I hated with a passion, but also enjoyed at the same time. I think that experience taught me perseverance and how to work hard physically.

I have always dealt with existential questions, such as: What is the meaning of life? Why am I here? How am I gonna get through this? Those questions led me to pursue an education in the area of theology and eventually to serve as a pastor in South Florida. That experience really shaped my communication abilities and people skills.

Next was starting a coffee franchise and truly becoming an entrepreneur. This taught me how too take a concept from an idea to a reality and “will it into existence”.

Legends of Oz logoNext followed my introduction into banking and finance; fields which had intrigued me most of my life. I was raised by phenomenal Dad. He really understood leveraging money, and how to make money work for you rather than your working for money. Getting involved with the interior side of banking and finance was a tremendous experience for me from 2004 to 2008. I was able to help communicate the principles my Dad taught me to my clients. Robert Kiyosaki  principles, if you will, the book “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, and use that opportunity to understand the power of structure and its correlation to finance. This prepared me for the most important opportunity and role of my life, Legends of Oz.

The Legends of Oz project is a perfect storm. I have prepared for this all of my life and all that I had become would aid to the future success of Legends of Oz. Ryan Carroll introduced himself to me in 2007 via a mutual friend, and introduced to me his Legends of Oz vision for an animation franchise. His vision and idea were brilliant, far-fetched, but brilliant. I thought the OZ brand is global and recognizable. The business structure had tremendous long-term capabilities and potential success. My role would be evolving throughout the projects process and I have helped to lead the franchise via many willing and able people to its present success.

Ironically enough, the four industries, well five including the landscaping, all came to a crescendo for me at this point. I was able to utilize all the tools I have acquired to help the team achieve Legends of Oz.

TAEM- Your first connection involving the storyline of OZ came about in 2008 when you worked on the production, Dorothy of OZ, now known as Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return. Describe your involvement with this film, how you first came on board and how you succeeded in helping to bring it to fruition.

GC- Dorothy of Oz was the name of one of the ten books we purchased, and is the book in which our film is based on. In 2012 we changed the film’s name to Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return to emphasize the franchise potential of the property.

Jim-BekushiTAEM- Tell us about your current work on Legends and the responsibilities that you oversee on it.

GC- My responsibilities on Legends of Oz are very broad. I have touched so many different aspects. In the early days of the project, I worked side-by-side with Ryan Carroll to implement strategy – ranging from promotion of our project, helping to secure funding. My responsibilities have always evolved as the project has evolved into what it is today. Thus my roles and responsibilities evolved accordingly.

Bernadette-Peters-and-Megan-HiltyTAEM- Tell our readers about the cast members for the film and your interactions with them.

GC- I think what stands out the most for me about our cast is that all these remarkable, talented people decided to be part of our film. I was astonished at the momentum and the good fortune coming to our project with these actors. I remember meeting Patrick Stewart that first time in the sound booth. He walked in and I was just awe struck by his presence. And then watching him articulate his craft and his interaction with the director, Daniel St. Pierre and the way he honored the director’s requests and suggestions … I mean this is Sir Patrick Stewart. He was such a professional.

The directors of our film, we have actually have co-directors Will Finn and Daniel St Pierre.  Both of those guys have worked at Disney and DreamWorks, and they did a phenomenal job. Our producer, Bonne Radford, is outstanding. I will tell you this, without Bonne Radford we would have no project. She came early on and tied her name to it, with her credibility and all of her experiences and successes came along with her. She is a phenomenal library of information.

We had a great casting director, Matthew Jon Beck, who already has a successful knack for casting for animation films such as Finding Nemo.

Dan-Aykroyd-as-the-ScarecrowTAEM- Please tell us about your experience in Cannes and how you were able to get the film seen there from a market perspective.

GC- As far as the Cannes Film Festival and how we got there, well let me tell you…there is definitely a magical side to this project. It’s almost like there is a force that has carried this project from its origin back in 2005 to where it is today in 2013.We talk about things years in advance and then they happen, almost as if we will these things into existence. I remember Charley Walters, CEO of CW3PR, bringing the idea of Cannes to us in 2011. I believe we gained a lot of the industry’s respect for what we achieved as an independent production company.

Two weeks after Cannes were invited to the Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which is the largest and most prestigious film festival for animation in the world. The festival has a competition where they select nine films of the 2460 that were submitted, and we were one of the nine. We were the only U.S. film selected.

TAEM- With the film’s showing at the film festival completed, what are the next steps in the process to achieve its release to the public ?

GC-  Now with festivals behind us and all the major distribution announcements behind us, what do we see next for the film is achieve its release to the general public worldwide. It will be a mix of traditional, and very non-traditional marketing concepts. I look forward to that.

Toto's-actor-AndyTAEM- After Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return would you be working on the sequel / next film, and what other genre films would you like to executive produce in the future ?

GC-  The first the task at hand is to complete what we are doing. After that, I look forward to what the future holds for me! But I will tell you this, I don’t do anything that I don’t believe in, I don’t do anything that I don’t put my own money into, and I don’t do anything in which I don’t think I will find great meaning, pleasure, while have a lot of fun doing it. So whatever it is I am sure it will be big!!

TAEM- Greg, I feel that this film is going to be a huge success and it will be an blockbuster production when released. I want to wish you much luck with it and thank you for doing this interview with our publication. I know that our readership will enjoy learning all about you and will be anxious to see your film when it arrives in their local theaters.

   TAEM

Thank you for the interview and the great questions and thank you for your interest in our franchise.