Karoline Ribak is a filmmaker who contacted me directly through this website. She said she is a huge fan of my mission and wanted to share information about a project she is producing. I responded that I am glad she reached out otherwise I may never have heard of her project.
Karoline is the producer of “Cold Cold Man”, a science fiction-inspired jukebox musical. I looked over the content at the link she supplied to me. I loved what I saw so we arranged a phone meeting. After learning more about her and what she does, I requested to interview her and she concurred.
A synopsis for “Cold Cold Man” is provided in the response to Question #3 of the interview.
Everyone, meet Karoline Ribak!
1.Tell our readers about yourself.
Karoline Ribak: I am a filmmaker from Southern California finishing my BFA [Bachelor of Fine Arts] in Creative Producing at Chapman University. In 2018, I made the decision to pursue my MBA [Master of Business Administration] and will continue at Chapman as a grad student through 2020. My background is in the performing arts, but I have always been interested in business; when the time came to choose a career path, producing seemed like a perfect fit. Throughout college, I produced thirty films, experimented with new media (e.g. narrative VR/AR [virtual reality/augmented reality] storytelling), and developed projects in unique formats – in this case, the jukebox musical.
2. Explain how you got into the performing arts.
My father was a musician and my mother studied theatre, which really nurtured my love of the arts from a young age. I performed in musicals as a child and spent all of high school in a competitive show choir (yes, Glee-style). In college, musicals remained a huge guilty pleasure for me – I would listen to Jesus Christ Superstar on the commute to my internship and even took a film studies course on the musical genre. I became very curious about the workflow and challenges of producing a live performance.
3. What is the concept of the film “Cold Cold Man”?
Think: Ex Machina meets Xanadu. The film is a sci-fi that speculates on the future of AI [Artificial Intelligence] technology through surreal musical sequences. Our protagonist, Elise, develops an advanced form of learning technology named TOM – the Tomorrow of Man. Over a series of tests, TOM begins to show human-like qualities that urge Elise to fight against his premature introduction to the marketplace. Without the time or resources she needs, and faced with a boss more interested in affection than her breakthrough, she must choose between following orders and protecting her creation in the cold corporate world.
4. Jukebox musicals are very popular these days in film and live theater. Why did you decide to make “Cold Cold Man” a jukebox musical?
Shortly after Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again was announced in 2017, I was listening to tons of ABBA. I have always loved the jukebox musical format, which entails taking existing music and building a new narrative around it. I was aching to develop my own, and Saint Motel quickly came to mind – they had been one of my favorite bands for years, and the founding members were also film students at Chapman! It seemed serendipitous, so I decided to experiment with the idea. I cut up lyrics to their songs and started moving them around a table.
5. Talk about the indie-pop band Saint Motel. Why are you using their music in “Cold Cold Man”? Tell us about the process to obtain the rights to their music.
Saint Motel’s songs are primarily indie-pop, but some gravitate toward rock or disco; there’s a nostalgic sound, and it’s constantly shifting from era to era. Their music videos are just as diverse in style and format. In 2018, Saint Motel became the first band to release an entire album in Virtual and Augmented Reality formats. They have always been very innovative, which might have influenced Cold Cold Man’s sci-fi genre.
I had the pleasure of meeting Saint Motel’s lead singer, A/J Jackson, in early 2018 and left him with the first draft of our script. He’s unbelievably sweet and connected my team to the band’s manager, who helped us kick start the rights acquisition process. We obtained a license from the publisher that allowed us to arrange covers of Saint Motel songs to be performed by our cast in the film.
Saint Motel’s Instagram: @saintmotel
6. What are the challenges of producing a screenplay?
The biggest challenge is making sure the content on the page will be communicated effectively on-screen. The performances deeply influence how a story makes people feel, but during the writing process you can’t anticipate how lines will be said or if emotional beats will hit. You do what you can to strengthen the story as much as possible on-paper and give your actors the information they need to elicit those feelings.
As for physical producing, the challenges certainly vary from project-to-project. Cold Cold Man was shot entirely on a soundstage to ensure the environment could be controlled for the safety of the actors performing musical numbers. Building a laboratory from the ground-up was challenging, but our production design team nailed it, and our grip/electric team spent several days before production pre-rigging the set. While this is standard in the industry, film students are typically instructed to begin work on the first day of their shoot. I couldn’t believe how professionally and proactively our group of 18 to 22-year-old students approached our unique workflow.
7. Tell us about your team and the importance of teamwork in producing a film.
I am blessed to have such a dynamite team on Cold Cold Man. My director, Rona Ahdout, is an insanely powerful creative force and became one of my closest friends in college. We developed a great work marriage over the past couple of years, and this relationship affected our team in a really positive way. No matter how skilled your crew members are, a great show is defined by the way people feel on set. One day of production on Cold Cold Man was declared goth-themed, and the whole crew arrived before call time to apply eyeliner and tattoos. Ironically, this happened during one of the musical number shoot days. It was hysterical and definitely kept everyone’s spirits up. People rarely remember the challenging parts of their jobs, but they’ll reminisce on goth day. It’s the little things.
8. What is your plan for publicizing and distributing the film?
Chapman University allows students to have full ownership of their work, so we look forward to taking Cold Cold Man through the festival circuit and expanding its network after the premiere. We do not currently have plans to distribute the film, but it will be available online (with a private link during its festival run). We love to interact with our community through social media, so I will leave our website and handles below!
The premiere screening of Cold Cold Man will be Friday, March 29th at 7 PM at Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. The event is open to the public, and no tickets or reservations are required. A reception in the lobby will follow the screening – come say hi!
Facebook: Cold Cold Man (@coldcoldmovie)
9. How can people get in touch with you?
I’d love to connect! Happy to chat anytime over LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.
LinkedIn: Karoline Ribak
Facebook: Karoline Ribak
Whether through my website or other means, I want to continue to build a network of creatives and do what I can to help. I am so glad I connected with Karoline. I am so impressed how she took advantage of educational opportunities to pursue her passion. I love the concept of “Cold Cold Man” as a jukebox musical and I am looking forward to seeing how the music and story play together.
There will be a follow-up to this blog post where Karoline will write about the premiere screening, featuring photos and impressions from the cast and crew.
To my readers, please provide feedback or questions in the Comments. I would really enjoy hearing from you. And let me know if there are any topics you would like me to cover.
Disclaimer: The author is not being financially compensated by Karoline Ribak for this post.
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Originally published March 23, 2019. Updated August 19, 2020 to adjust category assignments.