Entertainment

September 13, 2013

L.A. whirlwind Andrew Carlberg touches down in Charlotte

Providence High grad’s movie is online, a play he helped finance is on Broadway, and life looks rosy.

Until this summer, Andrew Carlberg flew under America’s cultural radar, serving as a producer of short films and assistant to the executive producer of ABC-TV’s “Castle.”

Now, he’s a missile on the rise.

The Providence High School grad (class of ’03) is a producer on the new feature film “Some Girl(s),” a sardonic look at romance written by Neil LaBute and starring Adam Brody as a womanizer trying to get right with his exes. It’s rolling out in the vanguard of features now available through Vimeo on Demand, and it’ll get a local screening Tuesday at AMC Northlake Cinemas.

He’s associate producer of the Broadway version of “Romeo and Juliet,” which opens next week, with Orlando Bloom and Tony Award nominee Condola Rashad taking the title roles. And he’s co-executive producer with LaBute of the TV show “Full Circle,” which will debut this fall on DirecTV.

East Coast to West

Carlberg’s career shot forward as soon as graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2007 and left Chapel Hill for Los Angeles. UNC’s communications program places interns in the industry; he landed a gig at Beacon Pictures and stayed, working for “Castle” producer Laurie Zaks.

That detective show required days that were “24/7 with an asterisk: You work around the producer’s schedule. Nobody expects you not to sleep, but we live in a time when you can leave at 6 and still have access to everything in your hand. So you end up putting a lot of extra hours in.”

His job consisted of “assisting (Zaks) with everything from her schedule to phone calls to details related to the show. I’d manage anything that would cross her desk: publicity events, writers’ submissions, all the content that came in.”

He knew a guy with his aspirations should read everything he could, network any time he could and find gigs anywhere he could scratch artistic itches.

A bond across generations

His theater background at Providence and UNC led him to L.A.’s Geffen Playhouse; there he created an initiative to make large-scale theater attractive to younger audiences through discounted tickets and networking. The Geffen had him present “An Evening with Neil LaBute,” and Carlberg’s thank-you note to LaBute drew a request from the author: Would he present a program of LaBute’s one-acts?

He would, and the relationship zoomed ahead. Carlberg produced short films for LaBute (including “Double or Nothing,” where Carlberg met Brody), the L.A. premiere of the play “Mercy Seat,” the “Some Girl(s)” feature and the “Full Circle” TV series.

Says LaBute: “We were able to grow as friends and colleagues without having to jump in on one specific project, which is how it often works within that system. We built trust in each other and our respective abilities.

“I’ve never thought about Andrew’s age through this process – I learned only recently how old he was – but about his ability to get things done. He understands the business aspects of what we do and appreciates the creative side; I’m the opposite, so we fill in each other’s gaps.”

Carlberg says the 22-year-difference in ages – he’s 28, LaBute’s 50 – hasn’t been an issue.

“He’s a fantastic writer; every time he sends me something, it’s like Christmas morning, and it becomes the first thing I want to do. And I think I’m an old soul. People I gravitate to aren’t all of my generation.”

Yet Carlberg was savvy enough to scent a distribution opportunity when the online channel Vimeo kicked off Vimeo on Demand this spring.

New path to market

That deal offers producers a sweeter pot than theatrical distribution (90 percent of profit). It lets them set their own prices for streaming and rental, let’s them keep all rights to movies and guarantees consumers the higher-definition image YouTube doesn’t always provide.

“We make no value judgments in terms of length or format: animation, narrative, documentary, sports, anything at all,” says Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor, a 1997 Duke University graduate. “We attract a unique set of users; and it’s exciting to see the ‘Some Girl(s)’ team experiment with a different approach (to distribution).

“We’re in an exciting evolutionary period. … We represent a path to market for creators who might not otherwise find an audience through traditional channels, (and) we’re a way to get a global release of your film within three months of its first festival appearance. You don’t have to wait a year for it to roll out all over the world.”

Carlberg’s own evolution is leading him toward live theater.

His participation in “Romeo” (also his first play at Providence High) is purely financial: He’s an investor himself and found others, after stepping away from other Broadway plays. He says one of those was the 2013 Tony winner, “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.”

“I knew it would be a great play, but in the circle I was in, I couldn’t raise money for it,” Carlberg said.

Carlberg hopes this entry to the Broadway world leads to creative input in a show down the road. Yet even he realizes life isn’t infinitely expandable.

“I decided soon after I came here that, if I wasn’t moving forward, I’d be moving backward,” he says. “This snowball effect is a combination of hard work and good luck and meeting people at the right time.

“Work begets work: When you meet actors and directors, their friends are other actors and directors. I’d probably turn down more projects than I do if I weren’t afraid that someday all the work will stop.”

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