Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

ComingSoon spoke with Nicholas Bafia and Julia Stamey about their role in the musical Fix and what led them to create Bafia-Stamey Productions.

Fix features 11 original songs, all recorded and produced by North Carolina indie rock legend Chris Stamey (the dB’s, Big Star’s Third Live) at Modern Recording. The musical numbers were each shot in one continuous take, with the student camera operators performing choreographed footwork in their own right alongside each of the actors.

What led you to become Bafia-Stamey Productions?

Nicholas Bafia: Julia Stamey and I were classmates at the University of North Carolina in 2019, and when we heard about a musical film category of the Academy Awards that was long dormant, we took that as a challenge upon ourselves. The goal was to pool our friends and resources from the Film, TV, and Theatre communities at UNC to make an original musical film and try to win one of the biggest awards in entertainment while operating in a fun niche.

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Julia Stamey: Nick & I met in 2019, when I was a sophomore and he was a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill. We were both media production students, and worked on Student Television and the Carolina Film Association together, so we knew we could work well together on a film. However, it was working together on the UNC Pauper Players’ staged production of Rocky Horror that introduced us to the world of musical films. Eager to introduce the talent of our new friends from Rocky to the filmmaking medium, when we found out about the secret musical film category, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to collaborate.

What was it about Fix that made you want to take it on?

Nicholas: I love a challenge. I’ve always liked to aim high and do ridiculous things because even if I fail the ultimate goal, I still get a lot accomplished by the end of the project. The unique challenge of Musical Film was something I was really interested in because I had only just gotten involved with theatre my Senior year at UNC, so being able to combine those new art modes into the film medium I was already comfortable with was convenient and exciting.

Julia: Like Nick said, the challenge! We both have the same bad habit of being unable to shy away from a challenge, and this felt like the perfect shoot for the moon project that would combine all of our interests.

What was the most challenging aspect of Fix and how did you overcome that?

Nicholas: One of the most challenging aspects of Fix was having to do a lot of the different parts of production on our own. Other than being very fortunate to work with Chris Stamey (Julia’s Dad) as our Sound Engineer, our team of 40ish students didn’t have many professional connections or experience, so we had to learn a lot of things on the fly, oftentimes working 3-4 roles of production on our film sets. At various times I was directing, operating a camera, lighting a scene, and walking through the background of the shot all in the same scene. And while that sounds awful, I’m very appreciative of the experience because I was able to pick up a bunch of skills that I normally might not have been interested in, and this new skill toolkit helps influence my work as a Producer.

Julia: For me personally, like with a lot of films coming out this year, COVID presented a huge challenge. While we had already wrapped shooting by May 2019, the score was not ready to record until right as the country shut down. Luckily, by the end of 2020, I was able to get some really talented musicians including Charles Cleaver, Dan Davis, and Matt Douglas among others who were able to record from home or come in the studio for masked sessions, and we ended up with a beautiful soundtrack that I’m deeply proud of.

Do you have any fun, behind-the-scenes stories about the making of Fix?

Nicholas: During pre-production for Fix, while our team of writers were adapting Matthew Keith’s script, our production team was raising funds for equipment and various other expenses. We had a successful Kickstarter, made possible by friends, family, and many other generous backers, but we also thought it would be a great idea to do a bake sale for a weekend. It would get pretty chilly, but selling brownies and cookies to the swarms of college kids walking around Franklin St. and being able to talk about our project to anyone who would listen was a memorable experience, and we ended up raising a decent amount to help us buy some of the equipment.

Julia: For a long time, the song “In A Heartbeat” just wasn’t working, and I couldn’t figure out what the score was missing. Dan Davis was set to play drums on the track, and it was helping somewhat, but at one point Chris, our recording engineer, pulled me aside and said “I have an idea, can I try this?” I told him sure, and he turned to Dan and said “imagine you are a little goblin laughing at the characters and egging on their fight.” Dan & I started laughing, because what a ridiculous direction, and yet as soon as Dan gave us his best “interpretive goblin laugh” on the drums, the song worked, like magic. I’ll never second guess Chris again!

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What were some of the things you learned from Fix that you’re excited to apply to future endeavors?

Nicholas: Fix was my first feature-length project so the list of things that I learned is long. Wearing multiple hats throughout production has made me a more rounded Producer, helping flesh out my understanding of all the different puzzle pieces coming together, and also instilled the importance of not procrastinating. The extra element of planning everything around the schedules of 40+ mostly students was a unique obstacle, but one that our production team took in stride and overcame with late-night shoots and barebones crews.

Julia: Is it wrong to say “everything?” Filmmaking, like most artistic skills, is one of those things that you can study but can’t really learn without practice. Working on Fix and trying to apply what I learned on shorts in the UNC Communication Dept. was a huge learning curve, but it was so much fun, and I can’t wait to apply everything I’ve learned to our next project.

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