The pros behind Bandito Brothers have a unique skill set—cofounder and director Scott Waugh is a former stuntman and action commercial director, CEO and creative director Mouse McCoy was a world-class motocross bike racer and then a world-class director and technology entrepreneur, and CTO and director Jacob Rosenberg is a technology geek and was a skateboard filmmaker who never learned what "No" meant. Essentially, they're the perfect storm to create what Waugh calls "an independent studio based in the world of action."
Back in 2006, Waugh and McCoy created Bandito Brothers—the name born out of the ashes of Dust to Glory, a POV documentary about the Baja 1000, where they pioneered their bold and in-your-face approach to filmmaking. They also brought Rosenberg on as partner and over the last six years have amassed other talent to add to their rebel team, including managing director/executive producer Jay Pollak with expertise in the media, technology and finance worlds, COO Max Leitman with his extensive knowledge in the legal field and, most recently, Suzanne Hargrove as the managing director and EP of their commercial division.
"I think that what's unique about our company is that we all had a collective experience of being involved in the film business and having the desire to make movies on our own terms," says Rosenberg. "There was a collision of technology from cameras and postproduction/editorial that happened at the time we started our company, and we were ready to embrace both because we weren't jaded by a specific way of doing things."
Although Rosenberg is quick to downplay what many in the industry call Bandito Brothers' trendsetting ways, it's quite apparent that they have been setting just such trends over the last half decade, from Dust to Glory's use of nine separate shooting formats and frame rates to the almost exclusive use of the Canon EOS 5D Mark II DSLRs for their Navy Seal feature film Act of Valor.
"Four-and-a-half years ago, all of Hollywood thought we were smoking crack when we said we were shooting on a still camera," Waugh said at NAB in April, referring to Act of Valor, which grossed over $70 million domestically this year. Because of the minimalistic bodies of the 5Ds, Bandito Brothers was able to finish post with no visual effects at all, just some painting out of the cameras. Most of the time, since all the operators were suited up to look like soldiers, complete with camouflage camera gear, you couldn't tell if they were holding a gun or a camera.
Since Act of Valor, Bandito Brothers has fallen in love with the 5D Mark II and has tended to keep going back to that camera even as newer digital cameras come out with proven better sensors than the Mark II. As Rosenberg explains it, they have enjoyed the combo of the 5D and Leica lenses, which they recently used again on Blind Judoka, a web series they have been filming for Participant Media's YouTube channel about a blind female judo wrestler training for the 2012 Paralympics.
"We had a really limited and intense shoot, and we needed to go docu-style while still remaining with a cinematic look, even though it was for the web," says Rosenberg. "We really rigged ourselves up good with 5Ds with the R-series Leicas—21-35mm, 35-70mm, 70-210mm and 60mm Macro, to name a few. We also brought one Phantom Miro to shoot some high-speed stuff, but the majority was the 5D, with some 7D for slow-motion."