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Get Out

Radio-Television-Film alumnus’ film honored with four Academy Award nominations

Executive producer and Department of Radio-Television-Film alumnus Ray Mansfield’s (B.S. ’00) horror film “Get Out” was honored with four Oscar nominations for best picture, lead actor, director, and original screenplay leading up to the 90th Academy Awards ceremonies to be hosted by Jimmy Kimmel and broadcast on the ABC network on Sunday, March 4 at 7 p.m. CST.

“Get Out” will face stiff competition in this year’s best picture category at the Oscars from “Darkest Hour,” “Dunkirk,” “Call Me by Your Name,” “Lady Bird,” “Phantom Thread,” “The Post,” “The Shape of Water,” and “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.”

In January, “Get Out” was in the running for two Golden Globes in the categories of best motion picture musical or comedy, and best performance by an actor in a motion picture musical or comedy by leading man Daniel Kaluuya. The horror and dark comedy motion picture was edged out by best picture-winner “Lady Bird” and actor James Franco’s performance in “The Disaster Artist.”

The plot of the film centers around a young African-American man who meets his white girlfriend’s parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods. Before long, the friendly and polite ambience gives way to a bizarre nightmare.

We caught up with Mansfield to see what he’s been up to since his time on the Forty Acres and how he became a successful Hollywood producer.

How did you begin your career in film?
My first job was right out of film school as a director of photography on a documentary. That shoot brought me to California. I loved the state and I loved Los Angeles. When we got back to Austin I packed my car up and moved out to L.A. My first job there was as a production assistant on a John Grisham movie. I did some other on-set P.A. work while looking for a full-time job. Then, I was hired in the mailroom at a management and production company called 3 Arts Entertainment, where I was lucky enough to work for several years with Bernie Mac, an entertainer I had admired growing up.

"On paper this movie should not work. Not changing the movie to be something it’s not was a challenge worth overcoming."

I left 3 Arts to pursue my first entrepreneurial effort and launched a production company with a film school friend. We wrote screenplays and developed feature films while producing “added value” content for the studio home entertainment departments. This was at the time when everyone was putting out “director approved” double-disc DVD packages of successful films. So, we did behind-the-scenes documentaries, short films, animations, etcetera things for the studios to fill up their second disc.

During that process, I realized how hard it was to find money for feature films. So, I set out to learn film financing. I was then hired by a management and production company called The Collective, which had a film financing division that I worked in. After several years, I felt I’d learned enough about packaging and financing feature films to give my own company another try so I launched my second production company called Movie Package Company. Here, an industry colleague and I produced and financed about a dozen movies as producers and executive producers. I then launched QC Entertainment in 2016 with a longtime friend and excellent movie producer. And that’s what I’m doing now.    

Why did you decide to be a producer?
It found me naturally. I’m interested in all aspects of the filmmaking process. I like the business. I like the creative. I find negotiations just as interesting and creative an endeavor as developing a screenplay or sitting in the editing room. I wanted to have a hand in all sides of the business. I think I would get bored if I only had one focus to put my energy and mind into each day. And that lead me to being a producer. 

What do you do on a day-to-day basis?
Everything from administration in scheduling meetings, rolling calls, emails, etcetera to working on screenplays with writers, sitting in the editing room with digital intermediate and scoring sessions, negotiating deals for distribution and financing, and doing deals with actors, writers and directors. Every day follows a bit of a pattern but can also be very diverse with what I’m working on. And then there are the days when you’re in production, which are usually 18-hours long and can be very stressful and overwhelming for long stretches of time.

What challenges did you overcome so “Get Out” could get to the big screen? The biggest challenge was that it wasn’t a movie that fit any type of traditional formula for success. It’s a complete anomaly. On paper this movie should not work. Not changing the movie to be something it’s not was a challenge worth overcoming.

How do you explain the overwhelming success of the film?
It’s a movie that could articulate something people were feeling but didn’t know how to express. It was the right story at the right time. And there is a lot of goodwill for Jordan Peele. He’s a huge talent and people wanted him to win.

Have you been to the Oscars before?
I worked on a movie called “The Messenger” about ten years ago that received a couple of Oscar nominations.

What are you most proud of in your career so far?
Surviving this long. And not compromising who I want to be along the way.

What made you decide to launch your own production company?
I’ve always wanted to work for myself. And I’ve always been prepared to put in the extra work to have that freedom. I have that entrepreneurial spirit. QC Entertainment is the third company I’ve launched. I started my first production company when I was 26. My second when I was 31. And my third when I was 37. And I’m sure I’ll create more as I go.

What professors/classes had an impact on you in Moody College?
For production, Spencer Parsons had a big impact. Spencer was so hands on with the students and such a great artist. His spirit made it hard to not like him. He always seemed to care, and he always seemed to be having fun. Both are such great qualities. On the professional side, Richard Lewis had the biggest impact both in and out of the classroom. His producing class was one of my favorites from college. He was also the one that provided letters of recommendation and made connections for me to people in L.A. His involvement and support was—and to this day still is—beyond the call of duty. To this day, I seek out students from him to help mentor as they make the transition to L.A., as I know he gets very involved with the students and genuinely wants to see them succeed and knows who will be a good fit.  

How did the RTF program and your time at UT Austin prepare you for your career?
RTF is a microcosm for how the real world works. You’re learning how to work in teams and manage personalities. You learn about your own strengths and weaknesses and goals and feelings and ambitions. RTF gives you the environment to explore and grow and the educators that help you navigate that growth.

Have you ever participated in lecturing or taking interns from the Wofford Denius UTLA Center for Entertainment & Media Studies program?
Yes, I’ve strived for many years to offer UTLA students internship opportunities and many have participated. I had a UTLA student a few months ago and I like to have one as frequently as possible.

What advice would you offer to current students?
Believe in yourself. Hard work, focus and tenacity have paid off for me but it’s only because with each setback or seemingly insurmountable obstacle, I believed I could accomplish what I wanted to accomplish. That belief in yourself, I think, is the key to success.

What are your future plans?
Keep doing what I’m doing.

Marc Speir

Senior Content Producer

For more information, contact:

Kathleen Mabley at 512-232-1417