Forever Safe Productions was founded by John Lerchen in 2013. The story of how the company began spans back many more years...
From a very young age, I knew what I was going to do with my life. I first started making videos in the 6th grade at The Orchard School in Indianapolis, Indiana. I created various films about my classmates and the field trips we ventured on. I enjoyed watching how others reacted to my content and quickly discovered that I loved entertaining. I was thirteen years old when something in my mind clicked; I knew I wanted to become a filmmaker and that I would never give up on that dream.
On the weekends, my parents shared classics with me: Casablanca, Wizard of Oz and Jaws to name a few. We’d have lengthy conversations about the movies, discussing what we enjoyed and how we felt they could be improved. My interest quickly ventured into the technical aspects.
Like most skills in life, I quickly learned the key to success would be practice. I made videos for every class project that was assigned. There was hardly a day that passed where I didn’t shoot something with my little Canon camera (I shot on Mini DV tapes back in the day). I’d come up with a story on the fly and execute. Most of the time, the videos weren’t worth watching. However, I was gaining valuable exposure looking through the viewfinder so frequently.
I continued my education at Cathedral High School, where once again I was fortunate to have teachers that supported my passion. In addition to class projects, I dabbled in event videography, but my focus became narrative shorts. Looking back at those seven years in middle and high school, my inexperience showed, but the time spent was invaluable. Those hundreds of videos were the foundation to my growth as a filmmaker.
Since those days, the landscape and technology for creating content has drastically changed, multiple times. I had been making videos in a time before cellphones had cameras, before Amazon and Netflix existed. There was no VOD and YouTube had just been founded. If you wanted to watch a movie you’d have to venture to your local Blockbuster and rent a physical copy. It was the perfect time for me to focus my education on the quickly evolving industry.
That was when my eighteen years in Indianapolis came to an end, for the time being. I moved north and attended Columbia College Chicago. I was quickly surrounded by hundreds of likeminded individuals who wanted to make movies as well. I gained access to advanced cameras, stages where we could build sets and create elaborate lighting and camera set-ups. More importantly, I gained access to crew looking to collaborate. Until this point, I was used to being a one man band, which wouldn’t work anymore if I wanted to further my projects. I’d network with other students to get them involved as crew on my videos, It was refreshing and really demonstrated the importance of teamwork.
I hustled those first few years of college. I was using any and all resources at my disposal. There wasn’t a week I wasn’t working on my own projects outside of class. I got to a point where I wanted a bigger challenge and made a life altering decision; I was going to create my first feature film.
I started from scratch. A lot of what I did was trial and error and there was little support from my classes. Most students weren’t taking on these kind of projects at this stage. I wrote an original screenplay and then workshopped it with my professors in my my free time. I put together pitch packets and look books. I did my due diligence. I was prepared to make this happen at any cost. There was one small problem: I had no funding. I needed to find an investor. The process took months, I wasn’t getting meetings, nobody knew who I was or willing to take a risk on me. I needed a new approach. I traveled back down to Indiana, to the local art museum, where I acquired a list of donors. If they like art, they like movies, right? I did research on all the individuals and then I sent them personal letters, hundreds of them.
I landed two executive producers who were willing to give me a chance; their investment financed the whole movie. From there, it was all new territory. I was forced to quickly learn the business side of the process. Looking back, once again, I was very inexperienced but more determined than ever. I’ve always been a firm believer in getting out there and doing it, after all what’s the worst that can happen? I made many mistakes and above all else learned the importance of taking care of your people.
Forever Safe Productions was founded that year with my first feature film. I proved to myself I was able to make full length movies and now had a better foundation to build upon and a production banner to work under.
Forever Safe Productions