Red 5 Standing By

To me, Loyd Calomay is a cousin I usually see at family parties. In the public sphere, he is known as the owner of independent film company Red 5 Studios.

Established during Loyd’s undergraduate years at UC Irvine, Red 5 is mostly recognized for creating movie spoofs that star the bride and the groom which are then premiered at the couple’s wedding reception for all their friends and family to enjoy. One of the latest videos spoofed “Inception,” which went viral and gained Red 5 Studios international recognition.

When I saw the spoof Red 5 did for my brother’s wedding a few years ago, I was immediately impressed by how I felt like I was just watching a family home video — but professionally produced. Seeing the recent attention that Red 5 has received, I looked forward to learning about how it all began for my cousin Loyd.

Film has always been a part of Loyd’s life. He first fell in love with movies when watching “Star Wars” in the theater as a kid, and became influenced by movies by iconic directors like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, and personally from his artistic grandfather who shot films on a Super 8.

It was the day his father gave him his own video camera during high school when Loyd’s career in filmmaking began.

“As a kid, I was always doing something creative, whether it was painting or drawing or making animation,” Loyd. “I started with making skateboard videos and a bunch of zombie movies. They were always fun to make and [I] loved the process.”

It seemed natural that Loyd would want to study film in college. But that wasn’t the case.

“As a child of Filipino parents, I wanted to please them by going to UCI to study engineering even though I really had no interest in that field. I changed my major to studio art during my second year although my parents weren’t sure what I would do in the future,” he said.

Although he found himself in this common situation, he simply followed his heart, and further pursued his creativity for the rest of his college career. “After having recent success, [my parents] understand that I made the right decision,” he continued.

Red 5 Studios began as a happy accident. “I was asked to shoot a friend’s wedding. [I had] no intention to put the footage together. But someone at the wedding liked the way I was shooting and wanted to hire me. So I got a crash course in editing on computers and quickly started a business.”

The idea of making movie spoofs for weddings originated when Loyd and his friends made spoofs for UCI Kababayan’s Pilipino Cultural Night. “When my college friends got married, I pitched the idea to do a video like the one we did for PCN — a movie spoof — this time made for a wedding,” he explained.

When Red 5 showed its very first wedding spoof of “Mission: Impossible” at the reception, Loyd still remembers how everyone in the crowd went wild. “We knew at that moment we had something special to offer to an industry plagued with bad video production. No one was doing what we were doing at our level of production.”

Another special quality of Red 5 Studios is the collaborative process Loyd has with his clients. “It starts with the couple coming to me with an idea; some have specific movies they’d love to do, others come to me with an open mind […] It’s a collaborative process but I write, direct, shoot and edit while the couples cast the production and bring costumes and makeup. It’s really fun for everyone to experience movie-making at a smaller scale,” Loyd said.

With a filmmaking job like Loyd’s, being creative is his biggest challenge. “You have to push yourself to be creative every time,” he said. “The problem is: how can we shoot this differently? How do we make this special for this particular couple? The most challenging thing is making something unique each time.”

The challenging things are always the most rewarding when Loyd can witness the emotions his videos bring about at the wedding receptions. “Having [the couple] watch the premiere on their wedding day is the big payoff,” he said. “You see how people laugh and cry throughout the video. That is what brings joy to my heart, seeing that special moment on the biggest day of their lives.”

Whether it’s writing a movie spoof, traveling outside the US to film a wedding, working on an upcoming documentary on Kaba Modern (which Loyd was a part of 20 years ago), or recently shooting a same-day edit at David Foster’s wedding, Loyd has the same creative approach in every project.

“Working with celebrities is no different than shooting a friend’s wedding. They are all human and the common story that we’re telling is about two people in love,” Loyd said. “However, [seeing David Foster] stand up and applaud our hard work, a man who has won many awards and understands and appreciates art, film and music … it’s a very cool feeling.”

From doing everything by himself to forming a team of talented filmmakers, Loyd continues to grow along with Red 5 Studios.

“I feel blessed to do something I truly love and work with great people. I would hope that I can take what I’ve learned and the passion I have for it and pass it on to others. If there’s one thing I’d like to tell aspiring filmmakers it’s to follow your heart. It’s cliché but it’s only because it’s true. Do what you love to do and go after it.”