Interview with Rusty Prevatt, director

The Franklin Pictures’ co-founder screens his Sacramento Kings Playing To Win documentary this week

photo by lauran fayne worthy

The saving-the-Sacramento Kings documentary Playing To Win premieres this Wednesday, April 29, at the Esquire IMAX Theater as part of the Sacramento Film Festival. The film will have a limited run beginning May 9 at the Esquire IMAX and the Studio Movie Grill in Rocklin.
Learn more about Prevatt's company, Franklin Pictures, at

The Sacramento Kings were outta here. Seattle bound. It was over. But not really. And video director Rusty Prevatt and his team at Franklin Pictures documented it all: media frenzies, from City Hall to New York City; RV road trips; fist-bumping phone calls with Mayor Kevin Johnson and more. Say what you want about arena subsidies or Vivek Ranadive's moves, Prevatt's Playing To Win documentary is a heart-on-sleeve throwback to that moment when Sacramento's sports community did something most of us thought was impossible. SN&R chatted via email with the very busy director, who often works on commercials and ad campaigns across the globe, in advance of his film's premiere.

What one movie inspired you to be a director?

I can't point to a single movie that inspired me to want to direct, but I can quote Top Gun almost word for word. Does that count?

Sort of.

The movies that inspired me growing up were movies like Tombstone, Braveheart and The Shawshank Redemption. But probably the most influential was The Matrix.

Your favorite recent TV commercial?

This is an easy one. I have two favorites: the Volkswagen Darth Vader spot back in 2012 was brilliant. Perfect writing. Flawless execution. The second is the Nike 2010 World Cup ad, “Write the Future.” So much energy, such good story telling. I can watch it over and over and over.

What’s the crappiest commercial?

I'll take the Fifth on this one. There's a bunch out there though.

Boo! What bugs you most about bad stuff?

My biggest pet peeve is bad audio. What most people—even those that call themselves professionals—fail to understand is that audio is more important than video when you're trying to communicate something to someone. Blair Witch Project is a great example of this. It was shot by what looks to be a first-grader, but the audio was done so well that nobody cared. If you were to reverse that, it wouldn't work.

Great point. Who’s your fav director?

Christopher Nolan. I love his style of nonlinear storytelling and his commitment to shooting in camera, meaning he would prefer to build an actual set, or use scaled models, than try to recreate it by shooting on green or blue and relying on CG. It's the difference between the first Star Wars trilogy and the second. There's no contest. Nolan's way is organic and real, and it can't be substituted. George Lucas initially did it that way because the technology wasn't quite there to use CG, but Nolan chooses to do it that way even now, in a time where we can do some pretty amazing things in a computer. I'm not saying I don't like CG, but there's a time and place. I love Toy Story, Wall-E.

If you could work with any client for a project, who and why?

This is so easy, and yet so hard to answer. I'd have to go with Nike or Apple. They are both such powerhouses in our industry, willing to take risks, yet extremely thoughtful in their approach. That being said, a straight-up fun client would be Geico. Think about it: What commercial spots are most talked about around the water cooler? “Hump Daaay!”

If you weren’t a video director, what would you be?

A rock star. A drummer, to be exact.

Will the Kings make the playoffs next year?

Even with the somewhat rocky season we've had, we're starting to show signs that we could in fact be a playoff team in the near future. Next year might be a stretch. But, hey, for the first time since [Rick] Adelman, we actually have a top-tier coach who will have the entire off-season to get the team where he wants them. It is very possible.

I see on Twitter that you are a father. What’s the best kids movie these days?

Honestly, early on my wife and I made a commitment to keep our daughter, now 3, away from the TV as much as we could. But we will allow her from time to time to watch a short show on TV. There is some amazing content out there for small kids these days. Such great stories, life lessons, production value, etc. Her favorite is Doc McStuffins or Sheriff Callie's Wild West. Honestly, I think I enjoy them as much as she does.

What’s your next project?

We have several on the books right now, some of which I can't discus. But at the beginning of last week, we shot a regional campaign for Jiffy Lube, then I hopped on a plane to New York City and produced and directed a six-day commercial shoot for a design product company named Stikwood, in collaboration with WeWork.

We're also gearing up for a huge season with Sacramento Republic FC. As I already mentioned above, we're incredibly grateful and blessed to be doing the work that we do. We can only pray that it continues for years to come.