Movies & TV / Columns

Trace De La Torre On Producing Bezos: The Beginning, Working In Independent Film

February 18, 2023 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Bezos The Beginning Image Credit: Trace Entertainment LLC

The 411 Interview: Trace De La Torre

Image Credit: Trace De La Torre

Trace De La Torre is a writer, producer, and entertainment executive. De La Torre has produced such movies as the short films Luna, The Protégé Project: Chapter 1, Lullaby, and The Hunt: Savage Within, and the feature films D-Railed, and Todd. De La Torre is also the founder and CEO of Trace Entertainment, an independent production company that deals with art, film, E-publishing, comics, and AR/VR content. De La Torre’s latest movie is Bezos: The Beginning, which is now available on all Video On Demand platforms and DVD (it’s available via Amazon, Best Bu, Target, and Walmart) and stars Armando Gutierrez, Alexandra Mitchell, Emilio Estefan Jr., Marcus Lemonis, Nick Friedman, Jevon White, and Kevin Sorbo. In this interview, De La Torre talks with this writer about the entertainment business, making Bezos: The Beginning, and more.


Bryan Kristopowitz: How did you get involved in the entertainment business?

Trace De La Torre: I started at Warner Bros. Studios when Warren Lieberfarb, “The Godfather of the DVD,” was at the helm of Warner Home Entertainment phasing out VHS/laser disc technologies and implementing DVD formats. I worked under Michael Schlueter in Sales Logistics, Marketing, and Distribution who built that department from the ground up. Lieberfab and Schlueter are absolute legends. I was blessed to have come up in the industry under such immense leadership. Prior to that, I had stints at the studio in Corporate HR and Corporate Legal. But when I bounced into WHE, I found my home.

BK: What was it like working for Warner Bros? Why did you leave the company after ten years?

TDLT: It was one of the most defining moments of my career. I learned the business shadowing industry legends, and their methods, and basically learned how to swim with the sharks of the Y2 era. When things got insane during tent pole releases such as Harry Potter, The Matrix, and Lord of the Rings, we’d all come in on weekends to monitor the drops — we’re talking millions of units per title worldwide — it was always a white-knuckle ride. Schlueter would say to me, “Trace, you need to grow a thicker skin.” As time went on, we all did. The studio owes a debt of gratitude to him for creating such a successful, lucrative department. His legacy is ultimately in the teams he built. We were a close-knit family which is rare in such a cut-throat industry. After 10 years at the Mothership, I was headhunted to launch a new female-led comic book in London, where I started a life-changing chapter in my career.

BK: You recently started your own independent entertainment company. Why?

TDLT: After a successful 2-3 year run in London with Velica Comics, I returned home and briefly pondered going back to Warner Bros. One day, over lunch with former colleagues, Dr. Das Dasgupta and Thomas Tileston, both legends in their own right, Das asked me, “Trace, what do you really want to do? Go backward, or move forward?” Thom said, “You are such a great leader. You need to find an outlet where you can lead. It’s time to rock-n-roll!” It never occurred to me until then that I could be the architect of my own destiny. So I created Trace Entertainment.

BK: How has the entertainment business changed over the years since you started?

TDLT: It’s literally only been a minute, but the industry has become uber-risk-averse, mostly greenlighting established properties with bankable talent. Production budgets are exorbitant. The DVD is phasing out and digital formats, content, and platforms are king. Consumer viewing habits have shifted away from traditional theatrical experiences to VOD streaming via electronic devices. Price points for entertainment content have also shifted substantially. Emerging technologies in gaming, AR/VR/4D/5D are gaining ground with younger Gen-Y and Z. It’s a whole new world!

Image Credit: Trace Entertainment LLC

BK: Your most recent movie is about Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, called Bezos. How did that movie happen?

TDLT: It was basically a group of friends coming together to invest in an altruistic POV story about one of the greatest cultural icons of our time. We hired Allison Burnett & RV Romero (Autumn in New York and Underworld: Awakening) to write a narrative based on the inspiration book, Zero to Hero by Tashena Ebanks, and amazing Indonesian director, Khoa Le (Walt Before Mickey) to join the SpanglishMedia film family in Miami, where Bezos was entirely shot.

BK: What was the biggest challenge making Bezos?

TDLT: The logistical challenges we faced in filming during the pandemic. Covid-19 hit home with a few members of our film family being struck by the virus. We tragically lost one of our beloved executive producers, Peter A. Lees, to the effects of long-Covid shortly after we wrapped. We were devastated. The film is dedicated to him in the end credits.

BK: Did anyone at Amazon try to get involved in the making of Bezos in any way?

TDLT: Haha. No. But they did acquire our film for distribution. Bezos: The Beginning is available now on Amazon!

BK: What are some of the challenges an indie company like Trace Entertainment faces in the current media landscape?

TDLT: The biggest challenge for true-Indies today is competing with A-List Indies. It’s an unfair advantage. Other than that: Financing. Distribution. Securing eyeballs. ROI.

BK: Is it easier to make/adapt genre material as an independent company, or does genre matter?

TDLT: Not really. Indie films have become their own genre. You just have to produce compelling content people will connect with.

BK: According to imdb you’ve written a short film called Luna. What was that experience like?

TDLT: Baptism by fire! Filmmaking is absolutely Darwinian. I hadn’t a clue about the pain of the process. Luckily, I’m a quick learner and survived. I have the heart of a writer and have been writing short stories since I was 9 years old. Storytelling is my deepest passion. Luna is a neo-noir vampire origins story inspired by the ancient Greek myth of Ambrogio – the 1st vampire in recorded history – and the moon goddess, Selene. I finally completed Luna in Oct. 2022 and am so excited for its release later in 2023.

BK: Do you want to direct something in the future or are you content to remain a sort of “behind-the-scenes” person going forward?

TDLT: I actually co-directed Luna and will absolutely be directing future projects. As a writer, nobody understands your story at a cellular level the way you do. It makes sense to direct. Having your own production company gives you the freedom to be the architect of your own destiny.

BK: Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

TDLT: My 2023-2024 slate is quite full already. Starting with the horror-thriller Craving from famed horror director Jason Horton to be released in March 2023; the dramatic action film Prey of Wrath from Indonesian director Benny Tjandra who co-directed with Japanese director Doug Tochioka, starring martial artist icon Cynthia Rothrock and currently in post-production; the female-led suspense thriller, The 8th Year from director Ed King III with production set in Vancouver in Spring 2023; TITO a biopic from renown actor/producer Damon Whitaker, written by David Guzman on Puerto Rican musical royalty Tito Puente best known for dance-oriented mambo and Latin jazz compositions from his illustrious 50-year career. His most famous song is “Oye Como Va.” He is a recipient of the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Also, MC/Master of Ceremony, also from actor/producer Damon Whitaker and his production company, One House Media. Written by David Guzman, MC is a biopic about the birth of the 80’s break dancing scene, of which David was a pivotal player, and subsequent icon. The projected release date is planned to coincide with the Summer 2024 Paris Olympics, where break dancing has been added as an official Olympic sport. Finally, there’s a horror-comedy called Latinx Vampire Hunters: La Raza Fights Back! and a Bowie-Lennon biopic called, Coffee With Bowie, both of which I am writing. I am feeling so blessed.

BK: What do you hope audiences get out of Bezos?

TDLT: We felt Jeff Bezos hadn’t gotten a fair shake in the media. He has quite literally, gone from Zero-to-Hero-to-VILLAIN. Bezos: The Beginning is not that kind of film. It’s an homage to capitalism and what one can accomplish through sheer grit and relentless pursuit of excellence. It’s also a cautionary tale about the consequences. I’m very proud of our narrative and what we accomplished on a shoestring budget. By the end of filming, we all felt a kinship with Jeff.


A very special thanks to Trace De La Torre for agreeing to participate in this interview and to david j. moore for setting it up.

Bezos: The Beginning is now available on all Video On Demand platforms and on DVD.

Check out the Trace Entertainment Facebook page here!

Check out Trace De La Torre’s imdb page here!

Trace De La Torre image courtesy of Trace De La Torre. Bezos: The Beginning poster image courtesy of Trace Entertainment.