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Eric Gallegos, Producer, and Corbin Billings, Director: BITE SIZE

February 5, 2014
Eric Gallegos

Eric Gallegos

1Q Tell us a little about the origins of BITE SIZE, from concept to financing.

Producer, Eric Gallegos:

Growing up I was always an athlete, so I ate what I wanted without ever having any real consequences—my diet consisted of the dollar menu and five-dollar large pizzas (I’m not joking) from Little Caesars. That all changed when I stopped playing sports in college. By the time I was in my third year, I weighed 215, which is about forty pounds more than what I weigh today. Around that same time, my father was diagnosed with type II diabetes, a disease directly related to obesity that runs in my family.

I realized that if I didn’t make some sort of change I would be headed down the same road. Fast-forward 2-years and 40 pounds later, I felt better both physically and emotionally than I had in my entire life. At that moment I had a burning desire to share this message, and how to make this change, with as many people as possible. I reached out to one of my best friends, fraternity brother, and USC Cinema Graduate Corbin Billings. I pitched him the idea and about a month later we decided it would be a documentary about childhood obesity called Bite Size. Corbin grew up as an overweight child, and had also recently shed the weight, so he was the perfect person to make this film. We assembled a team of talented USC graduates (Andrew Galdi, Joshua Lipton, & Greta McAnany) to produce the film. Almost 3.5 years later, a successful Kickstarter, over 100 pitches and many no’s we were able to secure enough private investment/grants/donations to make this movie a reality.

2Q Cinequest is proud to host the World Premiere of BITE SIZE. Explain to us how it feels to bring this film before audiences for the first time, and what do you think their reaction will be to your film?

Corbin Billings

Corbin Billings

Director, Corbin Billings:

We could not be more excited about Bite Size’s debut at Cinequest! Our intention in creating this film was always to share it. Bite Size is meant to raise awareness about the childhood obesity epidemic in America, not by shocking audiences with statistics, but by revealing the faces and stories behind the numbers. I hope audiences will find it easier to join the movement for a healthier future after they’ve invested emotionally with the characters in our film. Hopefully audiences see something from their own lives reflected in the children’s struggle. The documentary holds up a mirror to show us who we are, how we got here, and the psychological impact it is having on our kids. In this way, we see our future. Not only do we witness the rising health risks should we do nothing to change our course, but we witness the hope of reversing our diagnosis when parents and children alike take personal accountability for their eating and exercise habits. I hope audiences leave the theater with the inspiration to pursue their personal path to health.

3Q  What was your best and/or worst experience while making BITE SIZE?

Director, Corbin Billings:

The best part of making Bite Size was the joy of working with the kids in the movie. Over the years of production, I witnessed each child transform not only physically, but also emotionally. Over countless hours of interviews, they each taught me something very important about life. Davion taught me that if you want something bad enough, it’s always possible to change your attitude and turn your thoughts into reality. KeAnna taught me to make the most with the least, finding beauty and joy in the worst circumstances. Moy taught me the power of confidence and to not let other people’s opinions dictate personal self worth. Emily taught me that sometimes the greatest obstacles we face are ourselves. Their wisdom is my reward for this experience, and it is a truly priceless gift I look forward to passing on to my own children someday.

 4Q Festival audiences often have to make hard decisions about what to see, and the catalog descriptions sometimes run together. In your own words, why should people see your film?

Director, Corbin Billings:

There is one reason to go see Bite Size: The kids. They are cute, but conflicted, funny, yet flawed. They are incredible characters facing overwhelming odds. The fly-on-the-wall style of filmmaking makes the movie almost feel like scripted narrative fiction. The characters are authentic and dynamic, captured in their most intimate moments of tragedy or triumph, revealing the sub-textual economic, racial, and family issues driving the American obesity epidemic. The film is sure to spark a long discussion afterwards about healthy parenting.

5Q  Time to pre-plan: You just won the Best Director Oscar for BITE SIZE. Give us your acceptance speech.

Director, Corbin Billings:

In the film, our list of special thanks credits is far longer than the preceding production credits. This always reminds me how truly blessed the Bite Size team has been while making this film. Luckily, this isn’t really an Academy Award acceptance speech, because I would certainly be played off stage before I finished saying all this…

First and foremost, I would like to thank the four people without whom this film would have never been possible: Moy, Davion, KeAnna, & Emily. These children and their families gave us intimate access to their life struggles, and taught us so much about perseverance and endurance. It takes a great amount of courage to honestly discuss your faults on camera to help others learn from them. I also have to thank the talented four producers on the project, Eric, Joshua, Greta, & Andrew. We have worked together for almost three and a half years to turn this dream into a reality, and I am humbled to work alongside such dedication.

Serving as a producer and cinematographer, Joshua Lipton, is responsible for every breathtaking frame of the film. Words simply fail to describe how lucky I am to possess a friend and colleague of his caliber. He traveled with me on the road for every step of the Bite Size journey across the country, and we became close as brothers in the process. His patience and practicality were the perfect balance to my creative impulsivity. Our thoughtful conversations about the film over the long road trips and in the editing room gave birth to essential character insights.

I also have to express my deep thanks to Tchavdar Georgiev & Monique Zavistovski, the editors who helped me cut the film together. Tchavdar is a true artist with an impeccable understanding of documentary storytelling and structure. It’s hard to say whether I learned more watching him work or listening to his fascinating historical anecdotes about Genghis Khan and Russian World War 2 heroes. Monique was a much-needed mother to the film. I loved watching the expression on her face when she would watch the raw footage. She laughed whenever the kids said something funny and teared up when they would cry. I could tell she loved the kids as much as I did. She was truly the perfect person to help finish the story.

Perhaps one of the film’s greatest strengths is its soundtrack. I am so proud and grateful to have worked with the talented composer, Michael Kramer. He has been a loyal friend to the film for the past 3.5 years, lending us original compositions to feature in trailers and temp passes of the edit before finally orchestrating a deeply emotional musical accompaniment for the film. His work continually brings tears to my eyes.

Of course, the entire Bite Size team would like to thank our families, friends, and investors for their support as we pursued our passions. I would especially like to thank the Wright family, who housed us in Mississippi while we filmed with Davion & KeAnna, and the Patricks, Emily’s family, who allowed us to live with them in their home as we filmed every day. Lastly, I would like to thank everyone who has supported us online, in the field, or via Kickstarter. We truly could not have made this film without you.

See BITE SIZE at Cinequest!
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From → Interviews

One Comment
  1. Noemi Clayton permalink

    Hi Eric, it’s me Noemi one of the ladies that attended to the workshop on James B. Taylor Middle school… I found this book that was given to me in one of my meeting.. the name is: Kids get cookin’! Fast and fun recipes, network for healthy California children’s Power Play… it has several nice recipes that I think you would like to try.. thank you…hope that you find the information is useful…

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