I can’t believe we’re here: Episode 100! This is incredible!
Well, the first IFH Podcast episode went live in September 2015. That’s a short time to be able to produce 100 podcast episodes, but what can I say I’m a hustler.
It allows me to reach more people than I could ever do with just my blog alone, and at the same time create a much deeper connection with them too. Beyond that, it has opened up doors to my filmmaking career, keynote speaking opportunities, potential book deals and more.
THANK YOU IFH TRIBE!
Without you, the Indie Film Hustle Tribe, the IFH Podcast would have never reached episode 100 or become the #1 filmmaking podcast on iTunes! I owe you guys so much, and that’s why I’m extremely excited for the next 100 episodes of this podcast.
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This Weeks Special Guest – Aaron Kaufman & Brian Levin
In this special episode of the show, I have a chat with Aaron Kaufman. Not only was he Robert Rodriguez’s producer on films like Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Machete and Machete Kills but he also directed a film called Urge starring James Bond Legend Pierce Bronson.
I grilled poor Aaron on all things, Robert Rodriguez, working with big stars, dealing with studios with $50 Million+ budgets in the balance and much more.
We also invite later on the show one of Aaron Kaufman’s producing partners, Brian Levin, from their new film Flock of Dudes starring Chris D’Elia, Hilary Duff, Jamie Chung, and Ray Liotta. I had a ball speaking with these guys.
Here’s to the Next 100 Episodes!
Thank you all so much for your support! Here’s to the next 100 episodes! If you have any guest suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!
Keep that hustle going, keep that dream alive and I’ll talk to you soon.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Aaron Kaufman man thank you so much for reaching out to me man I'm excited to have you on the show.
Aaron Kaufman 19:42
Yeah, it's I really like your show. Thanks so much for having me.
Alex Ferrari 19:43
Thanks, man. How'd you find but just out of morbid curiosity, how did you find out about me or like
Aaron Kaufman 19:50
No, I mean I actually really love that there's this sort of podcast community building. You know, I like like john Auguste show great mazes. Great. You know, obviously MPR does the business. But if you look up if you google like that, you know the good film, podcast, you come up on those all the time. So once once I started getting into those, I was like, what else is out there? And that's kind of how I came across it.
Alex Ferrari 20:13
Yeah, there's a lot of great filmmaking podcasts out there, and they're building more getting more and more, there's a bunch more and more coming up every day. So it's just such a wealth of information. I mean, such a wealth of information,
Aaron Kaufman 20:23
which is great, because when I was when I started, there was not there was nothing Oh, yeah, you would, you would like look, you would have to go to like the the dove. Whatever that guy's name is stuff. Simmons. Simmons. Simmons, weekend course.
Alex Ferrari 20:36
Today, uh, today film school? Yep. And I actually had Doug was number in my eighth guest. He was on show number eight, and he's still exactly the way you remember him.
Aaron Kaufman 20:47
I only only remembered a couple things. One, I remember I only went because I was told and I don't know that this is true, because I haven't been able to confirm it. That Quentin Tarantino in blonde to his Yes, yeah, Will Smith. But I know quintard you know, and I asked him about it. And he really did get me. I don't know that it's true. Like he's sort of looked at me confused. It's I don't actually know that he that that's true. I don't know for breaking the story here. But Wow,
Alex Ferrari 21:09
It's so so that's been this big. That has been his big calling card for the last two decades.
Aaron Kaufman 21:14
It's possible, but I wasn't able to confirm it. And then to I'm trying to think about the the advice at the time. And the biggest piece of advice I remember Doug giving was that you got to treat your actors. Well, you should cut the bagels beforehand, for the actors don't have to cut the whole mix.
Alex Ferrari 21:33
That's actually quite great advice.
Aaron Kaufman 21:36
I've gotten in the position I'm in today.
Alex Ferrari 21:39
And the other great I had a great piece of advice from an old dp when I was on set once and you know, I was on an indie It was like a small budget, you know, music video or something. And the producer came I ever was what's for lunch? And the DP just turned to me and said, Oh my god, they're spinning wheels of death. Do you know what spinning wheels of death are?
Aaron Kaufman 21:59
Is that vaguely that would bagels? No, those are pizzas. Oh God, because there's no protein. And it's all it's all bread.
Alex Ferrari 22:04
It's just all bread. And it just slows the crew down. And it's it's just cheap food, you know, generally speaking, so you'd never want to feed your crew. Now, if you can help it maybe once in a blue moon, but if you can
Aaron Kaufman 22:16
Grab services, my specialty.
Alex Ferrari 22:20
So how did you get into the crazy world of filmmaking? Man? Wow, I
Aaron Kaufman 22:23
Always wanted to I mean, since I can remember, I don't really I don't really have other interests or other talents or, or anything like that. When I was young, no, it was I guess, 1314. And I wanted to, I think I saw do the right thing when I was 14. And, and that was and I was like, blown away. Because I didn't before that I really know what a director really did or was and I think Steven Spielberg was probably the only other director I was aware of. And then what was cool was Spike Lee actually wrote these books. I don't know if you ever I don't know if you ever saw them or not. Yeah, they they're great. In fact, I think they still are great. But what was cool about it is he kept these journals. And he published them. So like, Robert did it like Robert did? Yeah. But it was before Robert. And actually, I was surprised when I met Robert, initially that he was a big fan of those books. Because I didn't know anybody else would love them. But like she's got to have it. School Days and do the right thing. And then I think he did them. He did them for a while. I think he did them all the way up to Mach max. Oh, wow. But yeah, but what was cool about him was he really kept a journal. And a lot of the questions I had like, what the fuck does a director he answered those himself, you know, we're like, what is this? Or how do you do this? Or when do you do that? Or how much should this cost, and he literally has an image, if you read the one for her, she's got to have it, he literally moved, he like, rented a editing, you know, flatbed and moved it into his studio apartment. And he's writing about trying to figure out how to how to work, you know, so he, he really started from that point. And because there's when you read film books, normally from like, we read the books of great directors, it's always like, I was born. And then when I directed my first feature, yada, yada, yada. They're like, Whoa, what happened in between? Like, you know, how did you how did you make this movie? You know, how did this happen? And so his was the first I'd read where he really got into the nitty gritty. And then from there, I was really off, but um, it took me a while I was I spent a lot of my 20s doing other things. But when I was, I guess about 27 or so, I had my first job in entertainment, which was, um, I may be a little older. I was 28 maybe. But I started working for Chris Blackwell, at Palm Pictures, which was the company started after after Island Records, and that was my first exposure. And that was great because I got to touch, you know, everything from music to film. He was even doing some really early online stuff at the time, and so it was is a great place to sort of start learning a lot about the business and then from there it's been step by step you know trying to produce and then eventually producing films and then eventually working with Robert Rodriguez and then directing and then talking to you
Alex Ferrari 25:15
so since you bring Robert up on by the way, but I'm just gonna step back for a second for all the kids in the audience a flatbed is how you used to edit film and that there's this thing called film that that you shoot movies on and if you guys haven't seen it she's got to have it if I'm not if I'm not mistaken that's his first feature right? That's his first one yeah, so she's gotta have it was kind of like some kind of great no it's an amazing I remember seeing it in film school and then during that time because it was she's got to have it is one of the he's like he was at that he was at that moment of time where all the independent the big independent movement started right before Quentin and mariachi and clerks and and sex lies and videotape. It was all during those like late 80s, early 90s and the the independent explosion and spike was right there, which he's got to have and he's one of the first guys to come out the gate.
Aaron Kaufman 26:09
Yeah, I saw that in high school. And then because I saw I think I saw do I think first and then went back and sorted out the mood. Yeah. But But then, I remember like hearing about the Sundance Film Festival for the first time when I was in maybe 11th grade. And Steven Soderbergh. And then, you know, the whole Quentin Roberts thing happened after that, and that was when I mean there was such a vitality now. That's fine that it's it's almost a bummer now. Because you know, that's the it just, it's it's that time I you just not gonna have another time like that. I think in the foreseeable future.
Alex Ferrari 26:45
It was like it's basically like the 70s like, you'll never see a run of movies and directors explode like they did in the 70s. It was just a different time. You know, having Scorsese to taxi driver and EZ rider and the godfathers and jaws and all these kinds of guys just blow up. Same thing happened for the 90s that that little early part of the 90s, late 80s, early 90s of that independent explosion came out. Yeah, it's and it's something that I don't I think there's gonna be something like that again. But it'll be different like now, but I just there's just so much now.
Aaron Kaufman 27:18
I thought in the early mid 2000s, I thought you would see it because there was that like Michel Gondry? Yeah. Oh, God.
Alex Ferrari 27:27
Yeah, the commercial guys. Yeah. And Mark Womack, and
Aaron Kaufman 27:29
those guys ensure and all those guys, yeah, Chris Cunningham, who actually never has still not made a feature.
Alex Ferrari 27:35
But did Chris cut did Chris Cunningham do inspector get? No, that's David Kellogg.
Aaron Kaufman 27:40
Yeah, I think I think Chris is still not made it but he's crazy. He's amazing. Those big short videos.
Alex Ferrari 27:46
Oh, God, amazing stuff. Amazing.
Aaron Kaufman 27:48
And so that was sort of I thought, you know, obviously, we got some, you know, Mark Romanek, and we got out of out of that time, but that's like the last sort of movement of any kind. I think you can probably add Sophia Roman Coppola tonight as well. But but there hasn't been and I was always thought even back then, because Palm Pictures owned a magazine called rez magazine, which was started by a couple guys in a friend of mine named john schoolies. And they were really early to the digital world, you know, this was like back to, you know, be really, in 2000 2001. And I really thought that that, that the digital would bring in sort of a new wave because now there's all these people that have a voice that can now make a film. I mean, I I'm old enough to remember taking film courses that we had to we because we're dealing with film short answer millimeter, well, not only doing short ends, but where you would direct a shot, and then you would move over and the next person because you're because you're dealing with the you know how expensive film is now it's like, people can do stuff on their, on their phones. I'm waiting for that crest and that wave of sort of new filmmakers and and I'm sure they're, they're here, they're, you know, you're in, in spots. But there hasn't been like a movement of brand new filmmakers that come out
Alex Ferrari 29:10
of that. And I feel and I feel that and now we're, again off a little bit off the subject, but I'll say this one thing, and then we'll move on, because I feel that that there is a lot of talent now and you can see it and there's these kids who like that, like oh, I already made my first feature 14 I'm like, you know, go screw yourself. Now. You and me are like john sonova, you know, and I love it. I know I love it, too. I love it. But I'm like, I wish I just haven't.
Aaron Kaufman 29:34
It just hasn't. There's a lot of stuff being created. But I don't know that there's a lot of you know, there isn't the voices per se. Right to to support
Alex Ferrari 29:45
right. And also, I think the other big aspect is even if there is some good work out there, trying to break through the noise. You have to have a marketing degree. You have to have an audience you have to have so many different things just to get noticed. Sometimes it's your time It's really, really tough to, to break through as opposed to the early 90s. Like clerk like Kevin Smith said, He's like, if I show up with clerks today, I would never get no one would even look at me.
Aaron Kaufman 30:11
And I said, Is anything about the movie that that is integral to me? is Larry Clark kids? Oh, I think about that, because that was at that moment, especially in New York. Oh, every everybody of my generation. Yeah, that's their, you know, that's their American Graffiti. I remember he says, about our generation, but that movie today, I don't, you know, it would be tough to get that movie, a digital release. You know, like it getting any kind of real support around a digital release for it would be difficult. It was it was difficult. Again, you have something like, like Shaun Baker, who did tangerine, you know that that pops out. And that's interesting. I just, I'd like to, I'd love to see more stuff like that, where, you know, you're, you're seeing people use new technology in different ways.
Alex Ferrari 30:59
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So let's get into the the question you brought up or you brought him up earlier today, you work with the legendary Robert Rodriguez, how did you get involved working with Robert,
Aaron Kaufman 31:11
I've worked, I worked I worked with Robert from, I guess 2009, up until about 2015. And was left to direct my first feature, but I, I had talked to Robert a few times. And I guess I had tried to pitch him projects, which when I got to work with him, I realized how futile those times was like, cool. I'm, you know, I'm trying to pitch Robert Rodriguez. And maybe we'll do it and then I realized work with him like, Oh, I'd never never really had a chance to mostly because he he really generates so much of his of his work by by themselves, which is what makes them super special. But um, but eventually I kind of asked, you know, what was it that you if he wanted to do, you know, and he was in a bit of a transitional period after Grindhouse, and but he's still he still wanted to sort of explore that, you know, Ryan house and met with sort of, not the response that they were they were looking for, I think, I think he still felt like, man, there's something there. And he just didn't want to, you know, kind of move on and admit defeat. And so we talked about machete, he said, You know, I have this sort of 40 page outline of what I want to do. And I'd like to make it into a feature. And I immediately was like, great. Yeah, I mean, he I knew machete I remember that was the first image that comes up on the on Grindhouse, and the just like, like I was, I was in love immediately, because it was just everything I had grown up with, and it was all distilled into this, this, this trailer, and it's kind of masterful, and so I was I was in, you know, like a, like a cold number. Right? You drank the Kool Aid. So I was like, whatever. Yeah, it was like, I will kill I'll do whatever I have to do to get this done. And it was, um, it had an interesting path where, you know, I went down to Austin, and I got to see troublemaker which he had built, which was his own studio, which he had had from Spy Kids on. From like, 2000, I think are on he had this studio, which was like a decommissioned airport that they used to use for the governor. And he now had his own green screen his own soundstages upon everything. Yeah, yeah. And it was it for me. I was once I saw that it was it was oh, you know, I was I was I was like, I'll figure out how to how to move down here and work here because there was just nothing. There's no there's no equivalent You know, there's really I mean, maybe maybe Peter Jackson and maybe George Lucas right. You know, as far as having your own fiefdom but but he is was it was just outrageous, you know, and then also, I'm, I'm a real fan of old. I really love anything that's kind of old showbiz. And there was kind of even though we're in Texas and it was 115 degrees or whatever, it was down there. It had kind of an old showbusiness feel to it because you had you know you had your costume department and you had your you know, this department and you had makeup inherent and everything was set up and he had a staff on board and all of his staff were like really film nerds you know they really were focused on the craft and so it was just amazing and I we initially were going to put machete together as a small sort of direct video product and his remember Robert really was like look the only thing that you know has to stay constant is getting trailer has to play we should of course Yeah, well you say of course but you know, there were other people that would have made this movie with him and there's other people that would have financed this movie with him but they were like great get Antonio Banderas to play machete and we're you know, we'll give you $25 million right and and he really stuck to his guns It was like no machete is Danny Trejo Dini trail is machete there's just you know, there's just no two ways about it. And I said yeah, to me, I thought the same way course. So I remember, it was funny. When we first sat down and we were in Austin. I remember two things distinctly one was we called Danny Trejo and he was like, I'm gonna call him and let him know, you know, because this is the first time Danny was ever the star of a movie.
Alex Ferrari 35:16
Right? He's always been he's always been the he's the character actor.
Aaron Kaufman 35:19
Oh yeah, it's really interesting. I know people catch it. But if you go and look at machete, what's interesting is we we went through other movies that that Danny had done, where he got killed by the main star, and he had been killed by Steven Seagal a number of times. You know, he gets killed and he, which he did with Robin. Yeah, so we started going and populating the movie with people who he who had been killed him in the past, and now puts
Alex Ferrari 35:46
it on the screen. That's brilliant. That's actually quite brilliant. It's
Aaron Kaufman 35:48
actually it's actually the only time Steven Seagal little trivia. One time Steven Seagal ever dies on screen is in Michigan. And I remember that was a big deal on set that day, but it was just cool. You know, he was top of the call sheet and it was great. But Robert calls him Clinton down. And I guess he was in Louisiana shooting something. And, you know, we're like, great, we're gonna do it. He was so excited. He was so great, which he is he's actually just a really lovely guy. And, and he says, He, I asked them, I said, Well, what, you know, what are you shooting now? And all of a sudden, he pauses. And you hear him open the door to his to his trailer and yell out to somebody, what's the name of his movie? And the person tells you back whatever it was, I forget actually what it was. But he comes back and tells me and Robert and I were laughing zone like, with Danny, you don't know the name of the movie that you're starring in? And he goes, man, I work
Alex Ferrari 36:46
Oh, Does he ever
Aaron Kaufman 36:48
stuff but but he's a great guy. And so that that was sort of the beginning but but what ended up happening was he had such a good vibe about it, the project and people were so supportive of it, that all of a sudden, we're starting to get inbound calls from from people saying, you know, I would do something on this movie, or I would, you know, come down or I would do this and, and Robert, really, to his credit created such an environment down there, where it was really fun for people, you know, so it wasn't like, Hey, we're, you know, we're shooting this in Bulgaria, we're shooting this, whatever it was, like, come down to Austin, the way Robert shoots and get you shot out in three, four or five days. Yeah, I
Alex Ferrari 37:22
was gonna ask you, I was gonna ask. And I know a lot of people always wonder about this, I know the answer. But I want you to kind of tell the audience is how he's able to get this amazing cast, like he gets these these amazing, like a listers to come in and do big parts in his movies. And you look at SimCity, or even my chapter, how does he do it? So please explain it to the audience. We can?
Aaron Kaufman 37:42
Well, yeah, I mean, I think the real the first answer is that, you know, they're fans of his work. And, and I think that, you know, people look at his movies, and they think, you know, there's, you know, john No, the Johnny Depp has ever looked as cool as he has in movies ever looked as amazing and she's looked in his movie. So, you know, for people, it's not that it's, you know, if I were an actor, I would want you know, I would want him to do my posting like, it's true, great sees, he creates these iconic images, you know, but I think that's one level. And then I think the other thing is that he has created an environment down there where, you know, you're going down to Austin, which, you know, for a couple days is a is, is really a great fun place to be, he has this environment where you're not really being, you know, you're not being hassled in the way that you are, but he also creates this thing where, you know, it's and I've tried to keep this with me, it's pretty down to earth, you know, he doesn't really like the whole hierarchy, you know, he likes when people hang out on set, he doesn't really love when people are just in their trailers the whole time. And he fosters that kind of environment where, you know, he's, he's got easel set up with paints and stuff and an artist, so that actors can be, you know, painting portraits and stuff while they're while you know, while they're waiting, instead of being back in their, in their trailer, it just creates like a really artistic and, and really creative environment. And that's when I really started to, I mean, of course, I always knew the importance of the creative, but he really drilled into everybody that it was kind of the only thing that was important. You know, like, it doesn't like, like being creative, being able to express yourself, even if you're not an expert. If you're not an expert painter, you're not expert musician, but just the fact that you're taking your expression and putting it out there is going to make it interesting. That's a really interesting thing. I think for creative people like actors, that's very attractive. And so looking for that opportunity there, they'll come down and then also organizationally, he really knows production very well. And so and he knows editing very well which I found was was very interesting in the sense of he knew that you know, he would know exactly what he needed from someone so he didn't really need to shoot a whole lot outside of what he needed. You know, he'll stop somebody in the middle of something that's okay look, I'm cutting here, so just take it to here. And he so he knows in his head exactly where the cuts are, as he's shooting and it makes it a lot easier and more efficient. So He can shoot somebody out in three or four days. And that's something I've seen him do quite a bit. So the it's, you know, it's him, it's often and it's also that, you know, they're not coming down for 10 weeks, they're coming down for, you know, four days
Alex Ferrari 40:14
right now. And that's like producing a movie like machete and Machete Kills is it as crazy as it is looks like on screen,
Aaron Kaufman 40:23
it's, I would say no, in the sense of we, I mean, I walked into an environment down there, which was pretty, they were pretty well oiled team to begin with. And then my philosophy on things, you know, I'm not a yeller screamer kind of drama person, you know, I like when things are pretty easy going. So you would actually be surprised on the set on our set, how quiet and how sort of efficient it is. I mean, we have a lot of fun. And a lot of the, you know, the stuff that we're doing is, you know, like I would get to go to so there were days where like, I would come to work on Monday, and we were blowing something up. And then the next day, you know, machete is we're trying to figure out how to how to rig a scene where he's pulling someone's intestines out. Yes. So you know, your, your job is definitely not dull. But there's there really wasn't a lot of like, you know, the set itself ran ran like a pretty well oiled machine. And even actors. And even actors that were, you know, known to be difficult on other sets, they tended to be in a different mindset when they came down to work with us. Because they, they, they kind of knew that there wasn't room for the shenanigans. So people were generally on their best behavior when they when they came down, and they enjoyed the
Alex Ferrari 41:40
process. Now, let me let me ask you a question, how this is just a side tip. And of course, you can't name names, but I'm sure you've worked with difficult actors in your, in the past? Yes. What are some tips that you would give a director who happens to be dealing with a big personality who's just acting up or just being a brat? or things like that on a set, especially when the personalities are big? Well,
Aaron Kaufman 42:05
it's a good question. It's not a it's not a easy question to answer. But, but I'll answer it this way, for first and foremost, if you're a first time director, and you're getting a chance to work with talent, even if they're the greatest people ever, but there are big talent. It's it's intimidating, you know, so there's a lot of that that's going on, I would say the first thing to do with people that are difficult is to really take a beat before you react, write a don't initially take it personally, because that's what everybody does, you know, when it's like, Okay, well, I'm going to be offended, and I hate him. And now he hates me, and now, and then this just develops into, you know, terrible this. So I wouldn't, I would say, you know, take a beat, and ask yourself, why is this happening? Right? Because there are a lot of times where you have an actor who doesn't feel comfortable, right, you have an actor who doesn't feel like he's getting enough direction, you have an actor who's self conscious, who doesn't really feel confident about the scene. And I would say, a good half of the time, that's where the sort of bad behavior is coming from, is that and if you can address those things, you'll see that change and, and that's something you have to learn the other 50% of times, you might just be dealing with people that are terrible. People,
Alex Ferrari 43:15
and why in Hollywood know
Aaron Kaufman 43:17
it, but it happens, right? And so if you, if you take a beat, and that's your deduction, you know, the one thing you need to be able to do is you do have to maintain control, a lot of a lot of ways, that's your job as a director is, you know, just being at the helm. And, and, and being able to say, okay, you know, this is, this is my set. And this is how we're going to, we're going to do this. And so you can do have to do that, my suggestion is that you wait for those moments, and then you bring it out when you have to bring it out. Because it happens, you know, you have an actress who woke it out of her trailer or takes too long and she's eating into your time, you know, there are the times where you have to go to their trailer yourself and handle it. And that's, that's something I would recommend is you know, there are a lot of ways to kind of avoid confrontation because you can have your your ad do better, you'd have your somebody else to one of the best things to do is to try to handle it yourself at times, because there's stuff that they'll pull with. If you have somebody who's a problem person. There's stuff that they'll pull with, you know, with other people on the set that they won't necessarily pull with the director,
Alex Ferrari 44:21
or the producer for that
Aaron Kaufman 44:22
matter. Yeah. With that being being the director has a lot more weight than being a producer.
Alex Ferrari 44:30
Now, did you ever hear the story of Frank Oz and Marlon Brando?
Aaron Kaufman 44:34
I have it's actually one of my favorite where he where he said, I'm not one of your Muppets,
Alex Ferrari 44:39
right? Yeah. You can't wait for the audience. This Frank Oz who's a really great director, and also the voice of Yoda. And also a voice of I think the Muppets he was he was a puppeteer.
Aaron Kaufman 44:52
He's a Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, which
Alex Ferrari 44:54
is, oh my God. He did yeah, I mean, he's He's really good. He's a really good director. And he was Directly movie called the score if I if I remember correctly. I also think that we're Norton, Edward Norton, Robert De Niro and the late Marlon Brando and Marlon would not allow him on set. He had to direct from his trailer and the only way he would talk to him as if Robert De Niro was it would would be the middle person yeah and I guess because he was Marlon Brando he got away with it like because yeah,
Aaron Kaufman 45:23
I mean I you know, it's interesting I always heard those stories and then obviously the Island of Dr. Moreau stories oh that's hilarious where he had like a ice bucket and he insisted on wearing in his head yeah during the scenes and and all this other stuff but what's interesting is if you that documentary that that that guy Steven Riley did this movie Marlon if you watch that and it's it's interesting because you you get a real feel for Brando that he a lot of that the torture a lot of the bad behavior quote unquote that he was that he was guilty of a lot of it a came from the fact that he was bored you know that a lot of times just the the Act was he just wasn't finding enough to get him that excited. And to that he was trying to bring something interesting. If you go back and watch the Island of Dr. Moreau like if you watch the documentary about a couple that was called, but it just makes Marlon Brando look like a monster. Then you go back and watch Don Island Dr. Moreau and you go hey, this is not a great movie. But But what's great about it is everything weird that mark Brando is doing
Alex Ferrari 46:29
he's trying to do something basically so
Aaron Kaufman 46:31
I don't exactly I've forgotten exactly what the where the rift started between him and Frank Oz but obviously he got to a point where he was just like, you know, I don't trust this person and he's gonna be a monster and he was of a mindset that it he wasn't worried about getting work in the future. He wasn't worried about anything. He's Marlon Brando. Yeah. So so that's that but but yeah, the Muppets story is is is is hysterical, but Frank Oz to me he's actually done a bunch of cool movies. And and I I've never met him, but I've heard he's a really nice guy.
Alex Ferrari 47:02
Yeah, man. And he's for god sakes. He's the voice of Yoda. I mean, seriously, I mean, that'll that alone gets you drinks wherever you go for the rest of your life, I think so you also worked on another little film called Sin City the sequel to Sin City with with Robert What was it like jumping into that that seat? Because I mean, Sin City was a game changing movie it was like you know is iconic what Robert did with the first one. So to come back and do the second one How did that feel? And how what are some stories you could tell me
Aaron Kaufman 47:34
super scary. Really scary. I mean, I when I started working with him, obviously I was a big fan of really all of his work. Really everything Robert had done including the Spy Kids movies, and but obviously since it was just such a landmark movie and the idea of getting back into that world and you know, continuing the stories because I was a big fan of the comics. In fact, that was one of our first conversations that kind of hit it off with Robert and I were not about Frank Miller but about Frank frazetta. And you know, the those conversations where I told him what a big fan I was and we started talking about that I think he cared way more about that than any knowledge that I may have had about about film or filmmaking. And so the I was a huge Frank Miller fan and the idea of going back and some of the other stories that I knew had been written and not published to bring those into you know make those a movie out of those was just so interesting. And you know, so I wanted to make it I won't get into the whole the vagaries of it all but the just the rights and getting it to just the point where we could make that movie really so I mean, there's a probably a book in there because they had done it originally with Miramax, right REMAX was owned by Disney at the time. Yep. And then the Weinstein's had left as well, The Weinstein Company and then Disney, Disney didn't hadn't hadn't renewed the rights and and so at some point, and then Frank Miller had, you know, claims on the right so that's one point there was like five different entities from the the new Miramax the new Weinstein Company, Disney, Frank Miller, a couple other guys that that were that essentially all challenged the rights and said, you know, we own that. So just cleaning that up, took about a year. Okay. And it was Yeah, it was it was to the point where every once in a while Rob would say maybe it's not meant to be, you know, and so, between the two of us that was like, No, we, we have to do this right to get it made. And then so that we did that, and ultimately, what people don't necessarily realize is since 82, we made that independently. It was released by the Weinstein's but we actually put that together as a pretty large independent movie.
Alex Ferrari 49:55
You mean so you guys you mean Robert finances himself? No, he didn't.
Aaron Kaufman 50:00
But he helped to finance it he helped to put it together Robert Roberts actually outside of the filmmaker credit credit that I gave him he he actually picked up the film finance and in sort of the business side of things and he picked a lot of that up very quickly and he would get involved so he and I can I actually put it together piece by piece from you know equity and foreign sales to debt etc There were a lot of people that ended up working on getting that made but it was it was pretty much it was a pretty crazy achievement even before cameras roll on on the movie then as far as the creative goes you know getting that script to a point where you know it was going to make fans you know there was such a the the the fan involvement was something I was not really familiar with you know I did Comic Con for the first time with machete
Alex Ferrari 50:52
that's a circus that a half isn't it?
Aaron Kaufman 50:55
Oh man in some ways it's great and in some ways it's super scary because you're we did a haulage presentation that's like 7000 people yeah, that was the that was where Robert announced that that if we ever did a third machete it would be machete in space
Alex Ferrari 51:12
Aaron Kaufman 51:12
that was like I remember just like 5000 phones in Twitter accounts you know like lighting up immediately but but anyway so I was not aware of of that prior Robert was Robert really knows the fans and he himself is really kind of like a super fan when it comes to that world. I was I have that background and that's interesting to me but I'm not as sort of into the vitality of what a comic comic book fan today is really looking for. Robert knows because he is that guy and so he would tell me like oh they're not gonna like this or they're not gonna like it or they're gonna go crazy over this and and he It was good that he had that kind of feel for it cuz I didn't but yeah no the the you know there were times because you're trying to put this cast together and there were times where the producer side of me was like alright, well we can't get this person or this person not available What do you think about this person? And he looked at me like now it's not gonna work you can't replace you know this character or that character because the fans are going nuts
Alex Ferrari 52:13
yeah he's right now
Aaron Kaufman 52:15
yeah so he was totally right and and so it was it was a lot of pressure from all sides to to get that done and but the actual making of that movie went pretty flawlessly you know, we did a lot basically all of a green screen down in Austin and the The production was was actually that was a fun shoot to shoot
Alex Ferrari 52:33
that yeah and yeah is and the one of the things I said least from the behind the scenes and all the things I've read about Sin City is that the reason was able to get people in and out is because he shot everything green screen. So sometimes, you know, Marv would be having a conversation with with Jessica Alba and neither of them were in the room. Like one of them went there and the other one wasn't, and so on and so forth. He would just composite them later.
Aaron Kaufman 52:54
It happens. I mean, if you look at for the first movie, there's the bar scene which I think there's like a d&d extra. I don't watch TV the extras anymore, but
Alex Ferrari 53:03
honestly, this DVD you speak of
Aaron Kaufman 53:04
Yeah, exactly. There's TV extra will show that the bar scene was basically has everybody I mean, it's Mickey Rourke. climo. And Bruce was just God. And they're all in that in that one long bar scene. And I don't think any of them were in the room with each other at the same time.
Alex Ferrari 53:19
Yeah, I know. It's It was pretty like I still remember when I saw Sin City and my mouth just dropped because it was it was at the time when I was making my first film. And it inspired me so much. I was just like, well, Robert, in general, it's been one of my big inspirations. But that movie when I was just like, no one has ever seen anything like that. And how amazing is it that in today's day and age and what SimCity one I think was only about 1011 years ago that came out that you can create something that no one has ever seen before. He literally created a real black and white movie. Like Natalie, I
Aaron Kaufman 53:55
mean, like there's a way to think about it. There's a lot of stuff in that movie where if you were pitching it, there are a lot of objections to why that would be would not work right it's it's it's a it's an anthology film. Yeah, yeah, it's no it's a noir you know, it's super violent. Super violent. Yeah. So so there's a lot of reasons why that didn't work. But why it did work was it people just never experienced anything like that before? And I think that I mean, that could be I'm definitely partial but when I look at a lot of these sort of green screen movies that have made sense, I don't know that any have really been able to go back and and, and replicate the just a pure joy that it was the movie for the first time.
Alex Ferrari 54:35
Well, I know Frank Miller was very vocal in saying that Zack Snyder had a lot to Oh, Robert for 300
Aaron Kaufman 54:45
I think Zack Snyder probably said as well, because it's
Alex Ferrari 54:47
just like I mean serious. I mean, 300 I mean, we can get I don't want to get off on that tangent on Zack but 300 was also one of those movies that you Jesus. I've never seen anything like that. But I think the thing that broke that door open was in-city and Robert Robert broke that door open
Aaron Kaufman 55:01
for sure. In fact, I think I believe Warner Brothers came down and actually checked out kick the tires to sort of get get a feel for how he did it because there was there was actually a certain amount I don't think people understand this part is there was a certain amount of r&d that Robert did prior before he even went to go see Frank Miller there was a r&d that he did he did just to see could could couldn't do this.
Alex Ferrari 55:24
Right. He actually had a pitch video that he put together for to convince Frank because Frank said absolutely not. a million
Aaron Kaufman 55:31
things right. Frankie had a bad experience with was Robocop to Robocop and he was like
Alex Ferrari 55:37
I'm out of here. I don't want to deal with Hollywood. And yeah, and I was actually in the I was actually in the hall h when Grindhouse was being announced. Oh, wow, that was that was that was because Grindhouse I we got it. I love Grindhouse. But I was like when I saw it in the theater, I was one of the few people that
Aaron Kaufman 55:56
I went to a midnight showing of it when the Thursday before the Friday came out. I mean, I was I could not have been more excited for a movie then.
Alex Ferrari 56:04
And you and you were around when he was producing predators as well. Right?
Aaron Kaufman 56:08
Yeah, well, that was kind of cool. Because we when I'm saying like, as far as the old, old showbiz kind of quality of troublemaker was, um, you know, when we were doing machete, predators was getting produced at the same time. And so we had almost like a backlog going in troublemaker where we'd walk. You know, we'd be walking one way and you'd see a brother. Yeah, Danny dress up as machete with like, a severed head. And then the other way, you would see, you know, guys dressed up as predators walking the other way,
Alex Ferrari 56:36
having having coffee and smoking a cigarette, right?
Aaron Kaufman 56:40
Like Roger performing days, I was I was in hog heaven. Like, I was like, it doesn't get any better than this.
Alex Ferrari 56:45
Yeah, that was. So that was a fun film as well, that was such a fun film, to watch predators. So then, so after you've, you've got this, you know, you you, obviously, you learned a heck of a lot working with Robert. And
Aaron Kaufman 56:59
I think the period that that was before my work with Robert, I learned a lot coming from New York world, you earn a lot, you learn a lot on how to kind of be scrappy, and where to find money, and how to put projects together. And those things, and I'm happy that I had that first. Because it really taught me to just sort of not take no for an answer and how to get something, get something made. The next phase working with Robert really taught me the value of the creative and sort of how movies can get made on a broader, bigger scale, but also using that same kind of mentality, you know, because we would try to always make a movie for less than what, you know, we had available to us, you know, we'd always try to, if we could get, you know, 40 million, we'd make it for 30, just because it gave us the flexibility to make what we what we wanted. And so that was, you know, sort of what I learned in that phase, and then just pure production because we were making a movie every nine months when I was there. And so you're just constantly in in production and your that is really the better than any kind of school I could have. Like I could have gone to
Alex Ferrari 58:07
Yeah, I remember when Spy Kids was I mean Spy Kids kind of like launched Robert, I think financially it's his biggest thing right? Still to this day. I think the Spy Kids trilogy.
Aaron Kaufman 58:17
I mean, they're juggling huge. Yeah, we're all pretty huge.
Alex Ferrari 58:20
They were huge successes. I remember on the first one, I think the Weinstein's gave him like 20 million or something like that to make the first one. And then
Aaron Kaufman 58:28
when any of them though, if you look at them the amount of visual effects.
Alex Ferrari 58:32
Oh, no, no, it's it's insane. But my point was, like, on the second one, they were like, Hey, we won't give you more money. Robert was like, nope, no, I'll do it for the same. And, and that was his unit
Aaron Kaufman 58:41
of value. And it's something that I try to remember, I don't always remember. But it's true. But he knew the value of Leave me alone. And I will make something good. And you know, and if you look at SimCity, you know, something that different that weird, you know, that original, if he had made that movie for $120 million, forget, there's no way because you just without much to lose, you'd have people just pulling all over you second guessing, you know, shouldn't really be in black and white. That's the whole thing that's been black one, can we do this? Can we do that? You know, could could these YouTube influencers be the star, you know, whatever.
Alex Ferrari 59:19
So with that said, with that said, because you bring up a very good point, what is your whole take on this whole YouTube influencers or social media stars, going into traditional media, where many times they might be a hit in their medium, which is making funny YouTube videos, or doing things like that, but when they try to translate that into another platform, that they're just, you know, they're not actors? They're not. They don't have those skill sets. They don't have those kinds of things. I see a lot of that happening lately. I think Hollywood starting to get burned a lot from it. What do you What's your opinion on it?
Aaron Kaufman 59:52
You can't You can't fault them for trying, right? If you're looking, they're looking and saying, Okay, this person's able to do You know, people to watch whatever they're doing 40 million times that, you know, just logically that should probably translate, you know, to to the theater. I personally think that all of this could be good. It's fine. It but it's not. It's not predictive because it doesn't really have anything to do with the quality of a film. You know, you you can have somebody who's super fake, you know, Kim Kardashian is super famous. But if you put her in a starring role in a movie, that doesn't mean you have
Alex Ferrari 1:00:32
a successful movie, it would be glitter,
Aaron Kaufman 1:00:34
or never was Pamela Anderson's movie barbed wire, you know, I mean, I
Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
think barbed wire was actually a little bit better than glitter. I'm gonna say, I'm gonna go out on a limb here.
Aaron Kaufman 1:00:44
Let's just spend the rest of this time just debating the barbed wire verse glitter,
Alex Ferrari 1:00:49
Aaron Kaufman 1:00:53
But but you know what I'm saying. So that's the, that's the the issues, whenever you've seen that, where you're basically just exploitative of someone's fame, it doesn't, it doesn't really translate because they're different things, you know what I want to, if I'm somebody who will watch a reality show, that doesn't mean I'm going to spend you know, my money on a Friday to go see that person in the movie, I still want to know him to get a good story. And to get a good movie, someone like Tom Cruise people go, Oh, I know, that, you know, that's going to be this kind of movie that I enjoy, I'm gonna go see it. And that's why he's able to draw people to to a theater. So I think that all of this stuff, potentially could be good, you know, technology could potentially be great. But at the end of the day, it they have to have the goods, you know, it's a matter of, you know, them being able to do it if you look at the 70s and, you know, Coppola and fried chicken. And, you know, those guys were, they were taking advantage of certain technology as well at the time, but they were translating it into into, you know, masterpieces. Um, I think that's what you need to see now. I would look more at a movie like Bellflower. I don't remember that. Yeah, no, yeah. So everyone else, like, those are guys who they took not a lot of money. And they, you know, it took a long time to make that movie. And it's, by no means a masterpiece. But it is, it was interesting, and it was different. And I think that's what people have an opportunity to, to do now is, you know, you've got a studio in with your computer and your phone. And you know, if you have a camera, you have your own studio. So don't try to do what a studio already does. Because you're never going to do it as good as I've said that dude. So that's why Bellflower was cool to me, because it was like, oh, they're not trying to replicate a I realize that kind of an old came up five or six years ago, but but that was one one of the few movies where I saw it, I think tangerine is example of it as well, where I was like, okay, they're actually using new technology, they're actually using the the lack of resources to create their own aesthetic. And, and that's interesting, and that will get people's attention and I think that adds to your that that creates something worthwhile. What I see a lot of times is people that use technology to sort of just make shoddy your versions of what you are, you're used to seeing who wants to see that
Alex Ferrari 1:03:08
right and I think that's what a lot of people make mistakes and independent film is they try to and I and I was one of them I was trying to compete with a $200 million movie and you just not it's just it's it's you can't you can't get the star power you can't get the technical stuff and it's just like you said a shot of your version of what they're doing better in that story wise, but just technically, and I think that's where a lot of independent filmmakers kind of fall fall flat and the ones that do break out like Napoleon Dynamite like a tangerine they they just do them very well they do what they're trying to do very well and they stay within the world that they're capable of doing like bottle rocket or you know any of those kind of movies they didn't try to be something else so they're not they tried to be who they were.
Aaron Kaufman 1:03:52
Yeah, and if you go back to whatever the 90s before you go look at Richard Linklater Yeah, yeah, slacker. slacker. Right? It's like that's that's good. And that was its own movie and he almost used the rawness of it to to to to do it but at the end of the day, he had a lot to say and there was there was really interesting stuff there mariachi you know again super rudimentary and it wasn't about the the quality per se but he had a style he had a something to to put out there so so i think that's that's where I'm I look at I look at the world and I think to myself that it's almost a shame that we don't have you know, where are our next five Scorsese's? You know, I'm sure they're out there somewhere and they have the ability now to get our attention in a way that that's what he did.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
Exactly. Now, real quick, I want to ask you on a side note, what do you think about like this summer's blockbuster movie performances, and and the state of where we are with with the studios and the tentpoles and all that kind of stuff because this summer was pretty man
Aaron Kaufman 1:05:00
It was I have to say though in full disclosure I I do find myself within my 40s now and I do find myself a little I sound like an old dude these days because all I do is complain about all I do is complain about the fact that you know they don't make them that way anymore and I'm living in New York now. And again, they just opened up a theater called the metrograph in Lower East Side and they only project film and it's this kind of glorious place I mean, it's like it was like a bookstore and restaurant. theaters are great yeah, it's super cool. But why bring it up as they did the Palmer retrospective awesome. Oh, and so I kept going back like a junkie I mean, I was like I couldn't
Alex Ferrari 1:05:51
Can you imagine just going and doing a retrospective of the Palmer's work in the film in the theater?
Aaron Kaufman 1:05:56
Get every film they did every film and I'll see just see you know even Phantom of the paradise and and and just to kill and just seeing that you know fluttering in beautiful 35 millimeter Yeah, I was I was just literally could not like anytime I had some time and I can do it i was i was going back to it's all I wanted to do and then I went to see right around the time I was seeing all these movies again. I went to see Warcraft with my
Alex Ferrari 1:06:23
Aaron Kaufman 1:06:26
The truth is you know Warcraft it's not terrible You know, there's some good performances in it you know, barbed wire it's not powerful but at the same time I was like, you know, this is what it's become it's almost it's almost become something like what I think of film and what film is are almost two different things right now. Because if this does not resemble like this is not why I got into this business it's just not you know, it's loud it's noisy, it's it's somewhat predictable. They are trying to top each other they're trying to make almost like rollercoaster rides more than they're trying to make films it has more than it really has more to do with with that kind of experience than it has anything to do with the Brian Apollo movies that I was going to see. So some people would say that television is really sucking up the the the need that people have and that's why sort of indie film is not not doing what it was. And you know what, there's, there's probably some truth to that. But I will say I'm on grumpy old man. And I definitely missed the the just just that that feeling of excitement of sitting in the theater and and having something blow your mind.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:36
So So after you work with Robert, you decided to to venture off into uncharted territory and direct your first job. What's your first film was called ERJ starring James Bond himself, Pierce was the greatest The greatest Yeah, how did you he arguably he's one of the I he's on my top two or three? top two, I would say top two. What was it like working with with peers and working with a legend like that? Well, I
Aaron Kaufman 1:08:03
had I produced a movie I worked with Linda Howe on a movie called The greatest Pryor a few years prior that he did with students randon. And it was it was really kind of special movie and he gave just an amazing performance guide always remembered that he was in addition to being great that he was just like, super nice and humble and approachable. And he was working with a first time filmmaker on that movie. And I remember Yeah, I remember that being on set and he was just super just really great with her and really was trying to get good performance and really thoughtful and so when I went to make my first feature and I had built this role you know sort of this shadowy character similar to like dinero in Angel Heart you know and i but i wanted someone who can kind of bring a textured performance to it you know, I needed somebody who wasn't just gonna like chewing the scenery but he's gonna because there was some there was a lot of sort of texture to that character that was just called the band in the movie that I needed someone who that and also we were playing with you know, is this with this person was a shadowy character that you know, could be somebody you know, is this devil is this God is this you know, there was there was an element of that there and so I needed someone who had sort of like a otherworldly aspect and so he just came to mind and and it was that plus the fact of I knew that, you know, he would he be great to work with, call them up and send them the script. And, you know, it's always nerve racking, you know, nerve wracking, but he can read the script, and he had a lot of notes and a lot of thoughts. And we talked for a while we met to talk about it as well. And then he came did I was surprised it was it was a little bit of a departure for him. And I think the first day on set because movies, kind of Crazy movie and we had albinos and we had little people and we had, you know, all this little stuff happening in this one scene. And I think he walked in it was like, Whoa, what is this book?
Alex Ferrari 1:10:09
What did I sign up for?
Aaron Kaufman 1:10:11
What is the spoofy by the second day, he was like, okay, we need you know, we need some do we need this we need that. And by the third day, he was just in hog heaven and had like a lot of a lot of fun. So he was really great to work with and then you know, it's just by itself it's it's intimidating to, to try to give direction to somebody like that, because they are there, you know, there's so you've seen them before, they're so great. You know, they know they've been on set longer than you have. But when I gave direction, he was super supportive and collaborative. He had a lot of ideas, the lot, a lot of the smoking stuff, and the sunglasses and a lot of the the characters gear, he had a lot to input for that. And then after that, you kind of sit back and let him do his thing. Which if I wrote the screenplay with Jerry, Jason's on Walt and Jerry Saul, and to hear someone like him, read your or do perform your dial dial. You sound like such a much better writer. My recommendation is have somebody awesome to your movie, because you sound like a much better writer once once they get going.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:21
Is that is that the secret to Quinn's success? No, I'm joking. I think anybody I think anybody
Aaron Kaufman 1:11:28
claiming I had, obviously, way more interaction with Robert, but the interactions I've had with Quentin, he always has good advice. He always has, like a great kind of point of view, you you will you know, within five minutes, I'm going to quit why Clintons quit. You know, like, for instance, even writing he'll tell you like, you know, you know, those scenes that like when the guy's got to get the key to go get in the car without you don't like that. See? Like, if it can't be great, don't write it. So like, put the guy in the car. people figure out, you know that how he got there. And little tidbits like that. It's a great piece of advice. Actually. It's, it's great. You know, it's like, as we're writing like, well, he's just seeing connective tissue. Do we really need it? You know, is it is it seem awesome. And a lot of how I right now, I kind of always had that voice in the back of my head. And I actually also when I worked with Sidney Lumet before he died, oh, yeah, I spent a good amount of time with him working on a project that sadly never never was able to be made. Because he passed away but, but he was he was kind of awesome at giving you little, little crumbs of advice, that at the time, I don't know that I appreciate it. But when I was directing, it all came back to me. I was like, Oh, right. He told me this.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:41
What was the name? What was his name of that book that he wrote? Is it is it was making movies? Yeah, that's a great I mean, anybody who has not if you're being a director, you've got to read that book. I read that book years ago. It's such an amazing, amazing book on directing and, and filmmaking. And the thing is that when you were reading it, he was nervous. He was insecure, you know, he's Sydney frickin limit.
Aaron Kaufman 1:13:06
But what's great about making movies is like I was saying before, but Spike Lee is, and there's actually a lot of sort of analogs between the two of them. But he that book, he actually gives you functional information. He doesn't say like, yeah, so you know, get a great actor to do your movie, and then blah, blah, blah, he gives you like, literally, you know, you should eat lunch later in the day. So you have energy to finish out your day, you know, he he gives you the kind of cute little little anecdotes in addition to his other, you know, writings to really, you know, help you to direct but but yeah, he was he was amazing. And he would tell you, things like that background kills can kill a seat. So always make sure that your that your background looks natural. So he used to back in the day, he would walk up to a crowd and seeing like, 30 people walking by in the background, he would walk up to each one and give them a what he would call a little bit of business. So he'd walk up and be like, hey, so you just got the worst today. And you just found out you have herpes, and you are on your way to lunch and you're super hungry. And he would do this. So they all had some kind of motivation. And if you go back and watch his movies, the backgrounds always flawless.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:15
That's a great piece of advice actually. Can you imagine as an extra having said they love that come over to you and give you some business? Yeah, awesome. So what was the biggest biggest lesson you learned directing urge?
Aaron Kaufman 1:14:28
Well, directing was really enjoyed directing. And I kind of had that my first my first day on set, I had this kind of exhilarating and also scary feeling all at once, which was you know, I was like, wow, this is what I want to do. Like this is it you know, and you don't really know that until you do it your first day. And so that was the first and then second with from that was, you know that you you can't go back you know, so it's like you you get almost there. I was like, Okay, I gotta keep this going, because this is this is this is the greatest time there there is. But directing, you know, really is I learned a lot of listening, listening to your crew, you know, I had good crew, I had people that told me things that, that really were, you know, if you listen to them, there are people that that want to help you. And we also realize that you're dealing with a cult of personality. And so trying to, you know, trying to work with a crew, you can get the best out of them, by really including them. And if you include them, and they and they feel part of the process, they'll give you your best, but you could also work the other way where you're kind of shutting them out, and they stopped caring about the movie as well. So you kind of you almost have to be a little bit of a cult leader to get everybody. And everybody focused in the same direction. And then And then from there, to, to really listen to them. I mean, I had to an ad on on urge in Sherry, who was great. And she told me, you know, look, there are going to be days when you get to said, where everything you've asked for is not going to be the way you want. And you have to be able to roll with that. And at the time, I was like, Wow, she's being super negative, because, you know, I've told everybody what I want. So why would they bring these in, they don't want and then the first day on set where I had asked for something and got something completely different. I wasn't shocked, because I had been prepared for that. And that the little little lot of things are a little thing, but those little things add up and and and that's that's it you're playing you're you're like the conductor and you're playing the crew in in in many ways.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:37
Now what do you like better directing or producing?
Aaron Kaufman 1:16:39
I there's no, I mean, for me, there's no comparison I will always produce because it's what I know how to do. But at the same time directing you realize, like, I realized myself that as a producer, you're doing all the hard stuff, you know, you're doing all the stuff that nobody wants to do. And then the and then you're handing off all the cool things to a director. So that's, that's sort of my feeling on it. But, but I also like producing and producing sort of a different muscle. And I love to work with, you know, people that I think are great, you know, Director wise, and I think I've done it long enough now where I like to be able to take all my battle scars and help somebody not have to necessarily, you know, experiences Hey,
Alex Ferrari 1:17:28
so we're back guys and I want to welcome to the show Brian Levine Levine Levine.
Aaron Kaufman 1:17:33
Levin Levin. Live.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:36
Okay. Just call your Bri nangia Raya, welcome Brian to the show. And Aaron is still here, and we're going to talk about their new, very funny looking movie called flocka. dude's So Brian. I mean, Aaron First tell me how you met Brian. And how'd you get involved with this crazy group?
Aaron Kaufman 1:17:56
Well to name drop a little bit, I was introduced to him by Danny Masterson was a mutual friend of ours. Danny was an urge as well. And we loved it. And he had done a pilot with these guys and said, you know, you got to meet them. They're super funny. And he had had a good experience with them. And he introduced us and Brian and I started to talk. And eventually when they had a rough cut of their the pilot they'd done together for Comedy Central. They asked me to see it, they took a look at it. And I liked a lot. It's very funny. And we were we continued to talk and later on when Robert was working on Spy Kids for we needed some help script wise just doing some punch up and adding some jokes. We have offline scene calling you know, almost daily saying you know, Honey, come on, man, any more jokes. And so
Alex Ferrari 1:18:48
is that that's a great impression of Hey, by the way, it's very good.
Aaron Kaufman 1:18:52
But, but I brought up I was like, you know, I know these guys called the post show that I met and I saw their pilot and they're really funny guys. What about bringing them down? And so Robert brought him down to Austin. And in like two days they wrote like 1000 jokes and Robert immediately life them which was not not something I was expecting. Not that I don't want to take a license immediately and actually gave them small small bit parts in the in the movie. And that that went well and Brian and I had been friends for a while at that point in them. And they had a movie that they had sold to Lionsgate which I'm sure he's going to talk about that they've had an added turnaround that they wanted to make and we ultimately started working together.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:36
So Brian, real quick how the hell was that phone call when he goes hey, do you want to come down to Austin and work with Robert rectory is on something to your waiting for him? How was that? How did you handle that?
Aaron Kaufman 1:19:50
Well, it was kind of from what I remember. It was kind of quick. It was kind of like hey, we need you. We need you like tomorrow. Can you get on a plane so it was Kinda wasn't really that much time to process it, it was just like okay. Yeah. Obviously we'll, we'll be down there as soon as possible.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:09
And how was it working on Spike it for and that whole experience
Aaron Kaufman 1:20:14
it's great. I mean, you know, they have such a, such an interesting setup, they have gone there with the studio and so many resources that they have and obviously, you know, watching Robert operate everything was was really interesting.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:29
Very cool. Now we're in we're in Bryan, where did you get your start? Aaron, tell me a little bit. You You have a show on YouTube? I think you started.
Aaron Kaufman 1:20:36
Yes. So we started in I it was about 10 years ago. We mean, Bob and Jason, the other guys comedians from New York, we started putting up videos online and this was actually before YouTube, oddly enough. And
Alex Ferrari 1:20:55
when were you putting him up? What were you putting up on then?
Aaron Kaufman 1:20:57
We were just we, we put up a website and we just kind of said we're just gonna put up two videos a week. Okay. And we're gonna have a TV show on the internet, which is a new concept. Okay. 1000 or five? Yes, it was and, and that's basically what we did. And, and then YouTube came along, about kind of, like, while we were doing that, and, and that kind of shifted the dynamics. But at that point, were to kind of gotten out to certain people in New York about our show, and we ended up doing a deal with Super Deluxe, which was an online comedy website that was part of Adult Swim.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:40
Oh, very cool. And then and then you met Aaron and and then you guys got deal with Lionsgate? What was the deal with Lionsgate? That you did?
Aaron Kaufman 1:21:49
Yeah. And so then, Bob and Jason and I moved out to Los Angeles. And we did written scripts, lack of dues, and teamed up with we, we signed with United talent agency. And through them, they introduced us to imagine entertainment. And we develop flock of dudes the script that we had with them. And then eventually, we went out to the town with it, and Lionsgate ended up buying it. And that began a process of developing it with with Lionsgate for for about a year or so.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:22
And how is the development process?
Aaron Kaufman 1:22:26
Well, uh, you know, I, yeah, I've only got in through it in that way with a studio. Just that one time, so I can't say what it's like always, you know, it's kind of what you would expect I think and what you've heard which is there you know, there are a lot of other people involved, there's a lot of other opinions and it's not just three guys writing in a cafe anymore. It's, you know, people who are looking at this through the lens of at the studio level 30 $50 million investment and that kind of changes the creative process.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:08
So then, so you obviously, I'm assuming that the block of dues that has been produced was not produced at a 30 to $50 million budget? No. Okay. For 1530 or 50
Aaron Kaufman 1:23:23
What's funny was it was we're kind of putting it together with Ryan from Austin while I was still doing SimCity and so there I had, you know, this kind of $70 million behemoth and then I'm trying to put this this small movie together in in LA but but actually it was kind of fun to do it you know, it's like after working on something so big and so so much of an octopus doing something that we kind of had total control over was was was a lot of fun. And even the problem solving of like, okay, we just, you know, we want to push this we want to make it look as close to a studio comedy as possible, but we just don't have those kind of funds. The problem solving or figuring out how to do it really was was kind of interesting and I think the movie benefited from from that we also had some other good people that that really liked the project a lot and got involved. And so I think what you what you see there is really not reflective of what the actual hard dollar cost of the movie was.
Alex Ferrari 1:24:21
So then, so then you were at the studio with locka doods. And obviously the studio didn't do the movie. So what happened how did that translate to where you are today with the movie?
Aaron Kaufman 1:24:32
Yeah, so the you know, the rights came back to me and Aaron and I started discussing the script because I think I still felt like it was a good a good movie that had a lot of appeal and Aaron read it and he, he liked it. And that began kind of the process of us trying to figure out how to put it together outside of a studio financing.
Alex Ferrari 1:24:57
Okay, and then you did it,
Aaron Kaufman 1:24:59
Aaron, but I never Made a comedy. I mean, I've never made a comedy intentionally before. to shame to say, yeah, and so it's actually that was interesting as well, because it was I was I was coming at it from my perspective which was like, you know, hey there's you know, without we don't have any machetes in this movie and there's nobody getting their head cut off so so like, we have to really make these things we don't have the same the same stuff that are our go to, you know, our go to stuff we don't have. And so just grinding and grinding and grinding with with with Brian and his partners really was was kind of was kind of fun. And then shooting it was a lot different because you had these guys that were just ad libbing so much that it became like, you know, part of the producing job was just trying to get them to shut up every once in a while because they were coming up with great stuff. But it was just you know, we had we had a indie movie schedule and had to just get we had to get in and move on. So So coming up without a workflow that would allow them to still you know, ad lib and come up with stuff. At the same time, you know, getting a good shot. That was that would be able to learn that on the onset.
Alex Ferrari 1:26:07
And how long was the production schedule on it?
Aaron Kaufman 1:26:11
They were 21 days that's all right. There's something like that
Alex Ferrari 1:26:15
21 days and I'm gonna geek out a little bit what did you guys shoot the cat? What what camera did you shoot with?
Aaron Kaufman 1:26:20
We showed already Arri Alexa? Yeah, it
Alex Ferrari 1:26:24
looks really good. It looks really great.
Aaron Kaufman 1:26:26
I've used the red as well. But But I liked Ari Ari good. A more of a cinematic feel. I feel
Alex Ferrari 1:26:35
Yeah, I know that that's a whole other conversation. It's like Mac versus PC i mean it's it's it's a very big conversation. So how did you guys get such a cool cast? I mean, I mean, I was as I was watching the trailer, I was like Jesus he's in it and he's in it. She's in it is like, how did you get this such it's such a great guest that we put together on on I'm assuming under $30 million budget.
Aaron Kaufman 1:26:56
Yeah, I mean, a lot of a lot of the cast was kind of through relationships that all of us had just been in kind of the comedy world for a while or being kind of in the film world for a while. And, you know, you get kind of momentum going. And other people kind of see that a lot of cool people are doing it and they want to join and then also UTA was very helpful with us in terms of getting the ball rolling with some really cool cast. And, and yeah, I think everybody just kind of tried to pull a couple people in and before you knew it, we had you know about 15 or 20 people who are really some of the most talented guys in comedy
Alex Ferrari 1:27:37
now, as well. Now how is it like Aaron, you kind of touched upon this when you have a group of comics and comedic actors who are doing a lot of ad libbing especially in these larger scenes How the hell do you corral them How the hell did you direct them? Like
Aaron Kaufman 1:27:53
you know we're at a first time filmmaker as well so it was it was i didn't i didn't i didn't envy him because he would have to sort of you know become the lion tamer because you have these some of these guys like Brett Gelman and Eric Andre are just love monster add you know add livers and improv guys and so it was I think it was tough for for him but we had to sort of explain to people what our you know what our situation was and also create a space for them where they felt comfortable to to you know Express creativity but in kind of a guideline to to still get them moving in but um I'm really happy with with the movie i mean i think too when we make we made a little while ago and that now we look like geniuses because most of the cast and went on to become huge you know you have commandment Johnny and animal burrows who's you know obviously has has just really blown up crystal Leah you know had on dateable and his stand up specials are have become huge and you know and as well as Hilary Duff and Ray Liotta and people like that who had done the movie with with so it was it's it's been interesting to see that happen and now the movie looks a lot bigger because it's got this it's called the screen huge cast.
Alex Ferrari 1:29:04
How was it working with Henry Hill
Aaron Kaufman 1:29:08
he was in SimCity two as well yeah. And I actually I really like him a lot he's you know he's obviously a great actor but but he's somebody who will like on SimCity Hill hanging out on set and tell funny stories and and you know really be kind of a good dude he's intense but he's but he's a he's that kind of guy you know where it'll he'll even a flock actually he he hung out when he wasn't shooting a little bit we were just you know, chatting it up. So he's he's always been a good guy and he was great to do a day on on on flock, which he didn't
Alex Ferrari 1:29:41
do. Now. What advice would you give someone trying to produce a film in the indie world in today's in today's world run. Brian, would you agree?
Aaron Kaufman 1:29:57
Well, it's you know, it's It's interesting, it's, uh, where to start with that question. I think I think we touched on it before, you know, in the sense of, I think that you have to really get a feel for what the world looks like, you know, and I think that if you want to make something that's really different, and really, you know, really out of the ordinary, that is what I think will get people's attention, and maybe that you have to really be smart about it, and lower your budget and, and try to be as clever as you can to get something out there. I would say in general, don't try to make something that he that the studios are making, really look at, like what you can do, and you can do with the resources you have. A lot of it, like I said, goes back to El Mariachi, you know, like, he had these things, he's gonna make his movie around those things. I think it's still good advice. And making something smaller that you can control that you can make great is probably better than, you know, just trying to make a yet another have that same kind of Sundance movie that doesn't really have an audience in the way that it used to.
Alex Ferrari 1:31:08
And And where's it Where can people see the film?
Aaron Kaufman 1:31:11
So the film comes out September 30, the guys that stars, our partners on it, and they've been, they've been fantastic. So you can check online for the the theaters will come out this month, but they're doing nice theatrical release for the film. And then it'll be available on all digital platforms.
Alex Ferrari 1:31:30
So and who's the distributor under stars? Its stars digital. Yeah,
Aaron Kaufman 1:31:33
we did a great job with family Fang. And we're for Jason Bateman. And they've been really great to work with so far.
Alex Ferrari 1:31:39
Very cool. Now, I'm gonna ask you both. The question I always ask all my guests, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life in general,
Aaron Kaufman 1:31:55
and you want to
Alex Ferrari 1:31:57
well, he's like, Well, I think of something,
Aaron Kaufman 1:32:01
I honestly think that it's taken me a long time to, to really be myself, you know, to have the confidence that what you're going to say you're going to try to put out in the world is, is interesting and important. You know, once you once you come to that kind of level of confidence, it really frees you up to, to, to do great steps, but you have to have that, that kind of confidence, looking at what other people are doing and trying to catch up to that is it nothing, I don't know that anything great comes out of that, it's really, when you dig down and try to do something that's personal and something that's that really only you could do, that's when you have an opportunity to do something great.
Alex Ferrari 1:32:43
I would say I would say just not forcing issues not forcing things, you know, it's just you can spend a you can waste a lot of time and energy, whether in your personal life or in trying to make a movie, trying to kind of force issues. And better I think what I've learned is better to, you know, obviously push as much as you can, but at a certain point if it feels like you're pushing just take your foot off the gas and assess the situation and kind of try a different route and, and kind of be practical in that way. And I think that keeps you aligned with the reality of the situation better and allows you to operate more efficiently.
Alex Ferrari 1:33:25
Very cool. And then the last question is what are your three favorite films of all time? Aaron Brian's gonna throw it together and so
Aaron Kaufman 1:33:37
Exactly I like I like the fact that Rob Brian and I have this conversation pretty regularly. My my, I think my all time favorite movie is night, the city, the original film, which is it's just a movie that I can watch. I never watch right now. And I've seen it 100 times. And I love that the noir period. I love that that time, that's probably my, my favorite. And I would say maybe miljan Pearson seconds that which that both of them kind of have some, some similarities. But but that that noir period is, is probably my favorite.
I would say and these are not off the wall answers by any means but a long goodbye network and eight and a half or you know kind of flawless those are
Alex Ferrari 1:34:26
all very good. Very, very good. Very, very good. answers, guys. So um, where where can people find you guys and also find the movie when it's out? And they're all digital platforms? Basically.
Aaron Kaufman 1:34:37
Yeah, it was in the 30s. It comes out theatrically. And then I think shortly after that, it it comes out on on digital digital platforms. And then I think it comes to Hulu next year. And then that's it. The theater count should be out soon. So I don't know exactly what that is. And then I'm on Twitter at a underscore Kaufmann And I don't know what else I think that's that's Do you have a website Aaron or No, I don't. Gotcha.
Alex Ferrari 1:35:07
And how about you Brian?
Aaron Kaufman 1:35:08
And yeah, I mean, Bob and Jason have a just a website that we've had for a while the post show calm and yeah, you can find some some of our old sketches from from our New York days there and everything so
Alex Ferrari 1:35:22
very cool guys man it's been an absolute pleasure guys having you on the show. Thank you so much for spending the time and dropping some knowledge bombs on the on the indie film hustle tribe.
Aaron Kaufman 1:35:32
Alright, we'll speak soon. All right.
Alex Ferrari 1:35:36
Well, guys, I hope you'd like that interview, I had a ball talking to Aaron and Brian. And I, you know, I grilled poor Aaron about everything about Robert and his experiences with them. And I basically asked every question, and any question I've ever wanted to know about Robert, I pretty much asked in this interview. So for me, it was a huge, a huge thrill and joy, to talk to Aaron. And also to talk to Brian in regards to a flock of dudes, it sounds like a fun movie. And again, it's about that hustle guys, you just got to keep hustling. And when the door doesn't open the way you want it to you got to make your own door. And that's the truth, man, it is the absolute truth. And flock of dudes is a perfect example of that philosophy. So guys, again, if you want to get any of the show notes, anything that we talked about any links, head over to any film hustle comm forward slash 100. And what I'm going to be doing, hopefully moving forward is guys, I'm going to start transcribing all of our podcasts. Since we have 100, it's going to take a while. But I'm going to be transcoding them, trying to change transcribing them, and adding them to the show notes. So if you can't listen to the podcast, you'll be able to read the podcast, because I've had a lot of requests for that. So that those will begin to come slowly. They're not going to be coming up in the new ones anytime soon. But some of the older more popular ones are going to get those first and then slowly, I'm going to be taking the entire library on and transcribing them little by little and then we'll catch up and start with the new ones. Probably I'll figure out the schedule probably won't be the day of the release of the podcast, but probably a few days later or something like that once we get a schedule in place. But that's just another thing I'm going to be adding to the indie film hustle podcast. So guys, I again, I cannot thank you enough for allowing me to get to the 100/100 episode. It's a huge mile marker for me. And I plan to get to 200 very soon. And, and keep growing, keep growing the brand of indie film, hustle, keep growing, what we're doing and getting the word out and please, and again, I hear this from a lot of a lot of the tribe members when I talk to them. They're recommending indie film hustle to other people. They're telling like you gotta listen to this podcast, especially a podcast number 88. Guys, if you guys have not listened any of you guys listening have not listened to podcast number 88. That's at indie film hustle.com Ford slash 088. It is by far the most talked about the most popular podcast I've ever done. And trust me if you have not listened to it, everyone who has listened to it will understand what I mean. It's intense. And if you need to, if you need a bucket of cold water thrown on you, you need to you need to listen to episodes, Episode 88. But, but please spread the word, guys. I mean, seriously, please spread the word. tell any of your filmmaking friends about us. If you find that this information is helpful to you, it'll be helpful to other people. And don't think of it as a competitive thing. There is no competition when it comes to art guys, all right, just try to help as many people as you can. And that's how, that's how you you make it in life and in this definitely in this business. Because I wouldn't have been able to do as much as I've done without friends. You need friends. And if you can help other people along the way, on your journey, do it and hopefully this podcast and the website has information that can do that. So spread the word guys please. You know retweet, post stuff that you see that we post and so on and oh just just tell them like Hey, you got it. Got it. Subscribe to this, because I hopefully it'll help more people you know, I really want to I want I want this work to get out to as many people as humanly possible and help as many filmmakers as humanly possible. And I found this online, which is the Farley brothers. Wonderful. A theory of life life explained in 27 seconds, and basically says, life is like going the wrong way on a moving sidewalk. If you walk, you stay put. If you stand still, you'll go backwards. And to get ahead. You have to hustle, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you guys soon.
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