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From Adult Films to Directing Men in Black with Barry Sonnenfeld
I can’t tell you how excited I am for today’s episode. I had the pleasure to speak to the legendary director Barry Sonnenfeld. We discuss his idiosyncratic upbringing in New York City, his breaking into film as a cinematographer with the Coen brothers, and his unexpected career as the director behind such huge film franchises as The Addams Family and Men in Black, and beloved work like Get Shorty, Pushing Daises, and A Series of Unfortunate Events. We also chat about the time he shot nine porno films in nine days. That story alone is worth the price of admission.
I don’t think Will does get upstaged because his reaction is always funnier than what is actually happening. That is also the reason Tommy is funnier than Will.
In his new book Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker shares his laugh-out-loud memoir about coming of age. Constantly threatened with suicide by his over-protective mother, disillusioned by the father he worshiped, and abused by a demonic relative, Sonnenfeld somehow went on to become one of Hollywood’s most successful producers and directors.
His book is written with poignant insight and real-life irony, the book follows Sonnenfeld from childhood as a French horn player through graduate film school at NYU, where he developed his talent for cinematography. His first job after graduating was shooting nine feature-length pornos in nine days. From that humble entrée, he went on to form a friendship with the Coen Brothers, launching his career shooting their first three films.
Though Sonnenfeld had no ambition to direct, Scott Rudin convinced him to be the director of The Addams Family. It was a successful career move. He went on to direct many more films and television shows. Will Smith once joked that he wanted to take Sonnenfeld to Philadelphia public schools and say,
“If this guy could end up as a successful film director on big-budget films, anyone can.”
His book is a fascinating and hilarious roadmap for anyone who thinks they can’t succeed in life because of a rough beginning.
Barry Sonnenfeld’s philosophy is,
“Regret the Past. Fear the Present. Dread the Future.”
This EPIC conversation is almost two hours and had me on the floor laughing one minute and in absolute shock the next. This is by far one of my favorite interviews I have ever done on the show.
So sit back, grab a drink and enjoy my conversation with Barry Sonnenfeld.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Barry Sonnenfeld – IMDB
- Barry Sonnenfeld, Call Your Mother: Memoirs of a Neurotic Filmmaker (FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSION HERE)
- DONATE to Feed America to help with people affected by Coronavirus
- $1 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
- The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop with Suzanne Lyons (COUPON CODE: IFHFILMPRODUCE)
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
- Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story) (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
REAL-WORLD STREAMING FILM EDUCATION
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass
- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
WATCH THE FILMS
- IFH Academy – Exclusive Filmmaking & Screenwriting Training
- Indie Film Hustle® Podcast
- Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
- Filmtrepreneur™ Podcast
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
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Stuff You Need in Your Life:
IFH Academy: Exclusive Filmmaking & Screenwriting Training
IFHTV: Indie Film Hustle TV
Book: Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business
Book: Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story)
FREE 3-Part Indie Film Producing Video Series