Cassian Elwes began his producing career with 1984’s Oxford Blues, starring Rob Lowe and Ally Sheedy, and has enjoyed continuing success in film. His earlier roles include Men at Work with Emilio Estevez and Charlie Sheen, The Chase with Charlie Sheen, Kristy Swanson, and Henry Rollins, and The Dark Backward with Judd Nelson, Bill Paxton, and Rob Lowe. In 1989 he produced the independent film Never on Tuesday, which featured a cast of cameos including Charlie Sheen, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Nicolas Cage, and Cary Elwes.
The Hollywood Reporter has said that Elwes was “involved in a virtual who’s who of every great independent film of the last ten years.” with films such as Thank You for Smoking, Half Nelson, and Frozen River (the last two of which garnered Oscar nominations for Ryan Gosling and Melissa Leo, respectively).
“What people lose sight of,” Elwes said to Screen International, “is that these films cost a tenth of the films that they competed against at the Academy Awards.
The privilege was the recognition.” Elwes is an expert in the field of arranging financing and distribution for independent films, having done so for 283 films during his tenure at William Morris Independent.
Since leaving William Morris Independent, Elwes has been involved in arranging financing and distribution for 23 films, including Lawless, directed by John Hillcoat (The Road), starring Shia LaBeouf and Tom Hardy, and the thriller The Paperboy, directed by Lee Daniels (Precious), starring Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron.
Elwes produced the period drama The Butler, which was directed by Lee Daniels and featured an ensemble cast, including Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Terrence Howard, Vanessa Redgrave, Alan Rickman, Liev Schreiber, Robin Williams, among others.
He also produced Dallas Buyers Club starring Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Garner, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints starring Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, and Hateship, Loveship starring Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce, Hailee Steinfeld, and Nick Nolte.
On 29 October 2013, Elwes launched the Cassian Elwes Independent Screenwriter Fellowship, in conjunction with The Black List, to award one writer an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2014 Sundance Film Festival and mentorship from Elwes. Elwes and The Black List plan to award the fellowship annually. – Wikipedia
Please enjoy my conversation with Cassian Elwes.
Cassian Elwes 0:00
Some projects will come from people that you didn't know or never heard heard of. But somehow rather they got that script in front of somebody. Now they maybe they met somebody in a bar or restaurant
Alex Ferrari 0:12
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show, Cassian Elwes. How you doing Cassian?
Cassian Elwes 0:26
I'm doing great, Alex, thank you.
Alex Ferrari 0:28
Thank you so much for coming on the show. My friend. I know you're in the middle of producing 75 movies this year alone?
Cassian Elwes 0:34
Yeah, you know, I keep I keep myself busy, which is getting you know, I literally wrapped a movie about eight days ago on Saturday, and Kentucky and then started shooting another one. Three days later on Tuesday here in Los Angeles. So you did I do I really do. You gotta keep hustling. You gotta keep trying, you know, you can't give up. It's a very difficult thing to make a movie happen. But I you know, I'm very driven.
Alex Ferrari 1:04
No doubt I saw your filmography for God's sakes. I mean, you've been doing it for a while and, and, you know, before you get started, thank you for making some amazing films in the 80s and 90s, while I was working in the video store, so I appreciate that. I was like, Oh, I remember that one.
Cassian Elwes 1:20
I remember that was the days of blockbuster, you know, where you go down there and go go over the racks and look at all the ones that that had multiple copies, and a bunch of them were at, you can tell the success or failure of each one. They were stocking and how many that were at rent at that particular moment. It was a different time, you know, the video stores will pretty much buying almost anything, and you can just make a movie, you know, three or $400,000 and which I you know, dead exploitation movies and sell them off to cut two companies here that in America that were looking to try to stop those video shows and and it was a great business.
Alex Ferrari 2:01
Well, yeah, and those VHS is were like, retail was like, 79.99 That's crazy. It was insane. It was I mean, I always tell people, You have no idea how much money you could have was being made in the 80s in the night,
Cassian Elwes 2:16
You know, it was interesting, you know, I got I got one of the first Betamax machines. So you know, because I decided that that it was easier to get the Betamax tapes, because you know, the video stores, they would suck some Betamax and some very few people that had Betamax machines. But I thought I'd get one because the quality was slightly better. At the beginning anyway. And then. And then I you know, wouldn't have a problem, being able to read whatever I wanted to see. And then just the sheer ease of it, being able to take a movie home and watch it happen. People don't realize how incredible that experience was. Because now of course, you can go online read anything you want to see and see it and you know, three seconds later is up on your screen. But that wasn't the case in the in the 80s. You know, the you really had to go see movies in the movie theater. And then occasionally they would play on network television. But you you the advent of the film rental business, you know, the getting getting VHS, getting VHS tapes, and Betamax as of movies was incredible. So I mean, they were literally companies like restaurants, that were just putting out hundreds and hundreds of titles. And people.
Alex Ferrari 3:21
Yeah, Canon canon trauma, fullmoon all of them.
Cassian Elwes 3:24
Yeah, they just were making money hand over fist on these things and making you know, trauma. Love, you know, the the Lloyds the greatest, you know, I'm always I've always been a big admirer of his. But you know, those films were horrific. And but people rented them. And he's the first one to say it, too. was doing.
Alex Ferrari 3:45
And I was and he's, by the way, he's one of the most intelligent people I've ever had on the show.
Cassian Elwes 3:49
And it's really was the New York Film Commissioner, you know, he's He's a lovely, lovely guy. You know, I always would love when I can, you know, we'd have an office on a quiz that with a window looking down on the present and see the Toxic Avenger and the whole kind of parade of, of his characters going down the street, you know, you look at Oh, my God, I'm surprised that no one's actually made the toxin venger yet, and to kind of studio level kind of action franchise
Alex Ferrari 4:15
Like a real like a real
Cassian Elwes 4:18
Marvely version that talks
Alex Ferrari 4:20
You know, it's so fascinating. I always tell people that in the 80s You literally if you finished a movie, you made money if you just if you were able to finish it. And then that
Cassian Elwes 4:31
One picture called the invisible maniac. And I did it with with a friend of mine cool Adam Rifkin. And we're like talking to each other. And we were both completely broke. And I said, Dude, we just need to go and make a movie. And we just need to make something really cheap. And I'll get the money quickly for it. And then we'll just turn it around. We'll make a bunch of money out of it. If we can shoot it fast. He goes, Well, I've got a great idea. I go, what's that he goes, and he was using the pseudonym riff Coogan because he didn't you know, wanted to have you know, we want to real careers Movie Maker. And we did some films together doc backward and, and the chase you for example but um, you know, he he he said I got this great idea for a movie it's called the invisible maniac and it's it's kind of a homage to the visible man. And but you know it's like a guy who's janitor in high school go invisible seal, the ghosting that close up in the, in the in the locker rooms. And and the beauty of it is we only need the star for a day because he's invisible for the rest of the picture. I was like, Oh my God, that's brilliant. We were shooting it 11 days later. And, and we shot the whole movie in 12 days. And I was joking around with him the other digs, we're still friends. And I said, Nina, do you remember the last day of shooting we were shooting in this place that was like it was at the bottom of Laurel Canyon Adventure and it's now some kind of Korean university but at the time, it was like a it was it was like a university campus, small one. And it was being used by some foreign university as a staging point in Los Angeles for for, you know, students that were taking the year off. So they had it looked like classrooms in there. And on the last night day of shooting, we shot for 18 hours straight, which, you know, if you make films, you know, that's pretty gnarly, to be going for 18 hours, you know, the as each hour winds past the 12 hour mark, you're doing less and less because everybody's just exhausted and they can't even like function anymore. And it's diminishing return because you're not getting that many shots and the six hours later that you've been shooting, and it was our last night late. Well, it's you've got to keep going and get these shots. And I said to him, do you remember that the last thing I just remember you standing in the hallway and there's like the scene where they they pulled the fire alarm? And you would like, okay, was that shot in focus? They were the guide camera was like, yes. Because was it in English? He goes, yes. All right, fine. That's good. We're moving on. And that was literally it. You know, it was, it was hilarious. But yeah, it was a different kind of filmmaking in those days. You know, really, I learned how to make films, actually in that period of time.
Alex Ferrari 7:08
So I don't mean shorter. But is that where you got your start? How did you actually get started in this in this business?
Cassian Elwes 7:15
Well, you know, it sounds kind of privileged but I when I was about 10 years old, my mother met an American movie producer was in London making a film with Warren Beatty, called Kaleidoscope his name was Ali Kassar, and they fell madly in love and moved in together. And two more children. I had two brothers already. And then they had two more, my little brother sister, and and the so from from 10 years old, we were suddenly thrown from a very normal sorry about that, for a very normal existence into this movie existence. We come to California and we would see movie stars and movie stars go to film sets. And you know, he was making films with me Missouri Breaks with Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando. He did harbor with Paul Newman, multiple films with with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. So you know, they, we met all these mega movie stars, you know, as kids. And, and so from, from the time I was 15, I was desperate to do it. I really wanted to do what he was doing, you know that one day, I'm gonna be like, Elliot, I'm gonna wake up at two o'clock in the morning and yell at people in California, on the phone from London. And, but I don't yell, I'm not that person. He was he was he was quite a yeller. And, but he he made like 60 movies or something like that, which I just thought was credible number of movies. And you know, I've actually finally made almost twice as many. Right, he made some really good movies, he made some really good movies. And so I would watch, you know, he knew by the time I was 15, or 16, that I was really interested in what he was doing. And I'm not sure that I would do this, but he would let me go to meetings with him. He was saying, shut up and sit in the corner. And you can listen to what I'm saying. I listened to him hustling people for money. And so I kind of, you know, understood what the what the game was. And then, and then, you know, during my vacations, he'd make me go work, you know, very early age, on sets, basically getting tea and making copies of scripts and things like that, like really menial jobs. But it was good, because it was, you know, got exposure to have problems with being made and see the directors working with the actors. And, you know, that was that was an incredible thing. And then, you know, went to college, but I dropped that the parents were furious in California after I worked on a movie called The Dogs of War and had a bit of money and said I'll stay in California to like get a job, got a job worked for a company called film ways, which was you know, had success with a with a movie called dressed to kill the brand department movie. And, and then they all went belly up, ended up being sold to Orion pitches, but by that point, by the time I was 22, or 23, my my stepfather and I had had a refreshment and he said, Listen, why don't you come up with an idea for a movie and we'll do it together? And I said, I've got a great idea. I saw this movie called Fast Times at Ridgemont High and I think the idea of taking the characters Nikoli, the, you know, the Sean Penn thing of the guy with a pizza, and taking that kind of separate dude, kind of crazy thing, and putting him into Oxford University would be a funny fish out of water story. He said, I love that, let's do it. And we develop a script with a guy called Robert Boris by bars. And then we made it school awesome blues with Rob Lowe. And it wasn't quite what I had in mind. But you know, it was more romantic version of the story than I thought it was going to be kind of more kind of wacky, funny comedy, but it was it was a charming movie. And he sold it for a lot of money. And I didn't make any money out of it, which said it. But if you make a lot of money at this, at this point in your life, you'll never have any appreciation of it later. And it was a great lesson life lesson.
Alex Ferrari 10:48
But so, yeah, so you made you made a lot of film. I mean, it sounds like you were born into this, and you were just ready to rock and roll.
Cassian Elwes 10:55
I was a child of an athlete, you know, I was ready to do it.
Alex Ferrari 10:59
So then what is it? Because this is the biggest question I get from producers. How do you get money? How does it change the difference between raising money in the 80s and 90s, versus today's marketplace, which is so vastly different.
Cassian Elwes 11:16
Here's the crazy part of it, you know, it's like, it never changes. And it's the same, it's the same thing is the faces change, but the, the but the, you know, the posture of the studios remain, the face has changed. You know, there's different buyers, different people, different names, different companies, different whatever, but the same basic tenant is still true, which is that you got to have the package, you got to have the script, you got to have the idea, you got to have the director, you got to have some of the actors and, and the money. You know, I'm always a great believer that if you, you know, I I'm crazy, you know, I'm a I'm a complete gambler, I find things I want to do. And I just set the start date. So I just said about it and say okay, I'm gonna make the movie and somehow or other, you know, when the chips are down, I somehow or other theory that and also a great believer making movies for what I can raise, meaning that, you know, I can say to myself, Okay, this is a $5 million budget, but all I can do is raise $3 million for it. That's the best offers that I've got on the table and then got attached, but it for, you know, half a million dollars, I gotta figure out if I can make this actual movie for three and a half million dollars instead of $5 million. So I'm a great believer in making films. I know, there's a lot of people in our business, they get caught up in the idea of like, I gotta have my 7.3 to $3 million,
Alex Ferrari 12:38
Can't make it for a penny less.
Cassian Elwes 12:40
And the like, you know, come on, that's a joke. And you know that that was that was a skill set. Because I have, I had a whole career in the middle at William Morris, when when ran out there independent film division, just out of the blue, they hired me to come and run it for them for 15 years. And that's why I was so successful with them is because my mindset as a producer, which I brought to the agent, and part of that was totally different from anybody else inside the agency, you know, they, they would go well, I says he's got this budget for $5.3 million, and he has to have $5.3 million, or the phone's not going to be made. And I'm like, I'm in touch with me, let's meet, let's go over this, let's trigger that. And we would go over it together. And we ended up making some of the greatest independent films ever made. Because we weren't worried about budgets, we were worried about, you know, the quality, of course, you want to make sure that you're not compromising the quality of the sounds, but you know, the cost of a movie is relative. And, you know, I've seen films that cost $30 million dollars that look like absolute garbage and symbols that mean that were made for $3 million, that look incredible. So it's like, you know, the relative costs of films, to their quality is not necessarily the perfect ratio.
Alex Ferrari 13:51
So let me ask you the whole, the whole chicken and egg thing, which is like you need the package, but will you need the money to get the package and can you can't get the package without the money unless you are someone like yourself who has relationships, and you have a track record. And you might be able to put the, you know, you call up somebody like oh, it's costly. And this is gonna go, this is a serious dude. But for young producers coming up who might not have 120 films on their belt? How would you go about trying to package a film to raise money and vice versa?
Cassian Elwes 14:21
Well, you know, I always tell people that, you know, if you partner up with somebody who doesn't know what they're doing, because, you know, the business is about relationships, it's about how you meet people, how you get to know people, how you meet the agents, how you meet the people that are making decisions, how you get to, you know, somehow or other actors. You know, I've always tried to be very friendly towards the actors that I'm working with hope that I'll get to work with them again. Good example is Garrett Hedlund to I just finished a movie with I met him while we were doing my band and just hit it off with him right away. He's such a great actor. He really is incredible. And, and we tried for three and have yours for years, quite another patient that we want to do together and finally found one desperation road wishes shot, as I said, we wrapped in about eight days ago. But, you know, it's keep those relationships intact with the people that you're working with. You know, if you look through through my, my bio, you'll see that I've worked with lots of people multiple times, you know, the trick is, is to, is to keep those relationships going. And then as far as the financing is concerned, you know, there is keep your ear to the ground, as I said, find somebody who actually doesn't know what they're doing partner out with them, because only 50% of a film that is actually going to go is a lot better than 100% of something that's nothing. And you know, so people go, I don't want to give away a piece of my movie to somebody else. And they all they did was make an introduction to that. But you know what, honestly, if that was the thing that triggered the movie, then it's worth it. And then at least you have a movie under your belt. So when you call up an agent and go, I produce blah, blah, movie, you actually have a movie you've produced, as opposed to saying, Look, I've never made a movie before. But I've got this great script, and I want to make this film and agents are like, oh, yeah, please. Alright, everyone's got a great script. You know, I can't tell you how many times people call me up and said, I got this fantastic script, it's going to win a bunch of Oscars, everyone says that the movie is gonna win us. That's how many films actually do. And there's very few, you know, certainly not the ones that there's only really a few that came to me, the people patient that way, and they ended up winning or being nominated for Oscars. And so you know, but that is the dream, that's what everybody's looking for is, is that golden ticket, somehow or other the film that they make is going to be the one that scores, the the, what you have to do is keep at it, keep making movies, keep, keep doing it, because each film that you make, is another incredible learning curve. And I'm still learning and it's, you know, many, many, many movies later. And things continue to happen to me that I wasn't expecting to be hit with. And but I'm very calm. You know, that's the other thing for me is I'm very sad about it all. And you know,
Alex Ferrari 16:58
I can tell I can sense your energy already, just by talking to you just you are a chilled producer. I've talked, I've worked in the business for 30 years, I've worked as a director, and I've worked with many producers, and I've spoken to many producers. And you could tell pretty quickly that you're not the guy who's going to be on set, yelling, I'm sure there's moments. But generally speaking, that's not the thing. And that's the good sign of a good producer. But I have to ask you, though, agents, that's one of the the these not roadblocks. Gatekeepers, the gatekeepers of, of actors, so many young producers have problems, just getting through any tips on how to approach an agent of an actor or a director or even a writer when you're young producer? Well, interesting thing.
Cassian Elwes 17:41
As I said, I was an agent, I went to William Morris for 13 years. So I got to work and see the inner workings of the agency very closely, because I was, you know, as the head of a department, you know, I'd be in the department head meetings, I would be involved in a lot of the decision making in terms of what was going on inside the agency. I was, and I was working on, you know, 25 movies a year, a lot of films, anything that was not a studio 100% A studio movie was something that I would work on, meaning that if there was a studio film, but it was partially financed by independent film financing by some big company that was going to co financed with the studio, they would bring me in to help to help figure out how to make those deals, I really did watch the whole way that agencies operated inside the studio filmmaking business, and also inside the independent film making business and I, I hope, actually that I've influenced quite a bit, the way the agencies now operate inside the independent film space, because they are basically copied the formula that I came up with, of how to do it. But you know, some projects will come from people that you didn't know or never heard heard of. But somehow rather they got that script in front of somebody. Now they maybe they met somebody in a bar or restaurant and they've given the script to an actor, an actor read it. So it's pretty good. I'd like to do this. And then the first thing they do is call their agent say like, I don't know, this agent is this Matt, this producer for madam. But the script was actually pretty good. I'd like to do it, or I'd be interested in doing it. So there was there were lots of different ways that people would get into the game. Another one was that they would make friends at parties with agents assistants, and, and the agents assistant would read the script and say to their boss, I read the script, and it's really good, you know, like, all the agents really want is to make great movies. Now that doesn't always happen in our business has changed so much now that it's fact it's, it's rare that great movies are being made. They're mostly studio battery pitches that are some copy of another picture that's already been done, or a sequel or prequel or another comic book that they bought the rights to using the metaverse of that or the universe of that character to spin off a bunch of garbage that looks the same as the one that you just saw. But you know, the great and great movies that are being made are being made within the independent film sector and in the international, independent film sector. And, and so the, you know, the again, that was trying to get the scripts in front of directors, directors would would meet people in the most random ways, read the script and go Yeah, like that. So I would say don't, don't give up again, try to find somebody who does know people that is that you are sympathetic with and that or some particle within that you guys, women team up together to make something come together, it all comes down to the same thing always spin the spin the golden rule from the day I started, it's about the screenplay, if you've got a great piece of material, I'm a great believer that that movie will, that script will somehow rather find its way into the hands of the right people to be made. And because there's so few, so few scripts that are out there that are really fantastic. And if your script, your friend who wrote it, you have a fantastic piece of material, then you know, then you've got a chance you got a chance to read or read of the interest, you got a chance to act or be interested, you got a chance to other producers would read it and say we'd like to be involved in the financing company, we'd like to be involved. You know, there's many, when you have something that feels like it's a movie, and it's a real movie, a lot of people will appear out of the woodwork that will help you get this on me.
Alex Ferrari 21:22
Now, I'd love to hear your point of view on this because the film independent film space specifically and cinema in general has been devalued, so dramatically by the streamers. We're now on Amazon, you're getting fractions of a penny for an hour long play and, and you know, in the beat and we were talking about the video store days, there was a value there, there was a value went to the theater, then you would maybe you know rent it or it was a 79.99 product that you would give to video stores then sell through, there's still a $20 value there than a rental was. So there was and then it just kept getting diminished, diminished diminish, even when TVOD showed up on iTunes, it was still kind of the model of rentals. But now films are, you know, almost almost doesn't have the value. The same thing happened in music before it was an album than it was a single. And now, you know, Beyonce is not making a whole lot of money on Spotify. Not that I'm she's hurting. But you know, the the idea is it's the devaluation of art. How can a producer in today's world, you know, without the connections, like maybe you have with output deals, and maybe pre sales and things like that, that are automatic make money with an independent film, especially in this in the genre you'd like to play in dramas?
Cassian Elwes 22:34
Well, that's a very good question. And I you know, I struggled through it every day, because you see the market changing constantly, you know, part of the problem with the streaming companies is that they're making all these series, there's just so much material that's appearing, this new material that's appearing every week or every month, on their platforms that are endless, you know, is eight hours of this 10 hours of that or six hours, you know, so and also with recognizable movie stars, because, you know, during that COVID period, when when a lot of films weren't being made, there was a lot of streaming platforms that were making television shows, and they were hiring. bonafide movie stars, you know, the mayor of East East way or whatever it was the one with with with Kate Winslet was like a movie, but it was fantastic was six hours or eight hours of the movie. Really good. So you know, that they they are making and competing in the independent film circuit, because they're making films, they're making television shows that look like independent movies. And so yeah, it's getting harder. But again, I don't want to give up because I believe in what I'm doing. I don't want to give up and just say okay, it's all over the streaming companies and just making you know, independent movies that look like independent movies or eight hours long. That's okay, you know, you know, you just gotta get keep making something that turns out to be really good. And I just made a picture called robots. That is a comedy futuristic, romantic comedy with with a wonderful British comedian called Jack Whitehall, and a fabulous American actress Shailene Woodley. It was directed by Anne Hines and Casper Christiansen he's Casper is the sort of Larry David Denmark. He is long running show called clown and that he writes directs and stars and there's kind of a Larry David Danish, Larry David. And Heinz is Sacha Baron Cohen's guy. He's been running with him, Sally G. He's written everything and was nominated for Academy Awards for four out one and two. And the movie is fantastic. And I think it has a chance to really work that has been acquired by one of the one of the top independent film distribution companies I can't say who yet because they haven't made and that's why, but that movie has a shot. That movie has a real shot, and it has a shot to continue to have sequels and prequels for it because the funny funny idea And so, you know, you gotta you gotta keep keep plugging away and
Alex Ferrari 25:06
There's no easy answer is there?
Cassian Elwes 25:08
No, there isn't, you know, I, I just made a pitch with desperation rope. As I said, I wanted to work with Garrett had, I been very involved in gender politics over the last few, you know, several years on my programs that promote female directors and female writers one with a blacklist one one that I set up myself with Christina shadow, Lynette Howell and my partners in color rising what, and we bring directors, female directors that come out of colleges across the country to some instrumental ships. So this picture desperation road is directed by a woman, I've worked on one movie with her that was tiny, $600,000 movie that was incredible. And I put her into this or wanted her to direct it. And we assembled a great cast for it, you know, how do we make money from that? I'm not sure because we haven't really made any money from it yet any of us, but we will. Because it's going to turn out to be good movie. And, you know, we all work for low money upfront, but we will gambled on it. So, you know, that's the other part of it is that, you know, if you're coming into this business, because you got to make some huge score, don't chase the money, and money ain't gonna be there, you got to chase a great product. And if you grit make a product that hate to use that word, it's not a product, that's how the studio's view movies. But if you make great movies, the money will come to you somehow or other, I really do believe that, and, you know, may not be on that movie, but it'll come on the next one. And you know, you got to try to keep making something great. Because, you know, if you're just coming to like, make some huge score, that's not going to happen, then it might get lucky. But it's not it certainly on the independent film business, not gonna make some huge score up front, you'll make a big score at the back end if it works out if it turns out to be good for them.
Alex Ferrari 26:50
So you're speaking of the back end, which is, you know, that's the long running joke. Like, you know, have you ever made any money off of a point and
Cassian Elwes 26:57
That's true, you know.
Alex Ferrari 26:59
It's one of those. It's one of those things, but I wanted to ask you, though,
Cassian Elwes 27:03
The studio's most creative part of the studios is their accounting departments.
Alex Ferrari 27:07
Oh, brilliant. Which brings me to my next question. I'm assuming that every movie that you've ever made, has been sold to a reputable distributor who get your payments and reports on time, every time and you've been paid all he's choking ladies and gentlemen. So how do you deal with that?
Cassian Elwes 27:31
Yeah, I don't I don't I'm not trying to work with the back ends although on some films I have gotten big backhand like gone on the butler we you know, is so huge that it but that was a bit that was a studio film, though, wasn't it? It was Weinstein's? Yeah. So it was released that was released. But now it's bankruptcy. And I don't know what's gonna happen with that. But but, you know, the movies really good movie and there was was so successful, there was hard to hide it all. Although they did their best. And they it was it was made as an independent movie. So when we made the deal with them, it was a very aggressive deal for us. I like to take some credit for that, because I know what I'm doing in that area. And we made extremely aggressive deal on that. So I'm for were the people that invested in it. And they all made a lot of money out of it, which I'm very happy about. But, you know, I'm not in the game of like waiting for the back ends, I hope that they'll come. But that's not necessarily the way that I think about making films, I think about making a film for X and selling it for y, which is more than what it costs. Hopefully that the way we try to make more money from the films that we're making, independent films that we're making. So it's not, it's not about the back end, necessarily. Or that sometimes it comes to that you can sell the movie for anything, you know, close to what you really wanted. So you make some deal where you make aggressive back end, and you hope that the movie performs. But, you know, as you said, the business is constantly evolving is changing, you know, the day and date, which was one point is unknown, you know, was never wasn't being used at all, it's now become the norm. You know, one of the first one of the first movies that ever was a success on the day and date release was movie entaco magical, and wonderful picture at the time. We were so depressing, like, oh my god, it's not gonna be great for the movie, because we've got to come out day and date on it. And and then, you know, we got very lucky because two weeks before the film was got released that way, Wall Street, you know, the whole kind of Wall Street, whatever that thing was cool, though, is that? Yeah, they were all like, you know, if you want to know what, what that whole thing is about, you got to see this movie because it explains it very well. And, and so yeah, it was a huge success. And then after that, a lot of people started using it, they platform now it's the norm for independent films, because, you know, they realize that if you're gonna spend a bunch of advertising on a film, you might as well get it into as many different ads to the consumer in as many different ways as you can imagine, while you're spending the advertising And, and so and so that that's become the norm because in the past, we're in the old days, old days, you know, the 80s and 90s and early 2000s, you know, you'd release movie independently replayed for six weeks, then you release it on DVD and then you spent a bunch more money promote the DVD release, and then you would you know, do the pay television and then Sony, you know, it's showtime or HBO or ever bought that window would do a bunch of advertising for the film on their platform. So, you know, that's, that's all changed. People realize that, you know, why are we spending all this money three different buckets of spending money on promoting a film, we might as well just spend it all in one go and put it into every single hand that we can find whether it's on a movie screen, and home on that computer or a television screen or in the DVDs at Redbox and the supermarket might as well get it all out at the same time and get people buying as many copies of that movie as you possibly can all in one go.
Alex Ferrari 30:56
So you mentioned the butler that year wasn't a bad year for you because that's the another year another movie came out that your Dallas Buyers Club, which on paper seems like a very successful wildly well known like, it doesn't is a pitch. You know, it's not a feel good movie. But it's a fantastic film. I know. I heard the script had been bumping around for what a decade or something like that?
Cassian Elwes 31:20
Yeah, you know, I was a movie I was desperately I loved. I thought it was when I first read it, I was an agent at that time, I'd worked on a tiny film called everything put together with a guy called Mark Forster. And then Forster and I had gotten to be friends, even though I didn't represent Him. And we worked on the second picture, Monsters Ball, and which then became a huge success. And it was a little budget movie, low budget movie, but it became Yeah. Halle Berry won the Oscar for it. And then I said tomorrow, we'll come on, what's the next one? And he goes, Well, I just read the script. That's incredible. It's called dad spies. But, and I read it. I was like, what, this is a really good script, but it's very risky, risky, because it was and that 10 years, you know, it's now 15 years ago, 20 years ago, it was still very, you know, Ace was still very much a risky subject matter. And, and so we we, I said, Listen, you need to get a real movie star for this because like who I go, I don't know, like Brad Pitt two weeks later becomes vaccines. Brad Pitt's going to do it. And, and this is a long story, but I won't go into it because I tell this story a few times. But basically, Brad Pitt and his team sold a script to universal, they developed it for 10 years, nothing happened. And then there's a rule came into place at Universal that, that if a film isn't made for 10 years, the writer has the right to get the script back for a year and see if they could set it up elsewhere because they don't want the writers to never have a shot to get that movie made. And so the script came back to the original writers. And I was making a movie called The Paperboy with Matthew McConaughey. And I didn't know him. So I was chatting him up. And I was like, if you find your next pitch, he goes, Yeah, I have I go, what is it? Now? This is 10 years later, he goes the phone call the Dallas Buyers Club. And I'm like, fuck, and I called the producer. Sorry, my bad. I was rubbing Brenner. She was a friend. I'm checked in with her over the years. And she's like, Yeah, I was gonna now we're gonna do it. Right. Because like, I think it's gonna be the guy did, you know, this director that he wants to do it with and never happened, you know, and universal developed, like five different versions of the script. 1.8 we're just developing it as the cops who are chasing them, which is ridiculous. And and I said, I said, Robbie, what's happening? But she said, Well, I've got this great director called Sean McVeigh out there, and he's gonna do it. And we're shooting a cannon. We raised all the money and $78 million film and you know, we're going to do it. And as I said, bombax I really wanted to do that script. I loved it. And then as luck would have it, about three months later, the agent who'd worked with me on the butler called me opposite he can't believe this I go what she said that the Dallas Buyers Club just fell apart the people in Canada with financing it can't finance it. You know? And sometimes this is also famous stories out of the rap I've written this stories and you got the rap to deep dive you can find it how I raised the money in five days. They basically told me I have five days to come up with the money or forget it. And I did the money and five days for the phone which was insane. But I you know, I got I was making a movie called Ain't Them Bodies Saints with David Lowry. And I got that crew that was there out in Louisiana to stay on and go go to straight to New Orleans. And, you know, we set that we we shot that whole picture in New Orleans even though it's also in Texas tonight. You know, it's a fabulous Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto are fabulous. You know, interestingly enough on that picture, the John Mark, you know, who's who tragically died last year. He wanted to use the sky Ezra Miller to play the part that Jared ended up playing and I was nervous because I didn't really know who I was. I said please let slip use yard lead. I've worked on a picture with him before and I was a huge fan of his. And and I and the director said, not only why there was a lot of hemming and hawing, but in the end, I set up a zoom because Jared was touring. We couldn't do it meet face to face with Shama. So he came onto the zoom in full costume at the end. Shot and Mike Sharma. And at the end Shama is like, Yeah, fine. Okay. And he won the Oscar, which is, you know, incredible.
Alex Ferrari 35:33
Yeah. So the Matthew.
Cassian Elwes 35:35
Yeah, that movie was something that's very near and dear to me. And I, you know, I got to to work with Jim Seamus brand focus at that time. And, you know, it was it was a, a, who I'm a big admirer of, because, you know, produce some of the greatest films, independent films ever, in the prior 10 years. And he was running focus at that point, he got movie and, you know, it was, it was it worked. That's the beauty of that patient work.
Alex Ferrari 36:05
So, after doing so many projects, I mean, as a filmmaker, I think, no matter what you do, there's always that day on set, that the entire world is coming crashing down around you. And you feel like Oh, my God, I don't think we're gonna be able to make it through today. What was that day for you on any of your projects? And how did you overcome it?
Cassian Elwes 36:22
Every habit every day, every single moment? Of course, every day, every single day that I'm shooting, it's like, how are we going to make this day? How are we gonna make the state you know, we've got the entire movie in 16 days. Now that that was kind of a record for me. Insane, that means a shooting six pages a day. And, you know, was the only way that we can figure out how to actually get the movie made. With the money that we had, you know, each day is like a nightmare. And then you're worrying the whole time, it's anybody gonna get COVID It's gonna get shut down on a movie, two summers ago, with Aaron Eckhart for 18 months ago, called rumbles through the dark, turned out to be a fabulous movie with these two young directors, brothers who wrote it and directed it co directed it. But on the fourth day of shooting, this was at the height of COVID, they had 22 cases on the set, the movie got shut down. For two weeks, everybody's split. You know, it was quite hairy, trying to get everybody come back. You know, that took a lot of negotiation with all the various different parties, including the actors. When we didn't start shooting again, until about six weeks later, in the end, which was you know, nightmarish and movie turned out to be fantastic. The story behind the making of it was very difficult. So yeah, every single movie, there's some kind of story, everyone's got the war stories of what they went through making multiple war stories from all of them, but I I'm a sucker for film. So I keep doing, keep I keep this, I want to do it. And I kind of, you know, my family, my two daughters both want to be in the movie business. Now, the oldest one, and I just produced a movie together called Bella Thorne. This summer, these they tell people that I actually thrive on the disasters, that I look forward to the disastrous results, because that's where I really come into my own. And I don't know if that's necessarily true. But I am very, very good in those disastrous situations in terms of trying to stay calm, figure out what the what the what we should actually do. And since I'm extremely experienced, I've seen a lot of that, you know, think touch one, I've never actually killed anybody on a set. You know, that's the worst case scenario. But people have been injured. You know, it's the filmmaking can be dangerous sometimes. But it's what they recovered fine. You know, it's it's not easy making films, and it's not easy making films.
Alex Ferrari 38:59
But how do you deal with the stress, man, I mean, this, it's so stressful. You've made so many?
Cassian Elwes 39:04
Well, like I said, I, you know, I don't know if I'm allowed to say this. In the early part of my career before I became an agent, I spent a lot of weeks. Sure I was making,
Alex Ferrari 39:13
I mean, it's 2022 you can say that,
Cassian Elwes 39:16
You know, I was get very, you know, get stoned whenever there was a disaster, which I realized later on probably wasn't a good idea, because it wasn't necessarily like, Oh, I got a great idea. Let's do this. You know, I'm like, No, I it is very, very stressful. Very stressful. As I've gotten older, I've realized that, that there is going to be enormous amounts of stress all the time. And, you know, the film I did with, with Bella Thorne that was mentioning that my daughter produced we were three weeks out I was prepping the movie with with my own money. And we still didn't have the male star for the film and the distribution company that was by the thumb said low I think we're out of my tears of people. put in this movie. So I went back to one of the ideas that they had had prior who said no to me, rank really big. And I called him up. And I said, and I know him really well. And I said, right, you have to do this for me, I'm gonna pay a lot of money for five days, I gotta come and do this. And I know you want to direct this other film, I'm aware of the horror picture that you're interested in directing, I will make that movie, you just got to come into this movie with me. And he came saying the film. So you know that that was a very stressful situation.
Alex Ferrari 40:28
Yeah, and it's, it's, they don't tell you that in film school. I mean, this the amount of stress that you do on one movie, but you are doing, you've met, you continuously made four or five, six,
Cassian Elwes 40:42
Between four and six a year, which I'm literally shooting a movie every two months, and then the stress levels are very high. And then
Alex Ferrari 40:50
I mean you got a system, you got a system, I'm assuming
Cassian Elwes 40:53
It's kind of you know, then you're, you know, while you're shooting the films, you're actually delivering the ones that you've already just made, right, polishing one's editing, the ones you just made, delivering the ones that you made, like six months before, you know, it's a constant stream. You know, I had one friend who said that it's like an assembly line for you. And, you know, that might be doing to that, too.
Alex Ferrari 41:12
Do you have a core group of collaborators that you've been using? Post houses, and yeah,
Cassian Elwes 41:19
I, you know, work with everybody. So I figured out which ones are the good guys, and the bad guys, you know, I, I have I do have a support system, they don't work for me, but they will work with me if I find the right things to work with them on. And so each film is like Mission Impossible. It's like picking the right people for each thing. You know, what, if you accept that if you choose to accept this mission, you have to come with me. And I have great libraries that I've worked with, I'm now working with the best line producer I've ever worked with Italian women. And I've never worked with somebody so good. And she is hilarious to me because she's a chain smoker. And I feel like I'm in an Italian 70s movie, when I'm around her all the time, like Fellini is gonna pop out. And he's like, oh, yeah, so I feel like I'm in the in a spaghetti western, you know, and which I love, you know, because making independent films is there's, there's a history to it, you know, there is a real history. And I was it makes me think about the history of what we're doing. You know, there were some incredible filmmakers that have been behind me, and there'll be some incredible filmmakers in front of me. You know, I want to make films, people say, Well, what do you want to do? And it's hard to say I want to do this kind of movie, I want to do something that I haven't done before. I want to do something that I feel like, will actually outlive me later, you know, like, Butler and Dallas will be films that will be talked about a long time after I'm gone. And that makes me excited, because that means that somehow that did something that actually become more became part of the Zeitgeist as opposed to just being another title. You can switch on your pay per view, which I'm sure you do, and a lot of people do. And you scroll down, the films are available, the new titles are at this week and click on the one that you want to see, you know, you want to you don't want to just be part of the cannon fodder. You want to be the one that people like, Man, I'd like to watch that movie again. You know, 10 years later, or five years later, and those are the films you want to be making. You know, you don't do it every time. It's very rare that you do do it. I mean, that year that you're talking about, was incredible. Because they worked on cat when Kevin Costner and worked on their body sights, you know, it was like, it was like the Year of Living Dangerously for me. I literally kept throwing sevens. It was incredible. It was, you know, fabulous. Fabulous. Yeah, they don't come along that often. But when they do, you got to enjoy the ride. And, you know, my band was there kind of hear from you, too. When we made Medan, you know, got nominated for three Academy Awards. Netflix bought, it was one of the first acquisitions. Awards were the pitcher for them. They were willing to spend a lot of money on it, because they never heard of them that they wanted to move to the Oscars before they treated us like I've never been treated in my entire life. I mean, that by limos every night taken to the screening and first class flights to London and like, it was it was fabulous. Because it's an independent filmmaker, I go coach, you know.
Alex Ferrari 44:08
We give me to tell me that independent filmmakers aren't just loaded with cash all the time?
Cassian Elwes 44:12
No, you kidding? Listen, if I really want to make some real money, I'd be doing something else.
Alex Ferrari 44:17
Do you know what I always tell people like how was that the old joke? How do you become a millionaire in the film business? Start with a billion.
Cassian Elwes 44:27
That's that that's not you don't go into it for the money. You go for the love. And you hope that the money will come along during the way during now when you're prepared.
Alex Ferrari 44:38
So another question. I'd love to hear your perspective on. What do you look for in a film director? When you're packaging a project? What are the elements?
Cassian Elwes 44:46
Okay, well, first of all, you got to have seen that films that they've already made. You got to understand what it is that they're there, their vision, you know, what, what are they capable of? And then you got to listen very closely. I listen. Really closely when they come to tell me what they're gonna do, because, you know, I can tell in five minutes, they have no idea what they're doing, I can tell them five minutes, if they're going to make something great. If I liked the material, like the way they're talking about it, and I like the way that they're, you know, they're thinking about it and the actors that they kind of want to work with. And, you know, the way that they want to make it where they want to shoot, and all of those things, those are all kind of secondary on some level, it's, it's got to be about understanding their passion, and understanding their ability to deliver what they're saying that they're going to deliver it by watching what they've done already. So I think that's, that's what I'm looking for in directors all the time. It's not necessarily that, of course, there are directors that that I hear about, or like to work with multiple films, when they hear something negative, something because I don't really care about any of that stuff. My my own experiences with people are totally different from other people's experiences with them, I run a very different kind of ship from a lot of other producers. And I think that's why some of these filmmakers gravitate towards me that as I've gotten older, I tend to find that there's a lot of young directors coming back, because, you know, they, they're the ones that want to work with me, you know, the guys that are big star directors have a career, they don't, you know, they can pick up the phone and say, I'm gonna make this and Quentin Tarantino, they don't need me to make pictures with that producer movie. So the film directors that I mainly have been working with over the last few years are the ones that are coming up that really need me, or the older ones who can, who are struggling, and in need some energy behind them to figure out how to change their careers and start over. So that tends to be the types of directors and I work with. As I said, I work with any level of director, I just got to make sure that I understand what it is that they're going to do and that we're on the same page.
Alex Ferrari 46:49
Now, if you could go back to your younger self, at the beginning of this journey as a film producer,
Cassian Elwes 46:57
By the way, this is a good one I can feel.
Alex Ferrari 46:59
What what would you what's the one thing you would say, hey, you know, What, did you want to go for a hell of a ride, but this just watch out for this one thing?
Cassian Elwes 47:11
Really good question.
Alex Ferrari 47:12
Cassian Elwes 47:13
Not sure I, you know, not sure what the answer is to that. Because, you know, I don't think that I would want to alter the way that I approached any of the films that I worked on, by having some hindsight to what I what I learned later on, I think that each firm, this might sound like a pat answer, but it's really not. Each film, I learned something new about myself, I learned something about my own abilities. I learned something about my persistence, I learned something about my, my, my, my tastes level. Each firm was really something that pushed me into thinking a different way. And I you know, so I don't think I would have necessarily want to go back and say, Hey, watch after this. Don't do that. You know, I, I think that, um, you know, maybe I maybe, you know, I people say, Well, you know, you made psycho cop and invisible maniac and some of these other small pitches when you were starting at, I don't regret them, you know, honestly, kind of embarrassing on my, on my resume, but I don't regret them at all. Because, you know, what, I learned how to make films that way, then was incredible learning curve, you know, make a film for $300,000 is insane, actually. But I learned how to do it. And it taught me much. And it was such a great learning curve for me later, when I became an agent to be able to talk to filmmakers about how to make their films as opposed to just being an agent saying, Okay, here's the script, here's the budget, or whatever, try to set it up. As you get into it. You know, one of the filmmakers that I got to work with quite a bit at William Morris was Gus Van Sant. And he taught me how to talk to directors, talk to artists. You know, I talked to a lot of directors, I mean, a lot of movies, but he actually taught me how to how to deal with an artist, which was incredible. And one of the greatest going back to school ever, and I was being paid to do it, which was incredible. But we worked on worked on elephant which won the Palme d'Or. Last days we worked on Paradise Park worked on Jerry, which I love, people think I'm insane, but I love that movie. It's it's like a zen experience. You know, melt he's, he's a brilliant dude. And one of the best directors out there. And I got to spend five movies worth with him. Which was a longer period of time obviously than we buy movies of baby. And I really learned how to how to talk to him and learn how to gain his confidence and, and be able to to understand where his mind was coming from. valuable lesson for me later on with other directors. Valuable
Alex Ferrari 49:53
No, no, I'm going to ask you a few questions ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Cassian Elwes 50:01
Don't give up, you know, look, if you really want to do it don't give up. I mean, that's, that's the, that's the best advice I can give you, you know, it seems daunting, it's a lot of these things seem insurmountable and go, I got a script I really want to make, but nobody wants to deal with me. I mean, any movie can be made for any amount of money, you know, it's a question of how much you're going to compromise on it. You know, you can make films for $50,000. I mean, tangerine is incredible movie that was made for $25,000, you know, on an iPad, you can, you know, that guy Schonbek is brilliant. And, you know, you don't have to, you don't have to be limit, the way you think if you really are an artist, you can do anything. And you can create anything as a piece of art, you know, whether people appreciate the movie on the other end, you know, that's, that's, that remains to be seen. But you shouldn't be limited by the, somebody told me you have to get $3 million to make this film, to get the star to be in it today, you know, that that should be the all those filmmakers that we all love and admire, they all started somewhere, they all had to break into the business, somehow or other, they all wrote a script, mainly wrote scripts, or developed scripts that they attach themselves to, that somehow or other that some producer somewhere introduced him some other producer somehow or other got the money to make those vows, you know, you know, they can't give up, if you've got something great, it's probably going to happen. And, and so I wouldn't, I wouldn't be, you know, you can't give up your day job, obviously. But you got to keep your eye on the prize, which is get my movie made, even if you make a little short, and that ends up playing in a film festival somewhere that you made for $5,000 that might find you an agent that might get so get you get people interested in your work. I mean, i i There are great agents and sign directors that I mean that I know they'd sign off from shorts, and, and turned out to have incredible careers. So you know, there's so many routes and you can't be limited by your, your fear of that you gotta be you gotta be very aggressive about yourself in front of figure out how you're going to make it and, and that means just making stuff. Because you know, you're not really a filmmaker, unless you're making films, and you've got to get out there and make stuff and show people what you can do, because one thing will lead to another and promising.
Alex Ferrari 52:18
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Cassian Elwes 52:24
I don't know, I'm constantly still learning. So I don't know if I've learned any particular lessons other than I guess that? That's a good question, too. I don't know where you come up with these things.
Alex Ferrari 52:35
I've been doing this for a few years, brother.
Cassian Elwes 52:39
One of the things that I that I'm constantly surprises me, honestly, is that the lack of loyalty in our business, you know, and that's, that's the sad part of it, you know, they're people that I've helped get their careers going, who like, Cassie, you know, but I, you know, it's, it's, it's a long business, and sometimes I'd get back with them, you know, when they need me again. But I, you know, that was that was that was a good lesson early in my career. Some of the people I was working with and ended up having like, huge careers outside of me, you know, ratty, Harrington, did Jack's back with got to meet Roadhouse. John McTernan, who I didn't know events with his first pitch of these were both of those movies, ended up going straight from my film to predator and then to die hard. And it was like Cassie knew that they did come back into my life later, because I was in a position what could actually help them? But, but you know, that that's the thing as I did think you can sit there and go, Well, if I discover all these people, they're all gonna stick with me, they're probably not you know, that everyone, everyone's some type of stepping stone to each other. You know that that was a hard lesson that I've learned, but I accept it now that that's part of the game and that, that not I'm not sitting there going. Why don't they come back? Make the next movie with me? You know, I gotta get on to the next one.
Alex Ferrari 54:02
What did you learn from your biggest failure?
Cassian Elwes 54:07
To Dust yourself off? You know, I mean, that's, that that is the real thing. You know, I funnily enough, we had such high expectations for the chase, you know, we, we sold that pitcher to 20th century box. I remember. Charlie Sheen was a huge star at that time, Chris theta, Kristy Swanson, who I knew because my brother dated her, Carrie. And we thought that issue was going to be hit and and then we went, you know, the head of the studio, or the head of distribution at the studio. Lovely man invited us over to, to sit there on Friday night and listen to the first returns coming in from all the different offices around the country. And it wasn't working. And he he told us he knew it wasn't going to, but he said I wanted to be here with you guys. You know that my other young partner We were both in our late 20s, at that point was a big deal for us because we finally made a studio level film. And he said, I wanted to be here with you. And I wanted to tell you that, you know, it's just about getting up to the bat, you got to keep swinging, because one day, you're going to just hit it out of the park. And I'm tearing up thinking about it now. Because he, you know, he really, really, really, really helped me at that moment, because it could have been just down in the dumps for months afterwards. And I wasn't, I was like, he's right, I'm gonna get back up.
Alex Ferrari 55:32
He was me. He was a human being, he was a human being, which is not what you don't get often in this business.
Cassian Elwes 55:39
And, you know, he that was, that was good, like, less than two feet in he was, you know, I'm trying to remember his name. I'm totally blanking. This is what happens when you get older. But he was he was a lovely man, and very good at his job. And he, you know, he told us, took us down the corridor and goes, boys. Not all movies work out, most of them don't. But you just got to keep swinging. And you know, what's crazy about it is that movie has continued to have a big life. And whenever I mentioned people like a lot that the chase, I remember the day, of course, you know, I had a crazy idea on that picture, which is the, you know, the Red Hot Chili, chili peppers were huge at that point. And as they finally get the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you know, we'd have like crazy out of body experiences in our chili peppers. And I called their managers and we weren't Anthony and flew to be in our movie. And they're like, Sure, great. What is it that we tell them? And they're like, great, they're in, they're coming over. And they came and they were on the set? I got to meet these guys. It was fantastic. You know, you're only limited by your dreams.
Alex Ferrari 56:39
And last question, three of your favorite films of all time.
Cassian Elwes 56:43
Okay, well, the they're they're really, you know, there's a number of films that I have, obviously, my favorite movie of all time is 2001 A Space Odyssey because, you know, Kubrick was a friend of my families. When I was a kid, we went to the zoo shooting that picture.
Alex Ferrari 57:00
No! you were on the set of 2001?
Cassian Elwes 57:05
Alex Ferrari 57:06
Oh my, you mean, you saw the wheel and the whole
Cassian Elwes 57:08
Oh, yeah, we saw the whole thing. Hollywood shooting it. They were, you know, the camera was on, it was on a kind of a man with gimbal spin around and made it feel like that they were inside. And that was sad. Kubrick was a genius. absolute genius. And we were too young to appreciate it, actually. And then when I saw the film, I didn't understand it at all. But now, as an adult much later on, I was like, That is a total work of genius. And the man was an absolute genius. So when you think about it, like when the woman in the spaceship comes in, and whatever the kind of pan app, which doesn't exist that thing and but he's on it, he's on the, the spaceship that's taking him to the middle planet before they go on to whether they've discovered the the talking, right? The she comes in, and then she she walks in a circle. And then she comes back that comes into like the pod where they're they're sitting in there and kind of airplane seats, you know, but it's really on a spaceship. And his pan is like, do you remember this is floating off the course and puts it back into his pocket? Right? All done on wires. But you know, all the all the things that were in that dump, I don't think you can look at it and go, that's any worse than a lot of the big visual effects films. And much later on, you know, like the one with George was the name that was stuck in space and George Clooney was in it. Yeah, there you can't say that the visual effects of gravity were like 1000 times better than 2001 because they're not he he came up with all those credible imagery that Doug Trumbull and, and then you know, the production design light, and they were they would throw the paint into a huge pool with other types of paint and it would just explode like that. And then that's what it would look like on screen. You know, he was so ahead of his time. And that film is an absolute work of genius. Later on in the early 70s. I was at the Cannes Film Festival because as I said, my staff on the producer, we would go to the Cannes Film Festival every year. He says, Hey, I got I got a couple of tickets to this movie. I heard it's a total piece of shit. I don't want to see it. Why don't you go ticket? You go see the film. And I was like, what is it? You said? It's called Apocalypse Now. Can I have this awful. And so I went to see it. I literally sat there with my mouth hanging open for two hours. It's one of the greatest films ever made in greatest war pitches ever made. And I literally came out of that movie theater guy. Holy shit. That is one of the greatest films I've ever seen. And it still is to this day, I watched that film ever or never. I mean, I've seen the elongated version. When it gets to the French chateau along the river. It's not as good. The final version of his original version is the best version of that movie. And it's incredible. And you know, I know what I know because I'm such a movie buff about viruses how that picture was made. We you know, I I, you know, it was it was insane what they went through, they went there for three months to make this movie, they ended up staying there for 16 months, the making of that film. Oh, I started to a bar to darkness. Yeah. My my friend George Hickenlooper, who sadly died later on. But we worked on a number of films together when I was an agent, and I loved him.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:21
But that documentary is a must
Cassian Elwes 1:00:23
Greatest single greatest line of any movie of any film documentary feature, whatever ever, in any movie whatsoever, which is then when he finds that he's in a tent in the middle of absolutely jungle where there's no no connection to the outside world whatsoever, etc. He's got a satellite phone machine has had a major heart attack, and has been helicoptered out of the out of the camp. And nobody knows if he's alive or dead. He's, he's on his way. And he had a major heart attack, you know, the, because Amelia and Charlie are good friends of mine. And they were there as kids you know, watching their dad making their movie. They it was very touch and go they didn't know if he was going to survive. And you know, Joe, their uncle. Their the uncle came in, and they shot over his shoulder because he had the same kind of body type as, as Marty. So they use Joe to do a lot of this, you know, over the shoulders and do some scenes just keep shooting while they were waiting to see if Marty was going to recover. But as I said in the documentary, he's on a satellite phone to his office in California. And he says to them, and motherfuckers he's not fucking dead until I say he's dead. That's the greatest line I've ever heard of anybody ever say that's so brilliant. Oh, my God. That's Francis. Francis that I love that line. And he's like, I don't see it. I mean, that was not a fun experience.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:52
That was that. And going back to that 2001 gag with a pen. From what I remember, you know, studying that film, he did that on tape. It was clear tape that he they stuck the pen on a piece of tape, and you couldn't see it in the film. And she just plucked it right off. And did that. To think that way? Is, is brilliant. So that's to Apocalypse Now. 2001? What's the last one?
Cassian Elwes 1:02:18
There's so many other films that I just look back at and go. I love that picture. I love that picture. You know, the I can't say those are the two main ones for me. You know, they, they they're so different from each other. But they really kind of resonated with me in a very special way. That's different. You know, there's a ton of other movies. I love Eastwood pictures. I love the Westerns. I love the spaghetti westerns. I like the you know, I love the love of those movies from the 70s Taxi driver, you know. And then later on as Spielberg pitches, the close encounters, whatever, but I met films that are that really sit with me as an adult later on. I mean, those are really good movies. They're just solid, solid, good, original pictures.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
Yeah, I really appreciate you taking the time. I know you're in the middle of 5000 movies, producing them right now. So I do appreciate you taking the time to share your stories. But thank you, my friend and continue fighting the good fight and getting us these great movies. And keep keep keep swinging the bat. Brother, I appreciate you.
Cassian Elwes 1:03:18
You keep swinging to man. It's the as I say, as I'm looking at this thing behind you. It is hustling you know you are a hustler on some level of your app raising money. You know, that's what hustlers do. They try to raise money now. It comes up with a negative connotation because people go you know, if you're hustling, that means you're trying to get money out to somebody and you know, it's not they're not going to get their money back. That's not true. I think every time I go out to try to raise money, my assumption is that it's a risk. But if I play if I do it, right, and if I make the right movie at the right budget level, I am going to get these people their money back. So my my mindset is different. I'm constantly thinking, How do I get money back to them?
Alex Ferrari 1:04:00
You keep doing your thing, my friend, I appreciate you.
Cassian Elwes 1:04:03
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