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IFH 575: From Clerks to Shooting Boba & The Mandalorian with David Klein A.S.C.

David Klein, A.S.C. (born December 1972) is an American cinematographer known for working with director Kevin Smith on the films Clerks, Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Clerks II, Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Cop Out, Red State.

Klein, a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, was the director of photography for True Blood on HBO and for Homeland on Showtime. Klein was hired for the latter position beginning with Homeland’s third season, taking over cinematographer duties from Nelson Cragg who had served as the series’ director of photography for two seasons.

In 2020, Klein served as the cinematographer on Season 2, Episode 6 of The Mandalorian, titled “Chapter 14: The Tragedy” which was directed by Robert Rodriguez. He will also serve as cinematographer on multiple episodes of The Book of Boba Fett.

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Alex Ferrari 0:28
I'd like to welcome to the show. David Klein, man how you doing David?

David Klein 4:36
I'm good. How are you man?

Alex Ferrari 4:38
I'm doing great brother doing great man. We've been trying to get this ready and recorded for god months now at this point but you're busy you're busy man you're working on Boba you're working on Mandalorian you're, you know saving the world little by little. So

David Klein 4:53
I'm about all that. But the first two things are true.

Alex Ferrari 4:57
Exactly. So I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to come and talk to the tribe, my friend. So first questions I have for you, man, why God's green earth did you want to get in this insanity that is this business?

David Klein 5:11
Probably because I didn't know that the hours were gonna be what they are.

Alex Ferrari 5:16
No one tell you that no one taught you that you didn't that you didn't have this podcast. Back in the 90's

David Klein 5:22
I thought it was gonna be I thought it was gonna be hanging out with cool, famous people and you know, doing cool stuff, which is which is true, these things are true. But man, the hours are crazy. They're absolutely just insane. But to answer your question, I always, you know, I always was into movies. I think it was Blade Runner. I know, it was Blade Runner that my father took me to do when I was like 13 years or so. And he took me to the driver, and we watched it the driver. And I remember leaving and saying to him, you know, Dad, I think I want to make movies and he's like, sure, whatever, you know, do whatever you want to do. And he you know, he was really supportive. And he actually helped me, you know, my grandfather gave me this 60 millimeter Bolex when I was young, and my father, you know, at the time we had the VHS camcorder that would that would actually plug into the, you know, the VCR that you had to take with you, you know, from the top of the TV. And so I had those two devices and started making you know, stop animation films. And you know, funnily enough I was a kid I ordered that special edition Boba Fett, you know, would you take like the Box Tops from from General Mills, I think it was and you got to check for my dad and you send it to somewhere in Minnesota or wherever it was. And you wait like eight to 12 weeks and you're supposed to get this little boat fit that comes with a rocket that shoots out of its back. Right? And it shows up? Weeks and weeks later. And the fucking rockets glued in? Its back. Right? So I blew the Holy hell out of that thing when we were making one of these little 16 millimeter stop animation films. And, you know, it's I think it's fitting that I would end up on some of these Star Wars shows. After that.

Alex Ferrari 7:11
How much and how much. Yeah, how much would that Boba Fett be worth today?

David Klein 7:15
I think about $18,000.

Alex Ferrari 7:18
Yeah, not bad. Yeah, that would be that's a good return on investment, I think. Oh, man, listen, we all do things to our Star Wars stories when we were younger

David Klein 7:27
That was fine. Yeah, you know, my dad used to help me with those, you know, those rockets, the little model rockets that he'd set up, shut up, no parachute. And so one day, I took one of the the engines to him and I said, Dad, if I cut the nozzle off on this thing and put a like a wick in there, will it just explode? And he was like, come again. And I think he thought maybe I should help you out. And, you know, so he became my my, he became my grip, my gaffer my special effects, man, everything. That's amazing. He was not in the business. But he was no slouch when it came to helping his kids out.

Alex Ferrari 8:08
Did you ever invite him on any of the sets that you worked on?

David Klein 8:10
I did. I did. I don't think he ever, you know, he passed few years back. But and I don't know that he ever really understood what I do. Same here. Were there were some times you know, I was doing a show in in Hawaii, actually. And I think that's why he came. But he came to set and he you know, spent a week on and off the set and had a good time, you know, but still, I don't think it's sunk in what what precisely my job is?

Alex Ferrari 8:36
Yeah, my dad, I invited my dad onto a set that a commercial said I was direct and commercial. And he just was like, looking around. And he went back and told his family and friends. Everyone just listens to Alex. That's all everyone. He says something and they move and they move. That's all I know. I don't understand that still, to this day, he still doesn't understand what to write, let alone this. This is

David Klein 9:01
for sure. I think at times I don't understand what I do. You know what I mean? I still have so much to learn.

Alex Ferrari 9:11
So when you started off in your career, my friend you started off in a little film, little black and white movie called clerks with a little unknown director named Kevin Smith and an unknown producer named Scott Moser now we've had the pleasure of having Scott on the show as well. So I I've heard it from his perspective on how a lot of this stuff went down. How did you get roped into this insanity? That was clerks?

David Klein 9:37
Well, it started the way so many stories start Alex I found a girl in college right? And, and about two weeks after we got there she she dumped me for another young woman which you know, totally understandable. Even cool now. At the time for an 18 year old young man it was heartbreaking. Right? And so I was like, fuck this place man. I'm No no film school, which I had always wanted to do anyway, but didn't have the courage I guess, to go and you know, just go for it. And so I found the Vancouver Film School which used to advertise very heavily in American cinematographer, which is where I saw it. And, you know, they were they have a sister school now, which is the Los Angeles Film School here in LA, on Sunset, they're almost identical programs. At the time, there was just a Vancouver Film School, and it was a one year program, and they have classes started every two months. So every other month, a new class started. And this young lady that broke my heart put me on a path to end up in the same class with Kevin and Scott, you know, had it not been for her and all that timing, which, you know, is the luck, part of how you get into this business and who, you know, what put you where you are, I guess she was the luck part of it. And she put me in the class with Kevin Scott. You know, her time that put me there. And and to be honest, after, you know, Kevin dropped out halfway through the program to save the rest of his tuition for the movie, and and Moser not finished. And the reason they wanted to bring me on to clerks, you know, to be told this because they didn't want a cinematographer who knew more than they did. And I had, I think I had focused I know, I had focused more in to the cinematography aspect of the Vancouver Film School. But still, you know, it was a one year program, how much can you can you learn in one year a hands on not a whole lot. But I think the biggest compliment I got from clerks was when we were doing the 16th, regular 16 millimeter 235 blow up. We did a lab called good fonti film lab or defund the homeworks in New York, and the biggest compliment I got was that I exposed the film properly and really well.

Alex Ferrari 11:53
You know, from from my point of view, I mean, watch Clerk's made it multiple times in my life. It's exposed. I mean,

David Klein 12:02
You're right about that. Alex, it is exposed.

Alex Ferrari 12:04
It is exposed. You didn't under expose you didn't over expose overexposed. I mean, it's man, you You did you exposed? And what's so fascinating, I mean, for people listening, the young uns listening, you shot this on 16? Not even Super 16 Just straight 16 Right. It wasn't regular regular 16 Right. Get the 16 Emma wasn't it wasn't MLS, it was

David Klein 12:24
No, no, it was think sound. And we got all the all the, you know, the camera equipment and the audio equipment from a guy named Mike Spera, who had a little company called, it was called Pro camera, I think at the time, and he actually went on to run the studio in a story, you know,

Alex Ferrari 12:47
Oh, yeah. The big one over there.

David Klein 12:48
Yeah, yeah, exactly for quite a few years. And I ran into him years, all those years later, when Kevin and I were there doing cop out, which was, which was kind of cool. But it was basically all we could afford this. This Aeroflex Sr, just an Sr.

Alex Ferrari 13:02
Was just straight up. It was

David Klein 13:04
SR one straight up of SR one. And it was all we could afford. I think we had $3,500 for all the you know, camera equipment and audio equipment for the run the show, which was about four weeks. And so he's like, that's the one you get, and it sounded like a machine gun. And it did. And we had we had the little Barney that comes with it. We also had I would end up operating the camera with that Barney and just leather jackets and all sorts of blankets and whatnot on my head. Just so we weren't recording some of that that machine got on my camera.

Alex Ferrari 13:41
Probably because you didn't Did you have a blimp or you didn't have a blip?

David Klein 13:44
We had just, you know, the standard that goes over it, you know, kind of leather thing,

Alex Ferrari 13:49
Which was useless essentially,

David Klein 13:52
It was relatively useless. All the sound is coming out of the lens. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 13:56
Right! I'll tell you Well, I my when I was in film school, the camera I got to use was the SR three. And that was that. Whoosh. We were the first.

David Klein 14:07
That was slick, man. I mean, but I think by the time we were we shot chasing AMI Super 16 on SR three is a great camera was one of the best cameras out there. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 14:17
Oh, yeah. Solid. And you can you can hook up your laptop to get like imports and stuff. Yeah, that was like the big thing. Like, you could hook up a laptop.

David Klein 14:25
I remember that. I remember but not with the SR three. But I remember plugging my laptop into a 535. And oh, yeah, during the speed changes and that sort of thing. And it was that it was that black and white MacBook Pro. Not even a MacBook Pro is a black and white MacBook with 110 megabyte hard drive, you know, which was which was screaming back then. Oh, yeah. You think I'll never fill this up. I said emails bigger than that. You know.

Alex Ferrari 14:50
Exactly. So I see. So I have to like the ins and outs I mean, you guys shot that movie what in what ferrets remember correctly it was like a Just a few weeks. Or is,

David Klein 15:13
It was it was it was four weeks, really. But, you know, the was on nights. You know, that's why Kevin wrote into the script that somebody jammed gum in the locks, because we couldn't, we couldn't have the store during the day. And so we shot nights, and we had the store from about, I want to say we had it from 11pm until 5am. You know, so they were, they were sure, but you know, we would shoot and then Kevin would actually work at the store, either either the community sort of the video store all day, and then we, you know, he finds maybe a little time for for sleep a little bit asleep, and then we get right back to shooting. So it was it was more days than you would expect. But they were shorter.

Alex Ferrari 15:55
Did you? I mean, I did I remember when I was coming up, and I would walk on set as a as a director and I early on, and you just don't know what you don't know. So luckily for you, was there anybody on set that knew more than you about the camera department? Or were you the top of the top of the hill at that point?

David Klein 16:18
I was the top of that very small hill. I was the entire department. So you know, operating the camera pulling focus. And, you know,

Alex Ferrari 16:29
Lighting too right or did you do the lighting?

David Klein 16:31
Well, I had a little we had a little help, you know, there was a cat named Ed half stack, who was a friend of Kevin's and and he would show up and Vinnie Pereira would show up. But they had day jobs too, you know what I mean? So they kind of, yeah, they come in and out. People got to work. But whenever we would go through, we'd burn through a mag, I would shut down and I'd go into the tent and change, you know, I reloaded the mag and unload the current mag. So it was a woman department, you know, oh my god. It's also why if you look at the credit clerks, the boom operator is credited as whoever grabbed the pole first, you know, I mean, because it was literally whoever grabbed it. There was I wish I had I wish I carried a camera around back then that's still camera, because there was one scene where Moser and had half stack and I were in the shot, we play the three people that run out from the funeral home after that whole business goes awry, right. Yeah. And so it was the three of us and Kevin were there. And so Kevin was literally operating the camera, sitting on the ground on the street. He had the Niagra down, you know, by his by his thigh. And so he's holding the boom, he's operating the camera. And there's the three of us running in the shot skewed the intersection. Sorry about that. It's no, but I just wish I had a photograph of Kevin sitting there with the SR one with the boom pole, which was I think it might have been a hockey stick actually, with more likely been attached to it. And one man band at that point, you know,

Alex Ferrari 18:07
Sorry. And I know he got the he bought or rented a steam back and edited the whole thing old school because

David Klein 18:14
Right there in the back of the video store.

Alex Ferrari 18:16
Right in there. So I'm assuming you were there. Part of that as well.

David Klein 18:20
Very just the very beginning. And then and then I was out. I had to go get a job to you know what I mean? Right?

Alex Ferrari 18:26
Yeah, cuz I'm sure you didn't get rich off that first job as far as.

David Klein 18:30
No not at all

Alex Ferrari 18:33
So clerks comes out, man, and you I'm imagining, what do you think was going to happen? Seriously, like, I mean, from a DP's point of view, when you do a show like that, you're not going to go, this is gonna go national, this is going to blow up, it's gonna become a phenom. I'm assuming that's not what you thought.

David Klein 18:50
No, it's not what what any of us thought I think at best, we thought that it would be a calling card, just you know, to a studio or a small production companies that hey, these guys can can get a film made. But so let's hire them to do the next one. Which, you know, that did happen and so much more, you know, we didn't expect it to, you know, go to Sundance and be the little sleeper hit that it was, you know, it took off like crazy. And to be honest, for me, eventually. It was it was a deep hole to climb out of because to have a movie that's successful. And look like that is not great for a cinematographer. The same thing happened years later with chasing AMI, which is a wonderful film, and I stand by it to this day, but it doesn't look great. You know, it's not well, it's not well, lens. We barely moved the camera, aside from some of the many arguments in the movie. But, you know, it was a successful film that didn't look that great. So again, as a cinematographer, it was a there was a hole of time out for sure. Yeah, because

Alex Ferrari 19:57
I guess you were like, Oh, this will be a little thing. I can maybe show around. A little bit, no one's ever really going to see this. And then all of a sudden, you're like, I am known for this, like, Oh, you're the dB of clerks, right? And so that was a bit of a bit of a challenge

David Klein 20:12
It's a struggle, it was a struggle, not as much as I might be jumping ahead. But when Chasing Amy was, was at Sundance, it wasn't in competition, it was just a premiere. And, you know, we had done Mallrats in between and Mallrats had been largely kind of ignored. It has since I think found a huge audience, but at the time, it had been ignored. And so Kevin, and the rest of us were nervous, you know, we were nervous about what was going to happen with Chasing Amy. And so, you know, Kevin and Scott had a meeting with with the morally repugnant Harvey Weinstein before our screening and Harvey, you know, I think Harvey knew what he had. He absolutely knew he had a chasing me, but it hadn't even premiered yet hadn't been screened to a large audience yet, so him was nervous about it. And so Harvey offered him a deal for his next movie. But there were stipulations. You know, Joey Adams, who was lead and Chase, ami was going to be the leading dog when Harvey said, No, he said, that's one of the things and he said, Joe is not gonna be the lead. And you know, Dave's not gonna be a cameraman. And whatever else it was, those are the two that I really remember. Because after that meeting, we were all staying in this condo together. And Kevin takes Joey into, you know, a bedroom, and Moser takes me in the bedroom and breaks the news to us, and then we all go to the premiere. So, you know, it was a very surreal experience to have this audience just adore the movie. And you know, I'm sitting in the back row again, and I don't get to do the bucket. Next one, you know what I mean? So it was it was a kick to the gut, for sure. And then for, you know, Ben Harvey kept me out for about 10 years. And in those 10 years, the first question I always got when I was in a job interview was, why aren't you shooting Kevin's current film, and I would tell them the story, and you know, whether they thought it was true or not, or that I was being kept out, just because I was too inexperienced, and not good enough, that didn't matter. You know, whether they believe this, or that it didn't matter, for one reason or another, I wasn't shooting his movies. And so I had to just get out there and work. And so that's what I did, as I put myself on a 10 year plan when I got to when I moved to Los Angeles, and, and I said, if I if I'm not wearing where I want to be in need to be in 10 years, then I'm gonna go do something else. But I'm gonna give it everything I've got for 10 years. And it took just about all of those years, to finally, you know, I think get a grasp on on, on the craft, and being comfortable and what I can do with the crew and set and telling a story. That's what it's all about, you know, you have all the experience in the world, if you don't know how to tell a story. It's irrelevant. It's all irrelevant.

Alex Ferrari 22:55
It's fascinating to hear that story, man, because it means so many people looking from the outside in, you know, unless like, oh, well, you know, you you worked with Kevin and you did a couple of his movies. And then you know, your career was set. And it's the complete opposite. It was actually you had a hole to climb out of in the first movie. And then the second movie, or the third movie that you did with Chasing Amy, you weren't happy with visually. So it wasn't a great calling card for you visually. And then the movie that might have been the movie that would have taken you to the next level would have been dogma, because you would have had a budget, it would have been a studio project, a real a real Studio project. And it would have maybe opened up a lot of doors for you. But you would literally have to hustle for the next 10 years to kind of whittle your widdle a niche in for yourself. So you feel like no man, I can actually do this, for sure and open and open those doors. That's a really great lesson for people listening because it's like,

David Klein 23:49
It's it's a good thing. It's a hard road to travel. Because I had to learn as I was doing it, you know, I think it's an easier path to work, you know, under somebody with a lot of experience because, you know, everybody you ever meet on a set or in life knows something that you don't and you can learn something from them, especially on a film set. If you work with somebody who's got a lot of experience, you're going to learn so much just by watching just by you know, watching what they're doing. Yeah, exactly. And so to do to learn it on the job was rough. And there are a lot of rough looking projects that I did. You know, it wasn't I don't think it was until 1999 when I really started to figure out and and figure out that I want to say how to light but who knows how to light it

Alex Ferrari 24:50
Until you found a groove that you felt comfortable in and felt comfortable with with the quality of the work that you felt from your own eye that you were comfortable with. Like I feel like I'm getting a grasp of this Take a look. I've talked to so many cinematographers over the years, man, and all of them say the same thing. It's an impossibility to master the craft 100%. There's just so much to understand and learn. And then you look at, you know, you look at someone like deacons, you know, and you see what they're doing. They are, arguably masters at what they do. But there's, you could probably count those on one or two hands that are alive. Yeah, that are just at that level. They're just like a. It's like looking at a director and going up, Chris Nolan, David Fincher, you're like, they are at the top of their game. Like, there's very few of those big Spielberg, there's a camera and there's very few of these kinds of people in the world. So it's tough. I have to ask you, though, man, when you were during those 10 years, did you ever get pushback from crew people? You're like, oh, that's the guy who did clerks. Did you ever get any any shit? Any any like, crap out of that?

David Klein 25:56
I don't think so. I don't remember any behind my back, and I'm sure they're all this guy. This fucking guy shot.

Alex Ferrari 26:07
This guy. This guy shot clerks. Jesus, I'm working on

David Klein 26:10
Funny movie but did you see that GarageBand have a fucking you know, and you know, you know story arcs the reasons why did it because we couldn't afford to balance the lights. Right? We're gonna be shooting, shooting fluorescent. And you know, we had a little tungsten kit and it was gonna be mixed all over the place. And we didn't have the money to either gel, the fluorescence or, or even get like an HMI package or a proper Kino package or any of that stuff. So we shove like wine, which is what gave it I think that GarageBand aesthetic, which I love. And now Now I can sit back and watch it and just adore that movie. But for a long time it was it was rough.

Alex Ferrari 26:53
And that's the thing. I mean, you look at the movie now and it's just so it's so it's beautiful. It's wonderful. It's so it is that GarageBand is that raw on filter, just EQ and all aspects from the writing to the acting to the to the cinematography, the directing all of it. And it's you know, but at the time, I understand your point of view. Look, Robert, Robert Rodriguez had the same issues with El Mariachi. He's like, Yeah, no one was supposed to see this. This is just my test film and you want to release it nationally? Are you crazy? So it's, you know, a lot of those movies were like that when I talked to Rick about slacker you know, is the same thing. And Ed burns with Brothers McMullen. Like all these guys. When you guys were coming up during the 90s. You know, it's just such it's true for people who weren't alive during that time. They won't, and they'll never understand the magic of the 90s. In the independent film space, it is a special it's a very special time from I'm going to say 1990 to 99, that that decade will never happen again. And it had never happened before. And it was the Sundance decade. We call it kind of the it was the Sundance independent film decade was where VHS really started to come up. There was a market for these kind of these imagine it and I asked this to everybody like if parks came out today. No one would even look at it. It would be gone. Maybe, maybe you could catch some fire because of the writing.

David Klein 28:22
Yeah. Well, that's what that movie is. I think it is. It's all writing and it could catch on. But if it came out today, it wouldn't look that way. You know what I mean? It would it's you would have shot? You wish. Yeah, it's easy enough to go get a camera that gives you a really, you know, your iPhone, for example, is shooting HD and, you know, what is it 4k now? Even. And it is it is it's pretty gorgeous. And it accepts mixed light, you know, like the Alexa to shoot mixed light all day long and it

Alex Ferrari 28:54
Low light and low light.

David Klein 28:57
And it would have been so easy.

Alex Ferrari 29:02
Not changing, not changing in the back, not changing the backs of the back.

David Klein 29:06
Non of that. You know, there's a funny story where we shot the salsa shark scene. And we had so little money. Kim wasn't happy with one night but we'd wrapped and I have my fucking hands in the bag in the tent and, and he's like, let's reshoot that tomorrow. And I'm like, What do you want me to do with this film? You know, because we he had decided we're gonna reshoot it. And we had so little money. It was like the sec throw it out. We didn't process it. We didn't want to spend the money to process and print because that's the only you know, that's what we were doing back then. And so you cross it out. Yeah. Deleted Scenes.

Alex Ferrari 29:47
You shouldn't have thrown it out. I should have just kept that maybe, maybe maybe develop it after after Sundance.

David Klein 29:53
We were thinking no one's gonna see this is gonna reshoot it

Alex Ferrari 29:57
So after clerks man after clerks do you have this it was obviously a very big hit. It was it was a phenomenal it was a phenom situation. And then you got an opportunity to shoot a studio movie, which was, which was mall rats, which had a bigger budget, arguably much bigger, bigger movie. What was it like jumping from the one man crew to running a crew of people who obviously, many knew more than you did, if I'm not mistaken is that

David Klein 30:37
Everyone of them

Alex Ferrari 30:43
How do you run the show how do you run a set like that man?

David Klein 30:46
Well, I think you've got to have a little bit of humility. And I was very upfront with with everybody that I was turned on to and basically hiring and I said, um, you know, I remember saying to Andy Graham, who's a really good friend of mine, he's been a friend of mine since then, but I met him on that picture. And he was the focus puller he sent has become an operator and he's operating for me in a lot of projects and a lot with Kevin as well. But I remember telling him that I was green. I said, I'm green man, and I'm gonna fucking lean on you. And he said, you know, this happens a lot. You're the first person that's ever said it. And so I That's it. Yeah. So I owned that, you know what I mean? And Nick McNealy was the gaffer, who had just one of our producers was Jim Jackson, he had just done tombstone, and MC MC Anita was the gaffer on that and so he introduced me to make, I'm like, You did fucking tombstone, we're really afraid. Yeah, I'm on board. And, you know, I was the same way with him. I said, I'm gonna lean on you, man. Because I'm bringing and I'm, you know, I'm in this position. It's very fortunate, I'm very fortunate to be in this position. But if I really want to learn from you, and I learned a lot from, from MC. And it was, you know, across the board, that ever every department, you know, so I think you gotta, you always have to surround yourself with with people who know more than you. But I think you got to be upfront about it, too. You know, and don't try and hide the fact that you don't know anything when you don't know anything. Because everybody's been there. You know, we've all been there. And it's one of the things that a lot of people try to hide, and and it comes out in really ugly ways.

Alex Ferrari 32:23
Oh, yeah, the ego and they start snapping at people. Because if you see people doing that, you can see that they're insecure. insecure, people are insecure people with the loud ones. The white ones are generally not the ones you have to worry about. That is that scenario in that scenario. If there's a bar fight, and there's a quiet guy stretching in the corner, that's the guy you got to apply. Guy you gotta worry. Not the guy swinging is

David Klein 32:48
Not the guy. That's, that's, that's, you know, I'll talk. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 32:53
It's the quiet guy. But when it comes to being on set, like there's a quiet, there's a quiet a when you know, you don't need to show in that way. Like I don't have to be blustery. Like, I know how to do this. And I have if you sit if you're that dude, you obviously have no idea what you're doing. You're extremely insecure. And I'm sure you've worked with directors like that, especially in in God.

David Klein 33:17
We need to get into that. Yeah, yeah, it's like, you know, the showrunner of, of homeland he's, he's in any room is and he's the smartest guy, smartest person in the room. He's also one of the most mild mannered and soft spoken. And so you know, when he's very thoughtful, and he's, he'll talk about seeing when we're when we're prepping and rehearsing a scene, and he's very quiet. And like, everybody leans in to listen to what he's saying, You know what I mean? He never feels deep, never feels the need to be loud. And this is, you know, what I think and that sort of thing. And, you know, I run into that, you know, you run to that all over the place and like, composition or going with Dave Filoni and Jeff Albro. Now, the same way, you know, they never feel the need to be the loud voice in the room. It's the quiet voice in the room that, that everybody listens to,you know,

Alex Ferrari 34:04
Yeah, and when you're working at that level, man with that kind of caliber of people, you know, they've done so much each of them in their own right, that, you know, and I'm sure you've, you've you've had the pleasure of working with some amazing directors and, and collaborators over the years, you know, you start seeing when people know what they're doing, they just, they just are, you know, they just do they don't talk about it, they just very quiet very, like, why don't we move over here?

David Klein 34:31
Well, yeah, also also, I think at this level, Alex, you know, there's, there's an amount of preparation has gone into everything and, and I've done this enough times that I know that I gotta I have to prepare, I have to be ready. And whether that means knowing all the shots that we're going to do or just understanding how we want to like to set up to tell the story, you know, you just have to be I have to be prepared.

Alex Ferrari 34:56
Now after Mallrats which we you said, you know, I actually one of the five people who saw it in the theater.

David Klein 35:04
I actually saw the theater. So who are the other three?

Alex Ferrari 35:07
It must have been Kevin Scott. I actually saw it in a theater while I was in college. And I actually got it was it was a special screening and I got the Mallrats got the book. At the theater, they were handing them out at the feet. I never forgot this. The original book, I had it. And and I saw Mallrats I loved it. I thought it was genius. When I saw it, I was like, This is the greatest thing I've seen since sliced bread. This is amazing. And then it died on the vine. It didn't find an audience at the time. So Kevin was pretty much putting in director jail at that point, correct? No, he was like, Oh, it was a once it was a fluke kind of thing.

David Klein 35:43
Well, you know, he had the script for Chasing Amy. And I think what happened is, you know, we went to Universal for this, this project. And Harvey always wanted to work with Kevin, he knew what he added Kevin. And so Kevin had a script Chasing Amy. And he took it to Harvey and he had a meeting without without Scott Mosier, which may have been a little bit of a mistake, because Kevin agreed in that meeting to do it for a price, you know, without any script changes, and and and so when he goes back and meets with Moshe, he's like, Hey, I got our money, motors thing and, you know, couple, 3 million, 4 million whenever he's like, great, would you get to 50 grand, and motors coming in? What one. And so we ended up making that movement for turning 50 grand, which just, you know, kind of it was a bummer at the time. You know, we all wanted to make movies for more money, which which means more time you know, that's what it means. It means you can actually take the time that you want to devote to each and those things are more time anyway. You never have enough time. Nobody ever has enough time. Even the biggest things I've done, it seems like we're always scrambling, you know,

Alex Ferrari 36:59
Even even if I'm assuming no Marvel set, they're scrambling still. I've heard I've actually talked to some people have worked on this 100,000,200 $50 million dollar budgets. And they're like, Yeah, we stole this shot and like you stole a shot. What?

David Klein 37:12
You guys were shooting for 130 days. Why do you have to steal the shot?

Alex Ferrari 37:16
No, I think was chrome worth. Jeff Grant was on a show also network. He's like, Yeah, I stole this shot. And this shot. I mean, David, like, it was just me, David. And like another guy. I'm like, they needed a shot at Harvard. And they couldn't get it. So they stole it.

David Klein 37:28
That's right. I remember. I remember reading about that.

Alex Ferrari 37:31
And I was like, what? That's amazing. You can't forget your roots. Man. You can't forget that hustle. Man, you no matter how big you get them in the Oscars, you win.

David Klein 37:42
It's true. But anyway, so we ended up you know, we made that that for two and 50 grand. And then what I already mentioned, what happened at that, Sundance was 96. And I pushed out for for 10 years, I went to hustled and the same time, you know, Harvey didn't let Kevin use the same cinematographer. Twice. You know, Bobby almond shot shot dogman. Bobby was excellent cinematographer. And, and Harvey said notes for the next movie. And so then they did Kevin to Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. And it was Jamie Anderson, Jamie and another great cinematographer. And he didn't like the way that looked either, and so on. Jersey girl gives them below segment ends up really not liking the way that looks either. So Kevin finally said, Well, maybe it's not the DP maybe it's the director that that you're unhappy with. And so after that, Kevin was basically like, give me my guy back. And so he and I got got back together for cliques too. So we've been apart for 10 years, nine, nine and a half, 10 years. And so we were bringing 10 years of experience of working with other people together to an existing friendship, and it was the greatest reunion I've ever had, you know, and then we went on to do another four or five pictures we did you know, after clerks two, we did Zack and Miri Make a Porno. And we did, you know, cop out and red state and we end up doing a pilot or two and, and it was just, it was wonderful because it was bringing 10 years of experience and and just just getting back together. And we had a language from before. But we had a new way of telling stories from all this experience. And that coming together, I think created some of the best work that we've done. commendation, which was Redstate, I think is our finest hour, you know, can we do together? I love that movie. I love I love it so much and a lot of blood sweat and tears. That was us getting back to our roots. And, you know, I was the Kevin I actually wrote a letter to see the poster, who was the president the union at the time to allow me to operate, you know, because that the union would have to allow this to happen and you know, it's got to be a creative choice. It can't be budgetary, and it was absolutely Be creative. You know, we were trying to get back to where we'd started. And, you know, Stephen understood that Stephen has worked with Kevin actually. And, you know, likes him a lot. And so they agreed to it, the union agreed to it. So I actually operated the camera, and we were literally we were back to where we begun. And it was a much bigger project, it was $4 million. But, you know, $4 million, as it goes far in 2008, or whatever it was 2009 2010 as it as it did back in the 90s. No question.

Alex Ferrari 40:35
And this man, after all the years that you were doing, you've been doing this? Is there anything you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of the career of your career besides beware of the sides, get out? Both sides get out and be beware of the morally repugnant Harvey Weinstein?

David Klein 40:52
You know, I think it's probably one of the hardest things that I've had to learn is that there's, there's an, there's an elegance and simplicity, you know what I mean? Because when you're when you're starting out, or when I was starting out anyway, I can't speak for other people. But when I was starting out, you know, I was, I was really trying to light a scene to tell the story. And I was, I think it was a lot of it was, was forced, you know, and it was just too much. And it took me a while to sit back. And, you know, when you're lighting a scene, you always got to look for the light to turn off. Because there's always at least one, there's always at least one that is unnecessary, and you don't need it. And it's not telling the story. It's just, you know, you're showing off or you're being, you know, you're being cute or something. But, you know, I wish that's the lesson that took the longest to learn. I wish somebody would have told me that just just fucking relax. And there is, there's a real elegant elegance and simplicity. And I think, you know, it's hard to describe, it's hard for me to describe what is simple, or elegant in lighting, because I can't tell you why I like to see in a certain way, it all comes from the gut. And that's another piece of advice. I wish I would have learned that, you know, just just follow your gut, follow your instinct and and don't second guess yourself, and even if it's gonna even if you're wrong, just fucking do it. And you're gonna learn from your mistakes. You know, if you are wrong, you'll learn from it.

Alex Ferrari 42:19
And you can you talk about the happy accidents. Because as cinematographers and directors we all want to control everything at all times, which is insane, and never happens ever. Yeah. But they're these little things you're like, how did that was perfect? How did that like, just hit the I chest? Right? The flare hit at the right moment? Can you talk a bit about that?

David Klein 42:44
Absolutely. I mean, some of the some of the coolest things that I've learned have been complete and total accident, you know, and when, when you're, when you're on a set you keep, you have to keep your eyes open for these things. Because you know, electrician will be moving a light, and it'll be on. And you know, because it's an HMI, it's not going to hot restrike. And so they want to keep it on while it's moving. And you'll still hit something that was completely unintentional. And it comes over here, and you know, it's reflecting off of that it's hitting the set, and you're like, fucking stop, just freeze where you are. That's what we want. And then the grips are like, Oh, great, now we got to contain the rest of it. You know what I mean? It's still off here. Yeah. turn those lights off. When your MO don't let him see the lights and your moon around, you know, turn them off. But you always have to be open for that. And even you know, in life you're you're out at a restaurant, you're you know, you're at a bar, you're at the movie theater, whatever it is. Pay attention to your surroundings because there's always, you know, I learned so much about lighting from being in far too many bars in New York in the mid 90s. You know what I mean? They were all dark. And a lot of them were dive bars and and you just see the way that these dimly lit bars had really cool things going on, you know, and always you always have to be open for that and keep your eyes open for it. Because you can learn just as much sitting in a seedy dive bar in New York, as you can be asked on set when it comes to lighting. Trust me.

Alex Ferrari 44:20
I've been at some time. No, you know, as a cinematographer, there's always a day on set, where the entire world feels like it's crashing down around you. It could have been on clerks, it could have been on Mandalorian are those Is there a day that sticks out in your head? That you felt like, I shouldn't be here, this whole I'm gonna get fired, this whole thing's not gonna work. And what did you do to to kind of go through that and get through that obstacle?

David Klein 44:49
I don't know if there's a day or a handful of days in particular Alex, but all that that happens all the time. Happens all the time, and you just have to push rule, you know, there's so many times when it feels like the sets falling apart and you're behind schedule, and you're not going to make your day and you're not getting the shots the way you want each set to push through. You know, you have to you always have to push through because it, it feels like that a lot. You know, I had there was a point I was going for, and I missed it asked me something else, man, I, I'll come back to that.

Alex Ferrari 44:49
Well, I mean, I, as I've been, I've been blessed to talk to so many amazing people on this show. I've realized that everybody from the Oscar winner to the first time filmmaker, all suffer from impostor syndrome. Every single one of them, even to this day, you know, I'm talking to some Oscar winning screenwriter. He's like, Yeah, I don't even know if this next script. I'm like, you just won the Oscar, what's wrong with you? Like you just are like, you're considered one of the best writers ever? Like, why are you? Yeah, he was I just, I just do. And I think I came to realize that everybody deals with it. And I think it's something that kind of keeps you sharp. I'm assuming that you have the same issues as far as impostor syndrome. Always. And,

David Klein 46:20
Yeah, you have to be I mean, you have to be your most your fiercest critic, you have to be your biggest fan, you have to be your biggest supporter, you have to be, you know, your most most critical eye against yourself, I think, because nobody knows what anybody else thinks all you have is yourself. So and you have to rely on all the people around you. Um, let me sound pretentious for a second quote, was it? Orson Welles said that, you know, a painter needs a paintbrush or writer needs a pen and a filmmaker needs an army. You know, and it's true. And no, no cinematographer, no director, no filmmaker is an island. We can't You can't do this alone. You know, what I mean, you have to have this this support this support system that is, is, you know, it's the most record is the most complicated and sophisticated recording device known to man. You know, and a lot of the times, you know, a lot of times it is like being deployed, you know, I did homeland for for six years, and we were either for seven months, either out of the state or out of the country, sometimes both within the season. And it is like a deployment, you know, I, it's, it's, I can't, I can't equate it to going to war. I can't compare it to going to war. I've never been to war. But in my life's experience, it is like a deployment. And you know, you're just in the trenches for seven months, eight months, you know, and it's nonstop. And it's hard to remember sometimes to get out of the way, you know, because if somebody looks at something that I this is probably paraphrasing, I think Deakins, but if if somebody looks at something that I've shot, it says, Wow, that's a great looking episode. You know, that's a great looking show. That's a great looking movie. Without talking about a story that I've failed. You know, I think it is our it is my job as a storyteller to be almost invisible. And it should be we should be the silence between the notes, you know, and if somebody looks at something about shots, well, you know, that was that was a great story, you know, then that's a success for everybody for all of us. But if they single out the cinematography, lighting camera work, then then I don't think we were, we weren't serving the story at that point.

Alex Ferrari 48:48
Very true. A lot of a lot of times, especially I don't know about you, but when I started out, I wanted to call the shots. And the story was the like, I'm like, I want to do that Scorsese shot and Goodfellas, I want to do that shot. That's Kubrick did I want to do that shot that Spielberg did like we all we all do it but as you get older, you start realizing like what's the story? What's the story because before it was a it was a lot harder to do those shots. It was super hard to do a lot of those shots back in the 80s 70s 80s 90s. To do some of those insane shots that those masters did was difficult. Where now that technology has gotten to a place where you know you could with a ronin you can run around instead of getting a full giant Steadicam up and you can you can you could do some insane shots run again jumping through going through like there's things that you can do

David Klein 49:35
Absolutely, absolutely. It's not and but but there's there's still, there's still always the next level. There's still somewhere to take it, you know, but it has to start the story I worked a lot during manda Mandalorian Season Two I worked a lot with Sam Hargrave. He was the main senior director and then he went on to do you know, extraction and some of the stuff that that he was doing and did an extraction is absolutely insane. And it was a perfect blend of it was a perfect blend of his background, being a stuntman and becoming a second year director and then a director. And combining that with all the new technology of the day, you know, there's that scene you look at the behind the scenes stuff, where he's basically riding on a four wheeler ATV of some sort, and he's actually directing and operating the camera and somebody you know, chasing a car basically going forward and in reverse and, and then somebody detaches him and he runs up and shoves the camera through the window. And then there was a takeover or some sort, they did a CG a visual effects blend, you know, going into the car, and then they're all all of a sudden in the car in another shot, they blend it together and the car drives away. And so it's it was beautiful choreography. And it was it was like, you know, watching a ballet dancer, except, you know, is more punk rock than that.

Alex Ferrari 51:02
Yeah, I mean, there's always a place to take. I mean, look at that shot that Spielberg did and where the worlds inside the car where the cameras just rotating around the car while the you know, the aliens are attacking and things are exploding and you just like when you know, when you and I sit there going? How the hell did they do that? Then they've done they've gone to another place. Yeah. Because we Graeme Jesus, I mean, you're just like, how did he do that? So it's, it's, it's it's pretty remarkable, man. Now I have to ask you about Mandalorian. Brother, like you worked on season one. You didn't work on season one. You worked on Season Season.

David Klein 51:42
I came in and season two as the second second cinematographer to bash anyone and Matt Jensen. So I was in seeking a matt Jensen got a little overloaded with prep work. And so he turned the episode six over to me. And as you know, when I met Robert and I had I had gotten here, I gotten here from an introduction to Fabbro. Through Lesli Linka Glatter, who was my main policy director on homeland and then you know, Matt Jensen also brought me up. And so that's how I kind of came to be here. After season two, you know, Matt and bass were going off to do their own things. They weren't coming back for their own reasons. And so I got, I guess, promoted to the main cinematographer on the Book of Boba Fett

Alex Ferrari 52:33
So so when you're, I have to ask you some technical stuff, man. Yeah. How the hell do you lighten the volume? Because I know, I have a couple of buddies of mine who are VFX people working who work the Mandalorian season one. And he was telling me that he's like, yeah, they shoot a lot. But there's still a lot of cleanup work that we need to do with some of the edges and, and, and creases and things like that, that it's not all in camera, but it's a lot better than where it's not a green screen either. So there's a kind of happy medium. But how do you like that? I'm assuming there's not an HDMI off? Like, how do you do that? How do you light it?

David Klein 53:08
You know, it's, that's a hard question to answer. It's kind of like asking, How do you like, how do you like anything? You know what I mean? It's got its own. It's a, it's a fucking process.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
I'm just telling you, it's fucking hard, dude. It's weird.

David Klein 53:25
There's nothing easy about it. I think I had a, I had a lucky introduction to it in that, you know, I was doing just a few days here and there during season two. And so I was getting to know and I was able to watch bass and Matt do their thing in the volume. And so I had a slow introduction to the volume and in season two, and then rolled right into Boba Fett shortly after that, and was thrown in the deep end, you know, where there's, there's a long prep, there was a long prep to Boba Fett, I think I was on for about five months before shooting started. And it has a lot to do with with lighting the content that's going on volume walls, you know. And so essentially, you're in the Unreal Engine, you're in a VR session, and you're lighting the content, the way you would want to light it practically, you know, and that's, that's one thing that is always a sticking point at Fabbro. Because the tendency for a cinematographer, when you get into the VR environment, and a virtual lighting environment is to do whatever the fuck you want, you know, because you can do just about anything. But you also have to match that in the practical set that's going to be inside the volume. And one of those things is like don't light it however, you could in a virtual environment, let it how you would in reality, or else it's going to start to look like a video game. It's gonna you know, it's yeah, you can put a source the size of the sun out there and do this but could you do that if you were lighting this virtual environment practically no, you could you You'd have, you'd have HMIs and whatever you're going to use, and that's also what you're going to use on the practical set. So, you know, it starts with lighting the virtual environment and, and knowing how to bridge the gap between the virtual and the practical, because, you know,

Alex Ferrari 55:19
You could actually move light sources within the volume itself that meaning the, the VR aspect of the Unreal Engine, you could put a light somewhere in the virtual space that lights through the LEDs on and there is an aspect to that correct?

David Klein 55:35
There is there is you're not gonna get, you're not gonna get directionality, you're not going to get hard light, you know, you're gonna get a lot of soft light, you're gonna get all the interactive stuff like that you get from the environment, but any, any direct a hard light, you're going to have to do practically and so when you're doing it in the virtual environment ahead of time you know, you have to know that I'm not going to be able to do this entire wash of sunlight in here I'm only going to be able to do this you know, these spots and these broken up bits of sunlight so that's what I should do in the virtual and then I'll do that also in the in the practical you know, with HMIs or we've also gone into tungsten now with with some of the loads started doing that on Boba Fett didn't didn't know if it was possible or not. And I've been told that it was not possible to get the tungsten in the volume but then I was talking to everybody from from state trapped and ILM and they said we can absolutely go tungsten I don't know who told you that and I to be honest, don't remember who told it to me either. But once we started using tungsten light in there it I think it made everything feel a little more real because it's just it's a full spectrum you know, light source and it just kind of fills in all the blanks wavelengths you know, and it just it just made it all feel a little more real for me.

Alex Ferrari 56:58
When I was talking to Dean Conde because he was on the show and he was right before he was heading out to Boba I think he chatted he did did you Boba, or do you shoot it shoot some episodes Ababa. He was telling me that he was lighting outside the volume as well getting some lights built it's something like that, or am I mistaken?

David Klein 57:16
No, you're not mistaken one thing that we haven't you know, we haven't been able to do and I don't know if it'll ever be possible is to do abroad, you know, sunlight source or you know, open moonlight even anytime you want to just just fill the volume with light, if that's what the scene requires, you need to take it outside. Because first of all, there's not enough room, it seems like it's a big space, but it gets it gets very small very quickly. And if you did wash it with with, you know, giant HMIs or big tungsten sources, the lights just gonna bounce all over the LED walls and render them useless. So, anytime we need open sunlight anytime we need, you know, say the desert at night where it's supposed to be Moon source, we'll go on the backlog. But if we need pockets, if we need, you know, a skylight here in there shooting some sunlight and then we have some some parts of the ceiling that we can take out big sections of the ceiling that we take out. And there's still there's a lot of rigging up there a lot hardware to work around. And so there's still not a lot of space to get lights, you know, away from where they need to be so you can have good shadows and so we ended up using mirrors a lot. So we'll have an opening you know, opening in the ceiling that might be five by 10 by by 12 Something like that. And then we'll have a big mirror of above and then we'll have an HMI Thompson for now whatever it is, another 1520 feet away so that there's a good amount of distance from the light and whatever's cutting it which is usually I go about hanging beneath the opening in the ceiling so that we're trying to get as far away from the light as possible so that we have good shadows you know, and there's there's just so much hardware to work around that it's difficult but we kind of cracked it a little bit and are getting better at it as we as we learn more which you know, we're learning something every day that were in there

Alex Ferrari 59:13
Right it seems like from season one to Season Two to boba and now hopefully I can't wait to see Season Three it seems that things are you can just sense things are getting a little bit more real and the way it's shot it just looks like the end sequence of you know the famous Luke Skywalker see and the season two like that's it's a masterwork honestly that whole episodes a masterwork it's absolutely absolute masterwork, I've watched the end sequence 1000 times because I'm a geek and and I got to ask you to use your your your your your similar vintages me, as far as age is concerned. So you got to keep out every once in a while dude, like you're like, You got to geek out

David Klein 1:00:00
For sure No, I'm turning into a 12 13 14 rolls very often on set, you know, I mean, you know, throw 10 stormtroopers in front of a camera and I'm 12 years old again.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:26
Yeah, the whole lightsaber, a lightsaber pops up. You're just like, Oh, forget it. I'm out. I can't.

David Klein 1:00:33
You know, it goes back to me blowing the hell out of that little little special edition Boba Fett. And, you know, I had all I had all the, the toys. I have some some of them in my office right now. Little baby clients to start with.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:46
That's, that's amazing. But so you on boba, you got to shoot with Robert. You shot for Robert Rodriguez, who is known very well known for being his own dp. So what was it like shooting for Robert because Robert is not used to working with other DPS generally speaking.

David Klein 1:01:05
I'll be honest, he largely left me alone. You know, he, I think he enjoys not having all the responsibility. Alright, you know, because he's still, you know, he's still he still edits everything. And even when we were prepping, ie, we were prepping remotely because it was the beginning of the pandemic. And so he was in Austin with his kids, and he was shooting basically animatics or a stump is with his kids and with some of his old, you know, Star Wars toys from when he was kid. So he's still very hands on. But when it came to the, the, you know, how are we gonna light this I realized, said he had ideas that we will talk about when we were prepping and when we were lighting some of the virtual environments, but for the most part, he left me alone. He would do you know, like most directors, so he'll tell me if he doesn't like something. But it wasn't like he was pointing me in a specific direction for lighting. You know, we he left me Well, let me do my own thing.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:09
He trusted. He trusted that you knew what you were doing?

David Klein 1:02:11
Yeah, I guess so. I dont know that's true, but he might think it is so.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:17
I saw I think it was in one of the behind the scenes that day. philon It was like, He's seeing the animatic that you're talking about? And he's like, can you stop? Can you stop it right second? Did you just shoot an animatic? With Star Wars toys in your backyard? He goes Yes. Yes, I did. And he's like, that is the coolest thing I've ever seen in my entire life. I think that was the moment that the book of boba he's like, wait a minute, let's bring Robert into the book of boba. And let's bring him into this because this is this is insane. And did you do with the season two? Boba episode or? No?

David Klein 1:02:51
I didn't. That was episode six. That's the that's the one that I did with Robert.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:57
Oh my god. Dude, you gotta I mean, okay, let's stop for a second geek out for a second when you saw boba show up for the first time. On set. What I mean, you guys have to be five year old.

David Klein 1:03:09
Absolutely. We are. That was a tough shoot, though. And, you know, it was I can't say it was anticlimactic. But we had shot a lot of the scenes with Boba Fett, you know, onstage and on the volume prior to the, you know, when he put your ducks up? The introduction? Yeah. And the introduction was was done out in Simi Valley because it had you know, we just needed the travel that scene needed the travel that you can't get in the volume. And it also needed that that open sunlight. And and so it, it forced us to go out to Simi Valley. And might be one of the reasons I got that episode because maybe Basma Matt didn't didn't want to go out there. You know, it was it was not an easy issue. It was It was rough. It was rough. It was five or six days out there. in Simi Valley was a lot of fun, but, and like I said, I can't say it's anticlimactic, but we had already been introduced. And so you know, I can't say that we were out there just to get it done. But there was a certain aspect of we got to get this done because we had a finite amount of time. And you know, what's funny is we only had six stormtroopers out there.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:19
Really? You did an alien style where they only had six aliens.

David Klein 1:04:25
Either that or I mean, there are a lot of complete CG VFX Stormtroopers. Wow, really, if you you know, and they're really good. They are really good. It's because I think it's, it's obviously much easier and the effects to do a stormtrooper than than version of face, you know. And there's, there's one that I'll point out and it's the last one to jump on the transport when the transports are taking off that you can kind of tell it's remember it I remember that one, right. I remember that. Yeah. So that's the One that that and I think it was only because I knew you know going in that that was CG and that only a portion of the the rest of them that were jumping on the ramp were actual troopers you know?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:13
It's pretty so much fun that out. But when I saw that episode, and I saw that episode, I was just blown away by how how cool it was. And you could tell it was the first time they were off the volume right in the whole series.

David Klein 1:05:28
Well, no, no, not exactly. Because there's a lot of backlot work. There's there's a lot of backlot work Correct.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:35
That was the first locate. That's the first location, first location.

David Klein 1:05:38
You're right about that. And in Boba Fett, we had a lot of a lot of backlot. And we had one location, which was Huntington gardens we went to for a few days, two days. For the for episode six, which was on the band before us, you know, the Luke Skywalker episode of Boba Fett.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:58
I thought that looks familiar. Like I was watching them like, oh, man, that looks like hunting diver.

David Klein 1:06:05
You know, we did. We did three versions of bamboo forest. In that episode. One was backlot one was on the volume and one was Huntington. And going back to, you know, being the silence in between the notes, some of the band before us that we did on the volume was some of the, that might have been the hardest volume that we did the entire season for many different reasons. But I think it blends in pretty well. And the fact that, that, you know, the transition from backlot to volume to Huntington is seamless. I did is is one is one of the things that makes it successful. But it's also like I was saying earlier, it's getting out of the way. And it's it's making, making that transition, you know, invisible and and just just having a sort of elegance and simplicity.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:57
Well, man, congrats on all the amazing work you're doing with John Dave up there. In Northern California, you guys are doing some good work with the Mandalorian. And we're all super excited to see the new season coming up this year. And it didn't just finish its production. It's not done now. I thought it was I thought I read it somewhere, brother. I'm not trying to get you anything. No, no worries. Don't worry. It's okay. I thought I read.

David Klein 1:07:22
Recently, I've recently finished another season of a Disney plus the streaming.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:29
Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough. Now, but no, seriously, man, congratulations on all the all the hard work you've done. And now knowing your backstory a bit more than I did before, man. I respect that even that much more because I didn't know about the 10 years in the wilderness that you had to go through like you were

David Klein 1:07:48
Los Angeles,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:50
Then years in the wilderness trying to trying to kind of carve your way in and climb your way back out of of the situation that that repugnant ly more the morally repugnant Harvey and, and those circumstances kind of hurt you on the way up. So kudos to you, man for keeping up there. And hopefully, this is a lesson for for the lessons for people listening that like, you got a castle doesn't matter where you start, or what happens. It happens, you know, things happen, that can slow your progression down in the sea. And then you have to ask yourself, How bad do you want it? Yeah, that's the question.

David Klein 1:08:25
You know, like I was saying earlier about, you know, advice to the young and up and coming. You know, my father was an orthopedic surgeon, he would not let me be a doctor, because he was a doctor, and his father was a doctor, my grandfather was a doctor, and they were never home. And so, I chose a profession with with ours worse than a fucking surgeon. You know what I mean? It's really, you really got to think long and hard about if you want to be in this business, because it takes a toll, you know, and I've got a marriage that was destroyed. I have a 14 year old daughter who as she was growing up, you know, from, from six to 11 or 511. I was doing homeland and I was gone seven months a year. And so I turn around and she's 12. You know what I mean? And I'm like, we're, we're all that time ago. I missed all that time. So you got to think long and hard about it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:25
Yeah, it's something that they don't tell you in films will tell you that a lot of men, especially for DPS, even more so than directors, DPS are always working. You know, they're, you know, they're not getting the fat, you know, checks a lot of times, so they have to keep hustling, they gotta keep working, they gotta keep going. And that's time and that does break up. I know, a lot of note a lot of DPS with marriages don't make it. They it's, it's, it's, it's tough. So you really got to love what you're doing. You really really really got to love what you're doing.

David Klein 1:09:57
I remember being at a festival how Ah, festival in Bozeman, Montana. And they would always have a couple of cinematographers there. One one year I was there as one of the cinematographers in Haskell Wexler was the other. And so we were speaking to a group of university students and we were talking about the hours and you know, he was he was still promoting, who needs sleep, the documentary that he made about the working hours in the business and and we were talking about the hours and one of the one of the students, you know, ask the question, how do you guys make it work? You know, how do you how do you? How do you have a life live a life and work these hours? And Haskell just goes? I'm on marriage number three guys. You know it sometimes it doesn't.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:40
Bam. Oh, that's a drop the mic moment right there. That's, that's it that is raw and truthful as as it gets. That's so awesome, man. So awesome. I didn't I know you wanted to do a dress the the accidental shooting that happened on the set of Ross with your friend, can you can you discuss that a little bit.

David Klein 1:10:58
You know, I've known Halina for a short amount of time, you know, about a year. She was a wonderful person she was I thought she was a great cinematographer, I'd introduced her to some some members of camera department that we're actually working with her unrest. And I'll be honest, Alex, I, you know, when we were first getting into this, it was so raw, and I had a lot of emotional opinions about it. And I don't remember exactly what I wanted to say specifically. But I'm not, you know, I didn't see a letter that was going around at the time but a lot of cinematographers about No, no actual weapons ever again, you know, no, real firearms on set the suit all the effects. And I'm not that guy. You know, I've probably photographed 2 million routes, you know, obviously blacks in, in, in my day, and she was she, you know, she was a friend of mine. Like I said, not a longtime friend, but she was a friend of mine. And it's a it's a horrible tragedy what happened. But I think what needs to happen is there just needs to be a safety officer, you know, there needs to be a position created that that oversees all safety, because you can't you can't put that on the abs, you know, you can't put that solely on the armor, you know, you there has to be a checks and balances. And that there needs to be a new position, I think created that is that is safety. And we've seen it for the last two years. During the pandemic, we have safety officers that have been going around, you know, and for the first year of it, it was put your face shield down, keep your mask on, put your face shield down, and now it's now it's just masks, but still, there have there has been an entire department created. So I think there should be a safety officer, you know, there should be that, that at least that one position that is in charge of the thing, the things that we all think the long squarely on the shoulders of the abs, you know, you can't you can't put it on them because that it's just not right. I think we need a new position that oversees all the stuff.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:13
I agree with you on that because, you know, working with a DS all my career, man, it's a big, they can handle a lot, man. They handle a lot on their shoulders, and they should be one layer of protection, but it shouldn't stop with them so that the ad should still have some sort of say in what's going on and let everybody know. And you know, I'm shooting on set and he stopped it said, Hey, we've got a live live arm on set. Everyone be aware, this is it. This is that I get that part. And the armor should definitely also have, you know, have some sort of another layer of protection. But there should be the last stop gap. Someone who just finally goes, let me see the gun. Let me check it, make sure everything's good. All right, and go for it. You know, I've done both of I've worked with live rounds, and I've worked with VFX you know, the airsoft guns, and, you know, it's it. Can it be done? Yeah. But I,

David Klein 1:14:13
Here's the problem I have with Alex you know, even even a quarter load blank or a half load blank. An actor doesn't react to the way they act react to a full blank. You know, I don't even I don't like how it flows. I don't like quarter loads. I like full of blanks, because that's that gives them the correct reaction from the gun for them to respond to you know, and that's that's exactly and that's, that's my main thing. And like I said, you know, I hate it when people say I've been in this business for this amount of time. They usually lose me when they say that but I have photographed a lot. A lot of blank rounds and blanks and never had an issue never had a problem.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:56
I mean listen and I got called by variety in Hollywood for You know, quotes and trying to, you know, the asking my opinion on what was going on and I will be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. said, Listen, guys, and they got this from a few other industry vets who said, how many stunt men have had been hurt in the course of the last 100 years on a set? Do we now do away with all stunts and do everything virtually? No, their safety, there was mistakes, you know, what happened in the twilight zone? You know, that horrible, that horrible accident that happened there? And there's so many other you list, you know, accidents that happen in the State Department. Things happen sometimes. But there has to you can't just wash everything away.

David Klein 1:15:46
Like, you can't, and I'm sorry to interrupt you. But I'd be willing to bet. I'd be willing to bet the Condor lighting cranes have hurt more people in the last 10 years than stunts. Have you ever been agreed? We have so many new there are so many new, you know, new safety rules and regulations regarding condors all the time. You know, I remember back in the day when they didn't need a harness.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:15
I remember I remember. Oh, just remember, you remember the cranes? How about the cranes when you're sitting down? I mean, those long cranes with the camera at the top, and you see the pictures? And I got up on one of those plans? Once I'm like, where's my seat belt? Are you are you? No, I'm not doing this. I'll do this from the bottom. I'm not gonna do this.

David Klein 1:16:33
Well, you know, going back to the 90s, Alex, we used a lot of those cranes, you know, the Chapman, the Titans, the Nikes, all that stuff. Because they were so much cheaper, when the remote heads were new, you know, remote heads were coming out in the late 80s, early 90s. And, and so they're very expensive. So we rode those trains all the time, and there usually is usually our seat belts.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:55
Just cheaper

David Klein 1:16:57
But you are you're up there, you know, you're 50 feet in the air or whatever it is, like, wow, this is this is, you know, it's the most treacherous thing I've probably done, aside from, you know, being being in stock cars, you know, as a camera operator being sent cars is pretty wild, too. But along with that, I've been, you know, what's more dangerous than any of the any of the work with blanks that I've done over the years.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:22
Wow, man! Well, I hope that I hope that there is some changes made, I think there will be I hope they're not just a knee jerk reaction, I hope there's a really thoughtful way of moving forward with it. Because, like, I agree with you, 100%, I think there has to be some sort of position created to help this to help this scenario, because obviously, there's a problem, especially with so many low budget, non union, you know, situations, which I've been involved with a lot in my in my day, I get that. And it's a while it's a little wild, wild west, no pun intended, because that was a question. But it's a little bit wild, wild west, in the sense that, oh, yeah, we'll do this, it's gonna cost too much, we're not going to do that. And there has to be some sort of rules has to,

David Klein 1:18:05
There has to be an account, you know, accountable accountability. And I think the way to do it is to assign a person to, you know, overall safety, as we've been during the pandemic, you know, our COVID safety officers will will give a speech, you know, to us about mask wearing and social distancing, and all that stuff. And so, it's easily done, you know, that position is easily created. And I know everything comes with a price tag, but there's no price tag as big as the one. You know. What? Oh, no, that's bad. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 1:18:39
Amen, brother. Amen. I appreciate it. I appreciate you will be willing to talk about that and bring that out to light. Now, I want to ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests now. Yeah. What advice would you give a young cinematographer or filmmaker trying to break into this vicious business?

David Klein 1:18:58
Still fucking do it! An actual an actuality, you know, I would say, take a long, hard look at this industry and really think long and hard about whether you want to commit this much of your life to to this because it'll take every every minute that you get this industry will take every minute, every hour that you give it and then so think long and hard about it and because none of them will listen to that piece of advice. I will then say, you know, you gotta get out there and work you have to learn. As I said, before everybody on a film set everybody in life knows something that you don't So learn from them, you know, and when you're when you're new in the business, you have to just get on set every in any every way that you can, because you'll learn more in a day on set, you know, being that fly on the wall, then you will In a year of film school, you know, at least in terms of the day to day hands on practical way of telling stories, you know, and that's what it all comes down to.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:13
Absolutely no, I learned more during my internship at Universal Studios, Florida than I did in going to go into my college. I would skip school just to go and hang out on on stages and just watched the grips going, go on tangled that cable, and I'm like, All right. All right. Um, this is so cool. You mean that big pile over there? That's been sitting there since 1976? That pile of cable? Okay, sure. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

David Klein 1:20:44
You know, I think and we, we touched on it earlier is, I think the longest lesson it took me to learn is that is to get out of the way, you know, and that there is an elegance and simplicity and the you know, don't, don't, don't lie things just to light them, you gotta you got to serve the story, you have to be telling the story, or all the experience, and all the knowledge that you have is irrelevant, you know, and all the slick lighting that you can do is irrelevant. You know, unless you're serving that story, if you want to be, you know, if you want to shoot just just slick images, then then do commercials. Absolutely. You know, because that's what they're all about. And that in and of itself is telling you a story as well, it's telling you a story of how to buy Bud Light, or whatever it is. And so it has to be flashy in in your face and and you know, high key and, and whatever else it is, but but just just tell the story and otherwise get out of the way, you know, be the silence in between the notes.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:54
And three of your favorite films of all time?

David Klein 1:21:57
Ooh, that's a tough one. I gotta say Blade Runner. That's that's one of the films they got me in this into this business in this industry. And not only do I think it's a great movie, but it it it looks amazing. And it's look is relentless, relentlessly devoted to its story. I mean, it's it's creating that world of what was it 2019 Los Angeles.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:27
Not too far off. Not too far off. I'm still waiting for the Jetsons.

David Klein 1:22:39
But it is relentlessly devoted to its story, the look a bit it's after that kind of target. Three favorite movies. There are so many. Number two, I'd say everything that Conrad Hall ever shot. You know, everything and just about anything. You know. I've been devoted to studying his his work for a long time. And

Alex Ferrari 1:23:03
He did Bobby Fischer. Right?

David Klein 1:23:07
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And it's, again, talk about somebody who was relentlessly devoted to telling the story. You know, it's some of the things that he did with his lining, I still blowing my mind. And I don't know how he did it, or where he came where the idea came from. And I don't know that he knew either. It seems like he was somebody that that didn't shoot from the hip. But, you know, it all came from from the gut from the heart. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:23:34
He was channeling, he was channeling somebody.

David Klein 1:23:37
That's for sure. That's for sure. So, you know, that takes up my next two answers. I think it's all of his movies. Otherwise, it's it's so hard. It's so I mean, would you choose something like Susan, can you choose something? You know, like, like, 1917? Even, you know?

Alex Ferrari 1:23:54
There's, there's too many. There's too many. Well, that's, that's a good, that's a good, good start. And can you tell us what you're up to next?

David Klein 1:24:04
I'm prepping a new Disney Plus series yet to be announced

Alex Ferrari 1:24:14
Yet to be announcedokay. Fair enough. Fair enough. All right. So it's going to be the Jar Jar series. I know. I know what it is. It's a Jar Jar series. You could just you don't have to admit it. No, it's the Jar Jar series. Rather than it has been an absolute honor and privilege talking to you, man. It has been so much fun. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us and the tribe today and continued success. Brother, you're you're an inspiration out there for us, man. So thank you.

David Klein 1:24:42
Thank you, Alex. Thanks for having me, man. Appreciate it.

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IFH 574: Disrupting the Unfair Hollywood System with NFT’s with Adam Scorgie

Adam Scorgie’s plan A has always been to work hard, be humble and take chances; and it has worked tremendously to date.  A father of 3, a loving husband and an acclaimed documentarian, Adam has an astonishing ability to balance his relentless work schedule and his invaluable family time.

Born in Trail, British Columbia, Adam has also spent time living in Australia, Singapore and the Unites States of America. Primarily growing up in BC’s Okanagan Valley, Adam was inspired to move to New York City, where he spent 3 years studying film and television at the renowned William Esper Studios in Manhattan.

Upon his return to Canada, Adam invested every dollar he had to produce his first feature documentary, ‘The Union: The Business Behind Getting High’. ‘The Union’ exceeded all expectations by being selected to 33 film festivals, where it won several best feature documentary awards.

The success of ‘The Union’ demanded a follow up, which lead to the crowd-funded sequel, ‘The Culture High’.  Upon request in 2012, the film, which focused on the war on drugs, would go on to screen for government officials in Canada’s Parliament Hill during the country’s preliminary steps to legalizing marijuana nationwide.  Adam was very fortunate to be a two-time guest on Joe Rogan’s to talk about the impact of both films.

Being a Golden Glove boxer in his teenage years, Adam’s interest in hand-to-hand combat lead him to spend 8 years developing ‘Ice Guardians’, a film examining the enforcer role in the NHL. Adam’s high school was also home to many players for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, which opened the door to conversations with NHLers such as Stanley Cup Champion Scott Parker.

After many years of production, the film premiered to rave reviews in 2016 – the film landed at Netflix, where it can still be streamed worldwide.

To date, Adam has produced 12 feature films, with another two feature documentaries currently in various stages of production ‘Breaking Olympia’ and “Direct to Dolph: An American Dream” along with a three-part doc-series also in production titled “Thunder: The Life & Death of Arturo Gatti” it’s safe to say Adam and Score G Productions has been able to stay busy during the global pandemic.

Adam is a shining example of how powerful a person can be by simply putting in the work every day in order to achieve their dreams.  His leadership and loyalty to his team has ensured that his future films guarantee to impress and inspire those who watch them.

Creative Hustle Key NFT Give Away

Adam and his partner Shane are doing a limited run of 999 early-supporter NFTs that offer a ton of utility and access to our team and documentary stars, as well as lots of chances to win super unique filmmaking experiences; all expenses paid.

Phase 1

In April 2022 we launch the Creative Hustler Key – a collection of 999 early-supporter membership tokens handcrafted by our 3D designer and brimming with community access and rare experiential giveaways.

Phase 2

We bring the community more behind the scenes than ever before, continuing to reward those who hold a Creative Hustler Key, while announcing new opportunities to connect with ScoreG documentary talent.

Phase 3

As legacy media becomes more centralized, we see the growing possibilities of decentralization in Web3. In Phase III we will break the conventional model of film financing, bypass the gatekeepers, and fund future projects through Web3, giving creative freedom back to artists and opportunity for the community to be more involved than ever before.

Indie Film Hustle is giving away two NFTs to the IFH Tribe. All you need to do is go to The Creative Hustler Key NFT Giveaway and sign up for one of our FREE masterclasses. The winner will be chosen at random. The winner will be announced next week.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:04
I like to welcome to the show, Adam Scorgie. How you doing Adam?

Adam Scorgie 3:29
I'm doing good bro. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 5:47
Hey, man, thanks for coming on the show. Man. You, you and your producing partner Shane reached out to me about some really cool stuff you guys are doing. And you know, I get I get asked, I get so many requests to be on the show. Now think I'm very blessed that way. And I for someone to get on the show. Now I really have to be intrigued about what you're doing. So I was fairly when I saw what you guys are doing like this is a new angle. I haven't seen this before. And I think this could be valuable to the audience. So welcome, sir. I can't wait to get into the weeds.

Adam Scorgie 6:21
Well, thank you that that makes me feel really cool. Yeah, we, we do think it's special. So it's always good to see that so far going out in the industry that it's been received that way because we are even with our work. I know you got to watch a couple of our films. But you know, we've been we've been like you fortunate where like, so many people are coming to us the state of work. And you know, it's nice to be in a position where you can be like, hey, like, if I'm not passionate about it, if I'm not intrigued by like, then it's a polite, sorry, I'm too busy. Or it's a pest, right? Like, we're with dogs. Now, you know, when you're starting your film career, you're trying to take anything and everything you pay the bills, right? You're like, someone's like, I'm going to do the worst job, like we're going to film something on the sanitation units of toilets. You're like, Okay, I'll do it, right. But now we're at a nice fortunate thing where it's like, man, if we're not passionate about the subject matter, and it's, you know, some great feedback we received recently with like, a lot of the talent we work with that like, man, we could just their families, like they're their friends now. They're family to us, right? Like, we knew that that's what I think we've kind of fallen in love in the dark world is that you spend so much time telling these real stories of a Danny trailer of Michael Bisping that, you know, you feel like you know them and you become family where like, when you see them, it's hugs and like, it really is like, it's like, oh, man, so good to see you. And thank you for you know, honoring my story correctly. So it's great that you're interested in what we have going now because I think that's you know, Shane really brought this to me it you know, is this an expansion or evolution of our company and I was kind of, I was hesitant at first like I'm an old dog, right? I don't want to date you but I'm I'm I was kind of like,

Alex Ferrari 7:54
We're similar vintage, sir.

Adam Scorgie 7:56
Similar vintage. I like that similar vintage right. Legacy is what they call it now. Right? We're looking at the legs here. All right. So Right. You know, when chambers I was like, man, NFT's and like the web three and like, Dude, it's

Alex Ferrari 8:08
So before we get into all of that I wanted to start off before we get into the into the nuts and bolts of NFT's and what you're doing with them. Why God's green earth did you want to get into this business?

Adam Scorgie 8:19
Into the film business?

Alex Ferrari 8:21
Yes. Yes.

Adam Scorgie 8:22
So I can I there's two moments. So I think like many I started in front of the camera in New York, I went to film school and stuff like that. And I was okay, I would I realized quickly being in New York, where there's a lot of talented artists that I was way behind the eight ball as far as like, you know, I was in acting classes with people that could speak three to four languages. They could do dialects, they could sing, they could play four or five instruments. They were classically trained ballet dancers, and I was like, I have a Canadian accent and I can barely act so I was like, I am like, okay. But originally I always wanted to get into because I liked to tell stories. And I did like the part of acting and like, you know, being truthful in imaginary circumstances. I thought all that was pretty fascinating. But then, when my my biological father got sick, I came back to Canada and I inherited his strip club, which was a nightmare. We won't go down that road, but it led me to produce in my first documentary called The Union The Business Behind Getting High. And I specifically remember the moment when that kind of shifted for me as we we originally I you know, it seemed Supersize Me and I wanted to just make something like that like something about the marijuana industry. I knew I had access to guys that were growing. And then like most dogs who grew into something just so much more. And I remember the first time we premiered at a sold out screening at the Vancouver Film Festival and you're in an audience watching something you created for the first time and you're seeing people get emotional and people laughing and having a true experience that that's affected them. And I remember sitting in the theater and it was like watching the movie for I'd seen it 100 times between the edits and other releases, but it was like watching it entirely. For the first time we've seen the audience reaction, I remember saying to myself, I'm like, oh, Adam, you better find out a way how to make this a living because you're never going to be able to do anything else. And I remember for many years, I was working two to three jobs, to try to make film, not a hobby, but a business. And it took a while to do that, because you can't just go after a dream. Well, not like, you know, I had to get my daughter was young, then I had a family, it couldn't just fit well, I'm gonna make it happen to yours, like, No, you got to pay bills now. And I remember just how empty it was looking at paychecks, it's like, wow, that's a piece of paper with numbers on it. I slaved for three months. And that's all I get. And all I can think about is what bills I can pay off. And this not that. I knew, at the end of the day, I had to figure out how to make film my out of make my living rather than being a hobby.

Alex Ferrari 10:44
And I tell you, man, Doc's are, and I've been doing this for, again, close to 30 years now. And Doc's are a lot easier to make money with than narrative features.

Adam Scorgie 10:56
I would agree, especially nowadays in the digital age, it's really, because nowadays, what we find we found a nice niche is, you know, we partner with the talent, I don't try to come in and be a greasy producer, like, you know, because things are 50-50 partner, Danny was our 50-50 partner, because I'd rather own you know, 50% of an amazing project and 90% of a shitty project. And when you're dealing with a doc and a factual story, there's nothing better than the person themselves promoting it, right. So if you shortchange them, then they start like, you know, if they're like, Okay, you, you, you want to nickel and dime, your back end or whatever else, and they're like, Okay, I'm only going to do one tweet, I'm going to do they're like, because, like, that's not the film. That's promotion, right? So that's what separates us, like when you do a feature film, a lot of actors for them, that is like a regular job. They're like, Okay, I'm gonna come out for my seven days. I'm gonna do my seven days. Don't ask me to do anything outside of my you're paying me to act for seven days, you're not paying me to promote it, to talk about it. Those all come extra. And normally, you only get those bonuses like, you know, for free. If it's like Scorsese or Tarantino or something that benefits like,

Alex Ferrari 12:06
Because because those guys are getting paid 20 million bucks. That's kind of it. Yeah, like Yeah, dude,

Adam Scorgie 12:11
And a lot of times it is negotiated in the contract watching the films, it's like, but we Doc's like everyone, like even people will look at who we're interviewing. They're like, How'd you get all these interviews were like, we just asked them and because they love the person or they love the they all do it for free. We don't pay them. So we're already in a different place with a lot of these people. Even when we get like big name athletes or celebrities or something donating their time. They're in a much different place than for a scripted film because they're donating their time for like, we just did interviews. We're doing Dolph longerons documentary now. We just did interviews. Wait, I know right? Like Like, I grew up with that. I know I grew up that is my duty. If you Amir from the same minute. Like I grew up where it was Arnold Stallone Van Damme golf. Those are like cars. That's my childhood. Right? Like, yeah, so to know golf is like my boy now and he's Texans. What do you think about this, Adam? And then, you know, we sat down with Arnold and Stallone within like a one day period. Oh, and I was trying to be yet to be professional, right where it was like, but I'm geeking out like I called my like, I was like a little kid. I called my dad from setting like, Dad, we're about to interview Arnold, like and he's like, Oh my god, I'm so proud of you. And I'm like, I'm proud of myself. This is amazing. I was like I did around the corner. And

Alex Ferrari 13:22
Exactly, but it's so funny because I've talked to so many people who've worked with some of these big giant stars, and legends and the icons and the Arnold Arnold and Slayer icons in the world. And but they're Arnold and sly every day of their life, and they are completely aware of how people react to them. So generally, they know what it's like to walk into a room. And they suck the air out of it. Because it's yeah, yes. It's and they're aware of that. And they and from the best, the best actors and icons. Put everybody at ease quickly, and they guys say listen, I know I know Terminator. Got it. I'll have some fun. Take some pictures. It's all good man. It's okay.

Adam Scorgie 14:10
We are talking about how much of an of an adrenaline and energy dump was like so because both of them we only had like half an hour right because they're donating their time. So but you know, a lot of prep goes into that we're there for hours ahead of time we're setting up we're dealing sound issues where's he going to sit down where it's going to, like Gold's Gym Venice was nice and up there like they let us shut down the whole half of the gym right there like we never do this for anybody else. But it's Arnold. We will right so they let us do like everyone was so accommodating but then we were so excited and then you want everything to go smooth Right? Like you only have half an hour and you you are dealing with a real person and they're somebody you know stone that is publicists there. Arnold just rolled in by himself, but when it was all over and we did our photos and it was done it was in the bag. The footage was backed up like everyone's like, are you guys gonna go on celebrate? No, like we had dinner and a beer and we were done by like nine flocked because even though the interviews were all the prep and emotion and the anxiety of like, some of them go wrong, are they going to cancel is some like you're trying to go and then when it's all over, you can just like, oh, like when you talk about the breath coming out of the room when the interviews were over, it happens with all our big interviews. Like we're like, we're kind of like, man, like, I didn't even work out this morning. Like, feels like I ran a marathon. I'm exhausted. Because you just want it to go perfect, right? And then Arnold did it perfect, where he was busting busting everybody saw this fall on their bus and people's balls and they came in to get everybody laughing like Arnold came in and raid where our sound guy wanted to like, the sound might pop out and like we want it to be perfect. So he's like, Sorry, I gotta come out. He's like, Oh, these fucking sound guys always words like like anybody's gonna care that Swartz. negar sound like sticking out, carries like, he's like, I'm kidding. He's like, I wanted to be professional, fix it. And then I thought director, you know, our director was like, Okay, I got one more question. It's like, you said that three times now? Okay, let's go right. Like it was awesome. And then you never know with like photos and stuff, because it's always interview first, of course, me and the team always wanted to try to get those and do that. But, you know, I was like, should we get as COVID main things weird right now? Is COVID It was we shot this a little while ago where people are still. But you know, I had to because Arnold is just like, talk to us. Like, Hey, Mr. Schwarzenegger is like, really appreciate the time. He's like, of course, anything for dolphin like, and I trouble you for one more thing mean that to me, like to get a photo is a cause. Let's go, let's do it. So we got a wicked photo, I'm gonna put it in my office, it's, you know, feel very, I'm sure like yourself, after years of grinding it, it feels you feel so blessed to be able to do something you're passionate about and be able to support your family is like, truly when you when you're younger, and you have those aspirations of what success is, you'll learn that it's like, oh, man, I get to go to work every day and love what I do and go on these journeys and meet these icons and legends and travel. So I just I honestly, when people are like, Oh, what do you do for a living? I'm like, I have my dream job. Like I really do. I love what I do. I love being able to tell these stories and travel the world. I wouldn't if I could script it, I wouldn't change anything of what we're doing right now.

Alex Ferrari 17:19
I'll tell you, man, it's I agree with you 100%. Because I've had the pleasure of meeting some of my heroes during the show. And you just you're trying to be professional, like I'm doing the interview. Like I'm interviewing them I'm on camera with them. And you just like it's hard. Sometimes he's the geek comes out a little bit

Adam Scorgie 17:39
The geek comes out and it's okay, you realize it's okay,

Alex Ferrari 17:43
They enjoy they actually I mean, as long as they're not they generally enjoy. Generally, there's a couple who didn't, but most of them are very enjoyable. Now, what I love about this idea, because you have a very specific way you're doing your docs, which I haven't seen, like this before, one I didn't know about the 5050, which makes so much sense. And why people aren't doing that more often. For some of these bigger subjects. It doesn't make any sense. Like why would Bespin Michael bizben Do any promotion for 10% of this? Like, why why? Where is he if he puts everything into it? He's going to his his his niche audience, which is fans of Michael bissman. He's the best getting to them.

Adam Scorgie 18:34
Yeah, you can't pay for nobody's better, right. No one's better. And I said why not?

Alex Ferrari 18:40
So that's your marketing budget in many ways.

Adam Scorgie 18:42
Yes. That's that's where he was funny because with universal the way they kind of do it so release with Universal Pictures. It's our second studio release, which is amazing for those that are in like it's, you know, for a doc to get that like back. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 18:54
I was noticing that.

Adam Scorgie 18:56
I think we're the only ones in Canada that have accomplished it. I'm kind of putting that out there to be challenged. And I don't think any other indie company out of Canada as accomplished back to back studio releases. I'm happy to be corrected. But as far as I found out, that's all I know. But and it really comes from and now adults came from that because bisbing and Dolph hadn't the same agent. And just like visiting was like, you know, when we talk to adults, manager Craig Bisping did a movie with him never back down. And he was like, hey, what's the team? Like, like, were adults interested in doing a dock and buildings like, dude, they're like, family, those are my boys. No, like, I want to just hang out with him. Like I miss actually, that we're not filming now. Like, I want we spent so much time together and he's like, and they're transparent and they're honest. And they just become your partner. So his team and then his agent was the same like it was it was one of the easiest gilsdorf segment I saw your work. I love your work. Everyone around me says that you guys have been fantastic to work with like, let's let's go like I was like I was ready to this big pitch and also like Man, I've already sold like everyone close to me, has already worked with you and your team, my manager, my agent, they all say that you're guys and I can see the work for itself. I need no explanation there were men getting to know adults like him and his fiancee. really emotional. Last couple interviews, hugs and tears and just feel like we're so thankful that you guys are doing our story. And, you know comes from that old adage your parents tried to teach you like treat others as you want to be treated. And when I was early in the film industry, I'm sure you were like a lot of producers, man. They're scumbags. Like I remember looking underneath mocking stuff. I remember just even being treated, I remember producers snapping their fingers at me and be like, I was so broke at the time of being like, but I had I needed the money when I was like, fucking snap your fingers at me again, I will break it off and stick it, you know, like, but I hated that. And I wanted to change that culture. I wanted to be like, Man, when I'm running a crew, I want to be like, the young guy comes up as an idea. I'll listen, I'm not gonna be like, No, and I hated the whole thing of like, I can't tell you budgets, I can't tell you how you do it. Because somehow if I tell you that will take away from what I'm doing. I always thought that was such an idiotic way to look at it.

Alex Ferrari 21:02
Because there's only because there's only $20 in the entire world. And if I tell him like 10 of mine, right?

Adam Scorgie 21:07
To me, that's such an insecure, stupid. And I've had it like the other way where I've had young filmmakers reach out and I can see they put in the homework. They're like, Adam, could you look at my proposal? Could you look at my budget, when I'm like, Man, I liked this guy's energy or her energy and I, I'll respond to them, like, Hey, here's the budget we had for this. Here's our audit. Here's what we did this year. And they're like, Oh, my God, I can't believe you are that candid and gave me all that information. And then they've gone on to get finance, and they've come back and hired me. They're like, Adam, you didn't ask for anything. When you did that. You just gave me some of the best advice I got. So now that we're finance, we just want to give you a producer credit or something. I'm like, Wow, I'm like, see, that to me? Is the Pay It Forward? Rather than being like, Well, no, I can't tell you budgets or who or who to go to at the network, or how to finance this. Because you might have a good project you might take away from what I'm doing well, that says your project is shit. Because if your project is good, the network's gonna get it, especially if you have experience like helping others that are, you know, again, there's like in any business, there's the crazies that come to you these wild and crazy and you can lead them out pretty easy, where they don't have a lot in the I was doing the homework, but when they come correct, and they're like, look, we tried to put this together, and I can see the script or the pitch deck or these things and I say, look, tweak this up. Here's some examples of ours come back. And when they come back that a kit I listened to, he said, here's all the examples that I'm kind of like, wow, you get it, okay. Here's, here's your you go to a super channel, or here's your you go to a bell, or here's my contact at Netflix. And people are like, I can't believe you give away your contacts. I'm like, man, you're putting in the work. You know,

Alex Ferrari 22:36
Netflix is only going to buy the two document.

Adam Scorgie 22:38
Yeah, there's only there's only two projects, right? Like, I just gave it to him. And now I'm screwed. God dammit, I shouldn't give it. But that's a stupid mentality. That was the producer, you're I grew up in, like Jordan, learn when you're starting as like a line producer, and you're grinding, you're trying. I remember as the line producer for a project, I won't name the company. I would ask how much we had to spend on things like, well, what's the budget for this, but I can't tell you that just give me quotes. And I'll let you know if they're good or not. And I'm like, this takes that takes twice as long. So now I'm going to reach out to 10 places try to get quotes. And even then they would be like, Well, what's your budget? I'm like, I have no idea. I don't know. Because the producers won't tell me so could you just send me a quote and I'll see if they can approve it or not. Like, I was just like, this is such a stupid way to work. But that was I guess that's how they were brought up in the industry. And that's kind of how it used to be is keep everything close. Don't share that information. It seems outrageous. Now when you think of it,

Alex Ferrari 23:34
I mean, that's one of the reasons I started the show was because nobody was telling the truth about what happens in the business. I couldn't find any shows that would telling people the realities of what was going on in the business and I got a lot of strap. No, I know you got a lot of strap. Oh, yeah, you know, so I was like, You know what, I'm gonna throw my hat in the ring. And I just like within like the first two three episodes, I was just like, saying stuff that people were like, what? I've never heard that before. I'm like, because we talk about it when we go out for drinks after a shoot. Yes, but no one's puts that information out there. So that's what I started doing in that show blew up within like three months it was number one and then it's been going ever since. And it's and I just constantly am trying to tell everybody the realities of so I always ask why did you start this crazy freakin business like it's it's this is an insane, insane business if you why someone would come into it now. Like I don't even know if I would start now. To be honest with you like if I if I was 18 Right now I would probably be dumb enough to just go I'm just gonna go do it. I'm gonna you know and people can check out my my create my genius. The Find my genius. I'm not saying nobody should that everybody shouldn't go for it. But really understand what you're walking into. And that's what I didn't know. If you're going to walk into a fight with Brisbane. Understand who you're walking into the fight Yeah, one that you're in a fight. Secondly, who you're fighting with? And don't think you're just like, hey, man, this is really cool. And then a punch just comes in knocks you off in your ads. And then

Adam Scorgie 25:00
I couldn't agree more but that that naivety, when you're early in your career kind of helps you, it helps you to but and that really tests if you're if you're made out for this, if it's really what you want to do, because you're going to stumble, you're going to get punched in the face, you're going to make those mistakes. And you either quit and go off that wasn't for me more you find a part of the industry that you really love. And then you say, Okay, this is for me, I'm going to make it work. Right and you so that's where creative hustle came from me as people like Adam, you always just your team, you find a way. Because I wasn't I think like most I don't know, like, I wasn't properly trained. I didn't graduate from prestigious film school I didn't. I did acting classes I studied at William Esper Studios in New York, right? It came from like the front of the camera, I learned that I was much better at producing and connecting the dots and putting out fires and I wasn't performing, you know, which is a realization in itself that you have to really challenge yourself like, hey, is this for me? You don't know. I realized, like, I'm not as talented as a lot of other people. But I realized what my talents were. So I'm like you though, I always said that about the union. When it came out. It became this like, cult classic. And it was rated like so much luck comes into things too, right? Like tiny. The Union came out right before like, right when it was releasing us, right when social media was starting to connect with people. And this was before, like, I remember going into meetings for like, yeah, we got a Facebook page, and we've got like, over 100,000 people and distributors would laugh at me. They're like, Oh, that's so cute. He has a Facebook page. Look at him. Aren't you cute? And then I was like, and then we did a follow up film called The culture i, which because of the demand from our online wanted us to do a follow up. And I remember throwing that right back in the series, right? Cats. So cute. We raised a quarter million dollars in 42 days of that cute little Facebook page. And their faces were like, what? Like, yeah, it's a business tool. If you guys are not getting ahead of it, you better and I wasn't even ready for the evolution of like Netflix streaming and how all that came about. But it caught everybody by storm. Right?

Alex Ferrari 26:54
Yeah, and let's not talk about distribution, because I'm sure you've got a couple stories about that. Anybody on the show knows my history with distribution and what we've discussed on the show before. But anyway,

Adam Scorgie 27:07
I've got funny I'm sure you do too. But the funny stories there, it's nice when you know a little bit about it. And I can go in without saying names. But I remember we were fully financed on inmate number one Danny traders doc and, and we and the way it kind of our market we do in Canada is that like we we only pre sell Canada to get in production. Again, this is why our partners like where it's like look, we can get a really healthy budget to start, I can pay you a fee up front. So not wasting your time, right. I don't have the last dance Michael Jordan dollars, I can give you 4 million, but I can give you something that's like, you know, an average payday for an indie film right for doc, but then your 50-50 partner will mitigate 70 to 100% of the risk coming out of Canada. And then our international sales is split 5050 If we can get all the grant money we hit that's direct 50-50 other than maybe a few like, you know, corporate overhead costs. Otherwise, we might have a gap of like 150 to 200,000 Canadian or 150,000. Us and then anything above that we split in the MG that we get upfront from either Netflix or so everyone, when I always present this to, to, you know, the agents, the talent, they're like, Man, this is awesome. So there's a distributor that came on with Danny right? They were like they wanted to come in early and they were like, Man, I love this thing. It's gonna be a big one. And they gave me their sales projections right, which are always bullshit right? But here's the best part brothers they gave me like a high medium and a low right? Low was like 2 million right there. Medium was like five to 7 million their high was like eight to 11 million for doc right now. It's kind of like, okay, that's pretty high. Oh, it's ridiculous. Right? So. Yeah, top 50 Docs of all time. Like if you're in that, above 10 range. You're in like the top 510. Like, it's crazy, right? So

Alex Ferrari 28:55
That's Michael Moore Supersize Me world.

Adam Scorgie 28:57
Yeah, it's crazy, right? It's like, it's like putting lottery tickets in your business plan being like, well, this lottery winner, right. So. So I'm listening to a thing? No, I, you know, I've gotten to a place where I'm listening. And then they go, Yeah, you know, they, we definitely think you know, it could hit here, but really, depending on how you guys deliver, it would be no less than, you know, the mid range, the low of two to 4 million and the mid range like awesome. And then then they gave me their waterfall and this was ridiculous thing on the back.

Alex Ferrari 29:23
It just for everybody, you know, just because we're gonna actually get into the conversation about what they're the cool stuff they're doing. But this is just so valuable. This conversation right now. For everybody listening. A waterfall is how the money is distributed as it comes in because it's like a waterfall of money. And then people start grabbing cash before it ever hits the bottom of the waterfall. So go ahead.

Adam Scorgie 29:43
Oh, no. Now to summarize what I just said. So we already have the film financed out of Canada, right? We have a small gap of like 200,000 Canadian. We've got just over 800 $900,000 budget 800,000 I think it was at 18 Canadian, or like 750 us. So then this this guy were me thing which shows me the waterfall. He's in top position, obviously distributors in second position. And then we're in third position. And who was the guy who was one of the sales rep. He was a former No, no, he was a former NBC executive that was now got his own distribution company. Right. So

Alex Ferrari 30:17
Personally gets money first, then

Adam Scorgie 30:20
His company is going to name the company, his company Yep. Then the distribution company got another distribution company? Yes. Because he was going to sell it to a distribution company, right? We're paying a

Alex Ferrari 30:40
Middleman of a middleman. Got it? Got it. Okay.

Adam Scorgie 30:42
And then us, right? And I remember going wow, okay. It's when it's called a waterfall. Looking at the numbers. I'm like, Well, you guys must be putting up a significant mg or minimum guaranteed to be putting yourself at the top of the waterfall because we're finance we'd already shot right. I'm like, what? Why would you go to positions ahead of me? And he was like, Well, no, no, no, he goes, you were able to mitigate all that money out of Canada. So that's why we're and I was like, so why the fuck would you get that benefit? That's me understanding the system. Why would you and the distributor get to benefit before I did? I'm like, You have to at least cover the gap that we have in here. Now in order for you to go to top position or else why would our investors be like, I was like, I have no idea. But he was so used to taking advantage of filmic he didn't even have answers for me when I had this is like, Oh, well, you know, you're able to get you're able to get tax money, money and grant money on my Yeah, my benefit and worse. Yeah, like, I was like.

Alex Ferrari 31:36
If grandma if grandma died and gave me a million dollars while your grandma died, and you got a million dollars, and

Adam Scorgie 31:42
Yeah, like it was, so I couldn't, and he really didn't have I was like, I was like, well, and I'm going by your projections, you just said worst case scenario, two to 4 million. So I think a minimum guarantee of a quarter of that right now would be a great win. Like if if worst case scenario, you think it's going to do 2 million? Show me that right now with 500,000. Right? Like, that's only a quarter of the worst case scenario. Either way, you're making money. And he's like, Well, no, that's not how it works. And I was like, Well, no, that's how general business works. Like, if those are the projections, you putting up 25% of the worst case projections is, I should ask for 50% Actually, right. It's like, well, it's like, I'm hedging the bet too. And then you could squirmed and I was like, ultimately, I remember it was like so you want to take that deal. I'm like, Dude, I wouldn't take that deal. If there's a gun to my head. It's like pull the trigger. That's ridiculous. I'm like, our investors would go to positions below somebody else. We're already fully financed and like nothing's, and sure enough, we just took it directly to universal and did the sale ourselves. Like, why would I give you and the distributor positions ahead of that when I could go there myself. But these are things you learn? Oh, yeah, way down the road, right?

Alex Ferrari 32:48
Or you or you listen to the podcast,

Adam Scorgie 32:51
Or you listen to the podcast, you can learn it, that I was always very fortunate. And this is where luck comes in. But I didn't you know, that old term of gotta be good to be lucky comes in because I was very lucky that really early on, I met young sales agents or sales agents, assistants that saw how sales agents and distributors were ripping filmmakers off and kind of like me with the producers that I worked with, like, man, there's got to be a more ethical way that I can look after the filmmaker, but not fucking gouge him like some of these people are doing right. So I kind of when I was up and coming, I'd meet these guys. And a simple thing I didn't even think was a big thing. But I'd walk into the office and I'd always I know the assistants, I'd be like, what's up, Joe? What's up, like, I knew them, right? I'd see them at film markets and all the bigwigs were busy, we'd always be hanging out. And they're like Adam did like, you know, you're one of the only filmmakers that like even remembers my name or takes time to know me. I'm like, what? Like, but dude, you're always looking after me. And you're on emails, like, yeah, you would think, but a lot of people are like, Oh, you're not the decision maker. So screw them or screw this person, right? So and so we kind of built up together. So then when we are making films together, they're like, Adam, I've been the assistant for years. I've got all the contacts, I'm ready to go. I'll give you a better percentage and won't gouge you. We've been homies I was like, dude, of course. And literally JOAD, my sales agent now and upstream flicks. I really call him he's more my producing partner because we're way closer than, but he is technically a sales agent. But we are like family now where he'll literally be like, Adam, this one is going to be a tough one to make money on. You might want to let it go with this one. I'm sure we can make money on and I couldn't have done it without him. And I but that comes from being like, I didn't mean to me it was just how I was raised. And you treat everyone with respect, whether he's the assistant or the decision maker like, he's just, I'm just a grinder to why would I talk to like, but I couldn't believe when he told me stories of people would walk in there and be like, Yeah, I'm only going to talk to so and so. Oh, yeah. No, you did it. Oh, you know, you didn't hear that. And I was like, really? So I built it up together.

Alex Ferrari 34:48
I listen man I'm an East Coast guy. I lived in LA for 13 years. And I just moved to Austin. So I'm in Austin now. Oh, nice. freaking love. I love it here and I Love to LA for the time I was there but when you're braised in that environment the ego gets out of control people are not like you know the walk over they won't piss on you if you're on fire it's like it's just a whole other world so that you are outside of the system outside of LA probably the best thing that could have happened to you you know

Adam Scorgie 35:19
That's you know I knowing that now because I go to LA for work all the time and I enjoy them there I'll do Jones's I'll go do the local hangout, and then I and then I can't wait to get back home. Right. I'm done with the traffic after a week. I'm done with it. Like I love how la can just literally go should go. Do what how did you last night like oh, I flaked. And like, looks like they just say they flake? They're like, Oh, I just flake to Mike. I remember the first time that was sent to me and like, what did you get sick or something? Like no, I just flaked it into like, coming. I'm like, so you didn't text me or anything to be like, not coming.

Alex Ferrari 35:50
You're not a human being a human being?

Adam Scorgie 35:52
Yeah, I was like, you can't just you can't just not be a piece of shit and just say hey, story, things came up. I'm not coming like I

Alex Ferrari 35:58
Have the decency to lie to me. Yeah. What make a story

Adam Scorgie 36:04
If you're just weren't worth me making the time to come out with like, I wouldn't like that better. Right? Then you just saying I flaked. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 36:12
I would. I would truly I would truly respect that answer. Like, dude, you just not important enough for me to get Yeah, I was. I was binging on Netflix. Dude, I just couldn't I just

Adam Scorgie 36:22
I was good. I was good. I was comfortable on my couch. I got tired. So I yeah, I guess I guess you saying that. But I do. That's why a lot of people always be like, Why are you in Edmonton, Alberta of all places. Now look, I'm not going to plan to retire here in Edmonton. And the weather is not great. But

Alex Ferrari 36:36
Winters are fantastic. I hear I hear the winters

Adam Scorgie 36:38
Oh, it's spectacular. If you love arctic cold for 12. You know, 10 months out of the year. It's mid April, we had snow today. So

Alex Ferrari 36:46
Listen, with the global warming happening, dude, you're gonna have some really good real estate and about 10 15 years.

Adam Scorgie 36:50
Were gonna be good. Global warming was good for us before this winter. It was good until this winter, and it's not been good to us.

Alex Ferrari 36:57
So listen, first of all, thank you so much for that amazing conversation about the business. But well, one or the other. It was great, man. It was great. I love I love having conversations like this, because you just have no idea where things are gonna go. And I keep talking about that stuff for another hour. Maybe I'll have you back on the show just to talk about the realities of the bits.

Adam Scorgie 37:16
That absolutely we got, we got a spinning top you get me going, there's lots we can get into there. And help your listeners.

Alex Ferrari 37:23
I appreciate that very much, brother. Now the reason I wanted to get you on the show is because you've got something called Creative Hustler Key. Yes. What is telling me about what Creative Hustler Key is in this new kind of way of what you're doing with it. Yeah,

Adam Scorgie 37:37
so this is a great segue into you know, kind of what we were just talking about as in my partner came to me, it was like Adam, look, you know, we need to get into web three in the NFT space and I like many other people's like Hawkman NFT's I don't get it was a digital art and this and that. He's like, listen, Adam, that is just step one of the evolution of this technology and all the things that can be used for. And again, I kind of put it off and he was doing a ton of research and getting into and looking at how we can add value is like okay, and then when all the distribution like universe Netflix when everybody started putting these into their contracts, right that they now started wanting these rights and they want to start having NFT's and web three. I was like, okay, they don't want to make the same mistake that Netflix and everybody said streaming will never be a thing digital media will digital in all the theaters not going to happen social media that's for kids we're never going to use in the film industry right? Well all those things happen and overtook the industry right? Everybody now you have to fight for those rights. Now where's just a year ago, nobody could give a shit. They were all available. So then if Shane kept bringing these like, listen on him, let's not just make artwork let's do you and our team have always been great at when young filmmakers reach out you're always willing to help you're a mentor and tell a story hive you speak at Panels and then afterwards of the panels everyone comes running up to so I had never met any in the industry so candid willing to share budgets and do all these things. Why don't we take that one step further, where we make a creative hoster key which has the art element the thing that all the NFT's do, right, which pays homage all their films, we did all these Easter eight things like can you point out and people were like, it was really cool what the designer came up with, there's like every one of our docs, there's like a little character, even us were digitized and put in them and we can you find us. But we wanted to add that utility and community that's where for me is a bit of an older vintage like yourself, or more legacy vintage, if that's more cool words, right? Is like how can you add a practicality something that like I can touch and make make realisation of in addition to the artwork, and when Shane came with me with that, I was like, dude, now that's what I want to get into, say, Adam, how about everybody has creative hustler key, like you already do this for everybody for free. But how about now the people that have it, you'll give them context, like people at Netflix and superchannel you'll give them a little bit more time because they've been part of your community. I was like, I love it. He's like and then if they get three and become a try keyholder you will literally do introductions to those people. And I was like, like, hey, they've got a project you think is worthy of going front and ethics, you'll actually say, hey, got this great guy. He's part of our team, you guys should have out or right and not ask for anything, right. And I was like, now you've got something that I'd be willing to get into. So we reached out to all the local film, like communities in our province, like, which is ampia, the Alberta Media Association, and ESA, or the Edmonson screen industry office, who said, Look, we'll give you a couple to give to your brightest students. So you can do a competition to give out because when you come out of these film institutions, a lot of the time you've learned, you don't really know what it's like to be on a production, you've done the mock ones, and you've done the things but you haven't really gotten to the nitty gritty like you and me talked about, like where you really learn. So I'm like, why don't we fast track your work, you'll be right in our community, you want to reach out to me my co founders and say, Adam, like I'm working on this project. Do you know anybody? superchannel? Absolutely, I'll connect you, right, here's what you're going to run into. Let me see your budget, your finances wrong, I'll show you how to do it through the Alberta model or through the BC model. Connection. All this says, kind of doing what the DG, like a lot of these guilds are supposed to do, but they're so big now that they and that's why fitting the NFT model, we kept it very limited. There's only going to ever be 999. And there's only going to ever be 333. Try keyholders, right, because you can combine your other ones for a try key all three of the different worlds because we have chaos competition and the three different worlds that you can combine into a try key, we wanted to make it Ultra selected, because obviously we don't have enough time to do this. We don't want 5000 or 6000. We want it's not about a cash grab for us or what the mid price is going to be. It's about creating a great community that

Alex Ferrari 41:32
I don't want to cut you off because I understand every single word you're saying. But a lot of people listening don't even know what an NFT is don't understand. Blockchain is don't understand what meant is

Adam Scorgie 41:42
I'm starting to get I just got stabbed to those. That's why I'm thinking I can throw it out that lingo because I know all that stuff.

Alex Ferrari 41:47
So can you just really quickly what is it NFT for those who don't know?

Adam Scorgie 41:51
So an NFT is a non fungible token which is backed by the blockchain, right? And where this technology is going to be very valuable for all us creators. If you're someone that's like, I don't get it. And you like the art pieces, the digital art pieces, I too, was like, someone's like, Okay, what's digitally, I could take a photo of that I can get when you back things by the blockchain, with all the problems you're having with piracy, with films and all these things is as this technology continues to evolve, this is how you'll be able to secure it in a better way where you'll be able to prevent better privacy or piracy issues and stuff like that, like indie guys like us get killed by piracy. The most right wing people are like, who cares? And I was like, dude, 1000 downloads for us is like the difference of the distributor wanting to sign us again or not, right? Like the the marvels and stuff. Yeah, they can afford it. Us guys like it. Nothing's more painful when somebody rips off your thing. And then they tweet at it to like, oh, yeah, I've pulled this off of VPN, whatever. You're like, dude, killing me.

Alex Ferrari 42:45
Dude, my last few. My last feature was was booted in nine hours. Nine hours, nine hours, it was already up on it was already up on the board. So it's just like, wow.

Adam Scorgie 42:56
So these are where like the technology. That's where when my partner brought it up, and he does a great analogy. He's like, Look, we all have smartphones nowadays, right? We know how much they make our life better. But how many of us actually understand how they operate? I'd say less than 1%. Right? Probably very few. Right? And that's kind of where web three and non fungible tokens and things being on the blockchain are at like, you know, this came up recently with a friend of mine was or my wife was trying to redo her resume and she couldn't get her diploma. Right. She's trying to call her old school and nobody's answering. And I was like, Wouldn't it be great if it's just on the blockchain? And you could just log in and pull it up? And it's there for a lifetime? Right? Like, these are where the practicalities and this technology, whether we want to accept it, which was presented to me like it's like social media. It's like streaming for movies. It's coming. Whether you're ready for it or not

Alex Ferrari 43:43
It's like the internet and 94.

Adam Scorgie 43:46
Exactly, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 43:47
Because everyone was like,

Adam Scorgie 43:48
But internet was going to be a fad. Right?

Alex Ferrari 43:51
Dude you remember Do you remember those? Like those commercials are like, what is this email? What is that? You hear that? The struggle is real, bro. That struggle was real back then. But yeah, you're absolutely right. And, look, I've had multiple, I've had probably about four or five episodes dedicated to NF T's blockchains in this space and what people are doing. And and I think we've become, we have we have a lot of information about that stuff on the website. If you guys want to learn about more about blockchain, that it's specifically for the film business, because there's so much there's there's so many blockchains there's so much then you start getting into crypto, and which blockchain Are you on? Are you on Aetherium? Are you on you know, are you on something else? And I created my own blockchain. Well, what's that about? So you're an Aetherium right? Are you Yeah,

Adam Scorgie 44:42
We're on Aetherium. We're going back to this was but we also created a fiat system because we know a lot of people from the sports stocks we did our big memorabilia collectors, right and this is the creative hoster key is only phase one right? Then we've got phase two we're already in brand fear about doing like a custom design. As the same with like an iconic artist and him. And then you know, if you got some of the ultra rare masks, we would do an in person screening with grants himself, the artists and you'd be able to forge three copies that you'd be able to make, you could put on the blockchain that you could then sell as a collector and do as your own. We're talking with this thing about this, we're talking about golf with this so that we can always engage in the community. You know, an offer this utility and community outside of just a digital art piece, right. And that's also what the great imposter key gets us it, you know, we're going to do drops where you get a chance to be on set for a day. So you can come and be with us with dough because a lot of people now go Hold that thought it but like, at dinner parties now people are always especially I'm in in Alberta, I'm in an oil state, like you are a province, right? Where a lot of people have great paying jobs, but fucking hate what they do, right? Where they have anxiety on Sunday, knowing they have to go to work on Monday, right? So when it comes up, and people ask what I do, and they see the passion, and they see that we're like, man, you're traveling to Sweden with golf, and you got to interview Arnold, I'm like, so now we're giving you the ability where you could do that you can have that experience by being a creative key. If you're try keyholder, you'll win those chances, we'll do one or two trips a year where you'll get to be a producer for a day, you'll get to come on set, you're automatically VIP entered into all of our red carpet premieres, and all of our after parties, you will also get to be in a community like that's what we wanted to build. This is one of my partner brought this to me, I'm like that I can get behind. Right? We're, we're helping filmmakers. We're providing community in addition to the cool artwork and collectibles that we know like a lot of people when we did ice guardians we did making cocoa people wanted to sign poster by Grant and they wanted to be there with him that night, and they wanted those experiences. So this was just the next logical step. But then you can add ownership to that too, right? We're not only You're getting to be involved in this, you can have ownership in the artwork, you can own some of the the new NF T's that we're going to be having coming down the future. And that's where I was like, Okay, you got me, I mean, let's expand.

Alex Ferrari 47:08
So So for people listening, I'm gonna, I'm going to translate everything you just said. It's easy. I know, I'm fast. I'm like, passionate. So no. So translation is an NFT is basically a digital baseball card or comic book, let's just put it this for people. That's a good way of putting it. It's a digital version of that there's only one of them, you could throw that up on on something called the blockchain. And if you want to know about blockchain, you have to go type of blockchain.

Adam Scorgie 47:35
I could even explain that to you that much. Research on that,

Alex Ferrari 47:38
Yeah, do some research on blockchain. But you when you sell an NFT, you can also sell experiences or hard products or real world products along with that. So let's say there's a digital MMA card of this person, let's just throw that out there, right. And then if you buy that NFT, then you can also get an autographed poster. And if you buy two or three of them, then you could pass it, then you can go to a screening with him, things like that. So you know, you're selling experiences with practical products, and digital all through the NFT. And once it's purchased, it goes on the blockchain where now it's it lives forever. And you can resell that you can't, I'm not sure you can resell the experience, or the physical products. But you might want to be able to sell the physical products as you

Adam Scorgie 48:28
Were making it. So the physical products we make, you can sell and there'll be there'll be chips, so they can still be on the blockchain so that if you want to do that, you can do that the experiences that some we're figuring out, we don't really like maybe you could gift it to another, like creative, Hustler, keyholder. But we don't really want this, we're hoping that the people that buy these, like, we're worried for ours as much of course, we know it's going to be great art, we know what's going to have value, but it's less about trying to just get five times what you paid for it and sell it. It's more about the community and the utility of what we're going to be providing afterwards. The the NF T's that are coming down the road, like the partnership with Grant fear, and those ones, you know, like some of the artists we're reaching out to come on board, definitely. And those will be ones that will be you know, really, really valuable and probably be two 5x 10 Next time, especially if you get the ultra rare, but for the creative husky, it's much more about the community and utility. So we're still working out the fine tuning if someone's actually hey, I want to give this to somebody else. I think they'd benefit from it more. I kind of love that spirit. So I'm sure we would honor something like that, as long as they're also a creative foster keyholder. As far as selling the experience, I don't want to do that,

Alex Ferrari 49:32
Like 10 years down the line. You can't sell the experience, the experience is over.

Adam Scorgie 49:35
Yeah, we want you to be there. Like if you're if your key gets picked, and you're the one that gets to come on set with doll for a day. Like we'd say, oh, we'd love to give this like if you're in the film community here in Alberta, and they're like, look, I have someone that's the biggest doll fan. He'd benefit from this more than me. Great. We can make that work. But you putting that experience up for sale, we probably we probably not allow that because that isn't in the ethos of what we're trying to provide.

Alex Ferrari 49:58
Right, exactly. And then it Once you buy that NFT, you can then resell it. But the great thing about NFT's is that once you resell it, a portion of that sale goes back to the original creator of the NFT. So if I go, if I buy it for $100, and go sell it for 10,000, you get a percentage. Yeah, do you as whoever created the NFT. So get to 10%, generally is 10%. For Life for life. So as long as so in other words, if I if I got a baseball card for five cents, back in art in our vintage legacy database, and then I, then all of a sudden that baseball player blows up and it's worth a million dollars, I can sell it. And then someone five years from then sells it for $10 million, the original baseball player or the company who created that card does not benefit from it. So and that's a nice way. And it's that this is why I'm not worried about your company. I'm not worried about the company, like I don't care about tops not getting a piece of it, screw them because their gums sucks. But yeah. True, true story. But if the artist or or celebrity or athlete is the one created them, they can benefit in perpetuity from any future sales based on what they what value they bring. So, Mike, imagine if you would have gotten a Michael Jordan NFT in 85.

Adam Scorgie 51:22
No, and that and that's what, and that's why every single sports collectible company, they're all getting on it. That's that's where I'm starting to see the wheels moving just like social media before it became a regular business practice or when Netflix got streaming rights from everybody because nobody thought streaming is going to be a thing. Right? David? Wait, they disagree? Yes, they were like, they were like streaming no reason want that. For five years. Yeah, for five or 10 grand, take it as much as you want. Then transformers was one of their big titles, they gotten a good screen, then they saw this is when Netflix started hiding their numbers or like watch things been viewed 70 million times or something. And they're like, Well, you gave us the streaming rights, we can screen as many times as we want. So then they tie bar. But then they transitioned into making sure they were doing their own content, right. So this

Alex Ferrari 52:09
They can survive. That's the only way they could survive. Right? It's fast. And it's really fast. So how much is a creative hustler?

Adam Scorgie 52:15
So it's going to be point one three ether roughly 500 Canadian dollars, right. And if you get three, then you can get like I said to try key which is where you'll get free, where you'll get free drops into like our if I'm just like kind of clone X date and artifact ID where there are big NFT company that sold to Nike, like when they did their launch, it was like Michael Jordan converse, Nike and artifact, right. So that's another thing to say like how big these are getting is that, you know, Nike has made three big acquisitions, one of them being an NFT company, that we're doing the same kind of model where if you're one of those holders, when we do like to grant here drop, or we do something with one of these other artists, you'll get a free drop into your wallet, just because you've held a try key, right, in addition to the red carpet bonuses and all those things is we really want you to hang on to them so that there's value we want to continue to offer value. You know, as other things come up, right, whether it's the red carpet events, be on set for a day, you know, contacts of ours that we have our Rolodex will not only just introduce you, or will not just give them to you will introduce you and say hey, this person's part of the creative hustle community, I'll introduce all the contacts that I have and have worked with that will all come as part of the of having a try key.

Alex Ferrari 53:27
So in the future for independent filmmakers, it's, before I ask that question, you it sounds like you're building a community and almost like and the key is almost like a membership into that community, or NFT's and building it up. Since you're working with such high profile actors, athletes, and subject matter from your docks, you're able to partner with them in a way that and provide value to the community that not a lot of people are able to do is that

Adam Scorgie 53:56
Actually we saw Yeah, that's where we really saw that like, even recently, it was interesting because like when bizben came out, right, we reached out to all of the other guys. So Dolph shared the bisbing trailer on his thing, and Danny Trejo shared it on his and all these guys were like, look, they scratched your back when your trailer came out, you do the same and again, it's different than scripted films because their Doc's are all everybody when they're happy with the finished doc. They want people to share their story. They're hoping it inspires people and gives a good message, right, like, so we constantly are leaning on each other. So it's the next logical step is like Man, if we already have this kind of community built in, why don't we because again, we're always like, look, let's be 5050 partners, we're not trying to say like yeah, we're doing part of the heavy lifting by creating the back end of the blockchain and the NFT and whatever artwork we're going to do, but you know, we're splitting in three ways if we do one with Danny it'll be like Danny the artists we work with in us right split equally all go there like we're not trying to be like Well 90% is like so that you know and I'll everyone who worked with this already experienced this from the films we've done. So they're like, man, totally open to proposal, like bring it our way, right. We're looking forward to it. In addition, so that's just expanding. Know the community not only with the talent, but also the film community that we want to give back to them, right? Like, I know how hard it was when I was hustling. And I wish, you know, you probably had this too, when you met that one great producer that DOP or someone that really like helped you, it's like, man, here's how you do your budget, you should really go to them with your project, I think it'd be like, they were diamond. There wasn't a lot of them. But when you found or that diamond in the rough and say not a diamond doesn't, when you found him, you're I remember being like, man, thank you so much, like your information help so much where we're like, and then we know, then, you know, as this as the creative, hustler keeps evolving, we're hoping to maybe down the road, the way the technology goes, the we can bypass distribution altogether. Community gets big enough, and everybody's making money and the NFT's then we can say, Hey, guys, are you interested in the subject matter? Why don't we all like, well, we'll sell NFT's to fund it and get things together. And then we'll just release it for free. Right? We'll just say, hey, we'll fund it with the collectibles and everything in the pieces of the moments that we want to sell. We're just going to give it because screw going to some decision maker that's sitting there going, hmm, I don't know if you have enough females or you don't have enough Christians in there or things that they're going to determine make what they think is going to make your project sell, right where it's like, Screw it, no, that will feed like I remember there was something with Danny's project that drove us crazy that critics are like they missed a real opportunity to talk about the hardships of the Latino community and what Danny went through. And like, what that wasn't Danny's story. That's not what he wanted to tell. Why would we force that narrative that you think we missed? When that wasn't Danny's story? I was like, How dare you tell Danny or like one of them said that he was too macho and aggrandizing when he talked about surviving in prison, I'm like, that's what it takes to fucking survive in prison. Tell him that he was too macho in prison, like, oh my god, like, I'm like, these are the people that dictate what projects we can see on television these days. So they're like, No, Danny's a little too macho for me. I don't like it. And I was like, what? He's actually if you actually paid attention to the film, he's super charming and funny. And super sweet. Yeah, he actually had to break down that Macho. I think this also made me I'm like, did you actually watch the fucking film because he talked about having to create that when he was in prison. But then he talks about having to break that down when he got out of prison and be welcoming. It was like, but that's critics boring. We're kind of like, what are you talking about?

Alex Ferrari 57:17
Because because people were terrified on onset, because he has that look. Yeah, that look that killer look that. I mean, I don't know if you know that or not. But I My first book was about me almost making a movie with the mafia. When I was really no, I didn't know that I'll tell you about. I'll tell you all about it after we get off. But I know what it's like to look into a killer's eyes. And there's a thing that's there. That's terrifying, even when they're not being scary. And Sandy had lived that way for so long that he just scared and actors and movie folk, hey, they're brittle. Let's just put it trying to be well, they're trying to be they try to be like,

Adam Scorgie 57:58
Well, that's like the famous part of the Danny tells when he came on to the movies, right? He went because everything good that happened to him as a direct result of helping somebody else, right. And he, frankly, and he can narrow that down to like, taking garbages out when he first got out of prison. And he went to go help a sponsor, because he's still a recovery like sponsor an addict. He's been sober for 50 years ago, he went to help somebody and it was middle of the night and he wound up on a movie set. He said all these guys were doing push ups and trying to look hard, and they had these fake tattoos and like, does this make me look tough? And Danny was like, Yeah, you'd be my pitch in prison, man. But Sure. You're right. And like, just because like you said, he just came with a natural heat gun this and then someone came up to me right away. They're like, wow, like, can you be an extra? And he was like, an extra one. They're like an extra movie. And he's like, What do you need me to do that? Like could you look like a convict and he just served 10 years so he's like, you just make that work? Right? Yeah, that's what they when they put the blues on him for like the sink is they're meant to play San Quentin where he served time and then he's like, you guys don't know but these blues they fit just right on me right were just a natural and right away of course in the Director Song and was like, and he makes jokes where they're like doing the you know, the squares like the the frame and, and Danny was like whispering to his buddies. Like, I don't know what gang sign that is. That's a new one. What is that? Right? They're like, No, that's like a movie frame. Right? He's like, Oh, and then they're like, you be in my movie because he was so natural, because he's like He lived it. But there's a part that didn't make it into the film that he talked about that really resonated with me that he said I had to untrain like I was involved in several prison riots one that almost got him sent to the gas chamber right when he's like when you're staring across the yard and you know, there's about to be a prison riot. You try to look so intimidating, that when the the crowds go together and fight each other that they're like, I'm gonna go to the guy next to him because that guy looks like he would bite my ear off and enjoy it right where he's like, so yes, when I came out, I didn't even realize at times that I had that look of protection because in prison, you can't show weakness. I had always looked like I kill anyone anytime. Don't fuck with me, right? So he's the guy took yours when I come out, and you'll see it now. He's 75 years old when people come, he always like sparks himself up to where he exhausts himself. Because when you introduce you, but hey, nice to meet you, Hey, nice to meet, because he's trying to deflect all the time that like he's not that guy anymore. In fact, I find he's really a big child now because he didn't get much of a childhood right because he was in and out of juvie when he's young, he was in prison very young. That he's like a big Joker and always making fun and he's you're really like, man, like, I know in his eyes if it went serious like you'd want to be the only guy you're scared of was him like was such a big kid or and Joker now that like he really was just a treat to work with.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:51
It was so funny because in the movie that he was on the set of Con Air. Yes, kind of air. There was so much machismo and yeah, so my testosterone so test so much testosterone that said, I could only imagine and everybody is on the set, like while they're setting something up talking about like all the tough times, and who's toughest and like all I went through this or that, and Nick Cage stood stands up and says, You guys can say whatever the hell you want. The only guy I'm scared of here is Danny. And Danny wants to say anything that is required in the corners like,

Adam Scorgie 1:01:26
Yeah, Danny was like, Why me? Man? Why are you picking on me? They're

Alex Ferrari 1:01:30
Like, we know. We know. We know. Nobody. By the way, you're I got to see Bridgestone Bespin and Danny's movie. And dude, I love the way you shoot the docks. It's there because I've seen a million docks. And I've seen a million docks about you know, and actually, there's been docks on Danny before I've seen them. There's been many, but yours, it's so cinematic. And the way you do things it was they're very well done, man, you don't need me to tell you that. But

Adam Scorgie 1:02:01
It's always it's always great to hear from people in the industry. It's nice to get you know, it's what I always say about the awards, right? You don't do it for the awards. But it is nice to get recognized by your peers every once in a while because we've all been through the trenches, right? Where you're eating nerd for years, and you're getting. So it's always nice to hear that because I know we put a lot of emphasis in that like there is I will say for lack of better terms. I don't like to like say the score G brand. But there is a quality that is like, you know, it's why people are now coming to us like Man, these guys are out of Canada. They're ethical in their business, they treat you right, they care about the story. They're passionate about it. But of course there has to be a quality there if we if we had all those other elements, but we weren't delivering on the quality. We wouldn't continue to be working so but I really do appreciate that because we put so much into like always making sure that our lenses and like we're trying to make it feel more like a movie than it is although it is a doc we try to shoot it very, very cinematic.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:53
Yeah, the the interviews, the interview setups, the sets where the interviews are set up the the B roll that you shoot that I know, it's all the stuff that you shoot, it's really it was just really well, I was really impressed with how well it was put together, man, thank you.

Adam Scorgie 1:03:05
Because we put a ton of effort into that to the point where like, a lot of times when we're setting up the interviews, we're like, you know, when it's a big high profile people, they're like, oh, yeah, they just think that like, Oh, come on pop a camera or like, so we need access, like four hours before right in there, like four hours. We're like, well, like our lighting dates, two and a half hours, we want to

Alex Ferrari 1:03:23
It's like a movie, it's looking like

Adam Scorgie 1:03:26
We and there and then they you know, they always respect it once a year. But it for me like look, we don't need the talent there. We just need access to the location, right? So if you don't want it at your house, and you want us to get a studio, like we'll do that and then and then that part always drives me crazy, then the directors will be like, well, we'll provide them like 35 locations like three I'm not sure if any of those are gonna work. I'm like dude, you got to pick one here like we only have so much we can we're like we're trying to get it where there's no sound issues and we can control the lighting and like it

Alex Ferrari 1:03:53
It looks great, but we need to Subway it's underneath the subway. It's gonna be a problem. It's looks great though. It's just gonna be problem

Adam Scorgie 1:04:01
We've had that before.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:03
Of course we have of course we have cars. Yeah. So with the future of NFT's how can NFT's help you raise money for your film?

Adam Scorgie 1:04:14
So this is an interesting one where we're really looking like again that's kind of phase four for us right now where basically any money we make us the creative hoster key we're planning to just put right into the experiences in the community right if you're investing in us we want to invest it's right back in you. This way we have the discord and everything we're for those who don't know discord I kind of I was new to this. It is another app God forbid another one on your phone. It's kind of like Reddit on your phone. But you can get directly in contact with anybody from our film team. Me and my co my co founder mainly Shane were the ones that answer where if you have a question you want to sign say like, Hey, Adam, like how did you put your financing together for inmate Would you mind no problem. I'll get your email. I'll send you budgets I'd like soon as you're in the discord I consider that a community where I'll reach out to you and communicate as best I can. Now I am a father of three and that I don't know not maybe That incident, but it will be within a day. But where we think this can go, and we're still learning is that, you know, if the community comes big enough, and we keep investing into and we do these things, and then we can do these drops, we can do the custom grand pure maths and maybe like bizben gloves and things like that, where we can say, look, let's sell you an item and an NFT, where you can make money off of it, it'll be worth more than you paid for it, because we're partnering with all these big parties that will make it like opening a Wayne Gretzky rookie card for the first time, right? That we can take the money from that and say, hey, look like now that you bought the NF T's for this space, whether it be like somebody like doll for Bisping, or somebody that has built an audience, well, now we have the funds to do we're just going to go make the movie, and then we'll release it to our community, right? Like we already have the money through making sure the NFT's that we can do it that way and say look, distributors don't want to do it, or they don't have too many other greasy fingers and how they want to release and do all that. But we can do it ourselves. And then we've done like, I've kind of done this where at the festival things kind of an interesting thing for me, where, unless it's the real top tier festivals, which helped the sale of your film, correct. A lot of times now when people are like, Hey, want to come to the festival like dude, I know how to sell it, I haven't had it, we haven't not had a sellout. Like for COVID Everything of our things is sold out, I made 1000s of dollars from kind of like a the film festival gives me 150 bucks, or maybe 500 where I can sell it out and we could bring the talent and we could make 20 grand in one night and make an experience so you don't want to miss that. You know, why do I want to give that away? So we can then say hey, we can go to our community this is where we'd want community voting and stuff to be like how do you guys think we should release it we're thinking about doing you know, one solely for all of our our members of the score G Community let's throw a big party Let's invite the talent to do their do a q&a, where we could do all that in house and keep the profits and everything within our community rather than saying, Okay, let's just give it away to distributor that's going to overcharge over Marquette overspend, and we're never gonna get out of the hole. So that's the long game goal, right? And we don't have everything. I'm not gonna lie to your to the audience and say, I have all that figured out right now. Right? But that's where we see the evolution of NFT's in the film world where That's where it can get right was it we're all sick of the distributors and people telling us what's going to work what's not going to work and having to you know, if you deal in the scripted world, you know, where they're like, No, you need this actor and you're like, No, but this actor is perfect, right? Like this guy because they were on Twilight is going to sell more. So we have to put them even though they're not perfect not to disk Twilight. My kids love it, but you can.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:24
Absolutely you can absolutely disk twilight.

Adam Scorgie 1:07:26
Okay, it's like but that's, that's where for me, just like when people said crowdfunding would never work or this would never. That's where I see the long term coming is that as this constantly evolves, and the blockchain and cryptocurrency and and NF T's are able to allow ownership, as well as just like someone said it perfectly like web one was reading web two was interacting with three allows ownership right where then it's secured by the blockchain allows ownership is that's where we ultimately see that it could go right, it's not there yet. No one's done it yet. But I definitely think just like when we did crowdfunding, and nobody understood before crowdfunding was a term when we build social media pages before those were like regular business tools. I definitely see the practicality coming in. Especially, I see it in the dock space. I don't know specifically, I'm sure it could work in the scripted world, too. I just don't know that world as well. But I've just seen how like when we did visit things premiere in Manchester, like, like it was funny, because universal set it up with the Manchester Film Festival. And originally they put it in one of their modest theaters in the UK, right? Well, this one posted one thing it sold out, like insolence. So then they're like, Well, shit, well, we need, we need to put more so then they put a bigger theater, then they upped the ticket prices and put it in a bigger theater, right? Because we ended up selling out the biggest theater they had. And there was not a empty seat of great because bisbing was going to be there during the q&a and do it. And he was so good about every photo, every person wants to talk to him. Like the movie started half an hour late because everybody wanted photos. And he was funny because I knew the moment he came in because they had this great red carpet media. And they had us all lined up the director and myself and the other producers to do questions and interviews. And all of a sudden, there's this big crowd in front of us stadium, and then all of a sudden, I can see them all just go over here. And there's like the two people interviewing me laughed, and I was like, Oh, bisbing must have come through the doors, right? Because all of a sudden, they were like, Oh, over here, which was awesome as it should be. It's about him. I don't really it was nice to only have to do those interviews normally mean the director doing more, but when the talents there who needs us? We're not as important but even that seeing how the theater like you could do that where we could go on tour this thing and I know it's his schedule he would sell out even did just to like a kind of comedy behind the cage. It's called the tour over sold out in the biggest venues all over the UK, where you're kind of like how hard is that as a producer? You're like, well, I can call venues I can set up insurance and fire and I'm like, that's what I have to do for a movie. Right? Like that's all and distributors now because the streaming they've gotten so lazy, where a lot of them were like No, we're just gonna put on platforms like they'll want those rights from you, but they won't do anything with them. Right? They'll be like, we want all the rights and then so we now we're in a fortunate position because As again, that talent is our partner, we tell them that we say hey, like if you want other promotion like, are you going to do anything with theatrical rights? Well, no. Then we're going to take those back. Right? Are you going to do anything with the pay per view? Vote things? No. Okay, well, then we're going to take those back, right? If you don't, you're not going to use them. We're not going to include them in the sale because we know we're creative hustlers we'll do it ourselves. We'll work with the talent will put good money in his pocket, good money in our pocket. And we'll make life experiences that everybody's like, man, like that was one of the coolest things. All the people that came to Manchester that I do, they're like, I drove three hours like I'm so glad that is the best movie experience. Like, you know, imagine you watch this being that emotional roller coaster in the real life, Rocky, that accomplished become a world champion, one fuckin AI. But then he's there. He's crying. Like he's so emotional now. Like, he's not. It's funny, because he's like, I watched his like, look back and I'm like, I was crazy. I can't believe I did all that shit. Because he's retired. He's comfortably retired. He's doing very well.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:56
Do movies now?

Adam Scorgie 1:10:57
Oh, yeah. And every time he saw his kids on screen, he was great. And then even for the talent a lot of times like sure, they've seen the rough cut, but to watch audience and they see all these people talk through stories. They're like, visiting was an emotional wreck that night, right. And he was like, he kept crying and try to be an everyone in the theater. Like, you know, they're like, man, like, he got two standing ovations, one when the movie ended, and one when the q&a ended, when I've been to Sundance and South by Southwest, and I've been there where, you know, they're sold out, and then the actors come on, and they talk, you know, most of the audience will stay, but a lot will leave. I am not exaggerating, that not a person left for that q&a. Foreigner Vicey beater, one guy got up like 20 minutes into the q&a, went to walk out visiting jokes, I finally got sick of my face to my voice and the guy's like, Oh, my, I just gotta go take a piss. And we'll be right back. Right? Like, we're just figuring that like down the road. It's like, okay, well, we already know how to do that. Like, I can call the theater, I can get insurance, I can line up the talent. There are 50-50 partner if distributors don't want to take us, right, like we can do this with our entity community provide ownership to our audience, as well, where, you know, they'll have an NFT and then they can forge it, make it real, come meet this thing, get it signed, make it one of a kind, do all those kinds of things where it's like, look, we can bypass the distributor that overcharges for marketing and publicity and all the shit right that just, I don't want to talk about which distributor but recently, we had a film where we did great this last quarter. But somehow, of course, their costs were more than the quarter were like, quite shocking, but it's been out for two years. Like what the fuck are you spending marketing and then miscellaneous charges of 70,000 I'm like, What the fuck is that 70 thousand in miscellaneous?

Alex Ferrari 1:12:37
Thieves, man, they're just such thieves.

Adam Scorgie 1:12:39
So this is where when my partner really kind of broke it down to me shame fantasy wasn't on today, my co founder when he was like, Adam, that's the long term goal in addition to providing like we can do some really cool collectibles. We can offer the film community and the utility part of it. I was like, Okay, I will put my name in Baghdad completely because I just like we did with the Kickstarter campaign raising quarter million dollars we satisfied all our backers there. We've always been good at connecting with our community and writing back that's how I I didn't even know that's like a business tool. But when I was first doing our first films and just responding to everybody that would reach out through Facebook and Instagram, always reaching out even the negative people early on, I don't reply to the negative people now when people hate on it, I don't know. Yeah, but you know, when you start and you first get that you put so much emphasis Oh, it's like your it's like your four year old it's like I think is a movie you know, our first movie took four years maybe removed stupid and you're like what we're gonna learn and you go on there but you learn you're like, Dude, that's like it's sad because they need that attention that you don't waste your time take the time to respond the nice people that took time to reply to you so negative and then I you know, as I thought I had matured and evolved I would just respond with bone people like your movie sucked. I'm like, Thank you for tuning in. They're like, No, I didn't like your movie. I'm like still thank you for tuning in. Like fuck you. I didn't like your movie. You're like that's fine.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:57
Because you just can't let it go Adam.

Adam Scorgie 1:13:58
Just couldn't let it go. Again. Now I find me now that I have gray hair.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:04
Are you enlightened? Are you are you enlightened now Have you have you transcended

Adam Scorgie 1:14:08
Yes I think I have quite quite sophisticated now as I'm in the legacy market that I'm able to just let that one go into the roof.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:16
Oh my god I first my first film came out man i every single negative review today that I adjust dates days of life that I will never get back from wasting my time on bitter feeling bitter people and angry bitter people. But it's it's all good. I have to ask you a question Do you with with a movie like let's say Trey hill right with Danny Treehouse movie. You're, I'm assuming you're gonna create some cool like trail tacos and FTS or something. Did like that. Um, the thing that's cool about it is that yeah, there's a time limit. I mean, there's a there's an expiration date, quote. record on undocks generally speaking on films, you know, things that were around 10 years ago, you know, even things I want to ask because you're not going back very often and go see, you know, there is a time limit. Yeah. But with the NFT aspect of it, you could arguably continue to release collectibles on the park because a person doesn't have the expiration date. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. You know, but, you know, so in five years, this is still going to be Bespin. Yeah, in five years, Danny, God Willing will still be Daddy, you know, and, and Dolph will still be Dolph, and all of those things. So you can constantly almost continue to build that ecosystem of collectibles and other things and experiences with that talent. You could partner with them to almost be the exclusive place where the NF T's for them are built purely because you've built that environment up, you've built that trust up, you're handling all the heavy lifting for them. And you have the audience as well that not only their audience, but the other audiences that you've built together. So you got Danny's this Ben and Dolph. Let's say so then when Danny comes out Duff's people that don't want to get dan in business, people like that. Because you're all within the same kind of world. It's not like you're doing a ballet dancer, and a hockey player. You're doing everything that sits in the world. So it's a very, that's the way I see it for my

Adam Scorgie 1:16:38
No, you hit the nail that that's what we, that's when my producing partner Shane brought it to me say, Adam, we're in such a great ecosystem. And we're forever when you do the bio doc for them, like even hear that you are like forever connected to them. Like people always just get random stories from our friend be like, Look, I saw this Danny trailer article. I'm like, that's cool. Yeah, there's lots of articles because they're just, I'm associated with him now, right? And then I'm associated with Grant fear. And I'm associated with, like, I just got a text while we were on here saying, Hey, man, can grant still play? Like we're trying to do a charity game? Do you think we could sue them up and get stuff laid out? Like, we're forever associated, like, all the time, like, my business was always just the film. So like any business that came to these guys, I would just throw it to them like a Superbowl commercial. The NFL reached out to me because Danny, and I was like, here, I'll just connect you with Gloria like, I like his manager. And like, I didn't just GLORIA Yeah, like I was like, I don't have it's like, just reach out there. Right. So it's, it's we are ever forever connected. And is we constantly take care of our teams like we do feel it's a family and you build a bit more of that, like kind of we mentioned earlier in the podcast, there is a special connection built with the doc is you're doing their story. And you're, you're you're in a way, not that they do it for brand. But when you tell the story, right, and you inspire people, it only helps them in their other things, right? So when you say look, we're going to bring this we're going to do a continuation, we're going to do an inmate shoe, right? Because like for Danny work has his number at the beginning of the dock is is my number was B 948. Because I know actually artifact which they're looking at doing something like that, because universal didn't lock up the NFT rights on that one yet. It wasn't in there called eight showed up in the bizben contract, which made me looked at I'm like, Oh, they're getting savvy to this, right. They're starting to not they want to lock this stuff up. But that's where we keep going. If you don't, are you going to do anything? What's your plan, because we're now educating ourselves in that industry. So if you're not bringing anything quantifiable or anything valuable, you're going to create something stupid that has no utility, no community is going to die off after just a you know, like a stock dump, right? Where they're like, Oh, we're just gonna create these art and then it just dies afterwards. Right? Well, we're not interested. Right? We're

Alex Ferrari 1:18:44
NFT's are really about community. Yeah, it's about it's about community. And yeah, I mean, when you look at it, like a comic book or baseball card, that's, that is a community that's a very massive community that everyone likes Batterman everyone who likes you know, a baseball player, a hockey player, football player, but this is really about building an ecosystem for yourself, and that you have all of this this cachet with all of these all this talent allows you to build this all out. It's like a just a wonderful ecosystem that everyone eats everyone is everyone's take.

Adam Scorgie 1:19:20
And that's and that's what we're trying to make sure that we're really and that's where again, like, unlike if you because people say okay, well it's like joining the guild I'm like on Except unlike the guild, if you want to get rid of your creative hustler key you can just go to open C and you could sell it right you don't get that with the guild fees right what you have to pay annually This is a one time fee we're not going to tack on any of these bullshit things ever it is okay well now there's going to be a yearly fee that gets saying no, if you're not happy gonna open see and sell it right if you don't like that if you're like, hey, you know I'm out of the film industry now the you know, the experiences and the communities not for me, no problem go. You know, I'm confident we can never guarantee it but I'm pretty confident you'll at least get your money back if not make more because they are good. it'd be a finite resource, it's never going to be made again. So you will be able to sell them. So that's where we even said to the film communities that we're going to give them to him like it's the best scholarship you could get. You can use it for a couple years and if you find it's not for you and go sell it afterwards, the other scholarships usually like $1,000, to Walter to whites lighting company, they can only use in Burbank, if you're in Burbank, and you're like, that's fucking useless, right? Like, I'm gonna be there to do that. So when I'm trying to provide something that people really do find valuable. And by being on the discord, we're open to suggestions and how we can evolve and how we can change it. We're not planning to come out of the gates and nail it. We think we have an 85 to 90% there, because we're ground guys. That's even why we called it the creative hustler keeper, three guys in the basement suite that defied the odds and made it work. Our first film was a cult classic. When everybody said nobody wants to see a cannabis film. We're like, okay, they did, and it made money. Then every said nobody wants to see another Cannabis Film. We went to Kickstarter, we raised $242,000.42 days. Clearly the audience did want to see another one. And both those films were invited by the Liberal Party here in Canada to help draft the legalization bill that is now in place in Canada because cannabis is federally legalized here. Both films were invited by the Liberal Party to screen for bipartisan screenings to draft the bill that is now in place. So three guys in the basement suite made a giant impact again. Now I'm not saying the film's did everything. But the Liberals have told us that they received so many emails and hard mail because it was a combination of the time that they had to bring in the film and they had to take a look at it. And to be honest, I don't know how well you guys call Justin Trudeau but he is not a popular guy here in Canada. The main reason he won the popular vote was the cannabis vote. They did pay attention to the film, the film brought in those two films brought in so many letters and emails, that it was enough for the Liberals to go hey, we might actually win the youth vote based on this right which is always top voter group, right? In the United States or Canada. How do you get the youth to vote? How do you get the youth vote? So they try to trigger them with emotional things gender, religion, all those things that you know the youngsters all ages get into but how do you get the youth to vote? Cannabis was the one like shit that's why I voted for Trudeau and I'll never vote for him again because he sucks but he got me on the marijuana thing and like always no legalize cannabis got me there. Right. Well, it's legal. So yeah, it's federally legal. So he did and the sky didn't fall we've all the propaganda this like it said for years, it doesn't mean mass shootings in the sky. No, the sky didn't fall. The sky fell more with COVID than it did with that. That was where the sky fell.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:29
Bro man, I'm gonna ask you a few questions that asked all my guests, man. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Adam Scorgie 1:22:36
Whoo. That's a good one. I like that one. Probably the best advice that I would recommend is that, you know, when as we talked about in the podcast, when you feel that there's you're working with a scumbag producer get out of there sooner than later, right? Like, if you have to do it for money, I know I did that. But try to find that one that really is producer, a director or someone that doesn't mind taking the extra five to 10 minutes to help you when you find that diamond in the rough stick to that person and be loyal and work hard for them. Don't get clouded by just the big name company. Because if you're the big name company and you're surrounded by scumbags chances are you're gonna learn, you know, scumbag habits and night, you might end up being something that you never want it to be. So that fortunately, I've been lucky enough that I've never had to go down that path. But I know others that went down that path. And I don't think they meant to be malicious. I just think when you're kind of like live circumstance, and that's how you're kind of born and raised or trained. And now you're going to get into the industry, you're going to just think it's normal to overcharge indie filmmakers, and steal their rights and do those things because that's just how you were trained to do it. So that would be my thing, if you can find and there are and it does seem to be that culture shifting, that when you find those people stick with them. Stick with those people.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:50
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Adam Scorgie 1:23:56
I'm still learning how to be a good husband? I think my wife reminds me every week I'm failing on that so

Alex Ferrari 1:24:02
if I may quote bill, but if I may quote Bill Barr, a bill Bill Burr Bill Burke's union Bill Barr, the comedian the standard comic is like, why is it that in our relationship with my wife, they're always I'm always the project. I'm always working on me always the one working on me. Yeah, he's perfect, but I'm the one that's got all the problems.

Adam Scorgie 1:24:26
Yes. So I if we're talking work related though, like in my life, I'm still learning how to do that even like I think I figured out you're pretty good dad. My kids who will say I'm okay they're the husband thing I'm constantly working on me me. In I'm the project I'm the cause I am the ever evolving project. I can deliver world class award winning movies, but I can't seem to deliver me in an award winning fashion. I'm working remote.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:53
We're remodeling you all the time on your kitchen, your the kitchen or the bathroom that needs to be remodeled all the time.

Adam Scorgie 1:25:02
In the industry, the thing that probably took the hardest to learn in Canada, it's the financing system. Right? And two reasons. One is they said early on, there's very few that were willing to teach you because they felt thank God for guys like Gord riddle and Michael Bob Ross, guys here that showed me how to do it. And to the other part of that is to be honest, it's the lazy part, because it's the unmagic part of filmmaking. Nobody really wants to read government here in Canada, like government bureaucratic, like, how do you apply for a federal tax credit? How do you provide provincial and how do you combine the two, that is miserable reading, but if you're coming from the Canadian system, or the American system, understanding the finances is the key to a killer producer, right? That is now everybody comes to me, and people like to hear you're the Whiz. And I think it's hilarious because like, I'm the guy that had to cheat in math class, and I still barely passed. And now I'm considered the Whiz and I'm doing air quotes for your listeners of like, financing because I had to learn the hard way. And there was days where it was really tough. Because, you know, I think like a lot of people I struggled to focus, I probably add and stuff where you know, it's put the phone down, have a coffee, turn everything off on your browser and read this boring shit and understand it. Getting the talent and pitching. That's the fun part, right going out there and the excitement going to markets. Everybody wants to do that part. It was like that real realization, when you turn the light bulb on, you're like, oh, that's what high school is trying to teach me for five years. Embrace the suck, so that you're ready for the moment when it comes and you can crush it. Right? So that was the hardest part for me is really learning. Like, I hated that stuff and always tried to put it off. And then I realized, like, well, I don't know how to do that. How good of approved reusser am I if someone starts asking me finances, and I don't know how it works, I had to learn the shitty stuff. And I realized once I learned that, then that's when this was no longer a hobby. And it became how I supported my family because now I understood every aspect. I knew how to go to the banks and get the money. I knew how to deal with the federal provincial government. I knew how to do all that stuff where panels and stuff were paying me to come do their where it was the stuff I least wanted to learn, but had to do going back to our boy Arnold, he's like, do the stuff. You want to do least work on that because the other stuff will come. So for me when I focused on that, that's when I found my business took off.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:20
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Adam Scorgie 1:27:23
Oh, man, do you know this is like impossible because there's genres or different types.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:28
Just three that come to your mind right now, sir.

Adam Scorgie 1:27:30
Okay, right now because I'm working with them. Like, I know, everybody knows, most people know Dolph Lundgren for Ivan Drago. But for me, it was a very different movie. That was a huge part of my childhood that I've watched a million times is Masters of the Universe. Yes. I fucking loved him in that like when I first saw him turnaround in that scene, and then he kills like the two guys and he's good. I was like, That is Hema, that is who I pictured as him and like when he was in, he was jacked. He was like, the hair. I was like that yeah, that that's talking to you, man. Like he cut me off. Like it's funny because like, a lot of people don't know him as human. And I'm like, How did you meet all my cousins? watch that movie a million times? Like, I know it didn't do good in the box off. It did not pan but but as a kid, I all loved it. I like so that's up there for me. I love masters in the universe.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:17
Red Scorpion red scorpion.

Adam Scorgie 1:28:19
Oh, I love red. I do I've watched all dolph stuff I love dark Angel.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:23
Oh geez you leave I come it's actually called I come in peace because I'm working at the video store. When it came out they changed it to this dark angel crap but yeah, I come in peace.

Adam Scorgie 1:28:34
It's got two titles depending what territory are in some is right easy. Other ones it's like daddy's like and leave in pieces. Like genius. I love so so I was big doll fan. That's why the opportunity to work with him. I was like hell yeah, but it's amazing. We're just most people know him because Ivan Drago and Expendables right? But mass was a universe. I got to put Goodfellows in there. It's one of my all time favorites, right Joe Pesci he's like just hard to to beat there and then oh, if I'm going like I do, like the adventure ones II I'd say let's go like either will or T two are right up there for me.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:09
Ooh, wow. Those are two

Adam Scorgie 1:29:11
I think Val Kilmer is mad Morgan that er Doc Holliday are like two of my favorite characters that he ever played. And then obviously Terminator Judgment Day when you can get a thumb going down and lava make you cry as a kid. Like I was like, and that's what I was just

Alex Ferrari 1:29:27
I was just watching Ready Player One. Oh then and then the Iron Giant when he was going down

Adam Scorgie 1:29:38
You see easter eggs and that is like it just makes you like that movie is very underappreciated To me that's out there. Thinking of things thinking like obviously a never ending story. That's the first movie ever cried to bawled my eyes out. Oh, no. I saw that for Bambi. So I wasn't the typical Bambi

Alex Ferrari 1:29:57
The horse man come on You can't kill the horse. Sorry. Spoiler alert, the horse dies

Adam Scorgie 1:30:06
He comes back at the end though he comes back in the end.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:08
Yes, yes, he does. Yes he does. But brother man listen, it has been such a pleasure meeting you and talking to you and I'm excited about what you guys are doing and I hope it inspires some people to figure out what they want to do and how they can use this new space to kind of raise money for their films, sell their films, build a community around their films, build a career and a business around their movies which is what I'm all about is trying to help filmmakers actually make a living at this insanity.

Adam Scorgie 1:30:34
Yeah, that's like you heard me say like turning it from a hobby to a business right is always the toughest part when you can do that I'm always down to help other people to do that too. So I love that we connected man I really appreciate you having me on I do and I enjoyed the hell out of this I'd like I would love to do it again just to wrap even if we're not recording we're not come down in Austin. We're gonna hang out man, we're gonna go question to barbecue and I know the holiday thank you very, very much for having me on and for your listeners. If you for those of you that are interested in the creative hustler key, you can go to creativehustlerkey.com the presale is going to start this weekend on the 16th you have to join our Discord and saying that you're on this podcast, say like, Hey, I heard and from the podcast, just acknowledge yourself in the general chat. We'll put you on the whitelist for the presale because we do anticipate these to sell out like I know just here in Alberta alone, like all the communities are chomping at the bit just to just for the Rolodex access and stuff like that, right? People are wanting to get in there. So you know, please join our Discord. If you go to creativehustler.com You'll be able to find we've got it step by step all laid out. Even if you want to just come and don't want the carpet just be part of the community and be in the discord like please, by all means do that as well. But yeah, and then the regular sale will go April 17. So but today, if you're supporting the hustler podcast, the end then you will if you announce that you came through there in the discord, then you'll get whitelisted to get into pre sales on 16.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:52
Awesome, brother. I appreciate you, man. Thank you again, buddy.

Adam Scorgie 1:31:56
No, thank you appreciate it.

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IFH 573: Vampires, The Devil and Working in Hollywood with Brian Nelson

Today on the show we have screenwriter Brian Nelson. 

Nelson holds degrees from Yale University and from UCLA. He worked as a drama instructor at Langley High School in McLean, Virginia in the early 1980s, where he taught Gilmore Girls actress Lauren Graham, Little Miss Sunshine screenwriter Michael Arndt, and UCLA screenwriting instructor Brian David Price.

Nelson’s numerous writing credits include episodes of the television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict, JAG and the Disney television series’ So Weird and In a Heartbeat as well as the feature film Hard Candy. He also wrote the play “Overlooked” and co-wrote the script for the vampire film 30 Days of Night, which was released in late 2007 and helmed by Hard Candy director David Slade.

Nelson wrote the script for the M. Night Shyamalan-produced thriller Devil. Nelson wrote episodes 3 and 8 of the Netflix original series Altered Carbon, as well as executive-producing the show.

His new project is Agent Stroker.

AGENT STOKER is a paranormal thriller – part Raymond Chandler, part Philip K. Dick, and all macabre all the time. AGENT STOKER is the love child of The Shadow and Black Mirror, it’s “The X-Files with a drinking problem.”

AGENT STOKER is the tale of a wounded man working for the Night Brigade, tracking data points that might just indicate coming apocalypse. AGENT STOKER is scripted supernatural fiction created by Chris Conner and Brian Nelson (both from Altered Carbon). 

Brian and I had on heck on a fun time talking shop. Enjoy my conversation with Brian Nelson.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show Brian Nelson. How're you doing? Brian?

Brian Nelson 0:14
So far so good.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
We have been talking for I don't know, 20,30,40 minutes before we even got started. So I have a good feeling about this conversation. I think we're gonna have a lively, a lively, you know, trip down the rabbit hole of screenwriting in the craft and a few other surprises, I'm sure. So before we get started, how did you get? First of all, why? And how did you get started in this business? Like, this is a ridiculous?

Brian Nelson 0:42
Why would anyone get started?

Alex Ferrari 0:44
This is this is an insane business. Like, you know, it's insane. How did you get started?

Brian Nelson 0:49
I had the fortune not to know how insane it would be before I am.

Alex Ferrari 0:53
Fair enough,

Brian Nelson 0:55
You know, long version or short version, which would you like,

Alex Ferrari 1:00
Whichever you'd like to whichever one? Whichever, whichever feel you feel like you like because we're gonna be here for a minute

Brian Nelson 1:06
I make my own grave.

Alex Ferrari 1:07
Right, exactly.

Brian Nelson 1:08
Right. All right. Um, for for various reasons that are part of the long version, I had this notion that, oh, maybe I'll try to like work a number of different jobs over my life. So I worked for a little while as a high school teacher and I worked for a little while as a theatre director. And then I'm thought, you know, I'm gonna move into writing. And of course, once I moved into writing, that means working in new jobs all the time. So I didn't have to actually continue that model. Because I was constantly as a writer, you were, you know, reinventing yourself all the time, and you are taking on new territory and responsibilities all the time. 10 years ago, I had to learn everything there was to learn about Florence and the Italian Renaissance for Da Vinci's demons. Little later, I had to learn everything there was to I read every word we still have written by Lee Harvey Oswald, because I was doing a deep dive into the Kennedy assassination for 1122 63. So so that is part of it was that I had this sort of sweet, idealistic notion of, oh, let's just live a life where you're constantly reinventing yourself. And then I stumbled upon this career where I'm, in fact, already constantly reinventing myself. So get Be careful what you wish for. You know, having said that, I mean, I've always on some level, you know, I was that kid in first grade, I was writing little episodic stories, like, wow, yeah, I know, I stumbled upon this one day. And I was like, I did this. But yes, here's like, in my little first grade handwriting, there's chapter five, where there's like a team have, like, sort of Mission Impossible type, operatives. And, and, and they all kind of happened to be my friends, but they all had code names. And I was x five, who was secretly the robot, which, what does that say about my like, self image, and we'll leave that for later. At any rate, so So I've always, you know, since since my earliest memories been, sometimes despite myself, I've been a storyteller and, and, and to get like, a little more thoughtful about it, you know, I think that on some level, that's our job as humans is to take a universe that seems without reason frequently and figure out the reasons make things make sense. You know, that's our gift as humans is to be able to interpret a possibly meaningless reality and ascribe meaning to it and make sense of our lives that way. So I figured out somehow within all that, how to actually make a living doing the thing that I think humans should be doing anyway, so, so far, so good.

Alex Ferrari 4:22
Yeah. And you're absolutely right. I think it's, it's, it's it for a writer, I think it is our responsibilities to to be able to give some sort of meaning to this insanity, that we are just our life and why we're here and what's going on and doing these deep dives, especially you know, going you know, doing research on your career. And you just mentioned a couple like the you know, the Renaissance and the the Kennedy assassination and there's those a couple of vampires in there and there's a devil in there as well. There's a few other things that you've you've really delved into a lot of things but as storytellers you're absolutely right. It is our job to kind of do that in an entertaining fashion because That's what we were doing around the campfire. You know, 1010 20,000 50,000 years ago, it's, you know, and stories I always tell people stories are they saved your life because if you didn't tell the story about the tiger who ate that guy around the corner, down by the river, if that story didn't get out, the tiger would still be eating people left and right.

Brian Nelson 5:22
Well put, and you know, I have a friend who told me once, like, I actually get into that whole campfire thing when I'm pitching a story to executives, like, I channel all of like the 1930s radio drama energy that I can. Yeah, a friend says, Yes, Brian, you have this, what he calls this, your dark campfire Mojo, where you're telling this story and you're making it clear that like, if people don't listen, something terrible might happen. So yeah, your your best, Orson Welles, your best Orson Welles. This is not the first time that that analogy is true.

Alex Ferrari 6:06
Now, you did a movie called Hard Candy in back in 2005. I remember when it came out. And it kind of it was very risque for that for its time. I remember, people were like, what? Like, they were really It caught? It really caught a lot of fire. How did you get from the How did you get from the script, to production, to Sundance and then and then you know, finally getting it distributed.

Brian Nelson 6:35
I mean, hardcat it was a tremendous experience. For me, I had been working as a writer for a little over 10 years where I'd done I've been in a writers room on a series, I'd written a miniseries written a mini series that did various freelance gigs. But also, I was like, trying to figure out how to, like, let things catch fire. And, and honestly, I had no idea that hard candy would be the thing that caught fire, but a producer named David Higgins had read a play of mine and head said, let's figure something out. And and he had a sort of clever idea. He was at the time a development executive himself who wanted to move into producing and his thought was I'm going to sort of see if I could come up with like, logline sentences for movies that could be made for like $15 and and find writers and develop them that way. And so we kicked the idea, various ideas around and one day he said, You know, there's this there's this story that I read about in Japan where these underage teenage girls would lure businessman up to their apartment with the promise of illicit dangerous sex, and then beat them up and rob them. And and we talked about like, it's really interesting, this dynamic of you start the story thinking, Oh, I should be afraid for this person. And then you realize, except maybe I should be afraid of them. And that was a felt like a juicy dynamic to consider and so we kept talking I shaped out really of a shockingly miniscule treatment I think it was like maybe four four and a half pages. And and David managed to say you know, I think we got something here but of course, I have no money but if you thought about specking it I bet we could sell it and it happened to be New Years and so I was like well, resolutions Fresh Start Sure. Let's give it see what happens if I give two or three days a week to just seeing what happens if I move forward with this story which at this point on the on the treatment was called Vendetta is very lame.

Alex Ferrari 9:17
Very beat very be very 80's be movie

Brian Nelson 9:20
Yeah. How to call it something. And fast forward on the title theme when we eventually were in production. We were like, well, we need a new title. I pitched her a while the idea of let's call it snip snip. Oh, and amazing. Always get some reaction but Hagen's Hagins to his credit, maybe not the reaction a

Alex Ferrari 9:52
Little too little too far.

Brian Nelson 9:54
So so he said, You know, there's that there's that movie where like the cheerleaders robbed the bank where it's called Sugar and spice. And maybe there's something in that vein where we talk about the like, bad dynamic. And so, along those terms, I pitched hard candy and as the title and that's what it became. So I've written the script, the script wrote remarkably fast. I mean, I, it just felt like I'm onto something here, it was one of those situations where like, you know, you, you set a certain quota for yourself of how many pages you want to try to draft a day. Sure, routinely, I was like, exceeding my quota and like, hitting dinnertime and going, I could keep going, I'd maybe I should stop now, while I still know what the next lines will be. I mean, it was just, it felt very fluid. I was at the right point, I think in my life and career to like, channel a lot of different influences. And it came also partly out of my theater experience. I had trained as a director in theater, Hagen's his plan B was, if we, if we never get any money to make this, then you know, Brian, you know, actors, we could just, you know, max out our credit cards and rent a digital video camera, and shoot it in my house. And so while I was writing, I was actually had in the back of my mind, right things that can shoot in David's house. You know, I was sort of choreographing it. I was writing it sure, you know, like a stage director thinking, Alright, now we should move to the kitchen, or when in fact, one day I got a ladder, and I walked up on the roof of David's house, you know, to see what that would feel like. David lived in a house all that also at that time that had a little interior rock garden with that, that we were like, there could be a safe under there, and so forth. So So I wrote it in a way for production, which I think was smart, something that helped. We sent this script around, we got a lot of great response. We got we got people who were like, people from studios were like, This is so great. Don't send it to us. Because we'll only screw it up. You know,

Alex Ferrari 12:26
That's just what you want to hear. Just what you want to hear

Brian Nelson 12:29
Fascinating response. And I mean, on some level, they weren't wrong, that they were like, you know, they they were basically saying, no, if you, if you do it here, then like you'll the development process will make will bleed everything special out of it. And it will turn out to be not a movie, where you know, this, this young kid executes this diabolical revenge, but she'll turn out to be Holly Hunter pretending to be a young kid or, you know,

Alex Ferrari 13:00
But isn't. But isn't it amazing, though Hollywood has I've never, I've never found another industry or another place where Hollywood, other than Hollywood, that they give you the nicest efuse I've ever heard. I mean, it's it's artistic. It's art. And that was that is I agree with you, although in this case, I prefer not to think of it as it No, it was, it was a little bit of it

Brian Nelson 13:23
Like wise, you know? Sure, counsel. So we started looking into how to how to make this independently. And Higgins thought, you know, if we find a director ourselves that we like, then we could present ourselves as a package. And frankly, a great aspect of this as well was that then the directors relationship would be with us. Because it turns out that you're your biggest loyalty is is often to the people that you saw as bringing you into the project. And so having that bond with a with a director that way was was tremendous for us. So we looked at reels of various people. And, you know, one of 17 Incredibly lucky things that happened on this project was we ran across the work of David Slade, who had been directing commercials and music videos, but had not done a feature was looking to do his first feature. And you know, we'd like very quickly realized, Oh, my God, here's a here's someone who could, as you see in hard candy, he could take a teenager looking through a file cabinet and make it look like The Bourne Identity.

Alex Ferrari 14:43
That's what commercials and music video directors have. They have that eye

Brian Nelson 14:47
He knows he knows how to shoot the hell out of something. And so we became this package. I will refer to them by their last names a lot since they're both David and but we became this package of me and Higgins at Slade And we looked to various indie funders. There was one group that actually gave us offered us twice the money we made it for. But their deal was, but you'll have to, like make it with our people. And Slade had very strong feelings about know if I'm going to make this for a price, it has to be my team that I know. Right? And I already have shorthand with that I can work with instantly. And so we were funded by Vulcan production productions, which was Paul Allen's company. And and they basically wrote us a check for a million dollars, which was a lot and not much at all. And we we hired an ingenious line producer whose job was to lie to us and tell us there was not much money left. Right. And, you know, we kept coming at him, he would eventually say, Well, I did squirrel away some money. And

Alex Ferrari 16:11
Yes, I love I love like producers who do that they're like, Well, you know, I I hit a little bit of money and put in design, so you can pull that out there. Oh, and props. I threw a couple extra grand over there. Oh, it's the best.

Brian Nelson 16:23
And, and so I'm gonna try to angle my camera here. Yes, yes. If you could see it,

Alex Ferrari 16:32
Oh, it's an amazing poster. That's an amazing poster. Yes,

Brian Nelson 16:35
That is this kind of collector's item. This is the poster that we made ourselves to take to Sundance

Alex Ferrari 16:45
Amazing, amazing design amazing design.

Brian Nelson 16:48
You know, equally amazing was the Lions Gate design when Lions Gate eventually picked us up?

Alex Ferrari 16:55
Oh, yeah,

Brian Nelson 16:56
That design of Haley in the hoodie, standing of that giant bear trap. Oh, unbelievable design. And I have that right and elsewhere. But this particular poster is always special to me, because it was seen only by, you know, 190 people at Sundance.

Alex Ferrari 17:14
So I'll tell you what, in 2005, we did you guys go into the it was the Sundance 2005. Sundance, right? Yes. That was my first year at Sundance. And I remember walking, and I was walking, I was walking Main Street. And I remember seeing the poster. And I remember hearing about an A here and we were there promoting our short film. And it was just like, Man, that's a great idea. And I just like in the in the marketing for that looks really cool. And it was just, you know, for people, Sundance was a whole lot different in 2005 than it is today. It's just a whole other. It hasn't turned into what it is today. And but I do remember oh five, and I remember walking the streets. And I remember seeing the poster and I remember hearing about that movie. So yeah,

Brian Nelson 17:57
It felt I will say it felt like a lot today a lot lot in 2005 Even I mean, it was it was that the place was jammed. And, you know, Sundance is is also I will take a moment to say, you know, wonderful in many ways and helped launch as and at the same time. Boy, they are focused on directors. So like, you know, the artists so much on the writer, not so much the writer. No, no, the artistic director introduced the film as written and directed by David Slade and David had to say I actually. And Sundance had not made a badge for me.

Alex Ferrari 18:38
Oh,

Brian Nelson 18:41
I tell that not to shame send it well, no, a little bit, just a little bit. But actually, not having a badge turned out to be great. Because they were like, well, we have a badge, but the name of your film. So I walked around town all week. And my dad said I was hard candy, and take that the wrong way. But I'd be on a bus and people would see my badge and they'd go, Oh, my God, I love that film. And, you know, whereas had I been wearing a badge that said, Brian Nelson, I just, you know, I wouldn't have any nobody would have talked to me, but I actually was wearing my own PR. And really that turned out to be honest. You know, if I'm at Sundance again, I probably want to do the same strategy and not have a badge but just have a badge with the name of my film because that was magic.

Alex Ferrari 19:43
Oh my god, that must have been amazing experience. And then it goes on to to do you know, well, it got picked up and it does well it gets critically acclaimed. So now how does the town treat you? Because you've been around you've been around for a few years. You're not you know, you didn't just show up with Your first spec script you've been writing.

Brian Nelson 20:03
It's interesting, because, you know, I got about three years later, my previous agent left the business and I signed with new agents. And when I'd see their resume that they'd send out on me, it began with hard candy. And I was like, Oh, that's interesting. For you guys. I didn't really exist before that. Right? That's fine. But um, you know, the fun thing about going on meetings in the wake of Hard Candy was that people read it. And they tell me all their experiences of reading it. They'd say, it was like Sunday at 1130 at night, and I was tired. I thought, I'll burn off one more script. This looks fun. It has candy in the name. And then I'm like, 20 pages in and I'm like, What am I reading at this hour of the night? Why am I all alone? And not very dressed? I should put on more clothes. So people loved telling me those stories. Oh, that's awesome. But also, I'd walk in and people would meet what you're seeing now people would meet a guy whose looks and sounds like me. Right! And they'd go. You're not who I saw.

Alex Ferrari 21:34
What did they? What did they think

Brian Nelson 21:36
Hard candy so they expected Marilyn Manson.

Alex Ferrari 21:39
I was about to say, like, with some emo kid to walk it

Brian Nelson 21:43
And I Yeah, exactly. And, and, you know, so I walk in and I mentioned I'm amusing and not right, you know, come in with a kind of a light touch and I'm easy to talk to, and I'm not like glaring at them. Like why you think you have the right to exist? No, no. So that was but maybe that was that was a surprising like comforting to people that oh, we wait to be scared of this guy.

Alex Ferrari 22:17
Now, so after you made your rounds in town, you and David Slade worked on another project shortly thereafter. A little vampire film independent vampire film that we call 30 Days of Night, which is a fantastic I mean, I love love, love that movie. And I love the shot. I love the way it was written. How did you approach adapting? Uh, this was a graphic novel, if I'm not mistaken. right it was .

Brian Nelson 22:44
It was a graphic novel, graphic novel created by the amazing Steve Niles. Yeah. With with art by the equally stunning Ben temple Smith. Yeah. And you know, it had been a sensation in comics. I'm one of those guys who you know, knows way too much about comics for someone my age, you know, here's this wall you see behind me with like Shakespeare and pincher, but literally on the other side of this wall comics are 29,000, Marvel and DC comic books. And so

Alex Ferrari 23:20
Well, we can get we can geek out then

Brian Nelson 23:24
Fair warning anyway, So So I, you know, I certainly knew of the project it had been through. It had been through several writers and the studio had reached a point where they'd said, we're not sure what to do with this, maybe we hire a director, and then the director sort of supervises a writer. And yet, this is Studio thinking for you, then they were like, but maybe we shouldn't hire the writer that the director wanted. Because then the writer won't listen to us. They'll only listen to the director which you know, having heard my you know, thesis about who hires you into your loyalty. I mean, that certainly makes sense. So therefore, I even though Slade wanted to bring me in on this, I still actually had to, like enter a derby for this. I was one of three riders pitching it I have never pitched two more people at once. 11 people included on the pitch including two on the phone, you know, from from the studio and two production companies and the publisher of the graphic novel. And so, so it was a lot but somehow, luckily, I won through and was tremendous fun to write. I can imagine and and what I what I look, Steve Niles had this brilliant premise for his story. So Like, the first, the first 20 pages, like, we're already home, and he had a brilliant ending. The challenge of various writers along the way was that, you know, there was there was not there was not much in the way of character arc yet or a second act. And so that's a lot of what I brought brought to that. But it was an interesting case, because also, you know, Josh Hartnett had been cast and won as part of his deal the right to like consultant script and, and, you know, we were like, holding our breath about, oh, what's, what's this actor gonna say? But Josh brought interesting ideas to it. Josh said, this is a small thing, for example, it's hardly like, when people list the the things they love about 30 Days of Night, nobody says, oh, and his inhaler. But actually, you know, Josh was like, I want to be an ordinary guy. I don't want to be a secret superhero. And so, so like, Could we just, you know, give me like, a little asthma issue and silver so that, like, when I run around the corner, we're not going to do the scene of like, must get inhaler, right. Yeah. You know, it would be great. If I just had to take a moment every once in a while to just puff, you know, I just need a little help. I'm human. I'm an ordinary god. That was an example of something that's actually suggestion suggested that I thought would be great. Josh also suggested, what if? What if I have like, a little brother, because the little brother was not in the graphic novel. And and Josh suggested, you know, if I had a little brother, then that would be go to like the themes of family in the story. And when I thought about that, I thought, Oh, this would be great. Because if his brother is like, 1719, he is like, Josh is the sheriff. Josh plays Evan Evans good at his job. You know, so, so Evan didn't have technical challenges of can I really do this, you know, he, he steps up to the moment, but his little brother is his little brother. And so like, having to watch his little brother have this coming of age where it's like, Oh, my God, I just killed a vampire. Maybe I need to go throw up. Now, you know, that was a tremendous dynamic to have. And, and, you know, watching watching that character have that little arc, again, not something that a lot of people when they, when they list things about the movie, they nobody ever says to me, oh, have a little brother. But it was part of the texture of that, right? It actually made it so human and so rich, and that to me, in everything I write, I'm looking for that humanity. I'm, I'm, I will often say to people that regardless of what genre I'm writing, I write about people who find themselves someplace where the rules have changed. And now suddenly, it's up to them to decide, whoa, what are the new rules is going to be? And when they make those decisions about what's what's going to be right and wrong in this new paradigm? What did they discover about themselves, that maybe they didn't want to know? So that's what I love is taking people putting them in a gray area where they have to make those hard choices, look in the mirror and go, Wow, that's who I am, what the hell do I do with that? And that is hard candy. And that is 30 Days of Night, and that is altered carbon, and that is Agent Stoker. And it's and so you know, even though I write in various genres, and have have, you know, a sort of complicated resume, that's my sort of unified field theory of what I write,

Alex Ferrari 29:21
And that's a that's a really great point of view. Because I mean, I've never heard it illustrated that way before. Because, you know, obviously, the the ordinary world and you go into the, you know, the New World, and that's the concept of that, but putting them in a place where the rules of their environment have changed, like in devil or, or like in 30 days a night where you were, I mean, obviously, you know, you've got vampires in the sun's never coming. Like that's a great such a such a wonderful concept for a vampire movie. It's like, if you're going to do a vampire movie, it's such a great thing but that and then also I just love the idea of the vulnerability of Josh's character, not only because of the inhaler, which is a brilliant mood, brilliant, brilliant idea. But having the brother and having to watch his brothers back as well gives him another vulnerability. He's like, he's not only dealing with asthma, he's not only dealing with a town full of vampires, he also got to watch his little brothers back and take care of them as opposed to so it's just all those little, those little parts of the tapestry add so much to the character. You're absolutely right. But I love that idea of the throwing them in a gray area where the rules have changed and see what they do when you apply these new, this new paradigm to them.

Brian Nelson 30:39
I mean, not that, you know, my feeling is sometimes the gray area happens for various reasons. Sometimes it's thrusting upon you, without your being prepared for it or having asked for it other times, you semi wittingly or unwittingly created it because you were pursuing something and then guess what it puts you now in this new territory? Right? You know, you to be careful what you ask for kind of situation, like so people, people can find themselves in the new paradigm for different reasons. But, you know, on some level, I'll even say that that's, you know, that is me as a screenwriter, that I was a guy who was like teaching school and directing theater, and then I entered screenwriting. It's like, whoa, the rules are different here. I have a lot to learn. Even though I thought I was pretty smart, man, there's still a lot to learn. So

Alex Ferrari 31:34
And the game change, and the game changes almost weekly.

Brian Nelson 31:39
Always asking myself, am I capable of what am I capable of a while I and and surprised? I didn't know I could write that. But I guess I just did. So yes, exactly. And it's fine.

Alex Ferrari 31:54
Let me ask you. So I always love asking writers this, about the flow about being able to tap into their creative. Well, I believe that we all have a creative Well, I think Spielberg said it best is like ideas float in the universe. And they will come to you. And if you don't do something with that idea, it will go to somebody else. And that's why he's like, Oh, I had that idea. But I didn't do anything with it. And like six months later, oh, it's in production. Damn it. I have a great print store, if you want to hear Prince story about her. So Prince, Prince, I was writing as

Brian Nelson 32:29
Another Nelson. So, you know, I'm automatically in sympathy.

Alex Ferrari 32:33
So prince, the the late great prince called up his, you know, he has like 1000 songs. And yeah, he's got a new album up into the year 3000. So a new album every year up into the year 3000, we will continue to have prints. So he would just call up his his backup singers and his musicians at whatever time whenever he got struck with with inspiration. And one night he calls up his his, uh, his back of one of the backup singers and says, Hey, what are you doing? It goes, I'm sleeping Prince, it's three o'clock in the morning. Like, I need you to come down to the to the recording. So we're gonna record it. What can you just wait, like, for four hours? Like, no, I've got to get it now. And I got to get it recorded now. Because if I don't Michael Jackson's gonna get it. And that was such a amazing, like little peek into his creative process. He really understood when he had an idea or an idea came to him. If I don't act on it, it's gonna, I'm gonna lose it. So I always like asking writers What do you do to get into the creative flow and how to tap into that well, of creativity that is that is yours that you get that that Muse if you will, to tap into that?

Brian Nelson 33:46
I mean, that's a very interesting question. Because like, I'm, I want to answer it in at least a couple of different ways. And this may be my, like, Libra quality, you know, my wife's complaint about me? Is that the answer to every question that she asks me as well, yes, and no. You know, and so there's a part of me that wants to say, actually, no, you don't have a choice. There's nothing I do. I it does me, you know, that, like, I, I will just have to come downstairs at 1230 at night because I can't sleep and I know, I have to write it down so that I can sleep. You know, because otherwise, you know, the ideas just gonna keep kind of going, hey, hey, anything about me? You know, so, so there's that, you know, having said that, I will also say obviously there are you know, I mean, like I you know, spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to work Pandora to find a way to curate for myself a collection of music. That would be only so interesting. to keep my mind occupied a little, not so interesting to distract me.

Alex Ferrari 35:07
So find balance.

Brian Nelson 35:09
But interesting enough that when my mind goes on, do you want to think about something else? I've already fed it. This, this minimally interesting music. Okay? Yeah, no, yeah, I was too if I were writing in silence, I would go and, and, you know, go do something else. You know so so knowing you know, knowing something about how your brain works and what your capacity is, uh, you know, I I'll arrange various treats for myself, you know. I'm a big believer in you know, the, the animal moths book Bird by Bird and then feeling like, you know, you don't have to do it all at once, break it down into little chunks, Bird by Bird. And lo and behold, you write about enough birds and you got an aviary. I don't think that's quite the way she put it. But brick

Alex Ferrari 36:05
Brick by Brick a piece of the elephant a bite of the elephant at the time.

Brian Nelson 36:08
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So um, so those are, you know, that I certainly have my, my schemes. Having said that, once I had two kids, I also got really good at writing whenever there was the time, because, oh, yeah, I used to be a guy who like, and still am somewhat a guy who like I love writing, you know, in the middle of the night, when the house is all asleep, and I have everything to myself and no distractions it's over. But being a parent, man, I learned to write in like, the little time from 1005 to 10:23am, or whatever, you know, that, that, you know, being a parent of young kids meant you were signing on to a life of none of your plans going like you thought. And so, so as a sort of evolutionary survival strategy, I acquired the ability to write when I got the shot.

Alex Ferrari 37:14
And it was very much like Stephen King, you know, when he was writing carry on a typewriter on his lap, in the laundry room, you know, and he was just like, as he's doing laundry, he's just typing away on carry his first novel, and you just do what you got to do. And if it's five minutes, it's five minutes, it's it's five hours, it's five hours, it's whatever you can, but you just got, I think the key is also just writing, just just write in, all the bad stuff is gonna flow out

Brian Nelson 37:37
Absolutely. And, and, you know, the world is full of people who want to have written,

Alex Ferrari 37:46
Oh, they want the glory, but they don't want to do the work.

Brian Nelson 37:49
Maybe not even necessarily glory, but they want that feeling of I have written them. So I am, you know, I'm able to, like, look back on it, and so forth. But you what, what one needs to acquire is the pleasure and the joy of, of writing, as opposed to having written and if you don't have that I enjoy is actually writing. Again, it's got to become an insufferable slog, and you're going to very quickly find a way to do something else. That might also tangentially involved stuff you forced yourself to write, but, but the actual process of writing is, I mean, again, I was I was doing it when I was six years old, without even knowing why I was doing it, you know, right. It's unfortunate in that way that it's, you know, I'm not a musician, I would love to be, oh, same here. But, you know, I have a musical instrument here that my wife gave me that I took some lessons on. But as much as I love the ideas of musician, I don't have music. I don't actually yet, maybe that'll change. Maybe I can tell myself, but I don't yet find pleasure in the actual like, playing in the actual making of the music, whereas I do and always have found pleasure in stringing a mess of words together and seeing what happens and and changing the words that go wait, maybe maybe, in fact, a shorter sentence here and so forth, you know, and that that is is feels like home.

Alex Ferrari 39:34
Yeah, and that's another thing that you know, as creators, we a lot of times want to want to be at the end of the road and don't enjoy the journey and it's always about the like the end the finished screenplay, or the finished movie and but the painful for many people, it's painful to get to that point. That won't you can't sustain a career that way you need to enjoy this process. You need to enjoy any process you're doing because As the bulk of the time you're on this planet is in the journey, it is not in the, it is not the one that is not the one that you win the Oscar. It's the 20 years that you were working towards that process to get to the Oscar, if that's a goal of yours, or whatever, but it's that's it, those moments are so short. And you can live in them for a minute, and then you're done. And you're like, Okay, now what? You but

Brian Nelson 40:22
I mean, I feel secure, saying, Alex, I'm not gonna win an oscar. That's alright.

Alex Ferrari 40:29
You're right, me, you

Brian Nelson 40:31
Kind of work that gets considered for that. And that is perfectly fine. Because I love the work that I'm doing. Right! If it ended up that way, am I gonna turn it down?

Alex Ferrari 40:41
No, no, no, I don't want

Brian Nelson 40:45
No, I'll take it. But

Alex Ferrari 40:47
Give it to Eric Roth again. Don't give it to me. No, I understand. No, I understand completely. And I think you and I are both in that same category. So it's not bad. It's not bad. It's not like most of us are in that category. Now, I have to ask you, you got to work with arguably one of the better, one of the best voices in his generation, I think for as a writer is M Night. And, you know, coming out with sixth sense. And, for better or worse, always having to live up to success with the rest of his career. But he's a brilliant writer, and I'm such an admirer of his because he had reinvented himself a few times. Because there were moments in his career where Hollywood just wrote him off. He's like, up, that's the end of that. But he just kept his head down and kept putting out great work. And then he's had this, this resurgence in the last, you know, five, eight years of just putting out great work, what was it like working? And how did you get involved with nit for devil,

Brian Nelson 41:53
You know, time and again, I find myself saying, Well, I was really lucky. And you know, of course, you know, luck is partly that I kept my head down and kept working. And so you know, the more work you do, the more luck finds you. But nonetheless, I was approached about devil by night. My agent called and said, I'm not channeling wants to meet with you and okay.

Alex Ferrari 42:27
And you're like, who does? Who does? Who does? This is a joke?

Brian Nelson 42:30
Well, well, so he says he's the what I'm told is he's he's in a hotel in town. So go to the hotel, and he'll come down and meet you and was oh, so friendly. It's sweet. It was like, amazing, because I remember being in the lobby of this hotel. And they say, All right, well, here, you can call up to his room. And so I'm on this, you know, the hotel phone saying, Hi, this is Brian Nelson. I was told to call this number and, and I hear this voice saying, Hey, buddy, it's night. And like, alright, we're off to the races. So night hat, the way that he framed it to me was he said, You know, I, I've had two or three ideas that feel like little films that could be fun, but maybe they're maybe their ideas that would suffer under the weight of written, produced and directed by Night Shyamalan there, there. There's smaller films, and I've made this deal with this company, media rights capital that I will produce and supervise writers and directors in this. And we'll we'll make these three films, and I don't I, I'm not sure they all got made. But I was the first out of the box. And he gave me like a 678 page treatment for for what became devil and said, Is this is this something that you would want to write? And I told you earlier about my sort of what I frankly call my mission statement, you know, what, like, is it about a character who like finds themselves? And, and I frankly, I use that as a rubric. So I mean, look, of course, there was a part of me it was like, well, if I'm my channel and asked you do you want to write something? Of course you say yes. But also, frankly, no, I also had to ask myself, does it fit the mission statement? Because I have found in my life that like, if I try to write things that are not in that zone that I've identified as my zone, right, they're not going to go well. Right? But devil totally fit that. And so I was happy to sign up and And I did a number of drafts, I worked a lot in close consultation with the dowels, John Eric Dowdle who directed it and his producer brother Drew, we, we hung out quite a bit talked about the story from different perspectives. And so it was it was a very effective collaboration and a film that, you know, again, I'm, I'm very lucky that people you know, come up to me all the time and go oh my god, I just literally a guy I know. Last month said to me, I was watching this film and I didn't know you wrote it. And at the end of the credits, I was like, ways that Brian Nelson that I know. You know, frankly, it might not be because they're turned out to be a couple 36 Brian Nelson's on IMDb, of which I am Roman numeral two. High up there has because I've been around so damn long. You know I joined IMDb I started logging on to IMDb when it was run by a little college in like Louisiana. And there were two. And I was I was on IMDb too, because my last name is between M and Z. You know, that's how primitive it was in those days. Wow. But there's a lot of Brian houses in the world as it turns out, but I wrote Devil and that my friend was like, I didn't even know. And it still continues to haunt people's nightmares. And, and so

Alex Ferrari 46:43
It's, it's it was terrifying. I remember when it came out, I saw it was terrifying. And and I remember people just talking about it like did you see devil? Do you see that? Like it was just there was a little thing in the air about it. I

Brian Nelson 46:57
I have a very good friend who's a very accomplished director. And maybe I won't mention her name because I'm going to talk about this phobia of hers. But like she called me up and said, I'm so happy for you, but I can't see it because I just got through months of therapy to be able to enter elevators.

Alex Ferrari 47:19
Oh my god, so you've tear up? Yeah, of course, she would never be able to ever, never ever be able to get into an elevator again. Now, you know, working with them night is is Was there something? Was there a lesson or something that you saw in his working in his writing process, and his storytelling process that you kind of nugget that you pulled away from working with him?

Brian Nelson 47:40
I mean, you know, night is a tremendously inspirational figure in terms of like, never be afraid to do the next pass. There's always more to do. You know, we You talked a moment ago about people saying, well, they want to, like, have that finished screenplay. But you know, there is also a saying that, like, no work of art is ever finished, it is only abandoned. And, you know, and and, you know, I remember hanging with knight in his study, and he's got all the drafts of everything in his study, there on that shelf are like 19 drafts of signs there on that shelf are 12 drafts of late in the water or whatever it is and so forth. And and, you know, he, he is a demon for work. And that to me, I always find very inspirational is that, because I believe that at you know, I've talked quite a bit already about you know, that you have to find a pleasure in writing. And that means, of course, absolutely the pleasure in rewriting. And you know, and I remember night saying what's, you know, sometimes sometimes it's interesting, Brian, you'll do a draft and it's got problems and then the next draft has like moved it forward so much and and, and then maybe the next draft will have more problems, but then the next draft moves it again. And it's yeah, you you go through, you know, you go through a sine wave sometimes of of finding things in a story and he was a great companion in those terms.

Alex Ferrari 49:21
Now, you you've written some very suspenseful stuff in your career. What, how can you create suspense in a scene? what's some advice you can give writers on how to create suspense within a scene? Not a whole movie, but just within the scene.

Brian Nelson 49:39
So years ago, I was working with producers at BBC Worldwide. And they asked me to write a piece. I wrote a pilot for them that was about the Georgian era in England. And I said had, I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth, but I'm not like that person who would normally come to about this. I'm like, the vampire guy, right? And, and they said, we don't think of you as the vampire guy. And they said something that I was like, one of the nicest things people have ever said about my writing. Because they, they said, you know, we look at heart candy, and we look at devil and we think no, Brian writes about two or three people who go into a room have a conversation. And at the end of their conversation, both their lives are changed. And, like, if that is what ends up is my epitaph.

Alex Ferrari 50:46
That's a great epithet cheese, you know.

Brian Nelson 50:48
And this is part of my training as a stage director is, if something is going to be in front of our eyes, then it needs to earn its key, and it earns its key by in any given scene, something must change. And that change happens as a result of. And I'm going to sound extremely academic here, but each per each character's active intention, what is each person trying to do to affect the other person and create a change in that other person, and then one of them wins, or maybe they both win, maybe they both come to, you know, a realization, or, or their conflict creates a new problem or possibility. But But every time if a character is going to earn their weight in a scene, then they need to show up with a goal and intention, something that they want in that scene, and a plan to get it. And then they change. If that is true of the whole script. The entire script is how did this person change as a result of the choices and plans that they made? And what sacrifices did they have to make. But it's true of any five page scene as well is when characters leave that scene. If that scene was just about, oh, we want to establish the house or we want to show how sexy these people are, or whatever it is, then to me, it's not earning its caveat that that something must the status quo must have evolved by the end of that scene. And the other going to your suspense question. Ideally, I think every scene ends with a question that that that if a scene doesn't have a what will happen next at the end of it, then maybe you need to keep working on that scene. The only scene that shouldn't have a what will happen next is the final scene and even then, you're usually happier if you still have that movie ends and you're still wandering away. Isn't there more what next? Right and so so I'm, I'm obsessed with, with story questions, what do people want and what will happen next?

Alex Ferrari 53:32
Now in your, in your travels, you you've written in a few writers rooms. Couple, the one thing that in schools and in in academia and just general that's not talked about a whole lot at the politics of the writers room. Are there any tips you can give young writers who if they're lucky enough to get in a writers room? A couple landmines they should look out for as far as political, the politics of room and obviously that changes per room and per showrunner, but generally,

Brian Nelson 54:04
I do well in writers rooms, I think because I'm there to be part of a team and they're to engage and I'm not precious about my words, because I know everything's being rewritten all the time. You know, and so, so I really enjoy rooms because I think partly because of my theatrical background that I you know, grew up working in stages where, you know, even if you're a one man show, you're still gonna need a stage manager and a lighting designer and writer and so, you know, and so, so I I really feel at home in collaborative art forms. If I wanted to do it all myself. I would be a novelist or a poet. Right? But I don't actually Want to do it all myself? I want to work with partners and people who will, people whom I can challenge people who will challenge me people who we can all make each other better. The more voices This is partly an exciting time in television, because we are bringing out more voices than we ever have in maybe even the history of culture. And, and so that's, that's a thrilling thing. So, so I, you know, if, frankly, it sounds a little simple, but my my just advice would be, first of all, just be open, be open minded and be willing to contribute. And don't be, don't be precious about oh, this is my idea, or, or what, or this is how I wanted to say it, because it's all gonna change seven more times. Anyway, right? Later. But, but the more that you engage in a spirit of not about oh, what you said versus what I said, and more about, what is the story? What what did these characters want? As long as you're talking about the stories and characters, then you're getting it out of the realm of ego and into the realm of craft. And that's what I think makes a successful room.

Alex Ferrari 56:26
Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What was what was the biggest fear you had to overcome to write the first screenplay, your first screenplay? Because I'm assuming you didn't just go in all guns blaring. I'm assuming there was some, Hey, can I do this? Or you know, things like that?

Brian Nelson 56:46
Ah, you know, I've been around a long time. So now you're asking me to cast my mind back? decades? decades. I mean, I, you know, I, it's, it sounds very simple, but probably the biggest fear I had was, am I wasting my time? Is this something that I could be good at? Right? Um, you know, and I, I gave myself a certain, like, clock by which I needed to see some signs of success, or I would decide, you know, don't knock on a door that nobody's out. On the other side. You know, and, and luckily for me, someone knocked pretty early before that, because I didn't give myself frankly, the longest timeframe for that. So

Alex Ferrari 57:45
What was the timeframe? By the way? Was it like a couple years two three years?

Brian Nelson 57:48
Oh, no, no, no, my charter the math.

Alex Ferrari 57:50
Oh, really? Now, what was your timeframe?

Brian Nelson 57:54
I, I had written I mean, effectively, maybe it to turn out to be a couple years, but I didn't think of it that way. I, I was, I was directing plays, I was making money on the side writing script coverage. I was also working a day job while my wife was in grad school. So I didn't have a ton of time. I wrote two episodic specs, samples, like back in those days, you wrote samples of shows that were on the air. Sure, sure. I sent them to agents, people were like, this is nice, thank you. Send them what status? What else? Everybody else here? Right? I'm like, Okay, I got to do some more. I wrote a spec movie the week setting reaction. And so then I was like, Well, I'm going to write a screenplay. And I'm going to write the best damn screenplay. I can imagine writing and I'm not going to think about whether it's commercial or whatever I should you know, I you know, I people were like saying, but could you write under siege to Shouldn't you think of that and you know, and and I was so so no, I'm gonna write the best possible thing I can write and if it goes somewhere then it goes somewhere and if it doesn't, that will be that then that then that will be that and I will focus on where people seem to be interested in my so you ask luckily for me, that script out my even hardly trying God response I because through theater, I had a friend who worked in script development, his his day job at night, he was working in theater like me, but his day job was he was he was worked in mo W's for for a studio. And I asked to just as a pal, could you give me notes on this to try To help me get an agent, you know, I'm not submitting it to you. Right Man. Yeah, just please. I will benefit of your wisdom, any notes you could give me. And then timidly like two or three weeks later, I poked my head in his door. And I was like, I don't mind. Yeah. Yeah. And, and Eddie said, yeah, no, no, I have no notes. I think it's great. I think we should buy it. Well, they didn't buy it. But He then got it to a producer who actually optioned it and got me an agent out of it. And suddenly I was like, Well, I guess I can do this. And I guess all. So persevere. So so.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:47
So the advice you're giving screenwriters is give yourself 12 months, write one screenplay. That's it. And if it doesn't work out, then go do something else. That's basically what you're saying.

Brian Nelson 1:01:01
All I could do is report my journey. Of course, no, no, of course, I have friends who have worked in this for years. And it is their dream to write movies. I as I think I told you way along was like, there could be a lot of things I do, maybe I'll be a sociologist, you know, I need that was actually something I considered for a bit, you know, so so, you know, I, I love telling stories, but I was also prepared for this not to work out. And, and it's awesome. So, again, lucky for me, because it did.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:45
But the thing is, but the thing is, you've spoken about luck, a bunch in this conversation. But the thing is that you, you created your luck, because you actually did the work. It's not like someone knocked on your door like, Hey, man, do you got any ideas? Hey, I'll pay you to write a script. Now. That's not the way it was you you put in the labor? And then look happened?

Brian Nelson 1:02:05
Sure. So now I will tell you, I've told you my unified field theory of what I write now, I'll tell you my Unified Field Theory of careers. Okay, so these back in those days, I was watching and going, Why are those people who are so brilliant, but they are not. They are not getting their careers are not moving forward. I mean, while some other people who frankly, I don't think are so brilliant, but they are working like oh, what's that about? And so I devised this theory where you have to imagine a triangle. And each of the points of this triangle is a different aspect that might help you get a career. But the secret is, you don't need all three. Your career is a line that connects the two, you only need two of them to have a career. So the three points are talent, perseverance, and luck. So you might have no talent. But if you persevere, and you are lucky, you will have a career. But you might have no perseverance, like writing one script. Wow. But yes, but if you have talent, and you are lucky, you will have a career. And then we all know people that have no luck at all, but they have talent, and they never

Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
Rightand they build something out for themselves.

Brian Nelson 1:03:47
And I constructed this theory at about the same time that I was writing that script so maybe I've always been trying to talk myself into persevering now, you know, that's not fair.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:00
No, that's not fair. Because you you've done a lot sir.

Brian Nelson 1:04:03
I work a lot. Yes, you do. But but the corollary to this triangle is my talent is what it is I could improve I could look study craft I read other people's scripts all the time. I I like watching bad movies, because it's like, oh, what can I learn from this? How did this go awry? You know, but, but at the same time, to a certain extent your eye is your eye you got a little bit what you got through the the vagaries of fate and genetics or whatever else I don't know. Your Your talent is somewhat of a fixed quantity. Your luck, you have no control at all, but that's why it's called luck. So really the only thing you could control Is your perseverance? Absolutely. And so so that is my actual advice to people. Alex Ferrari is persevere,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:13
Or possibly even hustle.

Brian Nelson 1:05:18
Yeah, yeah, you might you might know it's true, because because look, that whole anecdote about that screenplay is on the other hand in the context of, but I was I've, I've been working, you know, since high school in the arts and I've been like, you're reacting directing. You play writing, we're honing out.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:41
You were honing your craft.

Brian Nelson 1:05:42
And well, I mean, yeah, I guess I don't ever think of it as honing my craft. That sounds so kind of,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:51
Well, no, but you I mean, but you were telling stories. You were working in the art. So you were you were gathering things left and right.

Brian Nelson 1:05:57
I'm, I'm, I'm pursuing the story. I, you know, I was I was in graduate school at UCLA. And there was a professor named Michael Gordon, who had this amazing career he had worked with a group theater. Then he directed the film of Cyrano de Bergerac. Okay, which one the Jose for? Yeah. And then he got blacklisted. didn't hardly work through the 50s. When he came back, he managed to direct again, but not Cyrano de Bergerac his comeback film was Hello, Taw with Rock Hudson and Doris Day, but he took that job and made the most of it. And continued working for years of years. And so he was a guy who just managed to build his career out of what is the story? What will people what will make people want to wonder what happens next? And I, I looked at the plays that I had directed, and the ones that had we had worked and the ones that have not worked? And I was like, Oh, the ones that work? Or what are the ones about story? The ones that made people wonder what would happen next, right? The ones that were just about a theme or an idea? Yeah, maybe there's people who can make pieces about theme or about spectacle, right? We're without story. There's people who do that.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:36
Oh, and I won't say their names into out loud. But yes, there's there's more pillar to them build careers upon

Brian Nelson 1:07:42
I would never harsh anyone else's jam. Absolutely. But what what makes my work work is story and character. And, and I, I I realized I could be intellectually tempted to work on a piece that's just about like, the fascination of language or whatever. But no, those pieces, those pieces are going to be only interesting to me. Fair enough. Fair enough, you know, and so that's, that's what I learned. And and so so maybe I'll revise my my, my screenwriting origin story to give myself a little more credit.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:24
You should you should, I think a little bit more credit. I mean, though, because you, it's not like you just like you were working fries, at a Burger King. And all of a sudden, like, I'm gonna give myself 12 months in one script to write and I've never haven't barely written anything in my life. That's not what you said, You've been working hard to get.

Brian Nelson 1:08:40
Now, it's totally fair. In fact, even even the day job actually was I got a job in a studio legal department, right. So I was in fact, watching the business of how you were being put together. I was like honing, Travolta get to fly his own plane to the sad why does that matter? Hmm. Interesting. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:04
So, um, that's a whole other episode. Just what you learned during that process time. If all the inside stuff of those those deals. I have two more questions for you one. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Brian Nelson 1:09:22
The lesson is make sure that Alex asks me in the second question about agent Stoker, which I'm dying to talk more about. Okay. Okay, now ask me that question again. That's all I could

Alex Ferrari 1:09:38
Well, tell me about yourself at first.

Brian Nelson 1:09:41
I did last year.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:46
I've heard this thing about HS dopa. Can you talk a little bit about that?

Brian Nelson 1:09:49
Um, so look, this is i This has been such a fascinating, fun journey for me. I met Chris Connor On earth through altered carbon, where he played Poe, our AI who believed he was Edgar Allan Poe. He crushed that role. Shortly into the pandemic shutdown. He was like, Hey, since nobody can like shoot anything. What if we like created a podcast? I have like this feeling that like, I keep thinking, Is there a way to do black mirror meets the old radio plays of the shadow? And I said to him, you know, if someone worked in a lab, and tried to figure out the phrase to fastest penetrate into my cerebral cortex, I don't think they could do better, like very relevant. Yeah, I write that. And so what we cooked up was this scripted supernatural podcast, call it a paranormal thriller. It is called agent Stoker. And it is we have various line log lines for it. One is of course, Black Mirror meets the shadow. Another is part Raymond Chandler, part Philip K, Dick, and all McCobb all the time. Oh, sounds amazing. Another logline for it is the X Files with a drinking problem.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:33
What a great image. That's amazing.

Brian Nelson 1:11:35
Ancient Stoker works for a covert organization called the knight brigade, that is tracking incidents that have no explanation. But maybe the explanation if we can all hook them up is that the end of the world is coming. And maybe we should try to get ahead of that. Just my agent Stoker is facing the loss of his partner and is not really necessarily sure he is up to the job. He is, you might say, thrown into a gray zone where the rules are not clear, right.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:16
And I've heard that before. I've heard of that before.

Brian Nelson 1:12:19
And it's very it's up to him to figure out how to persevere, but perseverance in his case also requires in every episode, the examination of some artisanal cocktail,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:33
Obviously,

Brian Nelson 1:12:36
Which is one of the easter eggs that we put into every episode we also managed to put into every episode a little bit of baseball trivia, we also managed to put into every episode, an actual real world indie bookstore that we're doing a pro bono shout out to ah, that's amazing. And yet in every episode, he also deals with schizophrenic AI and sentience mold and demon where cats and a number of you know terrifying other sounds that this fall into another another one of our loglines for the show, which is think of it as CSI apocalypse. So so we cooked up this show we approached wonderful actors who are not household names but who you know through you know being fans of television and share with you who've been a bunch of people from altered carbon Amy Hill from Magnum P I. You know, we're our biggest name probably is our announcer and and later the voice of the night brigade is is Emily de Chanel. Wow. But also Peter Jason from Deadwood

Alex Ferrari 1:14:09
I do do do do a voice. Do you do a voice in it?

Brian Nelson 1:14:12
I do not do a voice you show you sit back No, no actually because we thought you know what, we're going to do this exactly like we would if it were not the shutdown and we're doing it for live TV. So all the actors are are being paid sag minimums and you know, Chris and I created knife brigade LLC as a SAG signatory. And yeah, it's funny, one of my high school friends just wrote me and said, You Aren't you doing your voice and this and I, you know, actually I, I love all of all of the voices in this coming from the universe of actors that Chris and I know and love that we've just always been dying to do something more with. That's and we brought in and we brought Actually, you know, directors that we love to So, the So, the the, the pilot and the finale are directed by Rachel Talalay from Doctor Who and Sherlock and, and Superman and Lois. Several episodes are directed by us Scott who's done everything from for color girls to swat MJ Bassett, whom I met on des Vinci's demons and nightflyers, and also did altered carbon does does a block of three episodes. So, so we've been having a hell of a time. Our sound design is by our our CO producer, Patrick Hogan, who currently does sound for little things like Cobra Kai and so forth. Our line series and amazing woman named Dana Brower, who I met on nightflyers. Our music we have a theme music by an indie composer we know named Christie Kuru we have entitled music by Portland Indie band, the parson redheads I mean, it sounds awesome. A lot of elements here you should listen I rather

Alex Ferrari 1:16:13
Where and where can and where can people listen to it?

Brian Nelson 1:16:16
Wherever you get your podcasts.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:19
And what's the name of the show again once again

Brian Nelson 1:16:21
It's Agent Stoker.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:23
Okay, so everyone listening

Brian Nelson 1:16:26
Bergerie that you can find on Spotify or Apple or you name it it's it's out there and and you better find it before it finds you.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:35
I will put it I will put it on the show notes. One last question three screenplays, three screenplays every screenwriter should read

Brian Nelson 1:16:47
Ooh you should have warned me because you know this sort of thing that like a certain questions that when people people ask them of course the things that you think go out of your head right you know I literally keep a posted here so that when people say what have you been watching lately? I have the answers so that I'll remember this otherwise you know you go right I have been watching things what are they so look ah we you talked earlier about night nights screenplay for unbreakable. It's incredible. I remember reading it back when I was starting out and I've like saved it I've still got my copy you know, it's it's, it's I would recommend that to anyone. This might not be this might be an unexpected answer. But when I think over the years of like pilots that I've read and blown me away that you know that there there have been there have been shows that there have been pilots that I that I I might recommend but I also when I think about screenplays, I am going to I'm going to toss in the third man I love the third man I think about that all the time. A screenplay that I might not recommend except I love it. It's structurally a mess. Well, it works. The best movie ever made maybe is the big sleep. Oh yeah. Yeah. I was hired on altered carbon in part because I came into the meeting and I said, you know, this story is like the big sleep and Lita calligraphic greatness was like, Yes it is. I'm so happy you know that. You know, so So I think about the big sleep all the time. I I'm not stopping it three. You're doing dirty pretty things. Dirty pretty. Is is is is an amazing script to me. You know, it is exactly what I've talked about. It is a guy thrown into a place where the rules are not clear. And now he has to find ask himself what am I capable of to faceless? I am a giant fan of Days of Heaven. The Terrence Malick masters I I'm a big fan of neem Creek. Yeah, yeah. Which I think is a very under discussed film. But again, a film where people discover what they're capable of that they never wanted to know about themselves. You know, I, that's five.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:11
I think you're good. You're good. You're good. We could keep going forever. I mean, we could do the podcasts of just like scripts you should read. And we just do like 20 every episode. Fair enough. But that was excellent. Brian, I know we can keep talking for another few hours, but I appreciate your time. Thank you so much for coming on the show and dropping your knowledge bombs on on our tribe. So I truly appreciate it. My friend. Thank you so much.

Brian Nelson 1:20:36
It's my pleasure. Great, great to talk and I will see you again when you least expect.

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IFH 572: The RAW Reality of Being an Indie Producer with Miranda Bailey

Miranda Bailey is a prolific producer, actor and director, known for producing high quality independent films. Her passion for bringing compelling, well-crafted stories to the screen has been the driving force in her distinguished 15-year filmmaking career. Bailey has produced over 20 films, among them the Oscar®-nominated THE SQUID AND THE WHALE and the Spirit Award-winning THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, as well as James Gunn’s SUPER, the Sundance hit SWISS ARMY MAN, the critically acclaimed NORMAN and the indie hit DON’T THINK TWICE.

Bailey’s directorial narrative feature debut BEING FRANK, an offbeat family drama/comedy premiered in the Spotlight Section at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and was theatrically released June 2019. She assembled a decorated cast including Grammy-nominated comedian, actor, writer, producer and New York Times best-selling author Jim Gaffigan, two-time Emmy winning actress Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis and Logan Miller.  Karen Kehela Sherwood of Imagine Entertainment produced the film alongside Amanda Marshall of Bailey’s Cold Iron Pictures. Bailey’s made her documentary debut GREENLIT – a humorous documentary examining the hypocrisy inherent in Hollywood’s “green” movement – premiered at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival to critical acclaim and was acquired by IFC International. Bailey’s second documentary, THE PATHOLOGICAL OPTIMIST, the film was released theatrically by The Film Arcade and on VOD by Gravitas.

In 2018, Bailey teamed with Gurl.com co-founder Rebecca Odes to launch CherryPicks, a groundbreaking aggregate movie review and rating service by female critics for the female audience. The site went live in 2019 and over 800 female critics are subscribed to provide their reviews on the site.

A production powerhouse, Bailey’s Cold Iron Pictures has amassed an extensive list of critical and commercial successes, including SWISS ARMY MAN, starring Golden Globe-nominee Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, theatrically released by A24.  DON’T THINK TWICE, directed by Mike Birbiglia, starring Gillian Jacobs and produced with Ira Glass (This American Life) was distributed by The Film Arcade. NORMAN, directed by Joseph Cedar (BEAUFORD, a Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released by Sony Classics. Bailey also produced I DO…UNTIL I DON’T, directed by and starring Lake Bell and Ed Helms.  Additionally, in 2019, she produced the Sundance hit documentary, THE UNTITLED AMAZING.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Miranda Bailey 0:00
Hello. Is this Miranda Bailey? I'm like, yeah, like this is me something about her. Did you crash and audition last week for the da da da da And I was like, Uh, yeah, well listen that is unacceptable. I will tell you something right now, you don't do that in this town.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
This episode is brought to you by Indie Film Hustle TV, the world's first streaming service dedicated to filmmakers, screenwriters, and content creators. Learn more at indiefilmhustle.tv. I like to welcome the show Miranda Bailey how you doin' Miranda?

Miranda Bailey 0:31
Pretty good. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:33
I'm doing great. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm I'm excited to talk to you about your adventures or misadventures in the Hollyweird business.

Miranda Bailey 0:44
That's a good way to explain it.

Alex Ferrari 0:46
I'm sure you have a few stories that you can say on air and probably a couple more out there.

Miranda Bailey 0:52
I could say it all on air now.

Alex Ferrari 0:55
Well, that's, that's, that's amazing. So first question, How and why did you want to get into this insanity that is the film business?

Miranda Bailey 1:04
My father was friends with Brian Dennehy and Brian Dennehy became kind of my mentor resource. And I went to the set of Little Miss marker when I was a young child. And I saw this little girl acting with him and decided that I wanted to do the rest of my life. Because that was the women that were there were, I think a script supervisor now that I know who it is a teacher and the little girl. Sounds like so I'll be an actress. So then, I studied acting and then came well, while I was in college also was directing and writing just because it kind of came out of me and was producing accidentally in theater I didn't even realize it was producing. Then moved to Hollywood, Hollyweird and got very lucky at the beginning. You know, crashing audition got my sag card, you know, made a lot of money on a commercial, Denis Leary accidentally, my ego went really high, and crash roller once reality hits, and started getting partisan stuff that I didn't really have any control over. And so I decided to start making more stuff that I liked to be in, or to at least be in existence, then being stuff that I didn't like, anyway, now I got into producing.

Alex Ferrari 2:32
So I wanted to go back for a second. So I love to hear stories of when the ego goes up. Because it is fantastic. It's a wonderful ride. First part, at least. Wonderful, Rhys, how did you deal with it? Because I always, the reason I do the show is to try to let filmmakers know that you are in a boxing match, and you're gonna get punched in the face. I don't care who you are in the business. Punches are being thrown at you left and right. Most filmmakers don't even know they're in a fight, let alone that there's a punch coming towards them. That is one of those. That is one of those things that the ego when you get that first award, the first red carpet, the first time someone says ooh, you're like the next Spielberg or the next Nolan, or this kind of thing. The ego builds up. What so after you did that commercial with Dennis, Larry and made, you know, a gazillion amounts of money back then because I know what money was made. It was a national, I'm assuming. So you

Miranda Bailey 3:29
They had that played on the Superbowl.

Alex Ferrari 3:30
Oh, Jesus. So you were just like, this movie business stuff is easy. Why do people talk so hard about? So what was it? What was it like just going up? And then what was it that caused the fall of the reality when that punch came?

Miranda Bailey 3:46
Well, you know, you know, in hindsight, you know, 26 or seven or however many years later, I think I'm really lucky that my ego was slammed down so quickly. Because ever since then, it's been massive, you know, climb up this ice, you know, mountain, like ice climbing. I slept. Yeah, yeah. And so, I mean, it really was I was very fortunate. And, you know, I was 21 or 23 or something like that. So, you know, I didn't believe in fortunate I believed in you know, destiny. And,

Alex Ferrari 4:33
Of course, and you were destined, obviously,

Miranda Bailey 4:36
Well, I know I'm destined.

Alex Ferrari 4:39
Obviously, obviously, we all are,

Miranda Bailey 4:41
It takes a lot more work to get to that. I mean, I don't know exactly what my destiny is. I will be a grandma someday, I hope

Alex Ferrari 4:49
Okay, fair enough.

Miranda Bailey 4:51
But um, ya know, I was squatting in this house in Mount Washington and Every morning it was for sale party, we were in the basement, we put the mattress up and slide it behind the washers and dryers or whatever. And then we'd have to be out of the house. And my roommate at the time, and I had just gotten there, like, I'd been there maybe two weeks. And she had an agent through her aunt for commercial, and we didn't look anything alike, like at all. And she asked if I wanted to crash the audition to see what it was like. And I was like, Sure. And, you know, I was like, not nervous because I was crashing, I put on my ugliest dress, you know, so she looked hot. I didn't wear any makeup. I put my hair in long brown braids, because she had like a short blonde Bob and she was tall and skinny. And I was like, shorten whatever. And wrote my name down on the sheet. And then it's like eight and so I wrote like, independent. And then it's like their phone number and I wrote my phone number. And I think I was teaching Pilates at the time. That was like my job, which everyone didn't know what it was or like Pele it's what is it? At Pilates. And I remember driving like, like on the on this very curvy part of the 134. That's pretty dangerous. And my leg Motorola rings. And you know, there wasn't really caller ID and like, Hello. I'm gonna like, I'm like, yeah, like this is me something rather Did you crash and audition last week for the lottery? And I was like, Uh, yeah, well, that is unacceptable. I will tell you something right now. You don't do that in this town. Nobody does that in this town. Okay. You don't pass auditions. I was looking everywhere sending everywhere trying to find independent doesn't exist, and I can't believe you did. Don't ever ever do that again. And I was like, Oh, I won't definitely. Just real quick though. Like are you calling to tell me never to do it again? Or? Or am I getting a call back? She goes well, bolts honey. That's amazing love with the United talent agency straight case she's trying to appear. You've got her on Saturday, you've got to call back. Oh my god. This time. Here's your agent Socrates expecting your call.

Alex Ferrari 7:11
This movie business is super easy.

Miranda Bailey 7:15
I'm like, Okay, so like that Saturday, I go to the thing. I have one line. The word is the internet's I say the word the internet. I booked a job. It's an international commercial playing ball with Dennis Leary. I go on set I meet this really awesome girl. Samantha was I think we were friends for a while. I don't know what happened to her. And there was another guy on set I also kind of ran into through the through the worlds and we're like all at a coffee shop like computers or whatever. And like we would like look up and say the internet. But like Dennis Leary would like walk by us while it was talking to the camera. And it was so cool. And like it was it just felt so like I needed to be there. I loved it. And you know, and then I had a couple more auditions and couple more callbacks, but I didn't get anything. And then the department, the commercial department for UTA shut down. And they had to go find an agent. And that's when reality hit. It was not that easy. It was not and then and it was just definitely not easy.

Alex Ferrari 8:18
So that's that was the rise in the fall of the ego. And that's honestly your right, it was probably the one of the biggest blessings you had is at such a young age because I'm sure you've met a few people along your journey that that did not happen to them early on. And they're still dealing with their egos in their 30s 40s and 50s and older. And it becomes

Miranda Bailey 8:39
Much more devastating for them when things don't work out for me. I just expecting to not work.

Alex Ferrari 8:46
That's your, That's your place. You're like this is never going to have this movie. The money will never drop. That star will never sign. This is never Oh, it did. Okay, great. We're never gonna get into Sundance. Oh, were going to Sundance Great!

Miranda Bailey 8:59
Finally ended up at FCM after like a meal of a toy toil and just like crazy stuff, which had to happen from like a short that I directed as an exercise to get out of the documentary. I was directing. It was too dark for me. Sure. So I needed to make a comedy at my house. Now from that shore, that's how I got representation with echo Lake and ICM, and this was, you know, seven years ago, so like 25 years into struggling to try and you know, get the right representation then finally, like I remember when my dad short this guy emote to my manager now, but he's one of the first people I met in Hollywood. And, you know, he's, you know, he's, he's, he's big time, right? And I would never act even ask him or consider him to represent me. I mean, he's he saw a diverse movie greenlit that went to South by, it was like a comedic documentary and and whatnot but so golden in my short to get like notes or something like to see like, Hey, do you want to take a look at this and see if you have any like, thoughts. I called him back. He's like, incredible. This was amazing. I want to represent you and I'm like, What do you mean? I want to be your manager. And I'm like for what he's like directing and writing and I'm like, what does that mean? Like, what do you like? And she's like, I'll get your jobs and I'm like, Really?

Alex Ferrari 10:30
Okay, so, I don't know. But it sounds like that casting director for the Superbowl commercial sounds very similar to your manager invoice. Like, exactly. Now, I mean, you've worked on some amazing projects. You know, super and Swiss Army Man, I got to ask you about Swiss Army Man. How in God's green earth did that get made? Like how is that movie like that is so wonderful. It on paper? I can't believe this is a good pitch. It's a horrible pitch on paper. How did Swiss Army Man get made and thank you first of all, for having a part in bringing it to life? Because I'm so glad it exists in the universe. But how did you how did that movie get made?

Miranda Bailey 11:20
Well, you know, it's interesting because that is kind of like the point where my confidence as opposed to ego allowed that to happen. So you know, I did squid in the whale Before Noah Bombeck could get arrested like no one would no one would even glance his way after Mr. Jealousy right. But I there was something there and then this feeling, you know, in your stomach kind of thing. And then I had that same thing with James Gunn was super. And you know, I said yes to that. And then Diary of a teenage girl Mari. So these are all either fail. Like, you know, no one will hire this director again, or director, jail people or new directors that have a voice or like so I gave Jill Solomon her first writing job ever. Which never made the movie but it was from a short story called Courtney Cox's asshole. And then, I hired her to write me talk pretty one day into a script, but then it didn't end up happening. She wrote it, but the movie didn't end up happening because David didn't want to get made, but I still on the script. But so by by asked by after Mari, I was like, you know, I kind of feel like I know it when I feel it. And I had had some other directors that I worked with, where I didn't have that feeling. You know, that didn't work. So it was kind of like I knew it was it was it's like, I can't explain the kind of kinesthetic feeling in the air when you are like, No, you're like, I think this person has vision, like a vision of their own that is unique, which is pretty rare. I mean, I wish I did, honestly. Sure. I mean, I hope I do. I just don't know what it is yet. But so I had done job cedars Norman. And Ken, he's like a director with, you know, an incredible vision. And it was going to be his first American film footnote in Israel, which was nominated for an Oscar, which is most beautiful film. And so Oren moverman had asked me to come on, come on to footnote and on footnote, I admit, I guess I guess I had met this, you know, this team of, of financiers and this team of producers, and who I'd also knew some of them from time out of mind. Because Oren moverman is one of those people I think, has real vision. So this guy, Lawrence, he he's on his movies, and he comes into town and we're at this house, I'd finally gotten into the Soho House. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 14:06
That's when you finally got in.

Miranda Bailey 14:07
Like getting into the Aspen house because I still wasn't cool enough to get into Hollywood house. And there's no filmmakers here. So they needed filmmakers here. So

Alex Ferrari 14:16
Right, exactly.

Miranda Bailey 14:18
I'm still not calling out for the hot whatsoever, for the record, but

Alex Ferrari 14:24
I was. I was I was invited once. I pretend that I'm invited. Yes, exactly.

Miranda Bailey 14:30
Yeah. So he's got a lab. What are you working on? What do you got going on? I gotta go on. And he starts telling me well, this is what I'm looking to partner on. And he's given me one story. And I'm like, Yeah, kind of seen that before. And it gives me another story. I'm like, that sounds depressing. I love Dan Stevens. But no, that sounds kind of depressing. And then, you know, there were just a couple of these ones. He gave that. I don't have anything like new doesn't have anything like, it's like, well, I have one but You're probably not gonna like it. And it's something that these kids have never seen a movie before. You know, they made a music video. And you know, it's about a guy who falls in love with a dead guy not fall in love with best friends with a dead man and in the forest and his boners a compass. And it's called Swiss Army Man, and he uses the dead body like a Swiss army knife. And I was like, any actors attached? He's like, No, not yet. And I'm like, What's music video turned down for what? And I go.

Alex Ferrari 15:37
Oh, oh, those guys.

Miranda Bailey 15:39
Oh, okay. How about this Yes. greenlit will make a one and a half million dollars, because that's what I made diary for and the squid for. And, you know, it's two people, whatever. And let's set a meeting for tomorrow. And he was like, Really, that's like the last one I would imagine that you would use feminists be into. And I'm like, whatever. i It doesn't feminist, non feminist, you know, like, being lost in the woods, and being so what's your opinion on I hadn't read the script yet. So that night, I read the script. And it was like, insane. But if you know that music video, sure. You're like, I get it. And then the script still needed work or whatever. So Daniels come in, and I show up at the office. And I'm like, I say to Amanda Marshall. I'm like, Hey, so we have a meeting today for it's with Daniels. Who's that their music video directors. I've already greenlit the movie. You know, here's the script. And she's like, are you serious? I'm a guest. So she goes and she reads it and she comes back. She goes, you're not? You're kidding, right? Do not going to make this movie. She's, she's like, we're not making a movie about a guy who's Boehner tells them where to go Miranda, who was just his girl. He's like, she goes, and I don't even know how half of these things like how does he become, you know, a motorboat or like, whatever, like, watch this. So I play the music video. And she goes, Ah, wow, cool. I get it. We go and we meet with them. We tell them a couple of things about how we, you know, feel that the, you know, it needs to be dude, basically development stuff, and structure and stuff. Yeah. And we give this offer and of course now, this is where the Hollywood douchey this becomes Hollywood douching. This is where their agents and managers were like, Oh, great, we got an offer. So then they're like, well, we want 7 million. And now we're gonna shop it around. We have an offer from pictures. And I'm like, normally, if it comes back to if there's something that happens and something comes back to me, I'm like, you know, but with this one, I'm like, go ahead, shopping around.

Alex Ferrari 17:57
Let me know how that works out for you.

Miranda Bailey 18:01
Like have fun. I can't even get a black woman to be a lead. Okay, good luck with this. You know, like so, you know, and I tried many times, and it was it was hard. So they just did the companies that will put a lot of money behind things. It's like they need a sure thing, of course. And this was far from that. And so they went around for six months, chopped, it came back to us. And then we did a budget realize it was like around more around 3 million. And then we were like, Okay, well the best thing to do here because they at one point they were gonna play the parts, or Daniel, Daniel Quan was gonna pay for that play part. And I'm like, listen, we really need like, a indie art house. Starling. Yeah. And then you need your international like James Patterson type guy. Right. And so we went to Paul Dano because our new Paul Dano and and what Lawrence was working with Oren. And he said, Yes, and then we got James Patterson on but James Patterson didn't want to rehearse. And we were like, but these are like, even before a take. Okay, like, that's impossible. It's for the dead body.

Alex Ferrari 19:35
All of that. Like there's a lot of logistics. Yeah.

Miranda Bailey 19:38
Camera maneuvers, and special effects and practical effects and stunts, like you have to hearses. So, we were like, Okay, that's not gonna work. And I'm like, well, there's that Harry Potter kid. He's valuable. That dandy guy. So we call Daniel Radcliffe's agent and his agent was like, Oh my God, that clip has been begging to work with the guise of this music video if they ever were gonna do anything. Oh, wow, that was really easy. And that's how that's how they came on. And I have to say that Daniel Radcliffe, I mean, everyone knew Paul Danna was a genius, right? Yeah. But Daniel Radcliffe to me, just blew me away his. And watching him work and watching how precise he was in watching his getting to know him and like his process and being there. And I mean, that's the hardest role in the whole movie. I mean, there's only two roles in the movie really? Like they're really they're there. They both both of those guys. Paul and Daniel, like their champion.

Alex Ferrari 20:48
Yeah, no. Yeah, they're they're two titans. So two titans in the space. And when I saw that, I was just like, how in God's green earth Did This Get Made? Like how, like what things needed to line up for this to be in front of my eyes right now? Any baby destiny, it's destiny. So that's, that's a fantastic so right now i Now I can die in peace, that I know how this movie finally got to the screen. So thank you. So there's always that day on set. And I asked this of all my guests, that the whole world's coming down crashing down around you. And now most filmmakers say that's every day. But there's that one day that you feel like oh, my god, I can't believe this is happening. Why am I here? How am I going to get out of this? And it could be a million things. You've lost a location, the actor doesn't want to rehearse that day, whatever it is, what was that day for you on any of your projects? And how did you overcome it?

Miranda Bailey 21:45
I can think of two. Okay. The most recent was on God's country where there was suddenly a pandemic.

Alex Ferrari 21:55
Right, we heard that we had Julian on the show. So we heard that that holster because that was his too, by the way. So what's what's the other one,

Miranda Bailey 22:03
But I had to fire them.

Alex Ferrari 22:06
For your perspective is a little different.

Miranda Bailey 22:09
Yeah, and I and we had money in the movie or company of money in the movie, you know, you don't know if you're ever going to make it again. Obviously, that's it same you know, him as a film director, but like, for me is someone who is like, here's a people that may or may not ever work again. And I have a choice whether or not we can keep going another three days to finish the week, risking Tanduay getting back to London or not. Or pulling, pulling the plug. So Tanya, we can get back to her. Just brutal. Um, but fortunately, it all worked out. And we came back a year later. And we did it. So right, you know, and the other one was, on this film that I directed, called being frank with Jim Gaffigan, which premiered at South by the whole culmination of the movie of this guy, hiding between these two lives, ends up at this one, like, you know, Starling festival, in this small town. And it has to be very, very choreographed of where each person goes, we have two cameras, where where each shots going to be where it's so and so's place where so this was placed. And we have this, we had like, found our location, it was near this lake. And two days before we were and we're almost done with a movie, and it's like it's the final it's like the big scene. And if this scene doesn't work, the whole movie falls. But we had really, really figured out a way to make it work with the location like this tree here will block him here because we'll be here. This person will walk this way leading us over here to the popcorn to whatever right the all based on this location that had hills and levels because that way you could hide right? Like you could figure out a way to miss each other. So I'm onset directing this scene, which is already insane we didn't have enough extras for the pool it was freezing and they're extras on their phones. I'm like it's I've been that like just like the phone I'm looking at a phone I'm looking at a phone. Right right right. It's not a book put a book if somebody

Alex Ferrari 24:37
Wants a book

Miranda Bailey 24:41
And we kept moving the extras around you know like pool in different bathing suits and

Alex Ferrari 24:47
And time is in time is ticking and money's burning.

Miranda Bailey 24:51
Lunch break happens and turns out that for for the big scene that we're shooting, not next day, but the day after for two or three days, we lost the location, of course. But they have a place that we can go look at right now right over here, power that's available. And I'm like, okay, so me and my IDV or OCR get in the car, we go to the park, and it is just a lack

Alex Ferrari 25:26
Cinematic, extremely cinematic is what you're saying.

Miranda Bailey 25:30
And we look at each other. And he's like, none of the blocking that we had before her, or any of the setup will work. And I'm like, I know. And I'm like, so what's the chance of us getting the other place back and then another line producer, another bruise like zero. And I'm like, so what's the, what's the possibility of us not having to do it here and they're like, zero, this.

Alex Ferrari 25:58
And you gotta run and you've got to figure it out.

Miranda Bailey 26:01
Yep. And that was, after we shot that whole day. We went to Iran and I went to the park, and figured it out until sun went down. And then the next day during break, and during afterwards, we also kept figuring it out, how will how a block and how we'll shoot it. And then the next day, we began.

Alex Ferrari 26:30
But that's the thing that it is, I think that filmmakers don't understand it that the world is every day, every day, something goes wrong. Very rarely does everything go exactly according to plan because it never goes according to plan. And I love I remember the first day I walked them to set to direct my first big thing and I had a shot list that was obscene. And the first ad picks up and goes, Yeah, we're gonna shoot about five of these. Before lunch, I know you've got 40 We're gonna shoot. So pick the five you want. And if you're really good at those five, we might be able to add two more. And you're just like, but I spent all night putting that together like yeah, I don't care. That's not the reality of the world. And I always try to explain this to filmmakers before they go on like these, just the whole world's gonna come crashing down. And this is what it'll teach you in film school. They don't teach you how to adjust and pivot on the day second by second because the costume didn't show up. food's not there. You're losing locations. The camera doesn't work because it's frozen over or overheated. I'd like it's just obscene amount of things that could happen. And it doesn't really the only difference is when the bigger budgets is generally on a much bigger budgets, the studio stuff. Things still go I've still I've spoken to those those filmmakers and they're like, Yeah, we just we lost a location. Like even the big the 100 million dollar movie. They look like we just ran grabbed the camera, me and my DP and the actress and we stole I'm like you stole shots at 100 million plus movie because we stole shots. It's just

Miranda Bailey 28:11
I mean, this is what I love about camera tests. I'm always like, let's get it set. So our cameras can be usable.

Alex Ferrari 28:19
Ohh that's Amazing. Oh, that's great. I never thought of that.

Miranda Bailey 28:22
Yeah, I mean, being able to produce alongside alongside produce the movies, and watch and learn from James Gunn, and Mari Heller and Daniels and not and and the bad ones. Not that the bad. I'm not a list, you know, but there we have ones made mistakes. There was this one that was too afraid to talk to the actress. I'm like, she stopped folding laundry like she didn't she just talked to her dad, you know? And I remember he's like, Well, you tell her and I'm like, I'm not the director. You know, just knowing like, Okay, I if I you know, that didn't work or like, you know, seeing someone just do bad things to you know, or make bad choices, and seeing people make good choices and watching how different people prepare, you know, working with Mike Birbiglia and like bow, both actors who wrote directed and starred in their material, and I was able to produce those. They have very different ways of going about how they do it. And that was fascinating. And it definitely made me feel like hey, you know what, I could do that sometime. And it'll be totally different than theirs. But I've learned like, from there like brilliance, and then the and then the bad things that happen on set with with the same stuff, how they handled things. And producing really an enacting really kind of got me was my best film school as a director.

Alex Ferrari 29:49
Right. Right. Well, let me ask you a question as a producer, when you pick the wrong horse, in any department, it could be the director. It could be an actor. It could be a You know, as a crew person, when you pick the wrong horse, obviously, the higher on the on the totem pole being the director, the actors are the DP. How do you adjust that? Aren't you like you? Like, what do you do as a producer? Like, oh my God, he's not talking to the actress like, What? Are we going to finish our day? Are we like, how are

Miranda Bailey 30:18
Were pretty much screwed I mean,

Alex Ferrari 30:23
I love that.

Miranda Bailey 30:24
Yeah, I mean, it really, it's the script, right? It's the product. Sometimes it comes just as a script, and you build around it, sometimes it comes as a script, director, and then you help cast it. But it's that director's job to really hone it in. And it's my job as a producer to get the director's vision correctly. So even though I wouldn't have made the same choices that Lake Bell did on I do until I don't, my job was to support her choices. And that's kind of what you have to do as a, or the way I look at producing personally. And so I would say one of the most important lessons that I learned was producing or directing, or even mentoring, because I doing a lot of mentoring of people, not through programs, just individuals. Is, you really have to love it. Because if it doesn't make money, like anything I did, and I have done things thinking, Oh, this will make money never does.

Alex Ferrari 31:39
And then oh, this will never make money.

Miranda Bailey 31:41
This will never make money. And it does, but I love it. And it does. So it just makes, and I've done things that you know, this, this, you know, it's things. So, honestly, if you love something, because it's hard, if you love something, whether it's a commercial success, or a critical success or not. If you love being there every day, then it's still a win, you know? So and I'll go back to like, you know, with my bid Yeah, I loved I was like, you know, I was like determined to do his next project. After Sleepwalk With Me, I pretty much stalked him, you know, in a nice way without a craziness and was like, I don't want you could have turned in a bunch of blank pages. And I would have said yes, like, so I knew I was going to make his next movie. And that was a success. And so we were really lucky. But I didn't know I really didn't think it'd be Who the fuck wants to see a movie about improv actors not by make his next movie so badly that I was willing to overlook that plot.

Alex Ferrari 32:52
Right. That's how you like, I don't care, I don't care what it is,

Miranda Bailey 32:54
I don't care. Because, you know, and that was successful, you know, and I enjoyed, I enjoyed it. And, you know, became really good friends with Kate Micucci from that, and worked with beautiful people and great, great DPS and great, just great everything. Like, I love Mike, I love everyone on that, you know, Kagan's rad, everyone. So when when that stuff happens, it's really great. You know, and then when the for instance, with lakes movie was similar, you know, it wasn't a critical success. It wasn't a commercial success. But I really loved working on it. And I loved watching her work. And I love watching, you know, working with my friend Amanda on it. And, you know, we got to be in California and you know, Dolly wells and I became close, and she is hilarious. Yeah. You know. And so it's

Alex Ferrari 33:55
Now when you're looking when you're putting a PAC a project together, what do you look for in a director? Or the what are the traits that you specifically look for in a director?

Miranda Bailey 34:07
Um, well, I do seem to do a lot of I seem to do a lot of first time directors. So I can't really explain it because it's not like a looking, it's more of a feeling. And it's, if they can see it, and explain it to me, and I can see what they see. Then I know that they know what they're doing that what they want. If they're wishy washy, or you know, unsure, you just feel it in the room. And oftentimes, you don't even get to that point because you already feel it in the writing.

Alex Ferrari 34:52
With the writer directors, you generally work with writer directors, right. Seems like it. That's generally the way it goes.

Miranda Bailey 35:00
I mean, it's not a it's not a mandate or anything.

Alex Ferrari 35:04
What is what is the biggest misconception that people have about a producer and what they do?

Miranda Bailey 35:10
Well, people think we make money

Alex Ferrari 35:16
Do you make obscene amounts of money and just trucks of truckloads. You've got a Pablo Escobar problem like the rats are eating my money. I have too much money that

Miranda Bailey 35:24
I've got mattresses stack full of money behind me. It's just invisible. The best kind of money perceive success money

Alex Ferrari 35:35
That's the best kind. You can't spend it though. You can't spend it not to

Miranda Bailey 35:39
Like Bitcoin because it gets you into parties and restaurants. And you don't have to pay anything.

Alex Ferrari 35:47
Gotcha. That's the perceived the perceived riches of being a producer's wanting to know. Yeah, people think you're like, when you're in the film business. Oh, you must be making a lot of money. I'm like, no, no, no, that's, it's, that's the top one of one of 1% that, like, make that kind of grit. And that's all you see. I would say.

Miranda Bailey 36:07
Hey, I'm here I'm gonna tell you something!

Alex Ferrari 36:10
Im still fighting baby.

Miranda Bailey 36:13
Movie, or something's gonna happen where I will make money like actual money someday. $30,000 I will make more than that in a year. On a movie someday. I just got to stick in there. I just gotta hang in there

Alex Ferrari 36:31
Another 20 years. Ad I got this. I got.

Miranda Bailey 36:35
We're trying to do TV now. So I'm like, maybe there's money.

Alex Ferrari 36:39
Well, that's, I mean, everyone knows that. That's where the money is, is in television. So it's,

Miranda Bailey 36:45
Trying to get in the door of that is like, Fuck, it's hard. No, no. We just shot a TV show a Hindi nine episodes are selling now. I don't think that's been done yet.

Alex Ferrari 36:57
It's been done a couple of times. idea on the note is not a bright, it's not a bright idea, generally speaking, but the pandemic, you have to do what you got to do.

Miranda Bailey 37:09
Sorry, it's nobody GQ plus story. It's about mental illness. It was super important for me.

Alex Ferrari 37:18
I love this. I love I love that this is such a raw conversation. So people really have a look filmmakers who just are new to the business, get an understanding of what the business is really like, is there's so much perceived perception about the business. And I always tell people, the Hollywood's really good at the sizzle, but they suck at the steak. And

Miranda Bailey 37:39
Great, great if that's okay, is that a mug? Because I'll buy it.

Alex Ferrari 37:45
Because it's so true. Because Oh, and I always use the I always use the example of because I was from LA I lived in LA for you know, over a decade. And, and I always anytime someone came to town relative to like, Hey, we're not going to Hollywood Boulevard like no, you don't want to go to Hollywood Boulevard. I go no, no, that's where the Oscars are. I'm like, yeah, that that that 50 feet is basically all looks good. And I go that is a perfect analogy for the business. Because on Oscar night, Hollywood Boulevard looks amazing. But if you go a block over to the left or a block over to the right, you better hold on to the purse. It's and the farther you get away from the COVID another Kodak

Miranda Bailey 38:32
Oh, it's now it's just insane. But I was there for the Irish screaming the premiere. And I will say it looks just like you know the

Alex Ferrari 38:41
Oh, the Chinese Theater of course. And all of that stuff.

Miranda Bailey 38:44
That was awesome. But that's the only time I've ever or like when we did super. And that was at the Egyptian Yep, yeah. But don't go there just to like go see the stars because you can actually the stars go on forever. Oh, forever and ever go to the stars by the spied by the good coffee shop.

Alex Ferrari 39:02
It's exactly. But I use that as an analogy. Because it's a perfect analogy of what Hollywood sells. It sells the image. But the reality is, I mean, if you just if you live in LA for any short amount of time you realize it is a Boulevard of Broken Dreams. So many people go there with these bright eyed and bushy tail ideas about the business. And that that reality hits hard. And it's not an easy, it's not an easy grind. It is his grind. Like you just one day. And you're you know, arguably a very successful film producer. And in your you know, I mean, you've done some amazing projects. I mean, you've done you've done you've worked with amazing people you've made amazing films, but you're still you still awesome at it. You still grinding it you still do. And I tell people I'm like I know Oscar winners who are like I gotta still hustle the next project that you know the boss will get me into a party but it's not gonna pay my rent. Like

Miranda Bailey 39:58
By God's country. I remember someone one of my Hey, friends is distributors who's kind of betting on it or whatever they were planning on doing a words campaign? I'm like, Yeah, well, Warzone payment. Words don't keep the lights on. So bring your number up.

Alex Ferrari 40:12
Yeah. I don't want an Oscar nomination. Another million.

Miranda Bailey 40:18
It is you have, you know, there is an amount. I mean, I do, like a cockroach. And like, I feel like, you know, slowly the world, but people quit around me. And if I can just still be there that time.

Alex Ferrari 40:38
You just gonna wait everybody out. But you know what the, you know, the funny thing is about that. Keep working, keep going. But you know, what I and I've said this so many times, you know, I've been in the business close to 30 years. And I know people who are less talented than many people I know. But they just stuck it out. They had a willpower to keep going. And they're less talented, less experience, and they just keep that just keep grinding and they outwait everybody else. So people are like, Oh, I know this talented person like talent, man talents, the beginning of the conversation. It is, it is because there's, you know, a lot of talented directors and writers

Miranda Bailey 41:20
Talented is needed, like so I have this quote on my website, Miranda bailey.com. Yes. I just put on my website that that I read in the newspaper in the Hollywood Reporter that first week I was here, okay. Oh, I clipped it out. And I have it somewhere in some journal, you know, some pasted it down. And I don't know who said if someone important, probably. And it said talent isn't what gets you in the room. But it's what keeps you in the room?

Alex Ferrari 41:49
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Miranda Bailey 41:51
So I would I do think I'm talented at this point. But I know that that's not enough. And

Alex Ferrari 42:01
Then there's hustle, then there's experience, then there is craft and there's all these other things that you need to be good at. Not just just that,

Miranda Bailey 42:09
Yeah. You know, basically, if you can be, you know, for me, the most important thing right now is authenticity. Yep. And that is the hardest thing to find, when you first come to LA, probably for people who are going are getting into the movie business. And it's it's hard to be authentic, surrounded by inauthentic people. So but I think that the pandemic has really helped kind of the world realize what in every business what they want to be and who they want to be and who they want to be around. And I think that my hustle was really, really killing me before the pandemic, you know, authentic, but I was definitely doing things very fast. And I am kind of bad like this, like Sundance and South by has kind of gotten me on this again, and I'm like, whoa, whoa, spring break, let's go. Like, let's like, vacations get to kids. Yeah, it's more important for me to go to that go to the Oscars, it's more important for me to I live in Aspen now, like, it's more important for me to just, I don't care how much I like the project. If the person involved that is a producer involved, or a director, or social or even an agent involved or whatever is an asshole. I don't want to do it. No, because my time, my time now, I'd rather sit here and create this movie I'm working on with Oren moverman, or one of the five movies I'm working on or movement because I love him and he's my heart and soul. My brother that may never get made, then, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:03
Life's too short. Life's too short. And as you get older, the the, the the level of crap that you put up with starts to drop dramatically. When you were 21, you'll put up with a whole lot of crap that you won't put up with at 41 or 51. And it just started you just start and it's you just start dealing with and it's so true. And you really start finding out what's important to you. Because when you're young and you're starting out in the business, it's all about the business, your entire identity is wrapped around the business. But as you get older you start to realize oh, I'm more than just a director I'm more than just a writer you hopefully get to that point that you realize I'm a father I'm a mother I'm a sister a brother I charity I do other things besides just this and yeah, it takes time it takes time. It takes time to realize and

Miranda Bailey 44:52
I think supporting other filmmakers like has been a you know are other people who want to be producers want to be writers or want to be directors and stuff. That's because Have a great joy in my life. They're not just making our movies, but even just helping them get their movies made that stuff is, is because no one ever helped me. And in fact, it was kind of the opposite. They tried to hurt. So I always said, you know, if I ever get to a point where I can be valuable enough to help other people, that doesn't mean give them money to make their movies, right. But give them support and encouragement, then I will do it. And that's been something you know, that's a non-country, which just premiered at South By the way that came about with me is, I had been Frank that I directed, and merkt ahead, Ingrid, which she directed at the bendfilm Festival. And we were talking as directors, and she told me about her next idea. And she's like, but I just don't know what to do. And I'm like, Well, you know, I'm here for you anytime you need it. And she's like, well, will you be my mentor? And I'm like, Yeah, of course. And so my relationship on that movie, obviously, it ended up becoming later on, you know, bringing on my company and my agency and like, I need the right publicist, and you know, now finding the right agent for her and, you know, finding the right festival to premiere out and stuff like that. I'm just so fucking proud of her.

Alex Ferrari 46:23
But that's, that's a joy. That's the joy that you look for now. And that's the thing that I look at, when I started this show six, almost seven years ago, my life changed. Because I started giving back, I started being of help being of service to other people. And and then now I get to talk to people like yourself, all the time, where I would have killed to have this conversation with you early on in my career. Now, I'm just like, This is amazing that I get to talk to you at a different place. And, and hopefully, my intention is not to get anything out of it. For me, that's I don't care. I'm here to have a great conversation that hopefully will help other people. And that's the intention I have with all my guests, regardless if they want Oscars, or if they're just a new filmmaker just starting out. And that has been so rewarding. And it's, it's changed my life. So I think you're feeling that too, just by helping others and mentoring others and giving back in that way.

Miranda Bailey 47:18
Yeah. So it's great, because then, you know, you're a part of something that you love. Right! You know, and and that's just that's, that's it

Alex Ferrari 47:29
Now, how, how, because you've been doing this for a while now. Can you tell the audience how the independent film space has changed in the last five years? Not 20? The last five, arguably the last two or three? How much more difficult? Is it to make a movie, get distribution, get your money back in return for your money for your investors? Is there how has it changed from, you know, 25 years ago?

Miranda Bailey 47:59
Well, we're in a very, very state of who knows because of the pandemic. Sure. So that's obviously problematic when it comes to shooting things. And if you get shut down because someone gets sick, or if there's a new variant and and you know, we are still in a pandemic, even though people are not talking about it, I mean, my husband and my two kids just got COVID Again, by longer so that I could get to Hawaii for my vacation. But I'd say one thing that I I'm, I think is great about the last five years is that the idea of windowing, which has, you know, has has collapsed, so there was for a while and are about 90 days is a real theatrical release. And otherwise it stay in dates. And there's really no in between. And then they were calling something called like broken windowing. And I'm like, that doesn't sound good. We call it creative windowing. So creative windowing. And but it was still very hard to navigate. And that what people don't understand is when you selling your movie, you're gonna get way more money from Florida and everything if you had a traditional 90 Day release. But you had to play in so many theaters, and your box office numbers had to be so much money in order for those deals overseas to actually kick in. So as soon as that change, you're kind of screwed. So for instance, with being frank, we released it through film, arcade and universal because we didn't want to take necessarily in any of the other offers, which is good because we made more money than the other offers by now. But our deal with Universal was a 90 day doing, which I didn't think would be the right thing for being frank. But that was the filmer K deal. If day and it should have been day in but Did you know universal at that time was doing 90 Day theatricals. So now, with us being able to watch at home, you know, marry me, let's say that now that the rom com coming back, which I'm like, hallelujah,

Alex Ferrari 50:18
Thank God.

Miranda Bailey 50:20
I need some more. I mean, that's my favorite genre. So I usually never get to but you can put it on TV and still make a million in the box office opening weekend. And on on Peacock, it had a gazillion people sign up for peacock and watch it that opening weekend

Alex Ferrari 50:39
I did. I did my wife wanted to watch it so

Miranda Bailey 50:44
The numbers or anything and I, you know, so that that's really great. I mean, I think the other thing and this is probably just for me, because other people I, I want to make I want to direct to one of those movies that you're like, oh my god, did you see the ALI Wong movie or the movie? And they're like, oh, yeah, I love it. Who directed it? I don't know. Like, it was on Netflix or it was on this. That is my ideal situation. Because then you do not have to be a director like with a point of view or say something or, you know, is he ripped apart? Or is it now in authentic way?

Alex Ferrari 51:21
Correct! No, you're absolutely right. It's changed so much. I can only imagine Disney how many how much how many subscribers Disney plus got from all the Pixar movies? Oh, yeah. All that stuff and HBO the whole last year? I mean, how many people signed up

Miranda Bailey 51:37
Played all the best they played lately? And Harry Met Sally. I watched it like four times.

Alex Ferrari 51:41
Exactly. So they're it's the game has changed so dramatically. Is there a place right now? In your opinion? For the well, we would have called in the 90s? That independent an independent film from the 90s? The? The slackers, the clerks the El Mariachi is the Brothers McMullen. Those films. Is there a marketplace for that anymore? Those kinds of films?

Miranda Bailey 52:03
Yeah, there is there is, you know, there's Magnolia, there's AFC neons doing their own wing, which is called Super. There's film arcade. Those, those are the ones who are doing those movies. And then, of course, there's self distribution models out there now that you can do that, you know, because there's nothing I mean, once someone asked at South by when I was on a panel, like, you know, what do you think about idea of self distribution to this and it's competed, that's I'm like, look, the more places there are, for us as filmmakers to be able to put our money or movie out there. So instead of it sitting on on our shelf, or in our closet, it's on Apple, or Amazon or whatever the better because no one wants to make a movie and not be seen. Now that has nothing to do with money, or minimum guarantees, or anything like that. But you know, there's more places for you to see a movie, there's ability for you to make a movie, the market. You know, big sales had been gone for a long time.

Alex Ferrari 53:14
Oh, yeah. And pre and pre sales as well.

Miranda Bailey 53:17
Well, pre sales is a totally different kind of thing. It's not in for independent film anymore.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
Yeah. The days of AFM and just having a poster. I mean, unless you have a relationship with buyers,

Miranda Bailey 53:28
I know Nick Cage movie that Stallone movie and movie you're fine, solid, but you know, or big or big director, but if it's like you need making a movie starring my best friend, you know, Zack, Sal Lin, we're not going to pre sell it.

Alex Ferrari 53:44
No, no, and you're right, it's just that that world is is gone. And I always tell people with with self distribution, you got to hit the ball so well, to get to make real money in that play in that space. You got to really know what you're doing, really understand a lot of different things to be able to generate three, four or 500,000

Miranda Bailey 54:05
That does it. So like the arcade, we do self distribution. I mean, Bleecker Street's also doing service deals. Sure. So you know, I think as long as you use those companies that really knows what what they're doing, and they'll guide you then then then you're good.

Alex Ferrari 54:23
Now I'm gonna ask you a couple questions ask them I guess what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Miranda Bailey 54:28
Um, don't

Alex Ferrari 54:30
Run away get an accounting job No. You gotta love it.

Miranda Bailey 54:36
You know, I don't know. My advice is always changing. You know, I would, I would say is understand that it is a collaborative art. And if you can't collaborate, you will make it because what doesn't bend breaks?

Alex Ferrari 54:53
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Miranda Bailey 54:59
That I am not fat despite magazines or movies, and what they have said, and then I don't look like everybody else. And I want to thank Shonda Rhimes. For this. She's the one who allowed people to go and be seen that are real people. Because when I got to Hollywood, I was called, not fat enough to be the best friend, or skinny enough. So but I was really funny. So I needed to gain or lose 20 pounds in order to be successful. And I was not pretty enough to be the lead. And those were the rules for me as a woman.

Alex Ferrari 55:38
Wow. And they told you that

Miranda Bailey 55:40
This more than once

Alex Ferrari 55:43
Wasn't like one outlier, it was a constant.

Miranda Bailey 55:46
That's just the way it was. Wow. And life is not over when you're when he turns 30 If you're an A woman in the business, in behind, or in front of the camera, my dad learned how to ride a horse at 65 years old. And he then became a horse champion by the time he was 75 years old. So you know, just stay on the fucking horse.

Alex Ferrari 56:12
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Miranda Bailey 56:15
Oh, gosh, True Romance. Number one favorite film of all time. That's amazing. Then I'm gonna go with my fair lady.

Alex Ferrari 56:25
Obviously, both double double, double.

Miranda Bailey 56:28
Thirdly, Some like it hot.

Alex Ferrari 56:31
Oh, very good. Wow, that's, that's a heck of a screening night. And run to where can people find out more about you and and see what you're doing?

Miranda Bailey 56:42
Well, my website mirandabailey.com, because my dad was smart enough to get my name on websites when they first started so lucky because you know, you know, Shaundra Wilson would asset by now has my writing, directing, acting producing in it. And it also has the some information on Cherry picks, which is a website that I started for female critics to kind of put them together and give a score for female critics. And that's the cherry picks.com That's a really fun. It's kind of like, I want it to be the cut meets Entertainment Weekly meets rotten tomatoes for women and non binary people. Fair enough, but it's you know, we show this was Army man's on there. I mean, Ford versus Ferrari, I will say is one of my favorite movies in the last five years. It's so good that

Alex Ferrari 57:36
It's such a good movie that says Miranda, it has been entertaining as hell talking to you and also very educational. I appreciate you taking the time out to talk to the tribe and dropping your knowledge bombs on them. So I appreciate you. Thank you again.

Miranda Bailey 57:52
I had to go drop something else. So thanks so much, guys.

Alex Ferrari 57:56
I love it. Thanks so much.

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IFH 571: The Ugly Truth of Being a Hollywood Screenwriter with Rich Wilkes

Get ready for on heck of a ride. Today on the show we have screenwriter Rich Wilkes.

Wilkes’ major-studio debut was as screenwriter of the 1994 film Airheads. The story revolves around a group of loser musicians called The Lone Rangers who take a radio station hostage to get their song played on the radio. Airheads was directed by Michael Lehmann and distributed by 20th Century Fox.

This was followed by a co-writer credit (alongside director James Melkonian) for the 1994 comedy The Stoned Age, set in the stoner subculture of Southern California during the 1970s.

The same writing and directing team then collaborated with The Jerky Boys to create the 1995 production The Jerky Boys: The Movie, featuring the eponymous comedians (self-described as “low-lifes from Queens”) as New York City youths who get into trouble with the Mafia when one of their prank calls leads them into a money laundering business.

Wilkes is credited as the sole screenwriter for the 2002 action-adventure film XXX and a “based on characters created by” credit as being as the creator of the XXX franchise.

Wilkes co-wrote the Mötley Crüe biopic The Dirt, based on the New York Times bestselling book by Neil Strauss and Mötley Crüe. The film took 17 years to get made. David Fincher was initially attached to direct in 2004, followed by Larry Charles in 2008.

Rich and I had a raw conversation about what it is really like to be a screenwriter in Hollywood, warts and all. This episode should be reqired listening for any screenwriter thinking of getting into the Hollywood screenwriting game.

Enjoy my eye-opening conversation with Rich Wilkes.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Rich Wilkes how you doin Rich?

Rich Wilkes 0:14
Hey, man, I'm doing great, Alex, how you doing?

Alex Ferrari 0:16
I'm doing great, man. I'm doing great. Thank you so much for for coming on the show, man. I think we're gonna have a fun thing. Gonna be a fun episode. I have a good feeling about this. Because based on your credits alone, I think you're not gonna have a beer even though I don't drink but I definitely have a beer.

Rich Wilkes 0:33
Good. I want to learn something from you.

Alex Ferrari 0:35
So how did you? First of all, why did you get into this insane business? And how did you get into this insane business?

Rich Wilkes 0:43
It started I went to UC Santa Cruz. And they didn't have a film program. But I wanted to do film. So I did theater arts with a film emphasis. And they didn't have screenwriting major. So I did. I wrote my own major, which was a screenplay and submitted that rather than doing a film or a play or whatever. And then I went to American Film Institute for screenwriting. It's a two year MFA. After the first year, my one of my scripts got optioned by touchstone. And so they were going to pay me $10,000 For this option, and AFI at the time cost $10,000. And I figured, well, why don't I just pocket the $10,000 and quit? So I quit. Halfway through AFI never got my masters. But I figured the whole point of going there was to get a script. So since I got since I got the thing sold or optioned anyway, I bailed as quick as I could. Did that get produced? It actually did. Yeah. It wound up being the one. You had Chris Moore a few weeks ago on the podcast. It was the first movie that he produced. He was my agent

Alex Ferrari 1:57
It was glory days. It was glory days. That's right. Yeah. Alright, so we'll get we'll get into glory days in a minute. Was there a film that kind of lit your fire man, it was, is there not one movie that we that you saw you were just like, oh, I want to go into this business. I want to join the circus. It's it's that's what it is. We're we're all carnies and we've joined the circus.

Rich Wilkes 2:14
Yeah, I never really thought about going into the movie business until college when I met people that, you know, whose guy whose dad worked on mash. And I was like, Really, you can do that you can actually work on mash, you know, and that made it real for me that that, you know, maybe I could move to LA and work on something. But prior to that, I never had any clue that it was possible. I thought it was you know, it was very insular. And you had to grow up here and no, somebody. My favorite movie growing up was Gallipoli. The Peter Weir movie.

Alex Ferrari 2:48
Yeah. Mel Gibson. Yeah. Yeah.

Rich Wilkes 2:51
So I'm not of the I want to make jaws and Star Wars and Raiders kind of crowd those movies I love but they aren't the ones that maybe say, Hey, man, I want to do this for a living. I thought that Gallipoli was such a great combination of history and a personal story, that it blew my mind. So the after finding out that it's possible, and then studying it and going to AFI, and getting it set up, I've actually managed to since oh, I want to say 1991 30 years now, do this for a living without having to have another job, which is like, you know, ridiculous.

Alex Ferrari 3:31
And isn't that the isn't that the goal of this whole thing? It's like we can make a living writing or directing or just being part of the circus. I mean, that's,that's that's the goal

Rich Wilkes 3:43
That's the entire thing. Yeah, my initial thought was, I want to get into movie business because I don't want to work that hard. And this will give me a lot of free time. And he realized that doesn't really work.

Alex Ferrari 3:56
That that didn't work out that way and that's why people think that oh screenwriting, you wake up, you write for a couple hours and then you goof off all day and the rest of the day and that's it. And then some and they just and they throw up obscene amounts of money at you. Because you're you know, because everyone is shamed. Black and Joe Osterhaus back in the 90s so Well, it's funny because you know, like I was saying earlier before we got on you and I are similar vintage. So you know, we were coming up in the 90s which were it was a magical time it was a crazy magical time screenwriters. Were getting the you know, the, the option booms are the spekboom of Shane Black Joe Astor house and you know, two 3 million $4 million for a movie that lit a lot of fires of like, well, I'm going to be a screener. I can get rich being a screenwriter.

Rich Wilkes 4:45
Yeah, I you know, for me, it was it wasn't the boom time for that it was the boom time of being able to pitch a movie and then get paid to write it and by pitch it I mean a five minute pitch

Alex Ferrari 4:58
Like the player like the player

Rich Wilkes 5:00
Exactly. And then now you know, it's you have to have the script written with the star, the director of the financing before anybody consider it, but back then you'd go in and say, I got this idea, it's going to be Dog Day Afternoon in a radio station, it's going to be, you know, a lot of rock and roll music, blah, blah, blah, great fun, go, you know, go write it. And I would between me and my friends, you know, I would, we'd have five movies, five pitches, setup around town, and you'd knock out this script, and then go on to the next one. And it was so fucking easy. Because they had this incredible budget to develop their own material. They all the studios wanted to do that. So they would commission 125 scripts in order to make 20 grand, right? Right. So that was a lot of writers making a living off of, you know, these, these scripts for hire, which just, unfortunately, has completely gone away. And now I think if you're lucky, they'll put out six movies a year, a particular studio, and of those, maybe they make half and the rest are coming from financing from somewhere else. And they're just distributing the damn thing. So they aren't paying writers to come in and pitch and write these, these scripts for them. There's just there's no need for them to do that anymore.

Alex Ferrari 6:21
And the funny thing is, is which is which is bizarre is that now there's more need for content ever. There is a content boom, and there's been never been more money sloshing around in town than ever before. What is it 17 million? Excuse me 17 billion for Netflix this year, 33 billion for Disney plus, I mean, and you know, HBO and everyone's everyone's looking for content, but you would think that pitching would be the easiest way to get things done. And to be more of that, but you're absolutely right. It is gone the complete opposite way. You need the script, the star, the budget, the financing, you did literally, you know, plug and play project for them for them to look not even guaranteed for them to even have a conversation with you nowadays. It's insane.

Rich Wilkes 7:09
Yeah, this this changed. It was a market change, right when the Writers Guild was going on strike and Oh, yeah. So there was the housing bubble. And then the writer strike was coming and I had a pitch with Amblin and it was right before the strike. And I you know, they called me up the day of and they said, listen, we're changing our policy. Unless you're coming through the door with Will Smith attached to your pitch don't bother coming. And I'm like, if I could get Will Smith attached No, I think what the fuck do I need you for? Right? This is your function. I'm supposed to be the idea guy. You guys are supposed to be the MC the fucking movie. Guys. It's completely swamped now where producers who used to have deals on lots and a development budget and have their own you know, Slate are begging writers to write on spec in the hopes that that we can lower director to hop on board to lure a fucking actor who means something to lure Netflix into paying for it. And that's where I am on several different projects. It's it's a fucking joke.

Alex Ferrari 8:12
You know, it's, it's insane. And I you know, I know a lot of writers who you know, they have, because a lot of times, you know, people will look at an IMDB and they'll go, oh, you know, he only made that one movie. I'm like, yeah, that he might have made that one movie got produced. But he's been working in town for 15 years, on projects that never and he's made a really good living as a writer, but those days are, are slowly just going away to spec market. There is still a spec market, but it's literally a minuscule amount. It's very, very small. And there's basically just a one dude, one agent, Boxer bomb, who does all the specs.

Rich Wilkes 8:50
I mean, it just did the writers of these specs get Shane Black in 1994 money or no,

Alex Ferrari 8:56
No they're getting they're getting seven figures. They're getting some, but they're getting they're getting a mill maybe, you know, and again, we're throwing numbers around like you and I are like, you know, pooping out, you know, $100 bills, but it's not. It's not the way it is. But generally they are getting those but we're talking about one or two, where they were like, there were one or two a week. Now there's maybe a handful a year and they're not getting shamed black money. Do you know that? Do you know the story of though? What's the last Last Action Hero the same black class action hero story?

Rich Wilkes 9:30
Wait, last boy scout or

Alex Ferrari 9:31
No, no. Last Action Hero. Okay, the story this I heard this from a good buddy of mine inside the business who told me this is how this is how crazy the stock market got. And this was the top of the bubble. This is when it popped after this. It popped. The agent from Shane Black, called up. He called up Shane, what do you got going on? Because I've got this idea and they went out to dinner. They told us that he was right the idea down on the napkin. And it was the idea for Last Action Hero for everyone listening Google Last Action Hero honor Schwarzenegger, you know, I like it. But you know, we had a rough time. Anyway, he wrote, he took the napkin, went back to his office called every studio head in town and said I have shamed blacks next log line, no script. I have his next logline on a napkin. If you want to bid on it, you have to come to my office and read it. Don't send anybody you've got to come. So all six or eight studio heads showed up to this office read read the napkin. Two days later there's a bidding war he got 4 million

Rich Wilkes 10:38
Okay, I I I may be wrong but I think you have the wrong title because Zach pen and Adam left wrote Last Action Hero

Alex Ferrari 10:47
Are you Are you sure it's last? No.

Rich Wilkes 10:51
You're you must be thinking of Last Boy Scout. No,

Alex Ferrari 10:54
What's the last Boy Scout? Alright, we'll I think it was last year because I know but Shane Black wrote Last Action Hero. Alright, hold on everybody. Everybody stopped for a second we're gonna we're gonna now it's because I have to I have to check this. I'm almost positive he did because it made the most sense that he did. So let's go to handy IMDb live on the show. And let's see if if Rich's right or if I'm right because I've been telling that story for a while now. No one has ever called me on it and I'm almost I've almost bet money I'm like

Rich Wilkes 11:31
You know who would have called you on it is Chris Moore who is Adam and yes James at the top

Alex Ferrari 11:37
So Last Action Hero one second my modem is still loading up

Rich Wilkes 11:49
Good Lord let me do it.

Alex Ferrari 11:52
My my modem is still loading up. I have the free AOL disk.

Rich Wilkes 11:59
Are you plugged into the Pete's coffee down the block?

Alex Ferrari 12:08
So writers are Zack Pen. But hold on for a second. And you know what? Shane Black? No, it was Shane Black.

Rich Wilkes 12:15
He rewrote our guys Zack and Adam wrote the original spec Shane rewrote.

Alex Ferrari 12:23
So then it must have been Last Boy Scout then you are i by mistake. So I was corrected. Thank you, sir. For. For me saving face now for all the stories ever tell again. But anyway. Yes. Okay. But that's but that's how crazy this market was at the time and a lot of screenwriters out there still think it's the 90s? Yeah. And they're acting as such, where I think just you saying what we just discussed about, you need a package now you need Will Smith attached. That's news to a lot of screenwriters, a lot of screenwriters think that you could read the amazing script? And that you're going to get, you're going to get a produce just because of its genius. And I know you and I both have read scripts that are Oscar quality, that have never been produced are sitting on shelves right now. Is that fair?

Rich Wilkes 13:14
And then there's ones that you wonder how it got all of these movie stars attached? And yeah, made for a record amount of money. Right? When if it was a spec script, no one would look at it twice. Right! I don't know. I you know, it's not up to me to decide what's what's good and bad. But from my perspective, there's a lot of things that are are happening because it's from the production company of the star, and he's hooked up with a director and they've done three things together, and they know blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And so it's like, okay, we know they're responsible for the money we know x amount of people are going to watch so and so do a fucking action comedy or whatever the hell it is. So we're gonna go with that, which is great. If you can be in that business. If you can be in the Adam Sandler read. You read my mind. It's fantastic. But there's not too much room in that bubble. I know.

Alex Ferrari 14:07
No. And which brings me to one of your first films. Airheads which had a young Adam Sandler, Brendan Fraser and Steve Buscemi, and I love that movie when it came out. I watched that movie when it came. I was like, it's so much fun. And it was Adam it was Adam it already come out with Billy Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore or not yet.

Rich Wilkes 14:29
No, this was he had only done a movie called it was something about a clown. Maybe he was in the bobcat Goldthwait clown movie, shake. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Maybe he was in like a ballroom scene or something. So he was in small stuff like that. But Airheads was his first studio movie. They wouldn't let him be the Brendan Fraser character. He had to be the the supporting guy. And from that, I got hired to rewrite Billy Madison which shot Right afterwards, okay, that's how I know that it came in that order. Okay. That's how I know about the Adam Sandler bubble because I'm not in it after doing two movies with him earlier. I had not known him since I think the cutoff was SNL. You either knew him in high school in college or an SNL. And then you're you're part of the crew, and then afterwards, I'm being facetious, but it feels like Yeah, I mean, he's still working with with Alan covert who he knows from, you know, college and and obviously, all of the cast members from SNL that he worked with, he's just got this wonderful group and why mess with something great, unless you're going to go off and do some, you know, uncut gems thing, which is brilliant. Yeah. All right. So let's talk about those guys. What about guys like them? The guys that do the guy who did Blue Ruin, man, I did. synchronic how are these guys getting money to make these movies? about forgetting about synchronic? Because that's got you know, that's already coming after the other one they did with with actors that weren't big. How do you get a Blue Ruin made?

Alex Ferrari 16:10
I mean, thinking about like uncut gems, specifically, as an example, I think, a film like that you need a you need a you need a 100 pound gorilla and Adam was that 800 pound gorilla. He'd already done punch drunk glove. So he's, you know, he's like, Oh, this is his other punch drunk love and he's done a handful of those serious roles he likes to do everyone's wrong. I think he's actually a really good actor.

Rich Wilkes 16:36
I agree but forgetting about him I'm talking about from the filmmaking side, right. Yeah, brothers,

Alex Ferrari 16:41
Right. But they but did they have Adam before?

Rich Wilkes 16:44
No, before that they had Robert Pattinson right and before that they had nobody right same with the Blue Ruin guy and the synchronic guys are now doing what they're doing Star Wars.

Alex Ferrari 16:56
Right? Probably yeah. Well yeah, same thing with Gareth Edwards and those kind of guys from

Rich Wilkes 17:02
So they start out doing a movie with with nobody in it and then on the next one they get an Anthony Mackie or a patent sin or a Sandler. And then now they're doing King Kong fights in Tron or whatever.

Alex Ferrari 17:15
I'd watch that.

Rich Wilkes 17:18
The money to do a blue ruin

Alex Ferrari 17:20
The thing it's like anything else man, you know, from you know, for me speaking to so many people on the show over the years and just my own shrapnel in the business trying to get my own projects made over the years. It is it is almost impossible to figure out what it is for it there's no one there's no one formula. So there is generalized formulas like it you got Will Smith you've got the rock you're gonna get you're in it's done. You know you got gal got you got Sandy Bullock. Yeah, you're gonna get a movie made. But it's luck, man. There's so much luck meets preparation meets opportunity. In I've talked to Oscar winners. I've talked to guys who just made a $5,000 movie I talked to everybody in between. It's always about Right place, right time. Right product. And, you know, if you if you happen to have a pandemic movie, at the beginning of 2020 script running around, yeah, it's gone. If you had a terrorist movie in 2001 Yeah, not gonna, you know, had a Vietnam movie in 76. Not so much it took Oliver Stone for ever to get to and made for and he had to do it. And look, that's a great example. Oliver, when he was on the show, I talked to him about platoons. Like I had to go out to this independence like absolute crazy man who did Salvador with him. Right? And from there, they're like my friend, and he's, I forgot. He's like, I forgot who the producer was. I can't remember the name. But he Oliver even did this act. He was he was a shyster. He was an absolute crock. But he's like, we're gonna go make this movie. Go go to Philippines make this movie the blue. Let's make it. And but that's, but that's interesting. That's insane, though. So there was an insanity. You found this one guy who had the money at a time period where it made sense because video VHS was starting to come home video was coming. I make the money and make the money. It's okay. It's okay. And he went up and let him go do platoon. And then that launched one of the greatest atour filmmakers of his generation. And then from that point, he had a run of 10 years that no other filmmakers ever had, like year after year after year after year, you know, but that's the thing. So there's a there's a level of this kind of like look, I mean, look at mariachi, I mean everyone always looks at Robert and mariachi. How did that get? How did it blow up? Right Place

Rich Wilkes 19:44
It seemed like you know Blair Witch Project is not going to it's an anomaly route. It's not going to punch through today. No way. But you know, guys like Ryan Johnson that are parlaying small independent movies into now doing the biggest movies in the business the roost So brothers were all of these people, you know, the guy who did a Jordan void Roberts who did that wonderful kings of summer. Yeah, I love that movie. And then he's gone to these $150 million movies that I, you know, all of the stuff that I loved in Kings this summer is is gone from those because they're not personal and they're not whatever. But God bless him. He's making these goddamn huge movies, they're blockbusters I'm just in fascinated by all of these guys who get to do it, but as you well know, go into Sundance or slam dance or what have you. When I went to slam dance, it must have been 9605 There was already 20,000 movies showing up, you know, being submitted 20,000 feature films, I can't imagine how many it is now. So

Alex Ferrari 20:53
It's 70. Think Sundance had 70,000 pre pandemic submissions.

Rich Wilkes 21:00
Yeah, So So the ability to to bust through, it is 99% luck, because I'm not more talented than 99% of the population. But I've managed to get a 30 year career out of it. Right. The same with with Keanu Reeves. Is he the most talented actor from his generation? What happened to all the other guys from that? From that same era? The Emilio esta vez and Charlie Sheen's and Kiefer Sutherland and all that kind of stuff. It's just like, wow, boom. Bertolucci wants to work with him. Scorsese. Great, and then suddenly.

Alex Ferrari 21:36
I mean, look, you got the matrix after will. Smith said no. And Brad Pitt said, no,

Rich Wilkes 21:41
Absolutely. But then he did it again. I'm John Wick. That's

Alex Ferrari 21:44
But he is, I mean, let's just He's the second coming of Christ. I mean, we all know that Keanu Reeves is the second coming of Christ. That's all just agree that that's the way it is. He walks on water. It's it's it's a weird thing. I mean, trying to try to pinpoint success in this business. And trust me, I've made a career of analyzing early in my career, I read every biography, I absorbed every DVD commentary, and laser disc commentary on that old, all of it, trying to figure out what the secret sauce was like, how did this get in? How did that get in? Well, I have to just Okay, so I have to make a short film, but then have the script ready for it. And then okay, so I needed to have a short film that blows up, then I have to have the script ready for it. Then I also have to have some sort of financing. Maybe I have to have a package ready together for it. So I went through all of those. It because I had I had a short film and oh five that blew up online in oh five before YouTube or any of that stuff. And I was being called by big producers, and I was being you know, courted around town and all that stuff. And they're like, Well, what do you have? I'm like, I have ideas and the like, well, that's not enough. So then the next time I did a few years later, I'm like, I had to have the script. Now. I had the script now. That wasn't enough. Okay, now I need to get a package. Okay, great. I have to break it down. I gotta get a budget schedule. I gotta get a pitch deck now. It's just nonstops. But then somebody will walk walk in with a script or an idea. And someone's like, Oh, I like that idea. How much do you want for I've heard that story. How much do you want for it? Oh, do you need a million I have a million. Let's go make a movie. It's like, it's resilience, man. It's just being in the game. And I think at a certain point, you just got to continue to be in the game. You know, I always talk to people from you know, people from the 90s Like, they're like a foreign thing. We are kind of our generation is but but you know, like talking to, you know, to, you know, let's say Kevin Smith or Robert Rodriguez and Ed burns those guys that came up in the 90s You know, I asked Ed burns specifically ago Ed, wood wood Brothers McMullen even make a dent today. He's like, No, no way in hell, Brothers McMullen would even be anywhere in the conversation. Clerks wouldn't be in the theaters, much less make $20 million in the theater like his did. Like off of a $30,000 movie. mariachi probably wouldn't make any noise today. Clerks wouldn't make any noise today. Like there's none of those movies would make nice today.

Rich Wilkes 24:16
I think I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, but but movies still make noise. It's just not those movies. Because I just mentioned like, what like whiplash or Blue Ruin, or these ones, the smaller ones that I'm talking about. They do pop through and whether it's, you know, those $5 million Blumhouse kind of movies. There's some brilliant filmmaking going on. So it's not clear it's but it's a different genre. It's a different movie,

Alex Ferrari 24:40
But the backyard personal film, you know, like slacker that for that to do what it did like slacker, not in a million effin years, would that get attention today? It just it just wouldn't it be an arthouse film, but it wouldn't it wouldn't do what it did. Like it wouldn't go into theaters. But Also don't forget different timing, different place. There was an industry, there was an industry coming around business coming around independent film, which there wasn't in the 80s, really, in the 90s. And then VHS showed up and, and all that kind of stuff. So it's it's, you know, yeah, like someone like Jordan Peele with get out. And you mentioned whiplash, both of those are Jason Blum. Yeah. They're both Jason Blum. And how did you know Jordan Peele, nobody wanted to make it out. And you're like, Who are you the guy from Comedy Central. And you're doing comedy? Now? You want to do horror? Like, what is this?

Rich Wilkes 25:38
So So I don't I don't think it's fair to be so negative on. You know, Linklater wouldn't have a career now. And

Alex Ferrari 25:45
It would be different. It would be different different.

Rich Wilkes 25:47
Those guys are gonna, they're survivors anyway. And Jordan, Peele wouldn't have got his movie made in 1992.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
No, there's no way in hell. But the difference is, get out might have been made as a backyard as a backyard, India, and maybe would have gotten some notice. But the difference between both of those films is they had an 800 pound gorilla attached, which was Jason Blum. Yeah, true. And that that pushed that push that opened the doors and gave them a little bit of a budget game. It's like Jason's given a lot of opportunities to filmmakers, that wouldn't get opportunities in today's world that Jason Blum is an anomaly.

Rich Wilkes 26:25
Yeah, okay. But what did you see this movie called Under the Silver Lake? Oh, takes place in Silver Lake. Here in LA. It's another one of these little movies like the one that the synchronic guys did.

Alex Ferrari 26:37
Okay. I haven't seen it.

Rich Wilkes 26:38
Oh, who the 800 pound gorilla is behind these things, but they're fucking amazing. Little tiny movies. But I wanted to talk about a blown opportunities. Yeah. Just because you know it to switch it up. I worked in the late 80s, I believe was late 80s. With Chris Tucker. Right. Chris Tucker was on a roll from his movie with Charlie Sheen. Easy money or whatever the fuck

Alex Ferrari 27:04
Money Talks, Money Talks. Yeah,

Rich Wilkes 27:05
Yeah. And then he was on rush hour. And he was in Jackie Brown and whatever. And I was working with a guy named Antoine Fisher, the screenwriter. I was, he was a friend of Tucker's, and he had come up with this idea about Chris Tucker being the first double o agent. It was called double o sol. And he had set up the pitch. And it was with a producer I knew at Universal and they were like, Okay, this guy's done a couple of movies, and they partner me up with Antoine. So Chris Tucker is on the verge of Eddie Murphy. Will Smith style. Absolutely. Absolutely. We're working on this project. And he continuously is undermining himself and fucking himself up like we wanted Mariah Carey to be in a role in the movie. And there was this divas concert in New York. And he was supposed to fly from LA to the deepest concert, meet her backstage and picture on CO starring in this movie with him. Instead, they get a call at the production company and it's his brother or assistant or whatever. And they go, Yeah, I'm looking at our window. And I see a towncar. Yeah, yeah, it's to take him to the airport. goes, no, Chris Tucker doesn't ride in no half a car. He needs to stretch so get him stretch, or he's not going to the airport. They don't get him to the airport. That wasn't the only thing he did. We were rewriting the script continuously based on his whims where he would go, I ran into Tiger Woods at a party. Can we do a scene with me and Tiger at a golf course? And you're like,

Alex Ferrari 28:49
How do you jam that in? Yeah, how do Yeah, sure.

Rich Wilkes 28:51
And then we turn in the draft. Everyone's excited about him and goes, I've changed my mind. We want I want the whole movie to take place in Africa. Because he'd gone to visit Africa and had been inspired by something. And we're like, just shut your fucking mouth. And you would have had, you know, a spy movie. God only knows if it would have been a success, but it never got made and his career didn't go the Will Smith way. Because he got so fucking in his own head. He ruined it. Yeah, he did. He did, which was a bummer for everybody involved. And you know,

Alex Ferrari 29:26
Yeah, it was so funny because I always you know, I was a fan of him in the rush hour films and and money talks. And he was he was right on the brink of being Eddie Murphy. The new Eddie Murphy. There was no question. Yeah, but I always wondered like, what happened behind the scenes that his he just, it just fell off a cliff. He just fell off a cliff. He didn't he wasn't nothing. Like he didn't just do bid parts he like did nothing at all

Rich Wilkes 29:51
That I don't know. But I know that universal did not want to work with him after he fucked everybody around for so long.

Alex Ferrari 29:58
Of course, of course and that gets around town.

Rich Wilkes 30:00
Yes. The other one is is my cautionary tale which was I wrote a movie called Triple X is Vin Diesel. Yeah, of course. Yeah. But he call it a X game sort of James Bond. Sure. And then after that, every job I got, they were like, We want you to triple X this motherfucker. We want this to be just the same. But so I wrote Castle Wolfen Stein and I wrote another one for Vin called the wheel man about a, you know, getaway driver. But I was actively resisting doing triple X. I was like, I did triple x to get you know, to get into the blockbuster business

Alex Ferrari 30:40
In the party. You're invited into the party now?

Rich Wilkes 30:42
Yeah, so the first thing I did after Triple X, before it even came out, I got the dirt adapting the Motley Crue biopic I was like, that's what I really want to do. I wanted to do what the whites brothers did. Remember, they did American Pie. And then immediately, they jumped to you know

Alex Ferrari 30:58
About a boy, right? It was about a boy. Yeah, in Golden Compass.

Rich Wilkes 31:01
And all of these. Yeah, that's what I wanted. But everybody wanted it. So I would say, Okay, I'm going to write Castle Wolfenstein, or whatever it is, but it's not going to be filled with X Games craziness. I don't want to do that. I want to do it this way. And they go, Yeah, of course, that's exactly what we want. And then I turn it in, and they go, we don't want this, we want the shit that you said you weren't gonna do. And I was so resistant to being pigeonholed that I refuse to write one of those kinds of movies. And as a consequence, it took from between triple ax and when the dirt finally got made, it was a span of 17 years, right? Where I didn't get a feature film made, right? Because I was like, I need to write the classy. And I wrote a shit ton of classy book adaptations based on bestsellers, and whatever. I had one with the Russo brothers with Johnny Depp that didn't get make, you know, I mean, it's just an endless litany of classy movies that didn't get made. When I could have been,

Alex Ferrari 32:00
You could have been bussin out. Yeah, yeah.

Rich Wilkes 32:03
So anyway, that's a really my own bit of shooting myself in the foot the way Chris, Chris Moore was talking about the other day when he had the 5 million for the startup and refused to do podcasts. And

Alex Ferrari 32:17
So, um, yeah, no, that's a really interesting story. Because, you know, I always look, we all we all wish we have the the option one day to get in our own way. Because that like most people will never get to the place you got with Triple X. Bottom line, it was a huge hit. Big, big, big action franchise. And you know, when when the biggest stars at the time in the world and all of this stuff. Most people listening will never get there. But there's a lesson here, even for those who don't get to that level. It's getting in your own way, stopping things like oh, I don't want to do that, or I want to. So I'll tell you my story really quickly. And this is this is this is my early on story. Not nearly as exciting as yours. But I think there's a lesson here. So I was I was 20 caught I don't even know I was 20 something. And it was right before I wanted to turn into a commercial director. So I was editing. I was editing a lot. I was like the big one of the big editors in Miami. At the time in the in the late 90s. I was up getting paid obscene amounts of money to edit. And I got so far up my own ass that I was like, I'm gonna throw down 50 cheese on my demo reel to direct the image and I had to shoot on 35. And you know, the whole thing? Sure, yeah. So when I did all of that, put it out, I spent my and then I stopped editing. I just said, I'm not an editor anymore. I am a director. I am a director. I don't, I do not sell myself with editing anymore. When I'm dirty. I will not go down to that level. That's that the mentality that you had that I had at the time because it was so full of myself. And then I will get calls. I'm like, Nope, don't add any more. I'm a director only. So I start shipping out my my demo reels and spending money. Like it doesn't end. Because I'm like anytime now all I need is that one gig, it's gonna kick in. Yeah, one gig, I'll get paid five G's a day, you know, I'll get 3040 grand and in about a month or two anytime now, that day, never showed up. And then I got thrown into a dark dark hole that it was harder and harder. And then weirder things happen. I wrote a whole book about what my next adventures but that was the beginning of this hole that I fell into. That took me years to come back out of and I was able to crawl back out of it by just hustle and getting out of my own way. But so many of us as creatives we will start overthinking getting in our own heads. And man I can only imagine how old were you when you hit we need to triple X

Rich Wilkes 34:51
30 31

Alex Ferrari 34:53
Yeah, so at 30 31 I was still I was still it wasn't a complete moron. But I was slightly more on it might be my own personal journey. There's 20 20 year olds are much smarter than I was at 30. Sure. But at that age still, you still haven't lived. You've got a lot. Yeah. And you haven't been See, you haven't been beat up enough yet.

Rich Wilkes 35:15
But dude all of the people that we talk about, that we admire from Talentino, to Kevin Smith, they all made that jump and said, Fuck it. I'm doing it my way. I'm not going to cast so and so I want it to be my Michael Mann said, whoever the fuck all of those people did it and made the jump, but they stuck the landing where we did not. So the does that make them stupid? I mean, does that make us stupid for making that leap just like they did? Because we didn't have the luck to stick the landing.

Alex Ferrari 35:45
But the thing is, but that's the thing, though. So let's, let's analyze Kevin for a second. Because I've started Kevin, you know, Kevin came up with my movie because I worked in a video store. I was very upset about the clerk's because I work in a video. So when that came out, I'm like, son of. God, why did I think of that? And, you know, maybe video clips around the country were like, Ah, god, but after clerks, he did Mallrats his way. He wanted to do it his way. Studio gave him money, and it tanked and it was over for Kevin. It was over. The only way he came back out was because of chasing me. And there was the Weinstein's who gave him $150,000 To make as a throwaway. Like, Look, kid, here's 100 grand go make your movie, but that's all you're getting. And he got a Yeah, I happen to have a young Ben Affleck, which I know you worked with a young Ben Affleck as well, that happened to hit. If Jason Amy doesn't hit. We don't know who Kevin Smith. He's just a blip in history.

Rich Wilkes 36:43
Exactly. He is you and I. However, he did that stupid thing. But he stuck the landing and was successful at it. And that's why we admire guys like that. And we tried to emulate them. And it didn't work out in quite the same way.

Alex Ferrari 37:00
And that's a mistake that a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters make to this day they'll look at someone like Tarantino luck will Tarantino don't like and I always like to say, Tarantino is probably the most original writer of his generation, the skills and the way he tells stories is unprecedented. You'd like them or hate them. I don't care. There's no one who writes like him. He is the the Hemingway of his generation. Again, whether you love them or hate them. You can't deny what the man has done. Yeah, you can't compare yourself to him just like me comparing myself to Spielberg or to Fincher or to Nolan. Like these are people who are at the highest level. And look at Nolan. Like, that's a good point. Because you can't compete. You can't like, you know, can you compare yourself to Robert Rodriguez, how many people to this day people are still talking about mariachi to this day, people still use it as a reference point. And I'm like, you can't like Robert. He didn't he? He stumbled into it. It no one was ever supposed to see mariachi. It was supposed to go straight to the Spanish video market. And it just happened that someone said we're gonna release the and he said no, don't release this. This was like my practice movie. Yeah, Jesus Christ. Let me remake it. Don't let me so he did remake it and Desperado. Essentially, but a little bit better, like a little bit bigger. But that's but that's what he felt he literally stumbled into it. You know, you can't do that brothers MC Bolin. If he wasn't working at ET at Entertainment Tonight. And Bob Redford didn't jump on an elevator and he didn't have a VHS copy of brothers Bolin rough guide. And he handed it to Bob. And fucking like two months later, someone from Sundance called them is like, is your movie ready? We'd like to screen it. That doesn't happen. You can see what I'm saying. Like there was no way a PA from Entertainment Tonight was going to get into Sundance for an unknown like Edward Burns. But that's exactly what happened. So you can't you can't plan for that stuff. You can't. You can't like I met like I had the pleasure of meeting Roger Ebert. Before he passed at a screen I thought Amida I mean. But um, but I had the pleasure of being flown up to Toronto, because I was going like there was some producers and financiers who wanted to finance my short film of my feature film version of my short film in 2005. So I fly up there. And he's like, here's some tickets to a movie that we're distributing. go see this movie. So we went to the theater, we're sitting down, and in the back of the frickin theater is Roger Ebert. And people who don't know who Roger Ebert is, please google him. He's one of the greatest film critics of all time. He's the only one who's ever won a Pulitzer. That's how great he was. And we haven't, we haven't run up to him and start talking to him like, oh my god, this and that. And this is our movie like this before the movie starts and we We'd like to start talking to him. He's like, you know, I can't watch your movie. I'm like, of course not. You can't watch our movie, your Rodri. But why would you watch our little $8,000 action movie? And then all of a sudden, halfway through the conversation is that Can I take your picture? I'm like, Yes. And he's like, You know what, this will make a nice little, little piece for my blob on my blog. I'm like, Great, can we can we take your picture, and here's a copy of our movie. By the time we landed back in Florida, he'd already watched a movie and written a small review of the film on his website. And all of a sudden, I'm the only short film on the planet that has a Roger Ebert quote, and that and that, just but you see what I'm saying? How could you plan for that?

Rich Wilkes 40:43
You're welcome to do differently. I mean, if I guess in retrospect, if I had service, the, you know, if I milked the triple X vibe, as much as it was worth Sure, would I have been happier, spending my time writing movies that I wasn't excited about, rather than the time I've been spending on on adapting books that don't get made, I get a lot of satisfaction from all of these scripts that are sitting on my shelf that no one's ever going to read or see. It's weird. You know, it's, would I be happier the other way?

Alex Ferrari 41:17
So that's the question. So and this has turned into a therapy session, which I absolutely love. And I think it's something that we all need to hear therapy session for both of you. And I think and everyone listen to kind of get into it. But what I, this is my feeling like, again, I didn't have your experience, you had a huge hit, you were the belle of the ball, people wanted to work with you, because you had a monster hit in town. So the question is, could you have, the way I would have looked at it is this at 30, I would have put my big boy pants on, I would have written a handful of things that they wanted me to do. Gain and then step up a little bit more and step up a little bit more. Yeah. And, and maybe get a couple of maybe get another triple X, like style, success. And then and then at that point, start like once you once you establish yourself a little bit more, continue to write those for for a few years, not gonna hurt you. At that point on the side. You're working on other stuff, and like in trying to get other things made. But you're building up your reputation in town. And I've seen that from so many screenwriters who told me I didn't want to do it. But I did it because it was a paycheck. It kept kept me in the conversation. Yeah, and that's the difference.

Rich Wilkes 42:34
But here's what happened after I realized that I needed to make an adjustment, which it took me like, I don't know, let's say five years. Sure. I started taking these assignments that were very straightforward. You know, a remake of cliffhanger. You know, various action movies and whatever. Lightning didn't strike twice. They did not get made. Alright, it's fucking difficult to build one on top of another. Like the guy who wrote it triple X two starred. Ice Cube, right. Different director, different writer than that guy was. King Simon Kinberg. Yeah, I just had Simon on the show. Okay, so his version of Triple X grossed 25 million, and mine had bros 275 or two or whatever it was, yeah. quarter of a billion. Yeah, I guess it was 250. I don't know whatever the fuck it was. He went on to have a string of these action movies that were consistent, consistently getting made and moneymakers and whatever, and obviously more talented than me. But it has been consistently building to the point that he's a producer on movies, in addition to writing in addition to directing and whatever. So lightning struck with him even though his Triple X was a failure.

Alex Ferrari 44:00
But the difference with Simon is that he was lucky enough to land in the X Men universe at Fox. And the second he landed in the X Men universe of Fox, one hit left to another hit lead. And then he stayed in the end. He said, Did you see what he did? He stayed in the excellent up to Deadpool up to Logan as a producer. And he kept he understood, he's like, I'm gonna stick to this and he just finished releasing 355 With all the girls, which is unlike anything else he's been doing lately. But it's taken him years to do that. Now there are some there's some and there's nothing wrong with that because I still think some of the stuff he's done like he'll get Deadpool made, which is one of the best superhero he got Logan made. He wrote, he wrote days Days of Future Past which is probably arguably one of the better superhero genre time travel movies ever made. You know, he's definitely a talented dude. But he got on a train at the right time. When things were like, oh, and the way you know, studios work, oh, you know X Men. Well, let's keep him on. Okay, you wrote 1x movie, you could write another x movie. So same thing for you. I wrote one triple X movie. I want to add your spice to this. He kept riding that train, you decided to go against the trend and five years?

Rich Wilkes 45:20
Yes. So what I wound up doing is that what I wrote for legendary years ago, I wrote it adaptation of Kung Fu, they already had a director attached, they were excited about Sure. Because of that, I got recommended to write Iron Fist for Marvel,

Alex Ferrari 45:36
Okay. The movie, the movie or the show?

Rich Wilkes 45:39
The it was the movie,

Alex Ferrari 45:40
Okay, the movie Okay.

Rich Wilkes 45:42
This was they, they were doing the first for the first phase, and they were trying to figure out who's gonna be in the second phase. So they developed eight characters and picked four and made movies out of them. So my Iron Fist movie was not chosen. Right. But if it was, I could have been in the Marvel Universe. So even when it when it came time and getting the chance to write a Marvel movie early on, you know, when they were still in phase one. It did not work out for whatever reason, and I've had so many things that everybody does have movies fall apart, we have the financing, we have a director, we have everything lined up, and then it blows up with through none of your own, you know, so it's key to luck being a factor of bad luck is a huge factor in shit just blowing up and the quality of the movies that I've had that slipped through my fingers with the Russo brothers with Fincher with the thing with Dr. Dre, all of these great thing with Vince McMahon, all of these things that that fucking blew up on me. They, I'm fine with it, because it's happened so many times that Alright, here's what nobody knows about this one. But when they were shooting from dusk till dawn, sure. I was writing Green Hornet for some for Larry Gordon. Okay. Robert Rodriguez gets a hold of the script. I heard it to Clooney. They're going to do it together. I meet with Clooney. And he's so excited. We're going to start shooting. We got the money. We're going to start shooting in March. Right. Then he gets a phone call from Steven Spielberg saying I just started SKG DreamWorks. I want you to start our first movie Peacemaker with a call Mimi leader. So he had to drop out of ours because you don't say no to Spielberg. He did that one. Once he dropped out. Robert Rodriguez dropped out. They brought in Michel Gondry. He was involved with it 10 years before he actually made it at another studio. And it went nowhere with Michel Gondry. But we were I don't know, it was December when they pulled the plug. And we were going to be shooting the beginning of March. And that would have been fucking huge. You know, of course, me Clooney at that time. Robert Rodriguez at that time, it would have been really any of those that that have exploded and like so

Alex Ferrari 48:12
Alright, so then I'll tell you, I'll tell you my story. And then yeah, I want you guys because that is a 32nd story. This is a get together. Yeah, this these are great. Okay, so I'll tell you my story. I wrote a book. I wrote a book. Here it is. And everyone listening knows about everyone listening. Listen to the show knows about this. The book is called shooting for the mob. Oh, nice. Okay, so this book is based on my, my experience of almost making a $20 million movie for the mafia. Now, I was 26. See, no, no, let's let you know, we'll throw it down. Well throw it down. Don't get me wrong, you got much better, much better, higher quality stars in your story. But my I wasn't about to get whacked. There. But there's that. So I had a bipolar. Basically sociopathic gangster who gave me the shot, quote, unquote, to direct his life story. And I was then I was then our production offices were in a racetrack from the 1960s. So literally, I was like in a lounge and they built an office partition for me in the lounge. We hired production designers we hired DP flew in from LA, we weren't, we weren't prepped for a year, a year in prep a year. So while this is going on, he's hustling money to keep the office open, because he can't get the 20 million. But the crazy part and that's a that's a fantastic story, just a mobster trying to get his movie made with a young director. And I kept asking him like, and I've been directing already a little bit been directing commercials and, and all this kind of stuff. And I said, Why aren't you going after some like, like somebody who's Morrissey And then me, and he's like, Oh no, I don't like those. Those Hollywood guys. I want someone honest like you. Oh my Alright, great. So I'm there. But don't forget I was raised in the 90s under the 90s indie boom for everyone. Yeah, which were like the lottery, the lottery ticket. Everyone had a lottery ticket. The Kevin Smith's the Edward Burns. The Robert is slacker everyone. So I'm like this is got to be my lottery ticket. Right? So then Hollywood takes his guy seriously. And I'm flown out to LA. And I meet billion dollar producers. I'm in the penthouses of a huge producer like it's the scene from a true romance. I mean, his screening room, showing him the trailer that I'd shot that spent $10,000 I didn't have to shoot a sizzle reel of the movie that we shot it on film flew and actors it was a whole thing. So we did that whole thing. So I'm there with him. I'm at the Chateau Marmont, I'm at the fucking IV everywhere. And I'm like this got a discount to be this has to be real. Well, but while this is all going on, he's threatening me all the time. You're basically going to work with Joe Pachi. From Goodfellas. Like, one moment, one moment, he's the best, funniest dude, ever. And the next moment, he's like, I will, I will hit you over the head with a shovel and bury you somewhere. And imagine a 26 year old. I'm green as all hell truly. And I didn't know what the hell I was doing. And I'm like, I didn't have any defense against a guy like this. When I saw the adults are like, called the adults. The seasoned professionals around me were all scared to death. And these guys were all in movies for 20 years. And I'm like, What the hell am I gonna do? Then I'm like, flown out and I'm meeting I went to go meet Batman. So I go to Batman's house. Wayne Manor, like one of the actors who played Batman. Oh, these shall remain nameless. They're all they're all remainings. I'll tell you, I'll tell you after after we get off. Because in the book, my rules are if I met you, your name has changed. If I talked about you, we talked about you know, I had, we had meetings with producers. Mel Gibson, Robert Downey, Jr. William Hurd, Gabriel Byrne, like all the hot people from this is all 2001. It's all like, early 2001. This is all started. So I go to Batman's house. I'm there like this, like this close to Batman, Batman's, like, I want to be in your movie. You know, do you want to sleep over tonight, so we can work on the project. Like I think he's on a 25,000 acre ranch, you know, three days after Christmas. And then all of a sudden, after all of that, it's gone. It just goes away. And the gangsters like you know what, we're gonna go another direction after a year of this. And the movie never got as close ever again, to getting made than it was with me. But imagine, and I know you have this, you've experienced this at different levels, being so close to your dream. And again, yanked away from you constant like you know, constantly. I know you feel me because it's happened to you. But you've had but you've had success and you've had a career, doing what you love to do. It might not be in the way that you might have envisioned it. But you've had a career, you've had a career, like you said at the beginning of this entire conversation I've made I've made a living doing this. And that's great. But I but the frustration of all the money's about to drop. All this package is almost there. Oh, we're almost we're almost greenlit, I can only imagine that happened to me once at a large level. Then multiple other times at smaller levels, like you know, being flown around and meeting producers and having sit downs with actors. And you know, this and that I've gone through all of that. That's why That's why I have shrapnel that we all both have that's that's trapnell from from the war that we've been in, which is the business. But I could only imagine you going through this as well, because you're having that happen again and again and again. And you were in a position where this this really could happen. Like you weren't a young kid sitting down with George Clooney, you were already a seasoned screenwriter, it just everything kept falling apart.

Rich Wilkes 54:13
The thing that's interesting is that it happens at every level, anybody who's trying to get a student film made, try to shoot their own short film so high school, the actor falls out the location falls everything always is a problem. And so my thing when talking to somebody who wants to be in the industry is it is going to be a lot harder than you ever imagined it would be if I had known all of the things I don't know if I would have dared to enter this right right right knowing in advance how many setbacks there were going to be but I like to be realistic with people you're not going to you know star in one movie and have a career for the rest of your life right one hit and have a you know For dinner with Spielberg the next week, it is always in a constant struggle. And when you consider it took Spielberg 15 years to get his Lincoln movie made. It doesn't change no matter what level you're at. Amen. And I know for a fact that that George Clooney has movies that he wishes he could get made that he cannot correct. Same with any director you can think of the same with. I don't want to name the names, but it's the same. Across the board. No one is where they want to be, with the exception of maybe,

Alex Ferrari 55:35
Nolan, Anderson, Nolan Tarantino, and James Cameron.

Rich Wilkes 55:42
Wes Anderson, yeah, the Coen Brothers, you know, maybe this many. Yeah. And we're just talking in feature films. So it is an endless life or death struggle. Every single time, no matter what level you're at, and you have to be ready for that it doesn't turn into easy street ever. And this is the thing that impresses me most about Tarantino is, every time he sits down to write a movie, he has to write a movie better than a Quentin Tarantino movie, because below the level of a Talentino movie, it's a failure. He's competing with Pulp Fiction Kill Bill,

Alex Ferrari 56:20
He's competing glorious bastard Right, right.

Rich Wilkes 56:25
It's, it's insane. And everybody's doing that Spielberg's complete it competing against his entire, you know, filmography, so it never ever becomes easy. And Chris Moore, who you just had on Yeah, Oscar nominated movie right? Off the bat. Yeah. Never became easy after that. For him. He's still slugging away. Ben and Matt have had their this and that. It's never ever, ever going to get easier. So you better enjoy what you're doing. And by and working with the people you're working with. Because that at the end of the day, that's what it is, you know, 30 years into it and looking back and going Well, shit, either. I'm pissed off this whole time. Or I've loved every minute of you know, nowadays, like moving my Vince McMahon thing blew up a year ago. I am so appreciate the time I got to spend in the world of WW Yeah, yeah. And talk to his daughter and talk to him and talk to his right hand man. And, and, and have all of that no matter if it mounted up to anything. I really appreciate all of those things. And it's the same whether you're doing a short film, you're doing your $100,000 you know, feature, you're going around begging for money and people are trusting you and believing in you. And that's the thing that you got to that you got to appreciate.

Alex Ferrari 57:47
I mean, Rick Linklater said said it best he gave me the piece, best piece of advice is like, I asked him the question, like what advice you'd give for filmmakers, because it's gonna be twice as hard and twice as long as you thought. That's how long it's gonna take. It's gonna take twice, it's gonna be twice as hard as you think. And it'd be twice as long. I'd probably say it's 10 times harder. But that's, yeah.

Rich Wilkes 58:09
Maybe for him. It's twice but I mean, he's not he's not getting Oh, he wants to be

Alex Ferrari 58:13
Ohh I can I can tell you for a fact that Rick is not doing everything he wants to do. Because he told me directly. He's like, I want to do this, this, this and this. And I'm like, I'm like, but you're Rick be Richard Linklater, you're like an Oscar like, you know, I mean, boyhood. Seriously, who the hell makes boyhood? Like other than Richard Linklater? Like who's insane? It was insane enough. Yeah, to shoot a movie like boyhood. Like, oh, yeah, we're gonna shoot something. And maybe we'll have something in seven years. Like, that's insanity. But that's right. And but Rick doesn't care about. He's an artist, man. He is one when I met when I met him, and I've spent some time with him. He is a artist, and he doesn't care about markets and this or that he just has the pleasure. He's lucky enough to be able to do what he does, because he keeps his budgets low. And that's why you know, the Coen brothers get to do what they do because they keep the budget low. Woody Allen back, you know, when he was making movies, he kept his budgets low so he could do whatever the hell he wanted to.

Rich Wilkes 59:09
And stars want to work with guys like that. Because they're artists too. And they'll do it for a discount rage. And that's why Wes Anderson gets all of these brilliant people, you know?

Alex Ferrari 59:18
Yeah, PT, PTA, all of them. Yeah.

Rich Wilkes 59:21
So, the long and short is take the pleasures where you can get them. If at any point you get to make a movie, write a screenplay, act in something. That's something that most of the planet doesn't get to do, and most of the planet wants to do. So if you get close, if you get to edit your own movie that you shot on your phone, you are so far ahead of the game.

Alex Ferrari 59:45
It's your absolute you're absolutely right. And I call what we do the beautiful sickness, because it is. It is. It is it is it is the beautiful sickness because once you have it, the sickness you can't get rid of it. Like I can't, I can't. You really can't. It couldn't go dormant for decades. Honestly, I've had people come in, who are doctors and talk to me like, I just retired. Yeah, I really what I really want to do is direct. And it's it's a true sickness that doesn't go away. But it's a beautiful sickness. And I think that's a weird thing about our business, is that this is not I mean, I've talked to so many different people about this. We're the weirdest business on the planet, we're the only business on the planet that could spend $200 million, and literally have a worthless piece of product. Yeah, literally could have, it could literally be in it's happened before, that you've spent $100 million, and it just dies. And it's like, it's worthless, where at least when you spent $200 million in construction, you got to $200 million, you know, building or, you know, cookies, you could buy $200 million with a cookies at least you have some cookies you can sell. There's a product we have we sell air, we sell intangible dreams. It's such a weird business. And that's why it's so intoxicating.

Rich Wilkes 1:01:01
There are two things about it. One, we'd be doing it anyway, whether or not we had success. Whether you got that book published or not, they're sure that you would keep writing it. And to the thing that keeps you going is you're always one thing away from massive success. Oh, always, always. One I weigh up one script one performance and the

Alex Ferrari 1:01:26
One person you meet one person you meet one. Yeah, everything. Yeah.

Rich Wilkes 1:01:30
Yeah. So which makes it beautiful, you know, and especially when somebody like comes out of the blue and writes green to Reno, or somebody gets access at a later age, or somebody makes a transition like Jordan Peele did, from one genre to another, or the way Tom Hanks did. It's, that's what's intoxicating about it and and keeps you going.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:51
But, but the thing is that people listening have to understand is that that is the that's the sickness part of the sickness. That is the sick, that's the sickness part, because it's almost like a gambler. Like the next the next bet is the one that's gonna pop the next bet. And there's how many professional gamblers out there who make a living as gamblers a very small amount, but everybody like but Vegas runs on people who are not professional gamblers.

Rich Wilkes 1:02:18
It's funny because we started with God, we should we fucked up, we've got to temper our dreams and be realistic and we're ending with It's the fucking greatest slaughter you can possibly imagine one step away from working with Scorsese.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:31
But the thing is that the key is that if you bet on black, more likely you're not going to, it's not going to hit. So you have to find your own path that makes you happy. And that's the kitten that and that was the one thing that I kind of finally came to grips with later in life, which is like, I need to find what makes me happy. And it's not, it doesn't have to be working on a Marvel movie. And as I say, in every episode, anytime I bring up Marvel ongo Kevin Fahey, if you're listening, I'll take the meeting. So, but it's not about that anymore. For me. It's more about how am I enjoying what I'm doing? Yeah, am I am I providing value in one way, shape or form to my community in one way, shape, or form? Can I go off and make my own movies that are personal, and I don't give a crap if they make money or not? Because I make them for very little money.

Rich Wilkes 1:03:24
You know, it just made me realize that I've made this adjustment in my own life of trying things where I have no intention of making a penny from it. Yep. And having it be so satisfying. I wanted to be a singer in a punk rock band. So I did that and went on the Warped Tour. I always wanted to try stand up comedy. So right before the pandemic get like, in my 50s I went on stage for the first time at open mics and I've been doing it now for a couple of years. I'm terrible. I get no laughs But I hate it. I'm so nerve racked by doing it, but I'm forcing myself to do it because one day I hope to get comfortable doing it. And then I can at least look back and go Yeah, all right. I did it. I did it until I got comfortable. I'm not that funny, but it was fucking you know, it's a bucket list thing that I don't want to go back when I'm 90 If I make it that far and and and wish that I given it some effort. So it seemed when I went to cooking school because I wanted to do that and I was shitty at that too. But it was personally rewarding. So if you can do that with with music or poetry or like, what's the name? Seth Rogen now is doing pottery. You see him on Twitter doing all of his pottery is vases that he fires.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:44
Oh, and then Jim Carrey with the paintings.

Rich Wilkes 1:04:46
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah, all of that shit is I think there's even more satisfaction when you have no plan on trying to make a living at it.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:56
You know, and I have to tell you that you're absolutely right. I mean, I look I stopped Did this podcast six and a half years ago? Wow. And I've been doing this for six and a half years, I was in a podcasting when podcasting wasn't the cool thing to be. And now everybody's like, Oh, I got a podcast. So I came in just because I wanted to, I wanted to give back to my community. I wanted to build an online business. I wanted to, to see what I can make a go of this. Sure. There's no way I would have told you, if someone would have told me like, yeah, you're going to be able to make a living doing this, you're going to be able to shut down your post production company, you're going to be able to retire from doing post production. And you're going to do this full time in a few years.

Rich Wilkes 1:05:37
What we're doing now you're making a living at this?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:39
110% This is all I do, this is all I do. This is not my, this is not my side, hustle. This is all I do. This is all I do it but it started as a side hustle. And I started it with an intention to make money with it at some point, but not to this level, I didn't think it was going to get to where it is I didn't think I was going to be talking to people like yourself or other the many guests that I've talked to, I would have never, if you would have told me that I would have had access to the kind of people I talked to, I would have said you're absolutely insane. You're absolutely insane. But

Rich Wilkes 1:06:14
What what you're providing is a resource for all the kids that want to be making films or doing whatever writing television writing books that didn't exist in the 1990s You'd have to buy Linklaters book or see, you know, oh, to a q&a at a film festival to find out what somebody did. And now on a weekly basis, I don't know how often you put these things out,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:42
Two to three times a week.

Rich Wilkes 1:06:45
Wow, that's a lot of talking.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:47
That's all I Yeah.

Rich Wilkes 1:06:49
But like you said that the Chris Moore one that that you just put out is filled with so much useful information from the past to the present. That's just invaluable. And I think you're putting giving everybody such a leg up. And then I'm hoping that it, you know, kicks it that we get some kick ass movies to watch out about, you know, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:13
I've been I've had I've had a few listeners who've been able to go off and make their movies. And they and I've been I've had the pleasure of having the back having them on the show. And they've told me like, if it wasn't for you, it wasn't for the show, I would have wouldn't have done this, this this or this. I had one I had one guy who wrote you like the story. He wrote a million dollar movie. He financed that himself because he's a commercial director, big commercial director in Australia. He's like, I want to go make a movie. He made a movie in Cambodia, about robots who come in and start like, you know, like, like, Soldier robots who come down, they drop them into the jungle as a test and they start killing tourists, American tourists. Alright, great, right. And you think that sounds like a asylum movie that doesn't sound like it's gonna look good at all. He sent me the trailer for it. It looks like a $50 million movie. It looks so good. He's like x outs after reading your your second book. This one about being an entrepreneurial filmmaker. He goes I'm not going to go with the studio's as I got a million dollar offer, but I'm not going to do it. I'm just going to self distribute it as an experiment. And he goes, I'm gonna do it because you because of you. And I talked to him a bunch and I guided him through it. I'm like, Alright, man, this is gonna be a hell of a test to my to my theories. And all he's made, he made his and he made his budget back in three months, three months. And he's gotten called from every studio on the planet, including, including, you know, the mouse and everybody else wanting him to because the quality of what he did was unheard of. And that was something that the show helped nothing his talent but helped him get to where he's at with this situation.

Rich Wilkes 1:08:55
I feel like we've we've taken a turn into the to positive, and I'm more cynical and sarcastic by nature. So I want to I want to get away from from

Alex Ferrari 1:09:06
No, no, it's all to hell. It's all the hell it's all to hell. No, this whole business, you're good. Why even be here? I mean, seriously, why even? Why even start down this path? You're going to fail? No, I'm joking. Look, I know where we're sitting, we are allowed to be cynical because we're both old farts. And that's and that and that's fine, because we've been around the block a couple times. But I hope what this episode has shown people is you know, the truth of what it's like being a creative in the business. And from two different perspectives, my perspective from someone who's really been I've really been looking outside into the party. I've snuck into the party a few times. I've even been invited into the party a few times. But security shortly thereafter, finds me and kicks me out. And that's fine and that and now I get invited to more parties, but it's all fine and dandy. You were in the party and then you had issues inside the party, and you've been able to maintain yourself inside the party. Even though there is a room with a rope, and that's where you really want to get

Rich Wilkes 1:10:06
Yeah, I feel like I'm in the NFL but I'm on the bench on the right you see everything on the team.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:14
You get the rig baby, you get the rig, you get the ring if I want to dress with the big boys. Yeah, you know, but it but it's it's a really facet. I'd like this conversation, I did not plan it to go this direction. So I'm so happy it did because this is this has been one of the more interesting, you know, conversations.

Rich Wilkes 1:10:31
I'm gonna be honest with you. This is the second best of your podcasts that I've listened to the I've only learned this is my second one listening to it. And this is definitely

Alex Ferrari 1:10:40
Your Listen, listen to yourself.

Rich Wilkes 1:10:43
Chris Morris here and then this one is down here. But I'm already getting sick of myself talking. So we better we're

Alex Ferrari 1:10:50
I'm gonna ask you I'm gonna ask you a few questions I asked all my guests. I think we've already asked the one question What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter trying to break into the business today? I think that's been the scope. Yeah, I don't even no. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Rich Wilkes 1:11:10
It was thing we talked about, take pleasure in the process. It's the journey not the destination, which is the worst cliche ever. But that is the that's what it is. You're not going to ever get where you want in life. So you better fucking enjoy whatever it is you have for the time you're here with me. You know, my one of my best friends getting a brain tumor and dropping dead in his 40s We're behind two teenage daughters. That teaches you everything you need to know. sad that it takes something like that. But you're like, Okay, that's it. I'm set for the rest of my life. My mental state is this is it. It's gonna it could leave anytime so fucking it.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:51
Absolutely. Tomorrow, like no, it's cliche this Tomorrow is not promised. And it's not guaranteed. But we all think it is. It's such a weird thing that we as humans do, but like oh yeah, I'll be here tomorrow. I'll be here tomorrow.

Rich Wilkes 1:12:03
All right. Well, we're both getting into Tony Robbins territory.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:05
I listen, man. Hey, listen. I'm gonna walk on the coals. I'm gonna walk on the coals. And last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Rich Wilkes 1:12:15
Okay, Project bay park to Gallipoli and Caddyshack.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:21
Man, that's a hell of a that's a hell of a hell of a of a screening.

Rich Wilkes 1:12:27
I normally have a top five and Goodfellas is one? Yep. And I forgot what the other one is. But it was great. It's a great movie. Now recommended. In the cliche, it's always, you know, Star Wars and those are great and inspirational. But there's ones that just you know, are part of your life and Caddyshack and Jackie Chan. And these things have just sort of burrowed into my into my head and reflect a lot of it. Mostly, mostly it's it's music that drives me everything that I write or work, I can see how involved with music.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:05
Yeah, I get there's no question. I could see that your filmography. Without question, and well, for me, it's Shawshank Fightclub matrix.

Rich Wilkes 1:13:16
It's not a bad list.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:18
That's it. That's the those are the ones that just and again, of course, Star Wars and of course, you know, Clockwork Orange and shining and all of Kubrick and you know

Rich Wilkes 1:13:28
I wanted to be different though. I remember a Cuckoo's Nest mostly we're like,

Alex Ferrari 1:13:32
ah, can you imagine trying to get that movie made today? Huh? By studio. Good luck, taxi driver get get get Sony to do taxi driver today. Let me see how that works out. My friend. It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. It has been it's been eye opening to say the least. And I hope it helps some filmmakers and screenwriters out there, man. So thank you, brother.

Rich Wilkes 1:13:55
Yes, I was trying to hold up something that could hike that I could try to get it to pimp and my website. I don't know

Alex Ferrari 1:14:03
We'll put links to the to you in the show notes if you want to reach out man. I appreciate you.

Rich Wilkes 1:14:08
Alright, thanks, man.

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IFH 570: How I Made My Filmmaking Dream Come True with Andy Erwin

Andrew Erwin and his brother Jon are the filmmaking team known by most as the Erwin Brothers. The Birmingham, Alabama born brothers grew up around college football and entertainment. Their father, a local news anchor introduced them to the television industry at a young age. As teenagers they began their career in sports television with ESPN as camera operators.

After several years working in sports they transitioned into directing music videos and documentaries. They won music video of the year three years consecutively at the GMA Dove Awards working with some of the top artist in Christian, Country, and Rock music. They went on to produced the award winning 9/11 documentary The Cross and the Towers (2006).

In 2010 the brothers shifted their focus exclusively to developing feature films. Their first feature narrative, October Baby (2011), was a coming of age drama about a young girl named Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) trying to find her birth mother. After a strong grass roots campaign the micro budget feature debuted theatrically in the top ten eventually landing on the front page of the New York Times.

Andrew and Jon’s sophomore release Moms’ Night Out (2014), starring Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, and Patricia Heaton, was their first venture into comedy. The crowd pleaser had a successful theatrical run with Sony’s TriStar and continues to grow its audience on dvd as a cult classic.

Next Andrew and Jon tackled the epic true sports story Woodlawn (2015), starring Jon Voight, Sean Astin, Nic Bishop, and newcomer Caleb Castille. It was a deeply personal story for the Erwins. One of the characters in the Alabama story is their father, played in the movie by Astin. The duo continue to live in the Southeast as they write and develop stories of redemption and hope with a strong emphasis on their faith roots.

The inspirational true story of Kurt Warner, who overcomes years of challenges and setbacks to become a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. Just when his dreams seem all but out of reach, it’s only with the support of his wife, Brenda, and the encouragement of his family, coaches and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show. Andy Erwin, how you doing, Andy?

Andy Erwin 0:16
Great man! It's good to be with you. And good good to talk movies.

Alex Ferrari 0:19
Yeah, man. Absolutely, brother. So, man you've had, you've had a very interesting career, to say the least. But how did you get started in this insanity that we call the film industry?

Andy Erwin 0:30
I mean, I think anybody that gets involved, either they pay a lot for film school, or they run away injured during the circus, and we were kind of more of the circus kind of performer route. And so, um, you know, my brother and I, we were kind of studio rats, my dad was in news. Growing up, he was the news encouraging 11 in Dallas, and the CBS affiliate there. And so we always grew up around kind of the industry. And, you know, when we kind of became teenagers, they let us use the equipment from midnight to 4am if we worked off the books for $10 a day, and, and so it wasn't at the CBS affiliate, I won't name no one can say brookwater Child child labor laws. But we did that when I was 15, my brother's 12. And we just kind of fell in love with telling stories. And so I went off to college in New York, and and John was in high school, and I just heard what he was doing back home, I was like, that's way cooler what I'm doing. So I dropped out of school. And we started working on the weekends for sports networks, like ESPN as cameramen. And that paid the bills for us to the other five days of the week, to to be able to have this hobby grown out of control. So at that point, we live in Birmingham, Alabama, started a little production company ended up working into documentaries and music videos, with this idea of one day doing features but it took about 15 years till we got to our first one. And it was a it was a it was a crazy journey to get there.

Alex Ferrari 2:04
Very cool, man. And so you were you were you were hustling as a camera guy trying to get his trying to get their movies made. And you got your first micro budget film made, which was October Baby if I'm not mistaken, right?

Andy Erwin 2:19
Yeah, it was a small, it was a small budget film. We did it for about $750,000. 19 days shoot. There at that point, we were doing a lot of music videos. And so doing a lot of rock videos, we were kind of good at blowing things up. And so, you know, if we couldn't figure out how to interview video, we just blow something up. And in fact, the last treatment we did for a band called skillet, it's Dan comes out, things blow up, it starts to rain, more things blow up, it stops raining, everything blows up. And that was the whole treatment. And, and that video kind of blew me blew up. And so you know, and so we, we ended up directing more and more second unit kind of things. And getting on film sets, doing stunt sequences was kind of our thing. And then, you know, we just said it's now or never we need to take the opportunity to try to do you know, see what we could do on our own. And so we said, rather than lean into all of our tricks or anything flashy, listens to a small little character drama. And there was a friend of ours named Gianna Jessen that was had an incredible story about her life story that we heard and we just said, what if we fictionalized that, and kind of put it in the context of this kind of kind of romantic kind of coming of age story. And do that little $750,000 micro budget should have never worked? Did it? Like, if we had known what we know now, I mean, that like we would have told ourselves never to go for it. But we raised the money to both put it out in theaters and do it ourselves. And it made enough money to give us a chance to do more. So it was that was our that was our journey.

Alex Ferrari 4:04
Now that ignorance is bliss, isn't it? When you're young?

Andy Erwin 4:08
Yeah. Yeah, it is. It is. I mean, you because, you know, they say whatever, doesn't kill you makes you stronger. But there's certain things in this industry that actually kill you. And so, you know, I think if you knew all that going in, like we would never, I mean, I talk to my kids all the time. I'm just like, I look at like just the recklessness of a 13 year old and I'm like, Man, if I had known now when I was a dad, there was no way I would have done some stuff as a kid. Cuz he just like that could actually kill you. But you know, when you're young, when you're young and ignorant of those things, you just say hey, why not do it like this? And I think as a filmmaker, you know, it's better to try that stuff out early. And, and not to get a little bit more reckless and sometimes it works and sometimes you die.

Alex Ferrari 4:55
Exactly. Hopefully figuratively, not literally In our business now, but with October Baby, you actually took it out on your own and you actually did your own kind of the job do your own, like, for walling it off of it and getting it on the world. And how did you actually get it? Because it was a fairly big, big hit for such a small budget.

Andy Erwin 5:15
Yeah, I mean, for such a small budget, we felt like we really needed to be disciplined to do something that was just about kind of character relationships. And we've done this tiny little pilot for a small TV network that didn't make it. And we did a little, little pilot with this small cast that we that we fell in love with. And, in fact, one of the cast members that we discovered was James Austin Johnson, who is now the new Biden and Trump on Saturday live. He, he was in Nashville, and he sits broken out this year. But he was as funny little kid, there's 19 years old, you're in Nashville. And, and so we took that cost, and the pilot didn't get picked up. But we're like, we love this cast, let's insert them into this story that we're writing. And so we wrote it around that task. And when we get done with it, it wasn't meant to be a kind of a controversial film at all, it was really just based on my my friend Gianna story. But it hits some kind of, you know, raw nerves with different people and, and there's a lot of distributors that were nervous to kind of take it out. And we just had that we had that independent film spirit, they were just like, Well, why not take it out on earth again. So

Alex Ferrari 6:34
Again, the ignorance the ignorance is helpful

Andy Erwin 6:36
It's the ignorance. And then and then we went, we went and raised the money to put it in theaters and hired, you know, Samuel Goldwyn, to put it out. And it really should have been a train wreck, and it worked. And, and, you know, I think the goal with any independent filmmaker, especially early on, is for your product to do well enough to find an audience. You know, that's, that at least validates enough to allow other people to take a risk on you to let you do another one. And, you know, so we weren't aiming for a homerun, we were really aiming to, let's get on base. And let's do a story that we believe in. It's a story that we're proud of. But, you know, but it's not, it's going to shatter records. And let's get on base show that we can do this. Have one under our belt, and let's keep going forward. And that was what October Baby was for us.

Alex Ferrari 7:25
Now, with your music video background, what did you bring from your music video background into the into your narrative feature film? Because I mean, I've directed music videos a ton, and there's a lot of you get a lot of hours on set, which I think helps a lot. And you know, with, well, you deal with craziness that you would never deal with on a feature film.

Andy Erwin 7:45
Yeah, I mean, oh, my gosh. That that, I mean, I think there's a lot of things. I think, first of all, it's kind of like, you know, short films with a lot more volume to it, because you're working on somebody else's budget, you know, you're not having to go out and raise, you know, $20,000 a pop to do short films, you're, somebody's paying you to do it. And, you know, and back then there was actually budget for music videos, that's kind of, you know, going to where, you know, you can't do it unless, you know, you're a college kids, but back then they accept budgets. And I think I think several things, it allowed us to kind of get just time in the saddle, and to try different things. And I think just like any other art form, you know, for a long time, up front, you make your way imitating other people he's trying stuff on, until finally, there comes that moment where you find your voice, and you're like, Oh, this is the kind of stories I tell, this is my style. For a long time, up front, you're just trying different things on like, what it goes like this, it's like that, and doing music videos allowed us to kind of try a lot of hats on. And so we started out in more than a Christian contemporary world, and, you know, had a lot of fun there. But, um, but then, you know, moved into country song, and then we ended up doing a lot of stuff in the rock world. And that was where we just got to experiment. And the second thing was, is allowed us to learn how to deal with big personalities. And I think there's, you know, I think every actor wants to sing, and every singer wants to act. So there's, they're, you know, intrinsically kind of the same species. And, and I think he just learned to deal with, you know, fragile egos deal with people that need to feel safe. Know, artists, whether it's a music artist, or an actor wants to look stupid, and I think typically, a lot of the neurotic behavior that is exhibited is just from people being afraid of looking stupid. And so it is the loudest to learn how to navigate a lot of that stuff. So it knocks some years off of those headaches of learning how to speak that language. So that when we stepped onto a film set, it's just like, oh, okay, this personalities familiar, at least and, and then and then my brother, my brother in law Particularly the media is more visual. And he brought a lot of that visual style into how we shoot.

Alex Ferrari 10:06
Yeah, I mean, I think as directors, we, the thing I've talked to actors all the time is they just want to feel safe. And if you can make them feel safe, they'll give you the best, they'll give you the best they can. But if they don't feel safe, that's when the problems occur.

Andy Erwin 10:21
And I've worked, I've worked with a lot of actors that, you know, there's certain actors I've worked with that have a reputation for sideways sideways energy. And but, you know, I just, you know, a lot of them are like, no, they're sweethearts, as long as they feel safe, that sideways energy means he had a toxic film set, or a weak film director or somebody that didn't really know what they wanted. And they felt like they had to, it's the same thing that happens with kids, when like, you know, my kids at home, if there's not like some boundaries and stuff, and they feel like they're in charge, you know, they don't feel safe, then that's where you get all the sideways energy, but they really know where they fit in the family. And you're giving them really good boundaries, and giving them enough leash to be their own people, and not trying to control them, but you're trying to direct them. And it's imperfect science, but it's really about that safety. And that's what creates that with actors. And I think we started learning that with a lot of the crazy neurosis that happens on music videos.

Alex Ferrari 11:20
Oh, music videos. They are they are wonderful, aren't they? But if there was a podcast, we could just tell stories of what happened on set that we can legally say publicly.

Andy Erwin 11:32
Yeah! I would have to change all the names. There was one, there was one music video I did, where, where there's two artists that I won't name sure that that might have booked the men but um, but the the the label paired this, this group together, and they're a duo, they're famous duo. But they didn't get along. And so because they didn't really they weren't, like best buds, the way they appeared on the screen. They were like, two different artists that were sort of artists they paired together. And so, you know, they had their own tour bus each had their own tour bus. And it was a hot summer day, and we're doing this music video. And I would go into one's tour bus and say, so until, you know, we're ready to get on set. It's like, well, what so and so my partner, is he ready to go? Now is that why am I going out until he does, like, I'll be right back. And I go into their tour bus. And I'd be like, Hey, man, and I just went back and forth for like 30 minutes until I taught one of them into coming out first. And so it was constant.

Alex Ferrari 12:35
And I'm sure that's probably one of the most tame stories you have.

Andy Erwin 12:40
That's the one that I legally, I'm not afraid of getting sued for that one. So

Alex Ferrari 12:45
Now that you know, as directors, man, there's always that one day on set, that the whole world's coming crashing down around you. camera's not working you losing your life, the actor will come out of the trailer, all this kind of stuff. How what was that? What was that worst day for you? Which there's an argument of me that every day has one of those, but what what was the one that sticks out in your mind? And how did you get over it? How did you get through that process that day?

Andy Erwin 13:10
I think you know, I think as a director, you know, you always, I mean, the first two or three days of filming any film, the first few days of principal photography, you're questioning all your life choices, and you're like, it's all burning down. This is why I get exposed. This is where they find out that I don't know what I'm doing. You know, and it just and you develop kind of a little bit of that marathoners pace, and you get into a rhythm. And I think the biggest thing you have to learn as a film director is that you got to let certain fires burn, you know that, you know, you're not going to be able to put out every fire every day, you just got to get you got to you got to keep one from consuming the entire set. And so there's little fires, they're always burning got to get used to. There's any point in the day, there's at least five people that are going to be tested you. And I think as you have more time in the saddle, you get a little bit more calluses where you're like you're not, you don't lack empathy, you're not immune to the fact that it's hard. But you just have to be okay that people aren't okay with you sometimes. And but for me, the biggest catastrophe that ended up I think actually making a better film was on the movie Woodlawn, you know, and so Woodlawn was another independent film that we had done. So it was one that was the most personal to us. It was it was a story that my dad used to tell us as a bedtime story growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, and it was the one that we wanted to make. And it's a true story about the last part of integration in Birmingham, Alabama in the 70s. And this one little football team that was the last integrate. And the first black superstar that came out of that system is Captain Kidd, Tony Nathan. And so we raised the money to do it. It was the most money we had raised at that point was about 13 million. And we went out to start, you know, it was a week last week of pre production. And I cast the kid out of out of London to play the role of Tony. I don't know what it is about British actors, but they make a big play the best people from the South. Just look at anybody on TV right now that's got a southern accent. I guarantee you, they're from England. But but sort of, so I cast this kid, really good actor that's going on to do some good things. And the week before we started filming, for whatever reason, that would not an explanation. The Embassy in pulled his visa, they wouldn't let him they wouldn't let him travel. And we're like, you know, we didn't have the budget to push. So, you know, instantly. I was like panic, I just said, and our casting director starts, you know, just throwing out all sorts of names of people that were good actors, but I'm like, what, are they athletic? Do they play football? You know, because it was so important that this actor be able to do a lot of in camera stuff. And, and so we were panic, there was this one kid named Caleb Castiel. That was the stunt double for Tony. And Caleb had auditioned for Tony. I hadn't seen this audition was a particularly good. But he just had this charisma that wouldn't quit and said, Well, if I don't get Tony, I'm going to do the stunt double. So he shows up the stunt double. And this kid played for Nick, Nick Saban University, Alabama. And he runs like a gazelle man, he just is pretty to watch. And I was just, you know, I'm kind of a person of prayer. And I was just like, man, what do I do? And I just Caleb's name popped in my head. And I was like, surely that him he's been in one TV commercial.

Alex Ferrari 17:05
Surely not. Talking to the voice in your head, surely not him.

Andy Erwin 17:13
Just it felt right. And he just had this, this, this spirit that wouldn't quit. So I called them up. And I just said, Caleb, I need you to get over to the studio. I'm going to give you every opportunity to win this role today. And he said, I've been waiting on the call, I signed my died today auditioned with the date and said, This is the day I got the role. He said, I just knew it was mine. And I was like, holy cow. So I threw him in a room with Jon Voight, who's playing there, Brian. And Caleb just in good acting is about how you respond. It's about being in the moment being present. And it's not about acting, it's about reacting. And Taylor just reacted incredible being in the room with an Oscar winner. And he had the skill. And the whole movie, we call this the whole team together said, you know, this movie is about rallying around this kid Tony. And the team rallying around him, we're gonna rally around Caleb, He's our guy. And so he became the star, he became number one on the call sheet that day. And it made the movie. And since then Caleb's broken out, he's on one of the leads on NCIS, Los Angeles now and is doing incredible for himself. But that was the day he went from being a stunt guy to being number one on the call sheet. And I think a lot of times on a film set, the worst moment where you feel like it's all going down. It doesn't always work out. But a lot of times there's a doorway there to make something better.

Alex Ferrari 18:38
You always plan you always may have a plan, but it generally rarely ever goes according to plan. And it generally, generally, I'm gonna say nine out of 10 times it's a better than what you expected.

Andy Erwin 18:51
It usually does. I mean, and I think that's the hardest thing for young filmmakers. I think it was a big lesson for me there. But for young filmmakers, and that was my third feature at that point. But for young filmmakers, there's this fear of if I let go of control, that that people are gonna see that I really, that I'm a fraud. And I think any artist feels that. And I think as a result, we hold it tighter to the best be like I don't want you to judge me. Don't Don't judge my ugly baby. And, and I think what I've learned is, when I do that, when I have done that, the best I can hope that for that movie, good turnout is the one that I have in my head. There's no room for discovery. But when you kind of loosen your grip and you trust the close group of collaborators to speak into that process and have this policy of best idea wins. Then there's this element of discovery where it doesn't matter where that idea comes from. If it's a great idea, let's use it. And it just it when you realize that you have control because you're in the chair. You are the director there A lot of power that goes with that, that allows you to look at other people's ideas. So you discover things that you wouldn't have other other ways. So it makes a better movie.

Alex Ferrari 20:08
You know, I always find it fascinating. I've had I've had, I've been blessed by speaking to so many amazing, high high and performing people in this business, Oscar winners, Emmy winners and so on. And it'll never ceases to amaze me. The whole concept of imposter syndrome is something that is so prevalent in I mean, I'm like, I talk to somebody, I'm like, you want an Oscars like, Yeah, but I get I get sick when I go on set for the first day. I'm like, Yeah, wow. And it's so I always like, I always like to let independent filmmakers know it's okay. Even even the top of the top legends have issues with imposter syndrome. It's not something that's just you. Everyone's got it.

Andy Erwin 20:50
Well, I remember hearing Joe Wright talk about the first day Yeah, on on set with Gary Oldman on darkest hour, and he's like, I thought my job was supposed to be just making the environment around Gary, right. So that he can, you know, do its thing and it gets in the first day. And Gary leans over is like, you know, what do you think? Was it too far? He said, Joe realize that that moment, he said, really great directors want to be directed away from really great actors want to be directed. And, you know, that idea that any you know, anybody always has that feeling of I don't really know if I'm doing it right. And so after directing point in Woodlawn, I love I love the minute, but he called me he called me late one night. And John was like, Andy, it's, it's it's boy. Am I any good in this picture? I'm like, you're great. He's like, if I'm no good, just kept me out. Just cut the character completely. As a job, go ask your Oscar, bro. You know,

Alex Ferrari 21:52
You're okay!

Andy Erwin 21:54
Or, you know, or, you know, I directed Cloris Leachman and she had Oscar and and this latest one Anna Paquin. She's the youngest Oscar winner. It's just it never goes away. It just all of us feel like how do we stumble into this job? You know, and there's, there's a fraction of a percent of people that are just so qualified, they can do whatever they want. And there's an arrogance that goes with that. But I think even in that case, even in that case, there's I think it's motivated by insecurity. You know, I had a great interaction with Denzel Washington when we were I was mixing underdog and we're on the we're on the sound stages at Sony. And he was mixing letters to Jordan next door. I had underdog Michael Mann was was mixing his TV series he's doing right now across the hallway. And then Jason Reitman was test screening. Ghostbusters on the fourth stage. So we're all on stage six. And I texted somebody, and I said, Oh, my gosh, how did I get on this stage? She's the imposter here. And my filmmaker friend Rob backs and all four of you.

Alex Ferrari 23:05
I'm sure I'm sure Denzel at one point or another said that the same thing about like you because he just like everyone starts somewhere, man. No one just comes out an Oscar winner. No one just comes out knowing everything. You got to go through the process. You got to get the bumps I always call you gotta get the shrapnel. And that shrapnel is what makes you man. But yeah, you're absolutely you're absolutely right. Now, man, I got to touch on I can only imagine man, I recently after I watch American bug, which we're going to talk about in a second. I went I went back I was gonna meet let me go. Let me go watch that, because I'd seen the trailers and never seen it. Man, that movie was was impactful. Man, it was such a powerfully emotional film. And it's just, it's such an oddity, because it's like, hey, let's make a movie about how a song was written. Now, it was one of the biggest songs of all time, but it's like, you know, to hear that, like, let's go see how my heart will goes on was written. Like, it's nothing. So how do you make that though? That would be an interesting, I've seen the making of that movie. Yeah. How did you? How did you get that? How did you get involved with that? How did you want to tell that story?

Andy Erwin 24:13
Yeah, yeah, you know, it was, it was funny because, you know, we do pedal into stories, and we do very much gravitate towards stories of faith. I think that's become much more mainstream experience over the past 10 years than maybe when we first started. It was much more a tiny little niche kind of early on but now it's kind of found its footing where you know, the same way that other niche genres like you know, superhero movies or horror films have found their footing in something that's more mainstream you know, but but but when we started we were trying to find that hopefully we've been part of that solution you know, as well as others like divan Franklin, but with with I can only imagine, you know, we were not smart enough to really go out and find great stories. They just typically land in our lap. And I was screening we did a comedy, I do not recommend directing a comedy. It is very tough. We did a small comedy. Our second film was a small comedy for Sony called mom's out. And, and it was definitely, you know, took years off my life but but in the middle of that I was tasked screening a comedy up here in Nashville. And, and I just was cold calling a lot of people in in the community that might be interested in watching it. And so I reached out to Bart Miller from the band Mercy Me who wrote the song I can only imagine. I wrote, I wrote him on Facebook, and I just said, Hey, we don't know each other. But we run in the same circles. I'm test screening my film tonight. We'd love for you to see it. You want to come see it? He said, wrote back right away. So I just moved here from Texas. Yeah, I would love to see it. And at the end of the film, he really enjoyed it. And he said, Can we talk? And he said, There's a movie studio that's been developing my life story, the story myself and past five years. I would love you guys to take a look at it. And I said, Well, it's kind of serendipitous. They sent us the script this morning. Oh, and it just was kind of one of those things. And then I was like, What are you doing tonight? And he's like, Well, what are you doing? I was like, I was gonna go watch Captain America at midnight. He's like, I was gonna do the same thing. I was like, did we just become best friends. But the whole stepbrothers thing, but I I read this, we read a little bit of script, and the script just didn't jive with me, because it was just that it was about somebody's life experience. And it ended on a downer note, and they said, you know, one day, Mark wrote a great song. And it was like, we're like, we're like, this isn't a movie. It has to be something universally relatable. And it has to be something that's beyond just the song. And we sat down with Bart, one day, and my brother asked them Bart, if I were to say, Can I hold a gun to your head and say, Is there a god? What would you say? And he said, Absolutely. Because the change I saw my father, he went from being the most abusive men are know, to be my best friend. And if something can change his life, they can change anybody. Really. That's interesting. And then I was doing an interview, about a year later, when we're promoting Woodlawn. And the host asked me off the air. He's like, what story are you working at? Looking at that next? And I said, Well, off the record, we're looking at the story of I can only imagine. He said, Oh, my gosh, he said, I was at the Ryman that night when Amy Grant pulled him up on stage and gave him a song back. That's the most magic thing I've ever seen in music. I don't know about this. So I call it Martin. I'm like this happened. He's like, Oh, yeah, man. That was the big magic night in my life. I forgot to tell you guys that. I'm like, you idiot.

Alex Ferrari 27:47
Help me help you!

Andy Erwin 27:53
Like, that's a movie. And I'm like, is your triumph. And so we engineered that whole film. From the standpoint of what would it be, I think there's something universally relatable about the kind of the Father wound that a lot of guys have, in particular people in particular guys, and that desire of every man because that fraud, imposter syndrome, wanting to have their father stand and applaud them. So we're like, what if we engineered the moment at the end, that is an empty room, and he sees his father, and the whole movie builds to that moment. And you know, and then, you know, this abusive father that eventually stands in approval. And for men in particular, when they watch the film, it catches them way off guard and brings really big emotion. Because of that, and it's beyond something of faith. I mean, faith is definitely a huge part of the story, but it's really about that universal desire of redemption between a father and son. And I think Dennis Quaid killed it. I think it's one of his best performances as the Father, and I'm really, really proud. I'm really proud of how the film turned out. And that was really the launching point. We had a disagreement with the studio on how to make it. They said there was only 17000 people on the planet that would watch it. Because it was just

Alex Ferrari 29:16
To be fair, to be fair on paper not a good sign.

Andy Erwin 29:19
No, not at all. Not at all. It's a song about a Christian AI. It's a movie by Christian song like they're really, in fact, the day that we started making it there was a big deadline article that said the music biopic is dead. And that was the same year that that stars born and Bohemian Rhapsody, and a bunch of others came out. So you know, guess the article was wrong, but But you know, I think we had a big disagreement and so we went out and again raised the money to both make and release it. We did a blended find a book PNA and the production budget, which was the production budget was about 7 million on it. And, and then we bought it out from under the studio and made it independently And then right before, right when we started shopping it, roadside attractions came along and said we know how to put this out because we specialize in kind of wards films that are niche. And they had just done Manchester by sea. And that was their big, you know, hit. And we're like, Okay, we'll trust you with it. If we can do this deal with your sister company Lionsgate too. And so Lionsgate stepped aboard, we did a deal with them and rented the system and put it out. And then little $7 million film did 86 million, it was so good breakout month,

Alex Ferrari 30:32
Not a bad so that so that turned out of what started at a studio studio didn't believe in it. The way you guys believed in it, you took it back from the studio, put your own money, your own money in and release it yourself. And then of course got all the money out of it.

Andy Erwin 30:48
But our investors didn't really invest. And we didn't do too bad either. I mean, my kids are going to college, but it definitely was life changing for us as well. But yeah, we did, we did get a page one rewrite, you know, our version of the story. And that's when the studio who had worked five years on it and couldn't crack the story. Didn't like that. And we decided, hey, we're gonna stick with our vision. And we made, you know, you don't always want to go all in, in the moment. But there's certain hands where you're like, This is my island moment. And so we pushed out all the chips in the middle of the table. And it was either going to be a success or a disaster. And we just happen to land on the front side of that.

Alex Ferrari 31:32
Yeah, it landed landed on black for you. And yeah, there's no question. But look, there are those moments in life where you're given a choice you like, are you? Are you in? Or are you out. And unfortunately, so many filmmakers make that, that they do that all in at the very beginning of their career. And they like mortgaged their house, and they want to tell the story, and it doesn't work out well for them. So your story is definitely an anomaly. But then for everyone listening, well, they did it. I'm like, Yeah, they did it. But look at the story they had, they had a song that millions upon 10s of millions of people around the world knew you had, you had an audience, that's what the studio didn't understand. They didn't understand that, that there was so much love for that sort. But then again, it wasn't just about the song, it's really about a son and a father.

Andy Erwin 32:19
It's about the ingredients, like, you know, that's why you can't go all in on every hand, you know, the ego and the ego, artists in each person that says, Oh, this is going to be, you know, that's only one component that the bit the bigger things are branded IP is king, you know, having something that has a following. Then secondly, so that has the story ingredients, you know, for us, we very much look at kind of how, what, you know what Jordan Peele did with Get out. I mean, he had a great horror movie, and appeal to his core fans. But he had this rare universal overlay to it that appealed beyond just, you know, slasher movies that had a social justice appeal that had a hitch Hitchcock feel, it was something very something for everyone or, you know, or movie like quiet place that did that same thing. It was about that universal idea of father tried to make his family safe. The father mother tried to fight for their family that was beyond a horror movie. And so those ingredients are rare. But we have the ingredients, you have the branded IP. And then the third thing is tank. It's all about timing. Like, I can only imagine could have happened 10 Other ways that 10 other times and I'd say no, no, there's times it fails. Right? It just the the timing was just right. And all this stuff lined up. And and we just happen to fall into that. And so

Alex Ferrari 33:49
So now your new film, American underdog, which, by the way, I absolutely love my wife and I we got the screener sent to us man with my wife and I my wife's like my wife doesn't know but football much, but I'm like, Look, it's a good movie. Look. It's got this guy in it. It's got Anna Paquin. She's like, Oh, Sookie, I'm like, yes. Okay, from true love. So she's like, alright, I'll watch it. And we're there on like, a Saturday afternoon. Oh, we just start watching it and we're just like, son of a bitch. This thing's grabbing. Holy shit. That's like it's grabbing, pulling me in like what the hell like I knew who Kurt Warner was. I didn't know the extent of his story. I knew he was an underdog but I didn't know the details. But but it's but the key was watching my wife watch it, who knew nothing. And she was like, getting involved in the emotion and the characters in the story. But football was just an aftermath. Like, that's just that doesn't even matter to her. It was all about the characters. And again, we were saying IP, I mean, you've got Kurt Warner, who's a very famous football player, and then you throw the word underdog and then you throw the word American underdog. Might as well just put up Stallone and rocky up there at the same time. Like, you were hitting up, but you are hitting a bunch of good. So when I saw it come through my, my view, first time the trailer, I was like, Oh, this is gonna do well this will be this. This is gonna do just fine. How did you guys get involved in this story, man?

Andy Erwin 35:14
Well, it didn't hurt that the Rams won the Super Bowl and gave us the home video but um, yeah, you know, it's again one of those things that fell to us. And I'm really grateful for it. But 20 years ago when I was a sports care, man, the only Superbowl ever worked was in 2001 Super Bowl in New Orleans. And it was Kurt Warner and his second Super Bowl against Tom Brady and his first and and you know that the story we tell in a movie had happened the year prior. And I just remember watching Kurt and being like, just intrigued by the guy. There's something very rocky ask. I mean, I think the films that influenced this one the most were rocky, Cinderella, man and warrior where there was really a lot of fighter stories about kind of one man against the world and fighting for something that the stakes that drove what what happened in the, in the arena. You know, there's something very rocky asked about Kurt, and but I just remember watching him go over the stands, interact with this spiky haired, beautiful lady. And that was his wife, Brenda, and I always said, I would love to know the story behind that I never knew that I was going to be 20 years later that my brother and I would be the one to direct the film. So when it came back around, I can only imagine him we then another movie after that. And then as we were finishing, you know, the touches on the script for the story we're gonna make, somebody said you ought to talk to Warner's, again, it's a film that stuck in development. At another studio, we specialize at that. And they said, but if the option is up and in, you might want to look at it. So we went to their house in Phoenix and said, you know, we're not here to pitch you what your story is, what do you think your story is? And Kurt said, it's about the things off the field that drove what happened on it. Everybody knows to football, but I want to, I want them to know what I saw in my, my wife, Brenda, and my son, Zach, who's disabled, and blind. And we're like, well, we can do that story. We know how to do that story. So when we stepped into it, and then the pandemic kit, and through all of our plans in the air, and then we finally, as we were writing the script, zactly vies a longtime friend from Shazam. And you know, and Chuck and all that. And DAX and I were talking on FaceTime one day, and we had the same agent, and he said, What's this Kurt Warner movie, I keep hearing my name thrown around. And I said, was that the book for the next three years? I wasn't going to pitch you. And he said, No, let me read the script. And I sent him the script. And he texted back at midnight that night, so let's make a football movie. And then I called, I called up the producer team. And I said, why this land? Exactly. I didn't mean to. But he said, and they're like, great. And so then it kept pushing because COVID And finally, we just like, if we push one more time, we lose that because he's going to do Shazam, too. And so we just call them and said, Hey, guys, what you screw it number that we have to hit. And they gave us the number we had to hit to make the movie. And we said, Okay, we've got to chop this schedule from 45 days down to 30. To make it and so it was the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life. But we kind of all that turmoil we focused it on. Like, this is the story we're telling, this guy had the deck stacked against him. And we're all going to live her own story together in the middle of trying to film in a pandemic, you know, and that once he was on board, he rallied around that and then Dennis Quaid, he looks so much like Romeo quaintness equate, I'll let you play anybody you want. But I think it's special when an icon plays an icon and I had been a highlight reel addict for meal. And I said to him, he's like, I'm you for me. I want to do it. And then you know, and then all these great character actors came on board like Bruce McGill, and you know, Adam Baldwin, and chance Kelly and all these guys. And then the really what's in it over the top was, we're like, it has to be about it's a co starring thing. It's not It's Brenda is very much the equal lead of the store. She's the underdog on the other side of the coin. And when Anna Paquin read the script, she fell in love with her. And she called me and she said, You know, I've never done anything interactive with really anything inspirational. I don't know anything about sports. I don't really know anything about faith. She's like, is that a problem for me playing the wife of a prominent sports star that's a Christian? And I said, Absolutely not. And as long as you can really try to fight to understand the person you're playing, and make it make what is important to her important to you. It's like That's exactly how I work. Like, well, who wouldn't want to work with an Oscar winner? And once she signed on it for me medically took off. And she had Zach paired so well together because Zach typically does the action comedy thing. And he doesn't well better than anybody. But Anna really grounded him really well with her drama and and typically goes for the hard, gritty characters. And the Chuan glass can artists kind of things. But Zack really kind of pulled her lifted her out and showed this lovable side that people haven't seen her before. And so it made an incredible, and just we just like, this is our moment, we have to do it. Now. If we don't do it now, it's never gonna happen. We just rallied around that. And again, it could have been a failure, but it just worked. So

Alex Ferrari 40:41
And both of them played parts that they generally don't play. I mean, you don't? Exactly Yes, Zack. No, I've never seen Zach in a dramatic way he they both killed it. They both I think did. He was Kurt. I mean, there's just no no question about it. And then when you see it that obviously when you see the the images of Kurt in the in the credits and stuff like that, which is just like, fine, man. It's just, it just hit it that I wasn't I wasn't prepared for it. Let's just put it that way. I think it catches, it catches you off guard. You know, I'm a pretty look, man. I've been a filmmaker for 30 years, it's hard to catch me. It's hard to catch me. So it's when a movie does get me like, Oh, son of I didn't see that comment. Generally could see things coming. I didn't see that come. And so you have and I and it happened with me. And I can only I can only imagine because I didn't I didn't see it coming. So the way you guys are approaching stories is it has a very unique perspective. And yeah, you're coming through faith, and that angle of it. But it's hits you at an emotional level that generally you don't expect as a film as an audience member, because so much of the stuff that we consume today. So McDonald's, fast food kind of entertainment, and then when a home cooked meal shows up, you're not ready for it.

Andy Erwin 42:05
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, if you're used to McDonald's, when, when there's, you know, broccoli on your plate, you kind of roll your eyes at first, even though that's really what your body needs. And so it's like, how do we dress that up in a way that makes it non threatening, but then allows still allow something of substance? And I think that, and I love hearing you say that? Because I think the audience that I value the most out of any audience. I mean, absolutely, we serve a Christian audience that loves stories of faith. And I don't, I don't, I don't, I don't apologize for that. But the audience that I valued their opinion the most, is the audience that we call the benevolent skeptic. The Benevolent skeptic doesn't have anything against faith, there's nothing that they feel negative towards it, but it's also not something they naturally consume. And when you can kind of catch them off guard, and earn the right to be heard, and leave them with something to chew on, and the things that they didn't expect. You know, it leaves them with something that maybe not a part of their natural daily diet. And I think it's really cool. When somebody from that audience, you know, we did another we did a, we did another film last year at the same time, which I don't know why we did that we're just a glutton for punishment. Well, we did a, we did a documentary called The Jesus music, which is about the history of Christian music. And it was one that was just a passion project. There's a love letter to a lot of our friends. And there was a there was a critic that I've since become really good friends with on through Instagram, but I didn't know him at this point. But he wrote he his critique of the film, and he said, he said, I'm a self professed, you know, you know, agnostic, borderline atheist. And he said, This is not my normal thing, but I expected one thing and I came in realize, you know, I feel like somehow the ER was tricked me and changed some of the neural pathways to my brain. And he said, I'm kind of pissed about it. And, and, no, it's like, it's like that dog on it. You let me in. And I think that that sacred ground because I'm not there to try to de force mean anything to anybody. I'm not there to try to create controversy. I'm just there to plant a seed of hope. I think people desperately crave right now,

Alex Ferrari 44:21
Right in America, dog American underdog is not is not preachy at all? No, it is so subtle. It is such a subtle message. But the message in there that rings the most to me is the story of the underdog, which everyone can, everyone can feel the story of hope, the story of love the story of a family. Those are the things that that ring the most out of that movie to me, and everyone can really connect with that. And then of course, you throw in American football, then you're ready to rock and roll.

Andy Erwin 44:54
Right! It was it was really cool because in that universal overlay, I think good filmmaker, influences The most in our career that we kind of aspire to is Frank Capra, Frank Capra. Frank that just that old school, you know, Sicilian optimistic immigrant kind of perspective in that world war two generation that blatantly peddled hope. And people a lot of times didn't know how to take it at first, you know, it's a wonderful I couldn't find its audience until years after the release. But he was just so good at it. And that's something I think in cinema we've lost that. For whatever reason, the backlash, backlash that we don't have the antihero, there's nothing wrong. The antihero, you know, I love the Godfather is one of my top 10 films I love. But there's become so much of that it's become so saturated in this fatalistic kind of perspective, that I think as a, as a industry, we've forgotten how to hope. Yeah. And so for us, I think the thing that we peddle without apologizing is a rush of hope. And it's a feeling that people don't know that they need, but then when they experience it, they walk away, they're like, I can't help but smile, and believe in something better. And, you know, for me, a lot of that hope comes from stories of faith, but there's something universally related to believing, you know, on top of that, that I think, is something for everyone, regardless of where they come from. That's what we want.

Alex Ferrari 46:23
Now, I'm gonna ask a couple questions asked by guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Andy Erwin 46:28
You know, I think your individuality your uniqueness is your brand. You know, I think a lot of times people come in, and I want to be like, you know, one size fits all to this. And I just want to be vanilla and kind of find I'll do anything. But I think it's your uniqueness that will make you stick out, I think that uniqueness will also present the biggest obstacles up front, because people want will want to put you in a box and say, Well, you need to fit over here, you just fit over there. Like I'm neither and and continue to lean into your uniqueness and find stories that display that at full volume, that allow there to be time for other people of like minded taste, to kind of center around your brand. And that will be you know, where you find your breakout. Like for years, David Russell struggled with finding out like, what's my brand, and he would have all that frustration, until he really leaned into the idea of my brand is a dysfunctional family. That's what I know. And so then he does stories like the fighter and Silver Linings Playbook enjoy. And those are all about dysfunctional families and their dish charming sense of the word. And that's where his brand really popped out. So I just think for me, my brand was about hope and about faith. And and that's what we leaned into and didn't refuse to be categorized in one side or the other. And, and then eventually the brand comes out of that. So that's what I would say. My biggest advice is embrace your individuality.

Alex Ferrari 47:57
And last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Andy Erwin 48:00
Oh, man, that's, that's that's a tough one. I love en. Casa Blanca is probably my number one. I think particularly because they hadn't written into the movie when they started filming it. And it just discovered it along the way. It's perfect. It's so perfect. I would say that you know, it's wonderful. Life is number two. I love Frank Capra. And, and then I would say I love a movie that really caught me off guard when I watched it was Ron Howard Cinderella Man, I absolutely adored that movie. That was so good. For you, it'd be number number four and then number six through 10 would be Spielberg films.

Alex Ferrari 48:43
It just all just just let's just list them off. And where can people and where can people see American underdog?

Andy Erwin 48:51
Yeah, it's out everywhere now digitally on Blu ray everywhere, wherever things are sold. And it's it's doing really well and iTunes is number three on iTunes right now. So check it out.

Alex Ferrari 49:02
Brother Andy, I appreciate you coming on the show man. Congrats on all your success and continued success to you my friend.

Andy Erwin 49:08
Thoroughly enjoyed the interview my friend!

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How to Make Prop Money for Your Indie Film

If you are making an action film, thriller, or crime drama chances are you’ll need a briefcase FULL of prop movie cash at one point or another. To create a fake money supply, you must first decide how much cash you are going to use in your production. You should figure out what amount of prop money you need to create.

Then, get some real bills and photocopy them at a copy shop. It is illegal to make color photocopies of U.S. bills, so you’ll have to do it in black and white. Once you’ve got your photocopy money, change the ratio. If you want your prop money to be slightly larger or smaller, then go ahead and print the bills.


The counterfeit bills are generally used to show the difference between the counterfeit bills and real ones. The film crew can also use money to make the scenes more realistic.

Prop money can be used to show an important event in a story, such as paying for something, or showing the audience how much a person has at his disposal. Prop money can also be used to make the audience feel like they’re watching a real movie, since they would use real money if they were in the film.

Check out some other tutorials below to help you on the way.




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How to Get Bad Ass Prop Guns for Your Film

IFH 569: How to Build a Career as a Screenwriter with J.Mills Goodloe

Today on the show we have director and screenwriter J. Mills Goodloe.

J. Mills Goodloe grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. He began his career at Warner Brothers working for director Richard Donner. Goodloe worked from 1992 to 1995 as Donner’s assistant on Lethal Weapon 3 and Maverick, both starring Mel Gibson, then segued into producing where he developed and produced Assassins starring Sylvester Stallone, Antonio Banderas and Julianne Moore.

In 1996, Goodloe produced Conspiracy Theory, once again starring Mel Gibson, along with Julia Roberts, and Lethal Weapon 4, the fourth installment of the billion dollar grossing Lethal Weapon series.

In 2001, Goodloe wrote and directed A Gentleman’s Game starring Gary Sinise, Dylan Baker and Philip Baker Hall. In 2005, Goodloe wrote the adaptation for the John Grisham novel Bleachers for Revolution Studios. Goodloe also co-wrote the screenplay for the inspirational sports film Pride, released theatrically by Lionsgate and starring Terrence Howard and Bernie Mac.

In 2014, Goodloe’s adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ novel Best of Mewent into production, starring Michelle Monaghan and James Marsden and directed by Michael Hoffman.

Based on the bestselling novel by acclaimed author Nicholas Sparks, The Best of Me tells the story of Dawson and Amanda, two former high school sweethearts who find themselves reunited after 20 years apart, when they return to their small town for the funeral of a beloved friend. Their bittersweet reunion reignites the love they’ve never forgotten, but soon they discover the forces that drove them apart twenty years ago live on, posing even more serious threats today. Spanning decades, this epic love story captures the enduring power of our first true love, and the wrenching choices we face when confronted with elusive second chances.

In 2013, Academy Award nominated director Hany Abu-Assad was hired to direct Goodloe’s screenplay Mountain Between Us, a Twentieth Century Fox project based upon the novel by Charles Martin.

In the Spring of 2014, Goodloe’s original screenplay Age of Adaline began principal photography, starring Harrison Ford, Blake Lively and directed by Lee Toland Krieger. The film will be released by Lionsgate in the Spring of 2015.

After miraculously remaining 29 years old for almost eight decades, Adaline Bowman (Blake Lively) has lived a solitary existence, never allowing herself to get close to anyone who might reveal her secret. But a chance encounter with charismatic philanthropist Ellis Jones (Michiel Huisman) reignites her passion for life and romance. When a weekend with his parents (Harrison Ford and Kathy Baker) threatens to uncover the truth, Adaline makes a decision that will change her life forever.

In 2014, Sony Studios hired Goodloe to write the screenplay Christian the Lion with Neil Moritz’ Original Film producing. His other projects include a scripted drama for Bravo Television called All the Pretty Faces which he and Jennifer Garner are producing.

Enjoy my conversation with J. Mills Goodloe.

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show Mills Goodloe how you doing Mills?

J. Mills Goodloe 0:14
Very well, thank you.

Alex Ferrari 0:15
Thanks so much for being on the show my friend. I appreciate you coming on before I just want to even get started and how did you how did you get into this insane, insane business?

J. Mills Goodloe 0:26
It was a total fluke. And it had nothing to do with any pre determined strategy whatsoever. I was in college on this thing called Semester at Sea. And I ended up getting kicked off of it for many reasons, but I don't want to get into here. Yugoslavia. Now now Serbia and I had was with some girl that I was dating and she lived in went to USC. And I had I decided maybe I should go to California and what I do in California, I guess they could get involved in the film business. Because people do there and I had one friend of mine who I was went to Berkeley, his name is Chris Silberman. And he's now the chairman of ICM. Oh, nice. And he was a Cal Berkeley guy and his dad was a publicist and his dad got me my first job. And I had no idea about movie business. I'd never read a script. I didn't major in film studies. I didn't braider in English. Very not well. versed. I wish I could tell the story that I saw Star Wars when I was six years old and came out of the theater with my life. It's different and but it's completely fluke. And happenstance had no rhyme or reason whatsoever.

Alex Ferrari 1:45
So I like that story more because I've heard the Star Wars Story 1000 times, I'm part of that generation as well. So this whole like I just fell into it is probably infuriating to some people listen,

J. Mills Goodloe 1:57
Well, If I be like I would have fallen for some girl that was living in Seattle. In the 90s. I don't know maybe I would have gone to Seattle and whatever they do in Seattle,but it was like

Alex Ferrari 2:07
Coffee. You would have been in coffee. You would have been in coffee or Microsoft.

J. Mills Goodloe 2:10
Yeah, exactly. I could have been on the ground floor of Starbucks. But it was it just happened to be the one guy that I knew that could get me a job was in the film business.

Alex Ferrari 2:19
That's amazing. Now, doing a little bit of research on you. One of your first jobs was working with the late great, Richard Donner.

J. Mills Goodloe 2:29
How, how did you get in that was the gentleman was Chris Silverman who said he's, you know the name Chris or No,

Alex Ferrari 2:36
I know the name but I don't Yeah,

J. Mills Goodloe 2:38
He's the he's, I see all he runs all ICM and he was a film student that came out of college and his dad was a publicist. And they were doing this film called Radio Flyer. I remember Radio Flyer, yes. Directing that, and he was already shoot, he had just had finished it actually. And they were gonna do some pickups on it. And I somehow found out that he needed an assistant, a driver. And through a through luck and circumstances I ended up getting an interview with with Dick donner. And he, I did something really crazy in the interview, and I got the job basically being a gopher. Third.

Alex Ferrari 3:21
But what did you do? What did you do? But you have to what did you do? What was that crazy thing

J. Mills Goodloe 3:26
During the course of the my interview with him. And like I said, I'm just out of college. I never been on film set before. I'd never read a screenplay before. I didn't know anything about anything. But in the course of the interview, Dick had mentioned part of the job as being very, almost like an investigative reporter. It was all personal stuff. For him. It wasn't short films. And one of the things he said was, you know, like, this morning, I was talking to someone in my office about, I read somewhere, this is pre internet, by the way that you can, there's these devices which detect lightning. And he said, you know, like, I would just say, he's using this an example of the job. So I'd say to someone that's, you know, I'll say someone on my staff, you know, see if you can find out about that we can use it for shooting, let me just use as an example. And I had this epiphany that night. And the next morning, I woke up really early, and I called some people I know on the East Coast, and then I wrote my obligatory thank you letter for the interview. Once again, pre email, I wrote the obligatory thank you for it's a great opportunity, I'd love to be blah, blah, blah, all the same normals. And at the end is, by the way, if you're still looking for those devices that detect lightning, there are three companies that make them and I listed the three companies and the price and their address done. And later he said, while the guys they interviewed are the only one that actually paid attention and wanted to follow up with some throwaway comment I made in the meeting. So because he had brought up lightning detectors, I had had the foresight to be pre emptive to preemptively kind of go out there and give them an answer on a job that didn't have. And I did that. And that later kind of turned into something that I did when I was trying to get writing jobs, rather than doing your normal pitching, I'd go and write the first 20 pages and send it to a producer before I get hired, really. So that was another thing we did 18 pages.

Alex Ferrari 5:23
And that were obviously that worked out okay, for you.

J. Mills Goodloe 5:26
Well, it's, you know, if you're trying to hire someone to write a script for you, and you meet with six people, and it's a pitch situation, and all of them, they're kind of having the same things. And you can, you can make yourself a little bit different by like, Hey, you don't have to hire me. But look, I just wrote the first 12 pages, I wrote the first three scenes. If you like them, then clearly, you know, I've got a grasp of material.

Alex Ferrari 5:48
That that is absolutely the most ingenious approach. I mean, I've done this for a long time. I've never heard that approach. I have, I've never heard that it's so simple.

J. Mills Goodloe 5:59
Well, you also have to preemptively tell them, if you don't hire me, once again, I'm married to a lawyer, you have to say preemptively, if you don't hire me, that's fine. I'll send a I'll sign a release, you can throw them away. But hey, this is you know, I'll write the first three, four scenes for you and you. And you, if you like them, I'm listed, they hate them. They're not gonna hire you. And I'm glad they didn't hire you in the first place. Because they don't like your writing. But if you I mean, you've read you, you and I've read 1000s of scripts. Sure. If you, if you're a producer, and you read the first 10 pages, and you're like, yeah, that's kind of what we're looking for. You get the job. If you read 10 pages, then you're like, No, he's the wrong guy. And it takes me, let's say, it takes you a week to write those 10 pages. You know, otherwise, you're going to spend, you know, two months trying to get a job.

Alex Ferrari 6:50
Right. And it's the equivalent of like, I'll just shoot the first five minutes of the movie that, um, it's a lot cheaper, though.

J. Mills Goodloe 6:57
Yeah. Or if you're, you know, if you're an independent film director, right? Well, I mean, it's, it's a lot cheaper. Also, if you're going to try to direct a film, it is nice to see I'll shoot the five minutes, but then you're relying on actors.

Alex Ferrari 7:07
Oh, no, no, it's much more complicated.

J. Mills Goodloe 7:09
Yeah. Cinematography, no, you have to but with writing, it's just you. And these are the 10 pages, you know, and it's only up to you, it's only how you're taking the material

Alex Ferrari 7:21
And costing your time. And it's just costing you time. And it's just costing you a ton of time,

J. Mills Goodloe 7:25
But you know, what you spend. So I mean, you waste so much time in this business anyways, trying to get jobs, right, and spend weeks and weeks meeting the people and trying to get through the three levels to get to the guy that actually can say yes to hiring you. It's always labor intensive. So I'd rather labor intensive work to like write 10 pages. And you also find that if you write those 10 pages, they're not going to come back and say, Yeah, we kind of like you. But hey, can you write you know, the last 10 pages? Come back and say that? They're like, Yeah, but what do you think about the second act? Or the third act was like, no, they either get it or they don't get it? Right. So it's pretty great. Hey, you're going off the wrong track? You're not fine.

Alex Ferrari 8:09
Fair enough. So when you're working with Dick, I mean, I mean, Nick is such a legendary director, what was like the biggest lesson you pulled from working with him? Because I mean, you started off as a driver, but you eventually ended up producing and running and running Donner productions.

J. Mills Goodloe 8:22
Yeah. He said, if you if you produce my, if you can produce my personal life, you can produce my movies. That's great. And his personal life was much more competent in personal life, meaning that he had, he had three houses, and he had all of this stuff that he's always tinkering. And he's got cars, he's got houses, there's always things that he was about his personal life, and he had dogs, and you'd always kind of run his personal life. So the biggest the biggest thing, by far I learned for him is anticipating what's gonna happen around the corner, and you can also never tell him? No, he could never say to him, like, I don't know. Like, I'll give you an example. This is just multiple, I can give you so many examples of stuff that you do. But one of the things let's say is he's he would come on and say, I have an idea that, you know, my pool hat goes from three feet to seven feet. But you know, I don't ever use the deep end. This is how his mind works. So I get the pool. So it'd be three feet, three feet in the middle of the five feet. So I can have two, two, a shallow into the pool, and you're like, okay, and then I go out and I talk to people and meet with people, they come back and I give them a presentation about these are three companies that do it. This is the price this is how long it takes. And you'd kind of apply that to making films or you kind of have a task to get something done. And you can ever go back and say, I don't know how to do it. I mean, I used to jokes like I would go back to and say hey, the solution for something you want for your house in the Hollywood Hills is we got to tear down your entire house. It's gonna cost you $7 million to do it. But at least you had a solution. It's something, it's something you cannot go back and say you can't do something years to process information and find solutions to problems. And that helped with producing because when you show up on a film set at six o'clock in the morning, and you lose your location, right, you have to be rational and go to the director and say, Okay, we lost our location. I've thought about it I've anticipated there might be a problem. These are the three different solutions for us, ABC. And he taught me to think like that. And he taught me not to freak out not to panic. And in that situation, if you get to the film set, you need to have producers that that aren't saying, Oh my God, you're not gonna believe the worst thing to happen. We showed up this morning, and the building caught on fire and we have nowhere to shoot. I don't know what to do. Who are we going to call?

Alex Ferrari 10:51
Yeah, you can't do that.

J. Mills Goodloe 10:54
So he that's he really ingrain that in through his own. And, you know, through his the way that his mind works for the three through all the different things that he would do as we tried to train me to think that way. And he trained me to just be rational to always be looking ahead always anticipate contingencies. And basically, you know, just always have a cool level hadn't I had none of those skill sets when I started working for him.

Alex Ferrari 11:17
Now, I do have to ask because I'm such a fan of a lethal weapon, man. What was it like working on on those? You worked on the last one? For sure. Right?

J. Mills Goodloe 11:25
I did the last one. And the very first job I the film first films that I had with lethal weapon three, and I never been on a film set before. Okay, literally, I've never been to California before. I never been I was driving him to the set and the Suburban. And I'd be like, Oh my god, this is a film set. Like this is what people do for a living. And it was very intoxicating. And we made two of those films. And the first one I didn't I mean, I didn't know what a gaffer was, I didn't know what I completely over my head and like, but my job was just basically to get him to the set, and like go take his dog to the veterinarian. But by the end on the fourth one, which is the last movie I did with him, you know, but that was a different, you know, I was at the end those films were made at the end of an era. And that was in the late 90s, Terry Semel, Bob Daley studio films, and they kind of let him do make those films and there was no script. You get pages, you know, three days before you're shooting, and it was very, very a different system than it is right now of making films. Very old boys big office, Donner had an office on the Warner Brothers lot that used to be Frank Sinatra's bungalow. And, you know, you had one, Terry Semel and Bob Daley, if they just said, Hey, we're gonna make the movie, they make the movie, there's no meeting with marketing executives, there's no international people. There's no accountants involved. He just kind of did it. And they've trusted the people. And they made the film. And, you know, there's, I could write an entire book about the stories that I learned during the 90s, making five big studio films for Warner Brothers during those times and how they came together and how they were shot and how they were made, which will never exist in our business again.

Alex Ferrari 13:13
And is that just because they because basically, the studios have been bought out by all the big conglomerates now. They're just giant monster marketing machines, essentially.

J. Mills Goodloe 13:22
Yeah. And there's not less gut. There's less guys that just say, Hey, that's a good script. It's a gut to do it. I think there's so many other decision makers involved in it, as well as analytics. It's kind of like sports, you know, football, it's turned into analytics, and it's taken some of the fun out of it. But I assure you when they made those films, there were no analytics involved. There were no Donner never saw budgets, there was we never really no, there was no signing off in the budget. He but he was a very responsible guy. He was always he never went over budget or over schedule, but there was no tightening the screws on a budget, there was no CGI. And, like, very we didn't, we didn't have to like send, we can rewrite. See, we have writers rewrite scenes and never even send them to the studio to get approved. It sounds about the dailies.

Alex Ferrari 14:15
It sounds it sounds like this is like a magical alternative universe.

J. Mills Goodloe 14:21
It probably happened from the 60s until probably what do you think? 2000 2005? And then it all changed?

Alex Ferrari 14:29
Yeah. And then yeah, yeah. And I mean, I guess it's a movie like conspiracy theory. You know, there's no way a studio would make that today. I mean, just just

J. Mills Goodloe 14:38
THe didn't have an accident Julia Roberts in that and you know, Joel solver would pull stuff and put these movies together and how would they ever got made as but no one ever they've kind of left them alone. I think people haven't been in the studio world and that as a producer 20 years but they really left him alone and didn't give him a hard time about anything. And I'll tell you One quick story about making the movie assassins which was Yeah, easy. That was a which hausky brothers script.

Alex Ferrari 15:05
Yeah, the wachowski. Yeah.

J. Mills Goodloe 15:07
Well, now wachowski

Alex Ferrari 15:09
Siblings

J. Mills Goodloe 15:10
Okay. Yeah, siblings. But at that time there with these two guys. And I had this office at Warner Brothers and these two guys would walk behind my office every morning. They're trying to make matrix. Yeah, yeah, yeah, remember it? There. bookbags like walk back and there. This is before the first major came out. And they had this script called assassins. And Joel Silver for all of his foibles and all the things that are probably wrong with him. He's really great at busting down doors. So we have a script and this is this is will never happen again also. So he has a script on his own. And he goes to Sylvester Stallone, he says, look at slide. They're going to pay you $7 million dollars to do this. Here's a script. Donna's gonna direct it and the studio wants to make this film with you. And sly would read the script he says, Okay, great. Now the studio not read the script. And Donna did not read the script. Smart now, but he doesn't know that that day. He just knows that the IRS here they want so he told him the Warner's wants to Bob and Terry want to make it Donner's gonna do it and pay this amount of money. No one is that then he goes to donner. He says Guess what? He wants to do the film with you and Warner Brothers gonna pay you $5 million to direct a movie. But it's all ready to go. It's just read the script like it's ready to go. Then decrees like Oh, Sly wants to do it. Okay. And scripts pretty good. And and these guys are really hot because they did this movie bound and they're gonna matrix and Alright, maybe I'll do it. Then he goes to Bob antarious has got great news, guys. I got donner. I got sly. All you gotta do is paying him Place. Place. Pay sly seven. Pay donner, five. Here's the script. Let's go make the movie. So basically, he had a producer that completely packaged and put together movie and negotiated their deals without the other two parties knowing about it.

Alex Ferrari 17:11
That's brilliant. And that's also something that just doesn't happen to

J. Mills Goodloe 17:14
No. Now everyone know everything. Yeah. Anything and everyone's confirming like, like funds and never called dick to see if you actually read the script.

Alex Ferrari 17:24
But it was also Joel saying it. So there was there was a level of

J. Mills Goodloe 17:27
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Dick wants to make this with you. Sly wants to read the script. Oh, Jake wants to make it. Okay. Shall I want to make it with him? Okay, that's good.

Alex Ferrari 17:33
All right. And it's Joel Silver, saying it you know, at, you know, arguably

J. Mills Goodloe 17:36
He's kind of got away with it. And by the time he said, The greenlit and worked for it, because no one knew what the other hand was doing. It was a shell game, and they make the movie and then it's only at that time, it was only two guys that could say, Alright, here it looks like the movie. Let's make the movie. And that was it. And then once you've just convinced two guys to make the movie. You could I guess maybe it's a little bit like Netflix right now where there's a lot more autonomy but and the last thing I'll tell you, which is really crazy about those days is I'll tell you who's in the office. So I was in the office and I was donner. I got bumped up to kind of be an executive with him. And I hired a guy this kid from Michigan State named Jeff John's okay to be my assistant. Now Jeff, John, do you know who he is? I don't ended up running DC films. He was the head of the head Content Officer for DC films from Warner so all of the Batman's and everything that all that stuff now. He's the main DC guy now, across the way in Laurens office, Dick and Lauren, obviously we're married. There's a little guy in the front desk, named Kevin fight.

Alex Ferrari 18:39
I thought this was Kevin was

J. Mills Goodloe 18:42
On a desk that was about half the size of mine in my office right now. And he didn't have his own office and he was Lauren, second assistant. Lauren's first assistant was Scott Stuber.

Alex Ferrari 18:53
And that name sounds familiar.

J. Mills Goodloe 18:55
Scott's do around runs all of Netflix. Oh, there you go. That's why Cooper is he was head of use of his credit budget universal and now Netflix. He's, he has a green light. He's been there for maybe eight or nine years to greenlight, everything like that. So between Stuber Geoff Johns, and Kevin fygi, I was by far the most underachieving of that group. That's a that's a heck of a roll like and I was at the time I literally would be like, like Kevin fygi and I would go take their cars to this carwash on Lankershim on bank, and he would take Donner suburban and he would take Lauren's BMW, the seven series old school BMW, and we'd go twice a week like and sit and watch car get made but like the carwash that was like and detailed and detailed, of course, detailed once a month we had so that was our that was how we started out

Alex Ferrari 19:48
You mean the one that you mean not the that the old school carwash, right by Warner's? Yeah, that's yes. It's exactly where I lived. I lived down the street from Kevin

J. Mills Goodloe 19:58
Murphy go take turns. We take their cars to get washed. And that was like part of our mornings.

Alex Ferrari 20:03
That's amazing. That's amazing story now Alright, so

J. Mills Goodloe 20:06
It was a fun anyways, it was a fun era. It was the last gasp of a dying system. Yeah, a system that unfortunately died. But it was it was a really a fun fun time. And then it all went to shit. And Donna was off the lot goes off the lot. You can't pull that stuff anymore. And it kind of about all screwed up after that.

Alex Ferrari 20:27
Yeah, I mean, all we keep doing is remaking stuff. It's so hard to find original IP now. Because it's just so much money and so much. It's corporate. Everything's corporate like, yeah. And the funny thing is that everything that remaking is because of a system that allowed that kind of creativity to flourish. So like the 80s and the 90s. There was like, you know, can you imagine a lethal weapon today? No way. There's just no way a lethal weapon or conspiracy theories or assassins or any of those kinds of great Donner flicks in this inside of the studio system.

J. Mills Goodloe 20:59
Well, if you said the Goonies you know, I mean,

Alex Ferrari 21:01
Can you imagine the Goonies at a studio?

J. Mills Goodloe 21:04
I mean, that's, you know, when they're, when they're remaking Planes, Trains and Automobiles, that's when I started to really lose my mind, but they can't make I mean, you can't remake who they are. Kevin Hart, and

Alex Ferrari 21:15
Oh, no what with planes trains. Yeah, yeah, I know. He, there's certain because now they're starting to run out of stuff. Like, he can't just, I mean, there's only so many movies that were made in the 80s

J. Mills Goodloe 21:26
Make it another time. I heard that I heard though, that I've always remembered I'm sure you've heard it as well. Miss Stevens. smote Soderbergh said something really smart. And he said, rather than making successful films, they should go back and remake really great ideas that turn films that weren't turned out very well. So movies that you're like that was a really brilliant idea. And in the movie, either to the casting or whatever, it didn't really work but like go and mine the really great stories as opposed to only mine them bait made based upon box office.

Alex Ferrari 22:05
Oh, yeah. Like if you go back to point break when they remade Point Break, I thought that was just an atrocity. And, and the thing is, is like you can't read you can't that that that lightning in a bottle was then it was Bigelow is Swayze it was Reeves. It was that moment in time. You can't bring that into this world, but you could bring something that didn't maybe pop properly in that era. And then because no one will have any emotional attachment to those right.

J. Mills Goodloe 22:32
There was a great idea. Right? I have this I read this week. They're remaking Roadhouse.

Alex Ferrari 22:38
Yeah, I just read that to what Jake Gyllenhaal like

J. Mills Goodloe 22:40
Roadhouse was a great idea.

Alex Ferrari 22:43
It's Patrick Swayze. It's silly to me.

J. Mills Goodloe 22:46
That brilliant about the idea of Roadhouse.

Alex Ferrari 22:49
No, it's a bouncer in

J. Mills Goodloe 22:51
Harley Davidson. the Marlboro Man. Absolutely should make me

Alex Ferrari 22:53
Oh, God. Yes, yes, yes. Oh, God, that would be amazing. But yeah, you look at something like Roadhouse. And you're just like, well, it's to bouncer. And there's like, it's not a really great idea. But also at the time it came out because I was working at the video store at the time in high school, and I came out so I'm very familiar with. I love that movie. It was that moment in time that that thing that that that was Patrick, it was that moment, it was, you can't bring that out, like you can make something else that's kind of something like it. But it's not that you can't read it, you can't.

J. Mills Goodloe 23:26
Because the only this dalje would be is for people of our generation, right? That film and they're not going to be predisposed not to like it. They're No, no one's ever going to come out. So that point break was so much better the original wonder that rode out, I never Alger for people who have have an affinity for the original film, who are not going to like to remake and anyone that's younger than that. Doesn't care will have no idea what the film is. I think the scary thing is a few years ago, I was a writer, one of two writers on mountain between us. And I was talking to I've got two young children, but I had babysitter's who were 18. And I was telling them at 19 years old, and our I was telling them about Kate Winslet being in the film, and then not seeing Titanic. And you realize, wait a second, they're they're born in, you know? 2000 right at 91 was Titanic 9797. So like, you think that our references are very iconic references because you're like, oh, yeah, it's the girl that was in Titanic. But if you're born after that movie came out, you're not going back to rewatch Titanic. Because your upbringing has been social media, YouTube videos, tic TOCs and so forth. So you're not going back like you know, I'm gonna think about Netflix. I'm going to go back and start looking at really popular films the 90s so they had no idea about Titanic.

Alex Ferrari 24:55
Oh, my daughter's my daughter's were, you know, like nine They, they just saw Titanic. And it's probably because you asked you Oh, I know. I know because my one of my daughters is obsessed with Titanic. And the the actual event, not the movie, and I showed it to them and, and they're like, Oh, I've seen Jack before. And now they don't know it's Leonardo DiCaprio. It's Jack. So anytime a trailer pops up like oh, it's Jack, you know? And then oh, that's Oh, that's, uh oh, that's rose. Like they don't they don't see them as they just see them as those. But it was only because of us poking them to go into those like, Hey, you got to watch Star Wars. Or hey, you got to watch this movie or that movie.

J. Mills Goodloe 25:36
Star Wars now because there's they can go and you can get them caught up on Oh, offers that you know, but you look at Roadhouse. 17 year old 20 something year old kid right now he's going to see Roadhouse, they're gonna say I have no idea what Roadhouse is, I've never seen the film. And then the people that they actually are attending for that film detract, which is people like you and I won't we're not gonna like it.

Alex Ferrari 26:01
I mean, the only reason I would even remotely even considered it's because I'm a huge fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. And I'd be curious out of almost a morbid curiosity to see what he does with it. Because he's such a fantastic actor. Yes, but it's not I'm I'm not going because of Roadhouse. I'm going because Joel Hall Yeah, exactly. And it's just a warrior to

J. Mills Goodloe 26:18
Make it you know, if PT Anderson makes the move,

Alex Ferrari 26:21
Well then I'm gonna I'm gonna

J. Mills Goodloe 26:23
I want to get a normal off the off the conveyor belt director. Three, you know, can you do like 21 Jump Street, right?

Alex Ferrari 26:31
Oh, yeah. What you completely turn it on its head. And, and that's a completely reinvention of, you know,

J. Mills Goodloe 26:38
I don't like this thing be reading. I don't want break was not a reinvention of it?

Alex Ferrari 26:43
No, not so much. Not so much. Now, going back a little bit. So you you obviously got you start as a producer, how did you jump from producer to writer and writer, you know, what

J. Mills Goodloe 26:53
I wanted to always direct because of donner. And I realized that it's really hard to be a director without learning how to write. So I did it to be to direct films. And I directed a film that was not terribly successful financially, but it kind of forced me to be a writer. Then I wrote a second script to direct my second film. And that was basically kind of a lot of Magnolia is kind of a film called August and everything after, but I was only writing to direct films. And then that film, the second one didn't get made, even though I got really close with Michelle Pfeiffer and Annette Bening and crazy stories about that one, and then basically, I ran out of money. So you had to start writing, start to realize, if I want to be an independent director, I got to make some money. So I better start writing for other people. That was the only it was only it was kind of a backwards way of doing it. It wasn't it was I'll try to make my own films. I had an agent at Uta, because they really liked the script that I wanted to direct. And then I spent a year and a half trying to make that movie, and I couldn't make it. And then I said, I'm literally broke. I need to make an income. Maybe if someone would be stupid enough to hire me to write something and pay me to write a script, maybe I can get money that way.

Alex Ferrari 28:15
I love your perspective on everything because it's just such a, I mean, universally, I've talked to 1000s and 1000s of screenwriters and filmmakers over my career. And it's always the struggle in this thing. And I've got the watch Star Wars and you know, it's you know, it's James Cameron and it's Spielberg and, and all of this stuff and you're just like, I ran out of money, man. And I just,

J. Mills Goodloe 28:38
I just because I liked a girl.

Alex Ferrari 28:41
I mean, I got into the business because this you know, the girl I liked was in it and I you know, it's so refreshing to hear your your take on it. And I love like, how did you start writing? I needed money, man. I mean, I ran I ran out of money. I was like, Well, someone hopefully hire me.

J. Mills Goodloe 28:55
So broke. I found someone. I found this the one who and through some I found someone give me $10,000 Right, right. Karen bio pic. Okay, sure. And that was like, awesome. I got $10,000 My rent was 1400 a month. I was single. Where we

Alex Ferrari 29:15
Where were you living? In LA? Where were you living in LA?

J. Mills Goodloe 29:20
I was living in the flats of Beverly Hills. Oh, wow. I live in a studio apartment and $10,000 Allow me to live for three months.

Alex Ferrari 29:28
There you go. Yeah.

J. Mills Goodloe 29:30
And I was I was one of those guys. I went from producing really $120 million movies at Warner Brothers with donner. Who by the way in the nine years I was with him. We flew commercial twice. Twice. So I probably spent well over two or 300 times at Warner Brothers jet golf G fives all over the world. She's as he would do junkets in Europe. We take the Warner jet from Burbank to JFK spend the night the four C's the next morning take the Concorde to Paris where they the private jet go to all different our tours all around their life for nine years with him because I was always with him and that was those days vexes. I went from that to, I can't be here later, really hating the month of February, because there's only 28 days in February, which means I had to pay my rent faster earlier than I normally am used to. And I love those 31 days because it squeezed me another two days, two or three days to try to come up with my 14 bucks in rent.

Alex Ferrari 30:32
That's brilliant. Alright, so Alright, so you wonder the amazing story. So you're one of the films you did the gentleman's game, which you wrote, which you wrote and directed. You know, you've been obviously you've been watching dick, do his thing, you know, and he's a master at what he did. On your set. When you are directing What was the worst day you had, and how did you overcome it? Because we all have that day dread?

J. Mills Goodloe 30:57
That's an interesting question. My worst day that I had to set is when my cinematographer went rogue on me. Oh, that he stopped listening to me that he was going to set up stuff and shots on his own. And he was a very well known that had this. This is his this cinematographer named Conrad Hall.

Alex Ferrari 31:18
Oh, yeah. Conrad. Yeah. He's kind of famous in cinematography.

J. Mills Goodloe 31:22
Or his father Yeah. His father was famous. This is the son. Yeah. So his father was a DP on, you know, American Beauty and 1000s of other things. That was I but I realized, I learned so many things. Because when Donner would walk on a film set, people knew his reputation. And no one would ever Can you swear on this thing. So you can if you want to throw a couple articles in there, and no one mess with him on the film set, he carried a certain weight to him that he demanded respect. As a young first time filmmaker. I we've never been around a situation where you have to go to your crew, and have them believe in what you're doing. Because I never saw that. Right? For donner. In, you know, the 90s. He had been directing films since 1976. With the Omen, he had a direct salt and pepper with Sammy Davis and Peter Lawford. He had been directing the original with Steve McQueen, the rise of Superman. Yeah, yeah. So when he walked on the film sets, I never understood that you have to earn that level that people listen to you. And that was something I wish that I would have known. I thought that by virtue of my title that I would be in control of the set. And then people would listen to me. And also, I didn't know exactly, you have the answers to everything. So I was a little bit and I was very inexperienced as my first film. But that was an eye opener for me that you have to go on to the film set and really have the crew know, and feel that you know what the hell you're doing.

Alex Ferrari 32:56
And they will in a season crew will smell it out in the first five Melis fine pre production. Oh, God, you walk on that set, and you just go, Oh, this guy or this gal is way over your head, and then they'll tear and if you got a DP, who's somewhat seasoned, yeah, they'll take

J. Mills Goodloe 33:13
His mark. Yeah, he's trying to undercut me. And they really they smelled it, and it was a fight. And I knew, but you don't get that you're young. Now. I understand that now. Like, now I get how that works. But you know, I didn't, I wasn't aware at the time that if you lose the not the respect isn't the right word.

Alex Ferrari 33:32
But you lose the group. If you lose it. It's mutiny. It's mutiny.

J. Mills Goodloe 33:35
I'm gonna go the extra job the extra mile for this guy because I really see what his vision is. I was reading interview with PT Anderson yesterday. And I'm sure that you know, when that guy goes on the set because of who he is, and his resume, no one's gonna question him, whatever he says is golden. And he's the tour of that film set. If you don't have that reputation, and you're a first time director, they're going to be kind of crossed arms. You're going to get a paycheck, but they're really not going to bend over backwards.

Alex Ferrari 34:02
Yeah, his experience on Hard Eight versus his experience on his latest movie, slightly different pizza. Licorice pizza. Fantastic title. Yeah, it's a little bit different because he got railroaded on Hardey.

J. Mills Goodloe 34:15
But that's because it was a terrible experience on that

Alex Ferrari 34:17
terrible experience on harday and, and that was the producers. He hated the studio. He hated everything. Yeah. And he's like, I'll never do it again. And then that's when he got Boogie Nights. He finally they he said, I'll only do it, but you gotta leave me alone. And that's the first time he got a little bit of freedom. Just a bit. Yeah. Now, you also adapted a film for a book by Nicholas Sparks. How do you approach adaptation because you've done it a couple times? A few times.

J. Mills Goodloe 34:46
Fortunately, with with Nicholas Sparks on that particular film, it was very easy because he had made so many films during that time and he was really amenable to having you change things. was not. And I'd done a couple things. Also with John Grisham, both those guys were really good at understanding it's a different medium, and that they are going to be very loose with their material. So the first thing right off the bat would I had a source material that no one was holding as scripture in terms of what you could do with and there was also a certain I hate to use this word, but there's a certain formula, and how those films were made. And the producer that I worked with, right, had made two other films with him. So you kind of go in there went into a machinery that, you know, kind of what it is, and, you know, that film, you know, it was they were making a lot of those films those days as Michelle Moynihan, you know, it did, okay. There's some things I would have done better, but it was a it was an interesting experience.

Alex Ferrari 35:55
So but when you actually like the actual technical process of adaptation, do you like take the book and outline everything? Do you take what you like out of it,

J. Mills Goodloe 36:03
They go through the book a few times, and I get the idea of what it is, and I just start, I just kind of look at it as a, you know, this is the characters these the story, I'll just kind of know what the story is, I know the characters, okay, that that B, C, D, that doesn't work, this works out, it just kind of structurally kind of putting it all together. And that was more important on mountain between us because mountain between us as a better probably a better example, for an adaptation because that originally was a 400 and some odd page Christian fiction book. And that was going there and saying, okay, know what the story, you know, here's the story. But there's, you know, how much stuff got thrown out of that adaptation? It's like, it's really mainly a job of figuring out like, how much do I need to get rid of how much things can I condense? And how can I kind of streamline the narrative and come up with a narrative, but I look at it as just kind of like a little thing that I can refer to, as you're going through the script, to, you know, but unfortunately, this is the biggest problem that you have is you wish that in source material can take more dialogue? And you don't really can't really, you really notice how much dialogue in in in source material and novels do you have to is different. There's just something about it different than film dialogue than prose dialogue. I don't know what it is. But I think everything everything was an adaptation. There's so much of the prose in prose dialogue that I wished it'd be make my life a lot easier if I could just go in there.

Alex Ferrari 37:46
And just copy copy and paste.

J. Mills Goodloe 37:49
Yeah, I feel like it's much more difficult than that. So it's always a nice thing to have. I think both of them are both originals. And I think the misconception I'm sure your audience knows it's wrong is that they think that, you know, or strictly to the public, the general public, they think your adaptation is just when a cliff notes version of the book is take it's different. It's shrinking it down. It's a whole different animal. But they're, everything's hard.

Alex Ferrari 38:18
No, no, I mean, I'm in the middle of adapting one of my books, and I've lived the story. And it's just like, it works as a biography, or an autobiography, but it does not work. In film like this. This is gonna be a horrible movie, if I make it exactly the way I read. So I have to like,

J. Mills Goodloe 38:34
Just pick you pick the things. You think that right man, that's cinematic, I don't need that. I don't need that.

Alex Ferrari 38:39
We need all that away. Yeah, we got to change this character on we got to combine a few of these characters, we got to throw a better argue out of your own autobiography. I'm not I'm trying not to. I'm trying not to

J. Mills Goodloe 38:50
Have any emotional distance from that.

Alex Ferrari 38:52
I don't. That's the problem. I'm looking for a screenwriter, if you're available, we can talk. And no, it's honestly, with the producers I'm working with. I'm like, I just don't want to do it. I'd rather get somebody else to do it. And I'll be standing behind them. And I'll talk to them and I'll help them but I need someone with a fresh eye. It's so hard. It's so so hard.

J. Mills Goodloe 39:10
You got to be pretty Mercy, mercyless. And I think that you know, I've I said I was fortunate with those situations that the authors of the source material were really, really cool. Although I did do something that I made it a huge mistake on everything, everything. And I think I wrote one of the better scripts I've ever written in my career on that and the film does not reflect a lot of the things that I really liked in there. And the big mistake that I made in that film was I went to off of what the source material was I started making some decisions and some choices and they broke it into I broke off a little bit. I got a bit too loose with it. And the producers in the studio got me because the book was number one New York Times bestseller. They reminded me you can alienate too many people, you got to go back to source material. So I learned also that you can be too. You can also be too loose with it. Right? They got to lose to that one. And it's a weird thing when you're writing and I don't know if any people that if you agree with this or other people to do it is sometimes you're getting paid. And they're cutting you a check to do an adaptation, you feel like you need to do a lot more work, because to justify your paycheck?

Alex Ferrari 40:29
Right! Because you're not

J. Mills Goodloe 40:30
On that project or felt like I could have like, not coasted is not the right word. But I didn't have to do as much heavy lifting. And sometimes you feel like you have to do that the lifting to justify the paycheck, right getting paid on this. I have to like change things, I have to reimagine a lot of things I have to kind of open up the world. And sometimes you can open up too much. And instead of saying you know what they pay you just to? Yep. Well, I'm a little more faithful.

Alex Ferrari 40:57
Right, exactly. And the reason that the movies gave me produces because there's an original IP that they attached, the only reason it's being produced,

J. Mills Goodloe 41:03
I went too far askew on that one. I wish I could use some things that I put in that script. And another I think scripts are a lot of times, there's so much material that I've on films, I've had seven, I think seven movies made, there's so much material that on previous drafts that are like, it's like you have a garage and a car and at least like part of the spare parts around my office that I wished I can put in there. They try to find it never never works into other scripts. There's so many ideas and so much great scenes that I've written that I thought was great that I just can't repurpose,

Alex Ferrari 41:39
Right! Yeah, I've had that problem, too, is like you like, so good here, but I can't,

J. Mills Goodloe 41:44
I know, I'll find it, I can find that. That's such that's such a great idea. I'll find it in another movie. And then you never find it in a movie. It sits there. And he just gets so frustrated. Because there's there's some really good ideas in there. Like I just as on that movie, everything, everything that the character that Nick Robinson played in there, I had this great eye, this whole thread, they get attached to a bar code tattoo. Okay, and what didn't exist in the novel, right? Like this. My my thought this was such a clever idea. And he falls in love with the girl. And one day when they're together, she asked him about his bark there in Hawaii after the after she runs away. She asked what was barcode. And he said that when he was 12, he was 13 I had this whole story you had sit somewhere to a tattoo artist, because it was a date of his 18th birthday when he'd be in massive pain from his parents.

Alex Ferrari 42:34
And that's what the barcode represents.

J. Mills Goodloe 42:36
When he was 13. Like for like, like someday, when I'm 18 I'm this pain that I'm going through with my parents, I can always look at the tattoo, because they tend to the bar code represents the man that whatever the date is two, seven, whatever the is my. So you like you find ideas like that? Do you think they're really interesting, and that that talks about a character's internal pain. It's a physical reminder of why he's waiting to get away out of his house when he can finally move out when he turns 18. And you build in his whole story as you build these whole scenes, and it's never in the movie and I can never use that idea for a tattoo again.

Alex Ferrari 43:12
Geez, that's a that's a good idea, though. That was would have been that would have been fun. Now what

J. Mills Goodloe 43:18
Will that kid is like, my parents suck my dad's in a hole when I turn 18 And I can get out of here and I'm gonna force myself to brand myself to basically say on this date when I turn 18

Alex Ferrari 43:33
I'm happy. That's awesome. Now there's another film you did the age of Adeline Yes. I absolutely love that film. I'd love to.

J. Mills Goodloe 43:42
Well, that's my favorite movie. I've done that's my by far the most favorite thing and the thing I can't complain about

Alex Ferrari 43:49
Now I loved it and my wife and I watched it and we were just like, this is your kids? Nine they're about nine Yeah. Yeah, they're Yeah, they're kids aren't gonna watch it at Adeline just just yet. But um, can you tell me the story behind it? Because I Is there a little bit of a story of this one. I I've heard through the grapevine that there might be a little bit of an interesting story behind this.

J. Mills Goodloe 44:12
Yeah, this is this is crazy. There's a producer, unfortunately no longer with us. But a great man named Steve golden. And he started anonymous content. And he was he was, you know, he wanted Academy Award for Babel and for Birdman. And he was a really, really great producer. And I had written this script called August and everything after which never got into production, but it got people as I said it got a I was able to get an agent. And I was trying to direct that film. And I had a meeting with him when I go to Culver City. And I sit down with Steve and he's like, look, I love your script. It's a great script. I'm doing this movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind right now. And it's a total little pain in the ass. The other thing, too, it's good. But it's like it's hard. It's independent because I had written the script is kind of like magnolia. It was like this kind of big, sweeping, independent, interconnected items. It kind of later turned out to become the crash kind of thing, but crashing out by then. But basically what he said was, I'm doing Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind. It's another was another great script. Great, Charlie, you're not Charlie Kaufman, but you're kind of like trying to do some interesting. I just don't want to do it. And he said, at the same time, because he's shooting two films simultaneously. He's also doing 51st dates with Sam.

Alex Ferrari 45:38
Both imagine the sides of the spectrum

J. Mills Goodloe 45:40
And the shooting simultaneous. And he said, You know what, so I'm just, it's just too hard. It's too hard. You know, anything, that's good. I could that's more digestible, that I can sell, I'd be really interested. And I said, Steve, you're in luck. I've got the best idea. I got the most high concept really that I can. It's like a one sentence perfect pitch. Hi, you know, because 51st days was a pretty high concept idea. Sure, the great he says, what is it? I said, Well, look, I need I want to go back and kind of put all my thoughts together. He says, he says, Can you come back next week? I said, I want to come back next week and pitch it to you. I can do it proper, because I wasn't ready to pitch in that meeting. Because I went into the meeting talking about this movie August and everything after mentioned this to me, I said great. So he calls out to a secretary or assistant he says, you know, have Mills Mills has come back Wednesday at 10 o'clock. Did you know okay, I shake his hands walks out. I'll see you Wednesday. 10 o'clock. I walked out there. I had no pitch.

Alex Ferrari 46:39
You didn't have an idea.

J. Mills Goodloe 46:40
Zero ideas.

Alex Ferrari 46:41
Oh my god. It's amazing.

J. Mills Goodloe 46:44
I got a really powerful producer. And I've got a meeting on the books.

Alex Ferrari 46:48
So you so you pull. So you pull the Joel Silver you you kind of pull the joseffer

J. Mills Goodloe 46:55
I got seven days to come up with something. And I have to do in seven days. And that's how I came up with Adeline Wow. And I came in there and somewhere on day like four I've heard a story. I think it was a short I think was Benjamin buttons or there's some things that yeah, that were percolating, like okay, maybe I have a girl that spent the entire 20th century as a 29 year old woman. And then I kind of did that and I went I pitched him on that Wednesday. And he said I really like it. This is what I'm going to do. I'm going to give you I'll give you like $10,000 to write the script and I'm only going to be $10,000 to do it but I'm going to be attached with producer and once you write it then I'll produce helping you to made and I was great because once again $10,000 with some extra money that I could live for another two or three

Alex Ferrari 47:49
While you wrote this thing.

J. Mills Goodloe 47:50
Exactly. So I said great $10,000 And they wrote I ended up writing the script and that was just completely but uh circumstances thing but I'm a big believer in in like right now I'll do it right now cuz this is I don't want I should say this but I'll say it anyways they're trying to do a limited series on Adeline now as they should yeah do but to do it like a whole thing spanning I'd like to see her basically taking the flashbacks that are in Adeline from her in the 40s and 50s Biddle whole thing around it. But I'm a big believer in and I've done this unfortunately too many times where I will call a producer and I'll say I have my pit I want to I have my pitch ready can we put instead of the bucks just so I can have to back into something I have to give myself deadlines to do things like that. And I did that with Adeline where it's just like I've got till Wednesday to do it. You just have to like as a writer, tell people you're going to be ready and you're gonna be embarrassed if you show up and say I've got nothing so you better get your butt in gear and do something.

Alex Ferrari 48:56
It's like It's like posting on Facebook. I'm gonna lose 20 pounds and here's here's my before picture.

J. Mills Goodloe 49:01
Yeah, tell the world you're gonna do it you better do it and with and with Adeline if he would not if he would have that only Honestly, the only reason that script ever gotten written was because he didn't want to do the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

Alex Ferrari 49:17
Because it was just too complicated. It's

J. Mills Goodloe 49:19
Too hard for him to do. And if he would have said no, I won't do that whenever it only happened because I saw window as an opportunity to do it.

Alex Ferrari 49:26
And but how long did it take to get made that took 10 years I was about to say it wasn't overnight for 10 years get made. And what was the

J. Mills Goodloe 49:37
I have to tell you off the record. I can tell you I can't do off the reg I'll tell you a really funny story later about that though. Okay, so then how public this is, but there's how what happened over those 10 years. That movie at one point was going into pre production on it with set in Boston with Andy Tennant directing. Okay. Katherine Heigl, starring in Donald Sutherland playing the Harrison Ford Harrison Ford part and they were in pre production. And then it went and I got a call saying that the producer is gonna fight with Katherine Heigl. Just shocking. Yeah, she's this in the middle of her like huge rush, you know

Alex Ferrari 50:18
Of pissing everybody in Hollywood off. Yeah.

J. Mills Goodloe 50:21
No, but but it was also coincided with her run of doing like the bridesmaids movies and not like not was that movie shoot?

Alex Ferrari 50:29
No, no. Um, then knocked up. Yeah, knocked up and all of that 51st Yeah. 50 for

J. Mills Goodloe 50:36
Bright, yeah, bright, or whatever it is, right. But anyways, the moral of that story is I was devastated when I got that call. And I was I was practically in tears. And I, I took a long walk. And I'm like, I was so excited about this. I'm super my big break. It's all gone down the toilet right now. My career is over. I was devastated. And then you look back on it and say best, my entire career was changed because that iteration blew up.

Alex Ferrari 51:06
If it would have been a very different, totally different film.

J. Mills Goodloe 51:11
Totally different movie and, and I just, it just, there's a lesson in there that when things go bad, and go sideways, and you're all upset about it, I always go back to that and saying, God think that we're so glad it worked I just these are jobs that I've gotten that I've been devastated. You didn't get jobs, and then the movie turned out to be really bad.

Alex Ferrari 51:29
Yeah, and I literally was just talking to somebody I had on the show the other day about this exact same thing is like you look back on your life. And at the moment when you don't get the job or you don't get the girl or you don't get the production falls apart or something along happened. She's like, Oh my God, my world is over. And then a year or two later, you're like, Oh, my God, I I think thank God

J. Mills Goodloe 51:50
That that thing never happened me that I didn't get that job, or that movie didn't get made because it would have been a completely different movie.

Alex Ferrari 52:00
And I'm a big believer of it. What if the universe is pushing you in a certain direction? Something doesn't go the way it's supposed to. There's a good reason for that. I'm a believer of that. I truly because I've seen it so much in my life. Like, I mean, I was almost I'll tell you a little side story. I almost got onto Project Greenlight. Season two, I made it to the top 20 And I was this close to getting on and I was like, oh my god, I dodged a bullet.

J. Mills Goodloe 52:25
Then was the one at that time.

Alex Ferrari 52:27
Exactly. Who was the kid who won that that time? It was Shia LaBeouf. That was a Shia LaBeouf season. That was the Shia LaBeouf season. So it was yeah, the battle Shaker Heights.

J. Mills Goodloe 52:36
But again, you'd always that would have destroyed everything

Alex Ferrari 52:40
That would have I would have been known as the guy who was on Project Greenlight, nobody would have taken me seriously, which is what happened to unfortunately, to a lot of those directors. And then I did it again with on the lot. Remember that show on the lot. I made it to the top 20 of that show. And, and one of my best friends was the DP in it as well. So I'm like, Oh, this is gonna be great. I'll get on the show. You'll be my DP. We're gonna kill it. It didn't make it. I'm like my life is you know, I was I was flown out it was the whole thing. And then I look back. I'm like, Thank God, I didn't become a reality filmmaker.

J. Mills Goodloe 53:12
Yeah, and it would have never always been on your Wikipedia would always travel with you everywhere. Right? Really deep, deep hole to get out of so it does work. Yeah, remind yourself when things go sideways?

Alex Ferrari 53:26
Yeah, absolutely. That there's always a way. Um, I have to ask you, do you when you start writing Do you write? Do you start with plot or character? Oh, no, no, no. Okay. So do you. Listen, listen? Are you telling me that you just like sit down? Like, you know, I'm just gonna start writing and something will

J. Mills Goodloe 53:44
I ever? Any system that I do, and then I never write anything in screenplay form. Okay, so how do you write then I write in, I get a Word document. Okay, I'll get a Word document and I'll open on pay and I'll get one page. Okay, I'll say, Okay, what is the movie, this is the beginning the middle of the end, it will be, you know, maybe, you know, five bullet points. Like I know, at the end of the first act, this is going to happen. I know the, in the second act, this can happen. And this is you opening this again. And that's all I have.

Alex Ferrari 54:15
So not like a basically an outline, an outline, then basically,

J. Mills Goodloe 54:18
Yeah, but then day two comes around, and I'm like, okay, that's kind of the game. Now the first x gotta have at least I don't know, maybe 10 scenes in there in the first act. So like, okay, that it just starts growing and growing. And then I put a little dialog in there. And then I put too much description in there. And then it grows and grows and grows until about three months later. I've got a 50 page document that still in word form. That's just kind of building it out and only in the last day before I turned it in. I then turned it into a screenplay and I made it something that's very new. I don't know anyone ever does this, but I equate it to if you're a painter And you have two canvases, if I have a oil and acrylic, and I've got a paintbrush, and I'm going to the actual canvas to start to, you know, to do something, it feels like I'm really making a piece of art. If I have a second canvas over here and I've got a pencil and a pen was kind of playing around with like, I could put a sign here, I could kind of do that, okay, three months doing that, it frees you up mentally. So I've never believed I never had to believe I'm like India fade in page one interior office daytime, and then you're looking at something that's very structured in a very weird format. But if you just kind of let your mind free, just like the beginning and middle the end. So I do that in a very elaborate, I've done that to every script I've ever written. And that's the only way that I think even to the end, I get really specific about like, I just I think interior exteriors screws me up.

Alex Ferrari 55:56
And I tell you what, I do the exact same thing, but with my books. So when I write books, I do the same thing I never get into like the actual document that will become the book until like, it's like never know, I build all that out and I build notecards within each of those chapters that you Shriver. So it's just kind of go in there. And I just kind of organize it all and then when I feel that, it's all kind of written there, then I'll start copying and pasting into chapter one. And then I'll keep going Chapter Two

J. Mills Goodloe 56:23
You can also put a lot more stuff in also, like put as much stuff you want in there, right in, right. At your notes, I'll put in 50 note cards, 100 like I can add everything and then at some point, I'll just start cutting some of those things out and kind of shaving it down. But it feels like it's much more of a playful way of, of writing. And it just puts the pressure off of you, I think when you're starting a script, and you have to hate three and it descriptions very insane. And you know, like description should only be really be, you know, three law. And as you know, in screenplays that you have three, maybe four lines the most that you're you're writing small, you're writing tiny like this, whereas if you have some big huge piece of paper and you're like, oh, it never comes into play, let's say you know, I'm writing a scene, you know, an interior restaurant scene, you're like interior restaurant, there's this person, this person, there's a music, there's seven waiters, this is what's dressing, it's raining outside, you know, these three people are talking like this, the hostess is fighting with her boyfriend, the bartenders drunk, whatever you're kind of you create all that stuff. And I'll just write all that stuff down there. And then I can write the scene in the dialogue that two people, obviously, none of that's ever going to win the movie,

Alex Ferrari 57:38
But it helps you in the process.

J. Mills Goodloe 57:39
But it helps you just like, there's no I just write, I can write. And I just write a bunch of dialogue. And then and then the best line I've heard about write about writing, which is really smart is you always tell less experienced writers is you write a scene, you put everything in there, and then you start cutting it down. So if you took out one more word, the entire seat would make no sense. Meaning like you distill it down to like, everything is as tight as you possibly can be. And then to the point that if you change one little thing, then it's gonna collapse, but you shrink it down like that. So the point of what you said, what you do in your books, and what I do in screenplays is, you can't shrink everything down to the real essential stuff. Unless you start out here, and you can't, unless you write a bunch of stuff, and then you can start shrinking it down. It's really hard if you start if you start the scene only knowing that you're going to be shrinking it down, started big and shrink it down. Just don't mean working in the shrink down phase.

Alex Ferrari 58:40
Right! You're, you're you're creating a much larger piece of marble that you can start chiseling, as opposed to, as opposed to thinking like, Well, I only have three centimeters to chisel as opposed to three feet to chisel

J. Mills Goodloe 58:51
Yeah, and that'll be 10 feet of marble just I'll just do whatever I can do. It's maybe it's a psychological thing, but

Alex Ferrari 58:59
It's, you've done okay for yourself.

J. Mills Goodloe 59:02
I don't I'm not like I'm don't i I've never taken a film school class. I'm really instinctually Yeah, I don't really I'm not I'm not terribly well read. I don't really have a great film history. But just instinctually that's kind of a process that's worked for me. And if I don't, and I just get comfortable with it, and it just feels it feels freeing, because I know I never want to think about what I do too much. I think that's really important as a writer as well, and I'm sure you might understand this as well. If you really think about how you make your living or how you make scripts. It's very, very scary. Because it's so subjective. It's all in your head. Yeah, and it's really frightening so if you just kind of play around with it and don't really take it too seriously, and you're gonna be better off

Alex Ferrari 59:50
Preached my friend preach. Because, I mean, I don't know if you've had this experience, but there's sometimes writers, they they go up there But sometimes, and they're a little too in their own head, and then you're lost. When you get into that mind space you can't create. It's very, very difficult.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:00:09
It's scary if you think it's really, really scary, and I have a family and I've got a wife and you're like, my whole living is based upon the stuff that I think is right. You know, it's kind of like if you make it's the same thing making music. I mean, once your whole living was based upon being a songwriter, and the whole idea of being a songwriter is to say, that note sounds right, that song sounds good. Well, there's no empirical, Deaf Jack measure to it. It's a very subjective thing. Well, how I would freak out if I'm like, my whole career, my whole supporting my family is based upon a song that I think is good or bad or dialogue that's good or bad or or a scene or writing it's a really scary proposition to base a career

Alex Ferrari 1:00:55
With with that said, leaving it's all up Nope. Let me ask you a few questions. I asked. By the way, everything he said is absolutely true. And I've said this constantly it this is a ridiculous business. It's insanity what we do. And if you start to truly break down what we do as a business, it's not a business it really isn't like like a business is in Coppola said it the best is like, I was in the business from business for a long time. That's not a business. He wants to real business Wine, wine. At the end of the day, you stop some grapes, you put in a bottle, you market it, sell it, repeat. That's a business. Right? You never you know, and it's like, does it wine tastes good? Done. There's no question. It's gonna get sold because it's alcohol, as opposed to a script or movie. You can have the best filmmakers of all time who've made some doozies in their career. There's very few. I mean, the only one I've always said that has always hit a home run every time is Cameron. He's really never had a flop really.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:01:58
But every he's my neighbor. By the way.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:00
It was Jimmy, tell Jim, I said Hi, Tom. Can you get the avatars enough with the Avat? Can you can you can you please? But yeah, but other than that,

J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:08
I'll tell you off the air. I'll tell you though. He's out of his house. And man, it's crazy. All right. Yeah. Like it's like Fort Knox over there.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:15
No, I've heard I have some friends who have worked with them. So I know a little bit about the house.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:19
That place is like I he has a he has a whole culdesac here if i is called a sack. You feel like

Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
All you see all you see is Terminator.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:30
Yeah. I mean, it's it's like, East Berlin. Like a Berlin wall there. It's like, why these guys on fire department

Alex Ferrari 1:02:39
Oh, no, I know. Yeah. The fire department. Oh, yeah. Yeah, the navy seals that are on

J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:43
Secret Service guys. I'm scared to go down that

Alex Ferrari 1:02:47
We will we will talk off air. I'm not going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

J. Mills Goodloe 1:02:55
I think the best thing to do if I was to if I was to start out fresh right now doing it. I would be writing and directing. I'll be writing small things that I can get made. The advantage of the business right now is when I first started out there were very small distribution channels. I mean, now there's so many distribution channels. And so many ways to do the film, I would say, to show off your writing, try to find something that you can write on a very, very small budget, maybe million dollars or less than million dollars, or 100,000 or 50,000, whatever it's going to be write something you can get made. That can be shot and use that as a calling card. Because people are more inclined to see a finished product that you wrote than a screenplay and you might have five great screenplays. It's really hard to get. No one's got actually known as five brains. But maybe one has one. One good screenplay that they read that they have written is really hard to get people to write that screenplay to read that screenplay and to pay attention to it. But it's very easy to shoot, or pretty easy to shoot something and to get a final piece of product into their hands to say, Hey, can you watch my movie? And if you can get if you can make a film, you can watch a film, you can get that first thing that people can notice your talent or your abilities. I don't think you can do it well from a script. I don't remember the last time that people said oh, that's I know the blacklist is a big thing right now. But that's been co opted I think in certain ways. But I think if you can have a finished product, you can be a lot more successful.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

J. Mills Goodloe 1:04:36
I just keep slugging away at it. I think you just keep keep trying to get away with it. Don't take it too seriously. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. And certainly I know that's can you ask more specific question?

Alex Ferrari 1:04:53
Okay. Um, how about three screenplays that everyone should read? You're now you're gonna go ahead. But if you've never read a screenplay, know what?

J. Mills Goodloe 1:05:06
I don't really I read. I don't really Alright,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:08
So three, three of your favorite films of all time.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:05:11
Jerry Maguire,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:12
Great screenplay.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:05:14
Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite things. I love a lot of PTN and stuff. But Jerry Maguire is something actually the screenplay that I have read, which also breaks every rule of screenwriting you ever can imagine. And that's another example, Alex of the film that if you tried to make Jerry Maguire today, it would be devoured by Studio notes, because you're saying, Can you the first movie opens up with VoiceOver, which never comes back in the rest of the film? Tom Cruise plays Jerry Maguire, he marries Dorothy boy, they break up at the end of the second movie. Do you know why do you remember the film why they broke up? I found a man you remember what it is?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:51
I forgot. What is this? I don't remember specific reason. I've seen the movie 1000 times. What was the specific reason they broke up?

J. Mills Goodloe 1:05:57
She says to him, I'm so lucky. I found a man who really loves my son, and really likes me a lot.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:05
The great line, oh, great line.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:06:08
And she breaks up with him, basically, because he's just isn't into her that much. Or at least he hasn't shown. He hasn't shown it. And then after the rod tubewell thing, and he shows up as he had me Hello. He says, You know, I do love you and I want to be with you. But there is no precipitating or whatever the word is, there's no incident that happens, which causes them to break up. And if you would go to a studio right here, right? What causes the two of them? And they're married by the way? They are married? Yeah, they are to break to break up. Well, they're married. He's working a lot. He likes her. He's not cheating on her. His he really loves her son. He's just not into her that much. How can you possibly get through that? And I think those are that maybe that's those are the things that I find inspiring about any script is the ones that kind of get away with stuff that aren't notes. The best example of that is The Blind Side. Meaning that somehow John Hancock got away on making a film on the blind side. Every rule in there because I asked you, what is her arc in that movie?

Alex Ferrari 1:07:14
It I mean, and I had John on the show, and I asked him about that. And I think it was I think it had a lot to do because he had the 800 pound gorilla in the room, which was Sandy. And she protected the project a bit and that's you need that.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:07:28
That art. Does she have a bad relationship with her husband? No. Your kids fine. Yeah. She rich and wealth in the beginning? Yeah. At the end? Yeah. Every if you if you filter that through a studio notes, yeah, I know for a problem, they would give her an obstacle to overcome just no obstacles in that film. Anyways, if you look at those things, whether it be the blind side, or Jerry Maguire, that if you really empirically or dispassionately look at it, how many things would be noted to death on that by people that would say, you know, there's no reason for her for Renee Zellweger to break up with him. Make something make him more dramatic. Maybe you should get caught with another girl. Maybe you should be

Alex Ferrari 1:08:13
It but it would have been so formulaic. If they did that. It would have been a

J. Mills Goodloe 1:08:17
Thing for me. My other favorite movie is lost in translation. Yeah. Like what relations a great film it is. And you know what? This is another crazy thing, Alex? They're both married in the movie. Right? Yeah, I'm gonna make a movie about two married people who are each other. Right? One of them is much, much younger than them. They don't, they don't consummate that relationship. We don't see the last line of dialogue that they have a great arc with Bill Murray in that movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:47
You know, he's pretty much the same guy. She's She changes

J. Mills Goodloe 1:08:49
In time she changes a little bit nicer. She kind of maybe she's trying to figure out her life. There's no extra obstacles. There's no antagonist. There isn't. There's no antagonist in that movie. And it's a brilliant movie. And it works so well. So those are the things I look at. My two favorite films would be lost in translation, or Jerry Maguire. They break a lot of rules. They're they're they're walled off from bad development notes. And they're somehow were made for people not to give them a hard time about it. And those will those always look up to, because they're really, really hard to pull off.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:29
Mills, it has been a pleasure talking to you, my friend. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I hope everyone is off. I hope everyone's off the ledge. Because there were some moments on the show. Like this is tough, but I saw Star Wars and that's what I need to do from now on. So all these all my future. I saw my future but Thank you my friend. I appreciate everything.

J. Mills Goodloe 1:09:54
Thank you so much. I really enjoyed it and you've got a wonderful show and I want to read your book.

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IFH 568: I Sold My Eggs to Finance My Indie Film with Sonja O’Hara

Today on the show we have writer, actor and director Sonja O’Hara. You might recognize here from my feature film On the Corner of Ego and Desire where she played an insane director at Sundance.

Sonja O’Hara is an Emmy-nominated queer writer, director and actor represented by WME and Management 360. She was chosen as one of the “10 Filmmakers To Watch” by Independent Magazine, selected by a jury from MovieMaker Magazine, the Sundance Institute and Austin Film Festival. (Past recipients include Barry Jenkins of MOONLIGHT.)

Sonja just directed two back to back features which are currently completing post-production: MID-CENTURY, a provocative thriller starring Stephan Lang (DON’T BREATHE) and two time Academy Award® nominee Bruce Dern, produced by Jeremy Walton (THE INVENTOR with Marion Cotillard), and ROOT LETTER, an adaptation of the popular Japanese PlayStation game, written by Tribeca Film Festival Narrative Prize winner David Ebeltoft and starring Danny Ramirez of THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.

Sonja also created and directed the Webby award winning series DOOMSDAY which was nominated for the 2021 Daytime Emmy Awards. For DOOMSDAY, she was awarded the “Best Director” prize out of 4000 submissions at The New York Television Festival. Sonja sold her original series ASTRAL to Adaptive Studios.

I wanted to have her on the show to discuss not only her directing career but also wanted to discuss her remarkable story on how she financed DOOMSDAY…she sold her eggs! This is easily the most unique film financing method I’d ever heard of. She made a film about her experience called Ovum.

An offbeat young actress who will do anything for a part, ends up giving up a part of herself when her method acting exercise goes too far and she ends up selling her eggs.

Enjoy my conversation with the remarkable filmmaker Sonja O’Hara.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Sonja O'Hara, how're you doing Sonja?

Sonja O'Hara 0:15
I'm good, thank you so much for having me Alex. I'm excited to be here.

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Oh my god, I'm so excited to have you on the show people, people from the tribe might recognize you, as the star of my last feature film on the corner of ego and desire we have. I mean, you've you've, I'm not gonna say you've turned into Julia. Because a little bit because you're not directing a whole hell of a lot. But, but you're definitely not the crazy direct that you played in the show.

Sonja O'Hara 0:49
An extreme version of like, you know, the worst way that I could ever become, but

Alex Ferrari 0:53
No, no it was. So let's talk a little bit about just for everyone listening, how we met, and how we originally work together, and then kind of how that and we'll, we'll go. And that takes us to certain direction. So how did we originally meet and how do we work together?

Sonja O'Hara 1:09
Well, I had a mutual friend, I filmmaker named lava, Lucia. And Rob had told me that he was going to do this crazy experiment, where he went to Sundance to, uh, he was going to go to Sundance to act in a mumble core film, by this dude who's a director and also a noted podcast host. And I started, like, doing all my research. And I was like, This guy's real. Like, he has a movie on Hulu right now that I was like, checking out. And I was like, wow, I'd kill to do that movie. And he's like, you know, I think they might still be casting. And then I reached out to you. And sort of in fatica, Lee was like, I am this character, I can do this. And we had a phone call. And next thing I know, I'm being flown to Park City, Utah. I had never been there. I'd never been to Sundance, I wanted to go to Sundance, and I was 14 years old and Nova Scotia. And suddenly, I'm like, living right on Main Street, shooting a movie, like, like 24 hours a day, for the week of this thing. And it felt completely surreal. Like I never it was unlike anything that had ever happened to me.

Alex Ferrari 2:12
It was so funny. Because all three of you all the main characters, you Robin and Randy, all of you had never been to Sundance. So when you guys like I took you through I was your guide through Sundance, because I've been there so many times. All your reactions. Yes, you were acting fantastically but, but most of it was just like, oh my god,

Sonja O'Hara 2:31
I couldn't believe it. I was just like, the whole time. It was just you know, you've seen so much like footage, like behind the scenes stuff of these like Sundance, like gifting suites and the Sundance like you had like all these places, and we're like literally knocking on doors. And we're like in the Sundance lobby lobby, like filming, like, filming.

Alex Ferrari 2:51
And I would be getting upset. And I would be getting upset for people getting in my shot. I'm like, Austin, please like Alex, we're not supposed to be I'm like, I don't care. I'm a director Get out of my shot.

Sonja O'Hara 3:03
Yes, that was probably one of my favorite filming experiences ever.

Alex Ferrari 3:07
I mean, it was such a and I think that's how I sold it to you too. I sold it to all of you like, Hey, I don't know what's gonna come out of this. But at least you will have an amazing story in 30 years that you'll go. There's this one time I shot a movie at Sundance. And this is how it went down. At that minimum, you would have that? And and we did. And we definitely that definitely a story there.

Sonja O'Hara 3:27
Well I was a little scared at first, because you were like, you know, we're going to be a bit disruptive. And we're going to go in there and people won't know if it's real or not. And I was like, oh my god, I'm about to be a speaker at South by Southwest. Like, what if people think I'm obnoxious, like my character, and then you just forget all about your acting. And you know, it ended up just being a joy. But I was nervous.

Alex Ferrari 3:48
Yeah, I appreciate you thinking that this was as big as the Avengers than now everybody wouldn't be typecast as the crazy director. But not as many people have seen the film. But so, but it was really great. And we were so lucky because my producer, my co producer on the project, Adam had this ridiculous, ridiculous sweet apartment on Main Street. And I still remember we built we filmed you guys coming in. And the looks on your faces. You were just like, What is going on? It was insane.

Sonja O'Hara 4:23
You guys held that party there every year. And suddenly like everyone meeting at Sundance, I'm like, You should come to this party. Like I'm not telling them that it's going to be filmed and part of the movie I just think the network Hello Agents come to this party.

Alex Ferrari 4:36
Which brings me to another which brings me to another lovely side story to our adventures at Sundance on the corner of ego desire. Is that you know you were hustling hard from the moment you got there at the party. We have recorded conversations with you. Because at party if everyone doesn't see the movie There's a big Sundance party there. And basically, it's a live party. And you guys are just kind of thrown in there. And we're just kind of like ad libbing and having a good time. Yeah. But you guys were all miked. So I so while we were setting up a shot, you are literally networking with somebody, and you're like, Oh, the call me back on set, I gotta go. But here's my card. I'll talk to you a little bit. And I was just like, I heard that in post. I'm like, this girl, man. Oh, my God.

Sonja O'Hara 5:26
I know, I forgot. Sometimes I even know the love on me. And I would like meet a casting director or something else is like, absolutely choosing. And it was.

Alex Ferrari 5:35
So one thing. And one of those nights I think it was the night is Did you see the room the room with us, or you didn't see the room with us?

Sonja O'Hara 5:42
No the crew decided to watch the room, I snuck off to go to the APA agency party, because I had seen in variety, a list of parties that were happening for the agencies, and I knew no one that was going, and I just went off and snuck into the party. And mingling that night, I met an entertainment lawyer who ended up making a bunch of introduced introductions to the big agencies and helped me get with my agent all because I went that night. And I've always thought that, like, if I had stayed in and watch this movie, maybe my career never would have started at all. So very crazy thing, like just how it was serendipity you know?

Alex Ferrari 6:23
It was, well, if you would have never done the movie, you would have never had all of these opportunities. So it's it's so interesting, because, you know, we weren't paying the millions yet for our cast at the time of making that movie. So you were just like, I'm just gonna go on this adventure. I'm gonna just do my thing. But when you were there, you figured out I gotta, I gotta hustle this and I got a network and I got to try to do as much as I can. But it's such a great example of hustle. Because I mean, seriously, I, I was, I mean, hustle, respects, hustle. And you were you definitely there. So you guys, I yeah, I know, you guys want to sit down and like, you know, geek out over the room. And that's great. But I'm going to go sneak into the APA bar party. And all of a sudden, you got your agent there. And then some of the guests that I was recording, you you would connect with you like I remember like, I remember one guest specifically, who will remain nameless, got up from the chair after I got done interviewing him. And you bolted.

Sonja O'Hara 7:21
Send it on,

Alex Ferrari 7:22
Like this poor man, you were just like a hawk, like offer on fresh meat. You jumped in, you're like, Hi, I'm Sonia. Here's my card. And you eventually connected with that, that guy and he's been able to work with them. It's just really, it's really interesting to see how that all worked out. And then as the movie, you know, got made and everything I kept seeing on Facebook, you know, on social media, how you've been doing stuff. And I was like, Well, I mean, she's directing now. And she's like, I know you were a director prior to getting to ego and desire.

Sonja O'Hara 7:55
But before them I had been doing indie projects on my own right, like I had been doing self funded micro budget projects. And one of them ended up getting enough traction that I was like on the festival circuit with it, and getting to do some, you know, speaking as a panelist to talk about, like breaking out from just being an actor and as a multi hyphenate to like, you know, getting selling like a couple indie shows, but I wasn't yet being hired and offered scripts to direct things as a director for hire. And here I am playing this like pretentious, like art film director. He's like taking the world by storm. And like, next thing I know, after I do your movie, I'm like, I just moved, I hadn't even moved to LA yet at that period, because I flew in from New York to do the movie in Park City with you. And then I moved to LA right after that. And then I'm pitching on all of these director for hire jobs. And like saying some of the same things that we have in the movie. And like, in the movie, like even when I'm like, Oh, this is like the shape of water meets transformers. Like I'm still like having to like see these ridiculous comps. And pick the people are taking me seriously and giving me money to make the movies. I'm like this is very, very surreal.

Alex Ferrari 9:10
So that character would everyone if everyone listening while it goes and watches it, which is available everywhere on Amazon and all sorts of places. You watch it for free. But you know, you were an extreme version of directors. But at the end of the day afterwards, I've had a lot of filmmakers come up to me and even, you know, high end professionals in the business who have watched the film. They're like, Yeah, I know her. Yeah, I know that character. I know. I've spoken to that director. I've spoken to that filmmaker a million times. And I'm like, I thought we were really off the off the reservation. Personally. No, no, no, we're pretty close to the reservation apparently.

Sonja O'Hara 9:48
Because I think people like that care so deeply and that pretentiousness comes from insecurity and you don't yet have an outlet to prove your ability and you're just so extra and like I'm not really like a type a nerdy person anyway. And hopefully it doesn't manifest in me being a psycho, but I definitely have been, like, over amped about things. So, you know,

Alex Ferrari 10:07
No, you weren't you were built to play that role. There's no question about it. Now, you but you start off as an actor. So how and why did you want to get into this insanity?

Sonja O'Hara 10:18
I mean, I have been acting since I was a kid in Nova Scotia, like when I was growing up, I would see Elliot page at auditions. And I remember when when, when the movie hard candy went to Sundance, like my goal has been Sundance longer than I could ever remember. And at some point, I had, you know, moved from Nova Scotia to New York to the acting school. And then I moved to Los Angeles at 20 years old. I was fade down, always personal assistant, which was such a trip.

Alex Ferrari 10:47
Ohh my god the stories, the stories,

Sonja O'Hara 10:49
Stories, I know and she was had this production company, and she was doing an adaptation of the plane masterclass where she was going to be playing Maria Callas. And I just saw and she gave me the advice that if you wanted to have any sort of autonomy as an actress, you had to produce your own things. So when I went back to New York, and started studying screenwriting, and when I made my first feature at 25, my goal was really just to launch myself as an actor, and then you just fall in love with making movies. And in the process of that I hired a really lovely director for that feature, but I didn't bring that person on until I had already cast the project and rehearse the project and like done and blocked it. And, you know, was shortlisting it. And I became a director in the process of making that first movie ovum. And then you just like above, and like I thought, you know, I made like a budget, you know, a $17,000 micro budget feature, which is still bigger in budget than what you did Ego and Desire.

Alex Ferrari 11:44
Much, much bigger, much, much bigger.

Sonja O'Hara 11:48
I had the bug and I just couldn't stop making things. But I still, you know, acting was my first priority. And I still act and I still love it. But now, the like, the feeling of fulfillment I get from making movies and being part of every part of the creative process is unlike anything else like me, you know how it is?

Alex Ferrari 12:05
Yeah. No, I have to ask you, though, was, and I might be mixing the plot with the reality. Did you sell your eggs to produce that movie?

Sonja O'Hara 12:15
Yes. And made and was like writing about the process of selling my eggs to fund my very meta while I was actually selling my eggs at this, like, you know, these egg donor clinics in New York where they were looking for designer eggs, and they're like, she looked more like Amy Adams or Emma Stone. Okay, check this box. This is how we're going to pitch her to potential like, you know, people who wanted like Norwegian eggs, and then half Norwegian. And it became like a very surreal experience. And I felt like I was auditioning, just like, I'd go to a cattle call in New York. And it was the same as being at like an egg casting. And then I wrote about that and then funded the movie, and made like, $100,000 selling my eggs and dudes get like, you know, 75 bucks in the candy bar. Women can make real money. So I made multiple projects with the egg money.

Alex Ferrari 13:06
You know what? So so listen, I've heard I've heard everything. I've literally heard every which way to raise money for a movie. I've heard it either through my show, or through people I know or just watching the industry. I've never heard of this. This is the first time I've ever heard on you. Film director selling her eggs and producing multiple projects with her egg money.

Sonja O'Hara 13:32
Oh, yeah, egg money was really like the golden goose for

Alex Ferrari 13:36
No, no pun intended.

Sonja O'Hara 13:40
One day, you know, there will be like 18 year old egg babies that see a billboard for one of my movies. No, like, is that mommy? Like I know what's gonna happen. But

Alex Ferrari 13:50
You know, talk talk about commitment. I mean, I don't know how many how many dudes out there would sell their their eggs.

Sonja O'Hara 14:00
There was a day that I had to go from my egg surgery for my first round of egg donation to acting in a film where I had to go through an exorcism in a field and you're supposed to be like on bedrest. And I'm like, launching around like lying in a field and getting shot. And like, it was really they were like, you should, you know, like, be, you know, in bed for like three days. And I was like, I gotta act like this is why I'm doing it so

Alex Ferrari 14:24
The thing, the thing I love about you is your tenacity. You you have a tenacity, you have an energy, that energy that you brought to Julia in my movie. There is there is parts of Julia with you within you. There's no There's no question. Yes, the extreme versions are funny and everything like that. But this, you know, wasn't a stretch. Like I didn't know that when I cast you about all of this. I'm like, oh, you should direct him and stuff. But but as I started working with you and I started seeing your pride now, over the last few years after watching, you grow as a filmmaker and as an artist. I'm like hurt, you are so tenacious, which is such a lesson for everyone listening is like, I'm sure you had a billion nose. It's still good and still getting.

Sonja O'Hara 15:09
Yes. And I just like everyone goes on social media, we share the highlight reel of what we're doing. But we get nose constantly. We get notes from festivals, we get those for offers for movies, I audition for big things that go to stars all the time. No is such a standard, but it stopped even factoring into my confidence. Like I don't even care about the news. Like I don't even ruin my day anymore. Like I used to be really sad if I lose out in the role. Now. It's like, I close those emails. And it's like, one second later, it doesn't even like stay in my psyche. Like I'm now actually past projection. I wish I could say that was like that in the dating world. But when it comes to work.

Alex Ferrari 15:46
Oh, the heart is what the heart is. There's no question. Now, you did get a chance to work as an actor on some pretty big sets. In network, what were some of the biggest lessons that you pull from working on those big sets, you know, that you have brought in to your own directing.

Sonja O'Hara 16:05
I mean, I think that there were many directors that don't really talk to actors on set and are so much more focused on working with their DP. And actors just sort of feel like moving crops. And there were many times that I just felt like I'm seeking some sort of validation that I'm trying to find, like one morning to make bold choices or something that my choices are landing. And I felt like a lot of the time, people just didn't really care. Like you were just like a moving prop to many filmmakers, not the great ones, obviously. And I knew that I wanted to take care of everyone on my set as a director, and I don't care if you're a day player, if you have one line, if you're a featured background, like I wanted everyone to feel like they were part of it as a collaboration. Because when I feel safe and celebrated, I feel like as an actor, I can make bold choices. And when I feel ignored, I feel small. And then I'm more likely to you know, not do anything that's especially spontaneous. Right?

Alex Ferrari 17:00
Right. Because you're not feeling I always tell people, like actors want to feel safe. And they want they want a safe environment. So I just I love to hear your perspective on and I don't mean to keep going back to ego and desire, but it is our experience together working as, as an actor and the director. You know, that was a very intense and wild experience. I just met you that day. I had never physically met you any of the cast was almost Skype.

Sonja O'Hara 17:28
One zoom. Yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 17:30
It was just like, Yeah, we did a zoom. And that was it. So then, when we met, you had to figure me out pretty quickly.

Sonja O'Hara 17:38
Yes, and you are so good at fostering a sense of you are warm and kind. And the way that you are on your podcast is exactly how you are in person. So like I felt safe to make choices and to fall on my face, and like, be ridiculous. And you'd given me a script, none of the beats that we wanted. But you were so open to playing and taking like chances with things. And that just makes you feel emboldened to make choices and have a real performance. Like, I'm often afraid of directors. And I think many actors are that way too. And that just doesn't give people the you know, it doesn't make people feel ready to like, take on the world if they're, like, you know, afraid to make choices,

Alex Ferrari 18:18
Right! Absolutely. Because if you if you don't feel safe, then you're not going to not only give your biggest you're not going to give your all but you're also some actors might act out, some actors will be in a protective mode and say, Hey, I'm just going to take care of me because obviously, you're not going to take care of me. So I'm gonna just, I'm gonna just do me not listen to you. And then this is where problems occur because the director did not foster that environment of like, you are in a safe space. No one's gonna hurt you here. No one's gonna judge you here. Let's try let's play because that whole movie was trying and playing. We were all on an adventure. Like, I literally got on the plane and didn't know if I had a movie. Like you asked me like, Do you have something? I'm like, I think so. Like I don't know if I'm gonna make my 73 minute deadline than I wanted to make over 70 Like I think 70 over 70 minutes. I think Mark do plus one said if it's over 70 minutes, it's a feature. So I'm like I just need to make enough I need to shoot enough to get over. But we had no time to look at footage. Like I just saw glance by in like, I bring you over I'm like here this is a cool shot we got or here's Mormons, but we had no time we were running we were shooting we were like constantly on Oh that one night. By the way. I have to I have to I have to call you out on the one night that we shot on Main Street excuse me in the morning we woke up at the crack of dawn to go shoot the movie poster shot that whole sequence the snow was falling the lights do they remember the whole lights were all dimmed up on Main Street?

Sonja O'Hara 19:52
Like like it looked like we were on this like beautiful studio law right there would be no cars going down Main Street. We had to ourselves, I was able to stand in the middle of the snow on the road and just look out at like the Egyptian Theatre and all like genuine awestruck.

Alex Ferrari 20:07
It was it was, but you unfortunately made the one choice. I know you regret it, which was the pant choice that you made at the beginning of the movie.

Sonja O'Hara 20:15
Yeah. I thought I wanted to look like happen hot and we're talking leather pants and heels on like icy like total rookie move because like I listened your podcast was like, were double warm socks, like wear flat shoes. Bundle up, and I'm in these like, stylish freaking leather pants that I was like, Oh, great. And I was freezing. And I'm like shivering and dying. But that she would be she would wear that she would wear leather pants. So I stand by your choice. Voice.

Alex Ferrari 20:45
But the thing was, the thing was beautiful, too is you never ever complained. None of you did. No one complained. I think the only complaint I heard was when we were at the party and we were shooting outside. And the boys didn't have their shirts on. I mean that their jackets on they had their shirts on. And I just pulled them out there. And for a normal conversation that takes four or five minutes, you might be able to pull it off with maybe just a sweater. But we were out there for an hour.

Sonja O'Hara 21:11
I had a major confrontation scene.

Alex Ferrari 21:15
I had a parka. You had your jacket on, like

Sonja O'Hara 21:18
And they were just shivering. And they were such good sports about it. I could see they were freezing. Like you can see their breath like they're using it. But like poor Randy is like, you know, it was it was

Alex Ferrari 21:29
It was insane. Now, you got an opportunity, right? Shortly after we work together to direct your first feature as work for hire because of all these things. By the way, I'm still waiting for my residual checks. But we'll talk about that. No, I'm joking. I'm joking. But what was it like for you walking on the set for the first time on that kind of project? That's not your project that you're a work for hire? What's that feeling like?

Sonja O'Hara 22:00
It was pretty intimidating. I was lucky in that I got to bring my long term DP from Brooklyn, I got to fly him to Louisiana. And we had made so many projects on shoestring budgets that we have sort of an intuitive way of how we work. So but it was still hard to convey this sort of small way of working to suddenly being on a big set. Like they he's such an indie DP that he wanted to be camera operating. And they were like, What do you mean, you're the cinematographer, like, we're going to give you a team. And he's like fighting to operate his own camera. And I am fighting to hire actors that I know and trust that will give me great performances. And they're like, we have the money for some names. And you're like, okay, and you're just sort of like expanding. Like, there's so many times that I don't, I didn't have the sets to be able to do these epic, beautiful wives. And I'm having you do these tight, claustrophobic shots. And suddenly, you know, you're on a real set with real production designers and things that I just didn't have access before. To, and it sort of just expands, you know, you're able to do things you were never able to do before. And that was great. There were some ages and problems where I felt like they were older local crew members that I look like I'm like freaking 19 years old half the time. And like I'm on set and I always directed like a floral dress. And I have like no makeup and I'm like this like happy like and I don't seem like the typical director like a man with authority, the whole space.

Alex Ferrari 23:24
Where's your monocle? You didn't have a monocle. I mean nothing.

Sonja O'Hara 23:27
And like, there was one day that I showed up with like, no makeup hair in a ponytail, and like a T shirt and sneakers and someone thought I was a PA on my own set where I was a director, you know, and it's like, you can't take any of it. Like I had no ego about it. But for the first week, I felt like judgment inside i from these like really seasoned crew, like half of them had just come off during the whole season Queen Sugar, and then they're like on my movie. And it's my first time with like a real crew and these numbers of people. And but by the second week, they got what I was doing, you know, and then I'm still trying to do little indie filmmaker things. Like I'm trying to get my like Terrence Malick like shot at Magic Hour. And we're like about to lose the sun. And all the departments are like last looks last looks. And the script is like this isn't in the script. And you're like, Oh, God, I just want to be able to be creative and get this shot of my own journey on a swing, as you know, that just get lost in translation to make bigger films.

Alex Ferrari 24:23
So so that first week when you're done because I was gonna ask you that because like I was I was at one time I know it's hard to believe the young guy on set. I one point I was always the young person in the room, you are still the young person in the room. But one day soon, you will not you will not be the youngest person in the room. But I remember walking on sets, I was directing commercials and and I would have this DP or I would have this production designer out of this first ad who'd been around for 1000 years. And they look at this who's this kid and they start trying to you know, puff up their chest and like Now you really don't know what you're talking about kid and that there was no respect there. How did you deal with that as a first time, not a first time filmmaker, but a first time filmmaker this scenario,

Sonja O'Hara 25:10
I mean, I luckily had producers that believed in me that I had come in and beat now more, more, like, you know, filmmakers that had far more resumes than me, because I've responded to the certain script. And I knew an exact vision of how I would do it. And I impress them in the light phase when I was like making mood boards and cutting together sizzles and doing all these things to get this job. So they knew that I had a vision, and I was passionate, and the actors understood it. And because I'm an actor, first I speak actor, and there's no person on that set, that's not going to feel like I care about their performance. So me and the actors are always good. But there is some issue sometimes with crew members that like, often it's the first ad, they've done a million movies, often they went to AFI, they like are really qualified. And they see me as this like young person who maybe has gotten the job because of optics right now, or in a post me two world. And it's proving that Sure, absolutely. Women are getting jobs. But I also have a voice and a vision. And I can do this, and I'm not going to do it the way someone else would. And I might make mistakes, but I'm going to deliver a movie with heart that's good and has a unique point of view. But I might just do it in my own way. And trying to act like other directors is not going to be the way that I accomplish that. So I learned I the first while I was trying to be like every other director on set. And now I throw that out. And I'm the free spirited little happy director. And I know that I'm not like everyone else, but my way works, too. It's just a different way.

Alex Ferrari 26:38
So you know, I've had, I've had many female directors on set, I'm actually gonna set on the show, because I always love to hear their point of view and their experience, because it's an experience that I just don't understand. Because I'm not a woman. And I had to deal with my own things, you know, being a Latino filmmaker coming up. And there's, there was a whole, there was a whole thing that I had to deal with coming up as a commercial director. But as a female director, I have to imagine that, you know, you got not only ageism, but just guys were just like, Who is this chick? And how is how dare she direct? And it couldn't be

Sonja O'Hara 27:16
Film at me, you know, they're trying to, like, catch me?

Alex Ferrari 27:20
Or like, have you, you know, let's do this scene, you know, like that scene that really did on Blade Runner. And you're like

Sonja O'Hara 27:28
I've started to just own what I know. And what I don't know. Because I think that if somebody catches somebody posturing and pretending they know something that they don't, that's more of a way to lose them. And I might have different references than they do, right. And I might be talking about shots on euphoria. And they might be talking about Rashomon. But that's okay. You know, we can find different ways that there's like, a different way to meet in the middle and still make great movies.

Alex Ferrari 27:51
But, but as far as I mean, because you have the pressure of being a director, you know, on your first big set, and then you've got also these situations, and you you actually very eloquently said it, you know, they might, because of optics, you know, oh, that's why she got this job. You know, as a creative, do you have enough stress, just doing the job, let alone with all this other stuff? Is there a way? Is there any tips that you can give other, you know, female directors or other young directors who have to deal with things that might, you know, might not affect other other directors of different ages? Or races or so on?

Sonja O'Hara 28:27
Yeah, I mean, I think that a lot of the time, the things that people are saying when they're upset, it's more that they wish they have that opportunity. It's not really about you and your work situation about where they are at that moment. Like largely, things aren't personal. And largely, people don't really care about you the other person, right? They're just like, endowing the situation with all the other people that they've met that maybe weren't deserving and maybe that person who's your first ad your second ad, is actually a killer filmmaker, and I wish that they would get these opportunities to but what I say is like, I didn't just get handed a job because of being a nepotism hire, right? Like I'm from no money in Nova Scotia, Canada, like I my mother remortgage your house to send me to acting school in this country, right? Like, I'm not from any of it. And I just made micro budget things for a long time because I loved movies, not so somebody would hand me, you know, a movie, like I didn't have any horse like aspirations. I just like to make good weird creative work. And it's just like finding those like, like minded weirdos who want to hire me to do it. So I largely Don't let these haters on set, you know, hurt me will get me down. And often they become my friends like the very people that doubt me the most, I often learn a ton from them because I don't have an ego about it. And there's so much like I have to learn, right? I'm a good filmmaker, but there's so much more I can learn. And I've just become like kind of Zen of like, it's okay, I'm gonna make a good movie. We're all in this together. But you'll know my name. My attitude about it.

Alex Ferrari 29:57
I always I always, you know for me three I always I've told this story on the show before, but I think it's it's a story that do needs to be repeated. I was on a show once that was, I was producing the show the whole series, I was the director. And we were under a lot of stress. We didn't have a lot of budget. But you know, we were able to shoot this whole show. And I had this older first lady who didn't know who I was had no, I'm not that I am anybody but understood, didn't do enough research to know that this is someone who's been directing for 25 years at the point that I did it. So I thought I was you know, who's this person who's this guy, and was giving me crap on day one. And I had to pull him aside and I said, Hey, man, look, I've been doing this for a long time. And I didn't want to pull them aside. Sometimes you got to show teeth. But I never showed teeth publicly. Because that's disrespectful was, yeah, always quietly, Hey, can I talk to you for a second? I'm like, Hey, man, I've been doing this for a long time. I don't appreciate the way you're treating me. And I've done this so much that between me and my DP, I don't need you. And I can, I don't need a first ad on this gig. I can do this by myself. So if you don't act, right, you're fired. And from that moment on biggest cheerleader he was? Yes, sir. No, Sir Howard, because he finally realized, oh, okay, this guy understand. And he was a frustrated director. And that's okay. It had nothing to do.

Sonja O'Hara 31:23
And they tried to make other people on your crew think poorly of you, because of their bad attitude. And I definitely thought things were, the crew has listened to my DP who's a man instead of me. And we're like, laying down dolly tracks for something that I was dead hadn't approved. And there are times that I have to just be okay being like, that's not what we're doing. And

Alex Ferrari 31:43
So children, children come back to the table. What we're doing,

Sonja O'Hara 31:48
When people called me miss, oh, like, I Miss Frizzle, from the little like, you know, on set, because like I do, I'll be like a really nice kindergarten teacher. But when people are condescending, I'm like, that's not how we're doing it. And then we like, you know, get back to what I meant to do.

Alex Ferrari 32:05
And that's a, that's a great way, a non abrasive way of doing it. And it's in people, it means you got to be pretty heartless and not react to that in a good positive way. And there's only so much that you can take before you you just go, Okay, I'm fine.

Sonja O'Hara 32:20
And you have to make your day and like there were times that it becomes bigger than me and people are getting in the way of that I'm like, Okay, we literally have to, and right now I'm only having to shoot maximum, maybe five pages a day. And you've told me stories about how many bajillion pages that you're doing. And I have such respect for that. But, you know, I'm like, I have to make my day I can't go over budget. And there's like a pressure there that's bigger than me and like my sentiments towards, like making art in a beautiful collective.

Alex Ferrari 32:46
It's, it's a really fascinating conversation. It really is. Yeah, and like that one show, by the way, we shot 96 pages in four days. And that's instant. And it was with Austin, my good buddy and DP, who's the best and he we were able to just knock it out. But it was just so funny, because I just had to run the first idea of like, dude, I'm literally paying you like, it's my production company producing this

Sonja O'Hara 33:14
All the time in LA where I go to a party. And people imagine that I'm just an actress, or I'm somebody's girlfriend. And it's like a bunch of crew guys that I could hire that I'm like crewing up for my next movie, right? And it's deep. He's talking down to me and acting like I don't know anything about cameras or lenses. And they're talking about like, glass and wood, all this stuff. And they just think that I don't know. And I might remain silent. But I'm like, You're not you could have had a job. And you just took yourself out of the running for this. Because you're being sexist,

Alex Ferrari 33:43
Right! And never just never judge a book by its cover. Never judge a book by it's just, it's old mentality. It's an old mentality. And that's how like, you know, when I was a younger filmmaker, they did that to me, they just would like, you know, they would like oh, this is a PA. I'm like, Nah, dude, I'm the director of the show.

Sonja O'Hara 34:03
Yeah, but then they get hard. And they see that I'm with a mega agency. And then there's like this quick about face and how they treat me. But it's, you know, you want to work with your friends. You want to work with like, cool down to earth, people that are going to be lovely when you're doing a 14 hour day, right? If you have an attitude, it's just not going to work, you know.

Alex Ferrari 34:20
Now on that first project or either of the two features that you've finished. There's always that day that we all all directors have, that the whole world coming down, crashing down around you. What was that day for you? And how did you overcome that obstacle?

Sonja O'Hara 34:39
Yeah, I had an actor on a project that had a really strong emotional response to he just wanted more coverage. And he wanted us to spend more time on a scene and the show must go on and I'd gotten what I needed. And there was an actor who just had a full breakdown, and was threatening to like, call their agents and more We're talking like history, Onyx. And like blaming everyone and not seeing logic. And it's going to cost our day like the actor was like refusing to do a stunt. And we had like all these things set up. And there were times that I think that so much of directing is just people skills, and be able to step up and be a leader and be like a freaking, like, I just have to like spin things and be kind and support. Because like, I'm knowing that I have to make my day I'm against the clock, I'm being told by the producers that I have to be able to get this particular actor to like, do his thing. And I'm just having to like hold hands and stroking egos, and all this stuff that I wonder if I'd have to do if I were a man, to be honest. But I got my I thought the person around, I like convince them. And on another movie, too, I had an actor who didn't have enough time was kind of a star who didn't have enough time for hair and makeup. And she just wanted to like blow our day, because she had the power to do so. And each time it's sort of like me getting like having an out of body experience and being like, Okay, I have to convince people to do the thing that I need for the to get the movie through it. And I just like, I don't know, it's like, my blood pressure is through the roof. But I'm just looking this actor in the eye, and like holding their hand and saying we can do this and convincing them to come to set. And it's just, I've had a number of those things.

Alex Ferrari 36:20
So it's interesting. I mean, I doubt that Ridley Scott was directing either of those projects that they would have been this issue,

Sonja O'Hara 36:25
They wouldn't have it would not have been. Yes. And then later, these actors become my biggest ally on social media and in the media, and talk about supporting female directors. And I always think it's interesting, because the reality isn't always that.

Alex Ferrari 36:38
Yeah, it's interesting, because you have to deal with things that I doubt that that that first direct that first actor who lost his his crap. Um, you know, I don't think he would have done it with someone like myself.

Sonja O'Hara 36:51
No, he wouldn't have he absolutely. He's a gifted actor. And like, you know, it's fine. And I forgive but

Alex Ferrari 36:58
No, no, no, but yeah, it's completely 100%. But it's, but it's great training for a director, because I've had that I've had, I've had actors who either weren't doing their job. And that all comes from insecurity, that guys, that was all insecurity and fear, and just.

Sonja O'Hara 37:14
And I have to say that now that the bigger actors like the marquee names, I've largely had wonderful experience, yes, have any sort of a need to do it, they want to have a smooth day, they want to make this a great cameo or whatever else. And they're lovely. And sometimes I do see like, it takes like a day for them to want to take my specific direction. Like before them, I see them sort of watching out for themselves. And they're worried that if they take a direction from an early career director, and it makes them look bad, they're the one that's going to suffer. And it could affect maybe their rate on the next movie, but they watch me direct other actors. And within a day or two, I've won them over. And then we're working together beautifully. And in tandem, you know? So it's just, it's, you know, and I think the more movies I do, you're just going to Command more respect, you know, ultimately, and I just worked with the beautiful Bruce Dern on the movie was the most supportive, wonderful human ever, like telling me stories of like, working with Hitchcock, and like collaborating with Tarantino. And like, I could have sat down and listen to this man talk forever, like our ADR session was in just like regaling his stories. And like, it was like the most fun ever, like he's the coolest dude.

Alex Ferrari 38:26
I mean, I've had the pleasure of working with those kinds of actors as well. And they're just, they're just such, they're old school, they're Pro, they come prepared. There's no ego, they're about the work. You know, and it doesn't matter if it's a $1 million movie or $100 million movie it did. They're bringing their stuff. But it's interesting that you say that they look at you for those first couple days, because they're protecting themselves. That happens with all directors to a certain extent, and all and all actors, because even from, you know, actors that I've talked to who are very established actors who work with really established directors, for the first time, you know, when you're on set, you want to figure out how, how do you? Is this going to work? Because you've got basically two titans. So you know, when Meryl Streep is on set, and she's working with Steven Spielberg, for the first time, you've got two titans. Yes. Now, either one has equal power. Yeah, for sure. They're just equal power. So, you know, obviously, they played the game long enough that they wouldn't have signed on unless they really felt that they could vibe and things like that. But at a certain point, you just have to figure out like, how it's one thing to have lunch with somebody and maybe even go away for a weekend and go to you know, and things like that and hang out with them and all this kind of stuff. But there's nothing being on set. And there was one story I will I will have heard which is so amazing. There was this one actor and I can't use their names because it was an Eric story, but it was brilliant. And I'll tell you who the actors are after we after we stopped. But there was this very famous actor who was chasing this very famous director. I mean, just chasing them to do this movie. And like, you got to do it, you got to do it, you got to do it. And finally he broke them down is like, Okay, let's do the movie. First day on set, that actor tested. That director, that director had been directing at that point, for two years. Very well known director, and the actor, very legendary actor. And he tested him, not to his face, but by his actions. So there was a scene that something happened. And there was a PA that was supposed to do something. And he was like, this pa isn't doing the thing the way he's supposed to be doing it. And I want him off the set. It that's it. And then the director came down is like, Alright, what's going on? He's like, I want them off the set. He's not doing what he's doing. Right. And he was testing to see how far he could push. And after the fact, then that director who is just old school directed a billion freakin things. Like it was a commercial director, and he did all this kind of stuff. He's like, you act, you do the thing. Let's start again. Wow. And never, and never and never had a problem with him again. But he was being tested by a very seasoned actor to see if he's got control, or am I going to be able to walk all over him? I don't care if he's a seasoned director or not. And the director just called them right off right there. They won instantly. And if he didn't do that, the whole shoot would have been hell. But from that moment on the shoot pretty much ran smoothly with that actor, though, and he's that actor is known for being difficult sometimes. But he's a genius. So I get it.

Sonja O'Hara 41:59
Well, right. Totally. And like there I was, like directing Stephen Lang, you know, obviously, yes. Come on. Don't breathe franchise, like he's amazing and super skilled. And he's such a force. But there are times that like, you know, he just requires a really professional set that moves quickly. And he deserves that, because he shows up, so ready to go. And he knows all day long, huge pages of dialogue. And it's like, I can't have my focus puller, doing like, everything has to go smoothly. And it's like, you just step up your game, and you're working with people like that. And like I learned so much from him. And by the end of the movie, he was like, I want to be in your next movie. And now we have this like, beautiful bond. But for the first couple days, he's watching me and then we'll go up to the monitor. He's like, That's a stylish shot. And then like, thank you. And you know, and it's like, he's looking at all of it.

Alex Ferrari 42:45
He's just been around. He's been around, he's worked with James Cameron, like, you know,

Sonja O'Hara 42:50
He's talking about working with these people and like having lunch with Dustin Hoffman yesterday. And you're like trying to not be intimidated. And he's not meaning to name drop. He's like, I just worked with Sandy Bullock this week. And I'm like, awesome.

Alex Ferrari 43:02
Tell Sandy, I said hi.

Sonja O'Hara 43:05
But like, they're the coolest. And I learned so much from working with those actors, but they don't give me any problem. Like they're there to up my game. And I you know, it's really collaborative.

Alex Ferrari 43:14
If you as long as you bring your A game with actors like that, and now only actors like that dps at that level. Oh, yeah. Production. No hope. You mean you weren't when you're working with an Oscar winning DP? You better know what you're talking about. And you don't need to know his job or her job. No, absolutely. You don't need to know about glass.

Sonja O'Hara 43:35
Yeah, I have to know what you want. And that's where I'm so involved with the shortlist, especially because I often act in things that I direct to. So I have to have such a relationship with my DP that for this last movie, mid century, the last week, I'm like acting in it for five days, and I get four weeks first, we're just directing. And we did the schedule that way deliberately. So you know, by then you can relax a little bit more in the last week. But those days that I'm acting and directing,

Alex Ferrari 44:02
How do you do that? Like, how do you do that? How do you like the one scene, the one or two scenes that I acted in the movie, we were together, I was playing myself. I was playing myself. And I was just like, it was just so awkward. And it was weird. And it was just like, how do you it's such a weird thing. I think every director listening should act in a scene with an actor just once. So they can see so because I saw your performance, you were like right next to me in the in the scene that we did together. And you would say stuff that would be like so audacious, that I haven't told you like I'm a disenfranchised millennial. I was like, I said, Cut. I want to slap you with that. Oh my god, that's so obnoxious. That's brilliant. Let's do it again. But being in the movie, and watching it from that perspective, is such a weird experience for a director because we're usually separated. Yes, it's so I love to hear your point. Because I mean, I don't consider what I did acting, I was just playing myself. But what

Sonja O'Hara 45:10
Cameo I mean, I don't know, for me, it's sort of trusting those collaborators, right, because even the days that I'm acting and getting to sit in hair and makeup, and like I'm having to like be holding my little monitor, and I'm still like directing. At some point, I have to turn off my director hat and be an actor in order to give the performance in my own movie that is going to be solid. So it's just on those days, really handing it over knowing that my DP knows exactly what I'm trying to go for. And trusting those around me and you feel like you're in a theater troupe at that point, and everyone has your back. And everyone's rooting for you to succeed, and trying it different ways. And just trusting and not being at the monitor and not trying to like do two things at once. Because then I can just see it in an actor's performance when they're like backseat directing. So it's like just trying to be present with my scene partner. And I've been lucky, like in this movie, I had a single Shane West and I grew up like I saw A Walk to Remember when it was like a shirt, right? You kind of have like a talent crush on these people. But it's just trying to be present in the scene. And then as soon as I'm done that scene, then I can go back to being the director. And then later in the edit, I might be extra anal about those scenes, because there are certain things that maybe micromanage and you're like, Oh, God, why did I do that? Or whatever. But it's really fun, and you feel very alive. But I try not to do three at once. Like if I'm acting, writing and directing, like, I think, ideally, I don't do more than two of those things on the same movie.

Alex Ferrari 46:35
Right! Because it's a lot. It's a lot. It's, it's, it's, it's so interesting. It's so interesting, because when you you know, I've had the experience now because of the show to, you know, speak and have long conversations with some amazing filmmakers. Some that I grew up with some that I have palette, I love the talent crush, I'd love that term talent crush. But you know, at a certain point, you know, that last for a minute, because I'm sure the first day when Bruce Dern walked on set, you were just like, Oh my God, but as a professional, you have to like, I can't, I can't get out right now. I need

Sonja O'Hara 47:09
I don't keep out my rules. I don't keep out till ADR when the movies in the can. That's how I could actually be a little starstruck. But before then we are just peers, we are on a set, right? coworkers. And it's like, you can't let any of that like mysticism about this person that you grew up watching. And but by ADR, that's the only time I'll ever take a selfie with an actor before then I'm like, a little more closed off, and I'm just trying to do my job. See what a big deal.

Alex Ferrari 47:34
Yeah, like you can't go on send the first day and just take a shot with them. Like, it's like, it's so you want to though.

Sonja O'Hara 47:40
I want to and I want to so badly but I've just learned that I have to keep like there's just a certain level of calm, I assure I can't even let myself fangirl like you're there to do a job. And you are there to make them have the quickest, most easy day possible. But then later, you know, when I become their friend, when you're promoting the film down the road, then they're like, oh my god, I had no idea you were even a fan because I was like, very chill.

Alex Ferrari 48:07
It's similar to me, when I'm talking to somebody, when I first meet them on the show. I'm like, okay, boom, boom. And after an hour, two hours of conversations and the recording stops. I'm like, dude, okay, that movie that you did, and then I'll just and then and then I'll pick up but I won't kick out prior to that. Because it's um, you can't, you just can't, okay?

Sonja O'Hara 48:24
We're having a rapport with them. And you're both equals, in that situation, you are having a dialogue and you're being of service to other people. And that's what I kept on reminding myself but later, I'm like, Oh, my God, you're my favorite actor, you know?

Alex Ferrari 48:35
So how do you so how do you I love asking this question of directors who work with these kind of caliber actors? How did you approach directing a booster and receive like, like, what was your literal approach to like directing them?

Sonja O'Hara 48:49
Well, I mean, I try to see everything they've done beforehand. So I'm never stumped, because Bruce Dern will throw an obscure movie at you. And you kind of need to know the reference. So I want to know everything about them before I try to read interviews before to talk about what their process is. Both Bruce Dern and Stephen Lang are actor studio guys. And I was an observer at their Actors Studio in New York. So I knew that I could talk to them about sort of method things and talk to them about private moments and just geek out about these things. And then I try to ask people just directly, like, how do you work, you know, and, and I'm just really cognizant of never getting in the way of the process, never ever giving someone a line reading. Like, it's really just sort of respectful. You know, what I mean? Like, there are times that you have in your head, like a certain idea of how you might want something to go, and then these people are going to throw such a different direction at you, that you just have to be so like, you are in awe of their ability, and I just I relinquish control and it might go a different way than I want but it's going to make me look good if I'm supportive of the thing that they're going to do anyway. And then just watching them do a take before I ever do give them any sort of direction and sort of earning that, you know, back in with them, and trying not to get too heavy, because there were a couple times in the beginning that like, I could write an essay on what every scene means. And like letting that go and trying to just, you know, sometimes it's so much simpler than you think. And you're like, Wow, this is brilliant. And I don't know, I mean, I think it's just like being kind and open. And, you know, they're, they're experts, and they'll make you look good. If you're just, you know, in any way, like, open and present, you know? Yeah, no, doctors are harder to direct than pros. That's how I kind of see it.

Alex Ferrari 50:32
I agree with you 110% professionals who've been around forever, who were sometimes legendary, these guys and gals, both that just, they just show up, they do their job, they know what their lines are. It's the younger actors, it's the more inexperienced actors is the is the more insecure actors, who are the problems that you have to

Sonja O'Hara 50:51
That's where a lot of my day will be working with somebody who's more experienced, and the bigger actors, but it's also like trusting that I have something to say, and that my directions are worthwhile, and that we're in this together. And I've gotten far more confident about like saying what needs to be said, without, you know, worrying that maybe I'll offend someone, because I think if you're invested in them having a great performance, and you're both together trying to make a great movie, you're just collaborating, and I try to not think about their stature, or anything else if you're just trying to make a cool fucking movie.

Alex Ferrari 51:21
Right! And they would, and they appreciate that. Because if you are like, Do you know who you are? Like, yeah, you can't, that that hurts the process? Because yes, that might be fun for a minute, but then you've got

Sonja O'Hara 51:36
No yeah. And I mean, like, I'm an actor, and they're an actor, and maybe we're doing a scene together. Or maybe I'm watching them doing a scene. But like, I don't know, we're just in it together and your team, team members together. And that's really like, given me a lot of calm going into set with these people. And like we're just in it together.

Alex Ferrari 51:54
Did you what was a big lesson you picked up from Bruce, as far as acting or see from just an actor's perspective, you're like, wow, I, I'm putting that in my toolbox.

Sonja O'Hara 52:04
I mean, Bruce does a thing called giving a doing a Jersey, where he makes you at the end of any take to just keep rolling until he basically says cut, and he's gonna throw out some improv things. And they're usually gems. And it was interesting watching Stephen Lang, who doesn't really do that, and Bruce, who's going to wing it, and like, do a total a bit and seeing them work off of each other. So you know, not calling up too soon. And sort of like letting them have their human behavior was something that was cool. And then Bruce likes his actors, Bruce reads lips, and it's really hard in a time of COVID with masks, because he's an older, he's 85 years old, right? And he wants to be able to read your lips in order for him to be able to hear things. So like, that was tough. Like, there were some miscommunications of just, you know, that's a challenge. And he likes his actors to be I mean, he's director to be like, really close, like, you're not back at video Village. And I'm like that anyway, like, I'm on the ground next to a scene with my mini monitor, like I'm like, right in the action. But he said he doesn't like directors that are like, distant and removed. And he likes people that are just really open and forthright. And like, I just learned so much from, like, just the way that he talks about movies. I mean, it's like being in a masterclass, but still trying to make us make our day because you can tell. Right? And you're like, it's film school, but I also need you to do this thing right now. And you'll laugh and like, do the thing. But

Alex Ferrari 53:31
That's That's to say, to say the least no, that's, that's, that's awesome. Because I yeah, I have to ask you, what do you what was there? Is there something that you wish your your you could tell your younger self? Is there something that you could go back and that you just didn't like, Man, I wish somebody would have told me this.

Sonja O'Hara 53:50
Yeah, I mean, I think that with auditions and casting, I see such incredible actors all the time auditioning for like projects that are wonderful, and they're not getting the part because they're literally not the type that you need to serve that story and do that thing. And I just thought I was awful and untalented all the time when I was younger, like the amount of time that I just beat myself up about not getting something and it was so completely out of my control and it had nothing to do with my ability. So just hearing like, you are enough. You have talent, you have a voice and you're going to have the career you want but be patient like I had no you know like I just wanted everything 10 minutes ago and you know I think it was just chilling out like was really important and I had no chill you know?

Alex Ferrari 54:37
I I'd argue still have very little chill but chill saw. Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, but that's the energy you have when you're when you're young is that you just are like this energy like I want I want to write like when I was in my 20s I'm like, why hasn't Hollywood figured out I'm a genius yet. What is going on? I should have I should be directing major motion pictures at this point in time. No, I mean, Orson Welles did it a 23 Spielberg did it at 27. I mean, what how old was Lucas when he did do a Star Wars? Like I mean, you start doing that kind of crap to yourself. And my everyone, I always asked that question, which I'll ask you in a second, like, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn? For me, it's patience. Patience, is patience is patience. And I'll drop a name from one of my former guests. Richard Linklater, who said, the best the best advice he gave, he gave us like, what are however long you think it's gonna take to get to your to make your movie, it's going to be twice as long, it's gonna take twice as long. And not done twice as long and twice as hard. For sure. Still, and he's still hustling it. He's still going after it

Sonja O'Hara 55:48
End up like achieving the things that you've always wanted. And then you realize like that your idea of like, achieving the goal feels good for a second. Like when I got my Daytime Emmy nomination last year, yeah, all I wanted was to be able to be like, I'm an Emmy nominee, and then you get it. And then you still feel like a big imposter. And it still doesn't like, you know what I mean? It's like, anytime you get the goal, it feels good for a second, and then you're still back to being yourself, and stuck in your own head with your own fears. It's and that sort of forever,

Alex Ferrari 56:19
It's the best piece of advice I could say to people is that the life that life and specifically our career, but life in general is the journey, not the event.

Sonja O'Hara 56:28
It is. And it sounds cheesy, and like it's so hard for people to understand it. But like, I love what I do, I'm gonna do this at freaking 98 years old. I'm certainly acting, writing and directing. It's the great love of my life doing this stuff. And it's such a privilege to get to do it. And like sometimes you have good years, and sometimes you don't, but like everyone, no matter what stage they in, that they're making it, they're still feeling like they're not enough and that they're not talented and like it doesn't that doesn't really go away. And I always just imagined one day, I'd have the big agency and I'd be doing bigger movies, and that my life would be without problems. And that like everything would feel hunky dory. And you still I still am like the nerd. I was at 17 and acting school in New York. Like that doesn't change, you know?

Alex Ferrari 57:11
No, absolutely. And one thing I'd love to just touch upon is that imposter syndrome is something that I've asked the biggest, most accomplished writers and directors in Hollywood, won Oscars, who've won Emmys, world legends. And they all say, I haven't watched it still, I still have it. And I'm like, But you, you you made friends. You know, and I had Martha Kaufman, who's who's gonna come on the show in a few in a few weeks. She said, Yeah, I still have it every day. And you're like, like, like security's gonna walk in. And oh, what are you doing here? You're not supposed to be directing who gave you get security? Get her out of here, or get him out of here? Well, it's a weird thing all the time. But that's an artist though. But that's a

Sonja O'Hara 58:01
And I think that you have to be vulnerable to make good art, and letting yourself be vulnerable. Lets like the demons come in a little bit to make you feel like why do you deserve this opportunity? And like, Why does anything I say matter? And like that happens. But I just tried to tell myself, somebody was going to get this job, why not me? You know what, like, you know that, like, we're all trying our best. And like, I'm just going to keep on making movies. And you just have to remind yourself that like you have intrinsic worth, and you have something to say, and that whenever people talk about waiting until the perfect circumstance to make a movie, I always get upset, because that's never going to happen. And growth is inherently uncomfortable, right? So the first time I ever do a new movie, I feel deeply uncomfortable. And I feel like I can't physically do it. And meanwhile, I've gone into pitch on that movie where I've tried to convince everyone. Oh, yeah, this is so easy. I've got this, I'm going to give you the best movie ever. And then I get involved with the creative process. And then you doubt everything. But I think that's part of what makes work good.

Alex Ferrari 59:03
But that's the process. But that's the process. Well, I mean, that happens with everybody, every director at any stage of their career. They're still they're still trying to figure it out. They're still like it's brand new to them. You know, again, and I've had that privilege of talking to these these these amazing artists and you just start to realize you're like, you put them up on a pennis pedestal. Yeah, but they're, they're filmmakers. They're there. They're writers. They go through the same they have to make their day. The camera might not work the sun the light might be going away on a $200 million movie. And on a $1 million movie. It they struggled with the same the process is the same. The paint brushes are different the players might be different. But foot like if I use of baseball or football analogy, if you're playing it with your friends on a field. High school football is the exact same is professional NFL football, right bought at home Another level and a whole other speed and a whole other level of performance. But the game is the game, no matter who you are, and at what level you're at, the game doesn't change. And that's, that's, you know, you could be playing on the sandlot. Or you could be playing in a major stadium. You hit the ball, you catch the ball, you throw the ball.

Sonja O'Hara 1:00:17
And I always feel better with directing. It's such a collaboration, right? Like, yeah, trust Bunheads. And you trust the people you're working with. Like, it feels like we're all in it together. Writing is a process that's far more painful for me. Because I feel like it's all me sharing my most like my demons on the page. And that I'm going to be skewered for it. And like, it's just such a different, more vulnerable process to me, and much harder for me to do it. Like I can daily show up to set and be a director and give my all and then like that with with acting too. But writing is like one of those things that I'm crippled with levels of like, you know, the imposter syndrome in a different way. So I think we all have like different things that, you know, come easier, and like writing will always feel like you'd like purging something really significant. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:08
That's amazing. Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker, a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Sonja O'Hara 1:01:15
Make your micro budget feature, just go and do it. And no excuses, like, make this thing yesterday? Because you will not have somebody else give you money until you've put your heart and soul and finances into that first project. So go make it because that's the only reason I have a career

Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
And sell your eggs.

Sonja O'Hara 1:01:30
And sell your eggs. Absolutely!

Alex Ferrari 1:01:34
If you have to sell finance your first feature that way? Absolutely. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Sonja O'Hara 1:01:44
I think finding your tribe, like there's an urge when you first start to get into the industry that you want to reach up to people that are ahead of you. And I think that you're going to find most of your valuable collaborators with people that you're currently enacting class with, or you're making that student film with, and those collective of artists that were my own peers, or people that I'm now bringing with me from project to project and that feels really good. So realize the worst and the people around you.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:10
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Sonja O'Hara 1:02:13
Ooh, Mulholland Drive is probably my favorite film of all time. I'm all about Eve, and Betty Davis film Love that makes that makes sense. And who, um, I've been really obsessed with Fincher his films recently. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
I mean, we're all they're all. I mean, you've talking to a Fincher fanatic. And I had Jeff crone worth as dp on the show. And we so geeked out on his process and how he works he's been he's been doing he's been working with him since fightclub. So you know, he did grow with the dragon that too and social network and like dude, social network had to get that shot how to do this. How do you do that? Like it was just fascinating. But yeah, Fincher note, no question.

Sonja O'Hara 1:03:02
I feel like I want to make a movie like Black Swan. I think that's I just psychological haunting stories of ambition are what keeps me up at night. And what I'm interested in making

Alex Ferrari 1:03:11
That makes that makes sense. And I think Julia would definitely like all believe, I think that's definitely our top. And what's next for you? I know, you've got 1000 projects going on. You should be doing the next Avengers soon. What's happening?

Sonja O'Hara 1:03:25
My movie mid century is going to be coming out this year, I said, signed with a very cool distributor. And you'll see news in the trade sometime soon about that. So that will be coming out. And then my series doomsday that got the Emmy nomination will be released on VOD and demand and all the streamers on March 1st.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
Very cool. And how about the other film you have going on.

Sonja O'Hara 1:03:48
The other feature is in post right now. And it's about to make its festival premiere. So I'll be able to announce some information about that soon.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:56
So I am so happy for you in all your success. And it's so fun for me because I literally was there at the beginning of this part of your journey. And I'm so glad I had a small, just a small part in helping you get to where you are today, just by casting you in a movie. I'm not taking any credit whatsoever for what you've done. But just

Sonja O'Hara 1:04:20
You were fundamental to where I'am today.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
I am not. I'm not hunting for I'm not hunting for a compliment. But I but I'm just glad that could be part of the the the journey in one small way. And I'm really glad to see it. And I every time I go on Facebook, I see your happy face pop up like hey, you know, it's me Quintin and we're just hanging out. I'm like, but, but you know, but that's the kind of stuff I'm like, oh good for her man. I'm so happy for you. So, continued success. I cannot wait to see the films you make in the future. And I hope this interview inspires a lot of other directors and female directors out there to tell their stories. So I appreciate you.

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Screenplays: FREE Download 2021-2022 Oscar Contenders UPDATED

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2021-2022 Oscar Contending Screenplays


2020-2021 Oscar Contending Screenplays

The Father – (Sony Classics) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Original Screenplay)
Promising Young Woman – (Focus Features) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Adapted Screenplay)

2020-2021 Oscar Contending Screenplays

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2020 Oscar-Winning Screenplays

Parasite – (NEON) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Original Screenplay)
Jo Jo Rabbit – (Fox Searchlight) – OSCAR WINNER (Best Adapted Screenplay)

2020 Oscar Contending Screenplays

2019 Oscar Contending Screenplays

Netflix has removed its scripts, though some of the links work. I will keep you updated…

2018 Oscar Contending Screenplays

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