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IFH 595: Marcel the Shell: From Viral YouTube Short to Hit A24 Film with Dean Fleischer-Camp

Dean Fleischer Camp is the award-winning filmmaker and New York Times-bestselling author who created viral sensation MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON. Since appearing on Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Independent Film in 2011, Camp’s work has been profiled in virtually every major American media outlet. In 2018, his first feature FRAUD was released to widespread controversy and acclaim, described as a “brilliantly provocative”(Filmmaker) and “exhilarating”(Sight+Sound) “masterwork”(Documentary Magazine) that “pushes the boundaries of documentary”(Variety).

His first scripted feature, an adaptation of MARCEL THE SHELL WITH SHOES ON starring Jenny Slate, Isabella Rossellini and Rosa Salazar, is slated for a 2022 theatrical release via A24. He has directed for Comedy Central, HBO, TBS, Adult Swim and Disney Interactive. Commercial clients include Atlassian, Pop-Tarts, Clearasil, Maltesers, and many others.

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Dean Fleischer-Camp 0:00
Every time someone asked me how like I made it or how I got that movie that first thing made, I tell them, here's how I made it. But don't copy my playbook because Hollywood's like a bank. And every time someone exploits an insecurity, they're going to close it up immediately. You can never do it the same way twice.

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created Enigma Elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like VHS and CRT images, smoke fog, textures, DaVinci Resolve presets and much more. After working as an editor colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, checkout enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's a enigmaelements.com. I'd like to welcome to show Dean Fleischer-Camp how you doin Dean?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 1:12
Hi, good. How you doing?

Alex Ferrari 1:14
Good man, I was so excited to have you on the show, man because I just had the pleasure of watching your new film Marcel, the show with the shoes on last week. And I told I told your PR people like I just I need to have them on I need to know how this happened. And go what in what universe do I live in that this movie gets made and put out on the theatrical release and it gets made in general but be put out by through put be put up on A24 like I need to know the story behind this this film because and I was lucky because I didn't know anything about myself prior to watching the movie. So I was I was a virgin and Marcel virgin. But as I did research for this conversation cell has been around for over a decade.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 1:56
So we're going on Yeah, yeah, yes. And he's he's an old soul. You're not wrong. That is pretty unusual for a movie like this to not just get made but get distributed. You know, it took a ton of real like blood sweat and indie film hustle. And it Yeah, I mean, it would not have gotten made it would have, we had sort of the Studio offers when those original shorts are made. And they certainly were not. You know, there had had wasn't really or the hardware wasn't really in the right place. And, and I knew that this was going to be you know, kind of a longer road of finding financing independently and then finding this family of incredible, brilliant collaborators that made the film possible.

Alex Ferrari 2:44
So before we get into the the the archaeology of how Marcel got brought into this world, first and foremost, man how and why in God's green earth did you want to get into this business?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 2:58
You know, I have always been I've always been drawn to movies. I was always a big movie buff and fan. I went to film school. i It's funny that the first thing that sort of took off for me was this internet short, because I think now people are saying like, Well, why did you decide to turn it into a movie? It's like, movies were always the point. The YouTube fame was sort of a weird, you know, happenstance. But I'm glad to happen. And I don't think that this type of film is my favorite reactions are the people that kind of are coming to it fresh because it's been so long since we've done something with the character and it's changed a lot it's grown a lot. The whole backstory is sort of different and new and and but but but I do think that it it would not have gotten made and certainly not in in the way it got made with all the creative freedom that I was given that our team was afforded. If it had not had a previously successful run as you know, YouTube shorts and children's books, I think that they're sort of you know, it's weird that we are we are sort of an adaptation of a pre existing IP because that's like everything that's in movies right now Top Gun lightyear everything is pre existing IP. And it's funny that we're technically part of that, but you know, our process and what this movie is is so completely different from

Alex Ferrari 4:19
A little different than Marvel a little different. Yeah, though. I would I would like to see Marcel in a Marvel movie. I think that was

Dean Fleischer-Camp 4:28
Cinematic universe.

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Exactly! So how you know so for everybody who doesn't know how did this character come to life? It just seems so it just like a shell with shoes on and googly eye like it's insane. And this was came, this was like 2000 10,009. Somewhere around there is when you first came up with so how did the character just come to life?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 4:53
It originally came about because the voice came first. Jenny had been doing this well tiny voice because We were sharing a hotel room for a friend's wedding with like a ton of other people to save money. And she started doing his tiny voice to joke about how sort of crushed and smashed she felt. And, and then when we got back to New York, where we're living at the time, I had completely forgotten that I agreed to make a video for my friends stand up show, like local Stand Up Show. And so, you know, my head popped off the pillow that morning, I was like, Oh my God, that's due tomorrow. And, and so I just very quickly, you know, like, asked Jenny like, hey, let's write a couple jokes for that character. You like really funny voice even doing and then I, we, we recorded it. Jenny did some improv around it kind of together ran out, like a madman collecting, you know, supplies from craft stores, basically, not knowing really what it'd be, I was just like, let's just get a bunch of supplies, and I'll figure something out. And, and I made a couple of little terrible looking like goblins that that did not pass muster, and then landed finally landed on Marcel, who I think is so like, you know, he's handsome. And he's, he's cute. And yeah, it was sort of serendipity. And then I screened it. I think I made it and screened it within 48 hours. And then obviously took off on the internet.

Alex Ferrari 6:14
It was it was stop motion animation at first, right?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 6:19
So yeah, it still is all the all the characters in the film or stop motion other than the the rare exception of the insects or CG, but everything else is stop motion.

Alex Ferrari 6:28
So yeah, I was gonna get into the album again to the technical because I was also Yeah, I'm a post guy. So I've been in post forever. And I was just like, looking at it. And I'm like, Man, is it? Man? Did they? Did they emulate it? Did they emulate stop motion to head? Did they competent? They do the stop motion? And like so we'll get into all that in a minute. Yeah, sorry. So you put up this little you made this little throwaway short? Yeah. Oh, this is cute. Let's throw it up on this new thing called YouTube.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 6:53
Yeah, it was I know, it's hard to even imagine a time when you make a short film, it doesn't immediately get posted on YouTube or Vimeo or whatever. But 2010 was like, yeah, the only reason I put it on YouTube at all, because I was in the habit, I'd made lots of videos for, you know, friends shows or whatever. And this was one of the few that I put on the internet because a sort of friend at that first screening, like, tapping on the shoulder when I was leaving is like, can you put that on line, I really want to share it with my grandmother who was at the time she had like a broken hip or wrist or something. And she was kind of laid up in bed and home down. And she thought it might cheer up. And that was the only reason I put it on YouTube. So it was designed for this audience of one but found a much larger one.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
Yeah, that's the thing that like that is that was literally the definition of viral viral film viral. Yeah, it was completely valid. It made what 32 million views on the first one, the first one you did.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 7:46
It's like more than that, because I took it down and I put it back up and you know, whatever. It's like I think it was probably it probably would be like 50 or something, which is actually Yeah, totally. Oh, yeah. Totally back down. i Yeah, I'm not even sure. I don't know what viral videos were before that, like Nyan Cat or something.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
Right, exactly. So that was like an actual viral video wasn't like something that the algorithm picked up. Like, there's no algorithm for Marcel No. It was just sharing, and sharing and sharing. And people were like, I gotta share this, oh my god, I gotta share this. So it was truly a viral situation. So when you the first reactions that you got from the you know, from that, which is still again, 2010 is still fairly, I mean, the internet's been around for a bit. YouTube's been around for about five years. I remember 2010 Very well. And what happened to you and Jenny, when that when you start seeing these numbers, you're like, What the hell's going on?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 8:41
Oh, it felt pretty crazy. I weirdly was like, I don't know, I guess I was pretty enmeshed in internet culture around 2010. But because I'd had that experience of like screening it at this, like, you know, kind of like art art hipster Brooklyn crowd and 2010. It seemed like the most like judgmental art parts, which I consider myself one. I'm not saying that. But seeing people who would normally be very judgmental about anything that you screen at, like a live comedy show, sort of just like completely melt and be like, what was that? And to see how quickly they connected with this character. I was kind of like, I think that's my go viral.

Alex Ferrari 9:18
Really, so you weren't you had an idea that it might go in, but the definition of viral is not 50 million views. I don't think you said oh, this is gonna go 40 50 million easy.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 9:29
No, no, I thought it would get passed around like, you know, like a small, you know, slightly popular Vimeo video and then we'd maybe we could, like leverage that to make a bigger project with it.

Alex Ferrari 9:41
That was the mindset already. I mean, you were the you were the hustle and filmmaker, like okay, this thing goes, we're gonna go out and get some financing. We're gonna make a feature of this damn thing.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 9:51
Oh, yeah, totally. At the time. I was editing like the I was taking the worst jobs like I wasn't aware. And so I was just like, yeah, how do I segue into director And

Alex Ferrari 10:00
Oh dude, don't you streak into the crier, bro. That was in 25 years color editing. Dude, I used to edit promos for Matlock for a television station back in West Palm Beach. All right, so I was like,

Dean Fleischer-Camp 10:17
I might have you be I one of my first jobs editing was editing a tutorial for how to do like a like, I think I think they advertised on like late night television. It was a tutorial for how to do home water births.

Alex Ferrari 10:32
Okay, so it was like in my I'm going back into my archives and see if I could one up that but man, I don't. I don't really think

Dean Fleischer-Camp 10:38
Matlog is pretty great.

Alex Ferrari 10:41
I mean, I mean it Matlog's is pretty good. Yeah, but I mean, but but, uh, waterbirth tutorial for late, man. That's a I'm gonna give it to you on that one. I think he won. I think you won.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 10:50
And it was like it was like footage from like, amateur, like people who are not, you know, professional filmmakers like filming their own home waterbirds as part of

Alex Ferrari 10:59
The home water birth wasn't lit properly. So it wasn't composite. There wasn't composition, there wasn't a techno crane rolling out.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 11:07
Not a lot of muse on scene, frankly, for my taste.

Alex Ferrari 11:13
Okay, so So the so the first video goes, and it, you know, goes viral enough. Um, of course, even then, people were especially I remember especially because I had I had a video or I had a short film that was making the rounds through Hollywood at that time. And it was doing the water bottle tour and all that stuff. So I imagined that you got calls from Hollywood and you're like, Oh, we got to make this into a movie. I want you to tell everybody because I know what happened even without even knowing what knows what happened. I know they were probably saying you know insane stuff like oh, we should take Marcel up with the rock.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 11:49
Oh, yeah, no, you're dead so well.

Alex Ferrari 11:50
So what were the pitches that you got for your character from Hollywood?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 11:54
The one that that has stuck in my mind was that someone a studio had recommended that we partner him with I forget it I'm pretty sure it was Ryan Reynolds that we partner him with Ryan prime together and as like

Alex Ferrari 12:15
I mean it's not a it's not the worst it's been a hard no it's a soft no one that but I watch it. Like there's some things you just like you should team up with the rock. I'm like, I don't know if Marcel and the rock are really right. Yeah, Matthew, Bruce Willis and him.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 12:34
Chemistry. I was like that one Detective Pikachu came out. I was like, Oh, we got pitched Detective Pikachu was

Alex Ferrari 12:44
What your IP was not nearly as big as Pikachu.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 12:47
So that's right. No, they were to go Pikachu. But yes, so we did that water bottle tour and it was just very clear like, Oh, this is they were trying to draft him on to tentpole franchise. And we were, I was always looking to make you know, more of a portrait piece about Marcel and like, really? Because I felt like there's no reason to blow up. Like blow it out. Marcel is already tiny in a blown out world. Taking him on, you know, fighting terrorists in Paris or whatever is like why, why?

Alex Ferrari 13:17
I'd watch that again. ourselves fighting terrorists.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 13:22
You're gonna see it, you're gonna be on an airplane looking through the new releases, and you're gonna see that soon.

Alex Ferrari 13:27
Is that is that Marcel with Chris Tucker? Is that was that what's going on right now?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 13:32
That would be incredible.

Alex Ferrari 13:33
Everyone, everyone listen, listen, a lot of studio execs listen to the show. So hey, we're just throwing this in. We're spinning out gold. Me and Dean are spitting out gold right now. Alright, so you had to say at least at that point, because a lot of filmmakers when they go on these waterbottle tours, if they're lucky enough to get this kind of attention. They fold. They'll go okay. Yeah, I just want to get in the game. I just want to go. But you and Jenny both said no. Where we're gonna, we're gonna make we're gonna protect myself from the savages of all.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 14:05
Yeah, it did feel like something that was like, Oh, got it. Like, because he's cute. It's sort of like, they're picturing this could be the next minions or something. And, you know, that was like, so out of my just like taste. And I think it was it also, you know, like, indie film might have been a little more the world might have been a little more robust when 12 years ago and so I think, you know, nowadays Yeah, you see a ton of directors making that jump and I don't blame them because they want to make a living and they don't want to spend another seven years you know, financing and doing it independently. So So I totally get it at the time. Yeah, I was just like, No, this character has become very dear to us. We know him incredibly well. And we know that that those little shorts have revealed like 2% of what this movie could be and and yeah, throwing them into the mix with with Chris Tucker.

Alex Ferrari 14:58
But But now Now that you've told his story, he's back on the table. I'm just throwing that out. Yeah, that's right. You've made your art piece. Now let's sell out. Let's sell out.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 15:10
Come at me Disney.

Alex Ferrari 15:12
Exactly exactly where we're willing to sell the IP to Disney anything, let us know.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 15:17
And the other difficult thing is we have held on to the IP.

Alex Ferrari 15:21
Yeah, well, we get you made. So you've made a multiple shorts of Marcel over the years, as I saw, it was like, every few years, you would make a new short, you had a children's book, children's books written about them. So this was an IP, you've you literally did kind of create an IP, which is really an indie IP, which is really

Dean Fleischer-Camp 15:40
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, totally. I think it's a really unusual opportunity that that has, that we've found ourselves situation we found ourselves in the, the the books we did ourselves, we wrote and I photographed them. And then we've worked with an illustrator like to turn them into paintings. And so it has never been the kind of thing like I get a little miffed when I see people say, you know, oh, Mercer, of course, he's a movie now. They like sold the rights to someone. It's like, No, man, it's me. It's me and Jenny. And it has been the entire time and we have met, we've held on to the rights of this character, we've never merchandised him. And we're, you know, we're beginning to try to figure out how to do that in a way that is holistic to the character and involves, you know, me overseeing all those things, but we've never really done the smart thing. So that we don't buy houses in Malibu or whatever.

Alex Ferrari 16:32
I mean, I mean, 100 man, if someone shows up with 100 million tomorrow, I mean, it's a conversation. It's a conversation. It's not a hard No, it's not a hard No. I hope that this I hope that this interview helps you along this these routes that someone that I looked, I saw I saw the indie film hustle interview, man. I'll give you 75 mil cash for the IP. I think we can make this work.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 16:54
What's your commission, man?

Alex Ferrari 16:56
That's the love brother. Just the love for Marcel. That's all I want. So okay, so the next question is Alright, so now Hollywood has is pitched you Pikachu. Yeah, and gone down that road. So you guys said, Okay, we got to get to kind of make this ourselves. So now starts the journey of finding people who are insane enough to give you money to make a movie about a talking shell? Yeah, in a house. I mean, yeah, I'm still gonna have to stop you for a second. I was literally sitting watching the movie. And I'm going, how did this get? Like? How, who? And this is before I knew about the IP and knew about the shore? Yeah, so that makes it a little bit more sense. But not much more? Not much. Yeah. So

Dean Fleischer-Camp 17:45
So there's a period after those that the water bottle tour where, you know, we're making a kid's book, maybe and, and we kind of just said no to that we walked away from those and we didn't do anything, we were just like, let's just keep our character and, you know, not get into something that we can't, we can't handle and that we're going to be not proud of. And so for, I think like three or four years, we didn't, we just didn't try to pitch it as anything bigger, but the character never went away. And Jamie and I were kind of always sort of riffing about what his world would be in jokes. And, and I started sort of taking, you know, lazy notes about whenever we'd have a really good idea that we loved about that. And then, you know, after like, four years, I felt like, oh, this actually could work is like a future film. We've sort of built out the world and done all of this. I don't know, like, imagine imagination, building. And, and maybe this actually could deserve a 90 minute like a full feature. And the first thing we did was we got in touch with lysholm who had produced Obvious Child Jenny's first kind of starring role. And also, you know, small indie and and then after, like, how do we Yeah, let's like do this together, where you've come on to produce it and to start from really from the ground up and help us find finances and find money for it. And so, you know, we put together a kind of prospectus a brief and had I had done a lot of like drawing and sort of building up the world. And, you know, we did like another one of our bottle tour where, you know, we're a little older, a little wiser, I understood, I as a filmmaker understood who I was, and, and it was even more impossible than just let us make an animated movie about talking shell. It was also I want Final Cut. And we want a lot of like a final cut. We want a lot of creative control, and we're also not going to sell you a screenplay. You are buying a really like detailed outline and a vision and a group of filmmakers that will deliver but I knew that the screenplay had to be done in tandem with recording audio. Jenny is such an incredible improviser or she's not a like, sit down and write kind of person. And we had, I forget when but we brought on Nick Paley, who's our CO writer on it. And so we were like, we're not, we don't have a finished screenplay to sell to you, you're buying this idea, this abstract, loose, imaginative story. And a process that I, to my knowledge is a is not a way that any other movie has been made before with this sort of, like, full a full stop motion character integrated into a live action world for a feature length. And, and a lot of places there, you know, one or the other of those ideas was a deal breaker. And finally, we found who turned out to just be like our champions, and I'm so grateful that we have them this, this company called Centereach, who financed the film almost entirely, they're a nonprofit out of New York or a not for profit out of New York, they had finance before you've you've heard of a lot of there, they've been a presence in anywhere for a while they finance piece of the Southern Wild, was there was like, I think their first really big one. And, and they usually they usually do small grants and finishing funds and things. But, but they also have this incredible team of in house producers, who were amazing and came on board. And so they were the place that we found a home for it and a home for, you know ourselves where we were supported creatively and financially. And they they were, you know, crucial to get to a movie like this getting made.

Alex Ferrari 22:00
Not only did you have the balls. But this whole package together, I need Final Cut, you got no script. You were you're just basically it's a wing and a prayer here, guys. And it's not like you've done 45 other feature films based on that kind of scenario.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 22:18
Yes, true.

Alex Ferrari 22:21
It is really unheard of. It's really, it's, you're an anomaly that this, how would this got made? But I think it's the power of the character that pushed it through?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 22:31
Absolutely. I don't think that we you'd be able to do that if it was just, you know, from scratch. And of course not, you have to have for someone to believe and have that much faith in something that abstract and that unique, it really requires it having had some record of success. And we were lucky that that was you know, early Internet where it was pretty democratic and pretty word of mouth. Successful. So because it had a little bit of a built in audience, I think that that allowed us to do that. By the way. I don't think I had balls. I think I think competence, sort of ignorance dressed up as ignorance is bliss.

Alex Ferrari 23:08
Doesn't everyone get final cut? I'm just gonna ask for Final Cut. Everyone doesn't have to put in a script. Right? You don't have to buy that. Right. You just just kind of roll with it. So I was I was watching the CBS Sunday Morning. That piece data? Yeah. Which was fantastic. Is it true that there was four versions of this movie made?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 23:26
Yeah, I mean, so we made the movie started four times we did the first round was the first couple years was writing the screenplay. And over the course of that we were we would record audio for a couple days to integrate the like Jenny's great improv and like fold in Isabella and some of the other characters. So we would record a couple days and then write and then recording, right. So that first two and a half, three years was just writing a screenplay. And towards the end of that we were, we were folding in storyboards. So by the very end of that process, we had made the movie in the sense that all the audio was locked, the script was locked, the story was locked, and it was fully storyboarded, Kyrsten laporan, I storyboard the entire movie. So that sort of animatic we could watch and it and it was, you know, we can show to friends and get feedback. And so that was the first time then you go into live action, and you shoot all the plates, those sort of all the live action elements, and then the and then that third step is the is the animation. I guess we made it at least three times, if not more, I'm not sure we made it four times, but something like that.

Alex Ferrari 24:31
A lot of that. And then you were also You were also in it, as well.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 24:35
Yes, yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 24:37
You're playing an older version of yourself.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 24:41
That's so funny. Yeah. I think I'm playing a I think I'm playing a maybe a young I think I'm playing who I was like maybe in college or like shortly after, like, pretty, pretty down in the dumps and depressed, kind of a depressive. I don't, I'm glad I'm not that person anymore. But I want to sort of

Alex Ferrari 24:59
I'm also glad I'm not the guy.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 25:02
Oh my god. Could you imagine?

Alex Ferrari 25:04
Could you could you imagine? Because because it's always fun to see the the the 40 year old in the in the club. It's always Yeah, right in the corner the guy with the gray, the gray in the goatee in the corner. That's exactly what I need

Dean Fleischer-Camp 25:20
Does he own this place?

Alex Ferrari 25:21
Does he own this place? Is he? Like, what is what is he doing over there? Yeah. Oh, he's dancing. Oh, is that what these calls dancing? Oh, God. Now another thing as I'm watching the movie, I'm hearing this voice and I'm going status a Bella Rossellini. No, no way. They got Isabella Rossellini in this. And as she just the character just kept talking. I'm like, That's Isabella Rosaleen. So that the intrigue my my personal intrigue on how this movie was made, how in God's green earth that you pitched this to Isabella Rossellini, and she said, Sure, I'm gonna play a grandma shell.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 26:05
I think we got super lucky we, I mean, we went through, you know, a cast. We worked with a casting director. But we really wanted Isabella and we sent her the offer, and we sent her, you know, a brief thing about Marcel and his history on the internet. And I think that she probably by herself would have been like, No, I'm Isabella Rossellini. Luckily, her I think daughter or her kids were or maybe grandkids were. Or no, I think her dad was like, no, no, we like Marcel, like Marcel is cool. You should totally do this. And so she, she agreed to do it. And I think like, obviously, I felt like she would be incredible at it, but I didn't know kind of how perfect she would be for it. Because she is, like a lot of the things that that character change once we asked her because we were able to write it around Isabella and around what you know, Nick, and I found really charming and great about her personality. And she has so much in common with the character even before we met Isabel like she literally lives on a farm and knows a ton about about farming and gardening. She has a master's in animal behavior. And, and she also is like, she's, she doesn't kind of suffer fools she doesn't. She's She's just like a very charmingly blunt and not mean but charmingly blunt person who cuts right to the quick of things. And that became obviously like a central thing about Nana County, but some some of that. Some of the B roll you can kind of hear just like the texture of her, like for example, when she's showing me her strawberry in the movie. That's literally her just showing me around her farm and me like interviewing her asking her questions about her farm.

Alex Ferrari 27:39
Really, that's how I'm gonna incorporate that in a movie. I'm gonna put that in. Yeah, it's such a fascinating process, dude. Like this is yeah. I mean, like I said, when I want to walk out of the theater, I'm like, I have to have deep I have to find out how this was made. Because it look I mean, I've been I've been hustling in the film game for Yeah, you know, close to 30 years now, with my own projects, and then with the show now that I've heard 1000s of stories, just and I've studied every anomaly known to man, from mariachi to paranormal, I mean, I've studied all of them had a chance to talk to some of these filmmakers. And I saw this, I'm like, I can't wrap my head about how this was made. And that doesn't happen often. Normally. I'm like, Oh, this is what happened, this was happened. And even with the knowledge of the shorts and the IP, it's still such an uphill battle, to try to get something like this and maintain this soul that you guys were able to maintain with the movie you didn't SKU off. You knew exactly who Marcel was. And it you know, I mean, by the way, every time he threw up, I just couldn't stop laughing. It's just gonna stop laughing. Sorry. I just I just, I just it just came into my head. I'm like, oh, yeah, car and the Carter. Yeah.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 28:51
One of my favorite parts as well. I think that it's like, you know, people have been asking me, obviously, well, what's the what was the genesis? You know, you made the character 12 years ago, it took seven years to make the movie? And the answer to the question, like, how does this movie get made in that exact, very unique way is time you you in walking away from those studio deals, you also walk away from a quick turnaround, because the the end road is going to be hard and you're you know, one of your only things that's in your corner is that you have more time than like a studio would require to spit out something or put it on their slate it's a huge advantage. But you are taking a risk that you know it just never sees the light of day or the if specially if it's an internet thing like that you miss your your moment of popularity or something. But it just felt so it just felt like the right thing to do. And I knew that I would feel like a real show that making a terrible Marcel movie with a character whose potential I knew.

Alex Ferrari 29:52
Yeah, it's remarkable. I have to ask you the question though, man. This is something that a lot of filmmakers don't don't understand. it and are dealing with as they as they're listening to this right now. How did you get through this those years? How did you get through those years of not getting the success that you want it not getting the opportunities you want it having to knock on doors and doors being closed on your face the nose and the nose and the nose? Or the yeses? But yes is with with oil to get this Yes, units, you get the strings and string. How did you get through all of those those years? Because this was over a decade of your life with this character and getting getting this thing made? How do you keep going all those years?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 30:36
I think that's something that is important. At some point, I realized you have to like I wasn't a super, I don't know, some of my like homeschool friends like graduated from film school and they were so you know, willing to just kick open the door and like give someone the elevator pitch for their screenplay and, and that works out sometimes. And as someone whose that just doesn't come naturally to I, I realized that I was at some point I made sort of a promise, I think with Nick Paley who co wrote the film that we're always going to hold each other accountable to at least get to know that actual firm No, before we give up on a project. And that is incredibly important. Because I'm, at least before this, I was super willing to you know, if someone just gave me the runaround, or they said we don't know, I don't know, let's let's come back to me in March or whatever, you know, like, I would just I would let those failures or quasi failures really get to me and I interpreted it as a message that just project you know that that was a no, but the truth is, you don't know unless you get to affirm. No. So now I think and I tell this to like anyone who wants to be an indie filmmaker, get to know, at least get to know, because probably they'll say yes, before they say no. If you you know

Alex Ferrari 31:55
So no one asked you the technical stuff. Alright, so you guys shot this?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 32:02
Wait, can I say one of the things actually real quick, going back to what you said about like, studying El Mariachi and? And those other sorts of movies that? I? Yeah. I don't remember who told me this. But I read or someone said to me, every time someone asked me how like I made it or how I got that movie, that first thing that I tell them. Here's how I made it. But don't copy my playbook because Hollywood's like a bank. And every time someone exploits an insecurity, they're going to close it up immediately. You can never do it the same way twice.

Alex Ferrari 32:37
And that's the thing I've learned over the years is that when you because I was always trying to hack my way in, I was trying to like, well, if I go down this road, right, I'll do what Kevin Smith did, or I'll do what Yeah, Joe Carnahan did or I'll do you know, and I'll just kind of go all these ways. And I realized years later after going back and looking like, oh, there was never another El Mariachi. Or that style. There was never another clerks. There was never another Brothers McMullen. There was never another paranormal activity or Blair Witch. Yeah, like, they're like, they snuck into the party. And then the bouncer came in, and shut the door and make sure nobody. Exactly. So the exact same thing with Marcel no one's ever going to walk this path. This is your path and your path alone. People can get inspiration from it. And you know, but they're like, Okay, I'm gonna go make a show. I promise you right now someone's listening, and is going, I'm gonna go make an animated short, with stop motion. And I'm gonna create a character and I'm going to and they're going to try to do this rote. And they're gonna go, Oh, it didn't work. Why did it work for them? Because it was your it was yours. This was this was gifted to you from the gods. And you're like, This is yours. Take care of it. And guided, guided through.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 33:52
I don't want to discourage anyone from going in May. Thanks.

Alex Ferrari 33:55
Absolutely. But not the exact same thing. But

Dean Fleischer-Camp 33:58
Yeah, yes, exactly. Yeah, yeah, it's true. And, you know, to some extent, I think to continue a healthy artistic practice, you can't get caught up in Why didn't this work? Or how do I, you know, how do I get to that person's level, like, you got to just the lighting and control is, is your work.

Alex Ferrari 34:15
But the thing is this, and this is something that I found so true, after years of talking to all of these great filmmakers, is every great filmmaker, every great artist, every great writer, every single one of them is true to themselves. It is their essence, coming through their work. They're not copying anybody else. They're not. They're not doing they're not you know, I'm not trying to be David Fincher, I'm not trying to be Christian. They are who they are. And that is the that is the key to success as an artist, and but that's the scariest thing to come out with a shell with a googly eye and some shoes on and say this is me and put it out on the do I mean serious? That's you guys. That was something that was so purely you. It's not like you said, You know what there was this other shell with two googly eyes. I'm gonna do one. It was something that was so personal to you. And that's what made the success of that at that character.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 35:14
Yeah, it's also a numbers game like luck. I mean, yeah, I mean, you would use the amount of luck required to by making many more things. So I mean, sure, Marcel was the first thing that really took off. But before that I was hassling it as an editor of the waterbirth videos and creating and creating shorts with my friends that, you know, they never went anywhere, though. No one's ever seen those. But it wasn't. Yeah, you got to not it's not a No, I don't wanna say it's a numbers game. But I think you just have to remain in practice. Just kind of,

Alex Ferrari 35:49
You just grind. It's the grind and the persistence of showing up. And I know, yeah, this. Look, there's so many people that make it in this business, who really aren't the most talented, but the most persistent sir.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 35:59
Yes, totally. That's those people that are kicking down doors and given executives elevator pitches when they're like 19.

Alex Ferrari 36:06
Right, exactly. But you also know people who are extremely talented, but haven't gotten the shot. So yeah, you know, it's, you wonder like, why haven't they gotten the shot, but this other guy, or this other girl got the shot and it just not as down? Like nothing against them. It's just, they just don't have the goods the same? Yeah, it's really fascinating. It's a fascinating thing. But if you can be true to yourself and be an expression of who you really are something personal to you. That's the key that you need your secret sauce, that secret sauce is what sets you apart from the crap.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 36:37
And you also won't if you're making something that's personal and true and true to your heart. Yeah, the money is if you are happy to be successful, you know, it doesn't matter so much. of your being standing true to your heart, you're expressing yourself. That's a that's a and and that's the value is sustaining. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 36:53
Absolutely. So alright, so you guys shot it, dude, you guys shot the the shells in? You actually shot it stop motion? Yeah, yeah. And they kind of comped it, or was it all on camera?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 37:07
No. So we, I felt from the beginning, like, well, I want this to feel like a real documentary I honestly had never seen and maybe still haven't like a quote unquote, documentary that doesn't just use it as kind of a joke and make fun of its characters. And so I was like, I want to do a mockumentary about this character. And it'll be funny, but I want to treat him with dignity and tell his story with the same kind of respect that you would tell any documentary subjects story. So part of the difficulty is that it's like, okay, well, you know, it's gonna be a Veritate documentary and have that kind of intimacy. How are you going to do handheld motion with a stop motion character, and it's very, very hard, it turns out, but what we did was that we shot everything, live action without characters in it. And then Marcel, and all the animated characters are shot on the animation stage and composited into live action footage. But because like I've been describing it, like everyone knows how a Marvel movie gets made. It's like the shoot the live action. And then step two is that the the VFX artists model and composite things in the computer into the footage, instead of a VFX. Team? Not I mean, we also have to be flexible, but instead of a computer, we have a our step two as a second shoot an animated animation shoot. And because of that, the lighting on Marcel and all the movement and all and all the shadows has to match perfectly with the live action shoot, or he's not going to comp properly. Because it's a real piece of footage. Marcel is a real stop motion piece of footage. You can't alter the lighting later when you're compositing. And so that required our stop motion DP Eric Atkins being on set every day and taking the most meticulous notes on on the lighting setup so that he can recreate it on the stages down to like, okay, Marcel's standing four inches from a Coca Cola cannon that might bounce light. So like things like that, every scenario every time I looked down at his iPad on set, it just looked like scratching from like A Beautiful Mind. It's just like equations and math and like measurements and but but he did it and he has a real engineering brain for that sort of thing. And it's incredible. And when Marcel's interacting with things, shadows, like for example, when he's in the car, there's you know, are passing by trees and the shadows flickering across. And so for each one of those shadows, Eric had to take a look at the time code, we're passing a tree at this time code, and then and then automate a flag to pass by the light to sync up perfectly with when we pass by the tree. So all of that is super meticulous, incredible work by our cinematographers on the animation team. I mean, I'm sorry and the VFX team also crucial

Alex Ferrari 39:47
No, no I just in our that because I know what everything you're saying. I understand exactly what you have went through and it's insane. It's beautiful. It's a beautifully shot film. It the animation was so good that I was like Is this a CG character that they made look like stop motion because that would make the most sense. Easiest play to do something like that. But then I would see like that like man, the cut that stop motion like the tear, and they got that stuff going they're really doing a good job with that. Like, if that if that is CG like man, so I was like it was so this movie fascinates me is so multiple levels, my friend multiple, double the levels. So then I have to ask you, Why is everyone so touched by a shell with a googly eye and a small pair of shoes that what is it about this character? That everyone? I mean, I teared up in the damn movie, man. I'm like, why am I tearing up over a damn shout?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 40:40
Some funny people keep coming up to me being like, I saw your movie. I'm bald and I can be like, great. That's awesome. Yeah. But I think that what is true about why he resonates with so many people is that we all know what it's like to sort of live in a world that wasn't made for us, you know, either from childhood where you're, you know, literally you are. And then I think a lot of us, most of us grow up and we realize like, Oh, dang it. I'm still living in a world that wasn't made for me, but just for different reasons in my eyes, and, and you know, Marcel, Marcel, obviously, that's his reality. But he doesn't. He doesn't get hung up. I find him very actually, like, inspirational to me. And when you're talking about like, how do you sustain yourself over seven years, it's like, I feel sustained and inspired by that character. He doesn't he get, you know, he has these huge outsize obstacles thrown at him. He doesn't see the impossibility of that. He just sees it as like, another thing to overcome. He will overcome it. It's not personal, just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow, and he's he actually enjoys the challenge.

Alex Ferrari 41:50
Well, I mean, my my daughters haven't seen it yet. Because it hasn't come out yet. As of today. They're 10. So Oh, great. So we did get Yes. I'm like, I'm actually 25 years old with it done to me. But I actually did at the screening, get the stick on a 20. Oh, yeah. The little peel offs and stick on like, so they're in Marcel's in my, in my my girls bathroom right now, as we speak, it was like first time I hear girls, I got something for you. And they put them up into like, I don't know who this is. But they're drawn instantly. They haven't even I think I showed him the addition to the trailer. They're like, oh, I want to watch that. And I'm like, oh, yeah, and my girls are gonna ball. It's gonna be fantastic. Now, last question,

Dean Fleischer-Camp 42:37
I's so glad to hear that because Oh, sorry. Yeah, no, that.

Alex Ferrari 42:40
No, no, no, you're saying,

Dean Fleischer-Camp 42:42
I was just gonna say, I'm so glad to hear that. Because I think, you know, like, we made this movie to appeal to our own sensibilities. And it was always sort of a question. Like, we want kids it to be family friendly. And we want kids to enjoy it. But we weren't sure if it was gonna play young because it's, you know, it's not like the spectacle that, like the minions is or whatever. And so, so, but I've been really, like, really pleased to see that kids as young as like, five or six, like, really loved the movie and, and are laughing at all the same places that we are mostly,

Alex Ferrari 43:14
I mean, I mean, you just have to throw your throw up. So when you got a couple, you got a shell throwing up, sir. I mean, you've you've got them. Sorry, you've, you've hit that demographic fairly well. Last question, man. And how did A24 hated this?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 43:28
Or A24. Got involved? I'm so like, they've done such a great job of helping to, you know, bring it to audiences and hopefully get you know, make sure it's seen by the people that would want to see a movie like this. They got involved because we screened it. The Telluride, we premiered at the Telluride Film Festival last August or September. And they, they bought it after shortly after that. And it was such a beautiful coincidence that they were I think that they're trying to I don't know if they don't I think they're trying to you know, branch out and do movies that aren't just like, the typical A24 movie, whatever that is.

Alex Ferrari 44:11
Right! There is no wait.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 44:14
It's really weird. It's like people are like, Oh, it's like folk horror or dark shit. And it's unlike. I mean, Moonlight. ladybird. menari. Like, none of those are

Alex Ferrari 44:23
Everything, everything everywhere all at once. I mean, totally. Hot Dog fingers, sir. There's hot dogs. So, last question. What's next for Marcel? When's the when's the sequel?

Dean Fleischer-Camp 44:37
I don't know whenever Ryan Reynolds freeze up. I don't know. I mean, you know, hopefully the movie comes out finds an audience and there's a there's a market for a sequel, but I know for sure that like, I got so excited when we started developing his community, which was one of the last things that we sort of did because we're not in the movie for very long and now like I love those characters, but they're all Yeah, exactly. And some of them have really great, you know, voice talent attached to them. So I'd love to do something that you know features a few more of those characters. Let's see,

Alex Ferrari 45:11
Dean man, I thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm so happy that this movie exists in the world and in this universe. I appreciate it. We needed more than ever. I think now we need we need a film like this. We need to we need Marcel. We need Marcel we need some happiness. We need to connect to those kinds of characters against a brother man. I appreciate you making the movie and nothing but continued success, man. I can't wait to see if you come up with next brother.

Dean Fleischer-Camp 45:37
Thank you. This has been so fun talking to you. Thank you. Thank you for having me. It's been great. Also where can I get a hustle hat?

Alex Ferrari 45:43
At my store at I appreciate you brother. Thanks, man!

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IFH 593: The Way of the Creative Filmmaker with Jocelyn Jones

Jocelyn Jones was raised in an artist’s community on the Hudson River just 30 minutes north of Manhattan. This idyllic hamlet is home to some of the most influential artists of our time and it was here that her interest in art, artists and their process began.

She is the daughter of Henry Jones, a character actor whose credits include some 40 films and over 300 televisions shows. Mr. Jones started out as a Broadway actor, most known for “The Bad Seed”, “Advise And Consent” and his Tony Award-winning performance in “Sunrise at Campobello”. Ms. Jones began her career at the age of 12, appearing alongside her father and E.G. Marshall in an episode of “The Defenders.” Her work in motion pictures includes Clint Eastwood, “The Enforcer” “The Other Side of the Mountain” with Beau Bridges, Al Pacino’s “Serpico” as well as starring in the cult classics “Tourist Trap” and “The Great Texas Dynamite Chase.”

Ms. Jones has appeared on stage in both New York and Los Angeles, most notably at The Mark Taper Forum, playing Greta Garbo in the world premiere of Christopher Hampton’s “Tales From Hollywood.” She has also appeared with Joe Stern’s Matrix Theatre Company, where she played the delightfully insane Violet in George M. Cohan’s farce “The Tavern” and as Constance Wicksteed, a spinster with a passion for large breasts, in Alan Bennett’s farce “Habeas Corpus”. She received critical acclaim for her role as Lucy Brown in Ron Sossi’s groundbreaking production of “The Three Penny Opera”, which famously utilized all three theaters of The Odyssey Theatre Complex for that same production.

An in demand acting teacher for over 25 year, Ms. Jones has shepherded hundreds of actors from novice to starring careers and currently works with over a hundred hand picked actors, directors and writers at The Jocelyn Jones Acting Studio.

Known as a “secret weapon” to some of the biggest stars in the industry, she has served as a confidential Creative Consultant, working on some of the highest-grossing pictures of all time. From advising artists on which projects to choose, to working with writing teams, to develop current and future projects, Ms. Jones’ consultant work has been considered an invaluable asset to many.

As a script doctor, she has served in every capacity, from page-one rewrites to final polishes- confidentially contributing to blockbuster films and television series alike. Her production company, Mind’s Eye Pictures, is dedicated to producing her own original content.

Her new book is Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within.

Jocelyn Jones is one of Hollywood’s most prized secret weapons. A legendary acting teacher, coach, and artistic advisor to the stars, she has served as a confidential Creative Consultant on some of the highest-grossing pictures of all time.

Now, she shares her personal journey—and the secrets behind her unique methodology—in Artist: Awakening the Spirit Within.

How do you tap into the power of creation? A great teacher doesn’t just tell you; they show you! With forthright vulnerability, Jones shares the memories and lessons that shaped her, both spiritually and as a world-class teacher—proving beyond question that the same creative process she offers actors can help you discover andmanifest a life in coherence with your own heart.

Whether you’re an actor looking to elevate your craft or a fellow human traveler pursuing your dreams, Artist shows you step by step how to awaken to your higher self and move confidently into the life you were born to live.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Jocelyn Jones 0:00
Do the interview did with it burns, and you know, look at his love. Look at the size of his passion. And then look at the size of you responding to his passion and talking about these, or you worked on this kind of camera or you worked in this, you know the level of enthusiasm. If you had you know, one of those Geiger counters, it was just charts that is beyond ego.

Alex Ferrari 0:29
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created Enigma Elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like VHS and CRT images, smoke fog, textures, DaVinci Resolve presets and much more. After working as an editor colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years, I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, check out enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's enigmaelements.com. I like to welcome to the show Jocelyn Jones how you doing Jocelyn?

Jocelyn Jones 1:22
I'm very good. Thank you. It's lovely.

Alex Ferrari 1:25
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I am. I'm excited to talk to you. I think I think we're gonna have a conversation that's hopefully going to help some some filmmakers and screenwriters and anybody in the business who wants to be creative and be an artist. And I think it's something that a lot of things that you talk about in your book, your new book, artists awaken the spirit within is that it's things that aren't talked about publicly very often about mental health, about negative talk about self talk about beating yourself up all these kinds of things. But before we get into all of that, how did you get into this insane, insane business?

Jocelyn Jones 2:02
Well, you know, I was a little bit born into it. I was raised on the Hudson River, in an artist's community. And so I was raised with extraordinary artists, my dad was an actor. So the first wave of artists at the dinner table were actors, and they are a breed unto themselves. And then my mother remarried. And the next way my stepfather wrote for The New Yorker, and the next wave of artists at the table were painters, and this was in the 60s. So you just go to the top of that food chain, you know, drop a lot of names. But they were these extraordinary painters. And then, you know, there were dancers at the top of the field. I mean, everybody was at the top of their field. And I was young, and I was impressionable, and I was studying them. And I was very interested in, you know, when they were happy, we're going to talk about happy because I happen to watch you flip the script and be interviewed by your friend CB bato, and talk about happiness. And I was like, yes, you're on to something there. Um, anyway, and so I was very interested in when they were happy, they were working. And when they weren't working, it wasn't just actors who weren't actors go out of work, you know, they should really check into a hotel, because they're very difficult to be around, they get so concerned that they'll never work again. But it was also painters. And it was, so it was anyone who like they're in the creative process, and they are lit from within. And because these guys were at the top of their field, they were lit with inspiration, it was something beyond themselves, which is kind of what the book is trying to hook people up to anybody up to. But anyway, so there were all these actors, and then I left home at a very early age because I lived right outside Manhattan, and if you live near Manhattan, or breath away, you're like, I'm in the city by by gotta go. And, you know, when I was younger, we moved to Manhattan, we still couldn't afford Manhattan, even you know, 60s and 70s, when it was not the same city as it is now. So we would live five girls and an apartment and you know, work when I don't know how many Second Avenue bars and wait tables and go on auditions and all of that. And at that time, I was really young. And I was discovered by Eileen Ford, who was a very big Marvel agent at the time. And she saw something in me and she sent me out for test shots I recall, which were you know, photographers who were trying to get laid, but they also wanted, you know, pictures and tree models and upcoming models, whatever they would take your picture It was during blow up. So I don't remember that. But you know, they were all it was pretty wild time. And I would bring these pictures back to Eileen Ford. And she looked at them and said, Oh, God, Johnson. No, these are terrible. You look so sad. Nobody calls me up and says, I want the sad girl. Okay, that's that. So she said, you have to do something. And so I started creating characters to be in front of a camera because I was really had a hard time with the black box, you know? And so the she I brought those pictures. She said, Oh, you're an actor? And I said, No, no, no, no, my dad's an actor, one of those in the families or not. And she started sending me out on audition. So she sent me out of my first audition was for a heroin addict for Mayor Lindsay's drug campaign. And they were very real. They look like documentaries. And it won an award, I played the size perfect for the sidebar. It was about to say perfect. Yeah, good for the sacral. So, you know, that was that that was the start of my journey toward acting. And I did a number of independent films. But in my, you know, I never loved acting. I mean, I love acting. I love the part of acting, and building life from nothing. I love that I understood structure. But I never you know, you, you talked about how, you know, you found the podcast, it took you a while, but something that you'd found home, it was like a call and suddenly you happy, right? I was not happy as an actor, I I am very private person. I didn't like having to audition. I like control in my life than putting my art in front of somebody and having them say, yeah, like, No, I don't, you know, I from New York, I have a little you know.

But more than that all of this study of artists had settled in the, and I had a certain kind of leadership growing up that came from other things. And I thought teaching, you know, I got pregnant, I have a baby and being a mother and being a teacher sort of went together. And you know, when you do that thing you're meant to do, you put one step on that path. And things just start flowing really well, which is part of knowing Oh, I'm on the right path. So you know, really, I was a teacher for three years. And teaching led to you know, I worked with a lot of film stars on films in private coaching, and that led to Script doctoring. And all of that was very, you know, confidential under nondisclosure agreements, but a lot of fun, very interesting work. And then all of that led to one day deciding, I think it's time to do to leave something of my own, because my whole life has been helping artists. And I love that and it's right. But at some point, you have to look at yourself and say, am I avoiding, you know, my own voice. And so, you know, my mom died. That's a whole evolution in a person's life. Everything stopped. So I could say goodbye, and then handle her affairs. And that's when I started writing the book. And, you know, Alex, I didn't want to write another acting book. There's a lot of acting books.

Alex Ferrari 8:45
There's a couple, there's a couple.

Jocelyn Jones 8:48
I started, you know, I don't know whether this is part of me hustle. But you know, I'm quite spiritual. And so part of what I had spotted with these artists was a kind of a spiritual connection. Call it inspiration, call it the muse, call it spirit, call it whatever. But it's something beyond ego. It's something beyond personality. It's something in the ethos that great artists seem to tap into.

Alex Ferrari 9:21
And it's so funny you say that because, you know, as you know, on the show, I've had the pleasure of talking to some amazing guests and some very high performing. You know, Oscar winners, Emmy winners, Tony winners, really high performing artists. And I always love asking that question. I always ask the question, Where does it come from for you? And the bigger the star, the bigger the artist, the more humble they are about their craft. It's so funny because I've met people who are so boastful about what they do, and you can tell that they'll burn out Soon enough, and they won't have any major legacy left behind. But the bigger the Oscar winner, the more humble they are up because they are aware that in many ways, it's not them. It's coming through them. But it's not them. It's coming through their filter, if you will. So in many ways, and not to get too woowoo. But like I'm talking, I'm going to drop a name. Because I think it's important to the conversation when I was speaking to Eric Roth, who's obviously the Oscar winning writer Forrest Gump. And he just wrote doing, he's doing okay for himself. Eric, I asked him specifically ago, how did you? Do you ever just sit down and write. And when you're done writing, you look at it and go, who wrote that? Like, it's not even you can't even recognize it as your own. It just kind of flew through you. He's like, yes. And I searched for that almost all the time. But I don't always get it. But when I'm able to tap in, it just flows through you. And it's a magical thing. And I think any I mean, as I as I've written my books, there's moments where I've written entire chapters. And then I go back to read, and I'm like, who wrote this, like, it's almost like you're channeling something, as a great artist. And that goes for acting, writing, directing, it's being in the flow. Athletes talk about it all the time, it's being in that moment where you don't think it just is, and it just kind of goes through you. And you already understand the craft enough, that that's not a problem. Like, if you're going to write you have to understand English, you have to understand basic grammar. But once those basic foundations are laid out, everything else is fairly magical. And that I always find that's so interesting that they are all humbled that the biggest ones are the most humble about their process. And in this is 100% of the time I've asked this question. I don't care who it is. Everyone has impostor syndrome. It's fascinating to me. Yeah. Yeah. Everyone. I mean, again, I'll talk back, go to Eric Ross interview. He's like, Oh, yeah, absolutely. Like you're, you're Eric Croft, you've won Oscars. You've worked on the biggest movies with the biggest director? I mean, and he's like, Yeah, but I still, I still feel like at any moment, someone's gonna walk in the door and go, What are you doing here? You're not supposed to be here. So that's an artist thing. I think I think most artists in general do that. Do you agree?

Jocelyn Jones 12:36
Well, yes. I mean, I think there's an interesting explanation for it. First of all, I think intention is is such a really important thing. So when you're talking about what you just said, was so beautiful. When you're really talking about structure, you're talking about technique, which builds structure, right. And when you when an artist and those grapes, and I've worked with a number of those huge, huge stars, which I'm just facilitating them to this space of inspiration. Because the more structure you have, the more you can trust yourself. It's like building a house, and actor, built a life, built a life out of nothing. So you think of those building house, you have to put the structures together so you can live in it. So people are always talking about living in the moment, while living in the moment most actors think of as improvisational. But it's not just improvisational, you have to build the house, you know, the moment so you are building moments. And then because of the structure of those moments, you trust them. And you can fly from one moment to the next which book I like into rock hopping. I don't know if you ever spent time with country, but he knows big wonderful streams with big rocks in them, they have a lot in the in the woods and had to move around. And my favorite thing to do was leap from one rock to another. So I spent years honing this concept from my students, which I still think is a little mad, but about how those rocks are like the structure and you can only have the freedom of the lead. Because you built the rock you've created the rocks and what are those rocks come out and then we go into technique and such. So it is the intention to have that connection to the muse to something beyond yourself. So then we have ego spirit. Now we got to have ego we can't be that's the whole point is like, I'm going to be separate from you. I'm gonna have this ego you're gonna have that ego. We're energetic beings in bodies and how we identify we identify with ego, but we're really something much much, much bigger than ego, but we have no education. as to how to connect to that at all. So these great artists of inspiration, recognize that they are beyond ego, you have the actor who's all ego, it's all about being, you know, admired. And then you have the actor who sometimes accidentally trips into this space where they've entered a character, and they've created this life before your very eyes and really entered really gone in there. And they are living in those moments from the structure, they felt they're living in those moments. And they realized they are bigger. They're bigger than the personality. So then when somebody comes along and says, Oh, you, Alex, you're so great. They feel like an impostor, because I'm not that great explanation.

Alex Ferrari 15:51
It's it's really, it's really interesting, because that's a fantastic explanation of impostor syndrome, because you're absolutely right. And if you've noticed, you know, with some actors over the course of their careers, you know, the greats like a Meryl Streep can just walk in and walk out and tap into that at will, Steven Spielberg, as a director can tap into it, the great directors are great writers are great artists, they just tap in effort, almost effortlessly, at least it seems effortlessly from our point of view. And then there's, I love the way you say they trip into. So sometimes you see actors who trip into a performance, and they, they just connect with that character, but they're never able to get back to that place in their career, where they might even go all the way and win an Oscar, or get a lot of accolades, but it's whatever stops them from getting back there, whether it's ego, whether it's outside sources, but it's it happens in all all aspects of the business from directors, some directors make the most amazing film ever, you know, one of the most, and then they can't get back there. You know, and, and writers, writers as well, novelist and writers?

Jocelyn Jones 16:58
Well, you know, a lot of that's a lot of what the book is about. It's about it's about its intention, you have to intend it. So you have to kind of recognize this is what Spielberg and you know, Meryl Streep, and all these greats that you mentioned been like going to the painters, and Michelangelo, you know, they've recognized some sort of technique for themselves and what works for you doesn't work for me, it doesn't work for him doesn't, you have to give artists a lot of different colors of techniques and realize that each one is going to respond differently and make their own toolkit. But once you have that technique, you have to intend I want I intend to go beyond myself. And if once you've had that experience, two things happen. You either intend to have that experience again and chase what it was what combination that I put together that helped me do that, or you get lost in your own drums. So now I'm going to go to a really kind of woohoo word, which is vibration. You know, when you're around enthusiastic people, you're like, hey, you know, we respond to we are energetic beings and bodies and we respond to vibration, no matter how well you want to get about it. That's the deal. And so we want to be around the reason that audiences love actors is because they're looking at you know, and they go that guy's creating life when they do it right. In your in the theater. The audience releases from your own life and enters this parallel universes parallel story. And then when they come back to their seats and they walk out a theater, they go cheeses effect I can create that much life out of thin air. Maybe I could do a little better with my own. They are inspired to take control of their own life in some way. They recognize.

Alex Ferrari 19:05
Isn't it fascinating because I've I've had the pleasure of being in the room with some of the biggest movie stars in the world. And when you're in the room with them, you understand why they're movie stars. There's just something about their energy in the room and I've I've met in I won't name drop but I have met some and I walk in and just and just being around them you just go oh, oh I get it. I truly I truly get it. And in you know when you want and talking about the woowoo aspect of you know energy and vibrations of people and stuff. All you have to do is and I know everybody listening has gone through this. You've met somebody in your life. That after you got done talking to them, you wanted to take a shower because you feel slimy dirty could be a salesman, it could be customer a sales rep it could be it could be a teacher It could be anybody you know another just you just Feel? Oh, yeah. So whether you believe in the woowoo energy or not, I think everyone's had that experience at one point in life, and you just met somebody who just, oh, I just don't want to be around that person. And then vice versa. You meet somebody, you're like, Oh, my God, I, there's just so much fun to be around, there's so much energy around them. And it's, there's something about that conversation. There's no question about it, whether again, you want to get into the woowoo aspect of it or not. But I think everybody listening can agree that they've had that conversation. And if you ever do anyone listening ever does get to sit in a room and have a meaningful conversation. And even through my show, having conversations over zoom, you can sense why they are who they are some of these directors, some of these filmmakers, I've had the pleasure of talking to you, you just go wow, okay, I get it. I get it. You know, and I've had the pleasure. From the $5,000 first time filmmaker made this feature to Oscar winners, and everyone in between, you can sense where they're coming from. It's really interesting. One thing in your book I wanted to talk to you about is the stories that we tell ourselves, and as artists, you know, being an artist, and it took me a long time to admit I was an artist, by the way. That's another problem. A lot of times like, I'm not an artist, that's very pompous of you to say you're an artist, no, you got to admit who you are. And once you admit that you are an artist. I think artists, specifically artists have a special level of storytelling that they tell themselves because they are, especially people in the film industry and storytellers. Because we're so good at it. We're really good at beating ourselves up with these negative stories about what we're capable of doing, where we're going What's up and, and beating yourself up when you don't get the part or don't get the job or don't get the financing. And it's the stories we constantly tell ourselves, can you dig in a little bit about why we do it and what we can do to kind of rewrite that story to help us move forward on our path?

Jocelyn Jones 22:02
Oh, great question. Great question. Well, the way we do it is pretty, pretty obvious. And when I say it, I don't know if people will get it or won't get it. But we like sensation, you know, as people like strong sensations. So you know, you have drama, Queens, we call them drama queens. People who stir negative emotion, it's like an addiction. They're addicted to it. Why? Because of the sensations. Why do people take drugs because of sensations, we like sensations. So if you go, you know, just gonna keep doing it. And we'll keep bringing you back. But if you go to this aspect, that we are actually spiritual beings, of course, we like sensations. That's why we're here. We're here to experiences. Otherwise, we're out, you know, we're all spirit, we have no body, we have no tactile thing. So we're here for experience. And I think we're evolving and ascending, even perhaps. And so we're going from just any old sensations to, hey, wait a minute, maybe I can control this a little better. So some of the enthusiastic people you meet, they just seem naturally enthusiastic. They were well loved as kids, or they just most of the time, they were well loved as kids. And so they're settled in and they're confident and they're able to have just a more positive outlook on life and have more fun, and we enjoy them. And so it propels itself. But you can intend decide that you want more of that you can most of the people who are listening to your show right now, my guess is they're of an age where they have already let go of certain brands because they go, I want to take your power after I'm with that person. I can't do it anymore, man. You know, they never asked you about yourself. They're all complaint and the thing and most of it, you've heard a lot.

Alex Ferrari 24:07
It's energy suckers, energy suckers.

Jocelyn Jones 24:08
Yeah, their energy suckers, but we can we can also like not judging them and just say, okay, cool. You want to go but I'm not entering that. I'm not doing that. Because it's going to happen naturally in your life. I've discovered that most if you get my age, then the older people, you start losing your mom, you start losing your dad, you start recognizing the older people get, they will do this, they will kick up a lot of dust and a lot of negativity, because it makes them feel alive. You know, my mother could get apoplectic about butter. It was like this make no money here. You know, can we just go to it's very dramatic. And it was I would just so you know, I'm training myself. I'm training myself meditation. training myself in certain ways, and the biggest one is to observe people without judgment and to just look at what's going on. And then you kind of expand and you go, Okay, well, this person is doing this thing, and it has nothing to do with me. And I actually be kind of come have some compassion, understanding work, because I've done the same thing. We've all done everything. We've done all those things. So did that answer it?

Alex Ferrari 25:30
It does. It's fascinating, because, you know, we all look in our business, we run into very unique characters, to say the least. And I've had some of the most toxic human beings I've ever met in my life I've met in this business. And some of the most beautiful people I've ever met in my life, I've admitted this business, and everyone in between. And I've gotten to a place in my, my elder years, as I called, I have a little gray, I have a little gray, I'm not I'm not a kid anymore. But. But in my years walking the earth, I've realized that the more times when someone is blowing up on you, or something like that, nine out of 10 times, it has nothing to do with you. When you have a business partner or producer on a project that is egocentric, or wants control, or wants this or that or wants tension, or this has nothing to do with you. You know, it's unfortunate because you're involved with them in a project that is both of yours. So you have to figure out how to maneuver that world. But it nine out of 10 times, it's not about you. And I've gotten to the place where I feel most empathetic for people when they are acting that way. I'm like what happened to them that they feel that they need to act that way? Because that doesn't just come up like that. There's some if you start looking back, there's some deep seated stuff in there when their children are in this business, like this business can chew people up and spit them out all day, every day. It could destroy the lives it has. I mean, if you go down to Hollywood Boulevard, it's literally shattered with souls of Broken Dreams down there. It is. So it's it's not I think was David Chappelle. I was watching David Chappelle the other day. And he said, I think it was in the Actors Studio interview with Lipton, and he's like, there are no weak people in this business. If they're sitting on this stage with you, they are not weak people. It takes a special level of strength to make it in this industry at whatever level that is, and it doesn't have to be Oscar winning. It could just be making a living. He goes, there are no weak people in this business that that sustain themselves. And I thought that was such an interesting and profound comment, because you don't think of it that way. But it's absolutely true. You know it and I know it. If you're if you've made it in this business in any way you can, if you're making a living in this industry, you're not weak.

Jocelyn Jones 28:03
Yeah, yeah. Well, it goes back to story, which that was the part of the question we didn't quite answer is what's with the stories that we hold on to, you know, the stories are there to, you know, to stimulate all this negative emotion to have these experiences. But the stories are also hurt trapped pieces of self, you know, we're trained, you hurt my feelings, particularly if you're from New York, it's like, I don't care. As well, I learned that very early, but you do care. And that and artists care more than anybody. They're highly highly sensitive. We'll get into that, because my definition of artists are out there, they're more sensitive, and so they can pull this stuff out of the air. But in that sensitivity, they push a lot of things down and then people have experiences that are also horrific, and they push those things, they overcome them. But there are pieces of lost soul lost parts of themselves, that they've shoved down underneath. So people do therapy, why to let some of that out. And you know, this shaman call it soul soul retrieval, where you just create a space for a person to say out This hurt, this is what happened. Here are the tears I didn't cry, you know, and, and in so doing when you just can listen to a person, which is very rare in this day and age, people haven't been taught how to listen, you just listen to a paper person and intend to create this space for that part of themselves to be released, so to speak, you know, you create a home space and to grow and understand that, you know, you're more than yourself. When you're writing your book, Alex and it's that fluid, it's you and you, it's you and your higher self that connection. Wow, you know, I have trouble. I don't like to call this my evil. You know, I call it the book. Because it's a little weird. Just my book. You know, it's like, I feel like we just had a wonderful movie with the fish that in the seagull one's mine, mine

Alex Ferrari 30:58
Finding Nemo.

Jocelyn Jones 30:59
Yeah. Finding Nemo mine mine my book. It's not these are, you know, you want to help? That's a branding thing. You know, CB was asking, what is your brand? What is your brand? You went on two minutes, I loved it. About I was one of the two people I didn't know, I was one of many people listening? Because that's what we all want to do. We will we all want to contribute in our way, you know?

Alex Ferrari 31:23
Well, that's the that's I feel that's the goal of life is to find out what that that thing that you were put here to do, and then do it. And we're so afraid of walking that path, especially as artists, we're afraid of walking that path. Because, you know, there's been such a abuse of the artist over the course of millennia, that you know, the whole starving artists mythology, and that you have to struggle to be a good artist, and you have to be broke. And, and all of these kinds of the stories that are been told over the years. And I had I had an author on years ago, who said real artists don't starve. And it was and he was, he'd go back to like Michelangelo was extremely wealthy. And in DaVinci was extremely like these were wealthy artists of their time. So it's kind of like a myth about that you have to be a starving artist, and so on and so forth. But we as artists do, do truly have trouble walking that path. Like I told you earlier today, like earlier in this conversation, I took me a while to figure out that I was an artist, even though I was working in the business, I'm like, no, no, I'm just director, I don't have an artist, you know, because I didn't want to admit that to myself, because there was a lot of stories associated with being an artist. So once you accept that you are an artist, and you want to express yourself in a another big problem I've seen in the business, and it's something I struggled with for a long time is that so many artists believe that if they do not reach the highest pinnacle of their craft, they have failed. And that is such a horrible story to tell yourself, like, I didn't direct my first feature until I was 40. Not because I didn't have the skill set, or the ability to do so is because it had to be Reservoir Dogs. It had to be Pulp Fiction, it had to be clerks, it had to be Ilmari, it had to be a movie that exploded. And you know, I've arrived, kind of, and I think every filmmaker goes through that that you have if you haven't won an Oscar, he really hadn't made it. And it took me years to realize that oh, no, no, are you making a living? What's the definition of success in your and that's you have to define that for yourself. And those are those moments in your career where you let's say win an Oscar winning an award or work with a certain actor or work with a certain level of budget or so on and so forth. They're great, but they're fleeting. They're you win the Oscar, and then what? And now you got your back, you're back to it Monday morning. You know, so it's about that journey and about really defining what success is for you as an artist. And that could be used the analogy, if you're living in Kansas, making $50,000 a year and that's puts food on your table pays your mortgage and support your family as a filmmaker. I hate to tell you, you are a raving success rate because you're at the top top echelon of filmmakers. Yeah.

Jocelyn Jones 34:22
Well, let's define artists because, you know, that's everybody. So we're very exclusive about what as an artist, were so exclusive about what as an artist that you didn't want to admit that you were an artist, right? You know, well, I don't know that's an artist but not you said it beautifully. The stories we tell ourselves, but what is an artist? An artist is a guy who wins the Academy Awards. I don't think so. So, you know, in my teaching, I was always like, I looked for definitions, and I love dictionaries, and I looked in a lot of depth, you know, looking for this quintessential definition of artists, and I couldn't come up with it. So I came up with my own which is Basically an artist, you have to discover an artist, it's the expression of your own discovery. So the artist, if he doesn't discover something, he's going to express something that somebody else already discovered. So as to have happened to you, there has to have been an aha moment. You know, if you talk to painters, painters are fantastic, because they look at things differently. They don't look at the tree, they look at the space in between the branches, they look at the space, they look at the negative space, you know, so you have to have discovery, before you can express something or it's going to be you know, what is it called, when it's a copy, there's a wonderful word for that came from, yeah, not a representational, but there, you know, it's gonna be a clone of SO and there's nothing wrong with that we kind of have to imitate things for a while before we get on our own feet. But you want to intend discovery. So all technique and my techniques, usually in the form of questions, you know, where am I? What do I want all those questions, but there's a way to get in there a little deeper. You're Wait, you're asking the same question. And most people stop at the intellectual clever answer. Because they think, Oh, that'll look good. So they're operating from their ego, right? That'll look good, that'll sound good. that'll sell, you know, that'll be this.

Alex Ferrari 36:31
So you're telling me that there's ego in the film industry. Stop it,

Jocelyn Jones 36:40
That we really admire, you're not going to get rid of ego, we love our personalities, we spend our whole lives on them. But there's something beyond that. So even like I saw the, the, the interview did with Ed burns, and you know, look at his love, look at the size of his passion. And then look at the size of you responding to his passion. And talking about these, or you weren't in this kind of camera, or you weren't in the in this, you know, the the level of enthusiasm if you had, you know, one of those Geiger counters, it was just charts, that is beyond ego, you have elevated into joy, joy and creativity go hand in hand. So what is an artist, okay, an artist is someone who's discovered something and has the desire to express it, period. Now, and I, there's art in everyone, this is not popular, because we want to have the artists club. Here's the deal. We're not a club, you're in a body, you're creating a life you got here on the planet, however you got here, you got here on the planet, and now you're running a life. And that life is either happening to you, you know, you're just going with the flow of what's coming in. Or you are beginning to get the reins of your own life and say, you know, I'd like it to go like this. If you look at that interview with Ed burns, he has a lot of I'd like it to go like this that's out ahead of yourself that is creating it yourself. That is a story of you know, the big woohoo word is manifestation. But that's a real deal. And you manifest the best at the highest vibrations, joy, enthusiasm, joy and creativity. And the guy who's not running his life is the guy who's taking hits, you know, right, left and center life is happening. It sucks. It's terrible. I hate it, I guess. But I'm so emotional. I hate you all. That's life happening.

Alex Ferrari 38:50
It's fascinating that I agree with everything you've said. But one thing I would add to the artist aspect is that that definition of being an artist is the courage to walk the path. And that is something that we as artists don't have, you might identify as an artist. But to walk the path of the artist is difficult to it took me a long time I did everything else around myself. I was in the I was editing, I was doing other things, but not walking the path that I wanted to walk, which was being a director being a filmmaker, but I surrounded myself and was working in the in the orbit of others following their path. And I was helping them bring their art to life. And I thought that that was enough for many years for me, until I realized I was so unhappy doing that it was so scary. So it's finding the courage to walk the path and I'll go back to what you said earlier, that being an artist I think every soul on the planet is an artist because they are creating their own lives. Now I know that might be woowoo and a lot of people like oh what happens with life happens To you, and all that kind of stuff, I get all of that, look, we've all gone through stuff. But we I do truly believe that we create what we want in our life, you know, and it's all about, it's just like Henry Ford says, If you believe you can, or you can't, you're right. And it's you know it regardless. And then we're not talking about the secret here or anything like that. But whatever you believe you achieve it, it's if you're out of ego, if you're out of ego, and that is something that it's so interesting, because again, having the pleasure of talking to all these people, I ask these questions have them and, and I love listening to people's stories about how they made it in the business and how, and it's so random. Yeah, it's so random. Not one story is like another. I had an I'll drop her name, Eva Longoria on the show a few a few a few months ago. And her story was the most ridiculous story to get into the business I've ever heard in my life. She got walked got into a beauty contest, which she didn't want to do. But the first prize was books for school. So she just got in, she won it. She got the books, but because she wanted, she had to go to like the state competition. And by the way, all her all her life, she was called left Ada, which means the ugly one, her her mother, that was her nickname, The ugly one. So she was considering her own story in her own mind that she was the ugly one in the family. And the parents like don't do the beauty. Obviously, that was a fluke don't do. So she goes to the State wins, this wins the state finals. And then the winner the winning prize for that trip to LA. So she gets to LA and she goes, Hey, I like it here. I'm going to sit knows nobody. I'm going to stay. I'm going to try to be an actor. I think that'd be kind of fun. Literally, that's it. And then she got an apartment, got some roommates hustled it out for a handful years. And then one day at the end of like a 10 or 15 audition day, she goes in for Desperate Housewives. She's so pissed off. She's so everything. She's like, Whatever, I'm not gonna get this part anyway. And because of that attitude, she gets the part and her life changes. There's no logic to that. But she did have intention. And she didn't. And

Jocelyn Jones 42:24
Very high vibration of very high. You know, when you say you meet these movie stars, and there's something going I mean, it is true you meet different people that it's like this one's been around longer. This one maybe it's brand new, I don't know how many lifetimes here. People are different. People are different. And those people have a they're like you are you feel it. You feel struck by I mean, you know, it's science, we have a vibration extends about eight feet, there's a, I don't know, four feet, eight feet beyond our bodies, right? And those people even more so you know even what kind of room and you go like phone what's happening there. And it's also different. That's tricky for them having worked very intimately with movie stars, who have not trained because generally they come on the scene in a very young age, they don't train now everybody's powdering their nose and blowing air up their ass. And they get a little lost. And one of the reasons I was successful is because I really because of all those people at the dining room table, I really don't care who you are, I think in mind, I only swoon over one guy ever, which was Cary Grant. I mean, come on, you know, Grant, Cary Grant are like, Oh, well, what? But these other guys, you know, they're lost. And they're getting powder puffs. They have this big energy, but they get sucked up into their own ego because everybody's treating them in, in, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:05
And you see it again and again. You see these stories of artists and every level director writer, they just kind of fist they burn out. A lot of times, they'll just, they're like a star, they'll burn out. I mean, I mean, a great example of it was Lindsay Lohan, who was such an amazing actress. You're such an amazing actress and to see what happened to her over the course of her career was tragic to watch. But I mean, you see some of her early work and you're just like, she is a powerhouse like she could have oh my god, the things that she could have done. Tom Sizemore. Yeah, another one who worked with every Spielberg Scorsese camera like every big director in the world, and he was an amazing actor, burned out.

Jocelyn Jones 44:56
What happened? What was the burnout, the burnout was by Lost in ego?

Alex Ferrari 45:02
Well, yeah, but that's what we that's what that's the main problem that we have as artists is I think as human beings we have to get, get a hold of our egos. We all have it, you know, and it's very, I always say that we have an MMA fighter on our shoulder. And he's quiet, they're waiting for the moment of weakness. And that's when they just pound you because you just like, you're like, I got you under control. I got you under control, I got you under control. And some someone goes, Hey, you look really good today. I think you could be the next this or that you're like, Huh, what, boom, there it comes. Just comes and knocks you out? There it is. I gotcha now, so it just waits there, it waits

Jocelyn Jones 45:40
To tell my students that, you know, they talk about their talent, which I you know, always kind of flipped my stomach a little bit. Well, you know, my challenges and my talent. And now, I'm going to tell you something very unpopular here. I don't believe you are your talent. I don't believe the actor's talent is the actor's talent. I believe that artists are the most sensitive people on the planet. And that level of sensitivity allows them to connect with our higher selves, allows them to connect with us, allows them to connect inspiration allows them to connect to the ethos and things floating around that need to be expressed on the planet right now, without acknowledging that when you do have a kind of inspiration taking on Lindsay Lohan and you don't acknowledge that, and you take it all to yourself and say me, it's me, it's me. Not good. It's like you're not acknowledging a very high conversation and a part of you knows that, and a part of you will begin to destroy yourself, because you are letting go of the most important that you were given, which is that connection.

Alex Ferrari 46:53
That connection. It's so funny. I have a great story. I don't know who told me this story, but it was a Michael Jackson story. And that Michael, I think it was either Michael or no was a prince story, excuse me. It's a prince story. And Prince called up his, you know, he he obviously famously has recorded 6000 songs that never got released, we will have a new prince album every year into the year 3000. That's how many songs are in his vault he was the level of genius is beyond what he was able. And I had the pleasure of working with some people who were very close to him. And I heard all these amazing stories. But one story always stuck out in my head was he would just call you at three o'clock in the morning. As a singer, a backup singer go, Hey, meet me at the studio. I have a song to record. And like But Prince can this wait till six or eight in the morning? It's three o'clock in the morning. He was like, No, we have to do it now. Because if I don't record it, it's gonna go to Michael Jackson.

Jocelyn Jones 47:53
Yeah. I know the story on several fronts. Hey, talk about?

Alex Ferrari 48:01
Yeah, he's like if Spielberg does it to Spielberg has said this publicly in interviews. He's like, when I get an idea for a movie, I understand that if I don't act on it, it will go to someone else within a month or two. And he's like, it's never failed, that when I've let go of an idea, three months later, I'm reading about that idea in the trades. And I've told nobody about it

Jocelyn Jones 48:26
Yes, it's in the air. It's in the ethos. My favorite of those stories is about a poet, a woman poet. And I can't remember her name, because that's my age. And she's she lived in the Midwest. And so she's out in the field, in her gardens in her fields. And she feels this poem coming on, like a storm would roll in this. And she knows it. And she knows that feeling. And so she takes off toward the house. And she's tracking for the house running running to chase because she knows if she doesn't get back to the house and she doesn't get a piece of paper and she doesn't get a piece of paper pencil that coin is going to go right by her and onto that another poet. And so she gets home and she gets her message, she grabs a paper to grabs a pencil, and she starts writing and she said she grabbed it by the tail and hold it in oh my god, out backwards. And then she had to reverse the poem.

Alex Ferrari 49:25
Wow, this

Jocelyn Jones 49:28
Ethos that's you know, and so let's talk about how because this is what I wanted to do in the book, how do you optimize that? How do you make your chance of being able to be in that space? And so here's all the technique and the questions and you have to have that as an actor because to teach you someone to know that they know how to go about it and so that that way, you know they don't do a great big movie of it's fantastic and then they have to reinvent the wheel every time so you have to give them some you No structure, so they know that they know. But how do you get to that place where you can intend and experience that opening more that inspiration more that flow. So you know, as a writer, my nose writer will probably do certain things every time we go to right. And those things kind of set up a certain thing. And then we hope that flow comes in and we start, right? Well, I guarantee you, when you look at those things that you are doing, you are in the present moment, you are not thinking or you are intending to get away from those thoughts about all of that stuff. So you can be here now in the moment. So in the book, I talk about this stuff that's been around forever. Meditation is not woohoo, it's just a really simple way to just settle in, we have so much noise going on, between, you know, I mean, come on with the television, and the media and the screens and the phones and everything, there's so much noise, and everyone wants our attention. And we don't even know what the truth is anymore. So my whole book was about, there is only one truth. And that truth is your truth. That's a connection to yourself, you have the perfect barometer for knowing what's true, if you can only connect to I call it your heart, you call it abuse, you can call it your soul, you can call it just that space, being in the present moment, it's all the same thing. You can get there from many different kinds of meditation, from meditating to sports, to you know, people talk about all kinds of different meditations for themselves. You can get there, I teach actors system, greatest exercise in the world, it's great for the planet. Just to observe life without judgment, use your intention to just observe what's in front of you, without judging. And then when you judge it, just like meditation, you're judging it. So then you become aware that you're judging, and that flexes a muscle. It's like going to the gym, you know, nature, you know, you can stay away from the ocean and think too much, you know, because that thing's going to come in and go, Hello,

Alex Ferrari 52:25
You know that, you know, that wave is fat, I could tell that wave. That wave, that wave is ugly, it didn't crest the right way. You never do that. You never go looking at a tree and go, Wow, that tree was ugly. Ugly tree. Like I have actually done that once or twice. But the tree was pretty gnarly looking. It came out of a Tim Burton movie. But um, but but but generally speaking it when you're in nature, you don't judge a bird. Or, you know, you generally don't judge that you just it is what it is. And, you know, in my, in my work, I've realized that things don't have a negative or positive charge. We are the ones who apply the negative charge or positive charge to it. And I love using the example of a fender bender. When you get into a fender bender, the person who you're driving everyone's safe, but you're getting a fender bender, you're like, oh my god, this is gonna cost me like $1,000 to get this repaired. So for you, this has been an absolutely negative experience. You take it to the mechanic and the mechanic in the body shop and the like, this is fantastic. I got more work. So the exact same event. Yeah, two different perspectives. So when you're looking at life and looking at certain things that happened to you, especially on your artistic journey, it is what it is. You can't it's not personal. It's not like you know, oh, I didn't get the fight and financing fell through. It is it is what it is. You being depressed about it or angry about it doesn't help you doesn't help the situation. If there's something you can learn from it, learn from it, grab those, those new those new lessons and move on, and to keep going but but sticking and hold. And this is something we do. I like so I did as an artist, you hold on to like I didn't get into that film festival. I didn't get that agent. I didn't get that actor attached to the project. And it just throws you for a loop and you start telling yourself these stories is that you they don't want to work with me. I'm a fraud.

Jocelyn Jones 54:29
This it's all in your head. Because trust. There is the possibility when you get into the fender bender and the guy's like hat because he has more work and you're pissed off because you've spent, you know, $1,000 however, there's also the added element of by the way you were about to cross 96th street and there was a huge accident right in the middle of 96th Street that you would have been directly hit or Oh you didn't get that Hopefully, but then if you've gotten that movie, you wouldn't have met your wife, or, you know, there is this beautiful thing of trusting. Because this is part of creating your own life, I'm in exactly the right place to learn that next thing that I have to learn to get to this goal that I'm trying to get to. And that element is trust.

Alex Ferrari 55:26
You know, it is so funny because I have written about this before where I was, I got into the top 25 of a show called Project Greenlight. Project One, green light, the old green light. Yes, Project man I was in second season, I'm in the first 30 seconds of the show. And they just use a clip of me, but I made it to the top 25 That year, I almost made it and I had like, I went through this far as you could get until they chose the top 10 or whatever it was, and I didn't make it. And I was devastated. absolutely devastated. Because you're like, Oh, my God, this was such a great opportunity, I missed my shot to be on this amazing show. And every filmmaker that made it out of that show didn't do anything. And it pretty much torpedoed their careers. Then I did another one called on the lot, which was Steven Spielberg show, which was about directors, it was on NBC for a season, I got flown out, I was right at the tip end again, didn't get in, devastated me who the guys who made it through that show, destroy their careers never got to do anything else again. So I was so just grateful that I didn't get on the shows. But that's only in hindsight. That because at the moment you feel like it's the worst thing that could ever have happened to you. But most of the time, and this is just me talking about my own experience. Most of the times when bad things happen in, in life to you, generally speaking, and this is again, my my personal experience. When you go looking back, you can see the dots are how you connected the dots. What happened because of this, what happened because of that. I'll tell you one other story. When I was coming up when I was coming up I did, I spent about $50,000 to for my directors reel shattered on 35 millimeter because there was no digital yet. That's how old I am. So I shot the whole thing, my whole commercial demo reel, and the the the DPS that I hired, and I use the word DPS because it was two of them on one show. How many times have you seen that ever happened and in the business, but I didn't know any better. And they were horrible. And I shot like a $50,000 commercial, it looked horrible. It was it was bad. And I wasn't having to play some money to get more money. So I was like, oh my god, I guess I'm gonna have to deal with this. Well, so happens that in the lab, the lab broke down and burned all of that film. It just just, it sat in the it sat in the in the in the chemicals and burned, it broke down just on my commercial. And only like a few things sort of like like, like a quarter of real survived. And I was like, This is the worst thing that's ever happened to me. I've lost $15,000 I went back reshot the whole thing with a real DP. It came out beautiful got me work as a director and I moved forward. It was kind of like the universe was saying, we don't want this out there. We need to burn this because this is not going to be good for you and your career, we need to get rid of this. It's going to be a little painful right now. But in the long run, it's the best thing that could have happened to you. So these are the kinds of stories you again, as you get older, you start looking back at your life and you just start going, hmm, that girl that dumped me probably the best thing that happened to me, that girl that that girl that I didn't get to go out with probably the best thing that you know, because then you hear other stories of like, oh, yeah, she turned into a cycle with one of your friends. You're like, Oh, God, thank God, I dodged that bullet. These kinds of things, you start seeing these things. And you just start realizing, oh, there's something, there's something and this is me getting a little woowoo I believe the universe is that good universe, I believe the universe is here to kind of guide you in the direction that you are supposed to go on. Because I've just seen it so many times. Like if you would have told me 20 years ago, you're going to be a podcast or talking to some of the greatest filmmakers of all time. I'll be going first of all, what's a podcast? Secondly, out of your mind, you're out of your mind. And look where I am today. And then all and it's so funny, and I've said this on the show before. It's fascinating that for so many years, all I would have done was the kill that speak to people like yourself to people that earn my show, to have that kind of connection to people that quote unquote, helped me make it in the business let's say and then without Trying. Now they're calling me. And the funny thing is that I have a fairly decent Rolodex. And yet I don't ever call anybody,

Them for my projects or anything, because it's just not something I want to do. It's not the kind of relationships I'm building with them. If it's organic, it's different. But it's not like when I was like the desperate filmmaker, I would have like, called up. Hey, Ken, can you can you connect with your agent? It's so fascinating to me is that that's the reality that I'm in right now. And, you know, and people listening to the show who've been with me for seven years can see the transition from my very first episode, to where I am today and what we're doing. But anyway, we've gone off tangent A little bit here.

Jocelyn Jones 1:00:44
And not really, because I love the way you say, that's not something I wanted to, because in some way, or in you, that's what you wanted. This is a really important thing. The first indicator, you know, my dad asked me when I was like, literally just an acting out terrible teenager, my dad asked me this question. He said, you know, jossey, if you could have anything in the world, barring all obstacles, what would that be? And at the time, I said, Well, I don't want to go to boarding school, I want to live with you at the beach, and, you know, go to public school. And, you know, we could, I couldn't do that. At the time, because he was an actor, and he was on location. He was terrified of me, I, you know, he was he was a single parent, and my mother had sent me to live with him at 13 and said, you take her, she fears me. So he said, You got to go to boarding school. But then I got kicked out of boarding school. So I got what I wanted. Not in the best way. But we get what we want. So the tree careful. Be careful. The trick is to listen to what is that to be able to ask yourself, somewhere along the line to get to this podcast, you had asked yourself and you'd answered the question, and you'd move toward that podcast and you discover that, hey, this thing makes me really happy. More than oil and vinegar is the podcast, I'm really you know, and I can contribute here. And this is a real purpose, we get what we want. So the trick is to like, ask that question, wait for an answer that moves in you, not an intellectual one, but one that's exciting to you. And then you know, move toward that with actions every day and trust, you know, and that's what actors do. That's why I could take all the lessons that I gave actors, and plug them into people and say, Look, you can have a more artistic life, you can have a more joyous life, you can have more control over your life, using the same techniques that actors use to create a life people use those techniques to create your life.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:50
It's so fascinating, because so many, you know, talking to so many different filmmakers over the years and analyzing my own career, there's moments that you are creating a project, let's say, because you believe that that's what the market wants, whether that's going to take you to the next level or you are trying to intellectualize the craft. Not one successful filmmaker, or writer, in my experience on the show has ever done anything substantial, when they chase the market, or when they're trying to intellectualize their craft. When they do something that is meaningful to them, and is truly coming from inside of them. It's something that needs to come out of them. That is the key to success, but to have the courage to do it. And that's what these great artists do is they have the courage to go out there and fail. They have the courage to go out there and make whatever they want to make. And that might be ahead of their time. Every single Stanley Kubrick film did not hit their audience when it came out. It took generally it's about 10 years later, every one of his films about 10 years later, is when they really go back and go, Holy crap. That's the definitive film in that genre. Yeah. And to have the bravery to do that again, and again and again. And, you know, it's funny, because if you if you study Spielberg's career, and I love I mean, who doesn't love Steven, but he had such a run in the 70s, from Jaws to close encounters, and then he's like, I can do that. And then you could see where it went wrong for a second. 1941 if you remember 1941

Jocelyn Jones 1:04:40
I do I liked 1940 Well, I know but and I enjoyed it as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:45
But it wasn't it wasn't something that was obviously one of the biggest failures of his career. And he does not talk about what he learned a lot from that. I mean, don't get me Don't feel too bad. He did Raiders right afterwards. So he's okay. but it was something that went astray. Something went off. And I think and I think he said somewhere in an interview once. At that point, he felt that he could do almost no wrong because at that point, there's so many people's like, You are the greatest, you are the best thing since sliced bread at a point and he's like, Hey, I can't do anything I'm going to. I'm going to do my Doctor Strange. Dr. Strangelove. That's what it was. It was his Dr. Strangelove. You wanted to do Dr. Strangelove,

Jocelyn Jones 1:05:23
Do that movie. You know, it's always the question is did you make a movie you wanted to make? I mean, I've asked more filmmakers. Sometimes they say yes. And it was a fit, you know, and it makes them go. Yeah, it was. But I wanted to internalize that go and actually not really go back to courage because there's a wonderful definition for courage, which is, you know, what is courage? How do you get create, so you think you kind of like to have to get courage up, you know, it's like, Okay, I'm gonna get the courage, there's even an expression, when I get the courage to do this thing, you don't get courage. You actually, if you think of a doorway, if you think of a threshold, you walk through the threshold, and courage shakes your hand on halfway through and pulls you in, you know, you have to, you have to move toward it. So I'm, you know, because of 30 years of teaching, I believe, like this one has courage, just one doesn't have courage. You have you. Certainly, I'm not successful with all of them, there are certain ingredients that you can't teach. You can inspire courage, though, you can inspire it, sometimes somebody's just waiting for that one person to kind of make it go click in their head, and now move toward it. It's a tricky one, courage, your

Alex Ferrari 1:06:35
Courage, and then also just dealing with fear, and dealing, I mean, I think fear in general, as, as people walking the planet, we all deal with fear and having, it stops us, it stops us from moving forward, it stops us in directions that we need to go to. And I'm talking about fears of a tiger, that's fine. Fear of a bear in the room. Definitely good. I'm talking about I'm talking about that other fear, that stops you from going down the road to write that script to make that movie to go to that audition to whatever that paint that painting, whatever that fear is of ridicule, fear of not being accepted, fear of your family, not accepting you or your peers, not accepting you, all of that kind of fear. When you can break through that. That's when that's when the breakthroughs happen. And Tony the longtime

Jocelyn Jones 1:07:26
Alex, but channel it, you know, great actors talk about, you know, they're great actors, and they talk about I thought I was gonna throw up I mean, opening nights are Yeah. But in what happens is you kind of collected and channel it. So when you teach young people about fear, or sometimes as you said, I've had seven year old people come and say, I want to be an actor, which is wonderful, that's awesome, and created acting careers for them. But when you tell them, these fears are absolutely natural, you know, those fears. Now, what you want to do is accept them and channel them into the work. They're just your talent looking for an avenue, because once you step out on stage, you're fine. Once the camera rolls, you got some place to go with it.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:15
There's this great story of Peter Fonda, who would go on on stage every night and right before every performance, he would throw up in the corner, every performance and he's Peter Fonda. So if Peter Fonda has issues, and is nervous before performance, yeah, that's a natural part of life. That's a part of being the artist. I remember having a panic attack on my first day directing my first short film, that I was arguably one of the bigger things I've done at that moment in my career. And it was, and I literally had a panic attack. I was like, it got into my own head. And I went to I'm like, I didn't do it on set, thank God. I said, Hey, guys, I gotta go to the bathroom, went out for about 10 or 15 minutes while they set up a shot and had my own panic attack quietly in the bathroom, quiet and started breathing, started meditating and I didn't even know what meditating was. I was like, I'm just gonna do whatever I've seen on a movie, close my eyes and started deep breathing and then slowly calm myself to the point where I got back out on on set because it was just so overwhelming as a director. A SEC can be a very overwhelming place for an actor, a sec can be a very overwhelming place. And having to deal with that kind of pressure. It's takes a special set of skills, experience and person to do that's what I've seen. Directors make one and they're done because they're like, I can't go through that again. Or an actor who goes through. I can't do that again. It's it's a special like I love being on set. I love it. I absolutely love being on set I love working with other people. I love all the the insanity that goes along with it and trying to figure out the day and figure out the performance and creating its art at the highest level I feel because there's a your company Finding with so many other great artists to come together to make one piece of art. It is, is one of my favorite places to be. But I can see where people just don't have it. They just don't have that thing. That and like you said, it worked itself out. If it's about how bad do you want it? Is this for you? And maybe you just have to test it to see, look, I had to open up an olive oil vinegar store and go down that path for three years to figure out you know, what? Retail? Not for me?

Jocelyn Jones 1:10:32
Wow, I mean, you do and and all of it adds up. It all adds up. But you are right. The filmmaking industry is very, very special. That you know, my husband was the director and director a lot of episodic, our long episode, and dramas. And then he taught at USC, and he was from USC. And he taught at USC. And he just the greatest thing about USC is you have to do everything those young filmmakers, oh, but except they have brilliant equipment. But they're all little gorilla filmmakers, and you put them in pods of three and five, and you have to do the sound and you have to be the cameraman, you may not think you want to do that thing at all. And then suddenly, you realize, I mean, one of his best friends from film school ended up being an Academy Award winning sound man, he thought they all think they want to be directors. But then when we're differently, everybody wants to be a director, everybody wants to be an actor. But he brought that it was wonderful syllabus that he brought to our acting studio. And we had actors, you know, making these films to discover what it's like. And we made directors, you know, out of the 30 actors who took that film course, maybe five of them are now professionally directing. So you have to be exposed to this, that you know everything because, you know, so you might want to costume or you might want to be the cinematographer. If you've never picked up a camera? How are you going to know? And we won't go into you know, education? Because I'd really you know that it's true with all education. What if we just talked to little kids and said, What is it that you think you want to do? Well, let's try that out. And what you know, the big question, if you can have anything wanted barring obstacles, what would that be? What do you think?

Alex Ferrari 1:12:22
I mean, I wanted to be an astronaut, but that's fine. I wanted to be an astronaut probably wouldn't have worked out really well for me. But, you know, that kind of made its way it worked? Why are you flying? I'm not particularly good in math, I don't have that kind of mind, I'd be a very creative astronaut. Wouldn't have been an astronaut to say the least. But yeah, you're right, you have to be exposed to some things. And just think and also, and this is a very difficult thing for some people to hear. Let's say you've had a dream of doing something, and you've had it since you were a child. And you go down the path, and it doesn't work out exactly the way you want. Because it nothing ever works out exactly the way you want it because that's just life and you real and then to come to grips with like, you know, maybe, maybe this is not what I want. Maybe it's I want to be a sound guy, or a girl. And maybe I want to do that maybe what I really want us to write, maybe that's where I find. But for the last 10 years of my career, all I wanted to do is direct but that's not working out the way I want it to work out maybe I really enjoy the writing process. Maybe I should be that's a difficult crossroads for artists to be cool.

Jocelyn Jones 1:13:37
But if you accept the fact that you're better at what you do, because of what you did, oh, so you may have wanted that thing and you did all that extra stuff and you learned all that stuff. But then you came to this thing and if you just come to this thing you wouldn't be just

Alex Ferrari 1:13:55
I wouldn't have a show today unless I would have gone to the 25 years plus of of shrapnel that I've gone through in this business. And you know, I direct when I want to direct I make my movies when I want to make my movies but I'm so happy doing what I'm doing. Everyone's like when you're going to make another movie like when I'm ready. What I'm good when I'm ready to do it, and I'll do it and you know, I like writing books now. I like doing this I like building companies. These are things that make me happy and I'm helping people so like, I It's okay, I have never given up on my directing. I think it's always going to be something I want to do because I love its addiction. It's a beautiful illness as I call it. Because we can't get rid of it. It's an it's an illness.

Jocelyn Jones 1:14:39
But then you go back to what is the definition of success. It can't just be the Academy Award. It's too small. So it's in that exclusivity that ego that says you are not if you haven't she's better than he is because she had a series for seven years and he's just starting out. It's just can't be that way That's not success, success. But the girl who has the series for seven years isn't nearly as happy as this guy who just booked his first, you know, five lines on a show. And he's like, I set out to do it. And I did it. And I'm 70 years old, and I'm acting for the first time in my life. You know, it's really about how are you doing day to day? Well, up in the morning, do you? Are you making as many grown choices, I'm living where I want to live, I'm seeing who I want to see I'm married to I want to marry two of my kids are doing great. You know, this are the components of successful life. And all of those are under our control.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:44
Yeah, absolutely. Without question, now, can you tell me where people can find your amazing book, the artists awaken the spirit within.

Jocelyn Jones 1:15:51
You can find it on Amazon, or any place that books are sold. Also have a website Johson Jones studio.com. And we are coming out with a 15 part documentary series on a masterclass that we shot with three cameras, that is amazing, that has actors who've studied with me for 2025 years, and brand new people, because that's what I like to do. And they are extraordinary. I've never seen anything like this when we went in with three cameras and shot an acting class. And, you know, we did that in eight weeks. And it's really quite beautiful. If I do say so myself, I didn't know what we were doing. I just thought, Well, why don't we and you know, just like all filmmaking, I thought, you know, your director, miles, my husband, and we did this film class, let's put some cameras in these people's hands and wear it out and figure it out. And now we've been editing it for three years, and discovered, oh, this is really a celebration of actors and acting.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:01
That's amazing. I'm gonna ask you, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a, I would normally ask a filmmaker, screenwriter, but artists trying to break into the business?

Jocelyn Jones 1:17:12
An artist trying to begging the business, I would really find a way to get in conversation with yourself, I would find your own autonomy. I would take counsel from one person and one person only, particularly as an artist, and that is yourself. And so meditation can help doing that. Just taking in nature because nature will stop your thinking a little bit because she's just you know, you go look at this, and create that space. To ask yourself these questions. What do I want and believe that you can have them but they have to come from you. Nobody can tell you.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:52
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Jocelyn Jones 1:17:57
I judgment Judgment. I came from a very, very that's a great question. Ah, maybe emotional. I came from a very judgmental family. And then very proud of an artists are very judgmental. proud of the fact that I practice that every day in every conversation, just creating space for that other person to be to listen to them and let them be who they are.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:26
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Jocelyn Jones 1:18:29
Well, it's interesting, because you've said you mentioned Spielberg and my favorite Spielberg film is Empire the sun. So beautiful. What that film just knocks me out. And then you know, for some reason, I mean, there's so many but for some reason, I'd have to say To Kill a Mockingbird because that as a child is one of the first films I just entered into a world and didn't come out of forever. And third one, God gone completely. Oh Truffaut. Oh, you know what, it is merely the film. I think it's a loose word. The couple doesn't meet each other. He has a life and she has a life and see them in the restaurant and they pass each other tickets Happy New Year, Happy New Year. And anyway, at the end of the film, they get on the airplane, you go oh my god, they're finally going to meet and you see their luggage go up that you know this dome I'm talking about.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:24
I'm familiar with it. Yes. Yeah, I forgot the name of it. But yes, beautiful. Beautiful.

Jocelyn Jones 1:19:30
I would say that my third alternative.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:33
Jocelyn, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for for coming on the show in writing this book. And hopefully this episode has helped some filmmakers, some screenwriters, some artists out there, look inside themselves to figure out what they need to do to truly be an artist to truly make a living in this business and connect them to their to their true purpose of what they're trying to do here on Earth. So I truly appreciate you my dear, thank you so much.

Jocelyn Jones 1:19:59
Thank you, Alex. So it's been a tremendous honor to be on here. I love your show and I thought, wow, he's interested in this book. I love that. So, always a pleasure to listen to you and even more pleasure.

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IFH 592: Tales From the Indie Film Trenches with Aram Rappaport

Aram Rappaport is filmmaker based in New York. Originally from Los Angeles, he began writing, directing and producing in his late teens including the one-take experimental film HELIX starring Alexa Vega.

He later adapted, produced and directed Max Berry’s acclaimed novel into the film SYRUP starring Amber Heard, Shiloh Fernandez and Kellan Lutz and wrote, produced and directed the original film THE CRASH starring John Leguizmao, Frank Grillo, Minnie Driver and Dianna Agron.

Set in the future when the US economy is on the brink of yet another massive financial crisis, The Crash tells the story of Guy Clifton, a federally-indicted stock trader, who is secretly enlisted by the federal government to help thwart a cyber-attack aimed at the US stock markets – an attack that could permanently cripple the economy.

THE GREEN VEIL is his first episodic project.

It’s 1955 and Gordon Rodgers has a dream. It’s the American Dream. And he almost has it made. He lives in the suburbs with his wife and daughter. He goes to church, he works for the government. A respected job for a respectable family man.

Gordon also has a mission. A nefarious secretive mission on behalf of the US government. It’s going well except for one final plot: The Sutton Farm. Owned by Native Americans Glennie and Gilberto Sutton, they refuse to be bought out. So Gordon must force them out by any means necessary. Maybe even abduct them. And it almost works, until the Suttons escape…

At home, Mabel Rodgers is losing her mind. Playing housewife is taking its toll. How she wound up here from a military aviator career, she still doesn’t know. When she discovers Gordon’s’ work folder marked CLASSIFIED she is drawn to the file. When she recognizes wartime friend Glennie Sutton as the mission’s subject, she has no choice but to explore the case herself. And Gordon can never find out.

Gordon’s dream is slipping away. His mission at work is failing. He’s losing control of his family. At what lengths will he go to hold it all together? At what cost to himself and others will he preserve his American Dream? Is this dream even meant for him…or is it all a conspiracy?

He also runs the hybrid creative agency / production studio The Boathouse for which he’s created and directed campaigns for such brands as Apple, Netflix, Victoria’s Secret and SingleCare amongst others.

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Aram Rappaport 0:00
Or a production designer or an actor or a costume designer. If you sort of show up and tell someone you know, we can't afford that, or we lost the light, we're going to have to shoot it differently. You know, as a director, all you can do is really maintain like this even keel positivity around. Even though you know that it's probably a complete fuckup you're like, No, it's gonna work. This is gonna work. This is the right thing. You know, let's, let's keep going.

Alex Ferrari 0:26
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Aram Rappaport 1:20
I'm good. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:22
Thank you so much for coming on the show, brother. I appreciate it. We had one of your compadres on last week. Mr. Little guy, your new guy coming up John Leguizamo.

Aram Rappaport 1:32
Arch nemesis my arch nemesis. I hope I never speak to him again. But he's semi talented. So you know, I put up with them.

Alex Ferrari 1:37
You put up with him? Yeah, he gets the financing sometimes. So you know.

Aram Rappaport 1:41
Yeah. So, you know, I mean, don't give him a big head. He's gonna watch this and think he's, you know, powerful or something.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
Exactly. But, but I appreciate you coming on man. You've had you've had a heck of an adventure, you know, coming up to up the ladder as well. You've got some shrapnel, as well. Yeah. Without question, some indie film, some indie film shrapnel along the way, as well. So first question is Brother How and Why in God's green earth? Did you want to do this? business?

Aram Rappaport 2:08
The business in general? Oh, my God, what a? What a good question. I've never asked myself.

Alex Ferrari 2:15
I think I never did either.

Aram Rappaport 2:18
Right, exactly. It's such, you're just like, wait a sec, like now, existentially, I have to think about things. No, I mean, my, you know, originally I wanted to, to act and be an actor. And so, you know, I grew up in LA, my dad was a writer. And then he ultimately, you know, taught screenwriting as well. So when I was, you know, growing up in sort of training as an actor, and, you know, went through a lot of class and did that, you know, he had always said, you should really write for yourself, because that's going to, you know, be a mechanism to help you, you get things made. And so, you know, organic, sort of moved into writing a little bit, and then I realized, you know, it just feels better to sort of control the narrative from behind the camera. And really, you know, I was so interested in being on set, I would, you know, I did a couple little things. And I would always, you know, what are we shooting now, what's next, and, you know, the director would I was, but you know, I, you just stand over there until it's your turn to, you know, say your lines, but it's sort of interested me to be more, you know, mechanically, you know, involved in the process. And so, I think organically for me, you know, directing just helped control the narrative. And I think throughout the years, I've sort of learned that my skill set is really just, you know, helping everybody else who's actually talented, like, see the vision, you know, and motivating them to, to ultimately, you know, put their all into a project. And I think, sort of the only place for someone like that, that is inherently like, you know, not talented, but like, can rally the troops would be, you know, that leadership role, you know, to put it mathematically, but that that's so that's, you know, that's where I ended up and I, you know, I love it, and I think, you know, my, my trajectory, sort of odd, you know, you started with indie film, you know, did a few films and then and then sort of transitioned into commercials aggressively and did you know, for the last 10 years, been doing a lot of commercials and founded an agency called the boathouse where we're an agency studio hybrid. And so we do, we do a lot of commercials. And that's really, you know, where I've like, honed my skills, both on the storytelling side as well as really like, you know, from a production standpoint, and now this project to Greenville is like the first I mean, outside of Latin instruments, but this is really the first sort of like narrative driven thing I've done in quite a while so it was a really interesting transition back into that

Alex Ferrari 4:40
There is a an insanity isn't there for us to do what we do. It's because look at the beginning of the beginning, it's easy look when everything's going well, if it's never well, all the way it's never ever, ever, never never ever, like the doors all open. The money just flies in all you have is time and money to make your projects. That doesn't happen. But what When you're coming up, though, it's so hard. It's and there's so much. No, no so many noes against you. The grind is so hard you don't even there's no guarantee that anything that you're thinking of doing is going to actually come into life. That's right. Yeah, of course. How did how did you keep going in those early years, like when you were just grinding out short films and trying to just get your stuff seen and made and just just try to get your foot in the door?

Aram Rappaport 5:29
Yeah, I mean, so, you know, I never went to college. I never, you know, I, my mentality has always been sort of, like, you know, just get on the horse and pretend you can ride and, you know, see what happens. So, I mean, I admittedly made a lot of mistakes, right? You know, I mean, I would, you know, have always been very good at sort of pitching the vision or selling the vision, scrapping together a little bit of money, raising money, you know, pitching people on this sensational thing that we're going to do, and then really falling on my face, in the product in the production element, because I just didn't know what I was doing. So I think for me, it's a little bit backwards, right? Like, you know, a lot of people like, you know, I went to film school, I really honed my craft, and then I had a hard time getting into the business, I was sort of the opposite. I was very bullish in raising money and finding ways to produce things in a scrappy way, and then fell completely flat on the execution because that's where I was learning. I had never done it before. And I was just like, I'm, you know, this sensational, I'm gonna direct and do a movie and do this and do that, sort of usurped the craft itself. And I think that, you know, on my personal journey has been, like, really important, you know, moving away from this, you know, I want to do it, because it seems cool to you know, this is a craft and like, what am I trying to say, with these, you know, with these projects,

Alex Ferrari 6:47
So you were you were you were flying the plane while you were building the plane while you're flying?

Aram Rappaport 6:50
Absolutely! No, no. And I mean, we all are, I mean, I'm sure you have stories, where you're just like, I have no idea how I'm gonna shoot this this scene, but like, it might work. It might not work.

Alex Ferrari 6:59
It's, you know, isn't it fascinating dude, because so many of us and you know, and again, I had the pleasure of talking to some really insane legendary filmmakers, of course, of course, and I talked to them, and I asked them director questions, just direct questions that only a director doesn't matter what level you're at, you could be a short film director, or you could be a $20 million Oscar winner doesn't matter. But that what you just said is so indicative of a director like, Okay, we're here. Yeah, I don't know how we're gonna do this today. Let's, let's go. Because everyone thinks that the directors like Hitchcock, or like Fincher, that like did the shot 50,000 times in previous, and he's just basically just shooting with, with real people that get the shot, because he's already shot the whole movie and edited the entire movie and breathe is over a year, right? And then he's just like executing his vision. There's like, no wiggle room. And basically, that's the new generate that the 21st century Hitchcock in the way of approaching the project. But so many, most, if any, if not almost all, there's always scenes that just like, oh, well, the sun's not, says not where it needs to be, Oh, we lost, we lost the location. And so all my storyboards are gone. So you just have to kind of sit there and figure it out. But I wanted to kind of demystify that for people listening, because a lot of young filmmakers think that, Oh, you must be you're working with, you know, John, and you're working on these big projects with these big stars and all this kind of stuff. And you, you have it all figured out. And I and I know that you walk in with a plan, but the Fit hits the shed, bro, you got to roll and that's what makes a director is how to adjust and compromise and move through the stuff that's thrown at you all day. Correct?

Aram Rappaport 8:41
Totally. And I think it's like, you know, it's crisis leadership, right? Like, you, it's, it's, you know, everything's gonna go wrong. And that's okay. Like, you really have to embrace that. And I think the thing that I've learned, you know, in the beginning, you walk on set, and you think it's really exciting and sort of like it's a drug to have the power. Yes, yes. Right. I mean, you walk you walk on, and you think everybody's asking me things. Everyone's listening to me, I have all the answers. But but but then as you as you get very bad reviews on things, and people really sort of bring you back down to earth afterwards, you realize, you know, this is such a collaborative process, that it's okay to, to bring those trusted sort of pieces together, whether it's a cinematographer production designer, whatever, and be like, I know what I'm trying to say with this scene. I don't know how we're gonna get there. Let's all talk about it. And I think that's the biggest lesson that I've sort of learned over the years is this, you know, if you as a director have have have leadership and vision, but you can still be humble and execution, you know, you're going to thrive in a different way than if you have to pretend that you know everything because no one doesn't. Everybody says they had no idea how to I mean, Spielberg has stories about how the sun was in the wrong spot. And he's like, I don't know and he's obviously a genius on a different level where you think, you know, even though that son was in a different spot, he probably had eight ideas. And you know, he ran them by a cinematographer. And one of them was like the thing that they were going to do. But I think at all levels, I mean, especially for young directors, it's like, you know, rely on the people that you're hiring and and say, you know, I don't know this is my vision, though, that I'm steadfast and how do we get there, you know, and you're still going to be well respected.

Alex Ferrari 10:22
I love that this the you said the addictive kind of drug of the power. Oh, my God, like, and I have I'll tell the story real quick. When I was coming up, I made a short film that got a lot of attention around town and all that kind of stuff. And I had a I was like, one of the first to shoot like, which airsoft guns. So I was using airsoft guns was an action movie and all this kind of stuff. And I was using muzzle flashes and posts and stuff like that. So another filmmaker, another crew found out about us and like, Hey, man, can we rent your guns? And we're like, Sure. So I went down to the set. This is in Florida, like in the middle of South Florida, somewhere, went out one night, and I had a bag full of soft, soft.

Aram Rappaport 11:07
Bed full of weapons.

Alex Ferrari 11:08
Oh, no, no. This is early, early 2000s. So I'm walking in and then we go into the trailer where the director is, and the amount of pomp pompous, like arrogance of this guy. The he was three, three steps short of just having a monocle and a frickin bullhorn. I'm not joking. Like he was so far gone, bro. So I brought in he didn't know that I was a direct or anything. He was just talking to me like what's a PA? Which was like, even more disrespectful by just let it play it out.

Aram Rappaport 11:39
Right! Yeah. What do you think? It's his set?

Alex Ferrari 11:43
Whatever don't care you're gonna give me some money for these guns for the weekend. Sure. I'll take the cash. So he took the shotgun I shit you not do took the shotgun pulled out at a viewfinder. I'm not a viewfinder and pointed a shotgun at himself and said these will do and I'm like, Oh my God, even then I was still coming up. But even then I knew this

Aram Rappaport 12:07
Guy's out of his mind. Right, right. Right. Right. Right. Right.

Alex Ferrari 12:10
Oddly enough, the movie didn't go anywhere. But but it's just it's just the the joy to

Aram Rappaport 12:18
Call him out by name called bush.

Alex Ferrari 12:19
I wish I wish I did. I didn't even give the the memory bank and space for his name, the name of the movie. None of it. I don't remember anything other than like a couple of things that happened that night. But I never forgot him. I'm like, Okay, so that's an example of what I don't want to be as a totally, totally. So. So alright, so when you got your so you've been making these short films, and then you get your first feature off the ground? How did you get that first feature? Which is always the toughest one to get off the ground? How did you convince someone to give you cash?

Aram Rappaport 12:49
So you know, I think um, so the first thing that I did was this. So I had a friend, Thomas Decker, who's an actor, and he was in I forgot what it was a show called The Sarah Connor Chronicles on flowers for a while. The Yeah, the Terminator thing. Right? Is that Yeah. And he played he played John Connor. And this is like, right when that show was coming out.

Alex Ferrari 13:13
Yeah, of course. I love that show. I used to love that show.

Aram Rappaport 13:16
Yeah, yeah. It was a great show with Lena Hedy. It was like, very, it was a very exciting to end here. He had wanted to be a director, and he is a director, he drinks a lot of like, very cool stuff. And he, he went out with sort of this group of friends, you know, in LA, growing up this sort of creative little think tank, and he said, You know, I'm gonna go make a feature. I'm not gonna do a short, I'm just gonna make a feature, I have no money. I'm gonna direct I'm just gonna get a bunch of my friends. And we're just all going to be in it. And he did that thing. And he put me in it. And you know, I think Megan Fox was an insight. Like, there's Brian Austin Green at the time, like some very, like, cool people did this thing. Who knows what happened to it, but it was super inspiring to see him. You know, he did that thing. And I was like, Oh, yeah. Wow. Like, he just pulled favors and cleanup, asked his friends to be in this thing. And it was, that was my impetus for saying, you know, oh, yeah, I want to go and pull the same favors. And, you know, and see if I can do it also. And so, you know, sort of, to a lesser degree, I mean, I didn't have a show, like he did, but I, you know, I was able to pull some favors with people and, specifically, you know, Leonard Martin's daughter, Jessie, who's, you know, a great friend who I've known forever, you know, she really likes supported it and was like, you know, what, I'll do makeup on this thing. And like, you can use my house and like, well, you know, this is like, right out of high school. And she was just show some sort of like the process and really, like brought in some, some cool pieces. And that was like, the first thing that was like how I did a first sort of feature. I brought in a cinematographer who was also sort of coming up and wanted a feature, you know, that's also another like, sort of piece of advice is this. You know, a lot of people do short films, right? Like, why not just do a like a really shitty 75 minute short film and then people want credits and they want to be a part of it. You know, one needs to be a part of a short film, but everybody needs to be a DP on a on their first feature. So like those are, you know, thinking outside the box in that way, like is super helpful leverage. I think that that was my first real thing where I thought, you know, let me try directing and I'll figure it out and you know, totally stuck then there was another thing that sucked another thing that sucks but

Alex Ferrari 15:16
Did is like my when I did my first feature I did exactly I think got a bunch of my friends over in LA. Yeah, this insane cast together of all these comedians shot the whole damn thing and like eight days, I was like, You know what, I'm going to dp this thing myself. Yeah. And you have to, you have to and I just like, I'll figure it out. And I'm like, if I could get it down the middle, I'll fix it in post because I'm welcome to the caller. So I'll do that. And you just and you just kind of go for it. And at the end, you're just like, hey, you know, I gotta make it was like it was just me proving to myself, I could finally get a feature made after like, so many years of doing commercials and music videos and other things I've done. I was just like, Screw it. And then it just worked out. But But yeah, you're absolutely right that and that's a big tip for anyone listening. Shorts. No one cares about truly, no one. It could be honestly the Oscar nominated or winning short film. No one cares. But on IMDb, it says feature, it adds a lot more value to people and, and they will build the work for you for free that work for you for cheap discount, just for the shot. It's a great piece of advice.

Aram Rappaport 16:22
And it feels it feels like it feels like now, there's just so many more mechanisms to create something that's feature length, or episodic length, versus just doing something because shorts are great. Like, um, you know, there's some fabulous shorts that are insanely cool. Oh, but I don't, but I don't know. And I don't know enough about that world that you think like, I feel like you know, even 10 years ago, you know, there were shorts that would come out of Sundance and be greenlit at a feature at a mini major, something where you would do like a Fox Searchlight, you know, based on shares, it feels like that just doesn't happen anymore. It was like, at a time when it was hard to get a short made. It was like, wow, that's a proof of concept. Now you're kind of like, it's this weird, aggressive. You know, we're at this place in indie film where you were, you know, excited. It's exciting. You can get things made for cheap, it's also equally as hard. But I think it's just it's it's you have to be so relentless. And that that's such a good point. Like, you know, if it's a feature, there's like some great talent that just will want to be involved. And that's what happened on the Greenvale actually, we had the cinematographer that I shot a lot of commercials with, he hadn't Luca, he hadn't done Luca fontina. He hadn't done a feature yet, or he hadn't done anything in the narrative space. And ours was a show. But it's still it was it was a narrative and he just thought I need I need this right now. Like I need this, I'm gonna kill it. My agents are gonna, you know, this is this is going to bring me to the next level on them on the feature side, and so he you know, and we paid him a lot less than we would pay him on commercials. And you know, in the end, he did it. And I think that and that's why you know exactly what you just said,

Alex Ferrari 17:50
Because he needs and I think nowadays the feature is the proof of concept. Right? Anybody can make a short in one shorts were hard to make, then that was a thing. But now that anyone can make a short at a very high level. Now you've got to like, just keep going. Just keep like I was at a festival once I saw 45 minutes short. I'm like, What's wrong with you? Yeah, just keep going. Get up like 20 Morning. Come on, do just just break 70 minutes like 68 to 70 minutes and you officially call yourself totally soulless keep going.

Aram Rappaport 18:21
And I you know what, my first thing that we just sort of I guess got distribution was this thing called the innocent that I was kidnapped true story in Chicago when I was 18. And we I turned it I've adapted it into this single take thriller that Alexa Vega girl from Star spike in Star Wars Spy Kids. She she started and it was this one take thing and we did it in Chicago, you know, in choreographed and and I learned how to use steadicam. And I shot it. And that's something where I'm like, it's going to be a feature. You watch it and you're like, this could have been a short, like, it could have been 10 minutes. 15 minutes, it would have been brilliant. It was 80 minutes, and we all fell asleep. But you know, I learned I learned through that process. You know, that's where I was like, you know, I want it to be a feature it's and by the way we had so much support because there's a features is one take thing and ever you know is Oh no. Yeah, you built

Alex Ferrari 19:16
You built up look, it's like a system when you do some of these indie projects. It's kind of like you're building up the carnival. So you you're the carnival barker. So when I did my first big short, and I had like, nobody and nothing. It was all like, Dude, it's all visual effects. It's gonna be an action thing. And I had like these storyboards and I had our concept art, and I made it look like it was the next excellent, you know, and everyone was like, I'm just want to see how this guy can even pull this off. And that's how many people jumped on board work for free. They're like, I just want to see you either fail or make it either one's going to be fantastic.

Aram Rappaport 19:48
100% 100% And it's like it's like you. It is like a traveling circus because you're like you're on location with people. You will never spend carnies before. carnies. Dude, we're totally kind of new I think like we're like sort of like highfalutin society societal, you know, boudoir carnies, but like it's bullshit. Like we go out there and we don't shower for a month. You're like eating shitty food. You know, not you like your grandma's catering with baked bagels that she found in the back of,

Alex Ferrari 20:16
If you're lucky, if you're lucky, if you're lucky, you get that?

Aram Rappaport 20:19
No, it's true. It's true. It's so true. No, but it's but but it's so exciting. Because you're like, you know, it's so much fun. And every step of the way you think like the only people that go through that process? You know, the only people that really not not if the film is good, who cares? Like if it's good or not, like, if you can get through the process, like, it's because you believe that your vision was like, absolutely unequivocably untold in any other way. And like, that's the thing that gets you whether it's true or not, who cares? You know, there's reviewers, there's this, there's distributors, but the fact that you can just get through that process means that you had such like resolute power, to be able to not give up on that thing. And that's like, the most fun to me, is challenging yourself, where you're just like, we shot nights, we you know, is an it's a 20 hour day, do I try to get one more take when everyone's exhausted? Because I feel like I need it? Or do I? Or do we just go home and give up and say, you know, this was good enough, it's probably going to cut you know, and it's those moments that challenge you on such an emotional level and a physical level, you know, and you think you get through that. And there's such a rush at the end of production, where you're just like, we did it, like we did that thing. Who knows if it's good, but we did it, you know, we got through that.

Alex Ferrari 21:32
And that's like, when Kubrick you know, would say he's like, hey, you know, we're all here. They built the sets, stay until we get it right. At five takes later, we can move on.

Aram Rappaport 21:45
Totally, totally, totally. And that's like, I feel like the one thing I've learned in commercials is sort of how to cut and how to, you know, sort of maintain the sanctity of like those performances and like, you know, protect the actors in that process. In a way that, you know, especially for this most recent thing, where we shot like eight episodes, and you know, five, we shot like 250 300 pages. So we were shooting 15 to 20 pages a day with with a single camera. And it all looks really pretty.

Alex Ferrari 22:13
I mean, you did a single on this single camera.

Aram Rappaport 22:17
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. We will, because it's so so this is another thing. So Luca RDP really did not want to shoot with two cameras. Fair enough. And he wanted, you know, and by the way, like, I would challenge him on that, because I'm like, we're never going to make our days if you're trying to light a single frame, you know, we need to cover this in the right way. It turned out that he was just so fluid in the way that he lit and these images look like, I don't know if you've seen any of it, but the images Yeah. Yeah, they look like Norman Rockwell painting.

Alex Ferrari 22:46
Like, you read my mind. They look like paintings. He did a fantastic job and the production design in the, in the the wardrobe and the way was all laid out.

Aram Rappaport 22:53
And yeah, it's a gritty, it's a gritty world. And you think like, you know, that was one of those things where I just thought, you know, I've worked with this guy and commercial so long, I know how we were gonna, you know, we have a shorthand, you know, if I'm trying to sort of cut in my head. And, and, and we we can maybe make it work with one camera, you know.

Alex Ferrari 23:10
So that's, that's the that's the other thing that a lot of filmmakers don't understand, too. So like, let's say, you're a young filmmaker, you get your first project out. And let's say there's a DP, who he just super advanced, has done $10,000,000.15 $20 million movies, and he's like, You know what, I'm gonna do your $100,000 movie. Yeah, like the story. That is a death sentence. Because they it's a death sentence. Right? I've been there too. Because if they're used to those kinds of resources, they don't understand how to make $100,000 worth of resources work. You can go the other way. Yeah, it's really hard to go back. So like I you know, you can't give James Cameron $100,000 to make a movie like He's incapable of talent. He actually I actually knew somebody who worked with him. And he was talking to somebody on a set. And the, and the guy said, oh, yeah, I just made my features like, oh, great, man. Great. You know what it did? He goes, Yeah, yeah, just, you know, grab the 100,000 bucks. And I meant to make it. And you could see Cameron's face, the computer started to crack. He couldn't understand. He's like, Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And so far, he's been so far, so long, James Cameron, that he couldn't grasp the idea of 100 Like, it's just what

Aram Rappaport 24:28
Go and by the way, we should all be so lucky. Like, I would love to not grasp the idea of like, I don't I don't do work around ideas that like

Alex Ferrari 24:37
I don't like what I'm like, you've been James Cameron for 30 years. So you don't understand these things. At least got for 30 years and you've shot 10,000 commercials and

Aram Rappaport 24:51
I was about to mention that because you know, going you know to having done commercials for a while now. You know, whether it's like, you know for Apple or Victoria's Secret or whatever, I mean, those, everyone says they don't have any money. But when it comes to selling products, if, if a client believes that that's a, if there's a piece of creative that's going to help, the money will be there. It's so different, you know, when you go back to doing something on the independent level where you just think I can't convince anybody that this crazy one or

Alex Ferrari 25:23
That I need the technical crane for five days.

Aram Rappaport 25:25
Yeah, exactly. We can't, we can't do it. So that was, but that was also super exciting to me. Because for me, it was like, you know, having having, I don't want to say it's a sterile world, it's a very exciting world being doing commercials, but like, you know, you're reporting directly to a purpose. You know, it's it's, it's selling brother, you're selling product. That's its commerce. I mean, that's, that's, that's the thing. It's not art. So it's a different, it was a totally different mindset, which was such a rush to be like back in that space and be like, oh, yeah, no, I don't have as much money. But I also can just do it the way I want to do it, I can just, I can go do this thing.

Alex Ferrari 25:57
And I don't have to spend, you know, eight hours lining a bottle?

Aram Rappaport 26:01
Who? Exactly, exactly, exactly. And it's one of those things where, like, you know, it plays into, I feel like, you know, I always try to like double down on like, what's my purpose? Like, why? Why do I want to do this? Why I'm, you know, and like, at the end of the day, you know, you want people to really connect with what you make. And I feel like that that's been a through line for me in terms of, you know, any commercial I do, there's the really good ones that like people are like, wow, that was a good commercial, there's the really crappy ones that still perform well. And you think, Oh, I'm glad it worked. But oh, I just wish it would have created better. And those are the moments that remind me that like, oh, yeah, like, I want to be a storyteller. Like, my number one goal is not just to do a job or facilitate a thing. It's like, you know, I want to be able to tell narratives that like really, you know, really, really hit and so it's, it's, you know, that's why it's nice, you know, it's fun to fight for, you know, anything to you know, to create anything linearly. I mean, it's and it's a miracle that ever gets paid, period. No, it's a mere I mean, it's a miracle. I mean, it's impossible, but especially in COVID now, and COVID.

Alex Ferrari 26:59
Now, oh, that's even worse. It's even, it's even more impossible to get anything made.

Aram Rappaport 27:02
It's possible. And John reminded me of that every day as he was getting rammed up the nostril with a COVID test telling me that he, you know, he was doing this for me, and, you know, so, you know, I thought he was gonna walk every time he got, like, I said, we could move to the, you know, the anal COVID tests if he wanted, but he, you know, he's stuck with the nose.

Alex Ferrari 27:25
So don't be stuck with the nose, you know, but you know, that's, that's, that's John. But I'm just saying Meryl Streep would have done whatever it needed to be. I'm just saying she would have done whatever Daniel Day would have done whatever it took. I'm just saying,

Aram Rappaport 27:39
Can you follow up with John on that, actually, because that's a very good, that's a very good point.

Alex Ferrari 27:44
I mean, I heard Daniel Day and Denzel day where I had no problem with whatever it was.

Aram Rappaport 27:49
John, what I tell the story a lot just because I like the article exists. But you know, in China, like during, you know, during the Olympics, I read some, there was some article that said, you know, China brings back, you know, anal COVID swabs for tourists at the airport manual, anal COVID swabs. And I brought this article to set and showed it to John and I was like, John, this is the new this is the new norm, so we're swapping out the nose for the you know, the anus, and and then I just walked out and I walked out and I said, you know, I'm like, It's not today today, you know, we're still doing the nose. But tomorrow the hospital is going to bring in the guys to do the the AMA. It's a different crew. And you know, I just wanted to let you know, and you know, anyways, great day. I'll see you out there. And then his assistant came running out and he's like, is is that are we doing the animals is that what was that a thing? I'm like, No, it's not a fucking thing. What do you tell him? Of course not. Why would we ever do that? That's crazy. I'd rather get COVID What do you mean? So that was that was that's my relationship.

Alex Ferrari 28:48
Oh my god. That's amazing. Ah, absolutely. The best story I'm going to use I'm going to tell that story everywhere

Aram Rappaport 28:54
That's why you can google it exists I'm not just like some

Alex Ferrari 28:57
No no but your story with John

Aram Rappaport 29:00
Yeah. That's that's an exclusive that's

Alex Ferrari 29:04
So are we are we are we doing the Adel swaps are we

Aram Rappaport 29:07
I'm like tell him Yeah, you should know you should have you should have you should have kept that going for a little bit. I should have filmed it the next day and had seen you should know

Alex Ferrari 29:14
You should have done you should have done a whole Jackass thing. Like they can't bring it and bring that like get one of the grips that John didn't see the guy doing it like

Aram Rappaport 29:25
100% Meanwhile, we're doing this like super deep dark, you know, 50s Drama on oppression and he's standing there in his like, you know, 50s garb like Wait, am I getting anal swab? Like what what's happening here, you know,

Alex Ferrari 30:07
Alright, so as directors, when we're on a set, there's always that one day, that the fit. It's the Shan, the lights, not there, the camera breaks that the there's annual swabs on onset onset, something happens that, that you you feel like the entire world's coming crashing down around you on on Greenvale or on any project. What was that day? And how did you overcome it as a director?

Aram Rappaport 30:35
You know, that's a good question. I mean, I think that obviously, you know, there's different types of people, you know, some people thrive under, you know, that immense pressure, you know, some people don't, I think that, you know, whether I make the right decisions or the wrong decisions, I usually, I enjoy that level of pressure. So I think for me, like, you know, I sort of expect those, there's a level of anxiety where I just expect every every day go wrong. So when all things go wrong, it's like, well, I was a great day. So I think my mindsets will be different. But there's always your I mean, I've had instances where actors have, like, you know, disagreed with a note and walked off, and we've had to shoot coverage of his female counterpart by herself. You know, we've had instances where I had an actor fire our first ad, because he hated him on something some years ago. And we were sort of left pick, you know, choosing between an actor and the ad. And, you know, I mean, there were just, I feel like, there, there have been some sort of crazy instances where, you know, everything that I've sort of done on, like, the linear space has been, you know, a passion project. So like, when people come to do that, it's because they're passionate about it. So when you challenge that, or change the vision, or adjust, or it's not what they thought, like, there's emotions run really high, you know, and that's exciting. But it's also terrifying, because I think when you're, whether it's a DP, or a production designer, or an actor, or a costume designer, if you sort of show up and tell someone, you know, we can't afford that, or we lost the light, we're going to have to shoot it differently. You know, as a director, all you can do is really maintain like this even keel positivity around, even though you know, that it's probably a complete fuckup you're like, No, it's going to work, this is going to work. This is the right thing, you know, let's, let's keep going. And, and, you know, that sort of, like resolute need to like, keep the troops marching is really important. And I don't know if there's any one specific thing it feels like every day or every few every day. Oh, there's always something that's, I mean, we've lost. You know, I think the biggest thing is always been, you know, working on on this latest thing, I think, you know, this was like a drama that also had, you know, tonally was sci fi as well, as, you know, there was some levity to how the characters interact, you know, John would call it a play, you know, it was a it was the dialogue was sort of like repetitious, and it did you know, it felt lyrical. And so I think a lot of that was worked out on set in rehearsal, and we had no time to rehearse. So those were the things that were the most challenging. Were sort of, you know, we're shooting 18 pages today, if you rehearse that scene one more time. Everything was was pertinent, you know, we lose another valuable scene at the end of the day, where we have to get an insert on the gun. If we don't, no one knows she has a gun. And that's the tension, you know, so things like that, what I think were that were the toughest were was sort of like, okay, like, you know, what, are we going to compromise on that still, collectively, if I step back, you know, this world still works. We need to lead people to believe that this thing works. I think those those those are the sort of things I felt like I've learned over the years is sort of like when to really compromise and when to vocalize that we need to get it right.

Alex Ferrari 33:58
Then there's the other thing to man is like that they don't tell you, especially when you're coming up, man, I don't know if this happened to you or not. But you get you know, you're normally I remember when I was the youngest guy on set. I remember I'm sure you do as well.

Aram Rappaport 34:09
Yeah, yeah. I'm, I'm I'm 20 20 and a half,

Alex Ferrari 34:13
I tried to at least 20 and a half. So, but when you're the youngest guy, or you're just starting out, the crew, most of the time is most of the times a little bit more experienced than you. And sometimes the actors are more experienced than you. Yeah. And that's when and that's

Aram Rappaport 34:30
When we often write like, I mean, there's always going to be someone that's more experienced than you. It doesn't matter if you're who you are really like you train

Alex Ferrari 34:37
To a certain to a certain extent. Absolutely. Yeah, you're always gonna be, but this is when this is what they don't teach you a film school, which is who's testing you to see how far they can push you. And that's the actors and that's also with key crew people as well. I mean, I've had DPS who were interested in their reel and that's so much interested in what I was doing. They just wanted to get their shot, because they knew that was going to be in the reel and then didn't really care about working, they took the project cuz they're like, Oh, we're gonna be on this location, I'm gonna get the techno crane. And I'm gonna do this and this, or I'm gonna fight for this shot because this is going to get my, there's going to be on my demo reel,

Aram Rappaport 35:12
And how would you handle that? So how did you like how would you, you know?

Alex Ferrari 35:16
So first so the first time it happened, I didn't know what the hell to do. And I had to like kind of, you know, the very first time it happened I had to, and I told the story before but I'll tell it again. My very first time I spent on my demo reel when I shot my 35 millimeter commercial demo reel. Wow, yeah. Oh, yeah, I'm that old. I shot I shot a cost me about 50 grand back in the day. All right. And I hired a DP team. So problem number one. Have you worked with the DP team? No, nobody does because it doesn't exist. But with these guys, they had to had a grip truck. They had access to the film camera, I needed a high speed film camera. We were shooting at 90 frames, you know, I was doing some like really fashion commercial stuff that I was doing. You know, I had a model who was a friend of mine and we were doing this whole exports model thing. And they were so they were mostly industrial guys. And sometime commercial guys, and not la sometime commercialized. This is Florida sometime commercial guys. So that means that they didn't have the same experience as a California or sorry anybody living in Florida. I I know a lot of good guys down there. But you know what I mean? Is just they just didn't have the experience that that the crews on the other side have a lot of times so they came in and I was so terrified that they didn't know what they were going to do with this film stock because we were shooting reversal stock.

Aram Rappaport 36:43
Yeah. Oh my god, I can't see that. I've never shown some of my life the anxiety. I can't even

Alex Ferrari 36:48
So shot on shooting on a reversal stock because I wanted to do that whole like MC g 90s.

Aram Rappaport 36:55
Yeah, blown out by looks amazing.

Alex Ferrari 36:58
It's fast as Wonder I love that. It's still one of my favorite things ever shot. So it was it's so it was we shot this whole thing. But I was so terrified because I'm like this is with with with reversal stock. You've got to have stop. Yeah, latitude. You can you can check you can check around. Yeah, yeah. So I like literally printed out an entire packet on how to shoot reversal stock. I was so terrified for the day. Yeah. And gave it to them. Do they? They must I mean, we shot it and we got it in the can. But they they took forever to light. They both of them are running around with their light meters like clicking every frickin corner. Oh my gosh. And then wait, and then high speed. Here that film cam go. Oh, yeah. And you hear that sound? And all I'm hearing is like $5 $10 $20 Exactly, exactly. It was just flying by and I'm like please Oh snap, please. Oh, snap. Please don't stop because of snaps. Oh my god, we're done. And I didn't have like rolls and rolls of

Aram Rappaport 38:02
Exactly. Exactly. You know, how are you gonna get more rolls if you're out like that. So

Alex Ferrari 38:06
It was it was insane. It was insane. So those guys i Then I then we did another spot the next day and they were so bad. They were trying to like muscle their way into what I was doing. And I was looking at what they were doing. I'm like this is not good. And I just at the end of the day, I scrapped the entire thing. I burned the negative. Wow, I literally burned I burned it. And then I rehired a new dp and I spent another $20,000 and shot the spot that I wanted the way I wanted to do it and got it done right so but with that those days those guys I was just like I was just constant and I was yelling out where it half stop. Were one for one like I was the one constantly yelling out I know what we need to be out here. And I was I was on them on them on them on them because I was just so insecure. Yeah, they you know, the by the way, first day one, the entire grip team walked off within 10 minutes that's how ridiculous that's my first day first day I'm spending all my money and the entire grip department walks away in the first 10 minutes because they were so unprofessional they didn't know what to do. So I was just like oh my god so that's that extreme but then I've had other TVs who are like older guys who just for whatever reason wanted to wave their you know what in my face and just right right right? No, no, I don't think that's the way the shot is going to be so then that's the point where you as a director have to go look man, we're gonna have a half cup conversation. You and it's not and but that's how you get tested and then actors test you within the first five or 10 minutes and they test you just to make sure that they feel comfortable. You're totally safe and safe. If they feel safe, they'll give you the world but if they don't feel safe that's when the problem starts.

Aram Rappaport 39:39
We agree that that's like you know that's why we did this project is because John and I haven't worked together you know we've shot too thin we you know, we shot a movie we shot the Netflix special and then you know we've done a handful of commercials together that he started that he's brought me in on to direct which has been amazing. But there was sort of a level of trust that was there. And the trust wasn't, you know, that's what people sometimes hear, they hear that and they go, Oh, he trusted you to make it to make him the best he can be. It's really, it wasn't about that it wasn't about the final result, it was trust, to explore, you know, and this trust, to be able to take risks, and own those risks. And that's the thing that, you know, you'll find a lot of actors will either, you know, really don't want to do, they're gonna give you what they're gonna give you, because they don't trust that when you're in the editing room, you're not going to completely fuck it up. You know, or there's the other ones, there's the actors that just go totally crazy and need you to hold them in linearly, you know, and remind them where we're at in the arc. And if you don't, you're not going to have a project, you can piece together, you know, from from a story beat perspective, but I think with John, like, the thing that I, you know, admire about him so much is that, you know, we sat down, and I pitched this thing to him. And, you know, he said, you know, he's a character who never played before, and he wanted, I mean, maybe he talked about already, but, but, you know, to be able to get on set and watch him do something different every take, that still was in the world, but they were different decisions, you know, based on different, you know, sort of like organic, you know, justifications, you know, what, whether it was an action or you know, you know, linearly he thought, oh, maybe I should be at a different point in my journey here. Let's try two things. The fact that he was so open to explore that is why this ultimately works and is successful, because we block shot, you know, 300 pages, and he was shooting, you know, seven dinner scenes back to back from episode one, episode eight, back to episode three, Episode Seven. And, you know, if we didn't have that trust, to sort of stumble through it together, you know, I think it would be like a very different projects. I think he you know, he's one of those rare guys that you just think of like, like, you've done everything in your career, you've, you've been everywhere worked with everybody, and you're still just trying to be better, like, better at everything, you know, and he and he's doing it. I mean, every step of the way, he bests the last year of his career. You know,

Alex Ferrari 42:01
It's interesting that, that that concept of allowing the space to explore Yeah, is so important to actors. And John spoke about it in the interview that we had that he's like, let me bump around. Yeah, me, me. There's a box. Yeah, I might not know where the end of the box is. Yeah. But that's your job to bring me back in if I'm going too far off, or the box that we're putting in, but let me play within the box. And don't just try to throw me down the middle because that's when you stifle me, you stifle me, you're not gonna get anything out of me. Totally.

Aram Rappaport 42:36
So and you think that you know, this is a guy that's like, a Tony winning playwright, you know, I mean, this is a guy who has a Smithsonian where like, you can't put them on set and say, you got to do this one thing I mean,

Alex Ferrari 42:47
He didn't align read him, give him a line reading see what

Aram Rappaport 42:50
His story is about that from from from certain movies where he goes, you know, a director was given me a line reading and it was like the three worst months of my life I just showed up. I was a robot. It's like, that's just some people like that. I mean, there are actors that want to go to work and just do the one thing go home like he's just not that guy, you know, and that's what you know, that's what Well, yeah, I mean, that's what I love about working with him. It's the most incredible thing in the world and like between that and his activism in this sort of like, I mean, he I don't know if he sleeps one hour a day or what but like, you know, I mean, he just was like, put on this earth to make waves in that way and you can't stop it.

Alex Ferrari 43:23
No, and it's really interesting to see you know, and we want to turn this into a John love fest because then he love that he'll love his his head's gonna get too big and you know, it already is was trying to know but no, but but in all honesty, though, like you look at look at an actor like him who's done so many different varieties, I mean, Moulin Rouge, and yeah, Juliet and casualties of war and, and you just, and then that the list just goes on and on. And just like, you know, I was when I was preparing for his conversation. I just went back through his IMDb in his filmography. I'm like, Jesus Christ. Like, there's so many movies that you just like, that's right. Carlitos way. Yeah, that's right. Oh, he was in that too. Oh, my God. That's right. He was and you just go back. And you know, like, I brought up spawn, because I'm like, no one ever no one ever calls out spawn the clown. It's one of the performances, one of his best performances ever since sanity, and he taught and that he said he, they didn't know what he had no idea what he was going to do up until the director yelled action for this entire time.

Aram Rappaport 44:30
I believe it Yeah. And I mean, he just blew up. We were talking at some point about the voice of the sloth and Ice Age and how he tried a bunch of stuff and also didn't know what he was going to do and, and the studio liked what he did or something like that man might be telling the story wrong. But then eventually, you know, he got behind the mic and did something and it was like, you know, that's it. That's the thing, you know, and it's it's incredible to see that. I mean, I hate him as a person but he's a talented.

Alex Ferrari 44:53
I mean, he's a horrible human being.

Aram Rappaport 44:56
As an actor, he's he's he's phenomenal to watch and hammering

Alex Ferrari 45:00
No but to be to be as to be as a performer. And this is also the way it is with directors or certain directors who work this way. That work kind of like on the on like my last film I did. I shot and four days at Sundance, about filmmakers trying to sell a movie at Sundance, I still owe the entire movie. I got there, and I just like, let's roll. And let's see what happens. And I was like, Oh, my God, this is what like, what it feels like to be an actor in many ways, because we were all as a collective Creative Collective, figuring it out along the way, to the point where when we got on the we're on the plane that like I said, Do you have it? I'm like, I don't know.

Aram Rappaport 45:38
Yeah, we don't know. Yeah, we'll put it together.

Alex Ferrari 45:40
I have no idea if we have a movie. I have no idea. If we haven't, I think we have a movie. My experience says, but it was in a such a low budget. And it was just kind of like me just experimenting, having fun, that you were just like, oh my god, this feels so you feel so alive, as opposed to being on a commercial set, where you're working with a client, and that has its own energy and its own thing. But this you feel like,

Aram Rappaport 46:03
Oh my god, there's an immediacy to it. There's such an immediacy to it.

Alex Ferrari 46:06
Right, like the Duplass brothers or John sweat Joe Salzberg, who did these kinds of like, you know, mumblecore films back in the day, that they're just kind of like, Here's an outline. Let's all figure it out today.

Aram Rappaport 46:17
Yeah, totally.

Alex Ferrari 46:18
Exciting is how to do that. It's terrifying. But it's so yeah,

Aram Rappaport 46:22
Yeah. It's exciting. Totally, totally. i It's more exciting. If it turns out well,

Alex Ferrari 46:28
Yeah. If it didn't work out, yeah. You're like,

Aram Rappaport 46:31
Oh, we went through that. Okay. I don't know if I'll do that again. But so

Alex Ferrari 46:34
Is there. Is there something that you wish you would have told yourself if you had an opportunity to go back at that first, the first beginnings of your career? To tell yourself Listen, Adam, this is you gotta watch out for this.

Aram Rappaport 46:47
Yeah, that's a good that's a really good question. I think, you know, there was this. I did a movie some years ago, called syrup with Ambit was with Amber Heard Shiloh Fernandez never heard of her. I never heard of her. Never heard of her never telling lots of other people. And it was based on a book and it was, you know, it was it was probably like, sort of the first, like, bigger thing that I did was an indie. You know, it was it was

Alex Ferrari 47:14
I saw I mean, it looks it looks amazing. It looks good to camera. You were talking to cameras that had a little vibe to it.

Aram Rappaport 47:20
Yeah, they talked to cameras, but you know, but it was it was also from a structural perspective is problematic, you know, we had to go back and do reshoots, and we had to, you know, it was, that's one thing. I've also learned, just as an aside, you know, there's a script that can read really well. But but but with experience, you learn what's going to play to an audience, sometimes that isn't on the page. And I think that's, that's the difference between those really, really good directors that can seat that can read a script, or a writer director, who can write something that they know is going to translate, because that was one instance, where we wrote a lot of direct to camera, talking at the audience Edrick in the fourth wall breaking, we started, you know, testing it, and we realized that like, audiences don't want to be talked to they want to be shown things, you know, and so it read really well, because it was this sort of flippant, cheeky dialogue about marketing, and people read through the scripts, agents love that actors love that. I mean, it was like we, you know, is a beloved script based on a great book. You know, we went and shot the script. And, and we were excited about it. I was excited about it. And then we watched it. And I was like, Wait a second, we got to go back. And we work things. Because it just doesn't, it doesn't we're not rooting for these characters in the same way. But I, you know, back back to your What was your question? I didn't remember. If there's something that you wish you would have told you younger self? Yeah. So so so I screened this, this film for a producer, and, and she said, You know, it's not there. But trust me, when I say it's not going to be your last movie, you're going to be fine. And I was wrapped.

Alex Ferrari 48:56
You don't? You'll work again,

Aram Rappaport 48:58
That's literally your work. You know, and that's like, I mean, because I always try to get back is really honest about these things. Like, you know, I've made a lot of shitty, like very, very bad things. Because I that's how I learned to make to try to make better than hopefully my work is getting better as we go. And this is hopefully not the best thing I'll ever do. And hopefully there'll be more, that's better. But you I think there are those guys that are those, you know, those filmmakers that just, you know, they pop onto the scene. And that's like, they their first movie is like a hit, you know, that was like, definitely not me, you know. And that was the biggest piece of advice I wish I actually took in was this notion that like, every time I did something bad I thought, well, this is the last this is the end. It's never it was never a learning experience. It was always like, this is shameful, you know, I'm shamed no one ever talks and

Alex Ferrari 49:42
You know, and you know what, and you're not looked at that stop me from making my first feature for almost 1520 years because

Aram Rappaport 49:48
Right there you go, there you go. Exactly exact cause of that energy of

Alex Ferrari 49:51
The the, if I got to make a movie, it's gotta be Reservoir Dogs. No, it's It's gotta it's gotta be. It's gotta be paranormal activities got to be something that it's explodes out of it. And that's then that's the mentality that was the kind of the Kool Aid that I drank from the 90s coming out, because that's what everything was like it had to be this huge thing.

Aram Rappaport 50:10
And those were those zingy indies where it was like the only indies you heard about were those indies that were just the best movies that had ever come out in those years like period, perhaps.

Alex Ferrari 50:19
Absolutely. And the directors all went off to have insane careers. So that was what I thought I had to do. I was like, Oh, I'm going to make something that has to be like, yeah, it has to be Reservoir Dogs. But then then you look back and you go, no, nobody else made a Reservoir Dogs. They all made their own things. Kevin made clerks. Linkletter made slacker that they they all did their thing. But and they were right time, right place, right product, all that kind of stuff as well. But at a certain point, you just got to just do it. That's when I when I finally hit 40. I just said screw it. I'm just gonna go make a movie. And from the moment I came up with the idea to the when we're done with production was two months.

Aram Rappaport 50:56
Yeah, yeah. Well, and that's what happens, right? You just you get that motivation. You just go and do it. And you have to be sort of like, you know, erotic about it. And blinded by it.

Alex Ferrari 51:05
No, I did it so fast. I couldn't talk myself out of it. Because if you said Yeah, six months, eight months, you're like, Oh, well, I need this camera. Or I need Yeah, right. This cast I didn't want to give myself so it was like a experiment on myself to just go I'm just gonna get it done to prove to myself that I could tell a story and I could sell a movie and and did all that. It was, it was fascinating. Now we've been we've been dipping around or toying around the Greenvale tell me about the green veil. And it's really interesting. John talks a bit about it in in his interview, I find it fascinating that you guys kind of did an indie series. So you know, self financed indie series that now you're out in the marketplace trying to sell, which is something that doesn't get done often has done been done, but not at this level that I know of it. Yeah, we're just kind of cast in this kind of production. So tell me about the project.

Aram Rappaport 51:53
So yeah, I mean, so So we, you know, I knew having been in commercials for a while, I knew that I wanted to try to get back into like, some linear expression, you know, some content that we you know, whether it was serialized content, whether it was a film, whether whatever. So we you know, just because I launched this agency in studio, we sort of had the facilities to launch a television film division as a financier. You know, we've sort of been blessed with our clients and subsidize that film and television production with money that we, you know, made on the agency side. And so this was sort of that first project. For me, that was like a proof of concept as a quote, unquote, like studio that's financing, just to kind of prove that we could do this. So I think for us, it's like, we knew that we wanted to be in TV, we've never done TV before. You know, we could pitch for years and try to figure that out. Or we could just go out and do something and sort of stumble through it. That's sort of always been my approach, obviously.

Alex Ferrari 52:56
As we've made many points of in this interview, it's great. And works for you, sir.

Aram Rappaport 53:03
And if you learn anything, it's don't do it this way. I'm sure there's an easier way it will take. But but but no, but I mean, you know, so I having worked with Java for John and I were just coming off the the Netflix thing that was a lot of fun, and, you know, received well, and, and John, I was reading these articles about alien invasions that happened in the 50s. And it was this very sensationalized period when there was a lot of, you know, repression and oppression, from housewives to, you know, Native Americans to immigrants to to everybody really, you know, was very oppressed in a certain way. It was post world war two women were working during World War Two, and they were, you know, really running things while men were off at war. And then they came back and there was this reckoning, you know, where women were now suddenly, housewives. Again, men were trying to like re command control of their families. And, you know, there was this insane eradication of sort of, like Native Americans. So anyways, I wanted to put all that stuff together because it just it felt like if we could sort of sensationalized you know, a story that sort of is grounded in a sci fi element where there were these, you know, these these sort of like, true reported UFO sightings with, you know, the themes of assimilation and oppression in the 50s it would make for like, a really interesting world. Like, at that time, I didn't know what it was gonna be, but it just felt like it was a really interesting, you know, let's do an anthology on oppression in America with a really interesting tone that feels like it's not just a drama and it's not just preachy, that it's you know, we've got a hook so I loop John in and said, you know, we can you play this like all American dad who's like Latin, but we don't save these Latin and there's these really hidden bizarre undertones of his patriotism. And John was like, you know, I've always wanted to play like a self loathing self hating, you know, Latin I mean, what he calls his you know, like a Trumpian lat Latin we are Trumpian you know, this supporter, you know, Latin Trump supporter of something. Got it. Got it. And, and so, you know, he was always fascinated with like the leader of the proud boys who's like this Latin guy and he's like, what what is he doing? Like how is that? Real? You know? And so, you know we

Alex Ferrari 55:15
Oh, I gotta stop. He's like, did you ever see the Dave Chappelle? Bit? Where he was the the blind? Ku Klux Klan? Yes, yes. Yeah, he was, oh my god, or something like that.

Aram Rappaport 55:29
It was literally it was literally that, you know, and so that's what we, you know, I said, Well, you know, why don't you play this all American guy who like, you know, obviously, there's some like, you know, deeply rooted, like systemic issues there. But you're tasked with, you know, assimilation, like native assimilation at the FBI, and you're, you're an American, you're an American and a patriot. And, and let's let you reckon with those issues, and he's like, I've never played that role before I trust that we can have fun with this and see where it goes. And from a from a, you know, not a therapeutic standpoint. But like, as an actor, it was something that he like, you know, wanted to embrace, and that that was the project. So we thought, you know, let's root it in this family with you and sort of, like, see where this thing goes. And that that's the Greenville. It's a story of Gordon Rogers, who's played by John Leguizamo. And he's tasked with native assimilation on the East Coast, which is something that happened was rampant, you know, in the US and in Canada's, you know, evident by the discovery of these boarding schools, and, you know, these mass graves under these boarding schools that we just found in Canada recently, but, you know, John's character is making way for a pipeline, and there's a lot of nefarious things he's doing. And his wife finds out that there was some, you know, he was investigating an alien invasion that may or may not be an alien invasion, and, you know, shit hits the fan from there. And, you know, John's character ultimately is forced to sort of reckon with, you know, who he is. And, you know, and where he's going, you know, in this in this world. And that's, and that's, that's how we got to eight episodes.

Alex Ferrari 56:59
And you got to Tribeca, did this screen yet or not?

Aram Rappaport 57:02
It screen yet screens on Monday night? And it's, we had an online thing on Wednesday, and then we just screened last night was our our second screening?

Alex Ferrari 57:11
And how's it? How has it been received?

Aram Rappaport 57:13
It was great. I mean, it was received really well, you know, we got a couple really positive reviews. And, you know, people seem very into it. And I think, you know, the challenge for us is obviously, you know, educating a marketplace on an independent TV show. And that's something that is, you know, it's it's, you know, we know, the sort of indie model of acquisitions. And,

Alex Ferrari 57:33
You know, isn't it isn't that fun? Isn't it? The fun part?

Aram Rappaport 57:36
It's just, it's a lesser known, you know, it's a lesser known reality, but I think like, you know, it's something that we feel really passionate about, I don't think we would have gotten this show made, had we not, you know, financed it. And, and developed it with John in a way that just, you know, he wanted to play this role. And that's, and that's what we did. And I, you know, he's, I would never want it, that's something I've learned is that, you know, working with new exciting actors is great, but working with like, your best friends that you trust and who trust you is, is is the best thing in the world. It doesn't matter what the project is.

Alex Ferrari 58:07
And that's because because you go because you've gone into war together. Ready, man? Yeah, you just you just use it. You've been in the shit, you've been in different level,

Aram Rappaport 58:16
It's a different level of trust that you just can't overestimate you.

Alex Ferrari 58:20
No, no, absolutely. Absolutely. The DP, I took the Sundance with me, I'd use I've done a couple projects with them. And I'm like, I could I just knew, shoot, just shoot, I know, it's gonna be done. And it's like, I don't have to worry about that. Because you just know, they're gonna get you back. And then you work with actors again. And again. You're like, Yeah, I know that they're bringing that toolbox with them today. And yeah, yeah. And they got your back. And when you're going, if you're going into the war, man, it's like full metal jacket, man, you just, you know, or, you know, you Joker, you know, or

Aram Rappaport 58:51
You just want to do better work. Also, when you're working with Yeah, I want you to be that, you know, that's the like, you know, yeah, I mean, there's something about I mean, that was always my thing with John is like, he has always just challenged me to, like, you know, let's make it a little bit better, a little bit better. Let's watch someone else show notes. Let's go, you know, and he's always had to, I mean, he's been vocal, but he's had to work harder than everybody else to get to where he is. And that is, you know, I was saying, I reckon with online history for morons, right? Like, you know, I'm a white Jew from the valley directing Latin history for morons, you know, I mean, that was something that I would have conversations with him about and be like, am I the right guy for this? Am I Are you sure you want me to? You know, and he would always say, you know, yes, you're the right guy. Because the vision that you your vision is what I want within this project. And like, that's ally ship, and it's okay to be an ally and it's okay to still support and try to be the best you can be. And so I feel like are, you know, something about, like you said, going into battle but with really dissonant views on things, and then challenging those views and sort of coming together with like, you know, a common narrative is the thing that, you know, I love most and sort of cherish about that relationship.

Alex Ferrari 59:57
Well, I mean, I really, I really hope you do well. With this in the same room I hope this is a new model for a lot of people out there because Look man, it's it's it's a tough slog doing indie films, man, you know, and I'm, I'm in the trenches every day talking to people every day about it from every aspect from the scripts all the way to distribution. I know what's going on with that. And this might be another avenue where creatives I mean, look, all the indie guys from the 90s. Most of them are going into television. Right, right, exactly. All of the early 2000s. Like, they're all into, because that's where the cool stuff. That's why television is. It's so cool. Yeah, so good. Because the writing is good. And it's just, you know,

Aram Rappaport 1:00:37
Explore a story and like multiple episodes, and

Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
You may take your time and build it up and all that stuff. It's, I've never done anything like That's incredible. Yeah. So I'm gonna ask you a few questions, ask all of my guests or what advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Aram Rappaport 1:00:56
A filmmaker is gonna try to break into the business. I mean, again,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:00
Just do it and see how it works out.

Aram Rappaport 1:01:02
I think you just got to do and and see, I mean, there's, like, you know, you just got to do it. I mean, you just gotta like, if you have a vision and a story that no one else is told, you know, that's something worth risking everything for. So go do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:17
What did you learn from your biggest failure?

Aram Rappaport 1:01:21
What did I learn from my biggest failure? You know, to just dust it off and get back up and shrug it off and do it and keep going. I think that's, that's always I mean, this is like, such a brutal town. You know, I mean, like, you know, if a movie is bad, an agent won't get you a job anymore. Yeah, an actor won't work with you or whatever. But it's all bullshit. I mean, who cares?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:42
Like, everyone, everyone's you know, when you're hot, you're hot. And when you're not, you're not. And it's like next. But then, five years later, you write something that everyone wants now and like, I don't know, I'm

Aram Rappaport 1:01:52
100%. Like, Ben Affleck. I think when he wanted his academy award, not the first one. But like, the second time like afterwards, like sort of his was surgeons or whatever, I think, you know, he said it best. He's like, you know, this business is about like, just not holding grudges, forgiveness. And just, you know, that's just I mean, it's certainly personal. Don't take it first can't take it. But because again, like you're like, as creators, like we're throwing everything into these projects emotionally and no one else is, the agents are not the executives are not no one's no one is throwing themselves into these things like so we take everything personally, of course, like we're going to, but at the end of the day, like, you know, you have to just expect the unexpected. If it doesn't work, you know, you get up and you do it again, if you were meant to do it, if it's truly what you have to do to survive, like you're gonna do it again.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
I tell you, I heard I was watching an interview with Taylor Sheridan this last weekend, and I'm just the biggest Taylor shattered and found in the way he's like, so amazing what he's doing. He's, he's working at a level that all afraid to be working at. Yeah, right now. And he said, You know, I've been in this town for a long time. I've never seen anybody bumped their head against the wall or crushed her head against the wall for 20 years. And then pop. Yeah, yeah. I was like, wow, that's such a profound comment, man. It really is. Because he goes, I've seen eight years. I've seen 10 years in 12 years, but I've never seen 20 years. And that's when I decided I'm always going to be the 11th on the call sheet. I'm never going to be number one on the call sheet. Right. And that's what he did. Yeah, because he's, you know, and he's working. And when he wrote his when he wrote the pilot, the first thing he ever wrote was the pilot for mayors of Jamestown. After he wrote the pilot, he's like, dammit, I wish I would have been doing this 15 years ago. Yeah. wasted all that time. Just just trying to make it I can get out as an actor and I really wanted to do this is where it needed to be. So and he goes, and this is something I think everyone listening should I think you might agree with this. The town will tell you what you are supposed to be doing. To a certain extent. To a certain extent, it's like, I'm never going to be a leading man. I'm not gonna be Tom Cruise. I'm not built to be Tom Cruise. I don't have the talent nor the looks to be Tom Cruise. But in my mind, I was like, I'm gonna be the next Tom Cruise. The town's gonna tell you maybe you're not Tom Cruise. Right but Tom Cruise I appreciate that sir. Thank you, I but but but you could be something else that is actually going to make you happier and actually more true to your path. So that you just gotta listen. Keep the ears open for that kind of stuff. Now what is the lesson that took you what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Aram Rappaport 1:04:28
I don't know if I've learned it yet. What's the lesson that has taken me the longest to learn? You know, to not try to do everything? Yep, I think that would probably be the biggest lesson I think. You know, it's easy for people on the outside to say you know, why don't you you know, delegate. And it's easy for us on the inside to say well, we don't have enough money. We don't have enough this. I have to do it. I have to do it. When you have the right support team around It is exceptional, like the things that you can accomplish are exceptional, no matter how much you want to control everything. You know, it's a movie. And sometimes, you know, you have to, you have to do multiple things, you have to wear multiple hats, and that's fine. But I think, you know, early on, I always felt like I really had to control things. Well, because no one's going to do better than you. Right? Right, right, or no one knows. Or it's proving the narrative that I'm the director, or whatever it is, you know, but I think like, yeah, as you you know, as you grow, you learn that the best thing you can do is let everybody else thrive, and then just take credit for

Alex Ferrari 1:05:41
I, you know, what, the masters have said that so many times, you're like, that's all you can do. Just, you know, whoever you're gonna get the credit at the end of it, just let it all.

Aram Rappaport 1:05:50
That's what, that's what I say, That's what I always say to the Chrome like you can give me if you want to, you know, over work to give me all these ideas, I'll still take credit for it. So that's fine. Work harder than many ideas. Let's go. No, I'm just joking. I mean, it is it is, I mean, you know, to be humble, and to be able to say, you know, what do you think, I don't know what this is gonna look like, let's let's talk about is, I think the biggest lessons,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:14
But that also, but also takes you minutes to get to that point.

Aram Rappaport 1:06:16
So you have to you have to, you have to go through that process. I don't know, if anyone on their, you know, their very first movie was like, you know, oh, yeah, I am going to just ask for everybody's advice.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:30
Because you're like, I'm not the director anymore. And then you get that chip on your shoulder, like, am I, the director, I have to, I have to prove them, the director, I have to have my name as a director, it can be only directed only and written by only an eye, and I have to do everything. At the beginning, you have to feel that way. But as you get older, and you get more settled into your and more comfortable in your own skin as a director, that's when you just go best idea wins.

Aram Rappaport 1:06:50
Right, right. And I think and I think also not over directing is also another big thing not over controlling, you know, I mean, there's, there's, there's actors, that you just need to set the camera and just watch them surprise you. And then there's actors that you really have to work with. And then there's actors that are somewhere in between one a little bit or whatever. But like really, recognizing that with actors with behind the camera talent, with the production design team with whatever it like there are, there are people that will feel more empowered and do better if you let them you know, and I think, you know, really understanding how to lead different departments, you know, in unique ways is something that, that is super, super important. And it's like, you know, I always tell people, like just ask, like, you know, ask someone like Simon, I talked to John about the first day about, you know, how do you want to work? Like, what how are you most successful? Like that's going to? Is it one take, or you warm up with three? And then we get into it on four? Do you want me to stop you in the middle of takes? Do you want me to let you complete even though we know it's wrong, like there's so many different avenues for how to, to lead a set. And I think, you know, very early on, it's like, you know, I'm going to do it this way. And this is what I'm doing. It's, it's my show, and But why now it's like, you know, it's, you know, really understanding the mechanisms that help people thrive is just the biggest thing that you can do. You know, as as a director and I there were multiple times, I think Donald Petrie told me once you direct, like Miss Congeniality, and How to Lose a Guy in 10 days, and he, he said, you know, don't be afraid to ask for help, like, Don't be afraid. And he was this is after this is I think I was going to syrup in New York. And I said, you know, what, what do you have, you know, I'm shooting in New York and blah, blah. And he said, you know, don't, you got to ask for help, you know, when you need help, you have to, it's going to be more endearing when you say, I don't know how to shoot this scene, let's talk about it. And people are going to work harder for you than if you just stumble through and just pretend you know what's going on. And everyone thinks, I don't know if this is right, you know, and that was like a really, you know, a really powerful thing. And then I was shadowing Rodrigo Garcia, who did a bunch of really cool movies. And he was doing this thing with a net Benning and I, you know, I think I was just shadowing him a couple days. And he said, you know, he just let her work. You know, he let her dictate everything and he covered the scene in a way that would let her roam around if she wanted to pick up a cup if she wanted to, you know, he knew he played your talent, you know, and that was like such an important lesson also, which Oh, yeah, like, you know, if you've got a great actress like you have to support what they're trying to do.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:22
You can't box him in you can't you can't like Okay, hit mark a hit Mark be but if she wants to flow. Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's the thing they don't teach you man like sometimes when you and especially when you're working with these these actors who are at a different level, like John or a net and you know, and I've had the opportunity to work with some actors as well that I've just, you know, when they when you when you have an Oscar nominee on set, you just go oh, oh, that's how that's done. Yeah. Yeah. You just feel the difference. You just like oh, okay, so how do you how do you want to work? How do you want to do this? How do you flow? It's it's, it's a remarkable experience when you get to work with really, really talented people on all levels on every every every every crew member and actors.

Aram Rappaport 1:10:05
Yeah, and I think you learn how to you know, in film school or whatever I don't I didn't go but you learn you could learn how to technically lay a marker you know, marks you know and this and that or whatever but like the reality is you get to set and like that actor is not going to want to hit that mark and they're gonna want to have freedom they're gonna want to do so then what do you do? Like what happens that you know, and I think that's that's the thing that is it's so important that you go out and do it not just like within your community but like with random actors that you've never worked with before with a lot of crazy personalities because that's the thing that's gonna get you honing craft.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:41
Now, last question, sir, three of your favorite films of all time,

Aram Rappaport 1:10:45
Oh my gosh, okay. Big fish is I think my number one favorite movie of all time. I just, there's just something so magical about what Tim Burton was able to

Alex Ferrari 1:10:59
Add John on the show, John August on the show. Oh, did you really I talked to him about big fish do and it was just such a beautiful it's one of my favorite Tim Burton movies.

Aram Rappaport 1:11:08
Same, same same I know, I know. It was just something I mean, he tapped into something so magical with that film and the way that he tried to say I love most is the way he tracked that narrative. Those those those there were multiple narratives and by the time you get to the end it paid off to like I was sobbing you know at the end the movie I just wanted to do my whole life is just make people cry in that way and like be rooting for something and you think this is the you know, beautiful promo. That was number one. Number two Cider House Rules is a movie that I really love being back in the kitchen, right? And I just it just something was so you know, so moral and there were these multiple storylines that just really fit what they were.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:47
Michael Caine was in that too, right. Michael Caine was

Aram Rappaport 1:11:51
He played that in Charlize Theron was in that as the young Charlie, Charlize. I guess that's just a long shot. Yeah, she and then and then the last movie Pirates of the Caribbean. I just I love a spectacle, man. I just love it. Like, there's just something so powerful about like, like, everyone asked me, you know, oh, what do you want to do? Like a toy? This? I'm like, No, I want to direct like Pirates of the Caribbean eight. Like that's like, that's where I want to be. It's great. You know?

Alex Ferrari 1:12:19
You never know who's listening. You never know who's listening there. So if you wanna if you want to make the pitch now for Pirates of the Caribbean

Aram Rappaport 1:12:26
You know, I've got the pitch. Let's wait a couple years. Let's see what Johnny you know where Johnny lands, but

Alex Ferrari 1:12:31
You can't do without Johnny. You can't I don't care what you

Aram Rappaport 1:12:33
You can't do that. No, but I come I mean, pirates was just I mean, Gore Verbinski. He's again, he's one of those directors where you just this guy who's like cutting the scenes in his mind? Well, and he came from commercials and he and he's out there and he's shooting and he only shoots the things that he knows are going to make it and then he moves on. And you just think this guy is so efficient in the way that he is crafting scenes. And it's it's, it's, you know, it's it's incredible. Whether you love them or hate the movie, it's, you know, it's popcorn movie, whatever. But it's just, you know, the way that he sort of put that movie together and was able to get Disney over the line with what you know, Johnny Depp was doing and you know, Tony, it was just very cool.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:07
And I have to say, and I'm just gonna say it out, because what Johnny did, I've never seen an actor. Basically take an entire franchise on his shoulders. Yeah, he built it without Johnny without captain. Captain Jack Sparrow. It's another it's another movie based on a ride from Disney. Yeah, yeah. He and gore working together really transcended that to a place where it's made billions and billions of dollars. And he's beloved throughout the world because of this character. And he was able to tap into something I don't remember another man, another actor who has done that it

Aram Rappaport 1:13:51
And they know that and if you fail, if you break it down from like, I'm gonna go back to marketing but like a marketing perspective, like from from from a purely business perspective, like he was playing an inebriated Right. Like you imagine you imagine that like, if I wasn't exactly I'd be like, well, he can't do like, there's no way he can do that. Like, it looks like he's popping pills. And then they rolled and then he forgot his lines. Like what like, you're watching dailies from that, and you're just thinking how this does not fit into like our cinematic universe. So I just think it was just so like, how whatever happened, there was just the most amazing.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:31
Did you ever hear the story about the gold teeth from Johnny? No. So cute. When he was doing Jack, this is before anybody knew what he was gonna do with Jack. He already had it in his mind. And he's like, I really wanted five gold teeth in my mouth for for Johnny and they were like, little teeth, I'm not sure. So he walked in he goes, I need 12 gold teeth. And they're like, Okay, I'll give you 12 That's too much. like, alright, five, he's like, Okay, you got five. And that's how he got his five gold teeth for Jack Sparrow

Aram Rappaport 1:15:10
Back to the five gold teeth were offensive. I mean, he shouldn't have had those.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:15
I mean, obviously, I mean, obviously come obviously is a very offensive and nobody you're right on paper, it makes no sense why that character should work in a movie of that magnitude based on the property and the IP it was for a company like Disney like it doesn't make any sense.

Aram Rappaport 1:15:33
Right! Well, and yeah, and you're like, so you're gonna test that with 12 year olds and their pet you know, your parents can be you know, would you let your kid watch? You know, this misogynistic pirate who's dragging and stumbling around drunk all the time? Would that be endearing for you? What do you think? Like? No, it would have never I mean, that's crazy. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:15:52
I don't even I would love to hear the story of how like after day one of like, what when the dailies came back, not good.

Aram Rappaport 1:15:58
I mean, I heard that they were freaking out. I'm sure like, why who wouldn't?

Alex Ferrari 1:16:02
But they were but the ship but but the train left the station already. And it's Yeah, John and Johnny was a star. And they're like, look, we're here. We're shooting. We're in the Caribbean. We're gonna make this movie. And he just, he just kept going and Gore was with him. And he's like, Nah, man. We're rolling this

Aram Rappaport 1:16:16
Part of the dailies for long enough for them to not have to reshoot or something because you think like that. I think that's what a crazy No, I would have loved to know what if you interview him? You gotta let me know. Let me know

Alex Ferrari 1:16:28
When I get shot when I get Johnny. He's a little busy these days. I think everybody in the world wants to talk to him when I get home. Hopefully I'll get go around one day. I'd love to talk the army. This has been a pleasure talking to you, brother. It really? I feel like I feel like you're I feel like your brother from another mother. Man. I think we both got the same similar shrapnel in our in our in our stone. Totally. How we do things, brother, this gratulations man, congratulations on the project on the Greenvale and I hope it does amazing for you and continued success brother, I appreciate it and and don't let jump push you around brother Seriously, just you know, sometimes, you know, just slap up a rock.

Aram Rappaport 1:17:06
I think I I blocked his number I bought. He's impossible. Isn't. He's impossible. He he made me promise not to tell the animal swap story. I told it because I'm just so bitter about him. You know right now because he always wants to work with me. He says, You know, I need to work with you. I hate all these other directors. You know, you're the only one I want to do everything with John calm down.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:30
Your little needy.

Aram Rappaport 1:17:33
Desperate. You know, I don't you know, I don't know. He's not busy. He's not working. I don't know what it is. But

Alex Ferrari 1:17:37
He just sits at home just waiting for you to call

Aram Rappaport 1:17:41
No we wouldn't have pressed for this thing last weekend on Friday. And they're asking him about seven other projects. And he's opening up musical the same day. And I'm like whiplash, I'm like, What do you mean, you're doing all this?

Alex Ferrari 1:17:52
He's like, Yeah, I'm doing this movie with De Niro. I'm like, of course.

Aram Rappaport 1:17:55
Yeah, I know. Right! Right. Of course. That was the that's the other thing. I mean, he was in Greece on Tuesday flew in. He said, Oh, I get this great thing with De Niro. De Niro was amazing. It was just beautiful scene and blah, blah. And I'm like, wait, you were in Greece with De Niro yesterday, like, what's happening right? And then he's opening a musical arm.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:12
That's a different world brother. That's a different world that you and I get to get to get to dip our toes and every once in a while? No, it's a different it's a different existence of life.

Aram Rappaport 1:18:23
And I hope people see this because he literally did something that he's never done before. And I think that's the thing I'm most proud of is being able to champion that that performance.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:31
No he's he's amazing, and I hope nothing of the best for you in this project. Brother. Thank you again for coming on the show

Aram Rappaport 1:18:37
Let's do this again!

Alex Ferrari 1:18:38
Anytime! Anytime!

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IFH 590: Misadventures in Raising Money & Getting Your Film Made with Alex Lehmann

Alex Lehmann is the writer, director, and producer of “Acidman” starring Dianna Agron and Thomas Haden Church. He also directed the highly anticipated Black List feature, “Meet Cute,” produced by Weed Road, and starring Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco.

A narrative and documentary filmmaker, Lehmann’s films include Netflix’s dramatic comedies “Paddleton,” starring Mark Duplass and Ray Romano, which premiered at Sundance in 2019, and “Blue Jay,” his narrative feature debut, starring Sarah Paulson and Mark Duplass. It premiered at TIFF in 2016 to critical acclaim. His HBO docu-series, On Tour with Asperger’s Are Us is an extrapolation of his original feature doc Asperger’s Are Us.

Lehmann’s work explores the themes of selfless love, friendship, and how a little vulnerability can connect us all.

His new film is ACIDMAN.

Maggie (Dianna Agron) arrives at a small, run-down house in the middle of nowhere to find it defaced by big orange letters reading ACIDMAN and learns that this is the locals’ nickname for her reclusive father (Thomas Haden Church). After a decade apart, Maggie’s offhand explanation for her visit is that she just wanted to check in on him, but this doesn’t ring true considering how difficult he was to find. The two awkwardly want to get to know one another (Dad seems more comfortable talking through his dog Migo, or through Bobby, Maggie’s childhood sock puppet friend), but are at the same time scared about what increasing familiarity will bring.

After Dad reluctantly brings her on one of his nighttime outings, Maggie realizes that his obsession with UFOs and communicating with extraterrestrial beings has only intensified over the years. She struggles to understand him, his single-mindedness and deteriorating mental health, all the while with her own life-changing news to share. Letting their relationship ebb and flow through anger, silly jokes, tender gestures, and sadness, director Alex Lehmann leads the film in a beautiful meditation on the cyclical nature of parenthood and the longing for connection.

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Alex Lehmann 0:00
If the shooting schedule had been like a week longer, we probably would have turned into a cult. It was just the vibes were that good on on on that set.

Alex Ferrari 0:08
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Alex Lehmann 1:45
Thanks for having me back.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
Thanks for coming back. Well, I mean, you're one of you one of the OG's here in the film, also you are in the oldest episode. The first time you were on the show you were promoting a film called Blue Jay. I forgive me, I don't remember the episode, but I think it was in the hundreds. We're now closing in on episode 600. That's huge. It's insane. I appreciate that. It's insane. It's definitely a hustle. As you can tell by the branding.

Alex Lehmann 2:13
You have shirts you have Whoa, live whatever that is. You've got it's everywhere.

Alex Ferrari 2:20
It's part of my life, sir. I don't have a tattoo yet. But that's it. That's next, please. But listen, man, I was telling you before we got on, man, I'm so happy for you, man. You've done. You've done so well. I've had so many things. I've had the pleasure of talking to a lot of filmmakers over the years. And you and I've met we've hung out a little bit. And and it's just remarkable how your career has progressed. Because a lot of people who I've talked to they don't they don't progress that way. So your your your success story. And that's why I wanted to have you back on the show to like, let everybody know, like, you know, he's he's done good. He's doing good. He's moving along. He's telling stories. He's building a career for himself. So it's, it's a pleasure just to be able to witness it from that point from when you like kind of were first beginning, getting your feet off the ground with an amazing film, by the way with Mark Duplass. And Paul and samples and

Alex Lehmann 3:17
But I also talk about all the failures in between?

Alex Ferrari 3:20
Well, yeah, of course, after the first one that look, let's let's, let's keep it real alates after the first movie, Hollywood just brought the dump truck full of cash dumped in front of you. And then anything you wanted to do, they just said, Alex, name it and how much all you have is time and money and any star you want. So that's how it's as been. So yeah, I know, I understand. There's been I'm sure, for every one movie that you get made. There's 30 that get don't get made or really close to getting rid of the money drops out of the actor drops out or, Oh, this doesn't happen. That doesn't happen. So of course a struggle.

Alex Lehmann 3:53
Can I say, good? It's a hustle.

Alex Ferrari 3:57
You owe me 15 cents or so. So for people who didn't listen, I had the pleasure of listening to our other episodes. Can you tell everybody a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the business? Sure. Absolutely.

Alex Lehmann 4:10
Yeah, I was a cameraman and a cinematographer for a solid 10 years more than 10 years. And that was just my source of income and my career path was was being a DP and even though I'd gone to film school thinking I was going to direct a kind of, I want to say got sidetracked but I'd found this passion of cinematography and it also paid the bills and and then I did get a little bit antsy at one point I felt like I needed to make my own stuff. So I was writing some pretty bad scripts and and then I made a documentary called Asperger's or us and I connected with with Mark Duplass on that one. And he helped me get that one, you know, into festivals and get it out in the world. And then he and I started, you know, becoming collaborators on a couple of things like, like Blue Jay and, and Paddington. So that's kind of you know, is I kind of In the chutes and ladders of at all, I feel like you know, being completely honest, I feel like I kind of hit that big ladder. Your audience knows what Chutes and Ladders is right?

Alex Ferrari 5:08
That's not that's an obscure, sir, you are old, sir, you are old. It's not, my audience doesn't know about no joke.

Alex Lehmann 5:18
I got the magic star. I don't know, pick whatever you want

Alex Ferrari 5:24
You won, you won the lottery, you want to scratch off lottery ticket,

Alex Lehmann 5:27
The opportunity that I got was was really big. And you know, I mean, the lesson I share with anybody is like, the opportunities will come and you don't know in what form and sometimes it's a huge opportunity, sometimes a small opportunity, you can't really control them, but you have to be ready for them if they show up. And, you know, I kind of feel like I lucked out as far as the timing of hat being ready and having the right stuff at the right time for for when a guy like Mark Duplass said, you know, I'm going to open the door for you.

Alex Ferrari 5:56
It's interesting for people that don't know the full story, because we're kind of glazing over how you were you were you were a camera on a show, forgot the name of the week, exactly. The league and Mark was on it. And as every independent film any movie about an independent film being made, there's generally the DP or the grip or someone with a script in the back of their pocket that hands it to the star, which you didn't do. But he heard that you had made this documentary. Yeah. And the timing of that. It's exactly what it is. It's luck. Right place, right time LED product. If you made that film Three years later, yeah, it doesn't, it doesn't, it doesn't have that connection. So if those stars aligned, and then Mark said, Hey, let's take your movie out into the world. Oh, and by the way, I love I just liked hanging out with you working with you. Let's collaborate on another project. And then that kind of starts that off. But what is interesting about your story, Alex, and please forgive me for blowing a little bit of smoke up here, but not too much. I'm gonna try to keep it to a minimum, don't worry, we'll bring you back down crashing back down. But the thing that's fascinating is that I know a lot of filmmakers who get those, those kinds of lottery ticket moments with those opportunities with those kind of either big stars or people who open the doors for them. But many of them don't stay in the door. Many of them don't have the chops to stay in the door. Many of them don't have the personalities to stay in the door. Because you can get a shot. You know it you've seen I'm sure you have a lot of friends that get gay possibly out of a lottery ticket situation, get a shot, shot, but they either blow it, their egos get in the way their personalities get in the way something happens. That it's that's the end of that's the peak, but you kept you kept that get that thing going. And people were like, you know, I want to keep working with I want to keep working with Alex, I want to keep doing this. So that's a lesson for everybody listening just because you get if someone opens the door, you're lucky enough for someone to open the door. That's when the work begins. That's not where the work ends. Do you agree with that?

Alex Lehmann 7:52
Yeah, yeah, I would. I would agree with that. And I would say that, for every success, you have you, there'll be some more opportunities that happened. And like, did you get led into the party? To a certain extent? Yes. But I don't know just to mix metaphors. Like I think every party ends and then there's going to be a new party, and then you got to get into that one. And you do have to keep earning your way back. And it's ethics I do. And most of my friends like we find ourselves constantly having to re earn our you know, our worth, so there isn't usually that one thing that changes everything

Alex Ferrari 8:26
Is as the as the incomparable Miss Janet Jackson says, What have you done for me lately? That's basically that's basically the town. It's like, great. You Have you won an Oscar fantastic.

Alex Lehmann 8:39
Not what it should be, though. You know, I, it sucks. Because I'll be honest, that there's, there have been times where I feel like, you know, why, you know, why can't I just get the next thing made? I've just proven that, you know, I'm consistently making movies that are getting good reviews, and that people love and bla bla bla, and yeah, you know, I, I mean, I'd say two things. First of all, the landscape is constantly changing. And I'm sure you've had a bazillion episodes that have talked about, you know, the streaming and the whatever, everything, pandemic, everything has changed. And like what audiences want that's constantly changing. So, a there's that. And so what you might be good at is in for a moment, and then and then it's not, like, you have to reinvent yourself. That's, that's cool. That's fine. And the other thing is, this town is full of such talented people. There's so many there's not enough room for us all to constantly be making all the things and and so the way I look at it is like, you know, I get something made and it's fantastically so you know, it's fantastic for us. The project might not be fantastic, but it is who knows. But But we, we celebrate we feel great and people watch it, and then it's back to square one. You get thrown on this pile of billions of talented filmmakers that's maybe maybe not billions, maybe just Millions I don't know, but so many talented filmmakers and it's back to square one where we're all trying to get something made again. And that's okay. The meritocracy does exist to a certain extent. And, you know, if if we were if we were benefiting from like our past successes too much, that would also be leaving the door closed completely for for that, that filmmaker who's listening right now who hasn't made their first thing. So I like the fact that the door gets to stay open a little bit for them to

Alex Ferrari 10:29
Absolutely, because you need it. I mean, that's, that's the business, the business needs to be refreshed with new blood and, and all that kind of stuff. Now, I want to ask, you know, you've directed a handful of features, what, in your, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge in directing an indie or, you know, non studio or just like, you know, non 100 billion dollar franchise? Kind of film? What are these challenges you the biggest challenge? You think?

Alex Lehmann 10:56
I mean, I think the biggest thing is getting it made, I still think that's harder than then making it. I don't know, if that'll ever change.

Alex Ferrari 11:04
You're right. To a certain extent, I mean, unless you're, unless you're playing a different league, where the movie is gonna get made, regardless if you're on here or not. That's a different conversation. But for most filmmakers, that's not the conversation.

Alex Lehmann 11:18
Well, because I mean, it's pretty messed up. If you think about it, you're trying to convince somebody to make something that doesn't exist that's never existed before exactly in that form. And they're asking you in that room, or on the zoom. So what is this like? And so you're trying to convince them to spend a lot of money to make something that's never existed before, but they don't have the imagination that you have, because they're not you. And so they don't exactly understand what it is you're trying to make. And yet you have to promise them that, you know, it will exist, you don't know exactly what it is, but it's going to be this thing that is just out in the ether right now. It's it's, it's not like building, I can't show you the blueprints of Vegas, I can show you the blueprints. But you know, everybody knows the difference between script to screen. That's why we have reviewers. That's why we don't, you know, we don't finish with reviewing scripts like that, though the work is only getting started. And, and so I think there's a lot of fear and uncertainty. And so trying to convince people that this is the right thing to be made, and it's going to be artistically valid, and probably financially has to be valid as well. Those are those are some pretty serious hurdles.

Alex Ferrari 12:30
Now, since you, you've been around the block a little bit, you've got a little shrapnel in you from the business over the years. Is there something with a limp? You walk? Yeah, we all walk with a limp, or some of us walk with more than just that. But is is there anything you wish? There's that one thing that you wish that someone would have told you at the beginning of this conversation? Have you tried to be a filmmaker to just go hey, man, keep an eye out for this thing.

Alex Lehmann 12:58
I wish somebody had maybe told me that indie financing is fickle, and maybe most people that say they have money don't actually have money. No. I'm naive. I really am. I'm sorry.

Alex Ferrari 13:14
When someone tells you when someone tells you I have I got $100,000 I could put into this. You believe them?

Alex Lehmann 13:19
Yeah, I mean, I'm not gonna go through the details of my latest films because they got made and you know, at the end of the day, I feel very lucky that they did and the rest is is the rest and the more I share the specifics with friends, the more they tell me there's similar stories and I feel like the whole the whole world of indie financing is a very comical place it's a euphemism comical but but but I got lucky because my first couple narrative features were 50 plus right like Mark was instantly market if we're making the movie together he was starring in it he was you know, able to pay for it. And he had a distribution deal with Netflix it was so turnkey and so it wasn't until acid man which I you know specifically set out to make on my own my own it was such a personal story and I felt like I want to produce this myself and you just really just take the full ownership so raising raising finances for that when I wish I'm glad I learned what I learned but I wish somebody maybe had given me a crash course or two before before I headed out into that way it is

Alex Ferrari 14:25
The only two words I can tell you sir verifiable funds. The two magic words and indie finance verifiable funds,

Alex Lehmann 14:34
They wrote it down on a napkin napkin with a crayon and that was good enough for me.

Alex Ferrari 14:44
Yeah, for everybody listening. There are multiple episodes about film financing on the show on the podcast, you can go back into the archives, but two words verifiable funds, but but here's why.

Alex Lehmann 14:56
Maybe that doesn't matter that you have those episodes and why may He doesn't matter that like I wish somebody would have told me is we, we believe so bad or should do, of course you want to believe. And I've got friends in situations where they've come across some shady financing, and then they try to tip off the next person who might get tied into that shady financing say like, don't work with this person, their money's not real. And the response nine times out of 10 is, yeah, but he's our best shot. So we're gonna go with him anyways. It's like, it's like, you're like, don't you know, it's like don't get don't get in the train is heading off a cliff and somebody goes, Oh, I kinda want to go somewhere.

Alex Ferrari 15:38
I you know, and this is this is a deeper conversation because I was having a conversation with this film distributor the other day. And he was asking him straight up, I was like, why are filmmakers always getting taken advantage of and film distribution, and this goes through film financing as well. And he's like, because they want to believe

Alex Lehmann 15:57
Because we're not business majors because we're not even. But not even that, but not even that part.

Alex Ferrari 16:02
Even if you're smart enough, cuz there's a lot of smart people I know in the business school got taken, because they want to believe because either if you're if the beginning of this situation or at the end, so film finances at the beginning, film distribution is at the end, both times there's a lot of pressure on you to make something happen. You want to get your movie made. And then in film distribution, you're so exhausted that you believe anything that anybody tells you like, Oh, someone loves me. Someone loves my work that I've been spending the last two years for sure. There's no mg. I don't need it. I don't need any money upfront. 25 years? Sure. I'll sign that. And okay, great. And oh, 5000 $5 million. Expense cap. Great. That's fantastic. But you want to believe so that's something that it's it's hard. It's even when even if you know this information, when you're in it's kind of like being in a bad relationship? You know, you're just like, I know, she I know she's not good for me. Yeah. But damn, I can't quit her. I could change her. I could change her, I could change it. I can, I can make I can make I can make her better. I could change her. Yeah, that doesn't work out in film financing or in full distribution.

Alex Lehmann 17:07
But don't you think that probably the shady people that are pretending to have money but are really out there to like, you know, whatever, screw us over. Don't you think that they're also saying like, I could change? I could, I could be a better person. I really gotta have that money that I promised the filmmaker?

Alex Ferrari 17:26
Well, I think I think those people are I think there are people who do go out there with malicious intent. I think other people truly believe that they're just they want to play the role of the high roller that I want to be in show business kind of vibe. And they, they might have the intention to get you the money, but they just don't have the capability of doing so. But they just kind of roll the dice and like, Oh, I'm just gonna say I have the money so I can play I can go along this train and have these conversations and pretend that I'm a filmmaker or a producer or finance or so on.

Alex Lehmann 17:59
We're all doing that though. Right? Like, like the very fabric of filmmaking is we're trying to get people to believe in something that's totally made up. And we're taking them on a journey and we're saying this is this is a story worth now gather out everybody this is this is allowed to take two hours of your time and it's gonna be worth it's it's it's there's there's something romantic and that and I do think that I mean, I don't know I think that probably like, like the real scammers are probably another business is because there's there's more money being made Scammon in in

Alex Ferrari 18:32
Medicare. Yeah. scamming Medicare is a lot better, more lucrative and scamming independent filmmakers.

Alex Lehmann 18:40
Yeah, so I think I just I think my heart goes out even to like the the indie film scammers because like at the heart of it, and you touched on this, like they want to be part of making movies and like, it's like I was gonna have to scam somewhere most of all scam here and make movies because as a kid, I always wanted to scan and make movies.

Alex Ferrari 19:00
So just a disclaimer, everybody I do not I do not suggest you scan Medicare or any independent filmmakers. That's not part of what we're saying here. I'm just just using them as an example. Now, I wanted to ask you something else, because you have been a cinematographer for most of your career. And most of the films you've worked on, you've been the DP. Yeah. But this one you did it. So what was it like acid man? What was it like not having the controls of the lighting and the camera? And did you let loose? did you how did that work for you as someone who's done because as for me, I've been editing all my life anytime I've ever worked with an editor. It's an adjustment. It takes a minute.

Alex Lehmann 19:42
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Well, you know how often I also wasn't the cinematographer. So that was the first one but I I'll be honest, I struggled on piloten to let go of those reins and the DP I had. He had he had shot second unit for me on bluejay when I did that myself, so there was you know a little But first there and he also had, he was very patient in, in, in my inability to completely like go on pallets. And I will say that the first day of acid man was still tricky and I was still like kind of gripping onto that hat a little bit. And my cinematographer John Matousek. He, he really got me there, this was a, this was a cool experience for me, because it was the first time that that just and is very early on in the filming process. I just started seeing what he was doing. And I started trusting and you know, I think it became clear to me that we were going to approach things differently, but I loved, you know, the end results, and that I just needed to trust, you know, the process until I would get to see the end result. Because, you know, otherwise, like, instantly just looking at, like, where somebody puts a light and like, well, that's how I put the light. It's totally subjective, but you know, to keep my mouth shut as both a I think a very good collaborator, but also a control freak. And that's, I think you're supposed to have a little bit of both of those to direct. I was really excited to be able to go funny story about John, he literally shot my first short film in college. That's how long I've known him. And we didn't you know, we he went out to Nashville for a while and was shooting commercials and, you know, was raising a family out there. So he didn't come back to LA till just a couple years ago. And we reconnected he was saying, like, I want to get back in the indie feature game, you know, move moving to LA with my family, I really want to make movies again. And that's how I reached out to him for for acid man. And, and, you know, he was fantastic. And and I've you know, I've been using them since. And it's it's so freeing not to have to think like a DP much anymore. We can start the conversations and the shorthand. But yeah,

Alex Ferrari 21:54
I felt the same way as like, when you like, I see a unassembled cut of something I did. I was like, Oh, I didn't have to spend six hours to go to assemble, cut done. Oh, that kind of feels nice. I just would come in and, and tweak, oh, that's feels a little bit better.

Alex Lehmann 22:10
But here's the good thing, whether it's editing or cinematography, photography a little less, because you you only have certain amount of time and resources. Sure. But to say, you know, I've got something in mind. But before I take us down that path, what are you thinking? Let me see where you're thinking. It's like you only have one opportunity to really see how your, your collaborator artists sees things before you. You know, smother them with your vision, and ask them to like, try to understand what it is you want. And there's a curiosity I have when we have the time. It's like, what did you see when you read the script? Or, you know, what are you feeling in this moment, because I know what I'd like to do, but I might be able to learn something from you. And you know, as much time as we have and, you know, as much exploring as we can do, I'd love to do a little discovery before we go down a path. And by the way, I might still say like, that's really interesting. And let's shoot that. But then the shot I really need that's been in my mind's eye. Since the first day I wrote this is the shot over here. And you know, we'll we'll get both of them figured out later. But sometimes I abandoned sometimes I said, That's cool. That's, that's more interesting than what I was going to do. And thank you for challenging me.

Alex Ferrari 23:22
And that takes time to allow yourself to be confident enough in your own skin, comfortable enough in your own skin to allow that the ego starts to pull back a little bit in you and you as you get a little bit older, you've been in around town a little bit longer and doing this, you realize your like, best idea wins man, best.

Alex Lehmann 23:42
You're right. It's all it's all about ego or hopefully lack of ego, for sure.

Alex Ferrari 23:48
Now you've you've had the pleasure of working with some amazing actors, some some some legends, you know, Ray Romano Duplass. Now you've worked with Thomas Haden Church in an acid man. How do you approach working with actors of that those that kind of caliber? Because I can imagine it might be intimidating, working with someone you might have, like with Raman. Or, you know, having him working with him. Ray Romano, not Raymond. But Ray Romano, but like working with someone like that, that you might have been watching him as you grew up, like how do you approach the relationship of a director actor and that's an area

Alex Lehmann 24:29
Where I like to start out, you know, exchanging some really vulnerable information about each other so that we both feel you know, and then I blackmail them.

Alex Ferrari 24:41
For the great technique, guys, great pictures, photos, work, photos, work to get photos.

Alex Lehmann 24:48
You were in their trust, and then you weaponize it against them. No, the first parts true. A, I would say more even more importantly, I mean when you when you ask yourself, especially if it's somebody is a little more legendary who's been doing who's been doing so much, who you know is getting 10 offers a week. You know, Sarah Paulson, Ray Romano, Thomas Haden Church, you have to ask yourself first like, Okay, why? Why are they why did they choose this project? And and I think it's a really fair thing to both ask yourself maybe the reps and ask them, what is it that you're that draws them to the project and really make sure that you're honoring that, like, if there's something that they came here specifically for, as long as it falls within the scope of what you're trying to make with the film, make sure there's there's room for that if, if raise like I always, you know, comedic and I want to make sure that like I have the opportunity to really, you know, show the world my dramatic chops. Don't make them say a bunch of Dick and fart jokes, like let them you know, really build it around those those moments that he wants. And in return, he'll, you know, he'll give you the goods and and as far as Thomas goes, you know, I wanted to understand why he was drawn to this and, and and understand what, you know what, what excites him? Because obviously, the paydays on these smaller films is not what makes these people leave their home when they made all that 90s TV money.

Alex Ferrari 26:12
I mean, listen, listen, Thomas Thomas just got off of Spider Man, the latest Spider Man. So I'm sure he's okay.

Alex Lehmann 26:18
He's okay. But you know, but he the things he did for our film that he you know, he's willing to put up with, you know, the lack of trailers, the limitations that we have, there's obviously something there. And, you know, for him, it's, he was finding the character of acid man really relatable. He was, honestly, you know, he was, he was saying, like, I'm becoming more of an acid man myself all the time, which, you know, for your listeners, I should say, this, this characters, you know, he's a cluesive very intelligent man, but a reclusive guy who lives in the small town and is kind of he just kind of keeps to himself and he tinkerers, you know, he's got some of his own hobbies, and some of his own his own interests and beliefs. And he's maybe not very, he's definitely not understood by by the town or really, by anyone. He's just kind of minding his own business. And, and, you know, Thomas had been, I mean, the pandemic didn't hurt, but Thomas felt like he'd been living in his little ranch house a lot lately, just not not feeling as motivated to connect with people and, and started to like, feel that distance to grow. And he was saying, like, what, what's that about? Why am I comfortable with this? And like, is this going to continue like, like, is this pattern going to continue where like, maybe I stopped returning phone calls completely, at some point, let me explore these feelings with the character of acid man. So you know, making the room for Thomas to explore those those elements, that was really important. And then adapting to his process was really important. And so he loves to find the character, you know, everything that's beneath the page. And so we had so many long phone calls it himself and Diana Aegon, who plays his daughter, the three of us had, like, you know, on the weekly just like maybe two or three phone calls that would last a couple hours each and this went on for months. And we just really dug beneath what was you know, the script and found these characters and that fits my improv process anyways, but it was really about like, this is this is what makes Thomas excited is like building out a character and fleshing him out. I mean, it's, it's easy for me to give that when that's something I want as well. But But yeah, I would say to answer your question in a roundabout way, you figure out what it is they want you make sure that they get to have it. That's why they showed up.

Alex Ferrari 28:41
Now, can you tell me how acidman you knew from SMA came to life?

Alex Lehmann 29:11
Yeah, so that's that script I've had since we were taking blue J on tour promoting blue J. It was, yeah, this is a it's a very personal story. It's something that I started writing, you know, way before Pendleton and I don't really think I was ever going to make it certainly not after paddles. And it just kind of felt like maybe the opportunity had come and gone for for this movie. And the character of acid man, the name acid man, there's actually this guy, you know, in the small town where I grew up his he was probably schizophrenic. But, but you know, like the kids had a nickname for this guy who walked around the town and he lived with his parents. He's probably in his 30s and they would like throw eggs at his house and spray paint stuff and just harass him and call him acid man and mythology was, you know, he gotten a bad acid trip and never came back? And I think a lot of towns have their own acid man, right? Like, I usually like everything, you know, people go like, Oh, yeah, we had Charlie on a lawnmower, we had, you know, our guy dressed up like Abraham Lincoln would walk around. And, and I was always really curious about that, that man when I was young, and about how, what his relationship was with our town, like, you know, we, this is weird to me that like, we could just write somebody off and kind of harassment even the adults call them, the walking man, it's just felt very, I think we fell short of really respecting that person. And and I think probably loneliness and you know, searching for connection or themes that have kind of been throughout all of my films. And and so I was I was always kind of connected to that character. And then the ultimate question of like, what if you're estranged from your parents or your father and you reconnect with your father who used to be this brilliant scientist, really intelligent man does this, you knew him as one person, and then you reconnect with them, and he's become the acid man of his town right there. Good. And so I think some of that's obviously just exploring the aging, you know, our parents and who they become and who will become one day.

Alex Ferrari 31:22
Yeah, that's, that I was telling you earlier, I was, as I was watching it, it was connecting with me on a whole other level. Because, you know, when you're 20, and you watch a film like this, you like, that's kind of and this or that. But when you're, you know, I'm getting close to 50. I'm like, you could say that word, but I have a few years away still. But you know, I'm getting to that age, and you just start thinking about things a lot differently, you start thinking about life differently. Where am I going to be in 20 or 30 years, you definitely have more behind you than you do ahead of you. That's a very strange place to be as a person, I think they do call it a midlife crisis, though. I'm not getting a Corvette anytime soon. But, and I love my wife. But, but it was really interesting, the way I really attached myself to not only the acid man as a character, but the daughter, and seeing her father through his eyes, and I, and I have my parents still so you start looking at them and who they were when they were when you were there, a young man or a young, you know, oh, boy, little boy, a little girl, and who you thought they were and who you who they become later in life. And it's, it's fascinating. And then I started thinking about what my daughters are gonna look at me in 20 or 30 years, like it's crazy podcasting, filmmaking guy who made some movies and hung out with some stars, or did some this and, or did that and like, and then like, and now look at him, just living off all that crazy podcast money. But but it was just very fascinating. It was really, I mean, again, a hit me at the right place. I'm your demographic, sir. So it was it was really touching.

Alex Lehmann 32:59
I appreciate that. Yeah, I think it's interesting to explore those Blurred Lines, because you don't, there's no day that you just say like, alright, you know, I was a child, and you were an adult, you know, to your parents, you know, you don't say there's no day where you say, Okay, you're no longer the parent, and I'm no longer the child because I too, am an adult. You know, and we don't say that to our kids, either. So it just kind of you so at some point, you're a child, and you're a parent. So that's weird, right? Like, how can you be both? But I mean, you are lucky you like you are, you're a dad, but you're, you're a son as well. And, and it's no secret that at some point, we lose a little bit of either either faculty or just, like, some strength in life, you know, as we age, or at least we don't necessarily have the same qualities and strengths that that our society maybe, right, virtue, you know, honor, right, so, so respect as much and so there's this kind of softening of where older people go into and what how do you say that? How do you say, like, at some point, like, well, you're my one point, you know, you said, My, you my parent, I look up to nobody really young, you say like, you're my parent, your got your, there's nothing wrong with you, you could do no wrong. And then there's everything in between. And then we get to a certain age and we're like, Oh, my God, my parent can't, is incapable of anything. And and that's a horrible feeling, you know, to try to somehow tie this same person who is a God to you, as this person who now needs help with everything. And so I think acid man to certain extent is, is an exploration of that and trying not to rush into pity or, you know, write resentment for the things that we don't understand and also just honoring the fact that those connections never never Go like to a certain expense that you'll be your, your parents child, no matter how old you are,

Alex Ferrari 35:06
Oh, my, my kids will always be my kids, I don't care how old they get, I'm gonna feel successful they get, I don't care how big they get, it doesn't matter, I don't care if they have kids themselves, they will always be my little bit like, girls, it's just, you can't look at it differently. Just the same way. My parents say the same thing to me. You know, there's, I'm like, I'm a grown ass man. She's like, you're still a little kid I grew up I raised. And it's you just, you know, until you're a parent, you don't get it. You might intellectually but when you actually see a child, or if you have, you know, children in your life in some way, shape or form, you start to understand that a little bit differently, it's, it was a meditation in, in parenthood, to say the least, this project was really, really cool, brother.

Alex Lehmann 35:49
Thank you. I appreciate that said if there's one other theme that I could share, and I don't think it's a spoiler alert because it happens early in the film that we'll probably have to mention anyways. But but so this character, you know, acid man who is really referred to just as dad in the film, because he's, he's digress, dad, estranged father, his name is Lloyd. And he he has this obsession with UFOs he's got these c's, these blinking lights out in the sky. And, you know, he just really feels connected to them. But he is a believer in this stuff. And you know, I just the other the other thought really in in, in writing this was like, what if you're trying to like reconnect, or just connect with your parents and like, now they're into, you know, Q Anon, or whatever it is that they're into, and you're like, how the hell do I reconcile the differences in beliefs and opinions that I have with this person that I love and respect, but like, I don't know how to talk about that. You know what, I don't want to make a political film and I don't want to like piss anybody off. Like Q Anon, although it kind of feels like it's gone away.

Alex Ferrari 36:53
It's, it's fine. We can we can move on, sir. Okay, um,

Alex Lehmann 36:57
I should have checked with you first. Are we are we good?

Alex Ferrari 36:59
I believe in Q. And any day now? No, I'm joking. Whatever. It is cute. I heard it here first. Listen, whenever people want to believe it's up to them. I can count.

Alex Lehmann 37:12
Yeah. And that, you know, and that's, that's, I guess that's really what what the film is about, to a certain extent is like it whatever you want to believe that doesn't hurt anybody. And that, you know, and that doesn't cause harm, like those those kinds of beliefs. Like, I could just ridicule you. I mean, we have a paint we have opinions of everything and like, you know, extreme opinions of everything. It's all we do. And and so, for me, it's an exercise to show patients with someone who believes in something supernatural that doesn't have any like, you know, evidence.

Alex Ferrari 37:46
Exactly. Well, obviously, but we did see the the congressional hearing so UFOs obviously, large aren't real. They're there. We've seen videos now

Alex Lehmann 37:54
I want them to be real.

Alex Ferrari 37:55
I hope we all do we have seen the filmmaker you out you watch that you want that situation. Listen, regardless of if UFOs I do believe that this is just my personal belief that in this giant universe, there has to be some life somewhere. Have they visited? I don't know. I just don't know. But logic dictates that this billions and billions and billions of planets out there probably something happens something's got to be there. Something's got some some sort of organism somewhere, even if it's something has to be living somewhere else in this universe. But I don't eat cheese

Alex Lehmann 38:31
roasting marshmallows in my backyard tonight. Really, I do.

Alex Ferrari 38:34
Thank you, Steven Spielberg. But it's but it's so true. But it's really fascinating too. Because that concept of not being able to connect and you did it very eloquently, too, because UFOs is just one of those things, you're just like, fine. So it's not a political statement. But being able to connect with someone you love, whose blood who has wildly different views on certain things. And it could be something as Madonna, the Dinah, Madonna can't say the word as a data.

Alex Lehmann 39:07
Yeah, Madonna, Madonna

Alex Ferrari 39:08
Madonna,

Alex Lehmann 39:08
No polarizing these this

Alex Ferrari 39:10
No, no, no. Benign, like, believing in UFOs or not, because that hurts really nobody, generally speaking. But when it's something very deep, either either in the religious world, or in political world, or whatever it is, it's so difficult to connect with someone you love, because you still love them, regardless of their beliefs, and where they work because they weren't there maybe 30 years ago. So I think you you danced that line so eloquently and beautifully in the film, that you said what you needed to say about that idea, without really, really stepping on anyone's toes unless you have our lovers.

Alex Lehmann 39:46
Right. Well, I appreciate I mean, even though you have been, I think at the end of the season, we don't know if that was a US or not. But But or maybe we do I'm not going to tell you exactly. The movies about women that I didn't give anything away. But But I would say that that I think maybe the reason it works in the film is because I wasn't putting it on anybody else. I was really putting it on myself to find more empathy, and compassion and curiosity for the people who have different beliefs than I do. And instead of even just saying, like, well, I don't believe that, but good for you to say like, Well, I mean, what do I know, I'm just another person. And you know, we're all wrong about plenty of things. So let me be a little more curious. And let me respect this. And let me figure out why this is relevant to you. And when you hear someone talk about whether it's their religion, or or, you know, a spiritual belief they have, or ghosts or aliens or anything, you listen to them enough, and they do start talking about something that is like a little bit more grounded and more personal anyways. Like, if you got this great story, when we were when we were scouting for acid, man, we were on this, like, you know, mountain top, overlooking, you know, the Oregon Rogue Valley. And, and this is like, random guy just like walks up on us. And he's like, Oh, you guys making you're the ones making the movie here. It's about UFOs or something, or like I, you know, didn't want to talk too much. But he said, Yeah. And, and he starts telling us about, you know, the UFO sightings that he's had. And, you know, just you could, you could at that point validly say that, Oh, here we go, like, this guy is gonna, you know, be, but but, you know, we just kept listening. And first of all, His stories were really entertaining and made me want to see what he had seen. And the second thing is, I don't know, where he starts talking about the passing of his father who his father had died just a few years ago, and was telling us about how he still talks to his dad every single day, and that he's never really brought that up to anybody. And I'm thinking like, holy shit, he just used UFOs as a conduit to talk about his feelings about his deceased father. And he's the guy who's maybe I don't know him, but he's maybe not as emotionally vulnerable and capable of talking about that stuff all the time. And I don't think UFOs were created in his mind or a substitution for those feelings. But they certainly made it easier to talk about certain things. And so all of a sudden, it was this really generous connection that we had.

Alex Ferrari 42:19
You know, it's interesting that a lot of people get so caught up with everything that's going on right now or in our lives right now, in 100 years, what does it matter? Just be kind to people, and try to help people as best you can. And that's the way I look at things like, at every moment in time, humanity thought they had everything figured out.

Alex Lehmann 42:39
It's not till next week.

Alex Ferrari 42:44
At every moment, there was a moment where the earth was the center of the universe that was flat. Sorry, Flat Earthers. You know, there was there's always everyone's got to figure it out. So yeah, when you understand that, like, yeah, maybe we've got a couple things figured out. Maybe we don't maybe in 100 years, or in 500 years, they're gonna be looking back at us and like, can you believe the barbaric 2000s 20s Oh, my God. Crazy.

Alex Lehmann 43:09
Well, I do think for me get back. I'll just get on the soapbox. For one second, I do think they're probably in 100 years, people are gonna say, the shit that they allowed with homelessness. Oh, it's gonna be the, you know, it's gonna, you know, the, the way we look at at certain things that happened a couple 100 years ago. Today, I think people are gonna look back and say like, wow, they just didn't give a shit about all those people. That's weird. But hey, you know, it was the Dark Ages. It was the it was the early internet ages. Like they didn't know how to be people. They weren't humans. They were.

Alex Ferrari 43:46
They were, they were getting all this information. But it was all bad information. And anyone could write any information they wanted to on the internet.

Alex Lehmann 43:52
Basically, cavemen they were still with podcasts.

Alex Ferrari 43:55
They were cavemen with podcasts, obviously.

Alex Lehmann 43:58
Yeah. But I think, you know, to the, to the point of like, of like, yeah, what does it all matter in 100 years? It? There's obviously there's a lot of fighting going on now. And I mean, it's been going on for a while, but Sure, man, I don't know, I just feels like a lot of people are wanting to feel heard right now. And there's so much noise and I guess we're contributing to it, which, you know, now I'm doing interviews. I'm making more noise. But, um, but I don't know, I just think the practice of listening to people and making them feel heard. We could we could probably all heal each other a little more just by by replacing some of the shouting over with, with listening.

Alex Ferrari 44:43
I agree with you, 100 100%. Now, to get back to the filmmaking side of this, this movie, what they're, you know, I don't know if I've asked you this on any of the other shows, but it's a question I've been asking lately, that we all go through every day. There's always a when we're shooting and we're shooting a movie were on onset. There's always that day that everything goes to hell lost the sun camera breaks, the actor can't make it, something happens where you have to completely compromise. What was the worst day of this? Besides every single day, besides every single day? What was the worst of every single day of that situation? And how did you overcome it?

Alex Lehmann 45:24
Okay, I, there's, of course, there are a couple of moments. And I just got to think about which one I can share the story without publicly, publicly, I will say that the filmmaking experience, and this is either going to piss people off, or they're just not gonna believe me, but it was such a positive experience. And it was just, you know, it was like, May of 21. So people were just starting to get their vaccines and just kind of coming out a little bit, there was such a, everybody was so excited just to be on a set together. And I don't know just the nature of what we're doing, enabled everybody to just be vulnerable and really lean in that. Like, I like to joke that if we had if the shooting schedule had been like a week longer, we probably would have turned into a cult. It was just the vibes were that good on on on that set.

Alex Ferrari 46:14
And that's what happens all the time.

Alex Lehmann 46:16
Have some really positive sets, though. But but this one, you know, really, this one, this one was special. But But sure, there were there were, you know, there was an angry neighbor at one point, because we had to drive through a private road and you know, there's there's Oregon private roads are people move to Oregon to be left alone, usually not. And that's how Portland I'm talking about. Like outskirts that's where we were shooting. It was very apropos for for acid man. And the neighbor was was well known. He was infamous for shooting at cars that drove too fast on the on their private roads. I don't think that anybody got shot at but we we definitely were confronted on a certain day where we're shooting a really emotional scene. And he came, he just came in screaming at at some of us and, you know, you just you just don't know. I mean, and this is honestly, this is scarier than anything else. Because you just don't know like, Does this guy have a gun? Like, is this? Is he mentally stable? Sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so like defusing that situation. And then also recognizing the fact that it's going to emotionally shake everybody, when you're asking not just the actors, but especially the actors to be vulnerable. Because that's, you know, that's what we're doing. We're making a film. I mean, if we'd been making an action film maybe would have like, pumped everybody up. But we weren't, we were making a film where people were trying to shed these layers and not take each other down. But but but like, connect and bring each other. And to do that, you have to put the armor down. And so when a guy comes onto your property and screams, and you think he's got a gun, like everybody wants to put that emotional armor up, like, I wish we'd had real body armor, to be honest, it was a little nervous. But um, but yeah, so I think really just recognizing everybody's feelings and just kind of like emotionally making the transition from stuff like that. Which, yeah, we lost that we lost, you know, a half hour and like, yet for you know, for a second, there's some logistical stuff. And you got to keep the day going for sure. But But I think crew morale and just really making everybody feel safe is so important.

Alex Ferrari 48:34
I agree with you. 100% is a good answer, sir. There's always there's always that day, there's always that thing or is always is always that day, there's always that thing. Now, what are you going to try back obviously, because you're in your this is our Tribeca coverage. So, of course, I always like to ask, what was that phone call, like? Because you haven't been in Tribeca before have you?

Alex Lehmann 48:54
I had a dark series here. A couple years ago, the Asperger's, we made a doc series with the Asperger's troupe, and that's on HBO, and we premiered it at Tribeca. But that was you know, those before the pandemic. It was right before the pandemic. It's like, what, 12 years ago now? 15 years ago. Yeah. So it doesn't really catch. But but this is the first narrative film that I've had at Tribeca and I'm super excited. It's you know, it's talking to my DP about this the other day, he said, Isn't it cool? Like there was like, we were essentially the crew of 15 people like living out like, cabins in these woods making this film because it cool that we're out in the middle of nowhere or again, like just 15 of us like doing this, this thing and our primary and like the, you know, one of the biggest cities in the world, you know, like this is huge, you know?

Alex Ferrari 49:46
No, no, a little birdie told me that you have something else coming up. At the end of the year you shot not just one film, but two back to back. Can you tell me about your next project coming out man?

Alex Lehmann 49:57
Yeah, so So acid man I thought was is going to be my movie last year. This is my coming out of the pandemic, pandemic movie. And this other film that I had been attached to for a little while, all of a sudden kind of pulled all the actors and all the money together and so basically shot these back to back, which was crazy. But there's this film, it's called meet cute, and it's starring Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco and super proud of it, and we'll have we'll have more details soon. But I think you know, everybody should be looking forward to seeing it at the end of the year. And it's it's kind of a it presents as a rom com. But it's a really great script by no go no le he was on the blacklist years ago. And it devolves it twists into some other stuff.

Alex Ferrari 50:44
There's UFOs involved obviously there's

Alex Lehmann 50:47
There's close close it gets it gets weird, man, but it's it's funny.

Alex Ferrari 50:53
You're like Michel Gondry weird is like Michel Gondry weird, are we?

Alex Lehmann 50:56
Yeah, it's like Michel Gondry where I saw that one of his films, his most famous film is definitely one that we use as a cop. And I don't know I'm just I'm really excited about what that is. And I think Kaylee does an amazing job and and, and, you know, Pete does an amazing job in it, but I feel like I'm looking at because with acid man, you know, I think Tom Haden Church is an amazing actor. He crushed it, the acid man that, you know, his his us is acting in this film, you know, just everybody keeps telling me. They just they love this side of Thomas that they haven't really gotten to see. And then I think Dianna Agron was fantastic in it. She was a creative collaborator, you know, on it from the very beginning. I mean, I should say that, like, she really helped me put this all together, when, you know, I've been I've been used to, you know, just going to Mark Duplass and say, lucky me, I could just call Mark

Alex Ferrari 51:50
Hey, Mark, I need idea. Let's get this go make this.

Alex Lehmann 51:54
Yeah. And so, you know, basically calling, calling Diane up and saying, like, I've got this movie, and you're perfect for it. And, you know, could you help me? You know, if you signed on, I think we can get a really great actor and some money and you know, I just really need you to be behind this. And she's been behind it from from day one, you know, creatively. And logistically, and you know, someone like that, when they when they give you that confidence, and when they when they stand behind you. They give their stamp of approval. That's a great way to get something that's delivered in every way. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 52:31
Well, I'm looking forward to seeing your new movie at the end of the year. And, and I tell everybody goes the asset man, it's really just really interesting meditation. As I look at this, it was very much as a meditation you sit there and just absorb it cinematography score, just the performances, it just kind of wash over you there. It's beautiful, man. Now, I'm going to ask you a couple questions that I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Alex Lehmann 53:00
Yeah, I would say keep, keep doing keep being yourself, keep doing you. I see a lot of filmmakers trying to be another filmmaker Right? Or, you know, trying to make their version of well you make your version of something but make it your version of something don't don't try to make the carbon copy of whatever movie it is you love. And I think that the sooner they discover themselves and don't try to be anybody else, the the more quickly, audiences will be able to see their authentic filmmaker self.

Alex Ferrari 53:33
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Alex Lehmann 53:38
That I don't know? Because I think I'm still learning that every time kind of a cop out answer, but it's kind of not like like, because you you have to know certain things and then every time certainty creeps in, at least for myself, I have to take a step back and say like, alright, dial it back, you know, it can't can't be too certain of anything, because there's a lot of learning left to do.

Alex Ferrari 54:03
Yeah. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Alex Lehmann 54:07
Three of my favorite films of all time. Okay, I'm gonna start with what is I think a cousin to our film that is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I think we share a lot of the same emotional and thematic DNA, slightly different budget.

Alex Ferrari 54:26
Even even the 70s budget is still slightly different than today.

Alex Lehmann 54:29
Yeah, but you know, there's, there's a, there's a real connection there. And I would say 400 blows is a big one for me. And then, I mean, I could try to like dig deep and be cool, but Jaws I'll just go to jobs because I've never seen anything more than jaws. Like what like, I don't need to impress anybody.

Alex Ferrari 54:50
Just it's it's, I mean, it's a masterpiece and it still holds it still scares the living hell out of you. Even now, like it doesn't mean the shark might look a little janky but even then it doesn't look that janky I mean, just 3d look much worse than just the shark at least

Alex Lehmann 55:10
I'm gonna be you know what I'll be Stan is this I don't know, Stan I think is the I'm gonna be a stand in silver stand and say et as well like it's too many Spielberg movies for a list but like, I don't I don't care at because you say it still holds like that movie. So I if I need to cry watch at

Alex Ferrari 55:29
My, my, my daughters were traumatized when et was found down at the river traumatized, like they watched when they when he was down at the river, and he's like dying. Sorry, guys. Sorry, spoiler alert. If you haven't seen at if you're listening to this MSAT I'm sorry. But when he's down there and they were like five or something, we showed them a five or six traumatized they still talk about that? They love the movie, but they just remember that image of ET because he loved them so much. And like was it was an emotional roller coaster to say the least.

Alex Lehmann 56:01
I I don't know how to explain this because it's gonna sound like I'm pretty dumb. That's okay. Maybe it's right. But but when you said that they found at by the river my mind immediately went to like 80 lives like in a van down by the river now like, that's where his career that's where his career is. Like, we got to start a GoFundMe for Ed. Like I literally went there first. And I'm not stupid. I know. I know. He's fake. I know he's done but I was just like

Alex Ferrari 56:32
No, because I saw I saw that I saw your face when I said it. It took you like like a five or 10 seconds and then I started to click Oh, he means that scene in the movie but I didn't know where you were thinking about thank you for

Alex Lehmann 56:45
My mind went a few places because first it was like oh, maybe maybe you know like there was like a stuffed eat like maybe like the universe or whatever right like that the actual et puppet that they use in the movie somehow got dumped by a river and like kids. Movie Yeah, no, I remember the movie. So my favorite movies. But like my mind, my mind did not choose the path of logic my mind. It chose the path of illogic

Alex Ferrari 57:13
Et lives in a van down by the river. That's amazing. That is, that's

Alex Lehmann 57:21
Smoking cigarettes.

Alex Ferrari 57:23
Times are tough. He spit Spielberg and him had a falling out because it couldn't get the sequel up and running. He's hanging out there with Roger Rabbit because Roger Rabbit couldn't get to sequel either.

Alex Lehmann 57:33
Elliot as an adult one day drives by and he sees him and he like looks away trying not to make eye contact because he's like, I don't even know how to like help him watch this situation. It's feel too guilty to like

Alex Ferrari 57:46
We should we should listen man, can we get a Kickstarter going right now for a sequel? Well, we'll call up we'll call up Henry Thomas. If you'll come out and do it for us.

Alex Lehmann 57:59
I really know how to take the blockbuster out of a blockbuster.

Alex Ferrari 58:02
Turn it into meditation on stardom.

Alex Lehmann 58:07
Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 58:10
It's a pleasure first of all, you have the best first game ever. But other than that, sir it's a pleasure talking to you. But I always love catching up with you. You're welcome back anytime I look forward to seeing your new movie at the end of the year. Please come back and tell us about how that I'm sure you have insane stories about how that got a different story. And you know in hanging out with some I mean two very big star I mean these are monster stars right now and Pete pizza little well known now

Alex Lehmann 58:38
In the news for something and he's living in a van down by the river Alaska.

Alex Ferrari 58:41
I think we should we should do a GoFundMe for Pete because I think he just got he just left Saturn at live it's me. He's he needs help. Poor guy,

Alex Lehmann 58:48
By the way. So one thing I'll just say really, really quickly that I'm proud of that maybe it's worth sharing with your audiences. You know, the budgets on acid man and then the new one meet cute very different and went from like middle nowhere Oregon crew of 15 people to you know, shooting in Manhattan. I you know, same DP St. I brought it over as much of the same crew as I possibly could anybody that was available. That set had you know, held their own on the smaller film, there was no fu I'm gonna go hire the, the bigger version of you like, I'm not gonna go I'm gonna get whoever I can. You know, whoever did Sandler's last movie, whatever. No, I wanted to work with the same people. And I would say that that's good advice. That that stick with the people that you know that you've been succeeding with, you know, have their back you know, they've had yours for long enough. Agreed, agreed on a person really? Yeah, really proud of the team that they made both of those movies with

Alex Ferrari 59:47
Alex a pleasure as always, my friend continued success and you're welcome back anytime, my friend.

Alex Lehmann 59:53
Congrats to you.

Alex Ferrari 59:54
Thank you my friend!

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IFH 588: How I Got My Film Directing Off The Ground with Sean Mullin

Sean Mullin is an award-winning filmmaker.  His critically-acclaimed feature film debut as a writer/director — Amira & Sam — won the top prize at numerous festivals and was distributed theatrically by Drafthouse Films. He’s the co-writer/co-producer of the film, Semper Fi – alongside Oscar-nominated director Henry-Alex Rubin (Murderball) and Oscar-nominated producer David Lancaster (Whiplash).  Lionsgate released the film theatrically in 2019. He’s the writer/director of a feature-length documentary – Kings of Beer – about the world’s most intense brewmaster competition, which was released theatrically in 2019.  He’s the writer/director of It Ain’t Over – a feature-length documentary about baseball legend, Yogi Berra – which will be released in 2022.

Prior to his filmmaking career, Sean served in the military. He was stationed in Germany as an army officer, but finished his time as a Captain in the New York Army National Guard – where he was a first responder on September 11th, 2001. For several months, he spent his days working as the Officer in Charge of the soldiers stationed at Ground Zero – and his nights performing stand-up comedy.

Sean holds an MFA from Columbia University and a B.S. from The United States Military Academy at West Point. He is a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), as well as the Producers Guild of America (PGA).  Sean is represented by UTA. He resides in Los Angeles, where he runs Five By Eight Productions and is a guest lecturer at USC, AFI and West Point.

Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra is one of baseball’s greatest. He amassed ten World Series rings, 3 MVP awards and 18 All-Star Game appearances. He caught the only perfect game in World Series history. Yet for many his deserved stature was overshadowed by his simply being himself and being more recognized more for his unique personality, TV commercial appearances and unforgettable “Yogi-isms,” initially head-scratching philosophical nuggets that make a lot more sense the more you think about them. In telling the whole story, It Ain’t Over gives Berra his due in following the life of a savvy, commanding, bad-ball hitting catcher with a squat frame but also a D-Day veteran, loving husband and father and, yes, product endorser and originator (mostly) of his own brand of proverbs now ingrained into everyday life.

Granddaughter Lindsay Berra tells his story along with his sons, former Yankee teammates, players he managed, writers, broadcasters, and admirers (such as Billy Crystal), plus photos and footage on and off the diamond. Berra famously said,

“I’d be pretty dumb if I started being something I’m not,”

and It Ain’t Over lovingly makes clear he stayed who he was for the benefit of baseball and everyone else.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Sean Mullin 0:00
You know onset as a director, you have to, you have to really listen to what your actors are doing, see what they're doing if they're doing great stay out of their way, if something's rubbing you the wrong way you got to investigate.

Alex Ferrari 0:07
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created Enigma Elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like BH s, and CRT images, smoke fog, textures, DaVinci Resolve presets, and much more. After working as an editor colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, check out and enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's enigmaelements.com. Well, guys, Today we continue our coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival and I sit down with writer director Sean Mullin. Now his story is remarkable how he was able to get this little independent film off the ground, losing half the budget, a few weeks before production, how he was able to rally to get that going, where that film became a huge hit and launched his career to his latest film. It ain't over the Yogi Berra documentary, which is remarkable, by the way, and everything in between. So let's dive in. I'd like to welcome to the show, Sean Mullin. How you doin Sean?

Sean Mullin 1:35
Great! How are you Alex?

Alex Ferrari 1:36
I'm good, man. I'm good, man. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Brother. You we're gonna talk about your new film. Eight ain't over. Which is of the late great Yogi Berra. And, and I learned so much about you, you watching it. And when when your pitch came across my desk, I was like, Well, I gotta gotta I don't want to wait until it's mainstream. I got to see it now. And I fell in love with it. Because as I'm sure you know, you probably fell in love with it, making it make you fell in love with the okie just making?

Sean Mullin 2:09
Absolutely no, it's definitely a surrogate grandfather for the pandemic for me, and a lot of a lot of folks involved. So absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 2:15
So before we get before we get down to the your latest project wanted to go back back into the archives. So why God's green earth? Did you want to get into this business?

Sean Mullin 2:27
Um, you know, I don't think I wanted to I think anybody who wants to? I don't know, I'm a little skeptical of maybe. Yeah, I don't, you know, it's, I just was more of a I mean, it just came out of me. You know, I just felt like it was something as a kid, I was always writing short stories, I was always the one kind of getting people together and telling jokes in the corner class, I got in trouble a lot, obviously, for that. And yeah, I just was always a storyteller. And I got a kit when I was at, you know, going to West Point for College. And you know, about a video camera, and I recorded on my buddy's telling stories and all that stuff. And so and, you know, I just always wrote and always, you know, that just kind of, I don't know, came came out pretty organically. So I just feel like it's who I am, really is, instead of like, who I wanted to be

Alex Ferrari 3:14
Fair enough, because I agree with you. If somebody wants to be in this business, you got to look at them a little outside, especially now that if you've got some, especially if you got some shrapnel on you, you know it literally like you know, battle hardened through through business, it's you look you like, do you really do you want to go down to like, my son wants to be in the business, I don't run away. Is there anything else you can do? If there is and you love it?

Sean Mullin 3:41
I do that I've been teaching on and off for the past decade. And that's one of the first lectures I give is like, Listen, if you can live with yourself doing anything else do that. But if you can't, if it's a calling of it's something inside you, well, then you're screwed. And just, you know, good luck, you know, go go after but, but but be passionate, don't give up and work hard and you know, collaborate and all the things you need to do to create great work.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
I call it the beautiful illness because it's it's a thing you stuck with it. You can't get rid of it. It's with you for life. No, no vaccine is gonna get rid of it. And it could, it could go dormant for decades. But oh, wait. I have 60 year olds coming on like I was a doctor but I really want to do is direct.

Sean Mullin 4:26
Grab a camera, grab it.

Alex Ferrari 4:28
Grab a camera doc, and you can finance your project.

Sean Mullin 4:31
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 4:33
Now, I have to ask you, you had a very interesting start to your, you know, your career, if you will, outside of the film industry where you were in the military. And then you were also one of the 911 first responders. Is that correct?

Sean Mullin 4:48
I guess I was in Manhattan. I was the plans officer for the New York National Guard on the morning of September 11. So before before the attacks, we didn't need too many plans and then we needed a lot obviously that De and so I ended up ended up spending the first two weeks full time and then I was kind of part time for a couple of months. And then in January of oh two it would have been they, they gave me a new title and promoted me to captain and put me in charge of the soldiers at Ground Zero from from like, January until August about to and I was I was in charge of the bridges and tunnels in Manhattan and Ground Zero, just making sure you know, Everything was running smoothly. So and at the same time, though, I was, I had, I had moved to New York City, I'd left active duty and moved New York City a couple years prior and become a stand up comedian. And there was a new theater had just opened Upright Citizens Brigade UCB Theater opened in 99. So I started doing improv theater, and I was, so it was kind of a weird double life of working at Ground Zero and doing comedy at night. Kind of. Yeah, well, it was it was.

Alex Ferrari 5:48
It doesn't even say a joke back then. I remember like, yeah, that Saturday Night Live episode, like, Absolutely. Can we be funny?

Sean Mullin 5:55
Can we be funny now? Absolutely. Yeah. Giuliani wonder whatever happened to him? i But yeah, I mean, I don't think I did comedy for until probably at least October, November, you know, it definitely took about a month or so off. And then it was hard. It was hard. Time was a crazy time in the city, but very formative time for me. And while I was at Ground Zero, I applied I said, screw, you know, again, this is what I this is what I'm going to do with my life. I'm going to be a storyteller. So I applied to grad school. And I got accepted spring about two into Columbia's MFA program for film directing. And that's why I left the military summer Oh, two and right. I mean, I was in my uniform one day, as last day I shaved actually was August 15 2002. And I and I went to Columbia the next day for grad school.

Alex Ferrari 6:37
I imagine that the work that you did at Ground Zero and also in the military prepared you to be a director, in many ways, because of just organizing large groups of people making sure things get done.

Sean Mullin 6:50
Absolutely. No, no, it's interesting. The first thing some people will hear, you know, or some people say to me, when I tell them I've gone to West Point and all that they'll be like, well, how are you? How are you a filmmaker, this is a completely different worlds. And I you know, I jokingly I was interviewed by West Point Magazine did a little piece on me after my first film, and I was kind of tongue in cheek said, West point's the best film school in the country. I mean, I obviously, you know, a little bit of a joke there. But, um, leadership is really what it's all about, and being able to command your unit and you when you have a film set, it's the same thing creating this environment where everybody where you're inspiring people, you're not, you're not just telling people what to do, you're actually inspiring them, inspiring them. And yeah, I mean, I think there's so many parallels to being a good leader in the military and, and a director who can get the vision across, while also, you know, navigating all the obstacles that arise during production.

Alex Ferrari 7:40
Now, I was going back into your IMDB and I went all the way back to the bottom. Where you get that first pa gig? Yeah, sure. What was that with? I'm sure I'm sure.

Sean Mullin 7:56
I do. Yeah, the best thief in the world was the name of the film. And I was a PA, they found out I had come from ground zero. And so they put me in charge of all walkie talkies, they put me in charge of anything. even remotely all logistics. I mean, I was running all the truck. I was doing everything I but it was great experience. You know, it was? Yeah, it was the summer that would have been summer oh three, my first real onset gig.

Alex Ferrari 8:17
And I'm assuming, of course, you were paid very well. Very handsomely, handsomely.

Sean Mullin 8:22
Still living off it actually still living off the interest?

Alex Ferrari 8:26
No, but so what was the biggest lesson you learned? On those days, those first days on set, because I remember when I was I was a PA. I was just absorbing everything. Like I just absorbed what the director was doing, what the production was doing. I worked in the office I worked on set. I was just absorbing as much what was that lesson? That was the thing that you learned that first those first few weeks?

Sean Mullin 8:48
I think the biggest lesson for me was I had just finished my first year of grad school. So I'm on a real set. And I interned for the production company that produced the movie in the spring. And so I was had been involved and read the script and got to meet the director and everything. And I I think for me, the biggest thing I learned is that I can do this, like I pictured myself in the director's chair, and I felt competent. I mean, yes, I was a PA, you know, but I felt it didn't feel like such a far stretch and demystify the process a lot. And it actually got me really excited that I knew, you know, once I had the funds and the ability to make a first feature, I would be able to I felt confident I'd be able to pull it off.

Alex Ferrari 9:28
Isn't it funny that most pas are sitting there going I could do better

Sean Mullin 9:35
I could, you know, but I just it didn't. I didn't feel like it was beyond the reach of my capabilities. I felt like I felt good. It felt like vindication. Like okay, I see what he's doing. I see he's got a shot list. I see he's gonna stop and I can talk to actors. I know that world to a bit. So yeah, it was really it was really kind of an exciting time, to be honest.

Alex Ferrari 9:56
And as well as when you're standing because I've worked with a ton of stand Throughout my career, and it is a it is a, such an art form. And it's so hard to do good stand up like it's one of the hardest things in the planet to do, honestly. And knowing that you are stand up as well that you got up in front of that mic and everything. What did you bring from that to your directing? Because there, there are some skills that overlap, but what was it that but it wasn't anything you brought up,

Sean Mullin 10:25
I think the biggest thing was just being in the moment because even you know, being in the moment as a director is the most important thing, you know, I mean, in all this years and years of headache and, and sweat and tears and blood that go into like getting a script in the right place, and getting everything attached and getting the money, all that matters is what's between action and cut, right. And you've got to really, really to be locked in. And I'm extremely focused right there in the moment. And that that's always will stand up to you had to be it but you also have to react, right you have to react to the audience and you have to you know, and stand up and then you know, onset as a director, you have to you have to really listen to what your actors are doing, see what they're doing, if they're doing great stay out of their way, if something's rubbed you the wrong way, you got to investigate. And so I think that's probably the biggest thing I got was just the ability to really be in the moment and, and receptive to shifts in tone, or, you know, anything else that might throw off the story.

Alex Ferrari 11:18
I mean, to be fair, I mean, directing is compromise. I mean, the whole thing was constantly compromised. I always love I always love coming to set with this obscene lips shot list. And I gave it to the first ad in the first day. He's like, you know, we're not gonna make it. There. It's there just in case. I have to have 50 shots before lunch. I know. I got it. I got lunch. I know we'll get the five case.

Sean Mullin 11:42
I did a lot in grad school because again, the military, you know, I'm a six foot five military guy, you know, so they everybody's like, Oh, he can tell people what to do without being a jerk. And so So I did a lot of a dealing. And that really helped that helped inform my directing as well. I'm, I'm very selective with my shot. I'm much more I'd rather have less setups and more takes is kind of my approach. So

Alex Ferrari 12:01
Yeah, exactly. Now, how did you get your first film Amira and Sam off the ground?

Sean Mullin 12:09
Oh, my goodness. Yeah, that's definitely a long story. But it was just, you know, it had been about set it took me seven years from the time I got my MFA and Oh, six till that time we shot we shot summer of 13. And it was just a real struggle. I had written some other scripts. I had worked as a screenwriter I, I got hired, right. I got hired to write two scripts pretty quickly out of grad school, one for Britney Spears, which was pretty insane working with her for a year to say the least. And then another one and another script that couldn't be more different. A military drama for an Oscar nominated documentarian, Henry Alex Rubin, who had did Murderball that documentary Murderball, I wrote a I wrote a I wrote a screenplay for him. I actually got hired write that screenplay when I was in grad school, and oh five, and the film actually got made 14 years later it came out. But two years ago, it's called Semper Fi. And so that that script, so I was working as a screenwriter, I was doing other things. My creative partner from Columbia, Mike Connors is my best friend and we have a crush coming out here in LA, he, he made a feature that I produced, called allegiance in 2012. And so producing his feature, I really started to understand, you know, what it takes that really, if you're going to make an independent film, you you've got to especially don't come from any means, you know, you've got to you gotta figure you know, figure it out, you know, last thing my parents ever bought me was a one way plane ticket to West Point, you know, so I, you know, I've been I've been out here hustling, trying to scrape together scrape together money to get things made. And so yeah, we just, I was able to kind of get I got, I landed with a great production company. I got very fortunate, we introduced a burst company, Matt Miller and Eric Lochner at the time, have a company called vanishing angle and they actually fast forward that they are they vanishing angle? Is the production company on it ain't over as well. So it's just a good a good lesson in keeping up relationships, but at the time, it was it was Matt and Eric Now it's run by Matt and Natalie Miller, Natalie Metzker. But, um, but yeah, so we I got, you know, we got the script, I got the script to them, we, we got some money together, we thought we were gonna make it for 600k We went out made offers, we got Martin star attached, which was incredible, was really exciting. He had never been the lead in a, in a in a feature film before, let alone or romantically, let alone a special forces. You know, Greenbrae. So it was really something different for him a real departure, but he, he was really drawn in with a script, and I think I was able to sell him over over lunch, and we got him attached. And then and then we got Deena Shahabi, which was like this incredible, incredible actress. She was still in grad school at the time getting her MFA at NYU and acting she's since blown up she's doing a million things and she was just on this archive at one which was a big Netflix thing but she did Jack rock Jack Ryan and all this other stuff. She's an incredible actress, but this was her first film as well. So lead role and yeah, so it didn't we killed ourselves, you know, and then and then half the budget, you know, half the money. felt, you know, we had, we thought we had 600 we have kind of verbal commitments for 600. And then by the time we're shooting, we had 300. So I had to cut another week. So instead of a four week shoot or three weeks shoot, and it was just a mess was we shot 97 pages and 16 and a half days, which was a real, real, I mean, a real difficult difficult thing. But, you know, through all the through all that through all that trial and tribulation, we ended up having a really wonderful premiere and we ended up winning, winning awards, you know, over 10 film festivals and we got, you know, picked up by Alamo Drafthouse, Tim League, saw the film, watched it, bought it, and put it out in Alamo Drafthouse theaters, which was really exciting. And I got signed it, an agency and all that stuff. So it kind of it served this purpose of what I needed to do. And I also just, obviously, love the film, so means a lot.

Alex Ferrari 15:46
It's fascinating that, you know, I'd love to hear this kind of stories of like we had 600, then we really only had 300 that you kept going is a testament to your ability and everything, your team's ability to just make it happen because it happens so often. And so many filmmakers coming up, they don't understand, like, when the money drops that the concept of the money dropping until it's in the bank until it's an escrow that you can pull, pull a check. It's nothing.

Sean Mullin 16:14
It's nothing. No, no. And when I said we had 600, I think we have 10 grand in the bank. I mean, we have 600 And then that money in I mean, Meg Jarrett, I mean, she's the real angel to that project. She was she was she wrote the first check. And then actually, Peter Sobel off, who was who ended up producing, being one of the lead producers, Peter, and Mike's, who were big producers on the yogi doc, they actually, you know, came in as well and brought some money. And so it was just nervous. We were raising money all the way up through prep, and it was a nightmare. still finding locations, it was a real mess. But at that point in my life, also the film, the film was anything that I would, you know, I think it's too much. I think I cram too much into it. I just I was like, this is like, this is my shot. This is it. This is the only film I'm you know, this is, this is the only film I'm ever gonna get to make. It's been seven years since grad school. And it was really tough, was married, had a young daughter, you know, I was like, what, um, you know, this is it, this was my shot. And if it and so I just, there was no way I was backing down. And if it didn't, if it didn't succeed, I, you know, I don't know for sure what I would have done.

Alex Ferrari 17:13
As they say, you went up to the plate, sir. And you and you and you took you took a swing. And that's, I mean, I've been there. But I've been there that, you know, you're like, This is my shot. I got this has to go the train is left, this is leaving the station on this day. It's over. Regardless of what happens. We're making something

Sean Mullin 17:31
If I'm following if I'm following Martin and Deena around with a camera, you know, for a few weeks, we're gonna get something but everything fell in place. I just had an incredible, incredible support. And Terry Leonard was a producer, who, who really came on board and really helped out with that. And my cinematographer Danny Vecchione, he, Danny, also cinematographer on worked with him on multiple projects since he shot the yogi doc. So again, a lot of lot of my key creative relationships were started with that film.

Alex Ferrari 17:57
Now, as you know, many times when we're on set as a director, there's that day, that moment, Dad, you're losing the son. Camera breaks, the actor can't get to set. How was that moment for you on that film? And how did you overcome it?

Sean Mullin 18:16
I mean, there were there were about 13 of those. But no, I mean, there's one in particular, Dena still brings up uniques I'm still really close. I mean, Dina, and Martin and I, we get together for dinners all the time, and we're really still close. And we really bonded during that, you know, again, that's another kind of similarity to the military, but you bond through the stress. Right? Um, and, and so there was one so we, you know, the film, you know, there, there are different days, you know, we were averaging over seven pages a day. So that was pretty tricky. But there was one day where we had a ton, there's a long scene that takes place in a in a bed, which is like a 10 page scene. So that was night, we got like 14, like we got like 12 or 13 pages that day, which is huge. So but we had an Action Day where we had all of our boat scenes and all of our motorcycle scenes, which were it was just our kind of most logistically challenging day and we had the weather had to be right and everything had to just be perfect, like we had didn't have a minute to spare. And we couldn't, when we got on the boat to shoot the boat scenes, we we didn't have enough people as myself DP producer sound, and then the actors that's all we could fit on the boat. And on one of the take we you know, on one of the takes, we it was a perfect take, I loved everything. But Deena had left on her jean jacket because she was cold. And so the continuity it wouldn't cut it all and it was a big Medius part of the scene and and I I just I almost broke I mean that was the closest I came to breaking because we I didn't know if we could do it again. So we had to circle back around something has to match and then the weather and then I've got this motorcycles waiting for us which we've got to get to them in time to get the sunset motorcycle shots and I'm on the boat and it's just so that that was probably the closest I came to, to kind of breaking. I mean, there's a lot of emotional moments. I mean, the the most emotional moment making it though was when you know when we told all the agents and everything I knew there was a six $7,000 movie. That's what went out to Martin and everything like that. And for Martin Starr is like, Oh, that's not a lot of money. I can't believe it and, and about two thirds of the way through the shoot, we were shooting the scene at this mock police station, and Martin pulled me aside. And we had been through a lot at this point. And he, and he said, You know, I don't know how I go, Sean, I just need to tell you, I don't know how you guys are pulling this off for 600,000. And I just, I just started, I just started crying. I just started crying. Tears came out of my eyes. And he's like, what's he's like, what's up, and he gave me a hug. And I said, God, we only have 300. And, and he hugged me back, and he started crying. And we're just there hugging and crying each other outside this, you know, made up police station, that we shot somewhere. So anyways, it's moments like that. It's a lot, you know, it's a lot.

Alex Ferrari 20:50
Now, is there something that you wish somebody would have told you at the beginning of your career? A piece of advice or something?

Sean Mullin 20:57
Oh, man, I don't know. You know, I'm not a, you know, I'm not a big like, regret guy. I have looked back. I don't you know, I just I've never been good at that. So no, I mean, you know, I'm sure, yeah, I mean, it could have taught me a lot of things. I feel like,

Alex Ferrari 21:09
Hey, you're not gonna get you're gonna get through

Sean Mullin 21:12
Your 300. I mean, you know, just how, you know, I mean, I think I was ready. I think I was prepared for how hard it was. I mean, I, you know, it's just been, it's been very difficult been very difficult on even personal relationships and stuff. And, you know, it's just been hard. It's been a hard, hard road.

Alex Ferrari 21:28
It's and that's the thing that so many young filmmakers coming up, don't understand that this is not an easy path. This is the art the artists path is not an easy path. But the filmmaker path is even more complex, because we cost so much for us. And we have to convince other people to come along with us. It's very difficult to do it all by yourself, if not impossible. So it's, it's it's I always like bringing these kinds of stories up. So filmmakers listening, especially young filmmakers understand what's ahead of them, not to scare them off, but just to understand the rules of the game. Mm

Sean Mullin 22:02
Hmm. Yeah, you almost have to just be possessed, you know. Yeah. Which is, you know, for better for worse, but, but you need a lot of collaborators, you need a lot of support, you need people to vouch for you. That's why I now, you know, vouch for younger filmmakers of whenever I can, and help out. I've had interns over the years. I've got another one this summer. Giselle does Nia, she's really great. So I'm looking out for her, trying to, you know, trying to pass along any advice I can. And actually, I teach a class I teach. I teach two classes over at AFI, AFI the MFA program and directing and I teach in the fall. It's like a directing 101 is a four semester program I teach. In the fall, I teach a, like a direct one on one class shot, shot selection, shot progression, you know, kind of basic directing class, Intro to directing. And then the fourth semester, I teach a class called the first feature where we go through and we do case studies of dozens of first features and you know, what works, what doesn't so I'm doing my best to pass along any knowledge I've gotten over the years to make things a little bit easier, but it's never gonna be easy for anyone.

Alex Ferrari 23:04
I mean, you could you could tell somebody don't put your hand in the fire because it's gonna it's hard until you get into that fire baby. You don't you really don't really don't know. That's true. That's so true to hear all these stories by us old timers sitting around talking about it, but until you're in the interior, as they say, you're in the shit. You really won't know what's what's going on. Now. I when I was looking at through your your filmography, I'm like, okay, so he did this amazingly wonderful romantic comedy. How does he go from I mean, a romantic comedy to Semper Fi which is complete one ad you know obviously much bigger budget you know, a bigger cast and action and different tone How did you get like as a as a as a creative and as a director?

Sean Mullin 24:27
Yeah, I mean, I don't really when I'm looking at stories, I don't look at the genre. Or, you know, even even you know, I don't really necessarily pay attention to format you know, I'm doing more docs now. But I it's really about to me, it's about character and story and for, for me that the stories that have resonated the most are stories where there's some sort of tension between perception and reality. So for Amir and Samos, the perception and reality of a veteran returning from war and an Iraqi refugee, it's this kind of star crossed lover thing where Are there there's a tension there. And with Yogi I mean with yogi, the perception of Yogi versus the reality of Yogi. So I, for me, that's what I'm really keyed into is every story I've gotten involved with has some sort of tension between perception and reality. And so I don't really, you know, whether it's a comedy or drama or dark or scripted, I don't think any of that matters it to me, it's about kind of, you know, the story and the characters. And if I can, undercover, some sort of tension that is compelling.

Alex Ferrari 25:27
How did you approach the action? Because you hadn't at that point, have you shot any action at that point?

Sean Mullin 25:33
Or are you top up for Semper Fi? Yeah. So actually, so I did not direct Semper Fi. So I, you wrote, you wrote down? No, no, no, I'm sorry. Yeah. So Henry, Alex Rubin, who did a Murderball Oh, he ended up No, no, he directed it. So I was just a, I was a co writer, I co wrote the script with him. And then I was a co producer on as well, because I was involved. I mean, I mean, this is 155 drafts over 14 years and not one dime until I until until, until, you know, the first day of shooting really so.

Alex Ferrari 26:01
So at that point, you should like yeah, I'm going to be involved a little bit.

Sean Mullin 26:05
Well, I tried. Yeah, I tried to be as involved as they'd let me

Alex Ferrari 26:09
Now when I saw Beer Fest. And it was really interesting because I love the way you shoot docks. It's very interesting, very cinematic. It's, you know, there's some term documentarian, so shoot it like a documentarian. But you seem to shoot it like a documentarian with a cinematic eye. And

Sean Mullin 26:28
Kingsbury, you're talking about? Things were different. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 26:32
I just had I just had Jay on the show. I'm sorry.

Sean Mullin 26:34
Oh, did you know Jay was amazing. No, no, that was fun. Those little those. Yeah, that was my first my first documentary was called kings of beer. And yeah, I tried to bring again, I brought my DP who's a really incredible cinematographer Danny Vecchione, and he, he's got a real cinematic eye. And so we, you know, we visually try it, we tried to visually design it, you know, as kind of, you know, to make it look kind of, I don't know, as cinematic as possible. And yeah, I'm glad I'm really proud of it was my first doc. And, you know, it's also it got a little bit a little bit of a stink on it, I think for some people after the release, because it was financed by Budweiser. So a lot of people were like, Oh, this is propaganda. This is stuff, but I was like, Listen, you know, I did get paid. First time in my life, I got paid really well. I was like, Oh, this is what directors get paid. Or this is like, this is this is I could do this, like every Yeah, exactly. I got I mean, and so I understood, I understood that end of it. So yeah, Budweiser, did finance it. But they weren't involved. You know, they weren't super involved with the editor or any of the stuff. It was really up to me. And I was really, again, went after care and went after perception versus reality. When I touch again, this is a perfect thing is probably one of my best examples where if I tell you who are the top five Brewmasters at Budweiser, you probably will firstly you didn't know they had multiple Budweiser as theirs, but you probably like oh, they're heavyset, white, bearded white dudes from the Midwest, like just pressing a button. Homer Simpson taken a nap right? But no, I mean, it was. It was the five top brewmaster there 65 breweries around the world that brew button the top five that I followed for a year, where African American female African American male, a Chinese man from Wuhan went to Wuhan, actually, which was crazy shot there right before everything happened. didn't speak any English. And then another woman from Canada who brews in New Hampshire, and then and then the white dude, who was an Army combat vet, which was like really fascinating story. So you know, it again, flipping flipping people's perceptions of what a brewmaster might be. And I'm really proud of the film and it taught me how when I was finishing up post with that is when I got the call from Peter microblogs, saying, Hey, we know the bears, we've got an incident would you be interested in directing a documentary about yogi? And I was like, I actually my initial reaction was like, Well, let me give me a B because Yogi seems to perfect like what's the drama? What's the tension? Right? What? And then I started reading I read some books and I went online, I watched some videos and I was like, oh, no, there's there's something here. There's there's a real tension between who he was and who people thought he was. So I dove in.

Alex Ferrari 29:02
Yeah, so So let's talk about anything over because Yogi agreed with you like I when I watched the film, I knew Yogi is a pitchman. I mean, I knew him as a baseball player, obviously. But I really didn't understand the impact that he had had on the Yankees. And not only on Yankees on the baseball on baseball itself, and how he was not respected as or putting the light that he should have been in because he was as good, if not better than any of those guys on those teams that he wants championships there.

Sean Mullin 29:35
There's one stat that's and this is just the baseball people out there. But there's one stat that we didn't, we couldn't share in the movie, you know, you have 90 minutes to tell this guy's incredible, you know, 9090 year journey and so we couldn't fit everything in. But there are only two players in the history of baseball to finish in the top four of MVP voting for seven straight years. And that's really tough to do because it's really about consistency and finish that high and MVP voting. I mean, you'll give one three of them but he finished the top four set Been years in a row. The only other player to do it was Mike Trout. So, you know, he's not talked about though, in the same same kind of levels of some of these guys. And so that was definitely something we were we were going after it. He's also an again, just from the Yankees legacy. I mean, he's the only I mean, if you look at his life, we kind of we cover this on the dock, but like, you know, he came up as a rookie and met Babe Ruth and shook hands with Dave and got to know him a little before they passed. And then and then he was mentored by DiMaggio and and he was a, you know, he was a, you know, teammate of mantle. And then, you know, he's a coach. He's a coach. Yeah, and Maris Of course, and Whitey and that whole crew and then and then fast forward to he's a, he's a coach for you know, Guidry and Willie Randolph and reds. And then And then he's the manager for Mattingly. And then he mentors, you know, Jeter and Gerardi and that whole crew too. So there's no Yankee, there's nobody who's done that front from shaking hands with Babe Ruth to mentoring Derek Jeter. There's, you know, he really is the connective tissue. Absolutely. The backbone of the Yankees.

Alex Ferrari 31:03
Yeah, it was and then you know, that whole 14 year bit with him and George Steinbrenner. Yeah, I mean, that that was insane. Do you know that I when I was down in Florida watching spring training, I got George Steinbrenner to sign my baseball.

Sean Mullin 31:16
Well, there you go.

Alex Ferrari 31:18
He was citing Baseball said I made it onto ESPN. Like even some kids were looking for George Steinbrenner.

Sean Mullin 31:25
Yeah, I mean, he was an interesting guy. I mean, you know, I think Bob Costas put it well, in the in the documentary and he was a polarizing figure. But but you know, he did love the Yankees. And he did love Yogi they had, they had obviously a bit of a falling out. But we were able to interview Georgia somehow. And he was he couldn't have been more kind and just really wonderful about things he had to say about yogi. So it was really nice to be able to talk to so many wonderful people. I mean, you saw the interviews, we got some great ones. So

Alex Ferrari 31:50
Oh, no, some amazing ones. But I have to ask you, so when I've had other people on the show, we've tackled large, you know, you know, just kind of like big shadows of people, massive personalities. How do you approach someone's legacy like this? Because I know you were doing it with the help of the family. So that actually helps, obviously, that you're not doing it against the wishes of the family and everything. But how do you even approach telling that story? I mean, the pressure on you, like people are going to look at this documentary, this is going to be what people look, go back and look at about yo, because there really isn't a definitive documentary. God.

Sean Mullin 32:26
Not I mean, not. Yeah. I mean, there is no, there is June 11. Yeah, there will be. No, we were really proud of it. And know, the family was incredible. Like, the biggest concern from day one was to not make it some sort of like hagiography, some sort of puff piece, some sort of AI that's documentaries that just put their subjects on a pedestal. And then I call these things and this is very, I was very upfront with my producers on day one. I said, I don't want to do a Wikipedia doc, a wiki doc, where it's just like, they were born. They did this they did that there's a difference between emotion, right, which is what I'm after, and information, which is what you can google right. And so I I'm really, really had to play emotionally. I think it does play. I don't know, I let you leave if you agreed, had agreed.

Alex Ferrari 33:11
I teared up a few times. Yeah.

Sean Mullin 33:13
Yeah. So in if it doesn't have those emotional, that emotional component to it, I'm not interested in directing it. So I was very upfront with that from day one. So it was like how are we going to tell the story in a way that is going to really get to the heart of audiences and so but at the same time without, you know, without it being, you know, just too much of a like it's like a puff piece.

Alex Ferrari 33:37
Yeah, absolutely right. Because some documentaries are just very informative. Just a second Wikipedia style erotic that we can dock with the concept.

Sean Mullin 33:45
Yeah, I just I'm working on two docks right now two other docks and and yeah, that's just my that's my number one thing is what can what can we offer people that is actually truly cinematic that is actually going to engage them in a way emotionally, you know, in lives right here instead of living up here, you know?

Alex Ferrari 34:00
Yeah. And then the whole new Yogi Berra knew that whole backstory, but I didn't know how deep it went. Why he was called yogi. I always wondered why he was called like, that's obviously not his Italian name. Right, right. Yeah. There was no there was one piece in the in the documentary that blew my mind. I just could not believe that to happen. Because he's, I think he was the first he caught the first no hitter in the

Sean Mullin 34:26
game. He got the Yeah, he got Yeah, he called he called all 97 pitches. So like, you know, so Larson was just like, locked in like, tell me Yogi what to do.

Alex Ferrari 34:35
And he never he never called me never didn't check them off.

Sean Mullin 34:38
They didn't check them off once in 97 pitches.

Alex Ferrari 34:40
So he got so then and then. Yeah, later, decades later, he makes up it's Yogi Berra day.

Sean Mullin 34:48
Well, you can't Yeah. You can't. Well, it's that, you know, it's the type thing in a documentary too. I'm always looking at where if I were to script it, it would the producers would throw it out. They said is ridiculous. And that's when you know, I think you've got a doc that really works is when there's a moment that is so unbelievable that you couldn't have scripted it. And that definitely that moment, you know, had that, you know, and it's also a great example of that information has been out there forever. Like, you could have read that on Wikipedia, and you can read it and but it's in books, it's a fact that he was part of these two, you know, these two perfect games. But but until you see it until you are involved in two, you're experiencing it through everything he had gone through, that's the difference between again, you know, kind of, you know, a cinema treatment and just a, you know, just a little wiki doc thing.

Alex Ferrari 35:35
Now, on a business standpoint, when you know, because I've studied docs for you know, most of my career, I'm a big fan of docs. But on a business standpoint, it's I always find it so interesting when filmmakers work on Docs to have a built in audience. So especially when it's a larger than life figure like yogi, how hard was it to get the financing to put this whole thing together all that because people think, Oh, you're making a Yogi Berra Doc, I mean, the money must have just been rolling it.

Sean Mullin 36:09
Listen, that's a whole nother. I mean, you know, I was extremely, extremely fortunate that from day one, Peter and Mike Sobel off, who were the first to, they're the ones who put the whole kind of project together at the very beginning and called me and asked me to direct they went out and raise the budget themselves. I mean, the two of them, you know, they and I mean, I couldn't have been more fortunate to work with, you know, to more supportive, you know, you know, just bold, you know, producers and the first thing that they did, they went out and, you know, they were out while they were out raising the money, I went and I turned right back to vanishing angle, Matt Miller and Natalie Mesker. Again, who produced my my first feature mirror and Sam, you know, years ago, and I said, Hey, would you guys want to team up with the cellblocks has to be a good team, they can kind of go out, raise the money and leave that front. You guys can handle the production side of it. And then I got my old editor, Julian Robinson, from Amira and Sam has incredible editor. The film is very well edited. And all the archival he had to he had to dig through and all this stuff. So I got Danny, my old cinematographer who kind of put the band back together and made it happen. But as far as raising the money, fortunately, you know, Peter has really good ties to a lot of folks who are huge Yankee fans, and he's a big finance guy in New York. So he was able to, you know, him and Mike were able to to make it happen somehow.

Alex Ferrari 37:27
Right. Exactly. Because I mean, yeah, if you tap into there's a certain pool in New York.

Sean Mullin 37:32
Yeah, absolutely. No, it was nice. Well, the craziest thing, the craziest thing is over the course, over the course of making this documentary, Peter and Mike have gotten involved in are now minority owners in the Yankees, actually. So they actually own a piece of the Yankees two, which is, which is totally totally aside from the doc just happened. So. So that's pretty cool. Yeah, they're great. They're a great team.

Alex Ferrari 37:53
Yeah. So and then you've gotten to Tribeca, obviously. So what was it like getting that call, man?

Sean Mullin 37:59
It was wonderful. It felt like the right place. You know, it just felt like this is where we this is, this is where we wanted to premiere the film. So we knew it. We knew it. We were hoping, and they called us right away. And they called us super early back in like November, like I think November, you know, way, way early. And wow, that's really I mean, yeah, before they even closed, you know, before they even close submissions, and they're like, hey, we want this we want this and we got excited. And then we were able to get an incredible incredible you know, if you know the indie film business, you know, you need a great sales agent. And so we you know, we started at the top and we took a stab at John sloths at Cinetic. And, and and he you know, he flipped for it. He's been so caught him and the whole team is Cinetic have been really incredible. So they're selling it so that's great. So yeah, just started putting all the all the all the pieces together.

Alex Ferrari 38:45
Man, I really hope it gets out there. Because, you know, for for any baseball fan out there. I mean, Yo, he's just, I mean, even if you're not a baseball fan, if you're a certain age, you know, Yogi is purely because he did 1000s of commercials. Versus man, it was like even the doc he's like, I don't know, I'm doing some it was Aflac or something like that.

Sean Mullin 39:08
Amtrak Aflac. Didn't know which one it was like, it's one of those. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 39:13
I'm getting a check. It's fine. Yeah, but you seem like such a sweet guy, man. And such an authentic guy. Like it was one of those people that you just, they don't make souls like that anymore. Like, they truly don't.

Sean Mullin 39:23
He just, I mean, this is what I tell people about the film is, it was a real, real honor and pleasure to tell a story about someone who just always did the right thing. He just always did the right thing. He just that was that he just had every turn, whether it was you know, you know, breaking the color barrier and help, you know, help him you know, befriending you know, Jackie Robinson and Larry, Adobe, and all these guys who are coming into the league who, you know, whatever, just a return. It's really the film is really about a life well lift. And it's a broader, you know, we you know, one of the kinds of templated films we looked at when we were looking at these docks was the the Mr. Rogers stuff luck, you know, had come out. One of the things that and that was one of the films that's that actually sparked the Sobel off to call me today because actually I got the call from them in July of 18. So it was the summer that moved. So this this projects been going on for years. You know, and I got the call in July of 18. And they had just seen that dock and they were like, we need to do something kind of in that vein for yogi. And so, yeah, just a real. I mean, I was extremely honored. And, you know, and just the fact that, you know, Lindsey is happy with the great granddaughter, she's incredible. She narrates the film, and, and I'm just excited for the rest of the bear the biggest audience to have seen the film so far has four people. And we're premiering in 1000 seat theater next Saturday, so it's gonna be it's gonna be something

Alex Ferrari 40:41
Now, really important question is, though, did was Jackie safe?

Sean Mullin 40:47
You know, what's the craziest thing? I mean? You can you know? Yeah. Did you like that little piece in the film that back and forth

Alex Ferrari 40:53
Oh, fun. It was, as I'm talking about Jackie Robinson, there's a very famous play at a play at home plate where Yogi thinks he got him. But Jackie was ruled safe. Jackie, great Jackie Robinson and to his grave.

Sean Mullin 41:08
Oh, is he right?

Alex Ferrari 41:10
You know, he was. Even when you sell frame by frame, I was watching it. I'm like, What do you think I first saw it. When I first saw it. I'm like, Nah, he's he got him out. There was like that one sequence from the other angle. And I'm like,

Sean Mullin 41:25
That's what's really great about it. So from the front angle, he looks out and then but from the reverse angle, he definitely looks safe. So but he I mean, it's the safe route. It's great. I mean, what it's what's great about baseball too, right? Is that, yeah, that was game one of the 55 series. And it was a really big deal. And, you know, he was at his height. And Jackie was, you know, these were these were characters who were larger than life, you know, and to have that massive play at home plate, but in the steal of home and who steals home anymore. So it was just, it was a real, it was yeah, it was really great. But now if you look at that's the great thing about if you look at it from one angle, he looks clear, clearly out and another angle, you know, he looks safe. So what's great,

Alex Ferrari 42:01
Now I'm gonna ask you a couple questions. Ask all my guests are sure. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Sean Mullin 42:10
What advice, um, you know, that's, you know, start making films, no matter how big or small just start start shooting, start learning learning, learn the craft, understand what a shot means, understand. When you're subjective, it means something when you're objective, it means something, learn how to compress, learn how to elaborate, learn how, learn the fundamentals, you know, just through, you can shoot, you know, one of the one of the classes I teach at AFI and I taught at USC for for a few years before as well. They've got a great program there. And, you know, I, I just would run my students through these, like very basic exercises, like character a wants something from character B, and, you know, create a story, you know, dialogue, and just how do you articulate beats? So just like learning the basics of like, how do shots add up to, you know, an emotional impact, you know, with with an audience and so I would, I would just say, start shooting, you know, on a video game on your phone on whatever, start telling stories, start writing, you know, if you can write, you got a leg up as a director, I'll tell you that if you can write you really do because nobody's, you know, nobody's gonna just give a director a great script. You know, the great scripts are few and far between, as we all know, and so nobody's going to give one to you if you're starting out. So if you can write that's great. If you can't write find a writer, team up with a writer, co write with a writer, you know, adapt a short story, it's amazing how many first features are adaptations of short stories or something that exists. So don't be afraid to grab a piece of material from somewhere else. Tchaikovsky's you know, childhood is one of the great all time great first features and it was an adaptation. So yeah, anyway, it's just that'd be my advice is just to go out and learn. Hone the craft. It's the same thing with acting. And some actors, oh, I want to act like do some theater. Like get learn how to act like learn the craft. And you know, before, you know, you try to make it big, you know? So that that'd be my advice.

Alex Ferrari 44:05
No, and what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn, whether in the film industry or in life?

Sean Mullin 44:11
Well, I'm still I mean, I don't know, man, I'm still learning just from the lessons take me the longest to learn. Gosh, I'd say you know, how important relationships really are relationships and collaborations. I think, you know, I knew it, I knew it, it kind of instinctually but looking back at the past 15 years, you starting to see, you know, people pop up again, again on my projects and just knowing that like it's really building this kind of, again, to use a middle you know, military term, you know, unit you know, this, this this kind of, you know, brigade or whatever you want to call it, of supporters and cultivating support from other filmmakers, but also just, you know, financiers and just champ you know, understanding that it takes a lot of people to believe in you in order to To make it through this and being very respectful of that, anytime anybody does believe in you, I'm really honored that to be grateful for it. And yeah, I think that's, that's the biggest lesson that I've, I've taken away. And three of your favorite films of all time, a Russian film from 1959 called Ballad of a soldier, which I think is probably one of the all time great, great films I recommend. It's also a film a lot a lot of people have seen, so I highly recommend checking that one down if for anyone out there I love the 55 movie. Marty Petrowski is Marty is really high up on my list as well. And then good as I mean, I'm a big welcome to your fans of reprise his first feature. This is one of my favorites, too. So I don't know. I mean, geez, I could I could name I probably about 50 favorite films, you know, but those are three that just popped off my head.

Alex Ferrari 45:49
Sean man, I appreciate you coming on the show. Brother. Congratulations on a great a great film. And I look forward to seeing more stuff from you in the future brother and thank you for bringing Yogi out of the shadows and showing showing who Yogi really is in your film brother, so I appreciate you man. Thanks again.

Sean Mullin 46:04
Yeah, no, thank you for the time. I really appreciate it. Yeah.

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IFH 587: Adventures in Directing My 1st Indie Film with Kyra Sedgwick

Kyra Sedgwick is an award-winning actress, producer and director. She is best known for her Emmy and Golden Globe-winning role as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on the TNT crime drama “The Closer” and most recently starred on the ABC comedy “Call Your Mother.” She recently directed the feature film SPACE ODDITY, which stars Kyle Allen and Alexandra Shipp.

In 2018, Sedgwick received a DGA nomination for her directorial debut with the feature STORY OF A GIRL. She then helmed the short film GIRLS WEEKEND, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. She has directed episodes of “Grace & Frankie,” “City on a Hill”, “Ray Donovan,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (on which she also had a recurring role) and many others.

Her film roles include THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, THE POSSESSION, THE GAME PLAN, SECONDHAND LIONS, WHAT’S COOKING, PHENOMENON, HEART AND SOULS, SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and SINGLES.

Planets and lives collide in this Kyra Sedgwick-directed feature. Alex (Kyle Allen) longs to travel to outer space and finally gets the opportunity to do so thanks to a privately-funded Mars colonization program. In the midst of his rigorous preparation, he meets Daisy (Alexandra Shipp), the new girl in town who’s trying to start over. The two wayward souls connect in unexpected ways, both of them harboring secrets that they’re desperately trying to overcome. However, when questions about the legitimacy of the program and the future of his parents’ flower farm begin to crop up, Alex finds himself questioning whether it’s easier to confront his past or fly away into the stars.

In a time where nihilism about the Earth’s future is rampant, it can be difficult to find optimism about what comes next. However, Space Oddity is a heartwarming film that encourages living life to the fullest with those you love the most

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Kyra Sedgwick 0:00
The difference between a director who has really prepared and really has a point of view and really has a vision, and also can communicate it. That's an awful lot to ask.

Alex Ferrari 0:10
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created Enigma Elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like BH s, and CRT images, smoke fog, textures, DaVinci Resolve presets, and much more. After working as an editor colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, check out enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's enigmaelements.com. Well guys, today we are starting our coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival and our first guest is amazing. We have the legendary Kyra Sedgwick, who you might know from the television show The closer and starring in phenomenon with John Travolta and many, many, many other films and television shows over the years. Now in this episode, we sit down and talk about how Kyra was able to jump from from front of the camera to behind the camera as a producer, director, and we talk about her adventures trying to make her new independent film Space Oddity. So let's dive in. I'd like to welcome to the show Kyra Sedgwick how you doing Kyra?

Kyra Sedgwick 1:43
I'm great. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to talk to you.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I've been a fan of yours since my days of the video store where I was where I was moving pirates around.

Kyra Sedgwick 1:58
Yes, pirates was amazing.

Alex Ferrari 2:05
So you've had an amazing career, and you've worked with some remarkable people. But before we get into all of that, and especially your new film, which I got a chance to see which I loved Space Odyssey up Space Oddity. How did you get started? And why did you want to get started in this insane business?

Kyra Sedgwick 2:23
Oh, as an actor? Yes. Yeah, you know what I fell in love at 12. I did a play in eighth grade. Fiddler on the Roof. And I played sidle, and matchmaker much less. I mean, forget it. I was that was it. I mean, truly, like, I was not a happy kid, I had a very challenging childhood and home life. And that was like, swish. I mean, that was it. Like I knew this was where I felt I didn't even have the words for it at the time. But I remember saying, I feel like my soul has left my body and it's dancing around the stage. And then like, to this day, I feel like that is such a great, that's such a great explanation of the way that I description of the way that I felt and how it's so interesting to think that as it as I kept acting, you know, forever, and it became a vocation, and it became something I have to be good at. And then after success, and I was supposed to be good. And then I was supposed to be better. And then and then that it sort of lost that initial, like love story that brought me in it in the beginning. And then subsequently, like, falling in love with directing in that same way. It's like, oh my god, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Like, this is what I've been supposed to be, you know, I've been training for since I was 16, you know, because I started working professionally when I was 16. So I knew I wanted to be an actor. 12 I worked really hard up until 16. And then I, you know, got my first gig and that was really it.

Alex Ferrari 4:02
Now what was it like your first day walking on the set of your first professional? I'm gonna get paid to act day.

Kyra Sedgwick 4:09
Oh, on the day that I was gonna get paid to act. I'm good God, you know, I had like, that stupid beginner's like, ego about it. Like, I mean, I knew, I knew, like, it's very clear that being an actor, because I was trained well is a service position. Because it really is, you know, I mean, it may later become something else when you become more powerful and have actually people actually care about what you think. But initially, like you're there to serve, you know, you're there, serve the writer most of all, and then serve the director. And so I think I felt incredibly stoked, but I also felt like, of course, I'm doing this this is what I this is what I'm supposed to be doing. And I really didn't know that at 12. I mean, like, I wasn't going to take no for an answer. Although I guess I think I thought If I if I try this for six years try to get a job for six years and it doesn't pan out. I'm gonna have to do something else, but I was gonna give it a good six years,

Alex Ferrari 5:08
Six years that's not a bad amount of time. Some people get the Hollywood I'm gonna give it a good year. I'm like, man, yeah, no, no, no. It's gonna take a little longer than that. Now was one of my favorite films of yours. You have so many that I've loved of yours from singles and so many others. But phenomenon. Absolutely. I mean, when you were on that set, and you were working with John Travolta and there's a magic about that movie, and you're in your performance opposite of John was so riveting you balanced his performance as a character. So well. What did what was it like on set when you when you were when you when you read that story for the first time?

Kyra Sedgwick 5:48
Yeah, I really liked the story. It was funny. I remember I really liked the story. And I also got offered simultaneously like a big horror movie. I can't tell you what it was. So I don't remember. But I remember John turtle Taub you know, being like, but I want you to be in my movie. And, and, you know, and I mean, I love the movie, and I loved the part. You know, the other one was sort of my movie, albeit it was a horror movie. But you know, of course, I was going to do phenomenon. You know, I knew it was something special. When I when I went to meet with John Travolta for the first time and he's just heart is just so big, like, his heart is so big. I know, you know, maybe you don't know him or people don't know that about him. But it's like, he's so and he's so porous. And he's so vulnerable. And like, his strength isn't his vulnerability, I there was just something and he was so in love with this story. And so, so attached, so committed to making it, you know, real and, and having it you know, have so much integrity has so much integrity and and it's about this sort of fantastical thing that happens. But he was so committed to making it, making it grounded. Also, John turtle Tao is like the one of the funniest people on the planet. And he also has a big heart and loves really big. And so I just thought I felt like I'd really be taken care of. And I also felt the story would be taken care of. And I loved it. I absolutely loved working on that piece. And my daughter was two at the time. And my Kevin had Travis and I had sosi. And she would come to the satellite, John Travolta was so in love with her. I don't know, it was just like a very loving place and a family. Yeah, it really was. And that doesn't always happen. Especially not with a monumental star like that. I mean, that was insane. But also, we all really were committed. We knew we had something special and we wanted to like, you know, we wanted to make it great. And he did. They did we did.

Alex Ferrari 7:55
There was a phenomenal No pun intended. Wonderful, really, really fun movie now after working on on set for so many years and during your career. What made you say, you know, I think I think I want to get behind the camera. I want to get behind the lens.

Kyra Sedgwick 8:14
Yeah. Well, you know, it's funny, I, I, I've always, I always have an opinion. So I think that you know, it really it was my husband's my beloved husband, who was like, you know, honey, you really should think about directing, you really should think about directing. And I was always like, you know, I was terrified of the concept because I thought I wouldn't be you know, I'd work with great, great directors, and then I'd work with not great directors who will never be great, you know what I mean? And it's very clear, you know, the vast cavernous, you know, difference between the two, two things, you know, and, and so I was afraid I was going to be, you know, the ladder and and I didn't want that crushing blow to my ego, frankly, and, and I so I and I also I didn't see it a lot, you know, I mean, here's the truth of it, right is like as a woman started in, you know, acting professionally 1984 81 1981 Like, I didn't see a lot of women, right? People with a vagina directing, you know, and it was like, when you don't see it, you don't know that you can dream it or be it right. So, but having said that, it was my husband who was like, you know, kind of boosting me along and then you know, I had I had been producing since I was 27. I did my first movie, you know, in 2010 when I was 27, but I produced and we got Helen Mirren and I was in it and Sandra Bullock was in an in Marisa toma It was amazing. And it was Oh no, that was Loverboy that was my second thing. My first thing was losing chase with Helen. And in any case, so I had like balls around that like I had chutzpah about, you know I'm going to produce because I know this is a good script, and I know actors are gonna like it. And I think I'll get a good director. But, you know, a directing just seems so terrifying to me and so much responsibility. But then I had this book that I had bought in 2007, called story of a girl. And we had hired a female writer director to write the script. And we tried to get it made for like, 10 years. And you know, to quote Glenn Close, I wonder why it didn't get made. Maybe it be, because it has girl in the title. But you know, it took a really long time to get it Raven was finally time to get it made, I actually walked into lifetime to talk to them about something else. And you know, they said, you have a passion project. And I was like, Yeah, I have a passion project called story of a girl and I want to direct it. And then I was like, Who says?

I mean, literally, I was like, say, what did that just come out of my mouth. And then they read it. And like, the next day, we're like, we absolutely love this, and we'll make it for a little bit of money, not a lot of money. And I was like, I'm up for that. So, you know, it was beyond my wildest dreams. You know, I I, like I said, I felt like I was in my element. I didn't know until the first day of directing have actually being on set that I was in my element prep was terrifying for me, even though I had been in my head really prepping for this movie for 10 years. I was terrified, rightly so I think, like, Can I do it? You know, I got my husband, they're going, of course, you can do it. I got these actors were looking at me like, of course, I think you can do it, can you but I you know. And then literally the first take of the first rehearsal of the first scene, the first blocking the first thing and I was like, I got this, you know, and it was this very, like, you know, not, you know, just this ease. And this flow, I felt very in the flow, it felt very easy. You know, subsequently, I think it's become harder as again, like that sort of that little girl who's like, My soul is, you know, dancing around. It's like, after a while your ego does come in and start going, like, I don't really know what you're doing. And I know I'm doing and starts to doubt you and compare and despair and all that stuff. But like in that, that that show, I was like, I've got this. And then we were like, I mean, I can remember one day we showed up on set. There was one day that we had all outside stuff on location, and it couldn't rain. And of course, it was Vancouver, and it was pouring. And I remember everyone was freaking out. And I was like, it's going to be fine. It's going to be fine. I don't know where I got that kind of, like trust and confidence and faith that like no matter what we're gonna figure something out. It was amazing. It was an amazing day, we did figure a lot of stuff out. But but the thing is, is that being so much having, you know, I mean, I've spent so many times on set so much time on set, I know what it's like when it feels like a director has the reins and when they don't, and how awful and scary it feels like when you they don't have the reins and they don't have control. And so that was something that I wanted to emulate, but it came pretty easily for me. And also, I had been prepping this movie in my head for 10 years and had been prepping it on location for you know, six weeks. So anyway, I don't know if I even don't know

Alex Ferrari 13:21
You answered you answered the question. And I love the imposter syndrome that came in because of course every every everybody has it. And I always like bringing that up on the show because a lot of young filmmakers and young screenwriters, even young actors are listening. They think that you know, you're you've made it a certain point, you don't have that anymore. Henry Fonda was throwing up right before he went on stage every night. Yeah. And he said he was Henry Fonda. So you said you said that you've worked with great directors and you know what great directors are and you've worked with not so great directors and and you know, what is the difference from an actor's perspective?

Kyra Sedgwick 13:53
Oh, boy, that that's really hard. Because because the director can come over and give you a good note and still like, the it doesn't come together? Well, it doesn't cut together.

Alex Ferrari 14:03
Well, you know, because there could be there could be a performance director who doesn't understand the craft of telling a visual story, or visuals was all visuals. And you're just movable props at that point.

Kyra Sedgwick 14:15
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I don't I think it's really, but But I can tell you the difference between a director who has really prepared and really has a point of view and really has a vision, and also can communicate it that's an awful lot to ask and one, but it feels so good, then we're all like making the same movie. And we're all you know, again in the flow and in the you know, serving the peace as a whole that has a very strong idea and a very strong vision. Like to me that's a good director.

Alex Ferrari 14:50
Now, what is some of the biggest lessons you took away from working with some of the legendary directors have you worked with over the years?

Kyra Sedgwick 14:57
Oh, you know, is that everybody does it Finally, it's very, it's really interesting, you know, on, some people are, you know, super, super hyper focused on detail. And some people are like, just do it again, just do it again. And you know, like Kelly Fremont, Craig on edge of 17 just to pick someone really recent and some a female, like, was very specific, very, very, very specific. Whereas, like, Oliver Stone was like, do it again, or James ivory, you know, it was like, it was already painted the painting, the movie was painted. You were just the brushstrokes, and he was the hand doing the brushstrokes. So it's like, if you had no, it was so interesting, because he you know, he had it so much in his head that like, no matter what you brought to the table, he would always direct you back into that, that version that he had in his head, you know, it's so it was so and I remember looking at at Richard, what God death rate actor, I'm forgetting his name. It wasn't. It wasn't Paul Newman, obviously. And just going like, is it just me or is he already painted the picture? And the guys already painted the picture? Robert, Sean Leonard, he's already painted the picture. And I was like, So what are we even doing here? He's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 16:16
You know, it's really interesting, because I understand what you mean by that, because his movies are so crafted. And they were like, move, they were literally moving works of art. Like, it looks like you could hang a frame every frame, you could hang somewhere in a museum. But I never, I was always wondering about how he worked with actors. Because, you know, some actors like I've had Oliver on the show. And he's an Oliver's. He's Oliver. He's Oliver. And I, and he seems to like just do it again, kind of like any flows with it. But when you when you have a director that flows with it like that, there's such confidence, and they just understand the craft so much, that they're not afraid of what you might bring, that might be different. And I'm not saying that James is like that, but James just had, it seemed that he just had such a clear idea that anything that varied out of that box, he just like, No, this is what I'm doing. And you're just a paintbrush. It's fascinating to me as an actor, that must have been extremely frustrating, because you'd like to bring obviously, you bring something to the table, right?

Kyra Sedgwick 17:18
It wasn't that I saw the movie, and it was so fucking amazing that I know nothing, but that he cast really well. Like he knew he I mean, you know, and I was just listening to Paul, Thomas Anderson talking about casting really well, you know, and it's like, you cast really well, you really have to trust your actors to bring to bring something special. And, you know, and I don't know, you know, I can, I can really see it from both sides. Again, being an actor, I can totally see it from both sides. Because it's like, on the one hand, you know, he cast the perfect people. But he also like, kept them in a in a very strange, very like, like, tight little box. But then someone like Paul Thomas Anderson, like cast really well. And then just goes like, do it again, and try it again and try something different. It really, I think it also it's so much depends upon how much time you have. It's like, you can go like, let's do it again. I don't think I have it yet. But like, let's do it again, I won't get any direction. But if you only have like, four takes that, you know, until you have to move on. Like you have to know people more, you know, and it might make people feel more uptight. But the truth is like, then you hope the director has a plan of like, I know, I got this piece and this scene, this piece, you know, this piece in this beginning of the scene, I just need the middle and now I got the end, let's just do that little, you know,

Alex Ferrari 18:40
Or you could or you could do the Kubrick and just shoot. But he but he also a lot of people don't understand that Kubrick shot with like, you know, 13 crew members. So he had days and days, weeks and months and Eyes Wide Shut. How long do you have like almost a year? That's the longest, longest shooting movie in history? I think it was a quarter because he just locked up Tom Cruise and the cocaine and

Kyra Sedgwick 19:07
I know, it's so funny. It's like I was thinking, you know, I made my movie in 21 days. And, and, you know, I and I heard Paul Thomas Anderson, who I think like made one of the greatest moves. I mean, he's beyond, you know, buddy, but and I was so in love with licorice Risa, and he was like, I have 65 days to shoot and I was like, 65 Anyone can make a good movie and 60 I actually heard myself saying that. I can't believe I said it. But no. Anyway, but it's true. It's like I think it's more fun to the actress when you have more time you can be more Lucy. I think it is more fun for the actors.

Alex Ferrari 19:45
Know how do you approach directing actors as being one for so long?

Kyra Sedgwick 19:49
Yeah. Hmm. How do I you know, everyone's different. I think first of all, you know, making actors are holding a space that feels safe. for them is so key like, and that starts from, like, the first conversation you have with them of like, you know, what do you need, like, what can I do, but also just just making a safe place because actors there's, we are so vulnerable, it is so terrifying, you know, having a giant piece of machinery looking at you. I mean, I don't know, I just think that every actor is, you know, ripping themselves open and like, you know, leaving a piece of their soul on the on the floor for you. So like, you better honor what that is. And I feel like I know that intrinsically. That's not something I had to learn. That's something that I, you know, really, really deeply understand. So I think that's, like, first and foremost, super important because people, I think that they'll feel more people give you better if they feel safe. And and, and I think that, you know, I, I've worked with a lot of green actors in my time. And I think that it's about specificity. And, you know, using all the tools in your toolbox as director, and you know, and trying not to, you know, to give on actionable notes, you know, like, just be faster, just be funnier, you know, that kind of shit is like not I mean, I, I really try not to do that, unless an actor's just like, You mean faster, right? And I'm like, yeah, actually,

Alex Ferrari 21:28
That's what I meant faster, more intense.

Kyra Sedgwick 21:30
Do like pace or whatever. But like, people need different things. Some people like, you know, we're gonna nail it on the first or second take, like Kevin's gonna nail on the first or second take, it's not going to be a warm up, we better be ready, you know, whereas some of the younger actors, it's like, they need you to warm up. And some of them needed a warm up in the beginning of the movie, but not towards the end of the movie. Towards the end of the shoot, like I've been in a great I've been, I've had like a front row seat to see actors grow within a movie. Like it's incredible. You know, and then, so everyone needs something different. Some people and sometimes, you know, you need to be pushed and pushed, just do it again, do it again. And then they start like questioning themselves to death. And it's like, no more questions, you've got to trust me, like, go again, just do it again. You just started watching yourself, because a lot of time the actors are watching themselves. And it's like, I'm watching you. Try not to watch yourself, like, keep going.

Alex Ferrari 22:23
So when actors are in the scene, I when I've worked with actors before, sometimes they get into their own head. And then once they're in their own head, they're out of the moment, and they're thinking about their acting. And then now that's a bad performance. You're not, you're not reacting, you're not in the moment. What do you do to knock them out of that? Because it happens all the times,

Kyra Sedgwick 22:42
I slapped them really hard across the face.

Alex Ferrari 22:44
No, not so much. In these days, seven days, you might have gotten away with that not so much now,

Kyra Sedgwick 22:48
Honestly, you know, I, you know, I think honestly, sometimes you take them aside and like, hey, you know, what do you need or and be like that loving, like mama bear. And sometimes it's like, stop doing that, you know, and you've got to trust me Stop it. Like, you know, I think one of Alex's, you know, one of Kyle's greatest performances was when he was feeling the most self loathing and like, I could see it in him, you know, because I know that feeling like, I suck so bad. And it's like, you know, I just made him do it again, and again, and again. And it's like, it's some of the stuff that we use the most in the movie. And it's, it's the most vulnerable and, and, you know, I just, I just tried to, like, not give him time to be in his head, because we didn't have the time. So in a way, that was a gift, right? Like, I can't, we all can't indulge this, like, I'm not going to let you indulge it because I don't think it's good for you. But we all can't indulge this. So let's just keep going. And again, again, again, and I don't, he never, he never told me he hated me for it. But really, truly, it's the it's the stuff that's like interstitially in the movie. It's the stuff when he's looking in the mirror, and we use it over and over and over again, in the movie, because because it helped it did something for us that we didn't even know we needed. Moments where we were just quiet and landing with Alex and seeing him make a decision to do something different. But for those of us who haven't seen the movie won't mean anything but but but the point being that, you know, when he was at least trusting, and I think that's also the thing that I can speak to as an actor and tell actors, sometimes when it feels the worst, it's the best. And we don't know as actors, we think we know. It wasn't good. I always know but we really don't. We really don't. And I can reflect that back to them. You know, it was good for you doesn't mean it was good for the audience. Just because you really cried doesn't mean that you made the audience cry.

Alex Ferrari 25:15
It's interesting because when you start listening to stories of like David Fincher or Stanley Kubrick where he just they do 70 80 90

Kyra Sedgwick 25:22
Yeah, not that I don't think I'll ever be that person even if it had time.

Alex Ferrari 25:26
Right, exactly. But I understand I kind of understand the mentality behind it, because you're breaking down the actors mind to the point where they can't think anymore because they've done it so much. And they just, that's where the magic happens in their, their process. Yeah. But I believe if you hire good actor, they should get there faster.

Kyra Sedgwick 25:44
Exactly. You know, so funny, because I worked with Cameron Crowe, obviously, yeah, like him. And dude, that guy did like 45 tapes of everything. And every single actor at one point, you know, looked at themselves and went, I must be the worst actor on the planet. And it was so funny, because we all felt like, I talked to Bridget Fonda. And I was like, I know, he probably doesn't do it to you. But he makes me do like 40 takes, like, Are you kidding? He always makes you do 40 takes, but she didn't have that, like, self loathing that I was born with. So, you know, so she didn't take it so personally. But you know, it's so funny because he would come the next day. I remember this vividly. I don't know if you remember the movie, but there's her first scene. I think it's the beginning of the movie. And she's doing the garage door clicker. And he has a little like for like a couple of paragraphs. And then she clicks the garage. He honestly 38 takes and the other thing is that as I'm doing more and more takes, I can feel Cameron spiraling too and being scared that it's terrible, you know, so like, I didn't think it wasn't just me making that up. Like he actually and then he would come back the next day and go dude, do had it on like, the third day.

Alex Ferrari 26:59
But that was like a second movie. That was like a second off.

Kyra Sedgwick 27:01
But then the next day, I'd be like, okay, cool. So he's not gonna make us do so many tastes. Same thing. And then he'd be like, dude, dude, or thick, Jack and Jake. Oh, it's just like, oh, and then it never changed. So I just think that's him, you know, but and he's a great, amazing director. His movies are incredible.

Alex Ferrari 27:19
And that was during the film where that cost every single time it wasn't hard.

Kyra Sedgwick 27:26
Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

Alex Ferrari 27:28
Yeah, I mean, I mean, I remember that very, because again, that's the the, the time of my video store days, like 87 to 90 to 93 hours in the video working, administer. So singles, save, say anything pirates. All that time was during those I'm deadly interested in Trivial Pursuit in that time period.

Kyra Sedgwick 27:51
Awesome.

Alex Ferrari 27:54
So I wanted to ask you to as an actor, what is the biggest misconception that people have about the process because actors from from the outside, you know, especially young directors, it looks like a, an alien. You know, like how you work on the process. And every actor is different, every method and all that stuff. But generally speaking, what do you think is the biggest misconception that directors or just people in general have about the process of being an actor?

Kyra Sedgwick 28:18
And so that's a really good question. I mean, off the top of my head, that it's easy, that people think it's easy.

Alex Ferrari 28:26
Just do it. This is he moved the light. Why can't you just hit the mark and do it?

Kyra Sedgwick 28:30
Yeah, I mean, my, my brother in law's is an eye surgeon. And he's like, what you do is so hard. Are you freaking kidding me and bless his heart. Like he does, you know, big work, and it's amazing. And it's incredible. If I stuck a camera in front of him, he would be like, he would understand very quickly how hard it is, you know, so I think that it's hard is is a misconception. I think that a lot of people and also understandably, it's like, you know, you know, actors are sort of treated like gods sometimes eventually. And that's like really, you're not curing cancer. And it's really hard. You know, so I think that that's one of the things and again, I just keep coming back to this concept of like, it's really vulnerable. It's really it is so vulnerable, it's like most of us walk around with like, we've got a shield on all the time. I mean, you know, one way or the other, it's like there's a front there's a there's there's something going on that like makes me safe in the world. And and you're taught you're really stripping that away. Ultimately, I think when you're in front of a camera for me or in front of an audience,

Alex Ferrari 29:41
But if you only feel comfortable, because if you don't feel comfortable from what I from my experience when you're when you're an actor and you don't feel comfortable, you'll protect yourself and that's when problems occur. On on set. So that's what happens. So when you that's why safe space is so so important for our director to come to come in and out as as I see He's an actor like yourself, you can pretty much smell it on day one. How long does it take you before? You know? Oh, God, this this character has no idea what they're doing. What did I sign up for? I'm gonna have to I'm gonna have to carry this myself. Okay.

Kyra Sedgwick 30:13
Yeah. Oh, yeah, I think you know, really early on Yeah, for sure, especially at this age,

Alex Ferrari 30:20
I mean, God, you know, they want to go.

Kyra Sedgwick 30:23
Yeah. But I also give people a lot of room, you know, I mean, you know, I'm like, okay, you know, this is a new set, like, everyone's getting their sea legs, especially on a movie, like on a TV show, it's a little bit different, because three quarters of the people already hired and we're doing all the work all over the, you know, at the same time, but like, a movie or the beginning of a series or something like that everyone is figuring it out and figuring out the flow. And crews are on unmerged. And, you know, and so I think that, you know, that is, uh, you know, I definitely try to give people the benefit of the doubt for a while, you know, I may have a spidey sense, you know, quickly and go like, Oh, that's a little red flag, but that's okay, I can tuck that into the back of my head for, you know, a minute a minute, you know, and then and then if days go by, and it's just like, it's just a clusterfuck, then it's just a clusterfuck. And, you know, and you're like, Okay, I just have to protect me, you know, in my performance as much as possible.

Alex Ferrari 31:24
Yeah. And I've seen that happen with and you can kind of see when when you see a movie and you see a performances come out, and you're like, wow, she's always good, so good and bad, or he's always so good. What happened here? And then you hear the stories of behind the scenes, you're like, oh, they were just protecting themselves. They were just trying to survive the shoot as such.

Kyra Sedgwick 31:41
Yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 31:43
Now, is there something that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career about like, hey, you know, can I offer this or? This is not the way it is?

Kyra Sedgwick 31:54
I don't know. You know, I was born and raised in New York. So I had a lot of streets.

Alex Ferrari 31:58
I could tell, I could tell.

Kyra Sedgwick 32:01
You know, I had two older brothers, so I wasn't going to take a whole lot of shit. Like, I'd take some you know, but like, I remember, you were prepped, ya know, like, I remember auditioning for Adrian Lyon, for line for Flashdance, believe it or not, yeah. And I and I had to, you know, I go in there, and I started the scene, and the phone rang, and he went to go pick it up. And I was like, You're not going to pick that up, are you? And I literally was, like, you know, a baby actor, you know, I was like, I don't know, 17 or something like that. And I was like, You're not gonna pick that up? And he looked at me like, wow, like he couldn't believe, you know, that I have, you know, just like, I think that, um, I think that, I think that you have value, I think telling, you know, telling an actor, you know, it's interesting, because I think that on the one hand, you want to say to young actors, like you have value, your opinion matters. But I also think it's so important that our actors know, and I somehow knew this intrinsically, that you are there to be of service, you know, you really are there, you know, I studied with, with teachers who were like, the plays the thing, you know, they mean, like, you're not the thing, the play is the thing. So I think that that's important for actors to know, and you have value, right? Like both of those things at the same time.

Alex Ferrari 33:23
It's so interesting, because you seem, we're, as we're talking, you've obviously had a fantastic career thus far. You haven't it doesn't seem from the outside, that you fall into any of these traps, these ego traps that you actually mentioned, like, oh, this or that, or you become or people think you're a god, and how did you avoid that? Is it just your upbringing in your being a New Yorker, because I'm an east coaster, as well. So I feel you, we could smell our own. So what is it about that, that, that you didn't fall into those traps? And also, your husband to Kevin didn't seem to fall into him either.

Kyra Sedgwick 33:58
You know, I think that, um, you know, I think in some ways, we have always been and always, you know, valued being a workhorse actor, and not like a star. You know, what I mean? I think that we, you know, I think that there's part of me that wished it had been easier for me, I know that one would look at me on the outside and go, God, you've had such a great career, but like, it's been hard, like many times hard and like many years, you know, not working, sometimes between jobs, like two years, three years. So like, I think that while I would have liked a softer, easier way, in a way I feel like because it's been challenging, it has made me respect and value. You know, being a workhorse actor, that's like somebody who never had it too easy. I also will say that like I feel like I'm For whatever reason, I'm like a good citizen. And I feel like it's important to be a good citizen in the world and to be a good citizen on a set and to like, treat people well and treat people the way you want to be treated. And like that kind of diva mentality or thinking that you're better than anybody else. Anybody, including the freakin, you know, crafty man, if you think you're better than them than like your, I just, I just think that that'll end up biting you in the ass, you know, and I and it's certainly not fun to be around. And it also there's humility to being an actor, you have to be willing and open to learning about human beings. And I think that if you think you're somehow better than any human being, then you're not going to be you don't you don't have that humility to observe and to, and to become that person and to represent that person on screen. Does that make sense?

Alex Ferrari 35:57
It makes it makes all the sense in the world. And your what you're saying is the what everyone should strive for. Not everyone gets there, but everyone should strive for that, just that I'm here, I'm here for the for the work. I'm here. I'm glad to be working. I had the pleasure of working with Robert forester years ago. And and not to drop a name. But the reason I'm bringing my friend, the reason. The reason I'm the reason I'm bringing it up is that when I spoke to him after we work together, he said, actors need to remember that there's this many actors in this many jobs, right? And you should be lucky, if you're working to get up and be appreciative and grateful that you get to do what you love to do. And that's what a lot of actors don't understand. And I was like, wow, it was just such a, he was like a sage. And when I when I worked with him was like a sage working. Talking to me about acting, I was just like, ah, and also by the way, when he walked on set, he was prepared in a way that he was so prepared in a way that I wasn't used to work because actors I've worked with the good actors and everything but such an I was like, Oh, my God, he's he's walking in like, I'm putting Tarantino This is amazing. So it's so wonderful when you get to work with really great actors, because then you understand what really great actor can do and bring to your project. Where like you're saying green actors. They haven't gotten there yet. It takes them a little bit of time to get there. Yeah. Now tell me about space audit. oddity. How did that come to life? By the way, I watched it, I loved it. I thought it was wonderful. What an amazing cast by the way.

Kyra Sedgwick 37:39
Thank you so much. Yeah, yeah, we really, we really got lucky. So Space Oddity is a script that was given to me, I think it was 2017 Maybe even. And I loved it. And, and my company, my company, big swing, we, Valerie Sadler, and I worked with the writer for about a year about a year and a half. And, um, and then, you know, the, the little pandemic happened and so we had to push a year. But we, you know, I love the movie, I thought I had something to say I thought it's everything that I love, you know, it's about this family and, and it's romantic. And it's funny, and it's sad. And it also has like some climate stuff in it, you know, which I think is so critical right now and important for us as artists and storytellers to to talk about. And, you know, we got the money together literally, like we were in prep when the last money came in. I mean, it was not easy. There was nothing easy about this, you know, we had someone cast as Alex he fell out like three weeks before we were sparked start supposed to start prep, and then the great gift of Kyle Allen who's like, going to be a huge star, you know, came into our lives. And we had Madeline Brewer really early on the year before in like 2018 I guess we had her 19 I'm getting my I'm not good with dates. But and a lot of people cast and then, you know, lots of people came in at the last minute. And, um, you know, I was one of those things where, you know, I was bound and we were bound and determined, like you were like, not taking no for an answer. I'm making this movie, like, I will do everything I can to and I become the engine of everything that I do, I find and that's like a gift and a power of mine. But also it's like sort of the only way I know how to do it. Like literally, in the middle of pandemic I was doing a sitcom I was starring in a sitcom that only went one season called Call your mother. And by the way, call your mother. Call your mother always call your mother And, and I was like, I felt so hopeless like helpless like I couldn't like I wasn't doing I was in LA you know, I couldn't do anything here and this was what before we even had our money you know, this was the summer before we ended up shooting it. But I was like, I knew I wanted to shoot in Rhode Island because right before March 5 2019 We went on to scout in Rhode Island, I knew they had a 30% tax incentive and I went on a scout with my producing partner with Valerie and we were like, This is the place I found the town I knew with for Rhode Island was gonna be where I wanted to shoot the town and Tallinn is an important part in character in the movie. And then I was like I have to find a flower farm. We didn't find one on that scout and of course the world shut down. So I was in LA and I started looking up you know, farm flower farms on the computer. Didn't realize that it was the day before Valentine's Day cold called you know, robbing Hollow Farm, which was this, you know, I looked I found their website, I looked at their plate, it looked beautiful. So I cold called them and said Hi my name is Kyra Sedgwick. I'm gonna make a movie in Rhode Island this summer didn't have the money didn't have the all the cat. You know, I was like, but you know, saying all this stuff and, and I really loved the look of your flower farm and any chance you might want to let us shoot on it. She goes and the wife who picks up the phone who on the flower farm with her husband, Mike said, Well, you are calling a flower farm the day before Valentine's Day and then I was like, oh my god, I'm so sorry. Hey, Valentine's Day, I always thought it was like stupid holiday and then they start going to this like thing about Valentine's Day. I was sweating. I was so scared to call but but it was it was like magical. It was so magical. Because literally the next day Mike Hutchinson who owns Robin Harlow got on the phone with me and my production designer, Michael. Michael, we got I'm forgetting his last name, but I'll remember it. And we called him and he was like, I did a show for I did a gardening show with Martha Stewart. And so I know filmmaking we were like, we couldn't believe how lucky we were. And he sent us a whole bunch of pictures of what the place looks like, you know, when it's in full bloom and we were like, oh my god, I can't believe it. And this sucker actually, I mean, this really nice guy wants to let us shoot there. And you know, and you know, we turned we ended up shooting there. So it was like, you know, it was it was amazing. A lot of luck. A lot of perseverance and you know, great people supporting us. I mean, you know, it takes a village it takes more than a village it takes like God it takes a takes a planet

Alex Ferrari 42:37
Miracle it takes a miracle.

Kyra Sedgwick 42:39
It really takes a miracle the the idea that anything ever gets to me. We got turned down by so many financiers Do you have no Michael Michael Fitzgerald I'm so sorry. I had to look that up. Oh, my God, the brilliant the brilliant microfiche show but there was a lot on that far from that is that flower farm I mean, you could spend millions of dollars trying to get that look and there was like when a camera and there was me there was a lot of work that Michael did a lot of work but it was a beautiful place to shoot.

Alex Ferrari 43:08
Now what you've directed a ton of television a ton of television over the years what lessons did you bring from television to your and this is your first feature your direct if I'm not mistaken Correct? Is the what were those lessons because television is a whole different beast. A narrative a feature so what lessons did you bring onto your Indie film?

Kyra Sedgwick 43:30
Well, I mean, I think that you learned so much doing television and different kinds of TV shows like going from like Grayson, Frankie to Ray Donovan and sitting on a hill and then you know, in the dark and I mean, you know, I got to play in everyone else's playground and use everybody else's toys. And you know, I know it's only the beginning and and I have so much more to learn but I knew so much more than I did when I did my first movie. So a lot about how to shoot things about equipment a better coverage right exactly or not coverage on or no I'm kind of fast and loose with the coverage we'll take a talk about that another time. But you know, trusting that you know when you've got it you're moving on like that is something that really came so easily from to me from the beginning but I think it's because of my acting background and knowing like especially all those years on a closure like we have this scene we have this this side anyway or you know, and so that I think is such a huge and also being under the gun timelines is super important being responsible for Budget Day all that stuff? You know, I know that some people never had that problem, you know, but frankly, I love that problem. You know, I mean, I'd love to have more days don't get me wrong universe like many more days and all that but like there's something to momentum on us on a chronic crew, and on a day that serves everybody, you know, a serves cast, it serves crew and it serves, you know, producer, I mean, it just serves the piece. So, so learning how to know when I got it. Also being spending a lot of time, on all the shows I did, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time on location blocking. And being an actor, it's great because I can do all the parts, but also I could bring in pas, and you know, other people to come in and be those actors for me, so I could set shots and stuff like that, like, all that stuff. And also like being open to ideas and knowing when to go like, Okay, no more ideas. Like now it's me in my head. And the other thing I've really learned about myself as director, which I've learned through time, is that I have to hear my own voice first, without hearing other people's input first. So that's why I like to go on the on the onset on location onset. Early on, I did it on everything from the first TV show I did. And usually they'll let you like walk the sets and stuff like that, and, and going on to the set and thinking, okay, oh, this is how the scene should be. This is why it should be, you know, it comes at this time in the show or the or the movie, it should be this kind of thing. I'm cutting from this to this. So I want you know, I want to make sure that that works and spending a lot of time with my own voice so that I can hear the input of other people because it feels good for other people to feel seen and heard. That's also really important. And the other thing I know as an actor, specially on my show, the closer people like to hear you say, thank you so much for moving up, like really appreciate your hustle, you know, when you fix that sound thing for us. Thanks. You know, all that stuff is like so it's so key to you know, just give people their due man and they'll and they will kill and die for you. Am I right? crew that you appreciate them and accurately you appreciate them. They're like, that's it. I'll do anything for you now.

Alex Ferrari 47:08
I mean, because that is feeding them well, and that are feeding them well,

Kyra Sedgwick 47:13
Eating them well. craft service is not above you know,

Alex Ferrari 47:19
No crafty is the craft that could kill you. You put a bunch of sugary, buttery sugary stuff on that table. And it's an 18 hour day about 12 hours in everyone's like sugar high fights breakout. I've seen it happen.

Kyra Sedgwick 47:33
It's, it's

Alex Ferrari 47:35
Now as a director, we all go through that, you know, we all understand that the battle of making your day making, you know, cat making sure your film gets done. Project gets finished on time. But there's always that one day, there's that thing. Camera breaks actor, car car broke down. I'm losing the light. What was that day for you? What was the worst day? And how did you overcome that obstacle as a director?

Kyra Sedgwick 48:03
Shit. I know that we had a bunch of days where we were supposed to shoot something and the lightning would start. Everything would stop for 30 minutes. And we'd had to come back. You know. And I think that I think that the thing to do is to Oh, I remember oh, this was a this was a really good day to talk about because me and the actors weren't gelling. It was like they were mad at me which which foreign actor director is like, what do you mean you don't like reorder? Drive? I mean, seriously, it's so and I remember at first with with an actor and I wish I could say his name. But I'm not going to ungraceful, Frankie, because all the actors were like, We love you care. We love you. And I was like, they all love me because, you know, I'm an actor. And of course they love me. And this one actor was like, I don't love you. I don't love you at all. In fact, I think you're annoying. That was just like, say what broke my heart. And I but you know, I was telling him to do something you didn't want to do or whatever, you know. But that day, not only did that happen, where I felt like I was asking for something. I can be very exacting, like a very exacting director like I because I feel like I really know what I want and if I'm not getting it, and I'm losing the light, I'm sure I know I can get you know, I think I'm covering but I'm not that good an actor sometimes. Hard to believe I know. I'm only kidding. But anyway, so this day, it wasn't a good day anyway, we had so much to do and it was this big emotional is that big emotional scene in the fire for the fireflies where he's like talking about brother and it's like it's such a huge scene. It was such an important scene and it was such a beautiful location and I and I was so it just nothing was happening right you losing light before we could ever make this day. It was an insane day. We never could have made it anyway. But then thank God the heavens opened up and the lightning came and the rain we had to shut down. And I remember going, You know what, every time we hit those moments, it always ended up being a gift in the end. And so I had to start learning to just trust that, even though that was so hard for me, because I really do I like to stick to a plan, you know, but of course, you know, you have to let go of that plan. But, but and also there is, I mean, you always think like, there's no way we're going to be ever be able to come back to this location, and then something happens, you are labeled able to go back like, you know, again, it's like about right sizing things like, you know, it's I know, it feels like a movie, but it is just the movie, like you're gonna figure it out, like, you know, and no one needs to get hit by lightning and like, your knowing needs my bad attitude on that day, or like my forcing a solution when like, there's no solution to be had, the person is just not in the mood to take my direction today. You know what I mean? So it ended up being a blessing.

Alex Ferrari 50:53
But it was hard to go there during it because I mean, as a director, directing this compromise, every day, every every moment, it's it's just compromised constantly.

Kyra Sedgwick 51:03
For David Fincher. I really feel like that never open when you hear him talk, because like, I would never do that. I'm just an asshole. And I know it. Like I'm just really Tony's II so open about it. It's like amazing, and I've never worked them. And we'd love to know, I just said, no, no compromises.

Alex Ferrari 51:23
No, I think it was it was No, I agree with you. 100%. I think David compromises at all. I don't think Nolan compromises. But they're playing in such different sandboxes. I mean, you're talking to me, Kubrick never compromised.

Kyra Sedgwick 51:37
By the way, just three men just want to mention, but anyway, go on.

Alex Ferrari 51:39
Right, right. But they don't generally compromise because they are who they are. And that's the way they but they've built that thing about them that they can do things like that. I promise you that. David did compromise on alien three, his first feature, which he had taken away by by his studio, and then after, oh, yeah, there's a whole long story. I mean, I could go on and on about oh, yeah, he was he was he never wanted to direct it. He wanted to say, I'm not gonna go to features anymore. I'm just gonna go back to commercials. And then seven came around. And then he said, if you're gonna, I'm gonna do it my way. And, and then after that, then he start writing his ticket. Same thing for Nolan. And Kubrick, Kubrick wrote a ticket that nobody's ever written before. It's remarkable. Now I had to I do have to ask you, because this is this is, this is a story I heard that you told. And I think the audience would get a big kick out of because I couldn't stop laughing. It's your Tom Cruise story. Please tell the audience that Tom Cruise. It's absolutely.

Kyra Sedgwick 52:43
So you know, Tom and I did Born on the Fourth of July together. So we kind of knew each other. And then Kevin did a few good men with him. And I was seven months pregnant on a few good men. And, um, and back then they didn't have nice looking maternity clothes. This has nothing to do with the story, but just just as a vision of what I look like. And so we got in, we would keep getting invited to like events with like Tom and Nicole, who he was with at the time, and Demi Moore was in the movie. And so Bruce came, and then like, and then Kevin, remind me, What's his last name? Kevin Pollak, thank you. And then like, you know, throwing for a good measure, like Billy Crystal would come and then Rob Reiner, you know, and it was like, We got invited to cool things we got invited over to to Tom Cruise's house for dinner. It was a lovely meal. After dinner, we all retired to the library, where the men smoked cigars, and the women chatted, and I do what

Alex Ferrari 53:44
It's like Titanic.

Kyra Sedgwick 53:47
Well, what I tend to do is and I couldn't drink, I couldn't smoke, you know, because I was pregnant. So I was like, looking at stuff. You know, I looked at like, a, like a photo album of Tom and Nicole skydiving and I was like, Wow, that's amazing. And then like looking at the mantelpiece, there was like a little, you know, a fireplace and I was looking at the mantelpiece. The pictures. Then underneath the mantelpiece, weirdly, like oddly placed was this little button. And I was like, I wonder what that is. And, you know, maybe if I pressed it, like the door, like the thing would shift and like, we'd go into some secret place. And so I just pressed the button, and nothing happened. And I thought, huh, that's a little unsettling that nothing happened to me. You know, I'm just going to mention it to time. So I tapped on, on Tom on the shoulder. He was like mid story, you know, on something and he turns around, and I go, I just press that button under there. And he goes, you press that button? And I said, Oh, yeah, I did. I press up on he goes, that's the panic button. And I was like, Oh my God, and he goes, Why did you press that button? Now? I was like, I don't know. It was there. It was just there, you know, and the cops came, like 12 cop cars came, we were supposed to watch the Godfather one and two, we had to postpone the screening. Because at first he just told his assistants to tell them he was fine. They wouldn't leave, understandably until they saw Tom Cruise, like in one piece. So it's like, oh, yeah, sorry, I have to go upstairs because someone press the cops are upstairs, they won't leave. So we got to hold on the movie. I mean, it was mortifying, and we didn't get invited back.

Alex Ferrari 55:35
What? And finally, what did Kevin do during this time?

Kyra Sedgwick 55:39
Like, what did you do? Why would you do? I don't know. And he was like, it's just I can't believe you did that. What were you thinking? You know, he was just completely like, on one hand mortified and shocked. But on the other hand, like that's so you, you just do that kind of shit. Like, just, there's a button. I'm just gonna press it. You know?

Alex Ferrari 56:00
I think you're a victim of your industry, which is the movie industry. And you've seen way too many movies. And when you hit that button, cool stuff happens in movies, right? Of course, there's just not a panic button that something opens you go into secret passage, you find the Ark of the Covenant. There's things that happen, so I'm waiting.

Kyra Sedgwick 56:19
I'm waiting. I am completely with you.

Alex Ferrari 56:22
I probably, I'm not sure if I would have touched the button. But boy, whatever got close. Like curious. People. I just want you right now. But imagine if you hit the button and a door open and you'd be like, oh, hell, what would you have done? You're like, Tom, Tom. The dungeon is visible for everybody. Where are you? Oh my god. But Kira, where can people uh, when is this coming out? I know you're at Tribeca right now.

And what? What was it like? What was it like getting that call?

Kyra Sedgwick 56:56
It was great. It was so so so great. Actually, it was kind of a kind of anticlimactic because I call Jean because I hadn't heard and I know Jane Rosenthal. And, you know, I was like, This isn't right. You shouldn't call her and I was like, You know what, no stone unturned, like, you got to do it. And I just want to just tell her how passionate I was about, you know, my hometown of New York and what I felt about the Tribeca Film Festival, just the way I feel like it's a it's like a you know, I mean, it was it was conceived as like New York coming back from 911. And I kind of feel like I'm reinventing myself. And like, I don't know, I just like I had this whole spiel to give her you know, and then I was like, hi, Jean. Thank you so much for taking my call. You know, I just wanted to just one more, you know, just once again, tell you how pass it's just like, Oh, sweetie, you know, you just such a great job. We absolutely want to have you I'm so sorry. It's taken us so long. And I was like, Yeah, but I got a spiel, I got a hold about the phoenix rising from the ashes. But anyway, no, I mean, I'm so grateful. Because the truth is, like, I think this can play in the theater, I think it should play in the theater. And it probably won't, or may not do to, like the world that we live in. It'll, you know, I mean, I would love to have a window of theatrical anyway, no matter what. So, but I think that people seeing it in an audience, it's a joyful, meaningful movie about love and loss at a time and fighting for like, what's here at a time when I feel like we're all feeling loss and wanting to fight for something, you know, better and different. And, and, and within our means and within our grasp to fight for. So I think that I think it's an important movie, it feels like and it's fun, and it's entertaining. And it's, and it's romantic. And it's about love and like fighting the good fight, and you know, and grief. And I just think that who can't relate to that.

Alex Ferrari 58:50
Absolutely. Well, I am. I am so happy that you made the film. It's a fantastic film. I hope everyone goes out there and sees it. Kyra, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. So it's so entertaining. It's so much fun. Thank you and best of luck, continued success and go out there and tell some more great stories. So I appreciate you.

Kyra Sedgwick 59:08
Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

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IFH 586: Inside the Blumhouse Filmmaking Machine with Marcus Dunstan

Marcus Dunstan’s screenwriting with his partner, Patrick Melton, include such horror films as FEAST 1-3, SAW IV-V-VI& SAW 3D THE FINAL CHAPTER, PIRANHA , GOD OF WAR, FINAL DESTINATION 6, and SCARY STORIES TO TELL IN THE DARK. Marcus Dunstan’s directing credits include THE COLLECTOR, THE COLLECTION, THE NEIGHBOUR, BLUMHOUSE’S PILGRIM and this summer’s BLUMHOUSE PRESENTS: UNHUMAN.

Dunstan is a producer of THE CANDIDATE, and executive producer of 2022’s horror-thriller TAKE BACK THE NIGHT. Currently Dunstan and Melton are collaborating once again with Blumhouse and Disney + on a soon to be announced suspense thriller series, as well as the horror film ESCAPE: HALLOWEEN with Live Nation and Insomniac.

The dead will have this club for breakfast. Blumhouse Television and EPIX bring you the story of a high school field trip gone bloody awry. Seven misfit students must band together against a growing gang of unhuman savages. The group’s trust in each other is tested to the limit in a brutal, horrifying fight to survive and they must take down the murderous zombie-creatures… before they kill each other first.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Marcus Dunstan 0:00
You know, every day has its challenges. But really, it's in the survival of those challenges and the way to assess that and and outsmart it. You don't have to overpower any of this stuff. But you do have to, you do have to outsmart things because ultimately, an image has to exist. That conveys some information. There's several ways that can be done, you can do it the expensive way you can do it the in many more modest ways.

Alex Ferrari 0:25
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created Enigma elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like VHS and CRT images, smoke fog textures, DaVinci Resolve presets and much more. After working as an editor colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, check out and enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's enigmaelements.com. Today's guest has a special place in my heart because he got his start in the film business the way I want it to back in the early 2000s. He was on the show Project Greenlight where he was the writer of the film feast. Now he used that and parlayed it into writing assignments to create and write multiple soft films. He used that to make his own film The collector series of films actually, and his new film on human four Blumhouse. Now we not only talk about his journey through the filmmaking world, as a screenwriter, and director, but also what it's like working inside the filmmaking machine that is Blumhouse so let's dive in. I'd like to welcome the show Marcus Dunstan how you doin' Marcus?

Marcus Dunstan 1:59
I am grateful. How are you sir? Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 2:02
Oh, thank you for coming on the show man. I had a friend of mine work. He was a visual effects artist on one of your first movies, the collector went on. And I knew him. He and he told me all store all sorts of creatives, like was first big VFX job now he's working for Marvel and bond. And all this stuff. But his first thing was big, big thing that he did was the collector. So that's our connection, sir.

Marcus Dunstan 2:28
Oh, right. Oh, well, hey, special thanks. What is this person's name?

Alex Ferrari 2:32
His name is Dan Cregan. He's been on the show a bunch of times as if he's one of my best friends.

Marcus Dunstan 2:37
I owe my gratitude to Dan Cregan and because that Thank you. Thank you, Dan.

Alex Ferrari 2:44
So far, so first question, sir, how did you get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Marcus Dunstan 2:50
Well, it was an absolute. It was a it was a it was a desire, a joy I don't know it was a conversation in the dark of adolescence where I had horrible acne. Didn't want to go outside. I was embarrassed of how I looked and everything. And then I start recognizing the work of this really talented artists named Tom Savini. And oh, man, he could change the way he looked and we rang cover up my face too. And what oh, he does special effects. Well, then there's this movie, oh, this Friday the 13th. That's pretty cool. And it was a springboard all the way up until when he directed and none of the Living Dead 9090 and his episode of Tales from the dark side or episodes, I believe he did a couple and I just he was the reason he was a gateway because what I loved was this ability where the the fake traumas of life might be able to be a gateway to a little bit of healing, understanding. And maybe if you show the world everything scary through this lens that is not actually going to harm you, then maybe you can approach the next day of your life not being afraid of anything. And if you make that audience jump, maybe they're gonna jump closer together. And we'll all we'll all face the dark as as the best we can and will become light.

Alex Ferrari 4:12
That is the the most beautiful description of horror I've ever heard in my entire life. It's wonderful. Thank you very much. First, it was a very spiritual aspect to the horror genre. I've never heard it put so eloquently before. So that's awesome. Thank you.

Marcus Dunstan 4:28
Thank you very much.

Alex Ferrari 4:29
Now another connection we have, sir, is you got your start on a little show called Project Greenlight. The day Yes, well, sir. I was for five or six seconds in Project Greenlight Season Two. Okay, I made it to the top 20 of season two so I almost I almost made it onto the show. And I've had Chris Moore and I've had Chris Moore on the show and I first words out of my mouth like Dude, why don't I get into project

Marcus Dunstan 4:58
Right on okay.

Alex Ferrari 5:00
So you got your start on Season Three if I'm not mistaken with the feast, right?

Marcus Dunstan 5:04
Yes. And I was working at a blockbuster home video in a Kenyan restocking seasons one and and then to the screening the hey come see this movie screening passes we were asked to hand them out they're going to do a sneak screening of the Battle of Shaker Heights and in a theater out there and then on the radio Patrick mountains wife even heard that there was going to be a three and they'd be widening the net into potentially you know, something more genre could be you know, the at the time the the the gross out teen comedy they could do drama, suspense thriller or maybe a horror movie.

Alex Ferrari 5:47
Yeah, and it worked out that you got to it's so funny to so I did my time in a mom and pop video store for five years in high school.

Marcus Dunstan 5:56
Okay, now what have you and what

Alex Ferrari 5:59
You and I are similarly vintage, sir.

Marcus Dunstan 6:00
So we got your nametag, though.

Alex Ferrari 6:02
No, I actually was a mom and pop I didn't even have names. I didn't name text.

Marcus Dunstan 6:07
Let's not even my name. That's how this this blockbuster was struggling so I was Jamie with like a philosophy rafter scratch through. That's awesome. That's what happened to Jamie.

Alex Ferrari 6:17
That is some street cred right there, sir. That is, that's a major street cred for all the kids. For all the kids listening Google what a video store was. Yeah. Now. Now when you work with on that show? I know you were on it for a little bit. And you wrote the script helped write the script for you. Did you write it by yourself? Or did you write it with them?

Marcus Dunstan 6:35
With Patrick Mountain and it was we were adapting a draft written by Pulseaudio

Alex Ferrari 6:40
Okay, so what was your biggest lesson you learned? Which is essentially the first experience in the business? What was the biggest lesson you learned working on that?

Marcus Dunstan 6:50
Oh, wait, are you talking about feast or on human? I'm sorry. Oh, sorry. No, feast was an original creation of ours. unhuman was based on a story about Okay. Wow, it's been oppressed de la hmm. And then this is the one Okay, got it. You know, feast was entirely a reaction episode where we, you know, we took the bait of what do you want to see? And I asked, like, why don't I keep wanting to rewatch Evil Dead two. And then why? Well, because it had this endless fountain of creativity, no matter what were, the budget didn't I didn't think of what the budget was, I just knew I was entertained. And it just didn't waste a molecule without finding the most creative way to bring it. And I thought it had it was ferocious in its ability to protect the attention span to galvanize the, the eyes, the brain and rope you into it's it's wonderful narrative. I just thought, This is great. This is this is all the this is all the inspiration and hope and that, you know, to really get us going. So then we felt like okay, well we know that kind of make things in the realm of a million bucks, we know. And we actually tried to enter it in Project Greenlight Season Two against the whole advice. And at that point, you do it there, we kind of do a digital submission, we'll somehow we got the whole submission wrong. And it turned into you know, 2000 pages of triangles and squares or something. Who knows? We it is the early internet, it was early, that wild frontier. And so then by the time this came around, we thought I mean, we were certain this draft that we had worked and worked and worked on could be made for $1 million and the budget came back at 20 Oh do a little more work

Alex Ferrari 8:51
So it's still when you were working on on with on the feast Did you did you I mean I gotta imagine was kind of a culture shock for you just to kind of like a shock to the system working even with the Chris Moore and you've been watching them on the on the show for a couple of seasons and all that kind of stuff.

Marcus Dunstan 9:09
Yes, well in fact it but yet at the same time, there's a lot of small world stuff and that is I lived in Melton and I lived in the same building on tamarind in it ran around Hollywood. So there's the like the Scientology celebrity center birds lapu Bell, and then there's Tamron. And we lived there for a while. And so we had a shared computer he had this one but it would overheat because we could type faster than I could process so it would overheat. We have to turn it off every 20 minutes and we'd run it up and down the stairs depending on who could have enough time to write that night. And so then there's this Willy Wonka moment and you know your life could change if the day is of West Craven, Chris Moore, Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Nick Phillips, etc. Would would dare anoint you and invite you to that side of the room. But the location of that conversation was like 16 walks away. It was just, it was just in a hotel. We didn't know anybody and couldn't get into and couldn't afford to stay there anyway. So it's kind of like, you know, an absurd way. It's like, so we're going across the street were like, really, it's been here the whole time. That's, that's, that's awesome. And then the, and then like, oh, my gosh, there's this, the attention and there's cameras and whatnot. It's, it was a lot. And I would say thank goodness, we were, we kept our Midwest in there. Like, this was a wonderful area right before the instinct would be to be to want more camera than and lose sight of the opportunity at hand. No, we were there to make him. We were there to exist and help. And the fact that the cameras were there, you know, he learned later in life that those cameras were to keep probably a lot of the other people in line that had been in that industry a while and protect the innocence of it. So I really I that was a an absolute, it was a Willy Wonka moment, it was a miracle and for a first time experience to have it documented. I mean, at some point, I'll go back and watch that show with the memories of being on the other side of that. And that I mean, how that's just whimsy, man, that's great.

Alex Ferrari 11:13
Yeah, no, I mean, I've gotten close. I got close to many times to mention on both that and like on the lot if you remember that show.

Marcus Dunstan 11:21
Absolutely I remember

Alex Ferrari 11:24
I was flown up. I was flown up to to me, I was like right there about to get in? Oh, yeah. So I've always fascinated about the whole cup project green light and the whole on the lot, that whole reality stuff. But there was really, you know, to be honest, it wasn't a lot of people that came out of those shows that had like built a career. You're one of the few that really have you made it out?

Marcus Dunstan 11:46
Well, it was you know, and we were very fortunate I really got to think not not only luck but also thank being prepared for luck because before feast came out the show when it was when it was depicting us well, that was then attractive for you know, agents etc to want to take a meeting and we had a we had a we had an agents agents at this one of the big agencies, and they dropped us when the when the cameras were off, and we were unrepresented. It was July before feast had ever come out before anything had happened. And Patrick and his wife were expecting his little boy. And if they as a couple agree that if they don't figure out a way to stay solvent in the entertainment industry, he was he was going to he was gonna just have to change. Do something, do something, you gotta you got a family now. So over the July 4 weekend, he had this idea and he wrote the first draft of what would be the neighbor. Then we have this, this premiere in Vegas. For feast we're now feast is finally coming out after 18 months of us not knowing and the separation of Disney and dimension and Weinstein and whatnot. But they took us along then now the cameras are back on then, you know all of a sudden there's attention and all of a sudden like hey, and this wonderful agent by the name of David boxer bomb.

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Dave has been on the show.

Marcus Dunstan 13:12
Oh, he's awesome. Yep, David Cheryl Debbie Doble. All of a sudden, we've got this marvelous team that you know elected to to roll the dice on us knowing that way. There's potential here you guys will actually work for this. Like you're not just being you know, needed to be handed to you know what worked for it, like, let's go. And sure enough, at that premiere party, I stepped into the back of it to do a verbal rewrite on the ending of the neighbor. So then dimension buys it. Melton breathes a sigh of relief because he's now a writer supporting his family. And then there's this movie that comes out and within a week we set up the Midnight Man, which would then become the collector and whatnot. And David, Cheryl and Debbie, it's like Thank you. Thanks for Thanks for catching us in freefall. We weren't gonna give up on ourselves and it was great to have them as team to do so that's a long way to long winded answer. But you know, it's there. There is some humanity in the in the realm that can sometimes be like our movies title on humans.

Alex Ferrari 14:13
Yeah, absolutely. Now you also got a gig, writing a sequel to one of the most successful horror franchises of all time saw? Yes. How did you how did you get that? Because you were still fairly young writer at that point?

Marcus Dunstan 14:26
Absolutely. Very. So that all happened within eight weeks of the fuse premiere. Now, we had a little bit of street cred the movie was getting, you know, favorable reviews, word of mouth, whatnot. And we and due to the sale of the neighbor, that takes a little time before the WGA makes it official. So the sophomore deal. They did not want to go with the union writers just yet. They wanted to hire three different writers with the task of writing a script called sophomore and And each of these writers or teams would be given a set of rules to follow because three hadn't come out yet. For some reason, we didn't get the thing of the rules. But it didn't stop us and wouldn't you know, we end up accidentally writing something that we got yelled at, because the budget was going to be too big. And then it then they went with it. And that was pretty cool. And then, you know, and we were able to make a deal with them to to keep working on that. I mean, my goodness. So in the span of a year, it was because they would make this movie so quickly. And you know, so efficiently. I mean, like, my gosh, we had oh my gosh, we're gonna we just got dumped dropped by our agents. This whole thing might be overweight or movies coming out. I was playing twice. And midnight. Did it say it really just gross? Like $5? Like, what is that? Wait, we got to X rating? Oh, we gotta cut Oh, we Oh, man. Oh, and then oh, and then the next year? It's my parents, my hit my world history teachers to on recommend at about a big ol premiere for a horror movie that folks have heard of. And that's it's another like, how did we get here? It was just awesome. But you know, we did. It's we've worked really hard.

Alex Ferrari 16:14
That's the thing. That's fascinating, because a lot of people listen and be like, Oh, these guys are just lucky. They just fell into it. I'm like, That's so much. No, you work hard. But the point is that you were ready for when the opportunity presented itself. Like if you would have just been sitting there like, oh, I have no other script, I don't have the neighbor, I don't have anything else I have ideas you actually will prepare for when these opportunities present. And then serendipity just happens. And after doing so many interviews on the show and talking to so many, you know, amazing writers and directors like yourself. I just realized that luck has such a big part to do with sustaining a career in this business. But every single one of them work hard. It's not like just sitting around in the middle of Ohio somewhere and an agent knocks on your door. Hey, I hear you have some ideas. Can I help you now that doesn't work that way?

Marcus Dunstan 17:06
Absolutely. No, you got to it's not it's like and you know, continues to this day, you still have to go for it. You still have to I this this experience with unhuman reminded me a lot of feast and that I wanted to bring some of the zeal and and creativity that John Gallagher did and try to say like, well, what if we were taking some of the expectations tropes stereotypes of the high school genre and flip them kind of like John was able to do with feast and what we were doing with the Creature Feature? And in doing so, can we sneak in a theme about bullying and and, and try to punch above our weight in that regard, but just can we stick this landing so this the narrative will have competent adrenalized attention span friendly stimulus, but nail that if we get that right amount of sugar, we can put in something of substance that could really keep us around for a while and bestow a lesson as some of the great horror movies had done to us.

Alex Ferrari 18:11
Yeah, and I think that's one of the big mistakes that screenwriters make with with horror movies is they don't put in that deeper underlining thing, they just do Gore or they just do the scares. But if when you're able to enter one intertwine or weave in these kinds of deeper themes and ideas, that's that's when those things become classics. And they just keep going and going and going. Yes,

Marcus Dunstan 18:35
I hope so. I mean, that's, you know, I mean, you sound like you don't have a goal to really set up we're gonna make a classic today but originally if you stick to this, this this goal of I want to get this message through no matter what can every performance synthetic in the production design, bolster it can the score enhance excellent and then oh, hey, if it's if it's lucky to earn that moniker All right, we did it right.

Alex Ferrari 19:00
Now how how did you get the collector off the ground because it you know, you guys are just at this point, just writers. So you got to direct the movie and it was a fairly decent budget and it was you know, it was by Studio and and so on. So how did you get that off the ground

Marcus Dunstan 19:17
That required outsmarting the system once again and the way it was I pre directed some stuff and I came up with a marketing and and so it was back in the day if I had a smartphone man I think would have been done in a second. But no this is when you needed to get cameras favors etc. And thank goodness it was the Gulag or family and it was after feast and fortress so this be Brett Forbes and Pat Rezai help provide a budget of about 7000 bucks to execute a scene that would show Oh, this guy can write a few words but he's he's good with actors and are like can can can accomplish the goal of the scene and And then it becomes a trailer. So then I wanted to get to jumpscares and set up the plotline. And then I wanted to earn a tagline at the end. And give it a whole sense of like if make it feel like a growing threshold event to lead up to someone that is introduced as a bad guy meeting a worst guy, and then bloodied in a rainstorm run out caressing a kid that's not his own, just with only breathing as a soundtrack. You know, just because he's like, not tonight, you know, he's he's reached a point in his criminal career where he finds something so awful. He'll stop.

Alex Ferrari 20:33
That's, that's awesome. That's a great story, because so many screenwriters want to direct. And they just, you know, you have to figure out how to get noticed. And that's a great way you shot that little demo. And they gave you they gave you the budget to do it. It's, it's so interesting, because we all have to come out when the collector came out, what were you what year was that?

Marcus Dunstan 20:54
That came out in 2009. But it was also similar to feast and that it took a while to get out there.

Alex Ferrari 21:00
So I remember when my buddy worked on it, he told me what can I use this on my demo reel? I can't use this on my tomato.

Marcus Dunstan 21:08
So like it was amortized with the production of two sequels to Paul's two sequels to feast. And then we were the last one. At this point, I felt like, Oh, this is awesome. I'm the last one, you know, everything's gonna be great. Well, learn the hard way that went into the last movie in an amortized situation. That means all the overages from those movies come out of yours. So whatever budget was supposed to be there wasn't quite there. Whatever schedule was supposed to be there was kind of cut in half. And then by the end, I had a lot of middle of a movie, I had some ending, but I took every penny I made from writing the Saw movies then and funded two weeks of shooting on my own. And now we had at the beginning, now we had a middle and we had the ends. And with that it was it was done. Because I felt like you know, I didn't come out here just to do half of a first movie. I got to you know, do the whole thing. And a wind that was exciting, like the whole cast and crew coming along for that meant a lot. So then dimension, we got a call from Bob Weinstein saying, hey, and I got my money tied up and Inglorious Basterds and you know, if you want to put the movie out yourself, I dig it. You can, you can, oh, I can self release this movie. Great. That sounds like a deal. And so thank goodness, we had the wherewithal to be like, well, what would you sell it for? If we found a buyer? Oh, let me go away, all of a sudden the budget more than doubled. You know, all of a sudden, I couldn't get a copy of the budget that I knew we had. Now I know that I'm sorry, we can't give it. And thank goodness, we had two weeks to find a buyer. And on one of the last days of that possibility, Mickey Liddell came in, watched it left the the editing room, walked around the block and said, Okay, how much and that's what led to LD hiring freestyle to release a movie that was called The Midnight Man now is called the collector courtesy of Bob is now an LD movie. It and then so then it came out in the summer of 2009. After they you know, Mickey put in even more bucks for some more spit and polish. That was awesome. And like, the songs you hope to get. I mean, here's what I just so loved and appreciate it is. He understood that when you put an attempt song, you don't want to find another song, as in these things to this song. And they and even if you can't quite understand the why it does something, they all hold hands, you can kind of tell when something has been replaced at the last second because it's like, well, it's okay, I guess you know, it's up tempo, but you know, we have relationships with all forms of art and these things. And he got it and let it be so so now then we come out. And unfortunately, he would like to do another one and that led to then the collection and so on. So yeah, it was a an absolute for, you know, fortuitous time. But again, it was I thinking about it now. It's insane. Giving Yeah, I you know, whatever little nugget I had was just instantly vanquished in the hopes that something and then oh, yeah, I you know, guess what, you get to make a movie where you get to make half of it. And if you can finish it, you can release it yourself, if you can afford it. And if you can't find someone who paid double that, and to release it on their own, and maybe you'll get a sequel or maybe you know what, I'll hear from you again, who cares I love you know what it is?

Alex Ferrari 24:32
You know, I'm so glad that people are are listening to this story because you put your money where your mouth is, and that's so many filmmakers don't do that so many people don't take the risk to do that. And in this scenario, if I was consulting you back then it was the mind that I have today. I would say absolutely do this because this doesn't happen. You don't get this scenario. It was a very fortuitous It's also very kind of lottery ticket scenario where all of these things lined up. So, so beautifully.

Marcus Dunstan 25:07
They it was it prepared for serendipity?

Alex Ferrari 25:12
Exactly. Now, it what was on that shoot, what was the you know, as directors, we always go through that the worst, there's always a day that we remember, if not every day, but there's always a day that we're losing the sun, camera breaks, the actor can't come out. The car accident happened somewhere and we lost the camera in the truck. I've seen it all. What was that day for you? And how did you overcome it and make your day?

Marcus Dunstan 25:40
Thank you for that question. Because I think, you know, every day has its challenges. But really, it's in the survival of those challenges. And the way to assess that and and outsmart it, you don't have to overpower any of this stuff. But you do have to, you do have to add smart things because ultimately, an image has to exist, that conveys some information. There's several ways that can be done, you can do the expensive way you can do it the in many more modest ways. So one night, I'm in it. Josh Stewart is masked up. It's going to be the stocking casing of the house. He's assessing it, you know, Brandon Cox, beautifully lighting these things and we're getting all this awesome imagery. And then it's about you know, we still have another little sequence to do. And I remember one point, it's just quiet turn around and where is everybody? Everybody had quit because the strike had ended. And so why stick around for the the pennies of the indie budget when the commercial jobs are now flying everybody Yeah. So if the folks that stayed you've got Brandon Cox so a wonderful camera crew. But a most of our crew just up and watch.

Alex Ferrari 27:31
Walk in the middle of the day or walk like the next day or something.

Marcus Dunstan 27:34
No like that night we didn't I just we moved some lights and shot some stuff ourselves just to like do something with the time. I was like hmm, so now how did I overcome this? I couldn't overcome this. This was this was a moment where Courtney Ballack or Keith border the producers came through and Vince Palomino, who was our line who's you know, everybody that stuck around there essentially, as you know, lifelong friends, these are the metaphor. And so, what could have been an absolute cavity crushing events is turned completely around with the arrival of one person who had become a rider die. And that is BJ McDonald's, a a who has showed up as a Steadicam operator in his cut off camo shorts and is converse and his Danzig wristband and his faux hawk Mohawk what is that hawk? He's like, I didn't worry about it, man. We're gonna get we're gonna get it we can do like this. Excellent. We the movie couldn't afford him. He wanted to get out of town for an adventure. And so I that's how I met he and his now wife, Adrienne, who was in makeup. And all of a sudden, this is a transformative event. And it was BJ who talked me out of the shakes and the shivers of like, I don't know, it's like I thought Why did I have this whole thing? storyboarded I can't do it. Like hey, it's like hey, don't worry about let's have a beer and go bowling. And you know what you don't worry about it. You go have a beer and you go bowling. Because in that action, you the mind gets to settle and you get to realize no no, you're still creating just yes those storyboards whatever whatever you put in wherever that plan is, that is on the wayside, but that doesn't mean you still don't know what you need to execute now in the moment to challenge yourself to find a way to do so. And that that has been the most rewarding lesson of all is IT professional studio big yeah that you get more toys but the lessons they get you through even those moments were learned when you had nothing but that desire and and hope to to convey a story convey an image and get it drag it into that lens however possible. And you do it again and again. So you find success what you like what you're comfortable with and and hopefully people are there with you for the ride. And it's so exciting because BJ is is now the director and that he his last film studio 16 Six. Right? So how cool is that to see him, you know, from from converse to the universe, he's out there.

Alex Ferrari 30:07
That's amazing. That's a great story. And you said something really interesting. And I think something is so important for filmmakers to listen to, is please let them know, every single moment of every single day as a director on set, the biggest thing that we have to do is compromise. Because you said I had this long storyboard list or a shot list, and all of it's out the window. Just days of working on it. You had the Kubrick, you had the Kubrick shot, you had the Sam Raimi shot, you had the oh, you know, all of that stuff. Yeah. And Gone. Gone. Can you tell it to you tell? How can you explain to people that process internally as a director, because that's what I think that's really what makes a great director, one of the elements is to be able to compromise on the fly with what is given to him or her on the day, and just flow with what you have on the day and not be so rigid that you're like, No, if I can't get my shot, I don't want to shoot it and Bolton, you're not going to work?

Marcus Dunstan 31:10
Well, absolutely. Well, this happened with this happened with unhuman. And in the way, like, we had to deal with weather, we had to deal with lightning, that could shut us down. And then our entire ending had to be reconfigured. Because the entire ending was built around a certain ability, I like a certain location, a certain aspect of the location. That was cool to look at Vintage Gray, talking about an old school amazing elevator. Well, of course that breaks. And anything that came along with it is instantly out the window. But thank goodness for 10 years of experience because you like it's not about an elevator, it's about falling distance, if it's not about the what. And then I by that point, courtesy of those Paulito are one of our producers on this on the site there who leaned in and said like, this elevator was built in the 30s it's being repaired, you might want to have a plan B at the ready just case. Now if I was a naive person that knew no, it has to be this I must stand my ground. But now it's your I asked to be an elevator, there would be no ending there would be nothing but instead courtesy of Paul and also courtesy of enough experience to listen to someone who's giving you good advice. We were ready and it and the solution wouldn't you know Eureka, it's a heck of a lot better. And we ended up getting more motion more movie more. There is it just it just it works. And everybody was on the same page because I think people get excited by talk of solutions. There's nothing more wasteful and disparaging. And that talk of just the problems like okay, well everything's got a problem. But what if we try this? Can we do this and then instantly you get everyone's back in the creative mode of of willingness thing into being and that was nice that that that allowed a lot everybody to shine.

Alex Ferrari 33:18
Now, is there anything you wish somebody would have told you at the beginning of this whole journey? That little nugget of man, this is going to do this, this and this man, you really should look out for this.

Marcus Dunstan 33:31
There are a handful of things. I'm gonna keep the two big ones to myself.

Alex Ferrari 33:39
You all could suffer?

Marcus Dunstan 33:41
No, no, no, no, no. In that sense, it was like no, you know, what if I want to find the positive not the beware but the positive and that is regard your inner voice, you know and lead in and when the when the inner voice when the little voice says something? What is holding it back from entering volume? Is it fear that maybe the collaborator won't hear it? Is it hesitation because you're not sure is it? Well, why don't we try saying and see what happens? And wouldn't you know or if you're thinking like you know, second guessing can be okay, but why are you second guessing what doesn't feel right? Do you feel you did not get that shot? Do you feel that? The the just wasn't quite there and like okay, then then respect that respect your own? I mean, no matter how overwhelmed you could elect to be no matter what happens if the little voice is just saying no, no, this is fight for this. No, no, protect that. And just have the patients and yourself to understand why explain why and you're going to find that the right team will will always understand you and give you a shot. You know, and I thought that that was good because the last thing you want to do It is have someone in editorial go. Well, I kind of wish we had that shot. I know I knew it. I know. Once you say anything, you're right,

Alex Ferrari 35:14
Oh god as an editor, I used to do it to my directors. And that is when I worked with editors they used to do to me, I'm like, I should have gotten that. It would have taken me another five minutes to get that shot. Why did I have to move on? Yeah, you know, it's sometimes when you're on set, you've got to fight, fight for the vision fight for those that coverage. You're like, I need the closeup of the spoon. If I don't get the closeup of the spoon, I'm not going to be able to cut away and I'm going to be stuck on this performance. I need this cut away. And everyone on the side and on the sets look like you're insane. It's just a spoon shot like No. If I don't get the spoon shot, it's not going to work. And that's only experienced over years of being in an edit room. Understanding like I need I need some safety. I need some escape hatches, just in case. My brilliance doesn't show up on screen.

Marcus Dunstan 36:02
Yeah, yes, absolutely. Great, Scott. I mean, you know, we and that's the that's the fun of it, too. It's really always touching that third rail.

Alex Ferrari 36:13
Yeah, no, no question. No question. Now I have to ask you, you know, when you're on set, even at the beginning, on the collector when you were first onset, or later now with your new film on human? Do you ever get impostor syndrome? Do you ever get that thing that you deal with? Like, oh my god, security is gonna come in at any moment. And go, what are you doing here? You don't belong here get out. kind of vibe. But I know a lot of artists deal with that.

Marcus Dunstan 36:38
No, no, this one it was entirely someone's gonna tap you on the shoulder and say you have COVID And then you're

Alex Ferrari 36:45
That's even scarier than imposter syndrome

Marcus Dunstan 36:49
Because imposter syndrome. I'd be like, I'm already confidently trying to, like, do an impersonation of all the great filmmakers before, like, I all admit that I want to, I want to impersonate their success and convey the story. They want their ability to scare, convey, share, you know, get get these things done. But no, I mean, on the first I would say on the first one I was I was just kind of terrified because I thought I had a really good plan. And then the plan had to be abandoned. I didn't. And that was a crash course and plan B. And ever since then, I was you know what, but I want to say like, I want to say when it comes to what's a good why, like, Why Why am I feeling I don't say yes, it is probably because of the writing part. Whereas if I was not already imagining the story, but I was putting myself onto another story, then the the footing isn't quite there. Like I don't know, I'm doing and I'm doing an impression already of what I think the writer minutes. But I know exactly what I meant, when I would be writing on this. And so then all I had to do was have a quick meeting with my own brain, it'd be like, alright, you know how to pull this off, if not rewrite it. And then and get it to that point. So that that was neat. The the writing the rewriting really of this because it was a real rewrite from scratch allowed me to almost be off book with the screenplay, and and constantly be living in it. So it wasn't I didn't feel anything other than trying to be a bit of a tour guide or an audio book for anybody just to constantly keep them informed of something that was moving at such a clip and attempting to you know, wrestle wrestle a kind of a bigger a bigger hitting movie over the line in a record amount of time.

Alex Ferrari 38:40
Now how did you get involved with Unhuman

Marcus Dunstan 38:44
I was it was a phone call out of the blue from I think Alex crooner began as a producer and seeing if, if I if I you know, be available up for coming aboard. And you know, is it was definitely a gap me at hello moment because the first time I ever felt that there were more resources than I could know what to do with there was enough time to do everything I possibly wanted. And enough support to to constantly, you know, hang the sun and the moon every day was on the Blumhouse production of Pilgrim which if you look at the budget, it was it was a very modest budget, but simply taking the advice and having a crew with a second second hand way of communicating as super passionate, experienced producers. It was an education in that. Yeah, you know, if you don't need more, you've got plenty. And in that case, we did not need any more than we had a great script from Noah Feinberg. We had it just we just had everything we needed and could actually add things along the way and they would inspiration was encouraged. So then with this, it was like wait, I get to go back and play with you guys. And there's even there's a bigger boat If there's a little more time, and there's gonna be some familiar faces, yeah, I mean, let's go.

Alex Ferrari 40:05
Simple as that. So, can you tell everybody what the movie is about?

Marcus Dunstan 40:09
Yes. unhuman the first title card says a Blum house after school special and yes, this one is going to Sledgehammer your eyes like no other as the characters who probably were intending to be in the genre of the teen comedy find themselves on a fateful field trip, designed to bring them closer together and understand each other and maybe get over the bumps and bruises of combustible adolescence. Instead, run smack dab into the rules of a horror movie that shows up in the form of a possible zombie plague invasion with a twist. Will these this breakfast clubs survive? Or will they be devoured by the on human?

Alex Ferrari 40:45
First time you've done that, right? You've never you haven't? First time, right, I was.

Marcus Dunstan 40:50
Stammering I should have been a little more polish.

Alex Ferrari 40:54
That is amazing. That is amazing. Now, what was it like, again, working inside the Blumhouse? Machine, because I've had Jason on the show. And I've talked to Jason. I don't I love Jason. It was interesting human being on the planet. He's just so much fun to talk to. And I'm just always fascinated with his model, his model of how he does it. And everyone thinks he's crazy. And he doesn't get the respect in town that he deserves to be honest. Because he's just pumping out stuff, left and right. And the way he does it is it's so I asked him straight up like, Were you afraid that once you let everybody know what you were doing that everyone was going to copy you? He goes, yes. But no one has, like, you know, the basic rules are all out there for everybody to do. But no one does it because no one has the balls to do it like he does. So what was it like going in that machine and working on the creative side?

Marcus Dunstan 41:48
It was wonderful. Because how about this, I would say in terms of the respect for him, looking at the cast that shows up looking at the crew that's dedicated to it. There is a lot of respect for this guy. Because that moniker of Blumhouse means people show up. And they they know they're getting into into business with somebody who is great at the business. And that I mean, the ripple effects of that name alone. It was just wonderful people, the recognition of it, and all it it's man, it's yes, there's a lot of steps up to the plate with with the company. And that's also marvelous, like they're the loudest voice, I watched that series three times, I never would have guessed it was a Blumhouse joint. But it is because I think there was always an evolution happening. There's always a push into different spectrums. And I also love that what started it with an even more modest kind of budget paradigm is getting bigger in certain regards, is it has figured out a way to work within COVID has has grown and blossomed. And it's awesome to give opportunity, as well. There, there's a lot of it's resulting in art, you can't instantly put a pin in it. No, no, it's they're gonna do something that surprises you all the time. And how about that? The black phone's gonna come and ring in this summer. And eventually, it's gonna be a wonderful new pillar in a palace that is Blumhouse are?

Alex Ferrari 43:20
Yeah, no question. And I mean, and a lot of people don't even know that he's been nominated three times for an Oscar. Yeah. As a producer, you know, and it's fascinating. He's such an interesting, interesting character and what he does, and I love his his technique of just like, giving opportunity to directors, just play, and he really let you play and let you go out and just have fun. And you could see it in the films.

Marcus Dunstan 43:51
Absolutely. No question. Now, that opportunity is just priceless.

Alex Ferrari 43:53
Now, you know, as a writer, you've written obviously, a lot of horror. I mean, this is this is this is your, your sweet spot? What, in your opinion, are the key elements in writing a good horror movie?

Marcus Dunstan 44:06
Well, in this case, I mean, my goodness, it what are the what are probably the three lines that have always been there? You know, and, you know, there's some there's some fairly obvious answers to go to, like, Well, you gotta give a care about the characters, you have to you have to you have to have a threat. That's a legit intimidating presence of some sort. And, and if you put as much care into the scares as you do in the creation of those characters, then maybe you've got something that will resonate and really pop. Well, then what I do like, is this this other element that sometimes comes and goes, and that is embracing a theme, what is the movie, actually suddenly teaching? What is what is it saying? And so for us, for example, is like yes, we're going to take some three familiar elements. Teens, Woods zombies. Oh, okay. Now how is that going to be any different any spent anything special to really earn the attention span? Well, one, my guy when you see Bran and you understand these characters and what they're trying to reach for and be an identifiable reflection of the high school experience in a way that hasn't quite been depicted before. Great, then next, well, what can we do with the, you know, go into the woods? Well, it's not a traditional woods in the sense that it's sort of a bridging zone between two genres the bubblegum teen comedy getting invaded by the horror movie. And then the last thing is, what are we doing with the zombies like, well, once you see once you see this sucker California is his alacrity. His wickedness, his cunning is something else this this thing seems to be working out some rage issues, and wants this to happen with some sort of other engine other design in play. And this thing is smart. Why how why does it know more about us? What that that gives us that little hook that little step into into another place, which leads to the final thing, which is, what is our theme that well, it was it was a chance to talk about bullying, and peel the layers back and not not just for a singular character, not just the typical victim number one that asks for it loud gets it nasty, and is out of the movie by you know, the first act break, but to go in and really find the hero, the victim the bully, throughout. And so by keeping that conversation, maybe, you know, maybe someone sees this and feels a little better that they can, you know, stand up over above a bullying episode that may have happened, like, I still harbor mine, I remember. And I just needed to figure out how to turn that wound into a weapon. And this this, this opportunity allowed me to really get it out, go back to high school, leave some damage there and bring some hope out that there was a I do

Alex Ferrari 47:19
It sounds like I mean, I always find that some of the best horror movies and movies in general but the best horror movies are when they slam together genres that generally have not been slapped together before so like the first thing that comes to mind is army of dark an army of darkness but well army of darkness. Darkness is definitely one of them. Army of the Dead the new one by Zack Snyder. A heist movie with a zombie movie you're just like, why hasn't anyone done that before?

Marcus Dunstan 47:48
It's fun I really enjoyed that but I also I mean I what a what a gift. Just that trailer I'll watch that trailer man the time to listen to it with its use of the gambler and this is tastic and I really love how you know now that I want to say that his his arrangement with Netflix has even given him more freedom to really make the the beautiful covers of heavy metal magazine comes to life. Yeah, there's nothing other about them that is that is cool. And yet you know, they they're they are only as impactful as the heart He's protecting as well.

Alex Ferrari 48:30
Right exactly. And I and I forgot which one it was it was either Dawn of the Dead or Day of the Dead. But the social commentary the one in the mall

Marcus Dunstan 48:36
Gone yeah, that was his interpretation of Don was what

Alex Ferrari 48:40
Was x was and then but the original as well but Zach's was Yeah. Oh my God, it was amazing.

Marcus Dunstan 48:46
Well, I quote was it a Stephen King and I want to say Roger Ebert both were like Hey, check this out. Whereas both were in a position Roger Ebert gave you know the original four stars and I was like this thing is amazing. You know, Stephen King Of course, your friends and collaborators with George Romero. But the but his but Zack Snyder's reinterpretation was I thought was so smart because it took the same situation and a location but did make a different movie. If you could see I would pay homage here and there with a glimpse of the chopper the reprisal of some of the actors from the original and in different notes and then if if George Romero was was was the commentary of consumerism and this was more of the commentary of of almost terrorism like at some point something's just gonna come out yet. What what do we do you know, and I man and that Screenplay by James Gunn was friggin awesome. I mean, it's that was smart. That was that was a that was just loved it that was a Droid and

Alex Ferrari 49:54
So in the in the pantheon of zombie films, because I do I do like a good zombie film and I I loved many of the seasons of Walking Dead what do you what do you think is on the top three of the zombie on the Mount Rushmore of zombie films?

Marcus Dunstan 50:12
Okay, well I mean I this is where I get super familiar by Dawn of the Dead the originals the one I keep going back to like it's opening 20 minutes I love listening to it I love the just the sense of building chaos and collapse and I also like how you know typical of the Romero verse It was bold and it's casting and lead decisions and how I think it was Miss Ross who plays our lead how she makes kind of a an utterance or not quite a scream at the beginning more of a gasp but just didn't want this this character to scream and this character would become a pilot in this yet we there's there's just respect in there amongst all that I you just love it I mean and I man the Dan Krauss Romero book The final one you know the the living dead is is just phenomenal it's it's man we've been trying to get enough people together to try to get that thing made for so long and it's just it that would I think be the ultimate because it's his voice it's him you know go on to the end. That would just be manna from heaven so come on Netflix I know you can do zombie bank heist can you do one from the from the godfather of the whole genre? Can you do that? That'd be great. So then that leaves open some other ones I want to be let's see if I can be somewhat what is the best way to do this movies okay, it may be easy to say night and then day I think but okay night and day are pretty I find does someone count dead alive? Because I just loved it yeah did alive. It's vicious dedication to you know, gruesome shocking or criminality and momentum I think that was a lot of fun. And then I would like to say ash and I want to make sure I get this one right because this is a this is a this is a very precious top three and as maybe because I recently kind of watched it and and really appreciated what it was doing but I liked WARM BODIES I thought it was such an unexpected take and in kind of how it it had something to say about romance and whatnot. So the now the more like verbose answer is like Well ideally just go anything Romero that's that's the cream so have that cream of the crop down in the desert one that still resonates with me dead alive for like, Hey, you don't have to be boxed into any corner just because it says zombie. You can have a giant mom beasts and chainsaw, you know, fights and whatnot. And to that regard I'd even say like, I think neither the creeps had a wonderful take. Well, who doesn't like thrill me and then warm bodies? Because who then what expect such an affectionate moment, you know, and something that had a genuine? Gave a genuine and literal metaphorical heartbeat to the

Alex Ferrari 53:12
No, no pun intended, sir. Yeah. Have a fun time now. Now where can people watch Unhuman

Marcus Dunstan 53:23
Unhuman begins on Paramount June 3. And then I think we'll be coming out swinging again in August. So we want to scare the kids who are graduating and then scam again when they're going back to school. June 3 is when is when we come out to roar courtesy of paramount. Thank you so much.

Alex Ferrari 53:41
Now I'm going to ask you a couple questions as well. My guess? What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Marcus Dunstan 53:50
Oh, goodness. Well, okay, in terms of a practical bit of advice, if you can answer that question, what do I want to see? Like what type of movie do I want to see? And like really be specific about that? Like, I want to, you know, and then all right, then challenge that. I mean, let's just say what I want to try to pivot into is because the theater stratosphere and the streaming stratosphere seems to exist. And there's like the Marvel Universe where it can be $200 million, or whatnot. And then there's other tiers that are depending on their budget or their need, or if it's Star driven or something all the way down to a budget that can give them a greater chance for existence because the idea while not expensive, is big an implication IE, sci fi horror, in some cases, groundbreaking action like the raid, and can you come up with something that fits in that that you haven't quite seen before that acknowledges what is kind of popular that that is something you really want to seek Chances are if you write something that you really want to see with respect to kind of a budget that is making up a larger percentage of things that actually get produced, because it's a safer bet. And you know that the imagery in there if you can then watch the trailer to that in your head and say, like, would you still see that movie? Is it about someone, you know, stuck in a bland room with, you know, interfaith? I was like, No, you're not, that's not going anywhere. Right. But I every movie that inspired people to get from A to B probably came from a point of someone just saying, I know what my resources are. And I'm still going to out create out imagine and out deliver the potential of of that, you know, Evil Dead to, like, come on, like, what do we have, we've got a similar task, we've got the same location, we've even got kind of the same plot. But we got cameras, and we got imagination. And we got to go for broke aesthetic, we're gonna do it. You know, fine. I there. It's inspiring. So Gosh, I wonder if that's be enduring if that's helpful. If that's whatnot.

Alex Ferrari 56:02
No, it is helpful and the director of evil that you did, okay. He's done okay. for himself.

Marcus Dunstan 56:07
All right, you know, yeah, the kid panda.

Alex Ferrari 56:09
The kid the kid, the kid made it, sir. The kid made it. And what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life, the one

Marcus Dunstan 56:19
I got right right away, was that was on the set of feast. And this would be the last one of my last conversations with my grandmother, who procured my first issues of Fangoria walked me into dirty comics and said, this kid reads anything from that same magazine, gifted me body parts and put a camera in my hands when I was a kid. Last conversations was, Hey, there, they're making one of our movies. You know, it's it's this monster one. And boy, it's, it's, you really love it. It's just absolutely disgusting and offensive. She was, Oh, I'm so tickled. So then, you know, this is now we're on a set. And I was I went up a staircase, which the staircase didn't go anywhere, as movie set staircases kind of go and I went around the corner, I shut my eyes. And I thought, I'm going to take a soul photo right now. And that means I'm going to create a time machine right here. And I'm going to remember how it smells, how it feels. And what I see. And I will always be able to come back to this moment, if I ever need to recalibrate, my hopes, my dreams and whatnot, because right now, everything just came through. And how absurd is that? So that's been helpful along the way, was the one that took me a while to figure out I mean, that's just many like, hey, you know, maybe make it make some make a little more time to have, you know, go on more adventures in between these things. Like, you know, travel more. Yeah, it's it's pretty, pretty ordinary. And,

Alex Ferrari 57:59
But I gotta tell you about that answer. I've had, I've had six 700 800 shows at this point. That's one of the best answers to that question I've ever heard. Oh, thank you. It is so it's so beautiful. The soul photo, it is such a beautiful thing because we as filmmakers forget when we're on set, we're the luckiest people on the planet. That we as directors as filmmakers have all these other people around us, helping our vision our dream come true in front of our eyes is a very rare place to be as an artist and as a human being with massive amounts of money. I mean, even if it's half a million dollars a million that's a lot of money you know that's a lot of money for a lot of people so to take the you have the insight to go man i I've hit where I was going for it. Let me get up I love the soul photo that you can go back now now I'm sure as you were saying you were back there. As you're saying you smelled it yourself. And I have images like that in my head of like the first time I was on set the first time I got to do this the first time I'm meeting this big actor this big situation I'm in this big meeting or something like that, that you're like, oh my god, I'm I'm sitting here talking to what legend or something along those lines. But to actually have the insight to stop for a second, close your eyes and go take this Take this with you. is fascinating. I think we all need to stop for a sec because we're always hunting for the the next thing we can't stop in the moment and enjoy the insanity of where you were at at that moment, which was on Project Greenlight, getting your film made on a set and you were in you were literally you know, moving those seasons on the video store shelf a year earlier. Like that's insane.

Marcus Dunstan 59:55
It's there's a number of stops along the way where like so hoped for any of this would have been in Audacity on parallel. So if you're lucky enough for some of it to happen regard,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:09
Marcus it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you my friend. Thank you so much. Thank you for so much for coming on the show man continued success, my friend you're, you're a hell of a guy and I wish you nothing but the best. And by the way, everybody who's not watching this, Marcus has arguably one of the coolest rooms I have ever seen. Oh, my life has so many geek things around everything. I'm seeing the Django the Django is guys the action figures. I see rock guessing GI Joe. I see a Yoda see original Star Wars, some et I mean, all sorts. It's like the 80s exploded in your room. Thank you for that, sir. It was a joy just because I was talking to you. I was glancing over and like, is that what I think? Senator Rocky? Holy cow. That's a rocky action figure.

Marcus Dunstan 1:00:59
Yes, it is. Absolutely. And that one with the right here. This is a Place Beyond the Pines action figure by Erik Moreno. That same artists made action figures of the cast of unhuman for the movie,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:15
You see you see this is this is what it's all about, sir. I appreciate you coming on the show brother. Thanks again man.

Marcus Dunstan 1:01:21
Absolutely. Bless you have a great one.

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From The Terminator and Titanic to Avatar, James Cameron has directed some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Now, for the first time in his 40-year career, he opens up about his process. Through behind-the-scenes breakdowns, James shares his approach to developing ideas, storylines, and characters; harnessing technology; and world-building on any budget. Explore the innovation and imagination behind epic moviemaking.

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IFH 576: Inside Making One of the Most Insane Indie Films Ever! with The Daniels

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as DANIELS, have been writing and directing together for over a decade, initially with a slew of viral music videos, commercials, and short films, then with feature films and TV directing.

They’ve developed a reputation for combining absurdity with heartfelt personal stories. Oftentimes they incorporate a unique brand of visual effects, and visceral practical effects into their genre blending projects.

They have directed music videos for Manchester Orchestra, Foster the People, and won a VMA for their video for “Turn Down For What,” which Scheinert bullied Kwan into being the lead actor in. Kwan is a really good dancer.

They wrote and directed the feature film Swiss Army Man starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, which went on to win the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, received multiple nominations, and gained a large cult following.

While they were writing & developing their new movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, a kung fu sci-fi dramedy starring Michelle Yeoh, Scheinert went and directed a small redneck dramedy called The Death of Dick Long, also released by A24.

When an interdimensional rupture threatens to unravel reality, the fate of the world is suddenly in the hands of a most unlikely hero: Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), an overwhelmed immigrant mother. As bizarre and bewildering dangers emerge from the many possible universes, she must learn to channel her newfound powers and fight to save her home, her family, and herself, in this big-hearted and hilarious adventure through the multiverse.

They both live in Los Angeles. One of them has a son. The other has a goofy dog. But to be honest Daniel does most of the work.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:44
I like to welcome to the show The Daniel's. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert how you doing guys?

Daniel Kwan 3:45
Good. Thank you for having us.

Daniel Scheinert 3:47
Pretty good. Hello!

Alex Ferrari 3:48
Good, guys, thank you so much for coming on the show I am. I am a fan of what you guys do you guys are insane. And I love about you. It's, it's, it's such a wonderful thing to see the work that you guys have been doing over the years. That's the only word I can use is insane. But in the most wonderful way humanly possible. So when you guys got into the future game, I was so excited to see like Swiss Army Man, Miranda Bailey was just on the show a few weeks ago. And she was like telling me the whole story about Swiss Army Man. I'm like, how the hell what the how is that? How did that get financed? What happened? It's just like, it's her fault. Exactly. She told me, she told me the whole story and is it was fascinating. But before we go down that road, how did you and why did you guys want to get into this insanity? That is the film industry?

Daniel Scheinert 5:50
I just did whatever my brother did as a kid. So like, he did like math team. So I did math team. And then like, he and his friends started making movies. And so I started making movies, with with my friends in high school, but but there's that's a very different thing than the industry, you know. And it's interesting, like, I did a lot of theater as a kid. And then the older I got more, I was like, Oh, I don't actually want to be an actor that industry seems not for me, you know, and, and the film industry is, you know, there's, there's a lot of warts, there's a lot of problems and things but like, you get to like, especially as a writer and director on your own terms, collaborate with friends and tell stories, you know, like it was the funnest thing I'd ever done. I was I just got hooked and and we're so lucky that our careers we still get to do it in a way that's pretty similar, you know, to like the the high school college version of making movies.

Alex Ferrari 5:50
No, no question.

Daniel Kwan 6:56
For me, I I'm like the, in the heroes during the talk about the refusal to the call, you know, you run away from the thing, and I feel like I've been running away from your bio pics can be more interesting than mine. I guess, though. Yeah, cuz because I get yeah, as you refuse the call. Exactly. The setup is so much better. But I, I grew up really disempowered for some reason. And I don't know where it comes from, like, I did not believe in myself, I didn't believe that I had worked and, and yet people would tell me like, Oh, you're pretty good at this, or you're pretty good at that. And I wouldn't believe it. And I just kind of run away from all of it. Especially coming from my mother, you know, my mother would be like, you're a good storyteller. Why don't you write some more? And I was like, No, Mom, you know, that's like, that's stupid. That's a waste of time, that's not going to help me get into college, I was a very nervous person had a lot of anxiety. And so everything was about what was the most practical route forward. And I was miserable because of it. Because I wasn't how I my brain, you know, wasn't built for practical, it was built for, you know, wild, insane storytelling. And apparently, my mom, when I was younger, met a Christian like a fundamentalist Christian fortune teller, for lack of a better word. And she saw me apparently this this, this soothsayer, and the great bio, exactly. So wild is fast, and it's fast. No. But she she said to my mom, your son, I was in like, third grade, just like your son is going to be a great storyteller one day, maybe even a filmmaker. And he's going to spread the word of God. And my mom never told me this story until much later until, like, as an adult, she's told me now, but now I understand why she was pushing me to go to film school, which is so funny. Anyone who is a Asian American kid who is the kid of like, the son or daughter of immigrants will understand how profoundly strange that is. To have a Yeah, to have a Chinese mother, say, Son, don't go to business school, like go to films go to film school. And so I did what, you know, all children do. And I ignored my mom and I went to business school. So again, I was like, fuck that. I don't want to do that. Sorry. I don't know if we're allowed to swear on this. Fine, it's fine. Art that for that. I don't want to go. I don't want to risk my life. I don't want to be a miserable starving artists. I'm gonna go to business school. And I was miserable. I was I was I hated every minute of that experience. And that was like, well, maybe I should go to maybe I should try this out. And so it's even when I went to film school, I didn't want to be a director because I looked around. I was like, I'm not a director. I don't know how to talk to people. I don't know how to command 100 people in a crew. And so I was like, I'm gonna become an animator. I'm gonna learn how to animate and just make things on my computer by myself. And that's where I met this guy. And and this experience of meeting, Daniel shiner has been one in which every single time I feel like I don't belong in this industry, kind of like going back to your question of like, how do we get into this crazy industry? Anytime either of us felt like we didn't belong or the way that we worked and processed, our arts felt incongruous with, with how the industry worked. shiner being such a contrarian, we'd be like, so what, let's do it anyways, and I think was one of the biggest, most satisfying lessons I've learned over and over again, with every project is like, Oh, the way things are, aren't, aren't exactly how they have to be. And in fact, we can find better ways to suit ourselves. And I think if more film students learned that like that they can build a film process suited to their specific style. Just like every painter has a different process. Every poll has a different process. Like growing up, you learned about all the tours in film school, and I didn't see myself in any of their work, you know. And so I'm sorry, yeah, we have a it's all good. It's all good. If a dog in the background, it happens. It's all good. And so anyways, yeah, it was it was a series of accidents. And we have slowly built a career around this project of trying to figure out how can we be ambitious filmmakers who make great work that we're proud of, while still staying grounded and human and not not be assholes? I think that's one of the things that for some reason our industry has really built up is this idea that like, in order to make great stuff, you have to be a really mean person.

Daniel Scheinert 11:33
But in order to have a good biopic, I think we might have to turn me into the villain for the second half. I'll be like the manager of Brian Wilson. Yeah. Mercy. Oh, me, Paul Giamatti. Like taking advantage of you. Like you should take more drugs more ADHD

Alex Ferrari 11:53
That helps with your creative process. Absolutely. It would be the equivalent of my Cuban parents going go be a filmmaker. Yeah, go ahead. Because when I told when I when I told my parents I wanted to be a filmmaker my mom's like okay, let's do it on my desk like what what do you what? Yeah, what is that? What is that I'm like I can be a PA I can make $100 a day. That was that was my pitch to him to be

Daniel Kwan 12:14
It's so practical. You know how to appeal to an immigrant father I can 100 bucks a day dad come on

Alex Ferrari 12:20
$100 Cash a day. That was as far as my vision of my career had gone now you guys you guys obviously got a get started with shorts and and and then made made your bones and music videos. By the way, some of the music videos, some of the most interesting music videos of the last decade have been directed by you guys. And I'm not just smoking smoking

Daniel Scheinert 12:44
Smoking our butt

Alex Ferrari 12:46
Smoking your butt blowing smoke up your butts. I came. I came up in the 90s with Fincher and rubberneck and all these amazing films, I love music videos, especially in the 90s, late 80s, early 90s is when the form really took took you know, they took it to other places. So when I saw what you like, you know turned down but what I was just like, What is this? This is I mean just the clocking of the gun cocking as she sits on his face is a level of brilliance I have not seen very often in music video so thank you sirs.

Daniel Scheinert 13:23
Creative peak.

Daniel Kwan 13:25
That sound effects was

Daniel Scheinert 13:28
On your face

Alex Ferrari 13:29
It was just such a beautiful thing. It's such a small thing and only I like everybody else might have seen other things but when I saw that, I'm like they're filmmakers.

Daniel Kwan 13:40
That is to our audience. That's where the metaphor or the the term smoking your ass came from.

Alex Ferrari 13:51
So you guys did some amazing work in music videos. What lessons did you bring from your music videos experiences into the feature world which are obviously two different though I could argue to say that Swiss Army Man and and your current film both are just really long music videos, in the sense of the visuals are just insane.

Daniel Scheinert 14:09
Like the fact that like there's music nonstop. Like,

Daniel Kwan 14:13
We rely on music a lot.

Daniel Scheinert 14:15
Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, we learned a ton. Obviously, like some, some incredible music video directors do kind of like non narrative aesthetic tone poems. And we always did like short films, we always like tricked a band into paying for our short films, you know, like, they were very narratively driven. So we, we kind of were honing our voice as writers while doing music videos. And that made the transition a little, like, more organic, I guess, you know, because we were like, Oh, we're, um, you know, a lot of videos have like a beginning, middle and end turned out for what doesn't have much character development. But you know, there's a little bit of a linear story, you know,

Alex Ferrari 14:59
I'd argue to Say there's a lot of character development. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Daniel Kwan 15:14
Notes you see the world right bends around the protagonist over time. This is the constant in the world is when you don't turn down in sales turns up exactly. But to piggyback on what he's saying, like, we didn't think of ourselves as writers like I again, I don't even think of myself as a director at the time we first got hired for the for a dancer or a dancer. Yeah, there's so many things that I we did not

Daniel Scheinert 15:36
He's the star have turned down for what that's him.

Daniel Kwan 15:38
Yes. Yeah. In case you didn't know.

Alex Ferrari 15:39
It's fantastic.

Daniel Kwan 15:42
Thank you. But so we treated every project as, as Film School in some ways to be like, Hey, we've never worked with a DP before. What's that? Like? Let's let's bring a DP on for this one. More? Oh, well, you know, what is what is the production design team supposed to be? In? What's that? What's that relationship supposed to be like? Let's let's bring on a production designer. And every project, we just built our family out and started adding more and more people and learning new skills. You know, we like I've always wanted to play with motion control camera rigs. And so we did that for a battle's music video. We've always wanted to do

Daniel Scheinert 16:18
We started out doing a lot more like visual effects. Yeah. And we slowly learned more and more practical effects. gags Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's so much more fun when you can actually like, blow up in the air mortar have a breakaway prop,

Daniel Kwan 16:30
Right. And then like, we wanted to play more with stunts, and just see what that was like. So we did a foster people video about car chase. And we learned that we hate shooting car chases, you know, so every every project was was like a selfish way for us to learn something new. And then by the time we were ready to do features, like we had accrued a team with a very specific skill sets that, you know, really supported our process. And we felt like we were ready. The only thing that was really hard, I'd say the hardest part of the transition was the timeframes of, of music videos versus features, you know, music videos, you prep, pitch, write, shoot, edit, and release within a month. With features, you know, it takes you a year just to write like the first draft sometimes. And that was a that was a real struggle to like, slow down, and step back and say no to everything and basically turn off the faucet that we had of work coming in. Because we were at the peak of our of our music, VO careers. And we had to step away from that and say, You know what, I've always we've always wanted it to be filmmakers, who did features and narrative. And that was probably the hardest part. And I see a lot of contemporaries, who are in the music industry, who never did that. Never had the I don't wanna say discipline or self control. It's more just we had each other to keep each other accountable. So we, we were the ones who were able to say, Hey, should we pull back and we had someone who, who basically was there to keep us accountable and not get tempted to get pulled back into the whirlwind that is music video,

Daniel Scheinert 18:09
And we got lucky. You know, we know friends that do turn off the faucet and write a screenplay and can't get it made.

Daniel Kwan 18:15
Yes. It's hard out there.

Daniel Scheinert 18:18
But yeah, yeah, we learned a lot. We still use all the same tricks and work with all the same crew.

Alex Ferrari 18:24
Yeah, that's the thing is once you once you find people that you can work with you hold on to them for dear life, because it's, you know, there's a comfort level there. You could you could just look at them and they know exactly what you want. Or they're, they know what you want before you know what you want. So once you walk into like, perfect, exactly the aesthetic I want. Famous.

Daniel Scheinert 18:43
Now we're going to like, quit working with them, although,

Alex Ferrari 18:46
Obviously, obviously, obviously, that's what you do. You let you leave them alone. And you go get high Oscar winners. Just Hi, Oscar winners.

Daniel Kwan 18:53
All of this. This is the this is the industry way.

Alex Ferrari 18:55
Yeah, exactly. Now I so you guys have done some insane projects. What is your writing process? Like? Were you two working together? Because I write but I write by alone. I've never written with somebody else. So how do you guys go back and forth with the writing process?

Daniel Kwan 19:10
Yeah, it was a real that was a real learning. Like that was that was a lot of growing pains in that like leak from music videos to screenwriting, because neither of us thought of ourselves as writers. But when you're a musical director, you're constantly having to write new ideas. And so our process for music videos was actually pretty organically formed from the fact that we just had to be constantly pitching. Like we put out two or three pitches a week to different songs, and we get rejected 90% of the time, but that really like the exercise a part of our collective muscles where we were basically throwing ideas back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until someone laughed or someone gasp or someone emoted and then we're like, okay, what is that? Why, what like, let's let's latch on to that. And then we would start to throw ideas back and forth until they became these snowballs that kind of kept attaching more and more or conceptual ideas, narrative ideas, visual ideas and like we would start putting on different visual references that we'd pull up from YouTube or Vimeo. And we would never write anything down, it would all just be in our heads and just be ping pong back and forth for a couple of weeks, you know, without writing anything down, just seeing what stuck. And then finally, when it came time to pitch, we just write it all down and send it out. Which is great for music videos, because you have to have that speed. Once we transition to features that became really hard to do to ping pong the feature back and forth without writing down without you know. So what is our process? Now I feel like he changed.

Daniel Scheinert 20:36
I feel like it changes on every project. And that might be the lesson you know, is that like, we're cons. It's almost like a weird therapy exercise. And if you do the exact same thing, each time, you're not going to like make discoveries, you're just going to like, kind of create, figure out a pattern of how to make a similar, but not as good thing because it's not as like authentic and heartfelt and, but we still bounce ideas off each other a lot. We spent a lot of time apart. And we're each other's biggest fan. And also like biggest like, critic, because we built kind of a common vocabulary and trust of each other's thoughts. So it's a lot of like, time apart and coming back and being like, I have this thought it really resonates with me. I do I write very poorly by myself. And so like, sometimes I'm hungry to be like Dan, hang out with me. I want to throw ideas out.

Daniel Kwan 21:33
Sometimes Daniel Daniel Scheinert comes from like, an improv background. So everything about that world is about like reactions and

Daniel Scheinert 21:39
Collaborative and a sort of an extrovert who's feeds off other people's energy. And then Kwan is like, introvert extrovert. And so like, every once in awhile, he just disappears. It's like, nope, leave me alone. I'm writing, you know, and he'll come back with, like, really great stuff. But sometimes, you know, the great stuff is five times longer than we agreed it was gonna be back to the drawing board of like, how do we do we keep it all which parts do we keep? You know, it's an editing process. And just a lot of trial and error.

Daniel Kwan 22:09
Yeah. So with our first draft for everything everywhere, we spent a long time outline together, throwing things back and forth the ways that we have been talking about and then shot it went off to do his other movie Death a dick along with not a porn. Yeah, not respectable.

Daniel Scheinert 22:29
Exactly. It's misleading, I understand.

Daniel Kwan 22:32
But I wrote the first draft while he was gone shooting that movie, and it came back and it was like 240 pages, you know. So it's, I'm definitely I have ADHD, I realized, while writing this movie, and I think because of that I'm different, very generative. I'm just constantly writing constantly, I have notebooks that are always open, I have like five different. I write stuff on my phone, on my notebook on my laptop on my, you know, I just need to be writing constantly on things. Otherwise, my brain will explode. I just need like, let them out. And so I handle a lot of that over to shiner. And then China just like points out things that are working and points and like, tries to help form it into something that like makes both of us excited. So it's so far it's been more like scares the producers less. Right. Exactly. That's, like I'm, I'm very ambitious. And China is very practical minded. And so I think the combination of our brains has been very, very good.

Alex Ferrari 23:33
You know, it's funny when I had Miranda on the show, everyone listen, you gotta listen to Miranda, the producer of Swiss Iron Man. The stories that about how that movie got me because I was fascinated and like, how in God's green earth did anybody put money up for this film? Like, In what world is this movie exist? Apparently this this and this universe? It exists and others it might not, but in this universe exists? And she said that she said, like she talked to I think somebody intercompany and they like she'd read they're like, we're not gonna make this right. We're not gonna make the movie about the farting with a dick. And that, really? She's like, No, we're, we're really gonna make you gotta you guys got to listen to that interview. It's so fantastic. That pitch Yeah, no, yeah, there was like, how did you? How did you come up with the idea? It's such an insane idea. How did you come up with it? And how in God's green earth do you pitch that in a room?

Daniel Scheinert 24:24
Which ones was Army man? It was Army man. Yeah. The idea started work were the same way. Like all our music videos started it was kind of like an an image or a gag or a little scene that like, made us laugh. And it was just the opening scene of a guy. Initially the idea was like, feeding a corpse beans. Like it's fuel, and then writing it's far it's off a deserted island to freedom,

Daniel Kwan 24:53
But it was like very beautiful and like it was very

Daniel Scheinert 24:57
And then we were like, that would be a funny like the

Daniel Kwan 25:00
The music that shows, right. Yeah, the music I was listening to was Ben Zeitlin, you know who did be some Southern Wild, his short film that he did before that was called glory at sea. I don't know if you guys have seen it, but it's fantastic. They have best ambitious indie film, made on with no money. And like it was such an aspirational thing for us to watch in college. But the score is incredible. And Ben, you know, worked on the score, but I was listening to that score while we're on an airplane. And just imagining the beauty and the catharsis of a man riding off on a farting course was like making me laugh. But I will say that, like, a lot of our stuff, as wild as it is, comes from a very practical place. Because, you know, you mentioned in the 90s, the great music players like Fincher and Romanek and Spike Jones and Michel Gondry know, they had big budgets, you know, $5 million stars, stars who, you know, millions, when we were when we, by the time we got into the music industry, you know, Napster and streaming had decimated the industry, so that, you know, we were working with $10,000, you know, most of that 10 20,000, or whatever. So, we got to, we got stuck in this really interesting mode of, of filmmaking, which was very practical and based off of problem solving. So like, we happen to be flying to Alabama to visit his family, and do sort of a mini writer's retreat for another movie we thought we were going to write, and we were asking ourselves, what resources do we have there? Because we should shoot something while we're there. That'd be fun.

Daniel Scheinert 26:33
And they live on a lake in Alabama, their neighbors had a boat. And so we were like, maybe we could do a weird gag with a boat.

Daniel Kwan 26:40
And I was like, Okay, there's two of us. Okay. It's a short little thing with two people on the water. What could that be? And that's where this idea came from. And I think like, a lot of our work is kind of coming from very practical, like, problem solving. And so yeah, so that's where it came from. I pitched it to him. And shine, it was like, that's amazing. We have to make it and I immediately regretted pitching it to him, because I was like, I don't want to make that though. You know, like, I don't want to show that to my exactly the person, the person that Miranda's company who said, we're not really going to make that as like, oh, yeah, that's that was what I was saying to it's not Yeah, they weren't. They weren't crazy for thinking that. And then it just, it just kept grew. It really was like a cancer in my brain, and are both our collective brains. It doesn't have growing and more ideas kept latching on to it.

Daniel Scheinert 27:28
And then it became a long short film about like, the amnesia, the like, the amnesia corpse, trying to figure out what happened to it and learn about life. And then that short film got bigger and bigger. And we were like, maybe it's a feature that would be hilarious. Like an almost as like a joke. We started fleshing out the feature, and then

Daniel Kwan 27:47
You know, as a joke, we pitched it to a in a general meeting, we were actually speaking of industry. So we're getting we're getting passed around Hollywood, doing general meetings, and we kept pitching our joke ideas, because we didn't have any ideas that we thought would appeal to most studio heads or to any producers. And one day, we decided to pitch this movie to a producer almost as a joke. And he leaves

Daniel Scheinert 28:09
Like, do you really want to make that? Yeah. And we're like, yeah, he's like, why haven't you written it? And he's, and we're like, oh, because we don't think it would get made. And he's like you. If you believe in it, you should make that no one else. No one else is ever going to make that movie. Like, mysteries are true. And it was like, it was a good kick in the ass.

Daniel Kwan 28:26
Yeah. So yeah, that was Lauren. singly, one of the producers on our on that film was the one who kind of liked Miranda. Yeah, he kind of like pressed the button to turn, turn that part of our brain on and say, Don't do it. Why not?

Alex Ferrari 28:41
Yeah, but I have, but I have to ask, like, you guys did some pitches. Right. So did you What were some reactions from the pitches? Like I gotta believe that somebody's like, I could just see the pale white skin of a of somebody, like just all the all the blood flow coming out of their bodies, like, you guys. You're not serious. Sorry. Yeah,

Daniel Scheinert 29:01
Were pretty good at pitching our ideas because we're also like, self deprecating, and, like, totally ready for the, the criticism, you know, I agree and like, and sort of have the attitude of like, you know, if you don't get it, it's not for you. Don't please don't, please don't give us money. Like, I don't want you in a great you know, regretting this or, you know, just every draft and every screening. Like not getting it but but it was hard. Yeah. And it took like someone with a weird sense of humor like Miranda like to say yes, that got the ball rolling. And then I will say something we discovered later that really helped was we we got the band Manchester orchestra. Robert and Andy to start making some songs for us when we were developing it. Before it was Even though officially greenlit, And then we started pitching it with music. And we were able to pitch the opening scene and press play, and just start describing it as you heard this, like, oh, gorgeous music. And it was such a different feeling in the room where like, people were suddenly like, what the hell's going on? This music is making me emotional, and it's so beautiful. And what you're describing is profane and stupid and should not I should not give you money. But I think it helped, that really helped crack the pitch in that case, just to be able to, like, you know, play music, which is something we still do sometimes.

Daniel Kwan 30:49
Yeah. The other two things that really helped us was the fact that two things happened. While we're in the middle of trying to get funding and trying to get actors. The first thing that happened was we somehow got into the Sundance Institute, like the Sundance screenwriters lab for the screenplay, and we were like, what? Like, who at the sun, like, you know, right? Think about Sundance, you think about so many other movies, and not so sorry, man. That's not what you think about when you think about Sundance. But you know, to their credit, they saw something really earnest in our work, and they saw our past work and saw that we were trying new things, and you know, what is Sundance if not a place to foster new voices. And so they brought us in, and it was, incredibly, creatively, just exactly what we needed at that point in our careers, regardless of whether or not the movie was gonna get made. It was so healing. And it also showed us that there was a place for us in this industry in the way that we were talking about at the beginning, where we were talking about, maybe we don't belong here, it's like, oh, the Sundance Institute was one of the first places that we went to were like, Oh, this beautiful, creative environment can exist. And it does exist. And we should be chasing after this. And so that was really great. But we got the stamp of approval from Sundance, which made suddenly our foreign corpse movie people had to like, really lean forward and and process and then maybe have

Daniel Scheinert 32:13
Robert Redford so this. So this is a good move.

Daniel Kwan 32:15
Exactly. Yeah. Robert Redford, his stamp of approval. And then, oddly enough, while we were at the Sundance Labs, we were so fed up with how intellectual we had become, we had been talking way too much about themes and characters and, and all this stuff that is really important. But after a while, as filmmakers who want to be on set who want to be making things and really expressing things that you can't even put into words, it was very frustrating. And we happen to get a song in from Columbia Records from one of our Commissioner buddies, Brian Downes, who, who works at Columbia, he sent it over, and it was turned down for what and he was like, What do you guys want to do with the song it's kind of a wild song. And so we were like, this is perfect. Let's turn off our brains. And let's do the opposite of what we'll be doing no theme, no character, no, just like pure ID, let's create something so wild and so frenetic and beautiful and strange. And then basically, will basically will hold nothing back. And will will will say to the, the label, like I dare you to let us make this. If they actually let us make it and we'll have to go make it. And so we did that. We put that online, instantly a viral hit. And so we got the viral hit, we got the Sundance stamp of approval, and suddenly making the foreign incoax movie made a lot of sense to you know, certain investors obviously, we still scared away a lot of people but yeah, we're really lucky.

Alex Ferrari 33:41
No, it's it's it was the right place. Right time. Right product. And also, the thing is, a lot of people might not see this in your films, but there's so much emotion in the characters. There's like, you know, everything everywhere. You're you know, you're tearing up like it's yeah, they're hot dog fingers. But there's so much emotion behind what's going on. Same thing with Swiss Army Man, like you tear up watching that film. So it's not just insanity for insanity or gag for Gag sake. You know, there's, there's heart behind it. And that's what stick makes you because, you know, I can't say anybody can come up with a 40 corpse idea. But in the wrong hands. It's a movie about a 14 corpse total but yeah, and what you guys did you elevated it and that's because what Sundance saw in your work, you're like, Oh, there's more here than just the gag. The gag is just super It's interesting. It's no one's ever seen this before. And that's what's really beautiful about what you guys are doing. Now. Now you guys, you know we all as directors, we're all on the onset. And there's always that one day on set if not every day, but always that one day specifically the the entire world is coming crashing down around you. The world is coming to an end. You're not going to make your day you're going to lose the actor. The sun has gone the camera fell in the lake What was that day for you on Swiss Army Man? And how did you overcome it?

Daniel Kwan 35:06
We probably have different answers for this. But yeah, go first. Yeah,

Daniel Scheinert 35:10
We shot sorry man in like five weeks and a bunch of we had a bunch of travel days in there too. So it wasn't even like five days of shooting per week. And week four, we did four night shoots in a row. And it was like all the bear stuff and like, and we just burned the candle at both ends and started going insane. And

Daniel Kwan 35:34
I thought I was gonna want everyone's getting sick.

Daniel Scheinert 35:36
Yeah, I thought I was at rock bottom at that point. And then I got sick after that, as we traveled up to Eureka, with a small crew to get all the beautiful redwoods stuff. So like on day one or two of wandering around the redwoods that morning, Quan like wanting to rewrite the scene, again, we were constantly rewriting while shooting on that one was not a good idea. And so like, and he was like, we don't have time to rewrite it. Oh, well, but it's a bad scene. Let's go shoot it. And I was sick and sad and demoralized. And that was how we started our day. And then we went out into the woods. And while shooting it, I just started feeling like I was gonna pass out like just, and like hopeless. And we were just kind of a boring scene where the camera we're just doing normal coverage. But I was like, the movies going to be a disaster. It's not going to work. That's not going to work. Dan hates it. I don't even know how to give notes on this scene. I like walked away and walked up to my producer Jonathan Wong. And I was like, I don't think I don't know if I'm I don't know if I'm gonna make it. And he's like, what's up? Apparently, I said something. Like I said something where he he interpreted as like Daniel thinks he's gonna die. But I thought what I was saying was that I couldn't finish the movie, but I'm not sure what if I was speaking English. I was like, I was like, You were gone. I was like, close to a mental breakdown. And that seemed turned out great. It's great. The writing was fine. Like in the edit. We like our met him edited it together. And we watched him. We're like, What the fuck is good. That day was so sad. I guess I don't have to direct I guess the key to directing is to walk away is to walk away and get sad. And it'll turn out good. But uh, but yeah, we did. We learned a lot of lessons on that movie about how to manage morale, you know, and, and that that's a huge deal on a feature that like, it's not just about do you have a good idea and a good plan? It's about like, are you taking care of yourself?

Daniel Kwan 37:35
Are you take care of your crew?

Daniel Scheinert 37:37
Are you taking care of your crew and, and we and we left that one being like, whew, a lot of room for improvement. You know, like it got too hard.

Daniel Kwan 37:46
My quick stories last day, or sorry, the last scene of the movie is everyone on the beach. I'm sorry, spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen it. There's a beach. There's A beach. Everyone's on the beach.

Alex Ferrari 37:57
There's some there's some beans.

Daniel Kwan 37:58
Yeah, exactly. And then we, you know, a small budget, no lighting equipment. Nothing. We literally we had to wait for, you know, the 1520 minutes of magic hour to shoot that entire scene. And it was Radcliffe's birthday. I remember. And Radcliffe really wanted to lie down in the water, even though it's freezing cold. Like we're like Daniel we have, we have a dummy. And he's like, no, no, no, I want to be here. I want to like I think it's important for Paul to see me here to be part of this and like, okay, great. And so we neurotically blocked it all out and tried to like come up with a plan to shoot that whole scene, which is like, you know, 1213 It feels like 12 setups, right? It's like everyone has their own Spielberg pushing on like in the medium shot plus three or four wise plus a couple of very specific shots between Radcliffe and Paul. Anyways, it was a lot of set shots. And we had to do it in 15 minutes. And so we literally we just our anyway, I think we on our No, I feel like we once by the time we started shooting, it was like half an hour and we basically just didn't cut we went we basically we made the plan and Larkin was operating for the whole movie or DP. And so he knew exactly like when, where to move from each setup. And so we'd be like, Okay, we got it. Next up. Okay, we got it next. Okay, we got it. Next up, okay. Now, everyone, all the actors get ready, you're gonna shoot your one shot and we're just gonna do a couple takes back and forth and we move on to the next person. And like I said, I don't know how many times we cut but we really like there was no time to sleep. You know, we just went like, Okay, now you're close up. Okay, now you're close up. No, you're close up. And then we missed the last final interaction between Paul and and Daniel. As the sun was setting, we cranked the our ISO was cranked wide like like as high as possible.

Daniel Scheinert 39:50
Real bad. And Larkin was just muttering we have to stop.

Daniel Kwan 39:53
Yeah, it was it was so grainy and like, and we're like shit I think we might have last week. I don't know. I don't know if we got our funds. Only and it was just like a really just scary feeling to have to like, we didn't nail the ending. And, you know, we like like Shannon was saying we were kind of already, like, burnt out from the process of making this film. So that was definitely like, that was week two. Yeah, that was.

Daniel Scheinert 40:19
Yeah, that's the end of week two. Yeah.

Daniel Kwan 40:22
So that was really scary. And you know, we ultimately finagle some some

Daniel Scheinert 40:26
Was it week one because maybe on Friday, I sort of remember the schedule in my head, but it was fast. I remember as being like, Oh, my God, we just started and now we're shooting the ending.

Daniel Kwan 40:35
Yeah. And we're exhausted. And we're exhausted. And like, yeah, I guess it's a short film. We're Yeah. So we just learned a lot of the limits of of our, you know, of our budget versus our ambition.

Daniel Scheinert 40:46
But we've been, I will say, like, you know, I hear stories of films that's gone wrong. And I've and makes me feel so lucky. That like, like, it's, it's been hard and things have gone wrong, but just because it's just because it was ambitious, not because of like, we've been so lucky that, you know, we haven't worked with assholes. And that, like, we've had good producers and that we've headed off a lot of the really disastrous types of things that can go wrong before. You know, we got to set so we're Yeah, we're such lucky filmmakers that you know,

Daniel Kwan 41:22
These are our horses.

Daniel Scheinert 41:23
These are ours. Like I was tired, and it was hard.

Alex Ferrari 41:26
Yeah, it's not like Coppola on apocalypse. Now. You're not in the jungle for three years with a gun to your head. So it's not putting things into perspective.

Daniel Kwan 41:34
Yes, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 41:36
That's No, those are no, I feel but I feel both of those. I love the Best Directing tip just walk away depressed, and it'll come out fine.

Daniel Scheinert 41:46
Weird. I mean, we did kind of thing this was starting man, there was a part of a masochistic part of us that we're like, it's about a guy kind of losing his mind in the woods. I think that might happen to us while we do this, but maybe that'll make it an interesting movie. This will be our Apocalypse Now.

Alex Ferrari 42:05
I was about to say this is very Apocalypse Now a very method directing. It's very,

Daniel Scheinert 42:11
I don't aspire to do for that. Yeah. Now, I like having fun.

Alex Ferrari 42:17
So speaking of fun, I just was I had the pleasure of watching everything everywhere, all at once. A couple of weeks ago. I think at this point, we can we can half ago, I saw it. And as I'm sitting there watching it in theater. I'm just looking at it and going. I'm so glad this is in existence. I'm so glad somebody put this out into our art mold over our universe. And then hotdog fingers show up. And I'm like, oh my god, I love this film. There's Hochberg fingers. I have to ask, how and it's such a beautiful and I joke, but it's such a beautifully done movie. And, and I'm not smoking about again. But that's it. I promise you there'll be some YouTube comments saying no. Smoking uh, but no. But honestly, though, I'm watching it. And it's, you know, Michelle Yeoh is a is a goddess. Data from the Goonies oh my god, what a powerhouse actor. I was not. When I saw him. I was like, Oh, look, it's data from Goonies Oh, he got work. Fantastic. You know, that's why that's the first thought. And then I'm like, holy crap. He's really good.

Daniel Kwan 43:26
Yeah. And then underestimate data.

Alex Ferrari 43:30
I heard his voice when I heard his voice. For the first time I have this data. He's like, I just because I've seen the Guney 1000 times. Of course, yeah. Jamie Lee Curtis, and then just the whole cast that you put together. It is such a beautiful ballet of insanity. And emotion. It's remarkable how. And I have to ask you the same question again. How on God's green earth? Did you guys come up with this idea?

Daniel Scheinert 43:54
Yeah, I mean, I feel like we could do a whole podcast one day about where ideas come from and how it's a mystery and what isn't the human brain? And how does neuroscience work? And this is of the neurons firing that make us giggle? And then at what point does do we then test that against the culture to see if it's something worth putting out there as opposed to just an inside joke? And much of that is, like, with intent, and how much of that is pure luck or just like subconscious, you know? This thing's like

Daniel Kwan 44:26
Like, we're, we're all discovering that genius doesn't come from individual ideas don't really come from individuals. We're all just conduits for this like bigger, mimetic battle that's happening all around us.

Daniel Scheinert 44:37
We're gonna get philosophical with your very simple

Alex Ferrari 44:40
ExI love it. I love it. So you're channeling, channeling

Daniel Kwan 44:43
Channeling

Alex Ferrari 44:43
From the ether from the ether from

Daniel Kwan 44:45
It's all from the ether. And I think the only thing that makes us different and I think the thing that is our superpower is we say, Yes,

Daniel Scheinert 44:51
We say yes to the idea that we haven't seen that sound unproduced. Yeah,

Daniel Kwan 44:56
We say yes to the to the bad ideas, we say yes to the things that should not be A mostly because the moment we tell ourselves, oh, this shouldn't be made. We we question the angles, like why not? Hold on, but it didn't resonate with me. This is interesting. Yeah. Oh,

Daniel Scheinert 45:20
If it sounds on producible, that means no one else is going to beat us to it.

Daniel Kwan 45:24
There's also that

Alex Ferrari 45:24
There's no competition. There's no competition.

Daniel Scheinert 45:27
There is like, I was just talking about the philosophy of ideas. And there's, there's this book impro by Keith Johnstone. It's like an improv book that I read in an acting school. And he has a chapter about creativity and about how, you know, effortless it is for the human mind. But it's hard for a lot of people because it's trained out of us, like our school system, and our culture teaches us how to curate and focus and ignore, you know, playful ideas. But that like, it's, it's like, if you don't do that, like if you talk to like hunter gatherer cultures and stuff, like it's creativity is like, effortless and it's everywhere, and that there was an he loves. There's some anecdote about some like, that's like an Inuit tribe or something that like, one of those tribes that has, you know, 20 words for snow. And they think that there is a sculpture inside of every rock. That is that is that has to be discovered. Not that there's a sculptor who's really good at it's like, and they're like, so instead of being like, Dan Quan is a really good sculptor. The way that the tribe talks about it, apparently, is there like there's a lot of weird rocks around lately, like what's with all the, all the rocks have some really interesting animals inside lately, and I just thought it's such a beautiful counterpoint to how we normally talk about, you know, creativity,

Alex Ferrari 46:52
And not to spoil anything, but you know, there might be a rock or two.

Daniel Kwan 46:55
Yeah, they're pretty weird rock. Yeah. Weird. But yeah, I feel like to sum it up, I feel like every idea we had in this movie, a 10 year old could have come up with, you know, like, it's all it's no hotdog hands and cocking rocks. It's like, there's nothing special about any of this stuff. It's just the fact that we, we chased it, you know, and I think I think we're like there's a sort of naivety there where we like, foolishly chase after these things.

Daniel Scheinert 47:24
Ourreal skill isn't coming up with weird ideas. It's convincing people to invest millions of dollars and to risk their entire artistic reputation out those good ideas.

Alex Ferrari 47:36
You guys should do a masterclass on how to convince people to give you money to do ideas, because you guys are the masters at this because not once but twice with to like, again, the pitch How is that? How do you pitch this? They could such a visual thing? And and how do you attract the cast that you do? Like, it's, that's the other thing is that like, you guys are going off and doing it with some unknown actors. You're bringing in some of the top actors around to do the show yo, was Michelle Yoda how she has not been a lead in a movie outside of Hong Kong is beyond me. Like I could I heard that I was like,

Daniel Kwan 48:12
I know, we felt the same way. We were like, what?

Daniel Scheinert 48:15
We did not know that. And so let's tour

Alex Ferrari 48:18
What she's she's so she says she's a goddess. She's amazing what she does, and how she how she played this part was so beautifully. I mean, it's so beautifully directed. And everything is just, it's, it's just going better. As I'm talking to you. The images are flying back into my head. Hotdog fingers. I still have nightmares, by the way, about duck fingers. When I first saw the motions. I was just like, why has no one ever done this before? And I go, I know why. It's disturbing. It's a wonderful, beautiful way. It's like, Oh, my

Daniel Kwan 49:00
But to our earlier point, like you say, why? How come no one has done this before? Ever since our movie has come out? It's only been about a month now. But yeah, people have been sharing past work that feel like somehow we ripped it off or whatever that we've never seen before. So like there's been two or three different instances where people have sent us hot dog finger scenes from other movies that we've never seen. Or, like, you know, there was a children's book, my friend sent me a children's book, where they're just to talking rocks on a hill. And I was like, This is amazing. You know, like it's all there. It's on the ether. It's just it's how you cook it you know, it's how you it's how you make the stew that's that's

Alex Ferrari 49:36
No pun intended. No pun intended with no look. I mean, it's not that it's not that we haven't seen that before. I can't remember seeing it but like you see like a movie like I forgot one of the Spy Kids had guys made of thumbs, you know and like giant Yeah, you know, like it's not that but the way you guys that fingers in the way the movement and stuff was just so and I don't want to make this a podcast about the hotdog fingers but it's just such Have a just an amazing visual. How did you guys do the quality of visual effects on such a low budget? Because this is, this is not $100 million Avengers $100 million as a catering budget for Avengers. But how did you guys use it to make because the visual effects are remarkable. They really are.

Daniel Scheinert 50:18
Wow, thank you. Yeah, I mean, we, you know, coming up in music videos, we did a lot of our own effects at first. And then like I said, we

Daniel Kwan 50:26
But that was kind of our calling card, like, labels would reach out to us be like, Hey, do you have any cool visual effect ideas that are cheap? Oh, yeah,

Daniel Scheinert 50:34
Those guys who can do like, yeah, like tons of effects for no money, because you just do them yourself. And that was our, our thing. And then we learned a lot about practical effects, mostly by working with Jason because of our day, our production designer. And, and kind of brought all those tricks to this movie. And so a lot of it's like, not that fancy, you know, and, and while writing, we would write gags that we knew could play to our strengths. So we were very rarely writing things that were going to require, like a huge VFX team to strategize and bring on 3d generalists to design myths to figure that out, you know, and instead we're like, oh, no, it's, it's all going to be practical. And when it's not, we know which tricks we're going to use. And they're not too hard to pull off.

Daniel Kwan 51:27
Yeah, we're using a lot of the same techniques that, you know, filmmakers in the 80s were made, we're using, it's the only difference is in the 80s, or the 20s. Or even like wondering, oh, yeah, yeah, a trip to the moon, a trip to the moon, like, just like the match cuts with the with the poof of smoke, like, we're just using those same exact techniques. Except the difference now is, we don't have to do 20 takes to get the practical effect, right, we can do one and a half good takes, okay takes and then we fix it in post with with with our very, you know, rudimentary skills as after effects artists. And so we're kind of cheating every way we can to make the illusion of, of these effects work for as little effort and as little money as possible, which is why I think people say, like, the one talking about the fact that we had about like five to 600 visual effects shots. And it was done with a team of like five to seven people, we say seven, because we're also including ourselves in that number.

Daniel Scheinert 52:26
And there were a couple of people who came on for a few weeks, but the like, core team was pretty small, like really small, the coaching was like our friends were people. And we all just like had synced hard drives. And we would just like, we did it on After Effects. And I think some of it's very impressive what the guys pulled off, you know, and somewhat was very ambitious, like the kind of bagels, bagels. But the other kind of secret weapon is that Kwan has great aesthetic taste. And with a small team, and it all being an After Effects, it was possible for like, Dan to push certain shots over the finish line. And instead of giving like 20 emails to try to refine it, he could just be like, great, give me the project file, open it up, I'm going to spend an hour or two, that's exactly how I want to feel we're done. But like, we didn't have to do all the effects that we also got to put our fingerprints on it.

Daniel Kwan 53:21
Yeah, efficiency there. Because I think one of the reasons why so many visual effects in movies look the same is because they, they there's so many layers of communication between the director and the visual effects artists now that you kind of as a director, you go into these post houses, and you're not really allowed to play that much you're not allowed to explore. And that's really frustrating as directors who love visual effects. And so this was a way for us to be able to have our cake and eat it, we can, we can do it for less money. And we get to have our fingerprints all over and really play with the style of how it's going to feel.

Daniel Scheinert 53:59
But people who are great at visual effects. would listen to your comment about our effects looking incredible. And they'll be like, no, they don't. Because a lot of it's like real, real janky little janky. But there's like a charm to it. And it's about energy not about like, pause the pause the frame. That's a perfect shot, you know, kind of

Alex Ferrari 54:20
I've been I've been a VFX producer, a VFX supervisor, a lot of indie projects. So I mean, I understand you're janky but it's perfect for what you're trying to do. It's not it doesn't have to be Thanos throwing a moon at somebody. But that's not what that's about. And that's why I'm like even at that budget level, it still looks phenomenal. And you're so caught up with the kinetic energy of the scenes. I mean, the bagel stuff and all me you just get caught up with it you just like you're in it because if I'm looking at all that law, that comp was just a picture sort of blurred that a little bit more if they could have just comp that a little bit better or thrown. No, I wasn't there. I was in the story. So with that, I'm sure if I go back and analyze it, I'm sure I'm sure you guys go back and analyze it like, I did I do that 100 $200 million movies. I'm like, how did that get through? Like, obviously see, that's a really, when my wife is looking at a movie and going, that's a bad green screen. And it's like a $200 million movie. I'm like, oh, figured it out. Have a few more at last couple questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Daniel Scheinert 55:31
Adjust your goals, bro. breaking in. Breaking in shouldn't be your goal, because a lot of people break in and then they're sad. And they make the world a worse place. And they make like upsetting weird content. And they talking about us talking about us.

Alex Ferrari 55:48
Look what happens when you follow your dreams, everybody.

Daniel Scheinert 55:51
Turns out, I'm cynical, this was all a front. All these nice jokes for you kids. As you know, I like to say that, like, if you love making movies, chase that feeling find people that you love making movies with. And, and maybe you'll end up getting paid to do it and and find a niche, and then that'll be great. Or maybe not, and you'll still be happy and, and having the therapeutic beautiful experience of making and sharing artwork, you know. And that breaking in can sometimes be the worst thing for you, you know, if you don't get to make what you love, or with people that you love doing it with. And so, it'll happen. If you just make stuff you love. You know, you'll find your niche in the world, you know, and that niche might mean your local film festival. And that's dope. Awesome, you know, or it might be a 24. And that's cool, too.

Alex Ferrari 56:57
And that and that's fine, too. And let's just give a shout out to a 24 Thank you for allowing and helping movies like this to put on to the world because there's just really isn't your only isn't that there? Isn't that another a 24?

Daniel Scheinert 57:10
Their fighting the good fight getting tricking people into watching provocative challenging things.

Alex Ferrari 57:16
Right! It's fantastic. Now what is the lesson that took you guys the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in lif?

Daniel Kwan 57:24
Longest to learn. I'm trying to think of lessons I'm still learning right now, maybe something I'm trying to figure out is this balance of, of, it's more than work life. Because I think work life is like, that's, that's a given. Everyone has to tackle that. But it's like, it's from a leadership position. Because, you know, again, I never wanted to be a filmmaker, I never wanted to be a director, I never wanted to be a leader. And so a lot of this feels like it's been put upon me in a way that like, makes me very uncomfortable and unsure of but the balance of, of being a a leader, who is also who's just as concerned with the final product, as the process is something I think I'll always be learning and always reflecting on, I think with this movie, we got really close to a perfect process, in that and the fact that like, it's the most ambitious thing we've ever done, it was is like foolishly, foolishly ambitious for how much money and time we got for to make it. And yet, it was the most fun, the most loving the most just gracious environment. And I like I really, I really think it was like, it was so much easier than so sorry, man, even though you know, technically it like it's like, exponentially harder in every way. As far as production goes. But because we went in with the the goal of creating a, an environment that was just really fulfilling, and, you know, all push towards this idea of letting everyone who walked on tourist sets, be able to show off their best version of themselves. You know, that was like one of our goals was to empower people to just, you know, become the best version of themselves on our set. And it was so fulfilling and so fun. And I have so many great memories of the shoot in a way that I can't say the same for our previous work. And I think this is something I think we'll always be chasing after because if we can have it all if we can be ambitious and you know, creative directors who also just build in beautiful environments for peace. able to exist in into Korean like that that is going to be such a beautiful, beautiful thing to prove to our industry, you know. to myself into our crew, but also to the rest the industry.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:22
That's a beautiful answer. By the way. That's a beautiful answer. That was a really wonderful answer. And last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Daniel Scheinert 1:00:32
Ah, this is always hard. I like giving different answers, you know,

Daniel Kwan 1:00:37
You go first.

Daniel Scheinert 1:00:42
I love I love a crazy documentary. Love American movie, the movie, boys trying to make their movie not available for rent digitally anywhere. For some reason. You got to figure this out. But

Daniel Kwan 1:00:56
The first thing that my brain went to was Magnolia, probably. That's why I just keep returning back to because it's a movie that does everything wrong. And it feels so right. And it doesn't matter. You know, like, and I'm like, I wanted to be chasing that as a filmmaker for a long time. Just that feeling that I got when I watched Magnolia for the first time

Daniel Scheinert 1:01:23
My brain just went to like, Moonlight is insane. It's just like the hype, it pays off is great. So beautiful. And like it was like at the right place at the right time where like our culture was trying to like quit being so homophobic. And like, it was like, here's how like, here's, like, empathize with this person, like 100% successful and it was like, just like this, like, epically important thing for our culture. And for me, you know, to just like to fall in love with this love story. And for a beautiful heart. Yeah, to thing and for it to win Best Picture. Yeah. And then for it to go. And he feels alive. Yeah.

Daniel Kwan 1:02:04
I'll go back to one of my childhood favorites, which was it's probably the movie I've seen more times than any other movie. It's Groundhog's Day.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:11
It's a masterpiece.

Daniel Kwan 1:02:14
Yeah, it's a masterpiece. And it became like a spiritual guide for this movie, because it was a film about, about nihilism about the treasury of existence, but wrapped up in a really fun comedy. And they and then he pulls off both those things wonderfully. And I was like, I want to do that with our movie, The whatever we do with this film, it has to pull off both of those things. It has to be so much fun. And so philosophical and insincere. And so the long answer is only

Daniel Scheinert 1:02:47
Princess Mononoke gay. Oh, yeah, just blew my mind when I was a kid. And then I've been I've been thinking about it lately. And just how like, brilliant. Like the the ambiguity of good and evil is in that and how important it was for me as a kid to like to chew on that, you know, when like, we're usually fed these kind of like violence is the answer beat the bad guy stories, like just go blow up their building was like, is the moral of, you know, a lot of, you know, action adventure movies. And it's like, no, this one's confusing, and it's about people with different interests. And also, you're gonna fall in love with a little wolf girl. It's very confusing and exciting for me as a kid.

Daniel Kwan 1:03:35
For my last answer, I don't want to say this because it's so obvious, but I have to say it just because I need to pay tribute to how much it the movie means to me. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Never heard of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:50
Never heard of it. Who's in it? No. No, that's me. boundary is a master. I wish he would be making more movies. Now. I want somebody please listen to give him a budget. Let him do whatever he wants

Daniel Scheinert 1:04:03
Back up with Charlie. He spirals a little like, I think I would if I didn't have Dan.

Daniel Kwan 1:04:10
Yeah. And you got to have a balance is just, yeah, it's the movie that like that. Really. I feel like it changed me as a person and made me understand. Yeah, my world, my the, my place in the world in a completely different way. It was, I think it was the first time I experienced meta modernism in the wild. This this idea of trying to get beyond postmodern, like post post modernism. And it was so cathartic and healing for me to see that play out in a story for the first time. So that yeah, it's incredible. And also, it's just so much fun, like the filmmaking of it. It's just so fun. And obviously we stole so much from boundary when we started making these videos and even in our features, you can see his fingerprints in it as well. It's all there.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:55
Yeah, guys, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you guys so much. On a continued success, I tell everybody to please go watch everything everywhere all at once. It is. It is a brilliant piece of cinema and I'm so glad it exists in the world. Thank you guys for doing you. Thank you for being a conduit for the insane. And to bring it into our universe, my friends. Thank you so much.

Daniel Kwan 1:05:17
Thank you for having us. This was fun.

Daniel Scheinert 1:05:17
Yeah.

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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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