Top 15 Documentary Filmmakers Podcasts (Emmy® & Oscar® Winners)

Alex has been a huge fan of documentaries for a long time. He has had the pleasure of speaking to Oscar® and Emmy® winning documentarians on the show. Here is a collection of the best documentary filmmaker podcasts IFH has to offer. From using NFT and Blockchain to making millions with self distribution and using the Filmtrepreneur Method. Get ready to take some notes.  Enjoy!

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1. Lynn Novick

Since seeing one of her first documentaries, I was transfixed by her power of storytelling. Our guest is an Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentary filmmaker, Lynn Novick—a formidable and respected PBS documentary filmmaker with thirty-plus years of experience in the business.

Her archival mini and docu-series documentaries bring historically true events to the big screen alongside her filmmaking partner, Ken Burns. 

You’ve most likely seen some of her landmark documentary films. The likes of Vietnam (2017), TV Mini-Series documentary The Civil War (1990), College Behind Bars (2019), eighteen hours mini-series, Baseball (2010), and many more. All are available on PBS Documentaries Prime Video Channel.

Just this year, the pair premiered their latest co-produced and co-directed three parts documentary on PBD—recapitulating the life, loves, and labors of Ernest Hemingway. The series explores the painstaking process through which Hemingway created some of the most important works of fiction in American letters. 

2. Kevin MacDonald

On the show, today is academy award-winning documentary and film director, and producer, Kevin Macdonald. He is one of few directors who dance the line of film and documentary seamlessly. He directed documentaries like Whitney (2018), crowdsourced documentary – Life in a Day (2011), Marley (2012), among others.

He is famously known for his 2006 drama film, The Last King of Scotland, starring Oscar-winning best actor, Forest Whitaker. Kevin has made a huge name for himself and his work over his 27 years in the industry – dabbling in commercials, films, and documentaries.

As a boy, his granddad, Emeric Pressburger who was a legendary filmmaker in the 1940s  lit his passion for filmmaking. When his grandfather passed, Kevin wrote a biography in 1994 about his grandad’s life journey, titled, ‘ The Life and Death of a Screenwriter’, which he later made into a documentary ‘The Making of an Englishman’ (1995). This was the start of him becoming a documentary maker.

In 1999 he directed the Box office hit and Oscar-winning documentary, One Day in September, which is about the 1972 Munich Olympic Games massacre, featuring a lengthy interview with Jamal Al-Gashey, the last known survivor of the Munich terrorists.

This project catapulted his career big time. He then made the adventure-docudrama, Touching the Void, another critically acclaimed film that won Best British Film at the 2003 BAFTA. The true story of two climbers and their perilous journey up the west face of Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.

3. Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria has long established herself as one of the most sought after television directors in Hollywood. Named by Variety as one of their most anticipated directors of 2021, Longoria continues to hone her craft, seek new projects, and expand opportunities for others by paving the way for future women and minority producers, directors and industry leaders in Hollywood and beyond.

Her strong work ethic coupled with her passion for storytelling has led to a pivotal moment as she prepares for the release of her feature film directorial debut with Flamin’ Hot. She recently wrapped production for the highly anticipated Searchlight biopic about the story of Richard Montañez and the spicy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos snack for which she beat out multiple high profile film directors vying for the job.

Eva has also contributed writing to publications on the subject of education. She also has a contract with L’Oreal and has been named one of the most beautiful people. Her latest documentary La Guerra Civil is in this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

This feature-length documentary follows the epic rivalry between iconic boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez in the 1990s sparked a cultural divide between Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans. A chronicle of a battle that was more than a boxing rivalry, and examining a fascinating slice of the Latino experience in the process.

4. RJ Cutler

Our guest today, RJ Cutler opened up 2021 with his raw, emotional, and remarkable new documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry. He’s a phenomenal documentary and TV director and producer with nearly thirty years of experience in the business. The $2 million dollars documentary film which was directed, written, and produced by Cutler centered around singer-songwriter teen sensation and Grammy Award artist, Billie Eilish — Revealing the creation process of Eilish’s debut studio album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’

The very intimate telling of Eillish’s solid support system and family, navigating the ropes of the music fame as a young artist depicted unconventionally and astoundingly.

From college, Cutler started off as a theater director in New York for nine years until he transitioned to filmmaking in 1993 with his debut film, The War Room. The film follows James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, at first during the New Hampshire primary, and then mostly in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the Clinton campaign headquarters. Producing the film, he was able to combine his journalism and theater directing backgrounds. The film went on to win an Oscar®.

He’s taken on great subject matters and big presences in his documentaries; the likes of legendary John Belushi, Anna Wintour, and Dick Cheney.

5. Paola Di Florio & Peter Rader

Today’s guests are Oscar® Nominated writer/director Paola di Florio & and producer Peter Rader. They worked on one of my favorite documentaries in recent years called AWAKE: The Life of Yogananda.

The film is an unconventional biography about the Hindu Swami who brought yoga and meditation to the West in the 1920s. Paramahansa Yogananda authored the spiritual classic “Autobiography of a Yogi,” which has sold millions of copies worldwide and is a go-to book for seekers, philosophers, and yoga enthusiasts today. (Apparently, it was the only book that Steve Jobs had on his iPad.) By personalizing his own quest for enlightenment and sharing his struggles along the path, Yogananda made ancient Vedic teachings accessible to a modern audience, attracting many followers and inspiring the millions who practice yoga today.

Filmed over three years with the participation of 30 countries around the world, the documentary examines the world of yoga, modern and ancient, east and west and explores why millions today have turned their attention inwards, bucking the limitations of the material world in pursuit of self-realization.

6. Mike Dion

This week, I wanted to pick the brain of a brilliant filmmaker and Filmtrepreneur, Mike Dion. Mike is an award-winning filmmaker, marketing strategist, and multimedia storyteller who has made a living over the last 20+ years applying all the tools needed by a Filmtrepreneur. He’s found his niche creating documentaries of adventurous brevets and transcontinental cycling races across the US, Mexico, and Canada. 

By using the core concepts of the Filmtrepreneur Method, he has been able to continually make money with his films for over a decade.
These core principles are:

  • Find a Niche Audience
  • Be of Service to that audience
  • Create a Film and Products they need or want
  • Create ancillary products that service that community
  • Build multiple revenue streams

Mike has produced globally distributed feature-length projects like Hair I Go Again, Inspired to Ride, Reveal The Path, Where The Yellowstone Goes, and Ride the Divide that can be streamed across major platforms like Netflix, Amazon, and iTunes.

7. Julie Cohen & Betsy West

Today on the show we have Oscar® nominated documentarians Betsy West & Julie Cohen. Betsy West (Director/Producer) is an Academy Award®-nominated Emmy winning director/producer of RBG (Magnolia, Participant, CNN Films, 2018), along with Julie Cohen. Most recently, she and Cohen directed My Name is Pauli Murray (Participant/Amazon Studios), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021.

Betsy was executive producer of the MAKERS PBS/AOL documentary and digital series about the modern women’s movement, and the feature documentary The Lavender Scare (PBS, 2019). As an ABC News producer and executive producer of the documentary series Turning Point, she won 21 Emmy awards. Betsy is the Fred W. Friendly Professor Emerita at Columbia Journalism School.

Julie Cohen (Director/Producer) is the Academy Award® nominated, Emmy winning director and producer of RBG (Magnolia, Participant, CNN Films, 2018) along with Betsy West. Her film My Name is Pauli Murray, also directed with West, premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

8. Michael Rubenstone

We all hear stories of filmmakers working on films for years and years. Well, I don’t know about you but I’ve never met one until now. In my journeys at Sundance and Slamdance, I met one of these crazy and passionate filmmakers, his name is Michael Rubenstone. Michael the director of the documentary On the Sly: In Search of the Family Stone, which premiered at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival. 

When I heard his crazy story I had to have him on the show. Michael has been chasing Sly from Sly and the Family Stones for over 12 years. The stories he told us in the interview were insane. Talk about passion. We can all learn something about dedication, persistence and just plain nuts.

9. 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.

10. Griffin Hammond

Today on the show we have an OG in the online filmmaking education space, Griffin Hammond. I’ve followed Griffin for years and was so excited to sit down and talk shop with him. Griffin Hammond is a documentary filmmaker in New York City, known for producing DIY filmmaking tutorials for indie filmmakers, and his award-winning documentary Sriracha. We discuss how he made over $90,000 with a documentary short film.

11. Adam Schomer

Adam Schomer is a conscious filmmaker, president of i2i Productions and is known for going to extreme lengths to follow stories that empower us. Feature documentaries include THE HIGHEST PASS (2012), THE POLYGON (2014), ONE LITTLE PILL (2015). WOMEN OF THE WHITE BUFFALO (2022) and the #1 iTunes Best-Seller and NETFLIX hit, HEAL (2017).

His recent docuseries is a heart pounding and spirit driven quest to find freedom on motorcycles in the Himalayas, THE ROAD TO DHARMA (2020) and its companion online course for Living a Life of Freedom. In addition to making films, he has been a documentary distribution consultant for select films including CHASING THE PRESENT and produced their online summit as well as the online summits for FANTASTIC FUNGI and HEAL.

12. Adam Scorgie

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

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

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

13. Taylor Morden

Many of the tribe know that I spent thousands of hours working in a mom and pop video store throughout my high school years. This is why I’m so excited to bring you today’s show. We have Taylor Morden, director, and producer of the nostalgia documentary, The Last Blockbuster (2020). And if you want to know how to sell a movie to Netflix, just make a documentary about the company Netflix helped destroy. 

The Last Blockbuster is a fun, nostalgic feature length documentary film about the rise and fall of Blockbuster video and how one small town store managed to outlast a corporate giant. In 2017, when Morden started filming the Blockbuster documentary, there were only 13 blockbusters around the United States. You need to listen to him recount the moment he got the idea to produce The Last Blockbuster and all the ways the universe aligned for this project. We talked a great deal about his distribution plan, the challenges indie filmmakers face, and his company PopMotion Pictures.

14. Torsten Hoffmann

I’ve discussed the importance of finding a niche audience and serving that audience with your films and content in my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur. Today on the show a filmmaker has done just that. We have Australian filmmaker and Filmtrepreneur, Torsten Hoffmann. His niche audience is people interested in crypto, blockchain, and NFTs.

Torsten’s interest in cryptocurrencies dates back to a paper on Alternative Currencies he wrote while doing his MBA. By 2013, Bitcoin piqued his interest and soon after materialized into his 2015 directorial debut documentary, Bitcoin: The End of Money as We Know It. The documentary is a concise and informative crash course about Money and Crypto Currencies. The success of his first film documentary slanged Torsten into high-profile speaking engagements at MIPTV & MIPCOM, AIDC, and Medientage, to speak on blockchain-related trends. Last year, he produced and directed a subsequent documentary, Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet.

Basically, he revisits Bitcoin and sets out to explore the evolution of the blockchain industry and its new promise. It asks the fundamental question; Can this technology, designed to operate independent of trust and within a decentralized network, really provide a robust alternative to the Internet as we know it?
This film has since gone on to be one of the most consumed pieces of content in his niche. From the way, he marketed the film to the title Torsten used the Filmtrepreneur Method in every aspect of making the film.

He has also launched numerous entrepreneurial ventures to support independent content creators with his passion for media and technology. If it’s one person who can break down the sometimes intimidating ideas of blockchain, Hoffmann is the man. We also do a deep dive in NFTs as well. 

15. Brady Trautman and Alex Blue

Not many of us get to tick off ‘sailing around the world’ off our dream to-do list. But our guests today, Brady Trautman and partner, Alex Blue, have been living their ultimate best life at sea for the last ten-plus years while creating video content for their business, Cruisers Academy

The adventure began with Florida natives Brady and his older brother, Brain, with whom he initially started the youtube channel, Sailing Vessel Delos, back in 2008. It wasn’t until 2012 they received their first check from Youtube, which was basically ‘bear money.’  Soon after, they joined Patreon. 

Eight sailors, filmmakers, and adventurers pile into a 48 ft sailboat with the goal of exploring and capturing the beauty of Svalbard, the northernmost settlement in the world, only 600 miles from the North Pole. The sailing expedition brings 24 hours of sunlight, dangerous glacial ice flows, and up-close encounters with polar bears, beluga whales, walrus’ and much more! After 2.5 years of post-production and over 2000 hours of editing, it’s time to bring YOU our biggest project yet!
Alex, a media student running her film and photo company shooting on party boats across South America, joined the Delox crew in 2017 on a sail across the Atlantic to South Africa.

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
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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 578: Making Money in Niche Filmmaking with Adam Schomer

Adam Schomer is a conscious filmmaker, president of i2i Productions and is known for going to extreme lengths to follow stories that empower us. Feature documentaries include THE HIGHEST PASS (2012), THE POLYGON (2014), ONE LITTLE PILL (2015). WOMEN OF THE WHITE BUFFALO (2022) and the #1 iTunes Best-Seller and NETFLIX hit, HEAL (2017).

His recent docuseries is a heart pounding and spirit driven quest to find freedom on motorcycles in the Himalayas, THE ROAD TO DHARMA (2020) and its companion online course for Living a Life of Freedom. In addition to making films, he has been a documentary distribution consultant for select films including CHASING THE PRESENT and produced their online summit as well as the online summits for FANTASTIC FUNGI and HEAL.

Adam is also a certified Master Sattva Yoga and Meditation Teacher, and really Adam has this history of using pilgrimage and life’s adventures to reveal deeper truths. His company i2i Productions mission is to Unite Through Wisdom and Entertainment.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:45
I'd like to welcome to the show, Adam Schomer. How you doing Adam?

Adam Schomer 4:00
Great nice to be here Alex.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Thank you so much for coming on the show brother. I truly appreciate it like I was telling you earlier. I feel like I know you because you have been one of the stars in two of your projects that I've watched and I feel like I already know you just been watching hours and hours and hours of you.

Adam Schomer 4:56
Loving it. I love that you've watched it. Awesome. And and you have a little insight into a really powerful, crazy journey, a couple that I've been on. So that's cool that you know, I've got to share that with you without, you know being there in person.

Alex Ferrari 5:10
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So I So first and foremost, why did you want to get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Adam Schomer 5:20
Great never did, you know didn't have the aspirations as a kid never, never maybe like, you know Billy shoots or my neighbor used to make videos with his guinea pigs like stop motion weird like guinea pigs saving the day,

Alex Ferrari 5:32
I want to I want to see those movies by the way, I want to see those.

Adam Schomer 5:37
Do too. I remember like he would make a theater and like show these things. So back then I think I wanted to do that. But no, no real aspirations and then kind of fell into it in my late 20s, where I was bored at a corporate job and decided to do stand up comedy. Just an hour, it was the craziest kind of most nerve wracking thing. And then that pivoted into improv comedy, which I found to be the yoga of comedy. And that's that I stuck with that. I said, this was really cool. Because not only is the fun of meeting people, but it's got those yogic principles, right release be with a moment. Yes. And that like athletics, and I had been a semi pro soccer player. So it's kind of my next athletic venture. And that led me into writing and all that kind of stuff. So I was writing more and writing comedy. And eventually, that, you know, I won't go long. But eventually that brought me to LA and I just kept wanting to push it, you know, just go to the next level. Okay, write screenplays, be in a film, get my sag card, you know, improv. And I was always producing my own stuff when it came to improv as well. Because, you know, no one just gonna hand you stage time. Even in Detroit, where I, where I grew up was a cool community, everyone was very nice, and it was a good community, but you still had to kind of create your own opportunities to be on stage. So I think that producer Ness started there. And then once to LA, it pivoted. I think when I won't talk too much, but once I went to India, then I came back and, and decided, you know, what, I'm gonna focus on the writing and producing because as you know, acting is a pretty tough world, you know, even tougher than I would say, even like producing, writing, directing. I mean, acting is really, acting.

Alex Ferrari 7:15
Acting is, in my opinion, acting is probably the, the hardest part of our business with writers right next door, and then directors come in after that. But actors is like 3030 rejections a day. Yeah. Writers is, uh, you know, maybe 20 rejections a month. Yeah.

Adam Schomer 7:40
Directors, powerlessness of nitewhite really being able to create your own stuff. Correct. I was like, okay, that's not gonna work for me. And I was already producing my own like, you know, little webisodes in a kid's show. And, and then, uh, not you know, who you've seen anon and had on your other show. When I was in India, my third time there said, Hey, do you want to do this motorcycle riding into the Himalayas over the highest road in the world, and I'm like, This guy is gonna kill me. You know that in my neck.

Alex Ferrari 8:08
By the way, I can't see your face in the dock. You just like I just You were terrified. So So let's give everyone a little bit of context. So your this was your first movie, right? It's just your first dock. Yeah, first rockin first feature. Yeah. So it's called the highest pass. And it's about tell everybody what it's about.

Adam Schomer 8:24
Yeah, I mean, in essence, it's about it's facing death, right, facing death and finding freedom. So facing our fears and finding love. Not that we have to get over fear per se, but just be able to move through it. And then the context is a journey over the highest road in the world. 18,000 feet on motorcycles. My teacher or my guru has a prophecy he'll die in his late 20s. He's that age. It says he'll die in an accident and his Vedic chart, and he asks one of his students me if I want to go and I've never ridden a motorcycle, and I say yes, of course. It's my guru and the Himalayas and you just do it. So I willed myself to say yes, at that moment, I remember like, making my lips move while in the background. My head is thinking he's trying to kill me to take on his prophecy. I'm the sacrificial lamb is your brain drain is a horrible thing to have. Oh, it's armed. Right, you know, every bad story and I'm like, wow, I could write a lot of movies about this because it's so evil. So then, then I went, we went out and I was like, Yeah, let's make this invite other people and let's make a documentary. And and to be honest, I only wanted to do it if we could do it. Well, not not. Not that a handycam or shooting an iPhone is not well but this the Himalayas and India and I really wanted great cinematography and so we you know, like okay, we're gonna do it if we raise money, we're gonna raise money for it and so I went out and raised money and found a great DP that had experience with motorcycles and back then I was like, the Canon five D. was like the thing and And it served us really well on that trip, I mean, to have like a DP sometimes one time, like riding a bike with one hand and, and filming with the other at one point, we can get into that later, but I was.

Alex Ferrari 10:11
So I was able to I saw that movie and I saw the series that you did afterwards about it, which we'll talk about in a minute. But what I found fascinating about the movie is, you know, I've, you know, many people on the show know that I have another show called next level soul, which is all about spirituality and asking the big questions about life, personal growth, health, and all that kind of stuff. And I've had the pleasure of talking to a non, your guru on that. And it was just released, this thing was this week, or last week, I forgot it was this week, I think I released it just came out. It just came out this week. And it is fascinating to talk to someone who you know, in many ways, is a spiritual master, and having a conversation with him and talking to him about life and about your spiritual journey. And about just everything was really beautiful and eye opening. And I'll put a link to that in the show notes for that for that episode. But then I reached out to you, I'm like, Well, I gotta have Adam on the show. Because you know, he's a filmmaker, and he's been, you're not only just like, I shot a little documentary, you've been doing it consistently over for over a decade now. And doing it at a high level, you're doing really great work, and you're doing award winning work and, and movies that many of us have seen and heard of and been on Netflix, and so on and so forth. So going back to the highest pass. Yeah. The insanity of the environment as a producer, because you didn't direct that once you produce that one.

Adam Schomer 11:31
Yeah, I mean, co directed, co directed although credit wise it's not listed. It's a that's a whole story, wrote it wrote it co directed, CO produced.

Alex Ferrari 11:43
I figured I figured there was a story behind that, because like, he's directed everything since what, what happened here.

Adam Schomer 11:51
But it's got strong arm and postproduction, you know?

Alex Ferrari 11:58
Of course you did, because we're what we're making a movie about spirituality and the quest for enlightenment. And yet my ego says, I must have full credit. So

Adam Schomer 12:09
Correct. I got kicked out of the office for three weeks once you know, like, planning.

Alex Ferrari 12:13
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that's, that's a great holocaust. Great Hollywood story for filmmakers. And there's to understand that that look, it happens. It happened to me when we first started, it happens to it's amazing. The Eagles that are in this business, it's fascinating.

Adam Schomer 12:28
And I'm remembering I was consulting with a non timber, like, how do I deal with this? This is a spiritual movie, I'm in post and like, This is crazy. He's like, Look, you have to look at the good parts of someone. They they had the intent, they saw that, you know, we should produce this thing. This is a great, you know, they had that enough there, but not everybody's perfect. So on some level, you're dealing with a five year old, you really are and like that, you have to approach it that way. And would you try to explain yourself to a five year old? No, you just kind of maneuver in some ways around the five year old. And then you know, that's it. It basically it just keep it simple. And I give him the film, he's like, just keep it simple. You're dealing with a five year old and move on and do what you can and make the movie.

Alex Ferrari 13:10
Yeah, that's a fascinating way to approach it. Because I believe I've I've dealt with many five year olds in this business. Many, many, many of them over the years. So how did you so how did you shoot in that intense environment and like it's it's insane.

Adam Schomer 13:27
It's insane. And for a first first to be we were 21 people total meaning the seven riders plus and on and crew. Three, three cars, seven bikes. No scouting, I had never shot in India. We're going over crazy roads. It's so how did I do? I mean, first part of the environment to deal with is the fact that you might die every day being you know, so that's really when comparing producing and death it was death was the main focus, you know, like Oh, I'm in the film, right? I'm writing first and foremost is like how about I survive and let's hope everybody else survives. So that that was the most challenging thing for me was writing and then producing To be honest, like I was calling on great people right and directing it was like okay, I leaned on my DP a lot you know, when it came to the shot I might have know what I like but I'm like show me what you think would be good here. Awesome. I like it too. Let's move forward you know keep it very simple lien on your people that know what they're doing I came from a story background so I knew what I wanted story wise and but God and in packing up and moving no scouting just shooting you know huge credit to the DP huge credit to the whole crew of just like winging it like a documentary is okay, let's go ahead of the let's go ahead of the bikers by half hours in one car ahead. They find a spot they think is great, and we all get a shot as we go by, you know, that kind of stuff now and then we would say Hey, can we Turn around and do that entrance again and have everybody right into this, you know, lunch place.

Alex Ferrari 15:06
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 15:15
But for the most, most part, you get what you get. And I mean, it was 21 days. It was scary as hell and and you know, sleep was at a total minimum, I remember the first, because in the first few days, you're in the flat and you're in the hills. And then you come to where you see the Himalayas. And this is what can pass the first pass, right? And it's called pile of dead bodies is what rotating is translated as. So again, the story. The writer's mind is like, what? And so, you know, you doing research on the internet is not helpful, because pilot dead bodies and you're thinking I'm going right off the cliff. And that's that. And, but, and before that, I remember like, Oh, my God, like what fight with my co producer, we leave at 5am. So I slept probably two hours before we're about to go into the Himalayas. And it's again, it's just like, okay, so be it. Alright, grab some chai, Alex and some coffee and put on your masks and your gloves because freezing and and off we go. And as you see in the movie, that that whole moment was tough, because we made a decision where the roads really weren't quite open yet before rain started into the Himalayas at that point. So it was it was scary.

Alex Ferrari 16:27
You guys were going on basically, basically, at the seat of your pants, literally and figuratively. Because you're just shooting. So I was watching as I was watching this, I'm like, This is insane. This is an insane kind of doc to be the same same movie. And I see what they're going through. I've been at 12,000 feet, I think at one point in somewhere in Colorado, in Colorado. And it was in summer, so it wasn't freezing was still probably like 60 when it was nice, like 100 down at the bottom. But I had been to to Park City a whole bunch. And so I understand that the oxygen declaration but I can't even comprehend. Traveling at up to 18,000 feet.

Adam Schomer 17:14
And one of our crew went down like way to send them home. You know?

Alex Ferrari 17:17
Yeah, it'll hurt. He'll kill you.

Adam Schomer 17:19
Yeah, that was one of the, you know, my audio engineer. He helped to get it produced good friend from Michigan. And he, it was great, because he was telling me what audio equipment he needed, you know, and stuff. So I'm trying to source it in India, and I could not find an eight channel mixer anywhere except Mumbai. And then maybe my second DP would bring it from and I call him I'm like, do you really need a challenge? Like, Oh, no. He's like, I just, he had never actually been in the field. He told me later, he was just going by the seat of his pants, because he was more sound mix in the back, you know, in the studio. So here I am searching for equipment that he was kind of like, yeah, that's industry standard. And I couldn't find it anywhere in India. So we compromised, of course, but he ended up coming a little a few days late. So I had a second audio engineer from India. And that can beg to come on the trip with us after seeing like the prep. He's like, can I just help in any way? Like, let me be with a non let me be with you guys. This is a trip of a lifetime. So we brought him it's a good thing we did because Andy, my audio engineer, when we were up at the 16,000 foot pass, and we did this part of the film where we went up and check the paths out talk to the generals and the general said, No, it's close for two weeks right there. This passes closer snow. And if you watch the film, you'll see we ended up by carrying bikes over snow and it's crazy. But during that little pre pre meeting Andy art, my sound engineer went down hard with altitude sickness, and we had to send them home the next day. And so thankfully, we had the second audio engineer backup guy. Yeah, backup guy and did his best. And that's kind of the craziness of filming. Like we got lucky, you know, and Andy got lucky that he wasn't hurt, per se but you never know who's gonna have audio. It doesn't out to sickness, it can be in great shape. And

Alex Ferrari 19:07
Ohh, yeah, it doesn't matter what shape you're in it. They'll they'll bring anybody to their knees. It's it's just a weird.

Adam Schomer 19:13
We all had it at some we all had it at some point. And then when you get down to like 11,000 feet, you're like, oh my god, this is amazing. I can brain you know and take a moment compared to sleeping at 15 when you're climatized it's hard. It's really difficult. It just if you haven't acclimatized

Alex Ferrari 19:31
Wow, that's insane. So that so with that film, you released it. You went theatrical with that as well, right?

Adam Schomer 19:37
We did. Yeah, we were lucky enough to win some awards at festivals and distribution company. said let's take it theatrical. We took a theatrical here in LA and went on to Netflix right after that awesome back when Netflix was a little different.

Alex Ferrari 19:49
It was a little it was little starting a little startup. Back then. Now did you did you get any? That was your first experience with distribution

Adam Schomer 20:00
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, the distributor and see what happens,

Alex Ferrari 20:03
And what and what happened?

Adam Schomer 20:06
I mean, you know, thankfully, the theatrical was good meaning we had a run here in Santa Monica and in in LA and people saw it. And we got to write up in the LA Times like a full page, right? Which hasn't happened since on any film I've done. Like, we found a reporter that somehow was into it. Suzanne carpenter and got what would be like a $40,000 ad, kind of wow. You know, in essence, because it's just like a full page, huge photo and great article. So people came out and saw it. And a lot of people actually from that, then go went on the road of dharma. They saw the film sauce and a q&a and said, If you do this again, tell us and so we did. And when that's when we filmed the road to dharma series, and a lot of those people from seeing that film then came into the next series, and we can talk about that later. But it did it did well in the theater, and it got on Netflix and all that, you know, I mean, financially for the investors. No, not so much. But in the, you know, the distributors did their thing where they come up with expenses and all that.

Alex Ferrari 21:03
No, stop it.

Adam Schomer 21:05
So I learned a little bit.

Alex Ferrari 21:09
I just I always like asking, I always like to ask him these questions, because I can never stop reiterating. This fact is that this Hollywood accounting is always Hollywood. It's just the way they do business. It's just the way the industry has done business. And it's, in many ways. I don't even think people who who do it these distributors who do it think they're bad guys, I think they just, it's just inherent in the system, the way the system is built. They're just like, yeah, we're going to give you an MG maybe back then you might have gotten an NG. So you got to know we did not even mg right. So yeah, but then the Oh, you made 10,000 This month, but 11,000 It's inexpensive. What are those expenses? I can't. So those kinds of things. I was curious about if that was your case, as well.

Adam Schomer 21:57
Now, this was they weren't you know, stimuli were they weren't like horrible by any means. But okay, you know, they were still cool. And they you know, they even believe it again, it's like, the good part where they believed in it, and they took a theatrical ego came and as the first film like, you celebrate your wins, and then you take the take the learning on the shoulder and go, Okay, that's fine.

Alex Ferrari 22:14
And so then the second the series wrote the Dharma, which just got released, and when 2020 2020 2020 that released, but you shot it in.

Adam Schomer 22:27
When we did shoot, we shot it in 2012, to be honest, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 22:30
So you shout it out. So it took eight years for that to come out. And that was because it couldn't find financing or couldn't get the thing, you know, funding financing.

Adam Schomer 22:40
Yeah. I don't usually tell anyone your podcast as the scoop on we have the scoop.

Alex Ferrari 22:46
I appreciate that. I don't think it's gonna hurt. I don't think anyone cares. Outside of people like you and me. No one. No one watching it. Like, oh, this has been shot eight years ago. I can't watch this.

Adam Schomer 22:55
You can't tell it. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 22:57
You're in the Himalayas, with bikes that look like they're from the 50s. Anyway. So everyone's jacked up with all sorts of motorcycle gear, no one can tell. And you're going into towns that don't have any technology anyway. So you have no idea if it's 2012 or 2020

Adam Schomer 23:14
That's for sure. And it's shot well enough where you're you're you're in there and you have a feeling of like you're part of that journey. That's a good thing. There's that authentic ness of like you're in it with us It's good like that.

Alex Ferrari 23:24
Exactly. So you shot the the series I wanted to ask you because you since you released it recently, and I think it might have been for the best honestly. I think if you would have released it in 2012 2013 2014. There wasn't as big of a market for doc series as there is now so I wanted to hear your experience as a documentarian Do you see more doc series being more valuable in the marketplace or a doc by itself?

Adam Schomer 23:51
That's a great I mean we all see more doc series in general more ducks in general. And I think the other part of the market that is like like your pocket spirituality has grown right oh huge there is there's more of a market for people that might be on the edge you know, the average guy that maybe comes across and sit or the wife says hey watch this and because you know women tend to be 80% of the yogi community so to speak and so they sometimes bring guys into and like

Alex Ferrari 24:18
I don't know about you I look fantastic a yoga pants but that's just I should say I should I have I have little lemons on right now so

Adam Schomer 24:28

Alex Ferrari 24:30
Just just the socks

Adam Schomer 24:33
This bank is just this bank so suspects you know, it's on video to what we're doing. So where were we what were what were the doc series doc series? Yeah, that's here. Yeah, I think more valuable I know me personally. I find more value in wanting to tell more of the story more of people's stories more of the wisdom of what goes on there we go into more depth and you know, there's a certain pacing with a feature doc feature length doc that you have to keep up. And that's great and all watching out for my cat walk in my butt. Yeah, I can't say let's say, you know, for the filmmakers out there making an independent series, if there's more value, meaning like it's easier to sell that or make money on, I think that it's incredibly hard what what I've done and your last guest was talking about it too, that she did a independent series, not a doc series, but a narrative series. And I think it's a strange way to go. Not many people do it and then to sell afterwards. But I think inherently on a meaningful level, it's incredibly valuable. I'm still waiting for some of the big boys to kind of come along and say, Hey, this is great on me back to do a season two and a season three before one of the big boys says, okay, everyone's ready for this now. All right. So I hope that kind of answers your question.

Alex Ferrari 25:50
Yeah. It is hard to say because I've seen I've seen people be very successful with duck series. I mean, docks docks right now, are extremely valuable. And they have been probably for the last decade, and they've been growing in popularity. And I've talked about them heavily in my book about finding niche audiences. And if you make a knock about a niche audience, whether that is plant based diets, spirituality, surfing, skateboarding, whatever it is, there's a built in audience that you can target much easier than a broad spectrum narrative. And Doc's have been getting more and more, but I've been noticing, there's been more doc series on Netflix, and on Hulu, and on these other places where they will do a series because inherently there's just more value, there's more content for them to read. So that's when I wrote the Dharma Miko that makes all the sense in the world, because that's a story you can easily tell in a series, you have more than enough content story to fill. That's why when I saw that, and I was lucky, I saw rotor Dharma first. Then I went back and saw the highest pass. And I was like, okay, so they went, they shot that. And then they obviously went, you know, 10 years later, I said, Why did they wait so long? At least the series, but I enjoyed the series much more because you get if you're taking the motorcycle trip up to the Himalayas, with a yogi, I mean, that's more than 90 minutes, man.

Adam Schomer 27:16
I mean, there's there's just so there's so much, there's so much to see so much done to the history, you know, we don't go too much into the history. But the teachings Yeah, all these characters, right?

Alex Ferrari 27:27
Yeah, everyone's fighting their own demons and trying to find their egos. And they're all they're all trying to tell themselves stories of why they shouldn't do this. And I thought there'd be more yoga on this retreat, and all this kind of all this.

Adam Schomer 27:37
All this guy like yoga, stretching or not like Yoga is not stretching, you know, if you want stretching and a massage, go to a spa. You know, he's like, right out of here, you come here to transcend. And that's what you've come for. It's like sweet, you know, that's a good It's to remind people Yoga is not the studio thing.

Alex Ferrari 27:54
No, it's not. It's the it's one of the benefits of yoga is the physical, but it's yoga was never built, as, you know, yogi's, weren't running around in that Lululemon, you know, back in the day, you know, they were, they were, it was a form of transcending spiritually. And I just love him. He's like, I'm here to challenge you at every step of the way. I was like, This is great. So you've got a built in conflict. You've got built in conflict, which is so wonderful. We were able to build out this whole story and then how did that go? How did how did selling that? The series go?

Adam Schomer 28:25
Yeah, I mean, it is a long journey, right? Since we built filmed in 2012, and raised enough money to go shoot it on a on a shoestring, so to speak, and was hoping that when I came back, I'd be able to put a sizzle together and go out to somebody's network and say, hey, look, I have the footage I already have it's here you don't even have to buy into the idea I already shot it. So this was my my thinking was no problem. Right? I'll go shoot it come back and they'll have no choice but to be like, Oh, of course we'll give you the money to finish it. That didn't work. So that couldn't get anyone to to bite on that. And then you have to year goes and I start I was making heal I got brought into produce heal. And while I was producing heal, we had like a couple week break on something decided, yes, you know what, I'm going to go brush up and learn, Premiere full on and did so on my vacation and then started editing. The first two episodes, episode one and two of the road of dharma. Wow. I think that yeah, the whole end of post and distribution, which is a crazy time for a documentary film. I was also editing two episodes, I was really pushing myself to make sure what the demo was ready when he was done. So that you know that's a lesson that people sometimes you got to work your ass off on the side right to be ready. And so when and I think to be honest, I mean, I'm really glad that I had some time as a filmmaker to grow in between and be able to like, show my vision a bit better. And, and to make those first few episodes to be able to show us Don't worry, this is what I'm talking about.

Alex Ferrari 30:02
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 30:12
You know, this is the style, I want to be able to mix it being entertaining, and character driven, but also have that spirit there. And I'm not putting a man on a pedestal as his guru, I'm trying to make them approachable. And if you resonate with what he says, great, but this isn't a movie of a series about a guru and how to follow him. No, it's about people seeking freedom in our demons, like you said, so I really wanted to get that across. And maybe that was holding back, you know, holding us back with some of the networks is like, you know, we can't go that spiritual yet. But, you know, it's still like a real reality and authentic reality show, in many ways. Like, so. There's danger. So then, yeah, and invest. I showed an investor a couple episodes. And actually, it was more like a friend that I didn't know had the ability to invest. Any and he pulled me aside, he's like, I want to talk to you about the road to dharma, I want to invest. Like, when does that happen? All the time.

Alex Ferrari 31:02
It happens all the time. Oh, all the time, money is easy to get in the business. Don't you know?

Adam Schomer 31:09
It create No, I happen on the highest pass at 1.2. Because we were all the way through posts. And we know we needed a second cut. And I was at an event. And it was a Cornell like event. I went to Cornell University and one of them, one of my buddies says, Hey, I'm looking to invest in film.

Alex Ferrari 31:26
Which, in normal scenarios you would have done you don't want to do that.

Adam Schomer 31:31
No, no. And he's like, I just want to learn, I just want to learn a little bit, you know, I'll perfect and I'm at a great place less risk, because it's already kind of done in and you can see, and so he threw in some money, you know, I know there was the universe, given a little nudges. So it's, it's helped out on the way in its own timing, to use some woowoo language, but it's a way that we got an investor there and then I got another investment we rolled up you know, finished the series on our own and, and take it out on our own digitally and still be able to keep pitching it to networks, we still do to this day, keep keep pitching it internationally to different places. Like we're signing with a network in Germany, signing within sign with a network in Brazil, talking to a network in France, we're on Gaia as well. And then I had to get a little creative and I even caught it create a course around the

Alex Ferrari 32:19
Yeah, I saw that I saw the course on Anons website. So that was really interesting. Is he it's like you read my book. It's exactly what I say is like he create the product and then create other ancillary products that generate more revenue than the movie next exhibition of the movie is it because the future of the future of our business is not 2299 rentals, it's courses it's workshops, it's other businesses as other services wrapped around. Yeah, things that can serve that audience that that niche audiences so for you it'd be the spiritual audience.

Adam Schomer 32:52
And also I knew from I knew from here but things like like an online summit or an online course you can you can access other people's audiences for those things more than you can film so I could say to here like I'd say to Gregg Braden people I knew well and say you can be an affiliate of this course you can make 50% revenue if you promote it to your your people. And you know, there's something free they get to watch the free free episodes and it's something you believe in, you know, and we know each other, so then okay, now you're getting someone personally blasting. And now you're reaching 500,000 people or a million people personally with a course and even if they don't bite the course they might try the free episodes or they might then go find the series and you got some advertising and every it's a win win, they make money. Your list grows too and anyway, so that's another thing you can't do as easily with just a film.

Alex Ferrari 33:44
Yeah, and so that brings me into the next movie heal which i i saw heal before I saw Raja Dharma or the highest pass so I had watched him just purely because I was interested in the concept of the movie The doc and it was down in my wheelhouse. I was like, Oh, let me watch it. So I watched a really enjoyed the film. I knew a lot of the people inside inside the film like you know the people that that are you interview and stuff in the show, but yeah, all those guys. Um, yeah. I just known all of them. And I've read their books and things like that. But he'll was I remember he'll being I met one of the other producers at a summit once I forgot the name of the producer, but one of the other producers I met and he was just at the brink of the Netflix deal. And I just remember that was like this is actually doing it's doing. It's getting a lot of attention. The doc got a lot of attention. So tell me the story of keel and what the movie is about generally, but then how you read it because it kind of almost hit. It almost kind of was the fork over knives of that of that movement. If you're anyone who doesn't know what Forks Over Knives is is what it was basically the I think the first documentary that really talked about plant based diets and in exploded and built multimillion dollar businesses around it to make a magazine even, oh, magazine, food products, it's built, they've done fantastic off of that dock. And heal, I feel is that for its niche in the space? So can you talk a little bit about what it is?

Adam Schomer 35:17
Yeah. And thank you for watching it. And thank you for speaking so highly of it. So where do we want to start? I mean, he'll in general, what it is, is a film about really that, that we have the power within to heal, and that through our emotions, through stress through our thoughts, that we have a bigger part to play in our healing, than just giving our power away necessarily to medicine or to a doctor, or to any healer, to be honest. So it ends up being a, we hope, a very integrative film, not super woowoo saying it's only emotional, we're just saying that's part of the puzzle, and that it shouldn't be talked about. And that's what I like about the film is saying, let's open our, our perception a bit in terms of healing and realize that thoughts do play a part emotions do play support plays a part, your life purpose might play a part. And you might need to move or change something in your relationships to help your body get out of a stress mode, so he can do its thing and help heal your disease. And you also might need to change your diet, you might need to do chemo, you might need to do some other things, right. But it's part of it. And we wanted to just dive into that. And we use a lot of experts, we use a couple stories. One of the stories isn't isn't a happy ending. I liked that about the film. It's, it's it's chronic illness, and it's a damn tough space. And she doesn't know what's wrong. And she's not really willing to make the changes. And the system, as we talked about the film system not necessarily set up, right, or distributors just do their thing. Our health system isn't set up exactly correctly to support the mind body healing. You know, it's, it's not there to help you pay for that stuff. So resources is an issue. You say, Oh, why don't y'all just change this? And you're like, Well, I'm just trying to survive. And so that stuff we continually look at and then heal. We realized after the film, there was more we could offer the audience. So the film did amazing. We, you know, if you want to talk strategy, in terms of what we did distribution, I can Yeah, please, please. Because it's helpful. And I've used it with some films afterwards, when they've come to me, and I usually don't consult, it's not like my job. But when something falls into a niche that I've done, and I feel I can help them and they're primed for it. And I liked the film's like, okay, you know, let's do it. So we realized, of course, we needed an audience, like you've talked about before we release, you can't wait until you release. So as soon as we started filming, we started building a fan base and with a website and getting emails out there and attracting people to the film. So by the time we launched, I think we have 50,000 person email list, which isn't huge. But

Alex Ferrari 37:49
You know what? It's not it's not a joke, either. That's a huge email list for a movie that had nothing at the beginning. That's enough. That's a that's a fairly massive email list. And that's how big this audience is. That tells you volumes of how big this audience is.

Adam Schomer 38:03
Right! Right. Healing in general. You know, people are,

Alex Ferrari 38:07
I don't know about you, something hurts on me right now. Is a little bit hip. I, you know, my ankles is hurting because it's about to rain. So there you go. There's always someone we're all hurt as you get older, something hurts. So hey, who's the audience? Everyone who's in pain from people who are, you know, on the brink of death, because of a chronic illness to my hip hurts.

Adam Schomer 38:30
And it's not like it goes away, you know, like meaning meaning it takes a lot of audience every year, no meaning like,

Alex Ferrari 38:37
The audience. The audience doesn't shrink.

Adam Schomer 38:39
They don't shrink. It's only growing in awareness. And like, we've been out five years, I think, and you know, 12 million minutes a month, we're on prime, you know, like, people were still in the charts in the UK in Germany when it comes to digital sales.

Alex Ferrari 38:57
People are looking for people.

Adam Schomer 38:59
Yeah, one of my good buddies I play soccer was like, Hey, I watched I finally watched a movie here. I'm like, Thanks for the support, you know, five years later, but he's like, it's great. So people, on their own time come to these things. Anyway. So distribution wise, back to that 50,000. We built the audience, we knew we needed to do that.

Alex Ferrari 39:16
Did you self distribute? Or did you go through a distributor,

Adam Schomer 39:18
We did a hybrid type thing. And this is something again, by the time I was working with heal, Kelly Kelly Gore's film Kelly Kelly came up with it. She's a director, she brought me into produce and I'm very thankful that she did because now we're like, co producing partners and great relationship. And so she knew she had done like a horror flick kind of before and you know, so she knew the problems and distribution and what a distributor dusty, we both knew that so that was cool. And so we're gonna do anything in our power to not be in their power. So I knew from the beginning, let's build an audience beforehand so that we could go out you know, independently and have some money to support us. We There was an organic audience of email. So we knew it people that wanted they personally said, I want you to have my email Keep me posted, okay, they'll probably by, you know, the the probably jump in in terms of all that growing and you know, we went to a festival that we knew was our audience and we were the opening night there and there are 700 people and so our investors also get to see that and then see oh, wow, there's, there's an audience here. And it's palpable, and that helped them put a little bit more money for independent distribution. So in terms of strategy, what we did, we decided to do like theatrical on our own and, and screenings on our own. So we brought in a screening guy to handle the small screenings and get people talking about it out there and do you know that's what he got organic press for us? Because some church in Iowa that's going to do a screening is going to tell their people about it, okay. 100 people show up but you know, 1000 people got heard about it and heard about here and maybe it's on their radar next time they see it or hear about or someone you know how it is right, you have to talk about it. Talk about it talk when finally you watch. So we did a lot of those screenings, probably 100 We did a bunch in Australia. Definitely made a little money there. But you know, sometimes it's just break even with the screenings and all that that's great. Definitely made a little money in the screenings, broke even on theatrical, and we came out in I think, eight, eight to 10 cities, you know, hired a consultant to help us do that. So I was like, the point man brought in the screening guy brought him this theatrical guy. And then for digital, we signed with what's called 1091, you know, distribution company. They back then they were the orchard. Oh, yeah, another 1091. And they've had a lot of success digitally come out with some spiritual films, some Alien film, niche films by King films. So they, they knew and we had we, we structured a good deal with them to be honest. And they support us and gave us a little bit of money for even a trailer and all this other stuff that we didn't want to dump a lot into. And so we also then planned it like Kelly and I, neither of us wanted to do this long, protracted distribution cycle of like, Let's do screenings for a year. You know, like the film awake with Yogananda didn't work. We don't want to do that.

Alex Ferrari 42:11
They were super successful theater in Apollo.

Adam Schomer 42:13
Yeah. Yeah, I met them because of the highest pass way back, right.

Alex Ferrari 42:19
Yeah. Well, I would imagine you guys this paths crossed. They've been on the show and been on my show, like three times already. I love them. I love what they did with that film. It's amazing. They actually are a case study in my book, as well.

Adam Schomer 42:32
So Peter came we were they wanted to see Michael Molera, who's the composer of the highest best they wanted to hear his work. So when I showed him a cut of the film, and there again, I'm this is so cool, like, and then I ended up bringing Peter into help edit like the second cut. So we became buddies. And, and I love his story mine and they're great. And then I gave them some footage for a week from the highest pass to us in the film, which was just like, an anon does in a week. I don't know if you know that.

Alex Ferrari 42:55
I think he might. I think I might have seen them in a week. You're absolutely right. That's a week. Yeah.

Adam Schomer 43:00
So becomes a kind of like a small little, you know, a nice little family. And I mean, just an honor to have some of the footage from one of my films with Yogananda in that film. Anyway. So back to the heel distribution thing, we decided, let's not do the long thing like awake, let's do condense. So we pushed the utricle screenings and digital as close together as possible. So we came out in October in theaters. And then by December 5, we're out on digital and of course, we had to do all that you know, independently when it comes to theatrical and all that so that we could have control of all of our dates.

Alex Ferrari 43:36
And and I just want to just stop you for there for a second. So when people listening, the reason why awake, which is a documentary about the spiritual master Yogananda did their long, their long theatrical and screenings was because they had direct CO production or relationship with Yogananda, his organization which basically had access to every Yogananda disciple around the world. So it would be foolish not to stretch that out as much as you could because it was just such a such a built in audience that it may did very well if you stopped millions and they did really, really, really well. So but for you hard, hard to replicate, yeah, hard, very difficult to replicate. I think. Hare Krishna, Hari Krishna, they tried to do something similar, but didn't have the same great film. So I love that film, but didn't have the same access to that because it literally just like touch a button and they can talk to everybody. So with heal, from my perspective, look, listen to what you're saying. It's an audience but it is not a dedikate it's not like people who are just like, you know, religiously about this. It's a much broader, diluted audience. So what your tech your your strategy makes much, much more sense. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. Sir. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 45:06
Yeah, we built that audience build the email list and got everyone excited for okay. If you can't see in theaters not your you're not in one of the main cities don't worry, or you didn't get a small screening in your area. It's coming December 5 on digital and DVD even to DVD. And

Alex Ferrari 45:22
Did you do on DVD by the way?

Adam Schomer 45:23
We made like 150 grand on DVD.

Alex Ferrari 45:25
Of course you did. Because What year was this? 2017 17?

Adam Schomer 45:30
The end of 17. So call it 18 2018.

Alex Ferrari 45:33
Right! Still, like CD DVD still sell? People don't listen, people still buy DVDs. If you're at a screening, and you love the movie, and you had a DVD with some bonus stuff in it. Somebody would buy it.

Adam Schomer 45:48
We could I mean, I guess we could believe it. But we couldn't. But you know, a little older audience is a little more has the illness and they're still with DVD at that point. And it's so correct. And that was cool to see that. And we did really well on digital when we came out and our goal was to be honest 1091 But the orchard had already pissed pitch Netflix and Netflix had said no. To the to the Okay, they did this was in the fall before we came out theatrically and all that then we come out theatrically and do this big push. And we hit number one on iTunes. And versus the charts. And stayed there for a few weeks a documentary

Alex Ferrari 46:26
Or an doc in document in that document. Yeah,

Adam Schomer 46:29
I mean, gone, you know, competing with everyone else, almost impossible. But

Alex Ferrari 46:32
Yeah, but still, number number one Doc is no easy thing to do.

Adam Schomer 46:37
But then to stay there. Because usually, we stay for a few weeks. And then in the in the top three for about three months. So we had like the staying power. And then we went back to Netflix and said, you know, the distributors like look people like this thing. It's making money. It's, you know, you should really reconsider it. And then and then they did come up with a two year deal. And it was It wasn't anything great either, to be honest. But it was, it was for us to it was more about exposure. Of course, of course, most of our money was made on just digital sales.

Alex Ferrari 47:08
Really. So most of the money was done still until on transactional. But But this movie, because I always tell people transactional is dead, generally speaking, but but the difference is that your topic, someone will rent it for 399. Some will buy it for 999 to give extra bonuses or extra interviews on it. Because it's such a there's something like I want to heal myself. I'm going to spend 399 It's a horror movie. Oh, wait till I find it somewhere else. There's 1000 other horror movies, but there is no other healing documentary. So you have this really special place. And that's why that makes sense for transactional. And I'm glad that you actually waited. Yeah, I'm glad you actually waited for Netflix as if you would have gotten that Netflix that first deal. You weren't have made as much money.

Adam Schomer 47:56
Yeah, I mean, they said no, to be honest, you know, right. And so my strategy for some other people is like, well, if if you can't turn the dial, show them that you can by trying to get get yourself to number one, I have to in some way, which is hard in itself or just show them there's an audience by selling and who knows, you might not even want to be on Netflix but or go on prime or even know Prime has gotten a little crazy with what they lead on there with docks. Right away prime dropped recently. So after Netflix, we went on to prime which then is just by minute and they're paying you by minute. And that ended up being very lucrative. Also, you know, people,

Alex Ferrari 48:33
You would probably be at the you'd probably be at the higher end of that minute per minute, because there's a range of a penny to 12 cents or something like that. Yeah, yeah, probably higher. Seven, maybe

Adam Schomer 48:44
Sounds we were making per minute. And that's great. At one point, you know, I don't mind sharing this that I one point we were making, there was like 12 million minutes a month, basically is what recently, then prime minutes big, you know, like shove off of dogs. Right? We they dropped us in the UK dropped us in Canada dropped us in France. And we're like, geez, you know, like, what's up, I, you know, what's up, and then suddenly, during COVID, they dropped us in the US. And so we had our distributor, ask them He's like, he's like, they don't even tell me why. I've never had them, overturn it. With all the docs that have they've taken off of ours. And with he'll, for some reason, like a week, two weeks later, they put it back on. So something clicked in their head, like why why do we randomly take this off, you know, oh, it's alternative health and we're in COVID. And that's dangerous, too. Who knows why they turned it off. You know, there's nothing about COVID in there. Obviously, there's pre COVID. And even so, I think people should be able to talk you know, it's a little strange out there. That's a whole nother topic. But distribution wise, you know, Netflix a little you know, a little chunk but the awareness with Netflix went crazy. And then we pivoted to prime after and that's helped a ton and still transactionally you know, people still buy a transaction you But he'll is a you know, kind of an anomaly like we're talking about people are always sick and they're looking for resources and they're motivated. And, and we think it's a very balanced film. It's not too woowoo. So so it has a broad audience, which is what we wanted.

Alex Ferrari 50:12
That's awesome. And then you also, like started building out other product lines and services around heal, which I found fascinating as well. So you had I think a book came out. Yeah, Kelly, so she has a book based on it. So now you're leveraging the audience of the people who've seen the movie to like, oh, the heal, the book is out. I'll buy it. Like I bought the I bought a wake the book. Exactly. I saw the awake book, it was just like the movie companion to the book. I'm like, I'm such a fan of that movie. I was like, I bought it. And then Peter was like, seeing him in the background of my, of my shows. Like, that's, that's amazing. I'm like, yeah, so it's great. So you have the book, but then you also did something, which was really interesting to Summit. So can you go? Can you go into the summit a little bit? What is the how you were able to partner with a very big self help publishing company? And if you don't mind talking about the financials of that, not details, but just general?

Adam Schomer 51:07
Yeah, yeah. Because it is fascinating. And it's, it's something that jumped out to me, as we're making it, where we're like, we have these interviews that are an hour, an hour and a half with these top experts, Chopra, Dispenza. Braid and, and Anthony William Medical Medium was very huge now and was just kind of growing at the time. What are we going to deal with these interviews, we should do something. And so I was, we were super busy, of course of the film, but I was whispering to Kelly, like, we should put these together and sell them in some way or put them for people that want the deep information. So we were considering doing it on our own. And then, and I, you know, we just start all my rallies, people, our Hay House authors, you know, a lot of these, you know, who, let's approach Hay House and see if they want to do something together, because they would have an audience too. And that could be helpful. So we just call them up and had a meeting sat there, you know, with the CEO down in San Diego, and he's super nice. Like, that sounds great. Let's do it. You know, it's like this. Yeah, it's a win, win. 5050 Cool, let's put them out there. And they had their strategies of like affiliate partners and all that. We had all the footage, they had the marketing team to be able to make it happen and get it out there. They had that system. And that's, you know, we just had a really delivering support and make sure it was in our brand that they didn't, you know, make it to Hay House, that it still had the heel ethos to it. And that's something we wanted to keep. And it's a great partnership. I mean, we love Hay House. And we ended up doing a summit two and a summit three, I mean, the summit, finances did fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 52:43
So those are those based on old interviews that you shot for the movie? Or did you have new stuff come in?

Adam Schomer 52:48
For the for the first summit, we took all the interviews from the film, and I don't think we added anything new because we had a team that we filmed. Maybe we did. And so that for somebody that amazing and the you know, the great byproduct that came out last summer of 2018, after the film was out, but then we walked away with an email list that was about 300,000 people.

Alex Ferrari 53:12
Right, and so you're talking dirt, you're talking dirty to me now, sir.

Adam Schomer 53:17
I mean, they were blown away, we were the best we did the summits that year, they were blown away, we were blown away. Financially, I won't go into the details very, very well. The summits alone that we've done, have more than covered the budget of the film. And that makes you kind of think and you go oh my god, you know, like, you put all this effort into editing a film. And you could have shot 18 interviews, and not edited anything and put a summit, but you needed the film to create the buzz. And the film really is the entry point. And here we are, though in 2022. And there's a lot more summits and it's a little more saturated now. So like doesn't that yeah,

Alex Ferrari 53:56
It is it is it is a little bit more saturated. But still, if you've got an audience, and you've got a topic, people, it'll cut through all of that. And it's literally exactly what I was writing about, in my book Rise of the entrepreneur, it's like, the movie becomes a giant trailer, a giant, a giant marketing piece, as and I said in the book, even give the movie away for free, right? Because it's all about driving people to I don't care about 399 for a rental or 999 for you to buy the movie, I care you to buy the summit, that's gonna be $100 or it'll be a couple 100 bucks, or you or my services or my consulting or my books or my other things that have bigger, bigger, you know, interest in, you know, financial interest in as opposed to the movie that I might have a distribution deal that I don't, as we talked about might not get all the money because of expenses and all that stuff. But they don't take money away from summits. They don't take money away from books, they don't take money away from services or other things that you can provide. It's fascinating and that you leveraged the people inside of them. Movies audiences by making them partners with an affiliate program. Yes is the future. It's, I mean, why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't they, if they liked the product, don't push it out for them. It's not that hard. And they just make they make money and they help their audience. So it is a win win. It's a wonderful ecosystem. It truly is a wonderful ecosystem. And there's a

Adam Schomer 55:23
Yeah. And there's, there's a podcast now we did 38 episodes of the pocket. We did three summits and you know, and internationally, like, we push that summit out in Germany and France, and it's still going, you still go and we have great partners over there we work with and, and yeah, in a podcasts, what else did we do? Podcasts, we've we've, we have 38 episodes, we're going to start up again, probably in July, we've taken a little pause, and now we're developing series and going to end to go out with a series hopefully,

Alex Ferrari 55:55
Like a like a, like a, like a 10 episode series, or it's

Adam Schomer 55:59
Like a premium doc series. That's that's always been kind of in the back of our mind. It's just been again, like timing. And we think like now is is a good time.

Alex Ferrari 56:07
I'm just saying, Guys, this is I mean, it's everything I've been saying. For years, it's so really, I wouldn't be writing the book right now you'd be a case study. And maybe in the second edition, I'll put you guys in as a case study, because it's just, it's so brilliantly done. But this is the future for independent filmmakers. And in you've I mean, you've been down the road so much already. You've done I've done a ton of work, you know how hard it is to sell a movie? And how to make it to make money with a movie. Yeah. And the future is I keep saying is you have to be that entrepreneurial filmmaker that takes control, creates other products, creates other services creates other revenue streams off of the film you're doing, and you can't do it with a narrative. I've seen it I have many examples of it. But Doc seems to be so much easier. Because the audience is right. Like they just want it it's a different audience,

Adam Schomer 56:57
Then then that makes sense if the audience the niche and also usually the passion behind the doc, somebody that's doing it has some expertise in that topic or passion. And I mean, you gotta have that right. If you're gonna stick with something and make it big and brand like you have to be in to cycling. If you're going to do a cycling movie or right we're the road to dharma, like motorcycling in the Himalayas, I'm into yogic thought, I'm into freedom. Freedom is important to me. And wisdom is important. I can't write a course on freedom to go along with that. If I'm not into you know,

Alex Ferrari 57:28
You're like this Yo, he's out of his mind. He's trying to kill me like if you wouldn't have been in the vibe with the story. You can't so you have to be something that's true to you as a filmmaker or that interest you as a filmmaker because you're gonna be with this for a while

Adam Schomer 57:45
For a while you know, we can't Americanize everything be like, Hey, let's market the Hell, if you don't have any passion for it, you absolutely won't happen or won't work. Like, I'm looking at some other films and like, like the polygon that we did, like, there's not much we could have. I mean, that's about nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, and

Alex Ferrari 58:02
Very small niche.

Adam Schomer 58:06
It's still a film, you need to get women another way, Buffalo we just released Tuesday, which is about Native American women and the history of Native Americans and, and really the wisdom of the matriarch that's coming through. Now. Could there be some other ancillary products or maybe a summit? Yeah, maybe the main pushes, like, let's just get some awareness of this thing going. But Deborah, who directed it, she's been working her butt off for years. And her ancillary thing to be honest, is photographs. Because she's a photographer, she has some amazing photographs of this. She sells for, you know, big pieces and big money. So, you know, that's her passion. That's what she's good at. That's what she's going to do along with the film.

Alex Ferrari 58:46
Yeah. And, and I imagine that with that, if I was gonna ask you about that film, because I know it just came out this week. Women are the white buffalo. That is, you know, talking on a market research, audience base, there is an audience for this film. In Native Native Americans, many Native American Americans around the country would be very interested in probably some in in overseas, you know, people who are interested in in some, but this is your, this is your market. So, could you do a summit with interviewing? Join the full interviews? Absolutely. You know, is it as big of an audience as he'll probably not know, but it's still an audience. And it's bigger than nuclear testing. Like that's, that's a passion project. That's I want to get this get this out there. And that's fine too. But when you make a movie like he'll or other projects, they give you the freedom to do whatever you want. So if you want to make a small little movie that's really just about getting it out there for people and doing the bet that's fine, too. Is every everyone always filmmakers? I always find the thing that like you got to make $100 million to be a success. No No, not at all. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. It's most, most movies, most filmmakers 99.9% of filmmakers don't make $100 million. You know, I always tell people if you made a movie for $50,000 And you made $100,000 Man, you are success. You know, if you happen to make a quarter million dollars, fantastic. Now you can go finance another movie, live for a little while while you keep going. Doing it

Adam Schomer 1:00:36
And redefine success a little. Now we all have to as you interviewed a non nones in both worlds, right. He studied economics at university and he's a guru, right? I studied with Masters in the Himalayas boasts, we have to be able to survive, you can't deny the fact that we need money and we need we're in this society and we need to play in this society. It's not time to go in the caves. But but at the same time, we want to do something that's meaningful. You know, we're gonna do something like if we can redefine success, meaning okay, yes, we have to be sports I was but how about a teacher that had a few students like learn and grow out of their shell that year? And like, What a success, they had a few kids really get something from that teacher and go on, and it really inspired their lives. Okay, do people watch women in the white buffalo or watch Rhoda Dharma, a lot of people watch rode the Dharma or do the course. And they're like, I'm going to India man. It's like, cool. Now is it reached 3 million people? No, but like, 1500 people have taken the course and, you know, have 100 or 200 of those said, I'm going to India now sweet, like, I'm going to change somebody's life. And that's successful. Like, I got to share my story and push somebody else to do the same. But to me, it's like, a success.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:47
Exactly. So you and you have to define success for yourself. And I know for a long time I define success. As you know, I have to be the biggest director in the world to find success. And I was very angry for such a long time about that, and very depressed. And I think a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters and actors, all of them go through the same process, because they all like we all got to be Spielberg or Nolan, or Fincher or James Cameron and like, two, there's only there's only one of those. And there are anomalies. They are masters, they are.

Adam Schomer 1:02:16
Yeah, it's not gonna be for psychosis. It's a recipe for sadness and pain.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:20
Exactly. So I when I started this show, seven years ago, I started to redefine what success was to me, I'm like, Oh, I get to do what I do. Every day, I get to talk to people like yourself and share this information and help other people and be of service to my community. And I'm like, that makes that makes me happy. And like, and then I can go off and make my little movies when I want to go make them with that really caring if they make a tremendous amount of money, though they all have been very profitable. And they all done well. That's not my concern, per se. You know, it's not like I need to make money on this film in order to eat. Now I've built another inference infrastructure that allows me to go off and do whatever I want.

Adam Schomer 1:02:58
That's all for your identity. Like your identity is not so wrapped in

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
It's not anymore. Absolutely not. Yeah. It's so that's what I try to teach here at the show on the show, and try to really have people understand what success is for them and really define it for themselves. Because if not, you will, you will go mad. And you will absolutely go man, and this business is tough enough. It's just his brutal enough without without you having to do like, Oh, God, I'm 23 I didn't make Citizen Kane yet, like Orson Welles. Oh, I'm 27 I haven't made Jaws yet. Like Spielberg, I'm like, Are you out of your mind?

Adam Schomer 1:03:37
Yeah, I stopped, I stopped watching reading a lot of the trades or, you know, like, I don't read them, but and watching a lot of award shows, because it's like, it can't be the focus. It can't be like I have to, you know, it has to be like, No, how do we define ourselves as success? And how do we have this internal dialogue of gratitude and what we're doing in our life, and, you know, America tries to really throw other ideas down your throat. I mean, that's part I think, why why we're both here, Alex is because changing that culture, in some ways of saying, let's give meaning in a different way to our lives and to media, and maybe not keep throwing the same stories of success down people's throat, like once you get this and the girl on that, then you're happy. No, you know, it sounds cliche now, but it's really still out there. You know, and it's really still a story motif all the time.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:28
I mean, because like I tell people all the time, Hollywood is fantastic about selling the sizzle, but they suck at selling the steak. And that's what that's all about. And I always and I've said this a ton of times in the show, so everyone please forgive me, but I'll say it again. Adam hasn't heard this. The greatest analogy for Hollywood is going down to Hollywood Boulevard. And I don't know if you've been down to Hollywood Boulevard. I'm sure you have. It is a cesspool. But on Oscar night, it looks like oh my god. It's Hollywood glitz and glamour and look at the staircase and look at this Look at the stars. But the second, the award shows over, they take up the red carpet, and the drug needles are still down in the alley. So it's just, but that is the perfect analogy of well, Hollywood is because they show something. But what's really going on behind the scenes is probably not what they're showing. And that's what they built that they've done since they started the industry. So but people get caught up in that in that mentality of sizzle, sizzle sizzle, and I need this, this, this and this, and I'll be happy when this happens. You can't be happy when this happen, because life is not a destination. It is a journey. And I've talked to Oscar winners. And I've talked to Emmy winners, I've talked to very successful people who've reached the top of that quote, unquote, mountaintop, and then they go now what? And a lot of them get depressed because they've been working all their life to disaster and they get the ask them to like, I don't know what to do now. Like, where do I go from here? Because they haven't enjoyed the journey up to the top highest pass the highest pass and then just like, I don't write, I don't understand what I do it.

Adam Schomer 1:06:02
That's why I did that movie first. Oh, I see it's the journey. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:08
It's all part of the plan. It was all part of the plan the entire time, I'm sure.

Adam Schomer 1:06:13
Gonna do that. I'm gonna do the hardest question, you know, hardest job I could possibly do first that would teach me everything so that I can then have a sane career making,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:23
Because I'm assuming he'll not so difficult, comparatively?

Adam Schomer 1:06:27
No, comparatively, no, you know, no, no, no life threatening moments.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:33
You know, you just we go to a house we go to myself, we should staff.

Adam Schomer 1:06:37
But I'll tell you, you know, the adventure is like, oh, what's the adventure of the people that are going through the healing art? Yeah. You know, I could not be as a filmmaker but all we're watching them and like it is everything when you're sick. It's every Oh, so does you know as much as I love adventure, it has a little bit out in the film. But no, for me as a filmmaker, not as not as crazy wrote a Dharma. Yeah, I'm still at risk again, even though I know how to ride a motorcycle.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:02
And this is the insanity of filmmakers. You're still thinking about trying to do a second third season one day of growth? Because you're insane. We all are. Because normal human beings wouldn't do that twice. Film it twice. And then go, you know, I think I could do this two or three more times.

Adam Schomer 1:07:22
I was just in India with a non right. And I was like, Well, are you open to? Because it always starts from Are you open to letting us walk film? Because he's gonna do this no matter what with people. It's authentic. It's not for the show. Can I come along and film the next one? And he said, Yes. So where do you know we're talking? When in 2023? We can do it again. And then I have the filmmaker crazy madness. Like, like I said earlier, you know, once we've done season two and three, then Netflix will wake up and go, Okay, we'll take off. That's still a little psychosis illusion.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:51
This is the delusion, filmmakers were actually delusional. Because it's so funny that you're like, you're not a newbie at this dude. This is like I hear that kind of talk from like, someone who just like, you know, I'm just gonna do this and this and then Hollywood will notice me or Netflix will notice. You still have that mentality, even after over a decade. And just like, you know, I think if I do three more, four more seasons, I think Netflix will finally take notice.

Adam Schomer 1:08:16
And I do believe it. I absolutely in my heart believe it because like, oh, no, this spiritual audience is growing. And it'll have and if not, you know, so I got me to go keep doing it. Absolutely. And, you know, I just love I, it's my baby, you wrote it down was

Alex Ferrari 1:08:31
Like, Oh, it's wonderful. It's wonderful. I tell everybody. Yeah, no, and, of course,

Adam Schomer 1:08:37
Somebody else will pay the bills. You know, somebody else would be and I'll just keep doing that because

Alex Ferrari 1:08:40
We're carnies. We're carnism we're all we are is carnies. And we just are insane. We're, we're so we're circus folk. We're so we're circus folk. That's basically what we are. I've said that so many times. It's so true. We are so Casper, we put up a tent, we put on a show, and then we leave the town and we go on to the next town. It's the same thing if a film sets the exact same thing, and the people on the crew, very entertaining people. Very, very entertaining very unique people that you meet along along your journey. But it is a I call it the beautiful sickness. That's what it is being a filmmaker being a creative it is a beautiful sickness, because it's a sickness you can't get rid of he can't so fun.

Adam Schomer 1:09:23
Quantity, you know, it's the want to teach you share and maybe, yeah, for you as a documentary. As a documentary, there's no I noticed a little bit me that's that, like my own subconscious that wants to be heard. You know, that maybe it wasn't heard enough as a kid. Okay, I see that part and let's not operate from that part. And then the other part is like the natural teacher, I've taught soccer forever. And you know, the natural teacher that has found a format to do that is called film and entertainment adventure. And I get to hopefully share in that way too, and I don't stop teaching like I teach yoga on the beach to my friends. stuff. So like, that's not

Alex Ferrari 1:10:01
That stretch. It's all about stretching that really.

Adam Schomer 1:10:05
And like, you know, I often remind myself in terms of life skills, like if I had the Oscar and a million dollars, would I still be here at the beach doing yoga with my friend? Absolutely. Would I still be eating here? Absolutely. Will I still be, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:19
Would you go back on the road to dharma,

Adam Schomer 1:10:23
I would, I would still be doing everything I'm doing. So like, I better not wait to be happy because it's going to be the same. Actually, there's just going to be in maybe a couple more projects going or more money or blah, blah, in so you just you have to kind of wipe away the Bs in the mind. You have to?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:39
Absolutely. Listen, I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked on the guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Adam Schomer 1:10:48
You know, I'm, I don't. Because I don't see it is a breaking into the business.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:56
Largely. It's larceny. It's larceny. Sir. It's larceny. This business is larceny, we have to break our way in, or make it or make it.

Adam Schomer 1:11:06
I just, here's what I did when I first got to LA and this might work for people and might not I, I went to things and did things that I like to do so that I made friends with people that I liked, so that I didn't network for the sake of networking, so that the people I'm close with, I'm actually close with. And there had a core and still do now have a core group of people that I actually trust. And maybe it's a little different, because it's the dark world consciousness world. But the consciousness world can be as crazy as Hollywood, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:36
I mean, it's your first movie, I need any full credit as a director.

Adam Schomer 1:11:42
Right! Exactly, exactly. The gun and there's plenty of stuff. So maybe that's my advice is to be yourself in the in the lifestyle way. And then that way, you you have a core group of people support system as you're going through hard things that you actually call friends. And that way, you're not pushing so hard to network, you know, and if you're going to something like an event, it's something you might actually connect with someone with you. So that's my only bit of advice, because the way I did is so strange and absurd. I'm not going to go to India, find a guru and make a move, like best I can to work. It's been done.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:22
It's been done already. It's been done. Now it's totally. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Adam Schomer 1:12:31
Yeah, let's let's talk about recent Ben, what happened going on my, in my head is, is that, you know, these, this propensity for us to look back at a conversation, I want to redo it right down, we'll call that doubt, to change the way what I said what I did, or this the thoughts that projecting the future, I'm going to do this and that still, even my last time in India was just looking at where that's all coming from. And I decided just to re engineer all that. So that lesson was, if I'm engineering the future, or engineering, what I should have said in the past, what needs to be re engineered is right now. So let's flip the engineering on now and say, Okay, what is it? I'm feeling that's making me have those thoughts? Oh, I'm feeling some lack or something. So let's use that engineering mind of redoing future paths, and look at an engineer that feeling and say, what's going on in there? And can I shift my perspective to, to break it open now, rather than this false story making the past and future and, of course, I've known that through awareness and meditation for years, but to really use the wording of engineering and just say, I'm going to engineer the moment and look deeply at the feeling when those thoughts come up. It's just really hitting hard right now. And I think that's super super helpful to not get lost in our minds.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:56
And three of your favorite songs of all time.

Adam Schomer 1:13:59
Yeah, I saw your ask this and I have to at least that I logged in life was beautiful because I just because of that ability to help someone else right. And that to bring us out of our own suffering in some ways really, it can speak to us all when you heal other people or help other people does lift you up. The Princess Bride because it got me through college, you know, just memorizing

Alex Ferrari 1:14:25
My name is Andrea Montoya my father prepare to die.

Adam Schomer 1:14:31
And then my third eye hadn't figured it out. So let's just see what comes into my consciousness right now. What? Yeah, okay, well, I guess Star Wars would have to be in there because it pushed me to want a Yoda in my life. And as you know, I'm not my guru. I think we all growing up want it? I think I even say that in the highest pass like,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:55
we I think we all look guilty. I mean, I just I have lifesize Yoda right there he was on my show. I have lifesize Yoda right there. I have a little Yoda right here. So I have a baby Yoda right here. The bobble head. If people are just have a bobble head, a bobble head, baby Yoda over there in a full size, maybe you're above me. So I am a Yoda fan. But you're right, we all want someone wise to guide us through this insanity that we call life. Because it is we're all trying to figure it out from the moment we come out and we're slapped in the butt and we start crying. You know, we're just like trying to figure this out and having someone who can answer questions for you, someone who's maybe been understands things that you don't understand, or maybe a much deeper level that you don't understand, is something I think we all long for, in one way, shape or form, whether that be your parents, whether that be a guru, whether that'd be a you know, a friend, whoever, we're all looking for that in one way, shape, or form. And some of us have the ability to do it ourselves to be our own internal gurus, and learn just by life and life is the guru that teaches you, unfortunately, for better and worse. But right. But listen Annabelle, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you, man, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to my audience. Man, I, I truly appreciate it. And I recommend everybody watch all of your films, even polygon.

Adam Schomer 1:16:28
It's not as depressing as it sounds, but it needs to be seen. No, thank Thank you, man. Thanks for this podcast for having a Nanda and sharing the soul that you're sharing on the next level. So just sharing your heart on this podcast. Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it. It's such a cool journey. And the next one I'm working on. I can't talk about this doc, but it has a built in audience. And of course, I'm giving it a consciousness and a meaning to it. So like, you know what we're starting to find how to do this, how to sneak in the good messages into something that's commercially viable. And I'm excited to talk about that once it comes out. But again, thank you so much. This is awesome.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:06
Thank you, my friend.



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Creative Hustle Key NFT Give Away

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

Phase 1

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

Phase 2

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

Phase 3

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

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

Right-click here to download the MP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam Scorgie 8:19
Into the film business?

Alex Ferrari 8:21
Yes. Yes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 18:54
I was noticing that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 30:17
Personally gets money first, then

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam Scorgie 43:46
Exactly, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 43:47
Because everyone was like,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:10:56
Do movies now?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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IFH 553: How to Build a Profitable Production Company with Michael D. Ratner

Michael D. Ratner

Today on the show we have entrepreneur and filmmaker Michael D. Ratner.

Michael founded OBB Pictures in 2016 and under his leadership the company has grown into OBB Media, an award winning production company and studio with divisions in film, TV, digital, podcasts, branded content, and social good.

In addition to running OBB and expanding the business, Ratner continues to act as a multi-hyphenate leading creative on OBB’s marquee projects. Ratner recently directed and executive produced the Amazon Studios Justin Bieber: Our World film.

Justin Bieber: Our World takes viewers backstage, onstage and into the private world of the global superstar as he prepares for a record-breaking New Year’s Eve 2020 concert. After a three-year hiatus from a full concert, Bieber delivers an electrifying performance on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests —and millions of fans across the globe watching via livestream. Produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Michael D. Ratner, the94minute documentary follows Bieber and his team for the month leading up to the show as they rehearse and construct a monumental stage set. The film also captures personal self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey through the artist’s own lens.

Earlier that year, he directed and executive produced the critically acclaimed SXSW 2021 opening night headlining film Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil.

Demi Lovato holds nothing back in this powerful four part documentary series exploring every aspect that led to their nearly fatal overdose in 2018, and her awakenings in the aftermath. Director Michael D. Ratner is granted unprecedented access to the superstar’s personal and musical journey during the most trying time of their life as they unearth prior traumas and discovers the importance of physical, emotional, and mental health. Far deeper than an inside look beyond the celebrity surface, this is an intimate portrait of addiction, and the process of healing and empowerment.

Prior to that, the Justin Bieber: Seasons docuseries, which broke the record for YouTube Originals as the most-viewed premiere ever globally. These projects focus on helping to normalize and foster dialogue around mental health, conversations around self worth, and supporting causes for social good.

Ratner is also the creator, showrunner, director and executive producer of Cold as Balls, the comedy series starring Kevin Hart, which has garnered over 1.8 billion viewers to date and just wrapped its fifth season, and is available on Peacock. Ratner executive produced and directed on &Music for Quibi, and executive produced The Harder Way for ESPN+.

He directed and produced Justin Bieber’s music video Intentions, which featured Bieber and Quavo highlighting the stories of 3 Los Angeles women’s struggles, and launched the Intentions Fund. Ratner also co-directed the music video for Dancing With The Devil, alongside Demi Lovato, which was the lead single from their last studio album. Both music videos were nominated for VMAs.

Prior to that, Ratner served as executive producer and director on OBB’s Historical Roasts for Netflix. Ratner has also produced and/or directed a number of films that have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, and SXSW, including Gonzo @ the Derby for ESPN’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series, which followed Hunter S. Thompson’s trip to the Kentucky Derby and is narrated by Sean Penn.

Ratner has been recognized by Variety Hollywood’s Creative New Leaders list as well as Forbes 30 Under 30 Hollywood & Entertainment. Prior to that, Ratner graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in film directing, writing, and producing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Enjoy my inspiring conversation with Michael D. Ratner.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Michael D. Ratner. How're you doing, Michael?

Michael D. Ratner 0:14
How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'm good, man. I'm good. How's How's life treating you in this weird, wacky world we live in?

Michael D. Ratner 0:21
Making it through weird and wacky.

Alex Ferrari 0:23
Weird, weird and wacky ohh god. And you're doing productions left and right. And I'm assuming you never know what's gonna happen if someone gets positive or not. But it's just such a weird world, man we're living in.

Michael D. Ratner 0:36
Yeah, it's I don't remember shooting prior to this. Yeah, I gotta say, though, it's been it's been great. We have managed to stay shooting the entire time. We pivoted early. We did a we do the show a Kevin Hart called cold as balls. And that was the first virtual shoot. We did like the second week into COVID in 2020. And then we went right into dancing with the devil. And we've been nonstop testing is now like, in the DNA of what you do in a day for a film shoot. So it's too well,

Alex Ferrari 1:07
And masks everywhere. Like before, you know, Michael Jackson looked like a weirdo. But now not so much.

Michael D. Ratner 1:13
No, no, it's it's that that is not something it's an accessory. That's totally it's like a watch.

Alex Ferrari 1:20
I mean, is there gonna be a time we're not gonna wear it? Like, I can't even I can't even walk out the door now without wearing one. It just freaks me out. If I don't have one on. It's crazy. Yeah. So let's, so how did you get started in this insane business that we call the film industry?

Michael D. Ratner 1:34
So i Good question. You know, and sort of one of those answers that I feel like what other people said, I roll my eyes, but it's the truth. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to do this. You know, I remember being super young. And my, my father had, actually I keep it here. I could turn the camera and show you. Yeah, it's, it's in my stack of stuff. I have a VHS camera. That was my father's. And I taught myself how to use it. And, you know, I would run around the house, and I would shoot everything. And I remember my mom would be like, in a robe in the morning. She's like, Why are you shooting me, you know, and I just would like, run around. And, and I would I like I like, you know, my brother and I like the WWE at the time and matches and, you know, I would come in and create storylines, and, and then I taught myself how to edit. And I you know, it was it was really interesting. And it was a time when you could teach yourself how to do things. And, you know, when I went to high school, I remember teachers, you know, the one specific one, I remember it was Catcher in the Rye, and we're supposed to do a essay on it. And I asked the teacher Her name was, I think it was Mrs. Yeah, it was, it was Mrs. Clapper. She, she she? I said, you know, I'd like to make a film about this rather than a paper which said, you just want to mess around with your friends and shoot something. And I said, No. I said, Actually, I think I could do something that speaks even more powerfully than an essay. And she said, No. And I said, Well, what if I do that? Plus, I write the essay, will you show it in class? And she said yes to that, because it was even more work. And I remember the feeling I had when people watch that. And it worked. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Alex Ferrari 3:27
Yeah, I had a similar experience with a I had high a camera that my grandpa gave me. And I used to run around I used to and I did the same thing. A teacher business law, teachers, like, Hey, can I shoot a, you know, this this promo? And she's like, Sure. And the whole climate, it was standing room only because it was I was in the 90s, like, early 90s. So it's still someone shooting something was like, what? Now it's like everybody shoots. But

Michael D. Ratner 3:54
Yeah, I think it wasn't, I don't remember other kids running around doing it the way like high school at least. And you know, I was in Rauzan Hebrew school shooting stuff, and I would have my friends come over and I you know, we'd been put them in costumes and stuff, and I just loved it. I love that feeling when I knew I had something that was gonna make people laugh, and I was waiting and in the, you know, auditorium or in the classroom, and it was such a high and it was entertaining people and having something to say and getting your personality out there. And I just thought, I guess back then I didn't really realize like, oh, I want to make it a business and I want to make money doing it. It was more so just I loved it. And then, you know, you start to learn about life and realize that you can really, really make this work and you start getting inspired by people and next thing you know, here you are.

Alex Ferrari 4:45
Now is was there a film that kind of lit the fire? Was there like that one you're like oh my god, I have to do this?

Michael D. Ratner 4:53
You know, my answer is the, the answer is I I remember seeing early Adam Sandler movies. I remember seeing

Alex Ferrari 5:03
Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison.

Michael D. Ratner 5:06
Yep, I remember seeing those movies and being like, wow, like, This is so fucking cool. Can you curse?

Alex Ferrari 5:15
In the occasional F bomb is fine.

Michael D. Ratner 5:17
There'll be, that'll be the only one but it that's how I felt at the time, right. And I was like, This is amazing. And I wasn't so deep that I knew whether I wanted to be a producer, director, writer, actor, comedian, like it was just this is magic, this makes this is so cool. And then I remember the first one that really is an interesting one to note because I was a bit older at this point. But I remember the one that actually spoke to me a bit because it was this coming of age story. And I thought that such heart was super bad. I remember seeing Yeah, yeah. And I remember going man like, this is such this is I know high school like this. And I know these stories. So those are a couple films that I remember seeing. And there's some other Judd Apatow films and stuff. But yeah, those are those are sort of when I was like, Man, this is this is so incredible. You can make people laugh, and you could tell stories that have heart in a relatable. And I do I remember, I remember those moments,

Alex Ferrari 6:14
Was your first directing gigs in music videos?

Michael D. Ratner 6:18
So my first A directing like, I mean, I can tell you the countless things that I directed that were just horrible. And nobody's ever seen because there's, there's 1000s, right. And I would like and I for so long. I was ashamed of just how bad they were. I don't know what I was doing. But the first thing I directed that I felt was was solid was in films, I went to UPenn undergrad. And I majored in film and English, but I really was just learning about cinema cinema studies, you weren't learning how to be a filmmaker per se. Then I went to NYU grad film school. And that's where I really learned how to be a filmmaker. And I think that program is so phenomenal. And I made a film there called the 30 year old bris, which was about an interfaith couple. And it takes the night before the guys get circumcised. And that film got into Tribeca. It was you know, I think, a 1012 minute short film. And that was the first thing I directed that started getting a little buzz. And, you know, then I got into some music videos and stuff from there. But it was really that film at Tisch, that was the first one that I was like, Oh, I think this is, you know, this is working.

Alex Ferrari 7:26
Now, you know, we I've been directing for 20 odd years as well. And there's always that day, when you're on set, that you feel like the entire world is gonna come crashing down around you, you're losing the sun, the camera broke card isn't working, someone deleted the last 33 hours you shot, you know, something happens was, is there something that sticks out in your mind that happened on a day or in a project? And how did you overcome it as a director?

Michael D. Ratner 7:55
Wow, it's like, take your pick, right?

Alex Ferrari 7:57
It's a daily basis, right?

Michael D. Ratner 7:58
Yeah, I've had every thing that you just said, Because I mean, I started off as a scrappy filmmaker, like I remember, you know, you become, you don't take anything for granted. You know, I started OPB and I have this company now where every role is fulfilled, and I show up and I'm the director and I'm able to just like do my thing and leave. But there is a certain you don't soon forget the roles of everybody on your on your set, if you really did them all. And I'm so grateful for those brutal times that I tried to, you know, really be the best location sound person that I could be and the times that I did hold the boom, because you know, I'm you can't see my full body and physique here. I'm not exactly cut out for for that and that's brutal job. Oh, it's brutal. And, and understanding why you need to get room tone and understanding that somebody, if your call time is that 6am needs to go get the truck to get the lights and that's at 3am and you do all of that. And you know you have you you I remember peeing in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, you know, before I went to film school and I was in charge of going and driving this like broken down van from Pittsburgh to to Johnstown, I thought I was gonna like die because the wheels were gonna fall off. And those those experiences really make you a much, much better leader and director. And I'm very grateful that I had those experiences while in the moment you don't see it. So yeah, there's countless examples of not really knowing that you should be backing up your drives, and it's like a whole day's work gets knocked down. That's like, you know, what's the night? So I have had all of that. But you make it work and you keep going. And, you know, nothing's ever what it was supposed to be. Nothing's ever what was scripted. Nothing's ever what you have Your head but ends up being something special. So there's, there's so many different examples that John's done when I haven't talked about that in probably 10 years. That was, that was crazy because I was the PA, I was so excited to shadow the director, I thought I was gonna be able to do that. They're like, hey, there's a van four hours away, you need to go get it and then combat you know, that was the whole day. And I really I remember it broke down. And you know, I was like, I'm gonna get fired from this first eyelet ever, because I'm not going to get this band here. And you know, it all works out.

Alex Ferrari 10:29
Oh, dude, I was I was interning at a at a show for Fox at Universal Studios and the producers like, hey, the producer wants to talk to you. I'm like, oh, shoot, like the showrunner wants to talk to me. And I go into his office, like, I like what you've been doing here, kid, and I have a special project for you. I'm like, what, what is it he's like, I need you to help me move.

Michael D. Ratner 10:48
It that gives you a lot of time to then go and find your moment to make an impression.

Alex Ferrari 10:59
Exactly, exactly!

Michael D. Ratner 11:00
You know what I pay so much attention to that, who's who's who looks like they're just there to help and be a positive influence and voice. And you know, that that doesn't go unnoticed if you pick the pocket and you play those situations, right. And I think that, again, all the all of those experiences and doing all these different roles and for you, you know, you will be in charge and you will be making those choices. And if you really know what you're talking about versus if you don't, it becomes really clear and people want to work for people that they feel like you've done it before.

Alex Ferrari 11:34
Right! No, no quies Yeah, it man as a season a season crew can smell can smell it a five minutes in if the directors with knows what they're doing or not like, and they will roll you over, depending on where you are in the world. La crew, New York crew, they even Atlanta crew, they're gonna all season guys and gals, they will run over you because they just don't have the patience for it. I've had the pleasure of talking to a lot of you know, really amazing guests on my show. And one thing I've always wondered, I always ask is about this thing that I can't believe some of these Oscar winners and Emmy winners and imposter syndrome. And it's a thing that, you know, I feel it. I mean, but writers feel it everything. I was wondering if you've ever had to deal with that on your own meaning like, sometimes I've talked to some guys who you know, literally win Oscars. I'm like, do you haven't yet sometimes on my last movie that it was $100 million. I felt like any moment now security was gonna come in and go, This guy doesn't know what he's doing. Come on, get him out of here. Is it just an artist thing? Or do you do? Do you ever feel that I mean, like an a normal artist would? And how do you deal with it? If you do feel it?

Michael D. Ratner 12:47
I try to spin that positively. I try to and the answer is of course. Because it like another word for that is insecurity. Right? Sure. Right. And I try to think to myself in those moments, you know, hard work pays off. And, you know, nobody knows what they're doing. But we're gonna figure it out. And also just first, I'm so happy. I didn't have like early, early, early success, amen. And then the reason for that is, it's always with you. And it's not like it took me forever. I feel very lucky that I, that I'm that I am where I am right now at my age, and it's not lost on me. But it didn't happen right away for me at all. And you get told no. So frequently. It's almost like you just you need to be Teflon, because every day you have an idea. You're like, oh, yeah, cool, like call me back in a couple of weeks or like no, just know, right? And sudden, Yeah, that sucks. That's where you Was that a joke? Exactly. And and you get deflated. And then you get back up. And I think that people are making this business are like wildly resilient. Right? And I think that you, you basically go and get to a point where you remember those noes and people start all the sudden saying yes, and then eventually you're actually gonna have to turn stuff down, which is such a foreign concept when you're when you're starting your career. And I think in those moments of frustration, or you're not sure if you're, if you belong and whatnot, I try to just think back to all I must be doing something right, I'm here, right? And those noes turned into yeses, and I try my best not to get riddled with anxiety and frustration. I'd say try because I fail at this sometimes. Right? And I try to just think you dreamed of this. So let's just figure it out. Just go for it and not go and cave or fold. You know, I gotta say one of the I mentioned before that Kevin Hart show that we do is about to enter season six. Kevin and I actually had a conversation. Very early on we started working together. And I asked him I said it shouldn't you be on a beach, like just sipping like a Mai Tai, like, what are we doing here? Because he just like he this guy has worked harder than anybody. He's the consummate Pro. And he did. He said to me, he said, I remember all those nose. He said, I'm still catching it. You think I'd say yes to a lot. I'm catching up for all the nose because he didn't make it right. Oh, no took him in. And I related to it so much. So I don't know, I try to think more about that, you know, it doesn't exactly answer your question. But in those moments, like, you know, do I belong? Or am I like, here, like, have this? I just tried to go like, yes, we are. And like, we're gonna figure it out. And we don't know everything, because nobody does. And let's just, let's grind. You know, one funny story that really answers your question is I was once I really liked this film, and thought I could make a difference. In a later stage, you know, I didn't know that you could come into a film that's already in the can and edit and help and make an impact like this early on in my career. And I was on this call that I never should have been on because I was super young, and like, trying to like show that I had great ideas. So you know, but I didn't know what I was doing. I've never done it before. And I remember they asked me a simple question. And I said, I think our connections bad Hold on, and I Googled it. I didn't know how to and I didn't even know what they were talking about. Google, I was like, ah, yeah, you know, and that's just the hustle. The Hustle. You know, you There you go. Your hat says that right. And that doesn't mean be a BS artist, far from it. But like, hustle, ask questions, ask for help and just roll with it. We're all on the same situation.

Alex Ferrari 16:37
No, no question now. Yeah, I was gonna ask you about Kevin Kevin Hart's cold balls, which is I've seen by the way, I've seen many episodes, I friggin I'm a huge Kevin Hart fan, like, Who is it? I mean, who is it? What is it like working with? A I've heard the same thing from people that worked with him. Nothing but a professional, wonderful to work with. Just there on time, does his job makes people laugh? And it's just working hard. What is it like working with them? And is there something you've taken away from? You know, just working with a star of that caliber, um, he's he's a worldwide, huge star,

Michael D. Ratner 17:17
Mega bankable movie star in multi hyphenate CEO, business owner, Kevin and I had many converse. I mean, obviously, you know, I own and run OB, which is one hat I direct. That's another hat I produce. And he's a guy with a lot of dashes, if you were to put try to introduce him, right. And what I'll say is, he has it, and I might say, but just, there is something about he's special. I mean, the way his brain works, the way he reads a script, and just knows it immediately, like he inside out something about his brain is different. And he is gifted. What makes Kevin Hart Kevin Hart is there's that plus this crazy work ethic. Plus this, like, you know, charm and everything else. He's hilarious. But he has this intangible gift that I mean, it's so much study his brain, he's got this crazy mind and memory and gift. And then you pair that with all the other checkboxes of things he has. And you get Kevin Hart. But yeah, I mean, you work with a guy like that. And you're just in the presence of, you know, someone who's really, really great.

Alex Ferrari 18:26
Yeah. And, you know, I've had the pleasure of working with with those kinds of stars, and you just know it when they walk in the room. There's just that thing that's intangible. It's there. It's like, oh, yeah, that's why they're huge movie star. I get it. Now. They don't have to say a word. You just go.

Michael D. Ratner 18:40
Yeah, it goes beyond confidence, or the way they carry themselves. It's, it's something it's like this special aura. And, you know, I, I work with a lot of really talented people. And I think I have a real knack for getting great performances from people in scripted and unscripted in movies and TV and in what have you, right. And I think that that skill set, I can navigate the medium, whether it's, by the way, an audio, we have an audio division, like, I think I know how to go and communicate and get those things done. So I have a certain way of going about it. And you know, with Kevin specifically, anytime that I go to do my normal course, he just requires so much less and or none at all, you know, and it's just like, and I'm always like, man, I'll see how this goes. And he nails it nails it every time. So the prep work just and that's not to say that he's some guy that shows up and doesn't do prep, whatever he's doing is working. And it's just like, go for it and and never disappoints. He never seems like he doesn't know what he's talking about. And I'll always be ready to go with a note and he'll just do it on his own. It's amazing. It's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 19:53
Now you've obviously you've direct a lot of music videos. Is there anything that you brought from your music video experience into documentary, because you have made a handful of documentaries pretty high profile ones at that.

Michael D. Ratner 20:06
Yeah, um, I think that I like mixing the worlds like, I think that music videos are so stylistic, you know, you can stylize them so much. And in a very competitive world where there's so many dogs right now, making stylistic choices to make yours rise up and feel special and different is a great move. Like, you know, we were the opening night headliner, film at South by Southwest this year with dance with the devil and with Demi, and the opening sequence of it's a four part piece. And the opening sequence basically plays like this, like XR, music video. And it's got all these little like riddled pieces of the story that are symbolic. And if you were to play that piece straight through, it actually tells a story. It's more music video than it is Doc. But it's an opening sequence, right? I think I took that from sort of my music video brain. And I think that when making doc, specifically music docs, I like to take parts of the creative and what makes those musicians so, so special, and put that into the DNA of the filmmaking in some capacity. And sometimes then that sort of gets meld with more music, video type motifs. And it's fun to sort of weave in and add up.

Alex Ferrari 21:32
Now, you know, I've seen some of your Doc's and you you're able to get your subjects to open up to you, and be very, very vulnerable. What tips do you have for filmmakers listening to be able to do that? I mean, then you're doing it with some of the biggest, you know, stars in the world, which I'm assuming is a whole other level of comfortable that you have to get in order to do that. But what what suggestions do you have for filmmakers out there?

Michael D. Ratner 22:00
Forget about the cameras worrying about. And I what I mean by that is not forget that they're there, that's a very obvious thing. But what I mean is, whatever day you plan to shoot, you better be working on your relationship with that person, in a very, non transactional way, way earlier on, and that means, forget that you're directing them, forget that you're one day sitting down from a very genuine place, you need to care about that person, and you need to care about the story you're telling. And the vulnerability that you're referring to is earned. It's not just happenstance. And that's a comfort level of many, many off the record conversations. And, you know, you ultimately get to a point where you understand what's your Northstar? You got to be on the same page with people to What are you trying to accomplish? And, you know, why should they trust you, and you need to go and have those hard and difficult conversations, depending on what the subject matter is. But I think whether it's light, or whether it's super heavy, you need to have that relationship, and that takes time and energy and that stuff. There's no instant gratification with that, you know, you're nobody's gonna applaud you and be like, you're such a great director, this film was so great. And you're not even going to know yourself, you talk about being in security, not going to yourself, if you're if you're going to achieve what you're looking to collectively with that person, but just put in the time and, and then, you know, ask those questions in a way that are more conversational, I think, you know, I've said this before, publicly, but like, there is this moment when I can tell that the interview is turned into a conversation. And the second that's happened, that's when you really start to speak in a way that's just so special. And and it all comes down to trust in your relationship. And, you know, that just means you got to put the time in, like, with all things.

Alex Ferrari 24:00
Yeah, it's funny, I've had I've had that experience with my guests sometimes where I, I'm talking to them, and they forget that we're recording and they start asking, like, personal questions and like, hey, where do you live? And I, you know, maybe we could have like, dude, who recording stuff. And then oh, yeah, I forgot. I forgot. Did you fall into that? And that's the magic place that's really is a magic place.

Michael D. Ratner 24:19
Yeah. And, you know, there's also, you know, so one could argue, well, if you're too close, you know exactly what they want. Are you going to be too subjective in what you're saying? You know, the answer is no, you know, you can tell an objective story while understanding someone's heart and what they're after and why they're doing something. You know, one of the most interesting things with some of the really, you know, large tentpole movies and projects that I've made as of late with big stars, in the dark space, specifically is, you know, it's really unique for that vulnerability and that window into these people's lives. Sometimes the good, the bad and the ugly for people to do that while they're in there. Prime. I think that's really unique to my work, right? It's easy to see many people later on in life, I got nothing to lose, here's what happened back in the day, you know? Cool, that's really cool that is, but there's something really special about somebody who has everything to lose who's in the middle of it doesn't need to be doing that, talking about those things, because they want to connect with their fans and relate and you know, specifically to call out, you know, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber, who both did that in our respective projects, you know, seasons dancing with the devil, I think are two prime examples of I am struggling, and I am dealing with mental health issues, and I'm dealing with Trump. And that's because I'm a human being has nothing to do with that I'm a celebrity. That is so bold, and that has nothing to do with me, those are choices that they each made, and I was there to help facilitate their vision, which was really special.

Alex Ferrari 25:53
You know, it's so funny, because I think in the era that I grew up, you know, I mean, I'm, I'm a bit older than you. But I mean, I remember when Michael Jackson and Madonna and you know, all those big stars of the 80s and 90s. They they're put on these pedestals and they don't, they're not shown as human. Yeah, they're, they're just, they're just the things almost. And they never showed vulnerability, ever, because that wasn't expected of them. But in today's generation, and today's artists, it's almost expect like the Billy Eilish is of the world and they are expected to be vulnerable, and to be authentic and not packaged. Because fans want authenticity. People want authenticity, they are not going to just Oh, you're pretty great. There's 1000 Other pretty people behind you. What makes you special. Oh, you can send great, there's 1000 other people who can see really great to what makes you special. And and your dogs really kind of opened up those doors to two of the largest stars in the world right now.

Michael D. Ratner 26:54
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I think that that is the different different, you know, differentiator, like I think that, you know, the ability to go and sure Instagram, you get like 15 second clips into people's lives. But I always say people have like their Instagram personality. It's not live course. Yeah, way on there. And it's quick, and it's that, but like, that is access, right? We didn't used to get that access with Michael Jackson, or some of the artists you named, that didn't really, you know, obviously exist, but I still think these Doc's are that makes it even harder, right? Because it's like, oh, well, you're getting a window. And so what makes the dock special, you know, we've already seen them inside their house. So we've already gotten the unfiltered version, it's like, kind of that's still a bit of not polished, it's polished, or it's raw for a specific reason. Like it's, you know, it's it's raw, but like the what we've tried to do is really tell a story, and I don't believe that you need you need an hour and a half or two hours tell a story. I don't believe that you need half an hour, I believe that story and duration and what's happening in content right now with all of the different options on district distributor and, you know, varying agnostic lengths of things is phenomenal. So think that you know just quick hitters on on social is not the way to really get deep and learn about stuff. So I think that these these music, Doc's are a way to connect. And you know what, even more so in a time when touring stops, right, the world back, we start talking about like, you could not connect with fans. So what are you doing? What are you up to? And how can you go and speak to speak to those people that normally would get to go and get maybe see you on the road or see performances or, or shows that you're on, everybody had to like, take a deep breath and settle down and stay in one place.

Alex Ferrari 28:44
When you were doing dancing with the devil of Demi Lovato that, you know, I you know, just at the beginning of the first episode, you know, it's like, six months before the overdose. So you started that process, and the overdose happened in the middle of it, right.

Michael D. Ratner 28:59
So actually, interestingly enough, they were working on a doc, it was a follow up to simply complicated that I was not involved in. And then when the overdose, unfortunately happened, they stopped entirely, of course, and when they decided that they were ready to talk about that I had recently, you know, months before put out seasons. And that's what ultimately I think, made me feel like, Ooh, you know, we could potentially tell this together, because that tone, and that level of authenticity and rawness was what I think they were looking to do, because I think that film would have been a different tone and style, obviously. So it just called for a fresh restart. And I came in then, but I was able to inherit some of that footage obviously from before. And that was one of the filmmaking challenges, how to go and take some of the older stuff and ultimately shoot new stuff and And that's how we started.

Alex Ferrari 30:01
Yeah. And it's, it's you're working with your subject as opposed to a documentarian who's recording a subject but is disconnected meaning that they go off they edit the subject has no say on how it looks, where now you're can only imagine how difficult that is, you're also now, hey, we're going to show the deepest, darkest parts that you want to show, we're going to expose all of it. And that's what this movie needs for in order to do it, and they're involved with you. So that takes another level of, of bravery on the artist standpoint.

Michael D. Ratner 30:33
And, and it is, it's, it's unique, and it's nuanced. And it's political, and you got to ultimately navigate that, and it causes some awkward viewing sessions, right where you know it. On the one hand, I've poured my soul into the edit and getting the story out there and trying to achieve this. But you know, I'm sitting in a room watching some really dark moments of somebody's life with them. That's, that's a very, you know, unique, you know, you imagine, you know, we all go through shit, every one of us, but have you watched it on film? You know, you're you, right? You're talking about it? And then oh, can you send me archival footage from home videos? And can you connect me to your mother to send me videos of you as a kid, I mean, imagine sitting there watching, that's the experience they go through. And you need to really be prepared for the reactions that will yield and understanding again, that it's for a specific purpose, and you do it and you work with the person, you know, I've never put out on the projects we're discussing here, like those get seen and discussed before they come out with the artist. And that does not mean that they're going well, you know, here's a list of things you can't say, you know, that I haven't had that experience, because there's always a conversation at the beginning of, let's make sure that I'm the right person for this. And if I'm the right person, we need to tell a real story. We can't make a propaganda puff piece like I just did not who that's not the type of storyteller I am. And I don't think that's the, what your, you know, fans deserve are ultimately what you want to do. And we've always had those difficult or just, I should even say those conversations, and let's just very straightforward conversations. And as such, I think it's resulted in these really special projects.

Alex Ferrari 32:23
Now, I mean, you've again, worked with Damien, and Justin and two of the biggest stars in the world at the moment, you know, being being in the orbit, of those kinds of stars, especially close to those orbits. I've had small moments of those as well, when you're just in the orbit, and just like, their satellites around, there's planets running around, and they are the center of the universe. What is it like, day in day out, being with some of the biggest stars in the world and seeing what they go through? Because you're, you're not just a satellite you're like next to, and you're capturing it. So that must be a very different experience, you must have a sympathy for them that most might not, because you see what they go through and things are on camera and off. So what is it like just as a as a human being next to another human going through that experience?

Michael D. Ratner 33:18
Great question. And the the answer, I've tried so hard to, in my work, explain what that experience is like. And, you know, being hard on myself, I've never effectively done that, because nothing can do it justice. Besides seeing it firsthand that I've tried, I've tried to do the chaotic cuts of paparazzi and things happening. And it's like, no, to really see the forethought that goes into just moving, just getting up and going to do something because of how famous they are. Right? It's that that is like a second to second reality. Now, I've also been very careful to be mindful of nobody wants to hear the Woe is me. I'm a celebrity in my life. You know, I can't move like, there's a lot of perks. Right. So it's tough, but that doesn't change the reality that like, it's it's hard. There are parts that are really hard. And human nature is not designed for famous celebrity. Right, we're not designed to be told how great we are 24/7 We're not designed to not be able to go outside of shop. Question question question, uncomfortable question or uncomfortable question. So yeah, it does make you sympathetic, or I should just say, really understanding of all sides of it, nothing simple. And it makes you just sort of get it all also, it made me really understand that just just because you read something does not mean it's true at all. Like you know and you know it there's there's there's People can say anything about anybody. And when you're really famous people just say stuff. And then you know, but that that words matter words have power news, you know, outlets, you would think that oh, well, you know, it's there. They're a news outlet. It's got to be real. No, it doesn't. I've just seen a lot of stuff where I've been with people, and you know that there's an article saying they were somewhere else. I'm like, wait a sec. Well, you know, and that you start like realizing just that's, that's a daily occurrence. And I think that wall stars who have been in the limelight for a long time, probably get a bit immune to it, it's still annoying, it's still frustrating. And it can cause you to act out of character at times. And it's a really interesting peek behind the curtain as to what those people go through. And, you know, many of whom really do a pretty damn good job. And sure they slip here and there. But for the most part, I've been really impressed. And I have no idea how I would handle that level of celebrity,

Alex Ferrari 35:59
That that's why it's so interesting. That's why I asked you the question, because you get the kind of roleplay that almost, you know, like cars play that if you will, because you're right next to them. It's not you doing it, you could walk away at any second, no one's really gonna stop you on the street for the most part. Maybe in LA. But, but generally speaking, it is it is. It's It's fascinating to me, and so many people want to be rich and famous. But they don't understand that there is a cost, man, there is a cost. And look like you said no, Woe is me. They looked for it. Yeah, I mean, funny, funny story. I was on the set. I was doing music videos in LA 1515 years ago, something like that. And I was invited to an usher music video. And there was like this, this young kid who's going to be in it. And I'm like, Who's this young kid? He's like, some kid named Justin Bieber. And I had no, he was nobody. Justin was nobody. He was 50. And he's tripping over cables. He's just trying to dance. And I'm just like, Oh, cool. I get to see Usher. Six months later, baby baby hits was just like, What the hell. And so I have a distinct I saw Justin, when he was a kid. Like he was literally just 15. He was just, but he was so even at that moment, when I saw him, and I was on set with him. You could just see it. You were like, there's something there. I don't know what it is. And this is not the song. Music they're like, No, this is not the one. But it was it was really interesting. And people do ask for this. But they have to be really careful what they get.

Michael D. Ratner 37:35
Yeah, I think the question is, you don't know what you're asking for. So you get right, it sounds like this is it. So yeah, I think again, it's just it's fascinating. Yeah, and, like with all things again, there's pros and cons.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
Yeah, exactly. Like you know, you know, bad day. Who knows? Who knows who it is, it is a pros and cons. Now tell me about your new film with Justin our world.

Michael D. Ratner 38:02
Yeah, came out in October. Really exciting. It was fun. It was, you know, you do a heavy dock series like seasons. And then you pivot and you make a really fun film. That's, you know, obviously COVID is like looming over this thing. And people are going through really a rough time. And unfortunately, of course, people were dying from COVID. And everybody was in a weird spot with work and figuring out how to provide and that's a character in this piece. But once we get to the stage, it's a celebration of like his music, and it's a nostalgic walk, you know, down memory lane from baby to now and there's it's really very de and gritty. I think it was really cool how Justin was like a DP and shot himself in it and Haley and you know, that was really because of safety protocols. I couldn't be there all the time. Sure. Big style. And then obviously, we juxtaposing that with 32 cameras set up with drones and all the flashiness, the night of the show on the top of the Beverly Hilton was pretty unique. And I think it captured the spirit of that moment in time. And it was really it was really awesome. I enjoyed making a concert Doc, you know, and that's really what it was. It was a concert heavy doc. And it's it was, it was a blast, and I think people really enjoyed it.

Alex Ferrari 39:27
And I mean, how was it shooting during the COVID protocol, man, like, I mean, it's on such a big is a pretty big production. I mean, 32 cameras? It's no joke. No, I'm like my my budget puckered when you said 32 cameras. I'm like, oh, geez, how I mean, I'm assuming at some point you just like hopefully I'll get some footage off of those. Those sets of cameras cuz you're not seeing everything at all times right?

Michael D. Ratner 39:50
Well, it was just we were shooting the hell out of it. Right. I mean, we had drones in the sky. We had cameras on balconies. We had long lines. from certain areas, you know, we were doubling the live stream cameras. And then we had the ability to convert it to 4k, which is obviously what ended up on the Amazon film. And we then had a bunch of, you know, running gun shooters getting cool, you know, dynamic shots in the pit and whatnot. But it was really crazy shooting in COVID, because we had our bubble, and there was daily testing. And if somebody went down, the whole show is at risk, obviously. She had to just be super, super careful. And everything was incredibly thought through and we, you know, luckily pulled it off. But that what made the gloom of COVID and everything going on and pulling off the show. Very interesting storyline also, like we had to live that making it it was not just manufacture drama. Alright, everybody's negative. Okay, good. Good, you know, and Nick demora, goes down with COVID as his creative director, and then Justin had to fully step up and lead the team, which, you know, was a good story point, because part of this was about Justin really coming into his own and really leading every part of his life for the first time. Really, I mean, he's, he's a grown man, you know, and we all think, you know, we remember you hear Justin, you're like a baby in. He's, grown up.

Alex Ferrari 41:17
He's a grown ass man with a family.

Michael D. Ratner 41:19
He's grown is a grown man with a wife and and, you know, leading many of the same people has been with these incredibly loyal, which is really cool. You know, you go. And one of the storylines that I thought was important to hit home. And he thought, as well as like, you know, he's been with the same people for all those years. It's very rare to see in any field, but in music, especially. So it's, it's a fun one. It's a really fun watch. And, you know, it's, it's just enjoyable to go and watch some good music. And, you know, you'll realize how many Justin Bieber if you're a fan, of course, you know, but even if not, you'll be like, Man, he's one talented person.

Alex Ferrari 41:55
There's a lot of songs that you don't even sometimes I don't even realize it's Justin, you're like, Oh, that is Justin Bieber song. Oh, yeah. Like it, he's, or he gets started on this or get, you know, you know, gets popped on that. And it's just, he's, it's hard to believe he's been around for 15 odd years at this point in the game. And still, it's still going and still being relative, you know, relative because relevant, excuse me, because a lot of those boy bands, as we all know, from the 90s, in the early 2000s, there, they're not relevant.

Michael D. Ratner 42:28
He just put out a number one album, he's about to go on, like a sold out arena tour. So pretty impressive.

Alex Ferrari 42:36
He's doing he's doing all right. He's doing okay. He's okay. He's okay. Now, what's next?

Michael D. Ratner 42:42
Working on another big documentary right now that I have not announced yet. But we are into it. And seven months into it. Hopefully, we'll come out end of this year, beginning of next, I'm producing another big doc that have not announced yet. That sorry, this just went off that we are in pre Prolon, which is really exciting. And then we have animated music show. That's really exciting. That's what the network that we haven't announced yet. So there's, there's there's a bunch of stuff. There's a there's there's some scripted TV shows, then there's a couple of these doc films, we're working on a whole bunch of stuff. And then really exciting for us. We're building out our first studio here in LA. So we, yeah, a big production facility where we're building out stuff. So we'll be able to bring a lot of our productions in house. But it's been great. I mean, we are going to be 48 people here it will be by the end of year, which is just this huge. Yeah, it's been it's been exciting time. But you know, we have this audio business that does podcasts and audio projects. You know, we have our film group, we have TV, there's a lot of stuff going on. And at the heart of it all is his stories. And we're very lucky that we're in a time when there are there's such a need everybody needs content right now and we're making stuff and it's a it's a fun time to play it because dollars are not just coming from financiers or distributors, it's coming from brands coming from all over all over the place. So we're working on in a number of different areas with a number of different partners and having a blast.

Alex Ferrari 44:20
Yeah, Kevin Kevin Hart's cold balls. Is is by Old Spice.

Michael D. Ratner 44:24
That's That's exactly right. And yeah, we're we've seen there's another one we got season six of that coming up that we'll be shooting, which is just i No matter what size project or what I'm doing or what's going on, I find out how to carve out time to direct that showcase to so fun. Like do these wonky schedules for like, you know, whatever big thing I'm working on because I'm like, I want to it that's such an example of the new TV modern when you know, it's a 12 to 15 minute like internet show that just blew up and gets millions of viewers with a brand sponsor. And then works right with a Moute with a plus bankable movie star. It's, that's an example of just how our landscape has changed, right? And being, you know, they shouldn't call it film school anymore. It's content school, you know, and people should want to be content makers, not filmmakers like, and again, nothing wrong. I'm a film. I love film. But I always think, you know, if, if some of these iconic filmmakers from the past are starting today, they be using all of these different technologies and distribute

Alex Ferrari 45:27
Spielberg, yeah, Spielberg always

Michael D. Ratner 45:30
Tell stories that different lenghts, tell the best one minute story tell the best five minute story. And that's what we're doing. We're doing stuff on all these different mediums and just having a lot of fun.

Alex Ferrari 45:40
Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Michael D. Ratner 45:46
Make it actually make it, don't talk about it, make it go outside and shoot it. And if it's not great, make it a little bit better next time. But don't just develop forever. Don't just put it on paper, go and make it you can actually make stuff now. Do it yourself!

Alex Ferrari 46:01
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Michael D. Ratner 46:06
90% Perfect is good enough. You know? Don't don't like because otherwise you'll be just paralyzed and you'll never put stuff out, you know, delegation, right? You know, like don't You don't need you can't do everything if you're really going to go and have influence and make a lot of stuff at once. You got to build a great team but you know, I think it's it's it's letting go and putting stuff out to the world and and not caving into that fear that start it's not there yet. It's not there yet. You know, you gotta you gotta release it eventually.

Alex Ferrari 46:39
And last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Michael D. Ratner 46:42
I think I gave you three already, which are Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison Super bad. I can. I love we yeah, we covered that we started it. I mean, I love Charlie Chaplin movies. Chaplin films, Gold Rush. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Even films. Yeah. Even films like limelight. I know that gets like, I like I really love Chaplin. i And you know, he made short films and silent films and did talkies. So I'll add a Chaplin into them.

Alex Ferrari 47:12
Oh, can you imagine if chaplain was around today, like what he would be doing? Ohh God!

Michael D. Ratner 47:18
Having a lot of having a lot of fun.

Alex Ferrari 47:20
I always like imagine Kubrick with today's technology. I talk about Shoot, shoot, shoot forever. Before you had the limitations of film. Can you imagine he'd just shooting shoot. Michael man, it's been a pleasure talking to you, brother. Thank you again so much for being on the show man and continued success.

Michael D. Ratner 47:36
Thank you for having it's fun.



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IFH 551: Sundance 2022 – La Guerra Civil with Eva Longoria

Eva Longoria, La Guerra Civil, Sundance

Today we have the award-winning actress, director, producer, entrepreneur and activist by the name of Eva Longoria.

Eva Longoria has long established herself as one of the most sought after television directors in Hollywood. Named by Variety as one of their most anticipated directors of 2021, Longoria continues to hone her craft, seek new projects, and expand opportunities for others by paving the way for future women and minority producers, directors and industry leaders in Hollywood and beyond.

Her strong work ethic coupled with her passion for storytelling has led to a pivotal moment as she prepares for the release of her feature film directorial debut with Flamin’ Hot. She recently wrapped production for the highly anticipated Searchlight biopic about the story of Richard Montañez and the spicy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos snack for which she beat out multiple high profile film directors vying for the job.

Eva became well known worldwide thanks to Desperate Housewives, where she played a main character, Gabrielle Solis.

In my journeys as a colorist, VFX and post production supervisor  I had the pleasure of working on a film Eva starred and produced Without Men years ago. I had a ball working on it.

The women of a remote Latin American town are forced to pick up the pieces and remake their world when all the town’s men are forcibly recruited by communist guerrillas. The only men left in town for years are the priest and Julio who was disguised as a woman.

As an trailblazing actress, director, producer, entrepreneur and activist, Eva Longoria has become one the most significant trailblazers behind the camera. For over a decade, she has been directing and choosing projects that have purpose and are focused on elevating the stories of the Latinx and other underrepresented communities.

Eva past television directing credits include the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Versus, as well as episodes of Ashley Garcia: Genius In Love, Grand Hotel, Black-ish, The Mick, LA to Vegas, Jane the Virgin, Telenovela, Devious Maids, Latinos Living the Dream, and the short films Out of the Blue and A Proper Send-Off.

She was also nominated for a 2021 Daytime Emmy for her directing work on Ashley Garcia: Genius In Love.

As a Global Brand Ambassador for L’Oreal Paris for over 15 years, Longoria has become a frequent director of the brand’s commercials, she recently upped the ante by self-directing the first ever hair color TV commercial created at home on a smartphone at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Eva has also contributed writing to publications on the subject of education. She also has a contract with L’Oreal and has been named one of the most beautiful people. Her latest documentary La Guerra Civil is in this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

This feature-length documentary follows the epic rivalry between iconic boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Julio César Chávez in the 1990s sparked a cultural divide between Mexican nationals and Mexican-Americans. A chronicle of a battle that was more than a boxing rivalry, and examining a fascinating slice of the Latino experience in the process.

Here some of why Eva took on this film:

“In the Mexican and Mexican-American communities, boxing is so much more than a sport. It is a cultural expression of who we are. The 1996 “Ultimate Glory” fight between Julio César Chávez and Oscar De La Hoya will forever be an iconic memory in our lifetimes. At the time, Chávez was a Mexican national hero entering the 100th professional fight of his career and De La Hoya was a Mexican-American boxer about to enter his prime.

Given the distinct differences between these two men and their respective fandoms, nowhere has a rivalry been more intense while also transcending borders to bring everybody together to root for the art of boxing. Many of these same issues of cultural identity dramatically parallel what we are dealing with in our world 25 years later.

This is why I wanted to tell this story: to remind people that we can find commonalities amid our differences to bring us back together.”

Eva and I discuss her struggles coming up as an actress, transitioning into directing and producing and her new film La Guerra Civil.

Enjoy my conversation with Eva Longoria Bastón. 

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Eva Longoria. How're you doing Eva?

Eva Longoria 0:16
Im good, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:17
I'm doing fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the show as a fellow Latino, or Latin X, as they say, nowadays. Latina, Latina, I appreciate everything you've done for for us as a community in general. And, and you know, growing up has been, it was very difficult to really see a Latino filmmaker in general. I mean, it was Robert for me. When I was coming up, it was Robert Rodriguez. And I was just like, oh my god, there's a director, who's Latino. So that's amazing. It was the first time I saw so I just wanted to start off by saying thank you so much for all the stuff that you've done for our community and the film industry. So thank you.

Eva Longoria 0:53
Thank you, thanks for talking about this amazing documentary.

Alex Ferrari 0:59
I loved it. By the way, I absolutely loved it. I knew about it. I knew about the story, just being Latino in general. And I would tell like I told my dad only Do you remember this Franco's who, if you're Latino, you remember that fight. But I didn't really understand the whole back and forth between the subcultures if you will of Mexico, Mexican American. But before we get started, we're going to talk all about the documentary, is it how did you go from almost becoming a physical therapist to becoming an actor?

Eva Longoria 1:33
My dream was to work for the Dallas Cowboys. Like I was like, I'm a physical trainer for the Dallas Cowboys. And I've arrived ever. I was in a beauty pageant. It was a Scholarship Pageant in Texas. And my final year in college, I ran out of money, I ran out a Pell Grant, like, I had no way to finish my senior year and my friends like, hey, why don't you enter the Scholarship Pageant? I was like, what's that? And she's like, you know, you. If you win, you get money for school. So I did. And I was like, I've never been even. And I'm from Texas, like, we're born and bred football and pageants. And I never seen one. I never been in one and, and so my goal was to win fourth place, because I was like, if I could just give fourth place. It was like books. Right? Okay, I've covered my books. And then like, third place was like, books, tuition. And then, you know, second place was books, tuition boarding. And then the first place was books, tuition boarding and a stipend. Like I was like, Look, I am in high. I just want, I just want my books, right. And then they called the winners, and they were like, fourth place is so and so. And I was like, Ah, man, I didn't get it. And I ended up winning the whole thing. And I was like, oh, okay, that oh, cool, cool. I got I can pay my senior. And then that pageant made me I had it was like a feeder to go into the next level. And I was like, Oh, I don't I'm not make this a thing on my tuition. And so I had to go into the next one, which was Miss Corpus Christi, where I'm from, and I won that one. And, and literally, my mom was like, This is not your food, like you cannot enter one more page. And I'm like, I don't want to I don't know what's happening. I don't know what especially growing up as libreria FEHA, which is the ugly dark one. And I in that prize package, Miss Corpus Christi was a trip to Los Angeles. And that was the first time I was like, Oh, that'd be fun. I've never been outside of Texas. And, and it was like a talent competition in LA that we had to go to. And so I came and then i i won the talent competition. And I was like, What is going on? I don't know what I'm doing and and literally, agents and managers wanted to sign me and because it was like, it was like the Latin craze. I remember. It was like Ricky Martin,

Alex Ferrari 3:53
Ricky Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias. Yes. Yeah.

Eva Longoria 3:57
Livin La vida loca was, you know, the hit song at the time. And they were like, Oh, my God, if you're Latina, you're gonna like clean up here in Hollywood. They're looking for Latinas. And I was like, Oh, okay. And I just live on one day to the next set. Okay, I think I'm gonna be an actor, just like that. But it was because I had my bachelor's degree that I was like, I can get a job anywhere. It's not like I'm going to be a starving actor, I can go get a job. So I had a lot of confidence that I would be okay. But still not knowing, you know, the industry or anything. I had $23 in my bank account.

Alex Ferrari 4:27
Now the in you decided that, you know, you just like I heard somewhere that you just called up your parents is like, I'm staying. I'm not I'm not going. I'm not flying back.

Eva Longoria 4:35
I didn't even fly back. That's when I moved. I didn't even fly back to go, Okay, let me prepare for this move. No, I just, I came here for three days. And on the third day, I said, I think I'm going to stay. And my mom and my mom was like, Okay, you're going to do what I said, I think I'm gonna be an actor. I mean, I don't know what that means. But I think I'm going to, I'm going to just stay a little longer. See what happens. And my mom said that, well, you know, at least you can get a job. You have your degree, and I said, Yeah, I'm going to Go get a job. And, you know, went got a job and then became a background actor. And, you know, atmosphere actor for a couple years. I was like, let me let me be on a set. I don't even I've never been on a set. Maybe I should figure that out.

Alex Ferrari 5:16
Right. Now did you? Did you feel because I mean, everything seems very serendipitous that you've just a story you've told me did you feel like there was some for something guiding you during this process?

Eva Longoria 5:29
It's so funny you say that. I always say that. I was like, I don't know what it was. But there was something just that felt right. Every step of the way. Like, they were like, I said, I'm going to stay. I wasn't scared. I didn't know anybody. I didn't have a place to live. I didn't have money. And I was like, I'll be okay. I maybe it's naive, you know, naive. It's youth. is bliss. Like if I knew the dangers

Alex Ferrari 5:58
Right, exactly. No, it's like so any any actress is living listening right now. Please don't do what Eva did. Don't just

Eva Longoria 6:05
Don't do it. No, I had like five roommates in a one bedroom of people who like hey, come live with us. I go okay, like not knowing them. I was like, I could have been murdered. I mean, you know what I mean? Like

Alex Ferrari 6:16
Something was sometimes guiding and protecting you during this process, because the story that you just told me it's ends and Dateline.

Eva Longoria 6:27
Well, that in like, there's no recipe for success in Hollywood. So let's say you do exactly what I did. Yeah, he wouldn't get the same result. It doesn't work that way.

Alex Ferrari 6:36
No, it's different timing different plays different everything. I mean, you hit that the right point, right time, but like you were saying, it took you a little while before you started getting some jobs. How did you keep going? Like just I mean, I'm assuming like, I always treat that when I'm ever I'm casting for a movie. I'm always treat. I treat actors with such respect, because it's so hard, and going out on auditions and getting beat up and, and people just walking in and like, Oh, you're to this or you're to that, and it's just so it's so rough. How did you keep going when there was no real signs that this was the right path for you?

Eva Longoria 7:09
Right. 100%! Well, you know, I, when I came to Hollywood, I went to a temp agency to get a job because I was like, well, they'll have a job for me tomorrow. And that company said, Why don't you work here? And I said, What is What do you guys do? And they were like that were headhunters. You find people jobs. And you know, it's like matchmaking job, people. You know? And I go, Okay, I mean, not knowing anything, but I was so good at it. I made a lot of money. So again, I wasn't ever the struggling actor, I was so good. I was like, This is so easy this head on. But I just like I knew how to find match people up with jobs and all my actor friends were jobless. So I'm like, I got tons of supply, you know. And, and because of that, I got an apartment, I had a car, I paid off my student debt. I paid off my credit card debt. I had headshots, I took acting classes, I you know, I really invested all anything that I made back into myself. Right. And, and it was through one of those workshops or seminars or something that a casting director saw me and said, Hey, you should audition for young and the rest of this and I was like, okay, and, and did and then that was like my big break was young and the restless. And, and it paid so badly. It was like two cents for the week that I kept my head hunting job. So I was a headhunter in my dressing room at young in the restless, because it just it was like I was not making enough young, the restless to quit my job for for two years. I did this did both jobs.

Alex Ferrari 8:46
Talk about hustle.

Eva Longoria 8:47
Yeah, I know. That's another thing is like it is about hustle. And it's about, you know, being resourceful. And that's life, by the way that if I if you dropped me in the middle of Paris, I'm going to figure it out. Right? I speak the language, I don't know. But I'm going to eat how many well, and I'm gonna, I'm gonna figure it out. And that's I think what's missing a lot from a lot of the younger generation today is they're just not that resourceful. And they have all the tools in the world at their fingertips. I didn't have an iPhone. I had a Thomas guide, and a printout from Google that I had to follow, you know. And so, yeah, it was like, Oh, if I had the tools that you have today, you know, God, I would have gone far.

Alex Ferrari 9:28
Oh, my God. I mean, same here. I mean, my first directors will cost 50 grand because I've to shoot an on 35 You know, and it was like, now we just grab a phone because you'd be shooting commercials and music videos and short films all day. There's so much technology. I think it's because you know, you and I are of similar vintage. So you know, we when we were when we grew up there was there wasn't anything like I remember there's no internet I remember very easily there was no internet. I remember printing out the Google Maps in LA and having the You know, the directions like printed out line by line driving around LA trying to drop off a demo reel for, you know, an editing gig or something like that.

Eva Longoria 10:08
Stage West. I submitted myself in for auditions and I would send my headshot, and I would use the postage from the company I worked at, so I didn't have to buy stamps. And so I like, at the end of the day, I'd sneak off and I go on, I put postage on, like 20 submissions, and I saw I was like, oh, yeah, I was a hustler. I did background work just to eat. And I would steal the bananas and apples and take it home. Because I was like, well, I might not eat tomorrow. So let me let me take some of these bananas. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:38
And so I mean, you struggled but you you were you something, again, was guiding you and giving you these opportunities that normal, normal, the normal acting story in LA is not yours by any stretch of the imagination. Even at the very beginning. Like you're you're living you're eating, you're you're leaving Well, you have a job, you have a car, you've paid off student debt, like this is unheard of for a struggling actor. But yeah, even then, when you got your first big break, you're like, I still want to keep my day job.

Eva Longoria 11:06
Yeah, I still like my car. So I think I'm, I'm gonna I like my apartment. Let me let me just keep doing this. Also, you know, I what you said like what kept you going because there was no signpost to say successes a year from now hang on. I felt it. And I remember my boss at that company. He goes, you know how much money you can make here. You're so good at this. Give up that dream. Like, you know how many people make it in Hollywood one in 1,000,001 in a million, like, Come on, just focus over here and forget that stuff. And I said, I know. And I'm that one. Like I'm taking up that space. So I've got to hurry up and be prepared. Like, I really thought that I really I never gave myself up. Until if I don't make it well, by 30. I'm moving back home. Like I never had a plan B I was just like, No, this will happen. And I also approached it like a business I knew exactly how to invest in you know what I need to classes. I don't know how to do that. I'm not good at that. I'm going to do this. So, you know, in that time, we know when you're going out for Latin roles are like, Can you do it with an accent and I'm like, I don't I don't have an accent and like there's other levels of target. And there's other levels of Latinos zero and it was like Rosie Perez, yesterday, okay, but there's other levels of dimensions of Latino that don't sound like Rosie Perez, you know, and, and so I was like, I gotta I need an accent coach. I don't I don't have an accent. I need to get one. And when people come to Hollywood, they try to lose their accent. I was like I was trying to get an accent. Like,

Alex Ferrari 12:48
Now, so it sounds like the you really put an intention involved. You really had an intention, and almost manifested what you were trying to get like you'd like no, I'm I'm there already. In your mind. You were already successful, even though there was no signs at all. And there's a difference between delusion because we all we all understand. We all

Eva Longoria 13:08
I might have been a little delusional. I might have been a little

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Listen, listen, Eva to be in our business. You got to be insane. You got to be insane in general, it's an insane business. It's like running off with the circus, basically, you know, so it is it is an insanity to be with. But yeah, there is a little you need a little delusion to even think you can make a movie is a delusion. It's insanity.

Eva Longoria 13:30
Yeah, I mean, it is a little delusional. But the other thing that I had on my side was an I'm an insane optimist and a hard worker. So I knew those two went together. But I also felt I felt like I have very tough skin. So the nose didn't affect me. And I got 1000s 1000s The day I got desperate out the day I auditioned for Desperate Housewives. I had nine auditions that day. And I was changing in my car driving from Disney back to Warner Brothers back to Disney back to Sony back to Culver City. And it was like, Oh, my I ran out of gas that day. That's how many auditions I had. And Desperate Housewives was at eight at night. It was the last audition. I'm changing in the car. And I get there and I'm exhausted. And I just was like, you know it you know, the other seven auditions today said No, I already knew I didn't get them. And and it was like, you know, in the car, doctor, okay, lawyer, okay. Yeah. And then Gabby was like, sexy, and I'm like trying to put on this tight dress in the car. I get down and Mark cheery is an audition and he goes. So what do you think of the script? And I was like, I didn't read the script. Like in my head. I'm like, I read my part. Like, who has time I had eight auditions a day. I'm not gonna read eight scripts. And I said, you don't want and I was just done. I was done for the day. And I said, You know what, I didn't read it. I didn't read the script. But I read my part and my parts really good. And and he he told me Later, he knew I was Gabrielle in that moment because it was the most selfish thing to say. I don't know what everybody else but I'm amazing. And I was like, so can I just do the audition? So you can say no. So I can go like, I it was just, you know, and then you did it again the next day. Yeah. And you started all over. So I had this and I have very thick skin even to this day, I really never take things personal. If I'm if I you know, if I get reviewed badly or this I'm like, Well, you know, it's not your cup of tea.

Alex Ferrari 15:32
Now, do you feel that you getting desperate housewives later and a little bit later in life? Because you weren't? You weren't? You know? 20? You know, I think you were 30 you were like 30? Yeah, exactly. 29 When you got it. So you already kind of had an established, you've established who your identity was at that point. Do you think that helped you deal with the tsunami, tsunami, excuse me of fame, and criticism and love and hate and everything that comes along with that package? Did that help you with that? Because that crushes many?

Eva Longoria 16:07
Yeah. 1,000% I knew who I was, you know, I probably knew who I was when I landed in Hollywood. You know, I didn't drink I wasn't into drugs. I didn't smoke. Like I was pretty, you know, and I was like, oh my god, Los Angeles, you're gonna, you know, get into drugs and travel. And I was like, There's drugs and trouble in Texas like the same thing. But I had a really strong sense of who I was. And so when fame hits you, I think God I was 29 I mean, because I was like, you know, you especially back then the tabloids were like the leading thing not like social media today, but like, the tabloids defined you and so it was like America's sweetheart America Sex Kitten. And then you kind of became that, right? Like, if you look at Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera coming up at the same time, and one was America's sweetheart. And one was the bad girl. And they were babies and they kind of go okay, I got to play the part. Now I've got to be the bad girl. And, and so they tried to do that with me. And I was like, you know, that? I'm not that. And, and I'm very grounded. You know, I have a really great family and I have, you know, great friends, my friends back then. Or, you know, the couches I slept on? And the I didn't have a dress for an audition. And my best friend, you know, let me address. They're still my friends today. They're the girlfriends that, you know, traveled with me and lived with me and you know, but I, I you know, they were there for me when I had nothing.

Alex Ferrari 17:36
So you know, so you know that they're their true friends at that point. Yeah, it's yeah, you know, cuz you never know, famous, such a double edged sword. So many people want to be rich and famous and you like, but look at how many people who are rich and famous who who are destroyed by it. It's just Hollywood is riddled with stories like that. You're an exception. You're like, you're an anomaly.

Eva Longoria 17:56
Yeah, thank you. But you remember EQ Hollywood stories that get worse, of course, that was on E and it was like, you know, she was you know, she was such a pretty girl from Missouri. And then and you're like, and so and then they tell you like the downfall of everybody. And I remember we premiered. And literally three days later, there was an E True Hollywood Story on me. And I go What did I do? Did I fall from grace? Did I do drugs? What happened? Like I was like, the beginning of the end now. Like it's supposed to happen later. It was so funny.

Alex Ferrari 18:27
Oh, God. And then of course, any movies that you might have done before Desperate Housewives they started going into, they go into the archives of the stuff that you did, and like look at what she did back then.

Eva Longoria 18:37
And I did so many student films for real, you know, he did and did so many bad things. And then all of a sudden, I was at Blockbuster. I don't know if people remember there was a blockbuster. You had to physically go and get a DVD before Netflix mailed them to you. And, and my I remember going into Blockbuster and my face is on the cover of this film. And I was like, what is that it was a different title. It was and it was just a student film I had done and this director packaged it sold it on my name. And I never knew until I saw it a blockbuster. But yeah, yeah. And family comes out of the woodworks, right? Like all these people who are related to you. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 19:18
So funny story. When I first started out as an editor as trailer editor, I cut a trailer for one of those films of yours early on. I if I say the name, I won't say the name, but I did. I did. I did edit it. And you were ready. You were ready, you know, Desperate Housewives. And I was sitting there and I'm like, This is so wrong. Like they haven't like you were like, I'm like you're in the movie for like 15 minutes, or 20. Right? And they're just like, bam, I'm like, Oh my God. I'm like, but hey, you know, I had to do a gig. So

Eva Longoria 19:51
A friend of mine who was on another hit show and every time he gets recognized around the world, he gets so pissed off because it's like that's all people know me for And I and every time people come up to me and they go, Gabby so Lise, I am like, Yes, that's me. You know, I'm just so grateful. And so like, so grateful that that director thought I had some sort of value. Because that's what you hope for you don't I mean, you have to have a value that you can make something happen.

Alex Ferrari 20:18
No question I read somewhere that you're an avid meditator. How do you cuz I'm, I've been meditating for years, I meditate hours a day sometimes. And it's changed my life. How do you use meditation, in your balancing your insane world that you live in with all the things that you do? And all the plates you spin, you know, mother, and philanthropist, and actor and director and all these kind of things? How does meditation help you kind of balance yourself? And what does it do for you in general,

Eva Longoria 20:48
You know what, it really centers you before the day I have to do it first thing in the morning, and it makes me more patient, it makes me have compassion, it makes me happy. You know, it really just shifts your energy to a place of positivity and a place of gratitude. That's a big one. You know, I really learned also, do be aware of how you speak, right? So I used to be like, I gotta I have to go to this meeting across town. I have to go to this audition, I have to go. Do you know James Corden, or I have to be on Jimmy Kimmel tonight. Instead, just switching it to I get to write, I get to have a meeting about a project, I want to get off the ground. Like, isn't that what you want? So why are you going on after Oh, you know, I get to be on Jimmy Kimmel, to promote this TV show I was on I get to, you know, I have to get home and bathe my kid. No, I get to make it home in time to bathe my child and put them to bed. Like I get to do that. I get to cook dinner for my family. And just that little word was through meditation, right? Like, be careful of how you speak in life, you know, and people go, how was your day to day you are so busy, I'm so busy. It's like I can't I can't it's just too much. I'm so busy. And switching that word to be productive? How was your day productive? Right, I was so productive today. I had eight meetings. I had, you know, this deal go through I had this conversation with so and so it was a pretty productive day. It wasn't a busy day, you're not doing busy work. Everything you do during the day is towards a goal towards something so so have that gratitude in your words, as you approach your day. And that's what meditation does. It really makes you think about things that are on autopilot that you shouldn't be on autopilot about.

Alex Ferrari 22:39
And I agree with you 110%. You also are an you know, an insane philanthropist that you give back so much. Can you just talk a little bit about what giving back means to you and how it affects your life. Because I started, when I started my show six and a half years ago, I was trying to get in, I was trying to you know, I was trying to knock on the doors and try to get these meetings and try to make connections. And I said I said I'm tired of all that I'm going to start giving back to my to my community, which is filmmakers. And all of a sudden doors swung open. And now I get to talk to people like you and all this kind of things. It was because I gave back and it's addictive to giving back and changing people's lives and whatever which way I can, you know, with the show or with whatever the work I do. So how does that affect you?

Eva Longoria 23:26
Yeah, I mean, you hit it right in the nail. I mean, it's it's studies have proven, you know, giving, giving and being charitable, increases your life's fulfillment, right? Like you're like, Oh, I didn't even know I needed this to be filled. And and then it becomes addictive. Like now I you know, I travel all over the world. I go to India, I go to you know, because I just like love, philanthropy and community efforts. But honestly, I grew up with it in my DNA. I mean, I have a special needs sister. She's She was born with a mental disability. So I grew up in her world, I grew up with other people helping us, you know, charities that you know, sponsored a trip for her to go to Disneyland charities who you know, created after school programs for kids with special needs to have a place to go. And so I always I always like who's charity. She's so sweet. She's so nice. That lady, you know, and, and so I knew before I was even famous that I was going to, you know, do something charitable and give back and and then once I got my platform and my microphone, then I was like, oh, okay, I have something to say.

Alex Ferrari 24:33
And I could and I could do some good in the world. Yeah. Now, when did you decide that you wanted to make the art to add directing as part of your resume? Because so many actresses and actors, they just go on through whole life and they're just actors, and they don't want to do any directing. But I've seen and I've spoken to many actors who've turned director, what it does for them and it also elongates their career. They can direct until they're or whatever and, and just really enjoy that process. What when did you decide at what point in your career did you go? I think I want to direct which is the cliche of everything. What I really want to do is direct.

Eva Longoria 25:10
Yeah, I know, I think I'm better at this than easy. You know, I people think I'm an actor, turn producer, director. And I think I was always a producer, especially producer, I loved the business side of our business. You know, that's why I my approach with myself was like, Alright, I gotta do this. I gotta do it. I like how do I set myself up for success? And, and I remember when I moved to Hollywood, I checked out a bay. I went and bought a book it Oh, my God. Samuel French, right?

Alex Ferrari 25:44
Yeah, yeah, it's through city.

Eva Longoria 25:46
No. And Holly now

Alex Ferrari 25:47
Ohh there's another one. That was a second. That's before they moved, I think. Yeah.

Eva Longoria 25:50
And, and, and how to produce one on one. I mean, I bought that book first over acting, because I was like, Well, I got to create, I got to create my own project. So how do I do that? And there was like, a sample budget in the book and I put it on my Excel spreadsheet, and I was like, pay plugging in numbers. And, and, and then I quickly had a gig with this show called Hot Tamales live with Kiki Melendez at the improv. And he was like, hey, help me book some comedians. And then I said, Well, how are we going to pay them? She's like, I don't know. And then so we asked the improv like, well, how much is it to get the night out of dead night? We want to make it Latin Night. Okay, great. You can have the stage we get the door, you get the drift, you know, and and it was just like, you figure it out, right? And I was like, Okay, we watch tapes, VHS tapes of comedians and to book out the night and, and then we got a sponsor was like, Well, you know, a sponsor, right? We need somebody to pay for this. So we should get a tequila, you get a tequila company to give us money. And then we'll mention the tequila. And like, it was all shooting from the hip, Beto. And how did you went? And I did that first. And then through that, you know, directed some of the sketches we had on stage. I'm like, no, no, you've got to come out through there. And we're gonna hear some props. And you know, and I fell in love with it. And then, you know, became an actor, and then use Desperate Housewives. As my film school. I really used I didn't go to film school, but I was on a set for 10 years. So I was like, paying attention. Pay attention to where the camera went, what lenses What are lenses? What does that mean? 2530 511 10 100. Like, what? Why is that light there? What are you doing? What's a balance? You know? And checking the gate? You know, you said back in the day, taking the gate, what does that mean? Now, you know, I used to load the camera. When we we were one of the last shows to go digital, we shot on film for much longer than other TV shows. And, and so I paid attention. And I really took advantage of all the directors that came through and ask them questions, and I was just a sponge. And so that's when it was on during this process where I said, I think I think I want to direct TV. And and then somebody asked me, Hey, you want to direct this short film? And I go, yes. And the minute I said, Yes, I wanted to put it back into my mouth cuz I was like, why did it? Why don't you? You just said yes. You're not ready. You don't know enough? What are you doing? Who do you think you are? And I think women it encounter that imposter syndrome a lot, you know, like, oh, no, ready? I couldn't possibly do that. No, no, no, no, no, no, I'm not No, no, no, not me. Not me. Not me. But I already said yes. So I was like, stuck. And I had to do it. And and I was good. And I knew I was good at it. And I one of my mentors who directed a lot of Desperate Housewives David Grossman, he came on set and I was like, Well, you just be on set because what if I fuck up the lens choice where he goes, You're not that's not your job, by the way. You know, your job is to get performances. And after we wrapped the DP, and that director goes, I think this is your calling. And they really like gave me that confidence of like, you belong this is you know what you're doing, man, man, do you know what you're doing? You know, a lot more than you think. You know? And I was like, really? Okay. And then I did it again. And then I did it again. And then you know, cut did now or you know, 10 years later, I've been directing and this is my first feature length documentary and my feature like film,

Alex Ferrari 29:21
Which we which comes to. How did this project come together? Like I mean, how did it you know, no one had ever done a boxing documentary about you know, Mexican American that I know of at least anything major. I mean, there's I mean, there's a Muhammad Ali one for every five every five minutes there's a new Muhammad Ali and they're all fantastic. And then there's my face. Then Mike Tyson and Sugar Ray and everything but never really about the Latino you know, which has a fame in boxing.

Eva Longoria 29:53
So everybody did you grew up with boxing I go I'm Mexican. Of course I grew up in boxing like it's in our blood. We have to you have to But no, you know, I've known Oscar for 25 years Oscar and I've been friends. That was one of the first people I met when I moved to Hollywood, me, Mario Lopez and Oscar De La Hoya were like The Little Rascals, we ran around in Hollywood and just caused trouble 25 years ago, and, and so he called me and he was like, hey, there's the anime. This is the 25th anniversary of that fight. Can you direct the documentary about it? We want to do a documentary about that, how iconic the fight was. And I said, Oh, God, what do you mean? No, like a boxing doc, like jabs and punches and stuff? Like, no, no, I don't want to do that. I said, you know, it's so funny. I remember that fight dividing my household. Like, I remember that fight, causing so much ruckus within our community and the fighting. And, you know, we couldn't get the fight because it was closed circuits Do you had to go to a bar, and then kids couldn't go and it was like, it was a whole thing. And people the betting in Vegas in the odds, and I was just like, what is that? Whoa, what is happening? And it was just, I think the biggest fight we've ever had in in the golden age of boxing. I mean, that that time, which was my son era, the mike tyson era, you know, the De La Jolla era, the Julio era, you know, it was huge. It was huge. And I said, that's interesting to me to explore is through the lens of what does it mean to be Mexican enough? And how do you navigate your identity as a Mexican American? That is something I know, you know, I straddle the hyphen every single day of my life. And people go, Oh, you're you're half Mexican, half American. And I go, No, I'm 100%, Mexican, and 100%. American at the same time. And these two things can always be true. And so I knew Oscar navigated that, because when he won the gold medal for the Olympics, he had an he won, he won the gold medal for the USA. And he goes into the ring and holds a Mexican flag up. So he has the American flag and the Mexican flag. And I remember that moment, too. And I remember swelling with pride and going oh, my God, that's me. So Oh, so you can celebrate being Mexican, you don't have to hide it, you know, and, and all the Mexican people in the United States embraced Oscar in that moment. They were like he's ours. You know what pride the Mexican president called him and I added him to Los Pinos, which is the Mexican White House. There was a parade in Mexico for him. And so every fight he had after that, that was his audience that was his supporters. Those were his people, until he challenged Julio. And when he challenged Julio, the Mexican community goes, oh, oh, wait, oh, yeah, you're not that Mexican. Yeah. You're not that Mexican. And then he was like, well, he's

Alex Ferrari 32:51
He's Mexican. He's Mexican Jesus, he was Mexican Jesus.

Eva Longoria 32:55
He's like, he's, he can't touch him. You can't touch Julio. He's our campeón de mexico, you know, company on the Mundo. And so that's the lens in which I wanted to explore this particular fight. Because I think that we still encounter this today, we're not we're not a monolithic group, I get that we're very, we have a lot of differences. But we have bigger fights to fight outside of the ring as a Latino community. So whether you're Puerto Rican, or Cuban, or gentle American, or Argentinian or Venezuelan, Mexican, there is a collective aggregation that has to happen, if we're going to have a political power, buying power, you know, if we're going to flex any sort of muscle, we have to do it together. And so we can't concentrate on how we're different. In order to make change, we have to focus on what what we have in common and the common goal, which is like we should have access to voting, we should have access to health care, we should have access to equal education, there's stuff we need to come together on. And so, you know, the beginning of the documentary, starts with those differences. It's, you know, the, the old, you know, the old lion against the young buck and the Mexican national against the Mexican American and the guy from the Pueblo against the golden boy. And the fight really promoted those differences. Because boxing is a sport that has never shied away from using race, right, like leaned into it, if anything or nationality, you know, the, the Italian, against the, the Irish guy, you know, and the black guy against the Puerto Rican and that it, you know, and so, it did the same thing in this fight without understanding the Civil War, it would cause because of the nuances, they thought it was just two Mexican fighters, you know, heading head to head but it was more much more than that.

Alex Ferrari 34:44
Oh, and I mean, I've, in my culture in the Cuban community, it's very simple. I'm a first generation Cuban from Miami. And you know, my parents came over and you know, you it's exactly the same thing. There's Cubans and this Cubans, Americans and How you how they deal with it? Are you Cuban enough in America, Nakamura flying and flying, you know, like, I still remember watching in the height and I saw a flyer on on screen and I lost my mind. I was like, I never seen a flan in a movie before. And I'm like, I can't believe the flood impacted. But you never see that kind of stuff out there. It was just really interesting. But I understand when I was watching it, I just understood it. So, so clear. And there's a lot of those issues that separate the Cuban Americans from Cubans and all this kind of stuff as well, which is, which is crazy.

Eva Longoria 35:35
We all have it. Every community has it, the Puerto Ricans in New York, you know, in Miami, you know, the Islander the island, Puerto Ricans are different than the New York, New York weakens. And then you know, you have it in the Cuban community and the Cuban American community and then we have it in the Mexican community. You know, we really do a lot to we don't need to do so much to separate the world does it for us, right.

Alex Ferrari 36:02
It's like throwing a few more obstacles on our on our path. It's like, let's it's not, it's not hard enough. Let's throw a few more things on our path, which is always fun. You know, what I found really interesting about watching Julio and Oscar. Both of them seem so and I don't mean this in a derogatory they seem sweet. There's, they seem sweet. They seem like you know, because I've seen boxing documentaries, and a lot of these boxers, they're just brute barbarians sometimes in the way they speak, and they're not articulate. But Julio, and Oscar both are, they said, they seem so sweet that they almost kind of both fell into it. Like it just kind of like, Oops, I guess I'm gonna box kind of like you like, I guess I'm gonna act. And it just seemed that way. And I saw that kind of energy from especially Julio, which I wasn't expecting. He seems so sweet. And I'm like, he was he was a killer in the in the ring. But it's like, I think he disconnected that he was like, I'm a sweet guy, but I go to work. Yeah. Did you find that as well?

Eva Longoria 37:02
100%! And you know, like I said, I've known Oscar for 25 years. So I know he's sweet. And I know him. Well, I didn't know Julio was, I didn't know who they were. I'd never I'd never met him. And I fell in love with him. He is such a truth teller, which is interesting in a documentary about your life about something to happen in your life. You could pretty much of revisionist history, like, Oh, I wish I wasn't bothered by that now. Well, you know, of course, I won that fight. I wasn't whining about it. And he was like, Yeah, I was. There was no way at that moment. I was gonna say I lost even though I knew I did. I knew I had lost, but I wasn't going to say, you know, and you're like, wow. So it felt like he had 2020 looking at 2020 vision, looking back at that fight. He was so open and vulnerable, about his obstacles to fame, His addiction, his lack of preparation, and it for other fights. You know, he's like, look, I December's my party month. I wasn't about to fight in January, but it was $9 million. So I was gonna fight you know, he is very candid and vulnerable and, and kind and it wasn't until 10 years after those fights that he finally gave Oscar the the credit that was due. And then an Oscar side people everybody wants us tacos. Oh my God, my I cried for Oscar. I didn't know he had that much pain going into that fight. He he was he was hurt and then revisiting that. He's like, God, it still makes me mad. Still, as we were interviewing him, I was like, oh, yeah, he's like, God. Oh, I'm so mad. Just thinking about that. You know, getting booed in East LA. Like, what the fuck? Are you kidding me? Come on, you know. So he's over about to read this.

Alex Ferrari 38:43
Well, it's a it's a beautiful film. I absolutely loved watching it. And congrats on getting into Sundance. That must be so exciting. And you get to

Eva Longoria 38:53
That opening night is a film directed by a Chicana. About two Mexican boxers like this progress. This is progress. Let's let's let's savor it.

Alex Ferrari 39:05
Absolutely. Now, I have a couple questions. I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker? Or a screenwriter or an actor trying to make it in today's business?

Eva Longoria 39:17
Yeah, I think you have to define for yourself what does make it mean? You know, famous say I want to be famous. Okay, well then Go cure cancer. Because if you're gonna be real, do I mean like, by the way, that might be easier than Yeah, but is it is like, you know, figure out what what do you mean by that? Like, I really, I really love directing. I love the creative process. I don't I for this film, I just loved exploring this dramatically and going through the archival footage and did it and I and now that it's at Sundance, I'm like, Oh my God, that's Oh, yeah, that's a big deal. And then the reviews like oh my god, we get reviewed. I told I didn't even think about that. Like, I, I didn't do it for that. So if I had started this documentary, I'm going to get good reviews, I'm going to get into Sundance, like, you have to have goals, but like that, that has to be like a product, a byproduct of really good work. And good work only happens when you're passionate about it. And so if you want to be an actor, if you want to be famous, then I don't I don't care if you want to be a writer, because you want to be rich, that ain't gonna happen. You know what I mean? Like, so define what is make it mean for you. And the other thing is, just do it, do it. I know so many people go, I'm a writer, I go show me your scripts, I haven't written anything. Well, then you're not a writer. Write something. Write a grocery list. I don't care. But like write something, you know, a director shoot something on your iPhone, Shoot it, shoot, work with actors figure it out, put some lights up. I'm, I'm, you know, I'm a producer. What have you done? Nothing? Well, producers of anything can do anything. So do it. You got to do it. You only learn by doing

Alex Ferrari 41:00
And now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Eva Longoria 41:06
Um, it didn't take me. Well, I think lesson to learn that, that I know that I'm qualified and I know what I'm doing. I mean, every time I get a directing gig, I have butterflies in my stomach. I go, Oh, God, I hope I know what I'm doing. Like, I still think that imposter syndrome like imposter syndrome. Yeah, like imposter syndrome of like, Am I good enough? Oh, my gosh, you know, in directing flaming hot. I mean, this is the big budget movie I just directed and going home, I'm so excited to see it. By the way. I was like, I'm in charge of how much money Oh my god. And I remember doing a presentation when I had to get the job. And I'm, you know, I think the movie needs to be this and it needs to be this and we're, you know, we should do this and that. And then I finished a pitch and my agent calls me later she goes, what how are you feeling? And I said, I'm really nervous. I'm gonna get it and have to do everything I said. He's a pipe dreams, I don't know, like, then there's a drone. And we're gonna have a techno green, and we're gonna do this shot, it's gonna look like The Matrix, you know, whatever it is. Great. Go do that. And I'm like, Oh, I have to do it now. Oh, okay. So yeah, it's like that lesson of like, No, you're ready, you're ready, you're gonna be fine. And you're gonna fall down, you're gonna make mistakes. And then you're gonna do it again. And you're gonna do it again. And you're gonna do it again and again and again. And so just, that's probably the biggest lesson. And the other mantra that I live by is, is Maya Angelou quote of like, people will forget what you said, they'll forget what you did, that they'll never forget how you made them feel. And I'm living my life, whether it's with my gardener, or president in the United States, or, you know, do make sure every interaction you have with people or my crew, you know, your, your crew, your prop guy, your boom guy, your DP, like, making everybody feel and not that it's my job. But I just want them to feel appreciated and valued and that they have talent and, and I appreciate you being here and helping elevate my vision. Because, you know, directing is not singular, it's, it's just this whole crew of people. And I meet so many people who go, oh, I don't want to work with them. Because I didn't like that person. I don't like that person. I'm like, yeah, there's a lot of people you're not gonna, like, in this industry, you're gonna have to work with so you know, a get your skin get put your big boy pants on, get some tough skin. And, and flip it, you know, and that's what meditation helps to is like, everybody I encounter today, I want them to feel good. And leave an encounter with me in in a positive way. Even if it's a tough conversation, even if it's, I have to fire somebody or I have to, you know, correct somebody on an edit or give notes on a script like, you know, in a way that they leave that experience going. Okay, okay, I'm good. This is a good talk. That wasn't anything negative, you know?

Alex Ferrari 44:04
Well, I want to first of all, I think you are a absolute force of nature. And thank you so much for everything you do. And for my my twin daughters, they say they said tell you thank you for Dora. They loved it and watch it all the time. So thank you so much for that.

Eva Longoria 44:21
I love that movie.

Alex Ferrari 44:22
I love I saw it in the theaters with them. I went to the theaters with them, and it was back when used to do things like that. But I do appreciate you and thank you so much for for coming on the show and continued success and I hope this movie gets out and is seen by everybody. It's such a wonderful film. So thank you again so much.

Eva Longoria 44:39
Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.



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IFH 521: How to Create a Compelling Documentary with Julie Cohen & Betsy West

Julie Cohen & Betsy West, RBG, Julia

Today on the show we have Oscar® nominated documentarians Betsy West & Julie Cohen.

Betsy West (Director/Producer) is an Academy Award®-nominated Emmy winning director/producer of RBG (Magnolia, Participant, CNN Films, 2018), along with Julie Cohen. Most recently, she and Cohen directed My Name is Pauli Murray (Participant/Amazon Studios), which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2021.

Betsy was executive producer of the MAKERS PBS/AOL documentary and digital series about the modern women’s movement, and the feature documentary The Lavender Scare (PBS, 2019). As an ABC News producer and executive producer of the documentary series Turning Point, she won 21 Emmy awards. Betsy is the Fred W. Friendly Professor Emerita at Columbia Journalism School.

Julie Cohen (Director/Producer) is the Academy Award® nominated, Emmy winning director and producer of RBG (Magnolia, Participant, CNN Films, 2018) along with Betsy West. Her film My Name is Pauli Murray, also directed with West, premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival.

Previous films she’s directed include The Sturgeon Queens (7th Art Releasing; Berlinale, 2015; Best of the Fest, San Francisco Jewish Film Festival), and Ndiphilela Ukucula: I Live to Sing (2014 New York Emmy Award for Best Arts Program).

Before she started making documentaries, Julie was a longtime staff producer for NBC News. She’s been an enthusiastic amateur cook and baker ever since her parents bought her a Cuisinart for her bat mitzvah in the 1970s.

Their current film is called JULIA. The film tells the remarkable story of the groundbreaking cookbook author and television superstar who forever changed the way Americans think about food, about television, and even about women.

Using a treasure trove of never-before-seen archival video, personal still photos, first-person narratives, and cutting-edge, mouth-watering food cinematography, the documentary will trace Julia Child’s surprising path, from her struggles to create and publish the revolutionary ‘instant’ classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group), to her empowering personal story of a woman in her 50s, finding her calling as an unlikely television sensation.

This is the first feature-length documentary solely devoted to Julia Child, and will illuminate her casual upheaval of the male-dominated culinary and television worlds.

Almost single-handedly, Julia Child upended the mythology that women could not hold their own at the highest levels of creative gastronomy, and that the only women Americans wanted to see on TV were young, submissive, and conventionally beautiful.

JULIA is produced with the full cooperation of Julia Child’s friends, family, and the Julia Child Foundation.  It follows the highly-acclaimed documentary, RBG, executive produced by CNN Films, directed and produced by West and Cohen through their company Storyville Films, and edited by Carla Gutierrez, who will also edit JULIA.

The film comes out Nov 12 in-theatres NY/LA followed by nationwide expansion.

In this episode we not only discuss the making of Julia and RBG but also cover how they approach documentary, the craft of tell stories and much more.

Enjoy my conversation with Betsy West & Julie Cohen.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show, Julie Cohen and Betsy West, how you guys doing?

Betsy West 0:17
We're great, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 0:20
We've just been having a having a lot of laughs before we started recording. So I do appreciate you guys coming on. I do have the chance to watch your amazing new doc Julia, about Julia Child's who I'm a huge fan on a fan of and I've loved your past work as well, which we're going to get into. But let's just jump in. How did you guys get? How did you guys team up? And how did you get started in documentary?

Betsy West 0:43
Well big question

Julie Cohen 0:46
Big question. Ah, we teamed up through a project called the makers project, which was possibly not so surprising given some of the work that we've done subsequently about the history of the modern women's rights movement.

Alex Ferrari 1:01
Oh, very cool.

Betsy West 1:02
Yeah, that was like 10 or so years ago. And then, you know, we went our separate ways, more or less. And then in 2015, as Justice Ginsburg was kind of blowing up on the internet for the two cents she was writing, and we had I both interviewed her prior to that we came up with the idea of doing that documentary, and then subsequent to that, we've been working on a few films together.

Alex Ferrari 1:31
Now what was it about a documentary for each of you that made you want to go into this side of storytelling, the side of the industry?

Betsy West 1:41
You know, when I look back on it, I always loved documentaries. And, you know, I loved as a kid, I will now date myself watching the World at War, and, you know, just longer storytelling. But you know, I became a, a broadcast network news producer, and a behind the scenes producer working on shorter format. And then magazine pieces, Julie and I have sort of a similar background. But I always loved documentaries back in the day, even when they were kinda it was kind of the D word. You know, documentaries weren't so hot. back then. But that's really what I wanted to do.

Julie Cohen 2:24
Yeah, I mean, similar deal for me also came from the broadcast news world. I also just love documentaries. Like I like movies, like movie movies. So doing telling real stories in the format of movies is really fun. Like, my favorite art is always true story art. I love photography. I even love music. That's kind of documentary ish, you know, the Bruce Springsteen's like ghost of Tom Joad album, that's really sort of like a documentary in an album, like anything. That's anything that's real, feels like kind of some of the coolest stories to tell.

Alex Ferrari 2:59
Now, how do you guys choose the subject matter that you guys tackle? Because it doesn't take, you know, six months, three months to make one of these things? Generally takes a few years? And but how do you guys choose? And then how do you stay? Stay interested it for so long?

Betsy West 3:16
Well, I mean, you put your finger on an Alex. Really, you have to choose things that you want to spend two or three or four years on, or else you know, you'll you'll go nuts. And I think, you know, with Justice Ginsburg, it was kind of one of those light bulb ideas of Oh, my goodness, what an amazing story, occurrence story, a backstory, a love story. I mean, you just couldn't have anything better than then working on that. You know, after that film, we started looking around for other projects and thinking about other women who perhaps had not been appreciated so much. And, you know, had had really been groundbreakers had really changed our world. And that's when we landed on the idea of doing Julia.

Julie Cohen 4:05
Yeah, I mean, there's definitely not a formula that we have. It's the main decision point is like, do we want to delve into this? Because it is otherwise like, you know, making a documentary as your Indie film audiences probably no, like, it's, it's just, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of time, a lot of the process is a big pain in the butt. So the reward side is feeling like you really love the subject matter. And we just realized, like, Oh, this one could really be fun. It's so different than all the other stories that we've worked on in our careers and like there's just like so much joy, involved and kind of deliciousness and it seems like subject matter that we really, really might kind of groove on.

Betsy West 4:54
No, I think it also was a kind of filming challenge. For us to do something different. Yes, Julia has archive, but also the opportunity to do some high end food photography, which neither of us had really done before and to really dig into that we thought would be, would be super fun.

Alex Ferrari 5:16
No going back to RPG what was what was it like working with her interviewing her being in the room with her? I mean, I have to ask, she's that she's essentially an icon at this point. She wasn't icon while she was she was a living icon when she was with us, what was that like? And how did you even approach that? When did you just call up? Listen, Ruth, we'd like to make this film about you. How did the whole process come to be?

Betsy West 5:42
A, you know, it's step by step, basically, we approached Justice Ginsburg, pretty carefully and strategically. And initially, when we went to her with the idea of doing a documentary, she said, you know, not yet I'm not ready. This was, you know, when she was in her early 80s, we're thinking okay, but we, she didn't say no to us. So then we came back a couple of months later with the idea of, oh, well, we're just gonna start to interview people, your friends and colleagues, and whatever, you know, to kind of get her approval for that. And then we took it from there. So it was we didn't go in saying, oh, yeah, we want to do a documentary. And can we go with you to the gym, by the way, like, we didn't start out. Even though in our minds, we were thinking, it would be fun to go with her to the gym. But it was a slow building of trust.

Alex Ferrari 6:38
It was a step by step. So when you're approaching a subject, a subject like that, who has so high profile, you can't walk in with guns blaring, you have to really kind of really baby step your way in to that kind of stuff.

Julie Cohen 6:51
Yeah, I mean, I think you're always trying to ask questions to which you can get the answer. Yes. So those need to be small questions. First, you don't come at. So you have to think of it from their perspective, like you don't come at someone with like a really chill, like, Oh, we're going to impose on you so much. We're going to take up so much of your time. You know, pick apart every aspect of your career. No, it's not like that you're like, I mean, the way to get the process going is to try to start to get it going. So trying to come up with things that you think that your subject might agree to. And in this case, as Betsy says, it, you know, the initial thing wasn't even about us interviewing or even filming the justices herself. It was about like, Oh, is it okay with you, if we start to interview some of the people who you've worked with in earlier phases of your career, just so that the project so that she starts to get the sense that this project is moving forward and hear back from people that we interviewed, like, oh, you know, these women were pretty serious about what they were doing. And they seem like they've done some research. And, you know, they seem like they came in with this amazing, you know, woman cinematographer who had like, greater like, this is like a real production happening here. So then you get that sense. And then that stage, Justice Ginsburg, let it let us start filming some of you know, some public events that she was doing, and then later, some more intimate or private events, and then that the actual interview didn't happen until, you know, to to near the end of the process, actually, two years into in development.

Alex Ferrari 8:22
Now, I have to ask, I mean, How nervous were you to show it to her?

Betsy West 8:29
Well, um, you know, amazingly, Justice Ginsburg never asked to see the film ahead of the screening at Sundance, and which we thought was a real act of trust, or maybe she was just too busy or ask. She agreed to go to the Sundance Film Festival. So we had both our major first premiere at Sundance there with Justice Ginsburg sitting across the aisle from us, and it was completely totally nerve racking. And, you know, we were kind of watching her, the sock of our eyes the entire time, as opposed to watching the film. You know, she started laughing right at the beginning, because there is sort of a kind of funny opening sequence with staff who's saying mean things about her. And then, you know, just a little ways in she pulled out a tissue and wiped her eye and it was it was incredible. I can't even tell you what it was like to experience that and to have her like, like the film and appreciate it. I mean, it just meant everything to us.

Alex Ferrari 9:42
And you guys went did you guys premiere at the Eccles at Sundance, or was that the Egyptian?

Julie Cohen 9:47
Oh, so give it give us the other I remember, but it was

Alex Ferrari 9:50
The Egyptia, the big one. Oh, okay. I was just I was just trying to visualize it.

Betsy West 9:58
Yep! 500 People that have like It's sort of bleach hurry, right. bleacher seats and yeah

Alex Ferrari 10:06
That must have been. And then and then with the whole Oscar stuff going around, what was that? Like when you got that call?

Julie Cohen 10:15
Well, you know, you don't get a call on you watch it on your watch it on. Everyone else, right? The nominations being announced. And certainly, it was fun.

Betsy West 10:29
We had our we, our husbands made us breakfast, right. So we're at my house, and we had a really nice breakfast that we sat there. And actually our name, the RBG name was the last one in the list of the nominees. So we actually thought when they named the fourth one, and it wasn't us, we thought, Okay, that's it. You know, we didn't, so that that accounted for a rather exuberant reaction. It was more a reaction. Like, you're kidding.

Julie Cohen 11:00
We were real. We were quite surprised. So

Alex Ferrari 11:04
So that as the nominations were being a natural, like, just past the hashbrowns there's like it's over.

Julie Cohen 11:11
We had we weren't that casual. We had eaten already. Okay. I guess, you guys because we were the last one to be other, you know, as the other films are being named, you sort of start to get the feeling that you're not gonna know, it was,

Alex Ferrari 11:29
What was the biggest lesson you learned from working on RBG?

Betsy West 11:33
Oi The biggest lesson of from art working on RBG? I mean, I guess. Persistence, yeah, you know, slow and steady wins the game. I mean, that's what RBG did, in her her life, lots of setbacks, lots of discouragement, you know, for a super smart person who gets out of law school and can't get the kind of job that she really deserved. And then, you know, just started finding this opportunity to challenge not only the discrimination that she faced, but the discrimination that all American women faced and a world that people took for granted where women were second class citizens, I mean, kind of an extraordinary thing that really came out of the obstacles in front of her. So I guess it's a lesson of persistence, and don't let anger get the best of you think, think strategically, okay, you're up against a wall? How am I going to get past that? That that was her approach.

Alex Ferrari 12:44
Now, when you guys are laying out a film, how do you lay out the story? Do you discover the story along the way? Is there an outline? What is the actual documentary process? As far as your you guys are concerned?

Julie Cohen 12:58
Yeah, the process is sort of like continually organizing and outlining the story and changing that as you go along. Like, certainly, at various stages, we have a rough idea of thoughts of what you want the structure of the film to be, then at a certain point in the process, our editor gets involved in in the case of both RBG and Julia are the same brilliant editor Carla Gutierrez was part of that process with us. So you saw you know, we sort of you have very, you know, you're very tentative outlines in mind, but often what works the best I mean, we like to start, you know, in the same way that I was saying, you're trying to get to a Yes, pretty, you know, we try to start with some scenes that we really think are gonna work, not worry about, like the whole thing in one in one sitting but just like, you know, take a bite of it, take a small slice of what the story might be. And like once there's a really beautiful scene, then that gives you the optimism that you need to push to the next level and sort of piece things together. And if they're working, keep going in the direction that things are working and if they're not working, make revisions to the parts that aren't working.

Betsy West 14:12
Yeah, I mean, we do use a you know, the sort of modern method of the little post it's on a wall which filmmakers know where you have you write the scenes and the the things that you expect you're going to have to cover and you put them on a wall only we do it on digitally now with this thing called jam board which you can use to just move scenes around. And as Julie said, we start cutting scenes. I mean, in the case of Julia, one idea we had was okay, people have seen this archive of Julia you know that the her cooking lessons have been repeated 1000s of times and you know, people love watching them but how fun to deconstruct the main Have that show of the French chef from the very beginning. And we have the opportunity to do that because the producer Russ Mirage is still around and we found the stage manager, Alex Pyro, and you know, sat them down and have them take us through what it was like to put together this show this groundbreaking show in 1963. And it was so fun, you know, to get the the scenes of the kind of makeshift studio that they had and the photographs that Julia's husband took behind the scenes. I mean, I think people going to a documentary, they want to experience a world you know, they want to be immersed in a world that they didn't necessarily know. They may know the characterization of Julia, they may cook some of Julia's food, but do they really understand Julia's world and what it took to become Julia Child, and that's what we were, were trying to get at?

Alex Ferrari 16:00
Yeah, what I was what I found so wonderful about the film was that in my experience with Julia is obviously I know her growing up, my mom had to book and, and everything I probably saw her on TV once or twice. But it was Julia and Julia, Julie Julia, Julia, that that that Meryl Streep. Yeah. Which was a fantastic film. But that was the introduction to her story. And it kind of skims over a lot of stuff. Because it's, you know, it's a, it's a movie. But what you guys did was you went so deep into it, and I really didn't realize how groundbreaking she truly was. I mean, she, she changed how America cooked. It was. And also it was, you know, a women's rights icon as well. But before we keep going, what did how did Julia come? How did you decide on Julia? And, and said, Okay, we're gonna spend three or four years with Julie and how long did it take?

Julie Cohen 16:55
Um, yeah, I mean, you could say it took it was three years from the time that we sort of first considered maybe doing it at the time the film came out, but like, the first year of that is just trying to make the whole thing happen and trying to get someone who's going to fund it and trying to get the various entities mainly the Julia Child Foundation, um, as well as WGBH, the the Boston PBS station that had, you know, rights to so much of that archive, like getting everyone on board kind of took a year and then two years, basically to make the film and like, the decision was as for the reasons that you said, because Because Julia was groundbreaking and groundbreaking in ways that were going to let us in our film show the context of like, what was the crappy food that Americans were eating in the free Julia era? What was the vision of women on television that was being that was, you know, being elevated before Julia came on the scene, like, in order to understand how big a leap she made, you have to know what the world was before. And that gave us the opportunity in our film to like, set those contexts and we knew because we know those worlds and we know about sexism, so we understood that we would be able to that it would actually be pretty entertaining to lay that stuff out in film form.

Alex Ferrari 18:12
Yeah, and what I loved also is that you you really focused on the love story, like her love story with with her husband is it's just beautiful. And what he did was groundbreaking as well a man of his generation to just push her in the into the spotlight and he was happy in the background. is So was like you said it in the documentaries like that's just doesn't that didn't happen at that. Do those guys?

Betsy West 18:38
Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, we are attracted to story with two subjects who have a good love story. And certainly the Paul and Julia story is fantastic. Because it starts out with Paul being the one who is opening up Julia to the world. You know, she had lived a rather privileged and sheltered life until she volunteered for World War Two and met Paul in in the in salon where they were both posted. And, you know, he was a worldly guy 10 years older, knew about art culture do about food, you know, so when they married and moved to France for his job with the State Department. That's when Julia just blossomed and discovered her passion for food and started cooking for Paul, which was really good for him. And we have, you know, a scene in the film kind of illustrating some of the benefits that Paul and Julia's love affair in France. And then, as you said, something unusual happened. Paul's career was in decline. He had left the state department he really didn't have anything to do they move back to the United States. And Julia, suddenly, her cookbook after 12 years is public And she goes on television and and becomes a kind of superstar. And Paul's reaction to that was just to help her every step of the way to believe in her belief in her when she was writing the book that nobody else thought was a good idea. And to believe in her when she became a superstar, and to continue to help her for the next three decades. It's kind of extraordinary.

Alex Ferrari 20:27
It's extremely extraordinary. And the other thing I found that watching the documentary is that she was absolutely fearless. Like, she threw herself into whatever. And she didn't care what anyone else said, How old was she, when she started? In this stage of her life, wasn't she in her in her early years,

Julie Cohen 20:47
50 years old when she first showed up on television, like Julia was not famous until she was 50, which, truthfully, is another part of the story that we really loved. And, you know, just like a good reminder for audiences, and particularly kind of young women in the audience to see like, No, you actually don't have to have had it all together and be ready to break out when you're 22. There are all kinds of different paths that people can take. And, you know, so that that was

Alex Ferrari 21:16
You mean, you mean, you didn't have it all figured out at 22? I mean, I obviously, I mean, Jesus.

Betsy West 21:23
I think there's something about the fact that Julia did have this later in life success that gave her the sort of confidence that she had right now. And once. Once she got there, she really, she really was pretty strong in her beliefs about how to carry on in her life. It just in all aspects, and yet also someone who evolved and who changed and we love that part of the story as well. It's not just like, oh, Julia went on television in the early 60s, it became famous and that was it. I mean, there were, there were many more chapters and some challenges when she was kind of being pushed off the air, by PBS and how she met that challenge. And, and how she evolved in her thinking on social issues like homosexuality, which was, you know, pretty major in the 1980s. And, and she really changed her her thinking and her prejudice, frankly, about homosexuals. So those parts, those aspects of the story of Julia's ongoing evolution, you know, really appealed to us.

Alex Ferrari 22:33
The persistence that that Julia had is is absolutely remarkable to be on a book for 12 years. I mean, many filmmakers listening and writers listening can really feel that because I started it's like, yeah, we were on the boat for trying to sit and to do anything for 12 years and to keep going. And to keep going no matter what. When there was no hope. There was really no, there was no, there was no signpost anywhere that said, this was a good idea. It's not like you're making a movie. And they're like, Well, other movies have been made before and made money or were successful. There was nothing like it. And she's just kept trying until finally someone opened the door for her. It was just, it was just so inspiring to see that.

Julie Cohen 23:16
Yeah, I mean, I think that Julia and the French colleagues that she was working with to develop that book really felt strongly that what they were doing was a good idea and would be valuable for home cooks. And that was, that was the deep impetus, as you say, there was there was nobody saying this is a fantastic idea, they had gotten an extremely small advance money that would have long run out, but in the first year, let alone the 12th year, it wasn't like there was, you know, nobody was chomping at the bit waiting for this book, they would just like had this vision, like, oh, this would be amazing. And I think they felt like they would get some real fulfillment out of putting on, you know, putting down on paper, like some of the amazing French techniques of cooking that, um, you know, that are well known in France and and very much not known in the US like they thought it would be a worthwhile thing to do. And that's where it started. Not so much. I mean, like, yes, of course, they wanted commercial success, as the 12 years go on, that is seeming less and less likely.

Alex Ferrari 24:19
And I think that's, that's a lesson that everyone listening needs to take on. It's like, if you believe in yourself is something that's just so believed in the world hasn't caught up to that idea to the world 12 years to catch up to that idea, essentially. And then it took another took a little bit longer for them to catch up with her being a 50 year old TV star on PB. I mean, it's just insane. It's like a PBS in Boston somewhere. It's like, she makes an omelet, and then all of a sudden, like, Hey, you want to show, okay, we don't know how to do a show. Let's just do this and it just hides. It's like if you wouldn't write it in a screenplay, you'd be like, that doesn't make any sense.

Betsy West 24:55
You know, the thing the part of that that I just love is that you know Julia just connected with the audience. Immediately. It wasn't like the executives said, Oh, we've got a potential star here. Let's invest in this Julia Child person. Let's bring her along, you know? No. They said, Okay, we'll do three shows, we'll you know, we'll pay you minimal amount of money. And, you know, she was instantly just memorable. You know, people were like, Who is that crazy voice, but she's funny and but, and she knows a lot, and we love watching her. So to me, it's this example of going direct to the audience. And and you know that that's how it happened. It was not the TV execs who were doing it.

Alex Ferrari 25:44
And what I loved also, that you mentioned in the documentary was the SNL skit by Dan Ackroyd, which I always wondered, I'm like, I wonder if she actually got a kick out of that or not. And it's and the answers in the documentary, you were like, Oh, okay. But she brought it out constantly and constantly bringing it out to show people that there must have been, I mean, she was an icon. She was even in the 75. Was that 75?

Julie Cohen 26:09
Yeah, it was only five. And remember, I mean, remember what you know, what SNL in the 70s was, what a huge big deal. It was just like, you know, one of our characters mentions that, like, in the early days of Julia Show in the mid 60s, everyone will be like, did you see Julia Child? You know, this week? Have you seen Julia this episode? And of course, that's what SNL was, by the mid 70s. Like, every Sunday, I mean, I was a kid at that point. And every Sunday, it was just like breaking down what happened on SNL the night before, and I think that Julia understood that kind of Dan Akroyd impersonate her was a real sign of, you know, cultural zeitgeist. Yeah. Okay, so she appreciated that. But like, you know, the problem. I mean, at the time, I think it's so fantastic. The problem is the decades have gone on. And Betsy and I kind of came to discover that people who were familiar with Julia vaguely, like, that's what they remember that, you know, a caricature, completely zany, completely off the rails, like drunk lady, you know, with a chicken. And like, actually was a lot more than that. Not only was she a true expert in food, and bringing that expertise to Americans, like in a way that mattered. So we are amused by that as Julia was, but we also wanted to, you know, the whole point of the film is kind of to tell you what the real story is behind that caricature.

Alex Ferrari 27:37
Yeah, absolutely. And you did a fantastic job doing that. Now, did you learn what led what life lessons did you learn from Julia? Because you, me, you and you go into when you go into a subject matter, like this, like with RBG, that you you have to something has to rub off on you. So what was that thing? One?

Betsy West 27:54
I'll tell you one. You know, I like to cook. But often weeks go by before I really do cook, and sometimes my ambition gets the better of me, like I think I can create some great thing and it's like, it's 10 of seven. And the guests are coming soon. And I'm like doing four different dishes. And often I'll be disappointed with how one or the other came out. And I in the past would apologize. Oh, you know, like this corn thing. It was supposed to rise more or whatever. I am never, ever apologizing again for a dish that I served to people I mean, and I love that attitude. Julia's whole point was oh, you make a mistake you make the best of it, you turn the the potato souffle into something else and you just serve it you know you so you turn the dessert that flopped into a soup and you serve it and you not apologize. So that's my life lesson and I once the pandemic and the shutdown is over and I actually am entertaining regularly again. I plan to implement that advice.

Julie Cohen 29:04
And again a before her time feminist message because like apologizing for one right is a big lady problem like it is you do have an inclination when you're presenting what you've done to a roomful of people to start pre telling them like everything that's wrong with what you can oh, this was actually supposed to be bad. I use baking flour when I was opposed to yours

Alex Ferrari 29:32
Fell on the floor.

Julie Cohen 29:35
Like to serve the book like it was like you know we all make mistakes it's okay to make mistakes but that's that don't like apologize for them just like you know say that's what you know, say you meant this to be that kind of everyone like if you if you do it if you give it a little hype, like the boys often do that's going to that's going to change people's perception of it and a view and it's a great it's a great Julia lesson.

Alex Ferrari 29:59
You As you know, I was I was raised surrounded by women. So I have I've no brothers or sisters, but I was just women, very strong women around me at all times. And now with my family, my daughters and my wife, I have no testosterone at all in my life. Just the cat and the cat got fixed. So. So I feel that as, as a young man, you never ever taught to apologize for anything, you just go with it, you roll with it. And And as I'm teaching my, my girls that I'm like, no, no, you, I'm teaching them to be strong women, and to teach them from a male side point of view. And also from a female side point of view, with my wife of like, No, this is the world, and this is what you're going to be walking into. And my god, I can't even imagine walking into the world that she walked into where she lived in. Yeah, it's such a tough world.

Betsy West 30:50
Yeah. And then imagine the world in France. I mean, we'd love the heart of the film in France to kind of create how, what kitchens were life there. I mean, talk about a macho, sexist, fireman, Julia Child walked into, you know, going to the Cordon Bleu with the Master Chef, and the students were all male Gi is from the US who were using the GI Bill to further their education before they went back to cook in restaurants in the United States. And Julia is the only woman we love that. And she seemed to have a kind of confidence about her, which I think was, you know, just part of her makeup, you know, that she she didn't mind being six foot two, right? Women really don't like being so tall. It didn't, it didn't seem to bother her, she married a man who was shorter than she was I mean, it she didn't have that self consciousness. And I think also in breaking into a male world that she found herself in France, she was just very matter of fact about it. I want to learn how to cook, this is the best place to do it. And please, you know, let me into this class and, of course impress them all.

Alex Ferrari 32:08
In again, that fearlessness in in what she said because she towered over most men. Yeah. Easily, I think that's also probably a little bit of where the confidence came from, because she'd always towered over over men. So in many ways, I mean, this is just me, my, my Psycho analysis of it. But you know, she does feel that that kind of vibe. And you see these pictures of her in the in the documentary, where she's kind of just small, she's just our and it's just the confidence to do what ever she wants. It's,

Julie Cohen 32:37
Yeah and interesting thing is, even though all of the ways that, you know, we're kind of socialized as women sometimes to be a little apologetic or a little demure or not show yourself, you know, often to the world and Julia self, the self confidence and the feeling. And the and, and the being hurt. selfness is exactly what the audience's responded to, they completely got that this was an authentic person, they saw that they're seeing the real Julia, they liked that she was fearless. They'd like that she wasn't apologizing, they'd like that she was loud, even like everything that was real about Julia, which is a lot of things that girls actually aren't taught to be even still is actually what the public really responded to, in and not just women, like guys like her too.

Alex Ferrari 33:26
Yeah, and that's the thing, I love the word use authentic, because that's exactly what she was RBG was is that they were who they were, and they were comfortable in their own skin and weren't trying to impress they weren't trying to be something they're not they weren't putting an Instagram filter on themselves in many ways. And that's what people are drawn to. I mean, in all of your work, even doing news and other things throughout your career. Have you noticed the same thing I have is that the people who get the attention of some, not all the times, but they are who they are. And they're not trying to be something they're not generally speaking, especially the important people, meaning important people, meaning that people who are changing the world, people are being of service to the world like RBG, like Julia, because they I mean, you can't fake job. Like that was that's a hell of a performance. If she's pulled that off for so many years. That's who she was. Do you find that? That's one of those common factors and all the work that you've done over the years?

Betsy West 34:25
It's an interesting question. I'm not sure that I would want to make that generalization across the board.

Alex Ferrari 34:30
You know, it's case by case, right?

Betsy West 34:32
I think it's somewhat case by case. I mean, look, people are very different. There's such a huge variety of people and sometimes, you know, you'll what was so and so like, Oh, they're exactly like what they are, you know, what you would imagine on television and you know, you can say that, but that's not always the case. There are certainly people who have a pretty good public and I think that's, you know, so Observe, there are interesting sort of introverted people who then get in front of a camera, and they kind of transform into something else. And I'm not saying I'm gonna call that phony. I'm just saying that's the way they are. And then they get off camera and Okay, that's it, you know, they're moving on to something else. I mean, that was not the case with Julia. I mean, Julia was an extremely outgoing people person loved being on television and loved meeting people in the grocery store, it didn't really matter to her. So I would say it's true of her. And it's it's a, you know, I think, Justice Ginsburg, a very different character of you know, really was an introvert who, later in life had this amazing celebrity, but she was pretty true to her personality, I think throughout and was very much the same, you know, often on camera, I think, in a way, but I wouldn't want to generalize it to everybody. Do you agree, Julie?

Julie Cohen 36:03
Yeah, yeah. Well, I was when it was webinar, Alex brought in our broadcast news careers that were some people that were I mean, you know, look, there are people that have gotten called out in recent, the same nice guy on television that they in real life that they might have appear to be on your morning television show. So yeah, I'm just saying

Alex Ferrari 36:29
There is there is that yeah, there was yesterday, we had a nice smile on her face as you were talking. Yep, it's in my head. I know who it is. Now, um, I have to ask you, what do you think Julia would do with today's technology of social media? Of all of that stuff? Do you think she would have? Would she have an Instagram account? Even in the later years of her life? Would she be out there really kind of connecting with her audience in that way? In your opinion?

Julie Cohen 37:01
Well, there's an interesting mixed thing, like my husband actually always likes to talk about there's there's some, there's some hypothetical about, like, what Napoleon had had a B 52. And like, well, of course, this is sort of similar. What if Julia had had, I think we should I think even might be an SNL skit. But what if Julia had had Instagram? There's sort of, there's sort of a two part answer. One is that the whole love of food on Instagram is really the world that Julia created that like food is this amazing thing that's so much. It's not just what we get to nourish ourselves. But you know, it's like, to be celebrated and shown off and like, so that's like, really, a validation of who Julia was. On the other hand, Julia had a rule, we mentioned it in the film, she called the French rules, which is when your food is served and still hot, you eat it immediately, you do not stop what you're doing to take the most glamorous overhead picture of it. Food is meant to be eaten, not photographed. So

Alex Ferrari 38:00
On both sides of that, now, did you guys find yourself eating more? Why? Because I found myself wanting to eat whereas those beautiful food footage that you guys were shooting, that I knew were an archival, because I was looking like, oh, that's fresh? Did you find yourself like me? Did you find a new respect for food? Did you find a new? Just, you know, all of that while making this?

Betsy West 38:25
Yeah, I mean, we have to say that we filmed most of it before the shutdown, we filmed a lot of it in 2019, including an amazing trip to France that was really fun to be to visit Julius Hans and to eat some great food. But, you know, I think when the shutdown happened, all of us changed our relationship, to food and to cooking. And, you know, I found myself going to the farmers market, you know, shopping outside and thinking more about fresh food. And definitely, you know, both my husband and I were just cooking for each other, every single night. And one night, we made like a list of all of our regular dishes that we'd like, you know, that were in our rotation. And there were like about, I don't know, 45 of them that were in our now in our rotation. And I think so we really expanded our possibilities. And I guess that was partly about the pandemic. And I think partly because all day long, you know, I was seeing immersed in, in this world of food in the middle of the pandemic we managed to do the high end cinematography that that you see throughout the film. That which was last summer that we filmed under somewhat difficult circumstances with everybody masked or whatever and created a studio. Down in in Chelsea and and replicated Julie's kitchen our producer Holly Segal did an incredible job basically, having a shop construct Julie's kitchen and sourced all the copper pots and the garlin stove and everything else. And then filmed for about a week with our cinematographer Claudia Rasky. And then similarly in France, we were filming with a photographer using macro technology, really tight shooting and slow mo the food that was Nanda bread lard. In Paris, we intended for the two of them to be together or two, but because of academic that was not possible. So we did the parachute remotely. So that was a lot of thinking about food, and I guess it did influence us.

Julie Cohen 40:52
Yeah. And are we we brought in a food stylist and and cook Susan Spungen, who not only prepared all the film, and actually You prepared all the food and you actually see her in the film sometimes because it's kind of her hands that are rolling out the dough and that sort of thing, but helped us in the substantive quest of figuring out which Julia Child recipes would work well with which scenes like one example is we wanted to show something kind of messing up during the phase that they're experimenting with all different recipes. And we talked to Susan about like, what could we show that would like, screw up all the time she came up with hollandaise sauce and how it breaks and looks all curtly and disgusting. And then, you know, for looking for the sort of Love in the Afternoon sensual seen her and we had a number of discussions. You know, what is that? So what dessert is like the sexiest, like, what do you think? And we went in thinking it was going to be chocolate because when you think deserves like chocolate is the first in your mind. But then she described us that pear tart and every step of the rolling the dough and the poaching the pears and red wine. Or that custard was beautiful to go and eat. But um, so when you talk about like, we're we mean, you know, just the enthusiasm for even certain certain food groups definitely grew during the production of this film.

Alex Ferrari 42:19
Yeah, that tart when I was watching, it is a fairly sensual tart. i It's I had no idea tarde could be sensual I was watching was like, wow, I want to I want to I want to have a slice of that right now. No, where can people watch the film? And when is we released?

Betsy West 42:40
Yes, people can see Julia, in theaters in New York and Los Angeles starting November 12. And then it will be rolled out in many, many theaters in cities around the country in the subsequent weeks. So by Thanksgiving, it should be available. If you didn't want to see it before your Thanksgiving meal, you might want to have a snack just beforehand, so you're not hungry during it or whatever. I think it's a good it's potential good Thanksgiving fair?

Alex Ferrari 43:19
No. And what advice would you give a filmmaker who wants to get into the documentary? Game?

Julie Cohen 43:27
Well, it's hard question. I mean, I think you know, there's, on the one hand, technology is such that people could be experimenting with making short films, um, on their own, that probably doesn't mean that that's something that's going to be headed for distribution. The other thing is to just you know, get there, there are a lot of documentary production companies all around and getting in on the ground floor in the interning and production assistant. Mode is kind of always the way to start. But like learning, learning some technical skills is kind of important. Some shooting and editing skills is great these days, as well as sort of some substantive knowledge we always try to tell people it's actually good to know like, when people ask, Oh, should I major in film or communications in my undergraduate college, like, maybe, but also, it's actually good to learn some things about the world and to understand something about business or science or politics or history, like, you know, perspect especially for documentaries, like you need to have some grounding in the real world before you're maybe going out and trying to say something about the world which in and it's hard is what the documentary is all about.

Alex Ferrari 44:47
Now, I've asked you a couple questions ask all of my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Betsy West 44:58
Thank you so much. Alex,

Julie Cohen 45:04
I think of one.

Betsy West 45:05
I got one

Julie Cohen 45:06
Oh, you got one?

Betsy West 45:08
Yeah, I have one. But you go ahead you go.

Julie Cohen 45:10
I was just gonna say to not worry, too. I mean, in some ways it fits in with the best, as we were saying earlier, to not worry too much about things that go wrong. Like when something goes a little wrong. That's all right, things have gone wrong in every film that we've made. And you know, it comes out like the biggest problem is what happens after the thing goes wrong, where everyone is so panicked about the thing that went wrong, and trying to convince themselves and the others that it is not their fault, but then a cascade of things begin to go wrong from there. So like things go wrong, forgive yourself and move on.

Betsy West 45:48
Yeah, I mean, I took to heart RBGs advice, which she got from her mother, basically, that don't waste your time on anger, you know, try to move past it. And yes, it doesn't mean you're not going to be angry, of course, you're gonna get angry, you're a human being. But try not to get consumed by anger, and just find the way around it. Because it's a waste of your energy.

Alex Ferrari 46:21
Now, in any of your projects, it must have been a day that the whole world came crashing down around you. What was that event? And how did you get past it? What did you use to get past it?

Betsy West 46:36
Well, I would say my whole world came crashing down around me when I lost a job in a very high profile way in 2005, when I was at CBS News, and you know, it was kind of a wake up for me and but opened up doors to a whole new life because I had been an executive and you know, executive jobs are risky. You're always the person, you know, that gets blamed when something goes wrong underneath you when, you know, that's sort of what happened to me. But in general, I think executive jobs are tough. And I realized that I so loved making stories, telling stories. That's what I really love more than I love being an executive, although, you know, I think it was okay at it, but I really love doing that. And so that allowed me to pivot back to what I love doing the most.

Alex Ferrari 47:40
And Julie?

Betsy West 47:47
She's never cried,

Julie Cohen 47:48
Laughing the crushing experience. To me, the thing that I associate most with that is like, when, you know, something that you saw was gonna happen, like doesn't happen and that actually happens a lot in a row. Like where you thought you had a shoot and then you didn't and person cancels or you thought you had a booking and someone was gonna cooperate with something and they didn't and sort of similar to what Betsy was saying in the end. You all I always think almost everything that happens there's a way in the end take like oh, it was good that that did that was great that we didn't actually get that person because it would have bet it wouldn't have let Oh, so amazing.

Alex Ferrari 48:25
And less active. And last question three documentaries that all documentary should watch?

Betsy West 48:32
Oh my god. All right. Hoop Dreams. Yes, my mind and I saw the RE mastering of Hoop Dreams. thinking oh my god, this thing is so long. You know, I think it's like three hours or something. And I was thinking maybe it's too long. It is. It's just masterful. It's unbelievable. I just met Phil and was so lucky to see it again recently. All right, that's one

Julie Cohen 48:57
Documentary to see. I think I'm gonna say Waltz with Bashir um, I really recommend that to everyone. It's an animated doc that came out probably around 2008 Something like that, but it's like just telling a story in a really new way but that feels really emotionally profound. So that's one think

Alex Ferrari 49:23
And one more any any any of you I won't put you on the on the spot for three each.

Betsy West 49:31
Okay, there's so many um,

Alex Ferrari 49:35
Like for me it was like searching for sugar man. Which was that was a great one and then walking those walking the line or the one with the about the type broke guy between the twin towers

Julie Cohen 49:49
We both loved um, roll packs. I Am Not Your Negro.Really different take on an archival but it's like an estimate. It's an archive Film it tells me something about American history.

Betsy West 50:04
I really like stories stories we tell you know that Sarah Polley, which I thought was just really pushing the boundaries of storytelling in a way that works like sometimes I think the boundaries get pushed in a way that I thought that was wow, what an interesting way to tell a first person film. I don't know. I like that one.

Alex Ferrari 50:29
Betsy and Julie. But thank you guys again so much for being on the show. I truly appreciate it. And I hope everybody goes out and sees Julia and if you haven't seen RBG you have to go see RBG as well. So thank you guys for doing what you're doing and please continue making amazing documentary. So thank you.

Julie Cohen 50:46
We will!



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IFH 489: Using Blockchain to Make Money With Your Film with Kim Jackson and Jake Craven

Right-click here to download the MP3

Learning about new and improved ways to navigate archaic structures in our line of business is always very interesting. So, this week, I wanted to take you on a deep dive into blockchain entertainment financing — refined by entrepreneurs and producers Kim Jackson and Jake Craven of Breaker.io.

Kim is a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, co-owner of SingularDTV, and CEO of its umbrella company, Breaker Studios, where Jake serves as Vice President of Content Partnerships.

Breaker, founded in 2017, is a leading blockchain development and services company in the Media & Entertainment industry. It provides an innovative, intuitive, and user-friendly end-to-end royalty management platform for independent creators and distributors. Simply put, it uses blockchain and cloud-based technology to enable creators to maximize their revenue by automating revenue collection, backend accounting, and royalty payments while ensuring transparent reporting. 

I discovered Breaker when I stumbled upon Alex Winter’s award-winning feature documentary, Trust Machine: The Story Of Blockchain produced by Kim. Trust Machine trailerThe film explains how Blockchain technology is already being used to change the world, fighting income inequality, the refugee crisis, and world hunger. 

If you are new to Blockchain or have felt overwhelmed by all the information Google threw at you in an attempt to learn the rudimentary theory of Blockchain and cryptocurrency, check out Vinay Gupta‘s ‘A Brief History of Blockchain, Kim referenced during our chat.

Breaker’s concept is definitely the future of entertainment finance and, dare I say, global financial transacting. Being ahead of its time, Breaker is introducing products that allow for media revenue and royalty to be tracked via blockchain technology, which allows for an open-source network of data.

Basically, Breaker provides a better model for instantaneous recording and eliminating mistrust, especially for independent companies that want to sustain a business and revenue model for themselves.

I wish we had more time to continue the conversation because it was packed with filmtrepreneurial and blockchain knowledge bombs, and we could all do with the extra crash course. But I made sure to ask many important questions for you guys from today’s experts.

So, enjoy my conversation with Kim Jackson and Jake Craven.


Alex Ferrari 0:01
I'd like to welcome to the show Kim Jackson and Jake Craven. How you guys doing?

Kim Jackson 0:19

Jake Carven 0:20
Doing great.

Alex Ferrari 0:21
Thank you. Thanks for coming on. You guys are doing some really interesting stuff with your company breaker. And I saw them film by Alex winter about blockchain because I've now obsessed about blockchain pretty heavily and about NFT's and all that kind of good stuff. And, and then you guys reached out to me, and I was like, Oh, interesting. I like to see what you guys are doing. So for the audience who is not familiar with this new magical world, that is blockchain and crypto and tokenization. All this stuff. What is blockchain?

Kim Jackson 0:59
Wow, that's a ginormous question. So in relationship to media and technology and film, we'll I think we'll put it in that context.

Jake Carven 1:11

Kim Jackson 1:12

Jake Carven 1:12

Kim Jackson 1:12
Well, seeing that avenue.

Jake Carven 1:14

Kim Jackson 1:15
But essentially, blockchain is the technology that what we're all familiar with, as Bitcoin runs on, right. So Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. And it operates on blockchain technology. So it's a at its simplest form, it's a protocol that runs programs. And so at a basic level, the programs Oh, that's why they're different than centralized systems is because this network is called decentralized. And that means where there's network, there's data and where there's data, there's network, unlike centralized systems that we currently work with. So when you apply that to basic concept to certain, maybe challenges and problems that different industries, like media, and film and television have, we have been building and are launching products that allow for media to be, you know, rights, revenue and royalty of media to be tracked via blockchain technology, which allows for a decentralized network of data. So I'm going to stop there, because Jay can go a little more specific into what breaker is, is building from that more general description.

Jake Carven 2:43
Yeah, thanks for a good intro into the big picture of blockchain. How I like to refer to someone's asking what is blockchain? What is a blockchain? It's really just a record of information. Right. And what makes it different from other records that we use, if you think Google sheets or Excel, or just databases, right, is that when when you enter in a new row of data, that information is encoded, so that nobody can go in and change the information later. So it's locked in place and set in stone. In addition, instead of the data being stored on one person's hard drive, or one company's servers, it's held and hosted, maintained by hundreds of people all around the world. So when we say decentralized, it's what we mean, it's there's people all over the world that are hosting and maintaining this network. And this is a record of information. So no one party is in control of that information. And it's all open source so that anyone at any point can go and view this record, they can pull up a website, and you know, put into information and actually see, you know, proof that information was logged and entered into this record. Now, it's all done using, you know, cryptography and long numerical chains that the average person can't decipher, or any person can say can decipher really. But what it does is it creates this opportunity where when you have data that's coming in from one source, instead of that data, just living on someone's computer, and then some human is like entering data and changing the information and sending it via an email. That information is automatically recorded and set on this public record the blockchain that people can go back to.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
So to simplify it is basically a database That has pages in a ledger, those pages are blocks inside of that chain. And they're hosted cop, there's 1000s of copies of that exact thing around the world. So even if you hack into my computer, and, and you know, try to do something, you can't, because there's multiple copies all around around the world, that could be verified by 1000s. And 10s of 1000s of people around the world as this continues to grow and grow is essentially and you can't adjust. And then like any chain, if you block it in the next chain, if you affect this chain, it will affect the rest of the entire chain. So that means it's literally locked in stone, digital stone and cannot be adjusted. So that's the security aspect of it. Is that a fair explanation?

Jake Carven 5:47
Yeah, absolutely. And I think I think most people, most people, you don't need to be tech savvy to, to, you know, reap the benefits of this or to appreciate how all this technology sort of works. You know, I think a lot of times, especially with the blockchain world, we kind of get a little too, we start talking about all the tech and code and all that stuff, when you know, really think of the internet and email, don't need know how email works in order to like, reap the benefits of email. So, you know, there's always this sort of element of the blockchain world where things get too technical too quickly. But we try and just break it down into kind of very clear concepts. And I think that's, that's an important element of just understanding that normally, when you send an email to someone, the record of that email is being held by the company who owns your email address, right? The email server like Google, if Google were to cease existing tomorrow, you would lose all of that information that's on your email, because it's stored by this private entity. So what blockchain does is takes that data and puts it up in a way where it's not subject to like one private entity who can take and use that information however they want or just disappeared, delete it.

Alex Ferrari 7:06
Fair, fair enough. Now, there are obviously the the origination of blockchain was with Bitcoin, and Bitcoin coming on. And that's when the whole concept of blockchain came to came to be, I think, in 2008 and December of 2008, if I'm not mistaken, and there are multiple blockchains out there because a lot of people think there's just this the one blockchain there's multiple blockchains out there, Bitcoin has its own blockchain, which is based around its cryptocurrency. But then another blockchain came out, which is arguably the silver to bitcoins gold, which is aetherium. And aetherium, was created as a blockchain not as much for money, though it has a component of that, but as a platform to kind of piggyback on is that, is that correct?

Kim Jackson 7:54
Correct. Yeah, it's its intention is to have more functionality and more dimension than just operating currency, which is Ethereum is the is the operating protocol that we're building our applications on top of

Alex Ferrari 8:12
now with, with Go ahead,

Jake Carven 8:16
I was gonna say, to go back to your analogy, instead of saying the theorem is silver to bitcoins gold, I think a better way to think of it is a theorem is the oil to bitcoins gold, because well, Bitcoin is a, you know, an asset that can be used as currency. Fair enough theory is, is a system for running applications and to be built upon.

Alex Ferrari 8:39
Now with that, with Ethereum, you because there isn't a monetary aspect of theory, there is an aetherium coin, which runs everything. So with, with the theorem did some of the issues that I've been hearing and seeing myself in the NFT world, is that it takes a long time for these things to get all these all these processes to get registered, because it takes time to physically get it on there. Also gas fees and things like that. Can you talk about that? Because that kind of goes into a larger conversation about what you guys are doing? And how are you going to kind of, because we're at the beginning, where I've been telling people there's like, we're basically in the internet 1994 right now, there, people are still trying to figure out how to build a website, people are still trying to figure out JPEG, because it's that, you know, I remember downloading an image that took four days to download one picture because no one understood JPEG yet. Things like that. Were in that world right now. So there are these kinds of issues that and that we're all figuring out and will be figured out in the next five years, if not faster, because there's so many people going in there. But what do you think? How do you approach and I can you explain gas fees and the speed and things like that with aetherium? Because there's just so many people jamming into it.

Kim Jackson 9:57

Jake Carven 9:58
Yeah. In order to understand, you know, if you're someone that that, listen to this and you're not familiar with sort of how blockchain actually works, when we say we're recording a new piece of information or data on the blockchain, what we're doing is you're submitting, let's say, transaction with this data. And then there are all these people that are maintaining this network in order to get people and this is what makes blockchain innovative, is, in order to get people to actually maintain that network of information. And to update it, you have to incentivize them, right, they're not just going to do it out of altruism. And because they like the idea of a decentralized network of information. So they have to get paid to maintain all this, right. And so they're just using computing power and their computers. But what happens is, they get paid a fee to update the blockchain to record your data, right, like you pay a fee for a notary public, if you will. And so those, that fee is what's called a gas fee. So when you go to transact blockchain, or you're going to use an application that is interacting with the blockchain in some way, you have to pay a gas fee in the form of cryptocurrency that goes to the individual who's actually like logging that transaction. So that's what keeps the system going. And moving forward, as you know, people are being incentivized because they're getting paid to do it. And, and that's, that's what we refer to gas fees. Now, there's a lot of development that's taking place and a lot of different approaches to blockchain technology and updates, the original mechanism of it was built in serve one purpose, but it had limitations. Were at a phase now where there's a lot of updates being made and switching to some different systems that are more efficient and cost less and are faster. And those are going to be implemented. And some of them are already implemented. Some we're going to be going in the next year, a couple of years. So the whole landscape is changing pretty dramatically right now in terms of just like the nuts and bolts and how of how it works. But for us, the key thing is looking at just that underlying the value proposition of just a blockchain and then this core concept that of what we like to call tokenization. What is tokenization?

Kim Jackson 12:35
Well, Alex, I want to say one thing. You have it, right? It's early days, it's like 1996 in blockchain right now. So it's like the dial up date. Oh, settings, take

Alex Ferrari 12:47
money for 100 bucks. 2400 baud? Yeah.

Kim Jackson 12:49
Yeah, exactly. So it's very, it's a very early, it's still early days. It really, really is. And so, you know, the, the architects of Ethereum are well aware. And they are, you know, they're there. You know, I listen to conversations on clubhouse that, you know, they pop in and out of, and, you know, they're, they're very much aware and their solutions that they're working on, and they're very confident in the future of the etherium protocol, being able to handle the number of transactions that would would be necessary for it to work properly for the general public. Just like the internet, you know, had to figure that out, too. So, yes, so you know, it's, it's, it's definitely a good horse to bet on.

Alex Ferrari 13:39
No, exactly. It's like, if you would have told me like, you know, this internet things really gonna take off. You know, I mean, I still remember dialing, you know, logging in with my AOL free disk that I got, yes, I got my free connection to the Internet.

Kim Jackson 13:54
Made the sound on sound effects. Oh, fantastic. It was, you know, you couldn't wait and we just sat there and we waited and a little chat rooms would come up in the windows, you'd be talking to people in like Vietnam and it was just like amazing Thai was was exceptionally good, incredible. Time. And then you had I put in my name and didn't work and you know, getting your email address. For the first time in a while. I tried like a zillion things. And then I ended up putting some really random thing in there. Just like, okay, I give up. And then of course, it took it so then that was my AOL. I Oh, well, address was something weird and random for a very long time. Yes, it's sort of like that. And, um, I recommend this really great about 25 minute video that Vinay Gupta recorded some years ago that essentially talks about the history of computer science leading to blockchain. And it is super, super important, especially those who maybe came a little bit later in the game and don't maybe have holes in their knowledge of computer science. Leading up to today it was extremely it's like one of those things that we have a required viewing for people who work with us. Because it's very important to understand this moment in time of computer science, which is where we are, which is extremely exciting.

Alex Ferrari 15:16
No, exactly. Please send me a link to that. I would love to put that in the show notes for everyone to watch as well. But I feel I feel that blockchain is as important if not more important than the internet. And it's just such a that's such a that and that is such a massive statement to say, I'm not alone in that, by the way, I'm sure there's many I think both of you agree with it. It's, it's seeing the vision of work and go it's not there right now. But seeing the vision of where that can go. They mean cryptocurrency and we could talk about cryptocurrency, and that is a long game. It's a long in 100 years, we're all going to be dealing with some form of cryptocurrency. I mean, the dollar paper money and all of that, is it. I don't I don't think that's going to happen. I mean, it keeps going for the next 100 years. I think that's very archaic way of doing things. This is and I think that the D five movement and the decentralization and all that stuff is great. But Jake, remind me Did you? Did you answer the question on tokenisation? No, okay. Okay. Okay. I was, I was like, I don't remember him answering it. So took a decision, because I don't know, that's a big part of what you guys are doing with breaker.

Jake Carven 16:22
Yeah, so you to bring it all back around to film and entertainment and how blockchain can be used in the entertainment industry. You have to think of this concept. And this is what when people hear of NF T's or they hear of, you know, different companies and tokens, what we're what we're really talking about is taking a piece of intellectual property and creating a digital identifier with it, which is what we call a token. So it is a unique code that is an address that is recorded on the blockchain that is then associated back to that asset. So what we're doing is taking, let's say, a film, and creating a digital token that represents that film, and the ownership shares of that film, same time. So instead of having just like a contract, then each person has their copy of the contract. And, you know, you kind of have to rely on attorneys to confirm all that. And then some, some accountant will look at it and determine, okay, this person gets this amount, what you're actually doing is you have this digital identity identifier that's recorded on the blockchain. But with that is in associated smart contract, which is another key concept in the blockchain world, which is you're taking the terms of, let's say, a film finance agreement, and you're turning it into a logical formula saying, if X amount of dollars, then it goes to this person, then any money after that goes to these people. And so now, when something happens, let's say there's a transaction or someone sends money to, or records it on the blockchain via a platform, that token, so the asset, right, the money flows back to that address, it's associated with it tied to that address, and then the code based on the smart contract knows how to then to split up the money and who to send it to automatically, because of the terms that you put in place. So what we're doing is looking at how we can tokenize an asset, right, take intellectual property, create a digital token that represents it, and the shares and the back end, and then also apply a smart contract where we can then automate the flow of revenue and the management of rights for that underlying asset

Alex Ferrari 18:48
in a complete transparent way where anybody can go in and look at it, as opposed to the shady world of distribution today.

Jake Carven 18:58
So instead of relying on, you know, an entity where it really comes down to some, you know, accounting associate, manually putting numbers in a spreadsheet, and even if everyone is acting with the best of attention intentions, they're still going to put you know, run the formula incorrectly or miss human error type number, you know, all this stuff, and it just so much error and so much money is lost, and, you know, all because of the sort of human and, and really archaic methodology and practices for entertainment, accounting and rights management, which is really hasn't changed since this all started in the turn of the century. Alright, so this, you know, a way of bringing this new technology to create more efficiency, automation, transparency, for what is otherwise a very inefficient process.

And that is your so some key elements that you Using our tokenization and then smart contracts, can you go? You mentioned smart contracts? Can you explain the smart contracts are to the audience?

Well, yeah, smart contracts are really, it's a set of code that is embedded on in the token. But really what that code is, you're taking the terms of an actual paper contract that you sign, and then taking the logic of like the flow of funds and who receives what and when, and then applying that into actual, like, logic, like math of. And that's what smart that's really all a smart contract is it's that logical formula, that is reflecting agreements between parties that are done outside

Alex Ferrari 20:45
like the waterfall, it's normal waterfall funds, yeah, on the back end, correct. First in like first in financers, get first monies in all that kind of stuff. But it's broken up through using basically smart contracts and blockchain. So when a happens, then B happens, and then once B is done, then it goes out to C, D, E and F. And then you can just lay out however you want the smart contracts to play out, essentially

Kim Jackson 21:09
correct so that when revenue flows in to that token, from the external sources, it automatically will get split into those buckets that you know, you know, this this shareholder that shareholder that member this, you know, that you have your writer and your director or your let's say, you know, you have guilds that need you know, all of it, you can do all all of the anyone who's sharing revenue, in a particular piece of content, or intellectual property. It will automatically when revenue comes in the revenue be pushed into all of those

Alex Ferrari 21:46
different entities. Because right now, there are a handful of companies around the world that do this but in a manual way, not an A and I have had those those companies on the show have spoken about that sounds great. Like they make sure all the you know the the unions get taken care of and, and all entities are very comfortable with that, because there's a centralized kind of almost escrow account that handles the money that has not been handled by anybody else. And they know that they're going to get paid because this entity is going to do it. But the way you're proposing it would be essentially humorless, in the sense of it's going to be set up in a completely transparent way where you can literally log on, check the check your site and go Okay, this is how it's coming in. But the question I have for you is, this is all of course, based on blockchain and cryptocurrency because that's how these these payments have to be moved through has to be moved through aetherium. cryptocurrency, correct. I mean, you're not writing checks, essentially, are not doing wire transfers, or are you

Kim Jackson 22:43
know, no, there is a mechanism that it can be turned into Fiat. It can be turned into, you know, USD. And so we're using a stable coin in this case, so that that deals with the fluctuation that will happen right with cryptocurrencies. So, you know, when revenues come in and something gets, you know, pushed into the token, it will be pushed into the stable coin. And then those stable coins can be held on to or transferred into, you know, exchanges,

Alex Ferrari 23:16
however you however you choose, so that, when you say stable coin, is that an actual name of a coin? Or is that just a generalized name of a coin that you are creating, to make sure that that if $10 comes in $10 comes out, as opposed to $10 comes in Ethereum bombs, or explodes? And then they got $100. Or

Kim Jackson 23:35
no, we didn't invent that. Okay. It's it's a mechanism that, you know, others it's an issue, right? That's a problem, right? You to pay people in crypto, just playing crypto, I mean, it's gonna rise and fall in a millisecond. So So how do you deal with that? So, you know, it's been figured out and, you know, Jake, you can shed some a little bit more light on that one, because I know you're, you know, we're working on our SaaS product right now. And, and that's one of the mechanisms that we use, but no, we can't take credit for.

Alex Ferrari 24:04
Because I've seen that, but there was a point that's a USD coin that's just basically tracks. So that's the point you're using, essentially.

Jake Carven 24:12
Yeah, so we use usdc. There are a number of other stable coins, but the core idea is, you know, it's getting the benefits of, you know, sending funds via the blockchain and but without the volatility or the risk of interacting with cryptocurrency, so it's tied to the value of the US dollar. And, you know, what we really look at is, and this is something that we encounter, you know, there's a lot of companies that have been in this space that came around, we've been doing this for a lot for a while now, men have really learned what are the pain points and some of the limitations to really for broad adoption of this technology. And so we build tools, taking those learnings and applying that. So you know, when you're a filmmaker You need to be able to exploit your film, anywhere where there's a revenue opportunity, right. And there's only if the number of avenues that you release a film is just growing, right? Because audiences are more spread out, there are more new platforms every day. And it's important to be able to, you know, reach those audiences wherever they are to find those opportunities to have your film stand out. So we've built a tool that we call it an on ramp, right, like fiatter, crypto on ramp, so you're able to collect payment in dollars, right? Usually, it's processed via bank account transfer, so a ch. And then our technology automatically converts that to a stable coin. And by doing that, once the funds are in a stable coin, then they can be sent to the film's token. And the smart contract can then do its job, send the funds to all the different participants, and they can then claim their share of the royalties and the revenue immediately. Right then in there. So we look at this sort of full chain of funds, and and how do we make it as smooth and easy as possible, while still still actually getting the benefits of the technology? At the same time?

Alex Ferrari 26:20
So and then. So let's say you have a Netflix deal, you've got some transactional on iTunes, and you sold Germany for a few 1000 bucks, let's say you did all those three things, you would basically have them send checks or wires, essentially into a an account that then automatically turns them into a stable coin.

Jake Carven 26:42
Well, yeah, so what it is, is you will in one way to think of the to kind of step back, when we talk about tokenizing a film, think of it in the way that we would go about and create like a ppm, right? If you're trying to raise private equity for a film, you need a private placement memorandum, which breaks down what is the equity structure, what is the person who's investing in the film, getting all that sort of stuff, and tokenizing, the film is taking that waterfall, putting it into the smart contract and deploying that. So it's recorded on the blockchain. So now you have this token that has been deployed, it's in place, and then begins time to like, Alright, let's start collecting revenue. So for Netflix, and if you're releasing from on iTunes, you're like going through an aggregator or distributor, those payments, most likely are going to come the NAC h transfer, right? A direct bank transfer. And so we are you, a filmmaker can then share the link to our payment portal, if you will, and that that distributor or license or can then submit, you know, remit payment, VA ch directly on that, and that those funds will then be automatically associated with the filmmaker with that film. Right. And so all of the like, you know, the manual, all the like, the counting stuff is all happening behind the scenes automatically, that international, probably, you know, there's a good chance that that might come the wire payment, but also, you know, bank transfer. So we're looking at, you know, how are the ways that filmmakers actually get paid today? And how can we evolve this technology to be able to

Alex Ferrari 28:26
address those different use cases, and you as breaker don't hold any of the money coming in. Because that's been one of the big issues with aggregators and things like that, that they hold the money and might miss spending money, money comes in automatically, with instantly once the money hits that account, turns into a kit at the stable coin, then goes down the waterfall into the thing, you guys never touch anything regarding. I mean, obviously, regarding whatever the payment is for your service might be taken off the top or there's a pain. I don't know how that works. How do you make money with this all?

Jake Carven 29:02
So I mean, we're providing this service, right, it's a software as a service. So you know, there's a mechanism of people, you know, paying for via, like, you would pay for any technology that you use. Got it. And so, but the goal, the the core goal for what we're doing, and this is something that goes back to something that you brought up, collection account management services, and one of the big, the big cards with them is that they are expensive, very often prohibitive, especially for independent film. So, you, us using this technology allows us to provide this service to creators at a much more affordable rate. Right then the legacy systems that are in place today. Very, very cool.

Kim Jackson 29:48
And then, you know, another goal that's worth mentioning here, is that, you know, is to have everyone in this ecosystem participate With blockchain technology utilizing this, so not just the content creator, but also the media companies who are distributing the work, because we talked with a lot of them, and we are approaching, you know, a lot of them at the moment in very exciting conversations because they're backroom accounting is extremely inefficient, cost them millions and millions of dollars, and they lose millions and millions of dollars all the time based on just either error or error, you know, error in accounting, or just the inability to really track stuff, especially when you start getting complicated with multiple, you know, territories that you can imagine a piece of content will go to especially like, you know, Netflix now and all across the world. So the long term goal is to, you know, really have everyone participate in, you know, with this software and building a bridge between the, between the two, because it can benefit both sides. It's baby steps, and it's it's new. So, you know, everyone has to start to get comfortable with the concept of telling the truth.

Alex Ferrari 31:16
Anyone who's anyone who listens to my podcast understands my feelings in regards to traditional Yeah.

Kim Jackson 31:24
Right with you all, it's one of the reasons that this is happening is is I got tired of being shortchanged, I get tired of not having revenue reports, not being able to report to my, my investors, and good, bad or indifferent, you know what I mean? Like you, okay, sometimes a picture doesn't, you know, do well, but at least you'd have numbers to be able to, you know, justify that and show why we don't even get that information. And so, when we learned about the potential of blockchain, on media and content, it's really what inspired myself and my co founders to, to do what we're doing right now. And realizing that it is a long game and realizing that we would be disrupting and interrupting, you know, quite quite a system. But just like the internet happened, it was undeniable, and people are not going to use that I'm not going to do that. It's one of those things where you're all we're all gonna be using it, whether we realize it or not. Someday soon. And so, it by introducing the power of this and the efficiency, I think that organically, I'm hoping this is my pie in the sky, you know, but, but I'm hoping that organically, everyone just adopts this. And then we don't even have to have a conversation about the truth anymore. It's just it just happens. Because it's just more efficient.

Alex Ferrari 32:45
Right? And that's what this whole. That's the whole beauty and genius of blockchain is that two strangers can do business without knowing or trusting each other. And that's been the issue from the beginning of the humanity high, since beginning of time, it was like, I want to give you my goat. And you're gonna give me a cow. But how am I sure you're not going to kill like, there's, there's no, there's no way of doing and that's why fiat money and gold and all these kind of things of getting, we've tried to figure it out over the years. But in this digital platform with blockchain, it completely erases everything.

Kim Jackson 33:24
And it's completely transparent. You don't have to have a like a moral or philosophical or ethical position, it's just gonna be in is it just gonna happen? Because it makes more sense. It's logical, you know, and this is, like, Jake said, it's math, it's man get down to the core of all of it. And it's math. And it's just with with the acceleration of technology and media in particular. It's going to make sense, just from a logical perspective, because how do you account for all this content? And this content sharing? I mean, it's like, it's insane how much is out there. I mean, just from the perspective of the viewer, I get we're over, we're overwhelmed with choices. And if you think about it, from a content creators perspective, the competition out there is insane. And the lifespan of your of your content now, is much, much longer and much greater, much grander than it ever was before. And it's going to just keep accelerating.

Alex Ferrari 34:17
Right, exactly. And I, you know, I'm in the weeds with this all the time. And when you're saying all these films are out there, most of them aren't getting paid. And it's not, it's either, you know, I did just not they're just not most most most of them are not getting paid, because of these kind of weird distribution agreements or shady practices or error, human error, as well, or Amazon's which is from 10 cents a minute, an hour to one penny, of streaming and things like that

Kim Jackson 34:49
get acquired and somebody else buys them and then they have a new department and then they have to transfer all that centralized data and I've got a new person and I'm looking at this first time and I don't know what I'm looking at. I Since it's insanity, it's really insanity. And when we talk to a lot of the, you know, CFOs and accounting types who put these media companies, you know, a lot of times the one departments are talking to the other. So the the department is doing distribution for television is not talking to the department is doing distribution for for traditional film and they have data that's separate and those that data should be connected, and it's not being connected, and it's in the same company within the same company. So the inefficiencies are getting the gap is getting wider and wider. And so they know that something's got to give because they're losing money. And so, you know, the blockchain is an incredible solution. And, you know, we're very, very excited and very motivated by the promise of blockchain. And, and, you know, it's very exciting that you guys and the listeners, and everyone, you know, get this and, you know, it's like talking, it's kind of boring on some level to talk about it a blockchain, because it's like talking about JavaScript, it's like, Who cares? It's like, what's going on underneath of the hood. But you know, what you really care about is, you know, what's, what's the bottom line for, for you, and what the bottom line is, is understanding the core that you're using is actually going to level the playing field, you know, take away, you know, the mistrust, and be able to give you instantaneous recording, these are very important and powerful things, especially for independent companies that want to sustain a business and revenue model for themselves. Because it's, it's almost impossible, you know, you'll get a bunch of funding, you'll make, you know, half a dozen movies, and then you're closing your doors four or five years later. This happens all the time. And so there's got to be a better model. And we're hoping with with this technology, we hope to be able to provide that to these, these filmmakers and these companies.

Alex Ferrari 36:52
Now, there's another thing I saw on your website in regards to financing a film, how do you use this technology in the financing game on how to get your independent project financed? Because there's some very, very interesting benefits that could possibly come from it?

Kim Jackson 37:10
Sure, it's a bit complex, right at the moment, it's not black and white, as you know. You know, I think if you're in a perfect world, and in the future, I can see that you can tokenize your movie, do a token raise just almost like crowdsourcing in a way. But the differences is that instead of getting a T shirt, you're actually getting revenue participation in that movie. And in real time, just like we're talking about through the same mechanisms we were just discussing. And that's in a perfect world. And that's what we we envision for tokat. In the future, it's not possible for various reasons, right? Right now, really, from that perspective of, you know, we can't be it, we can't hold money and be a bank for people like that there has to sort of be that separation. And so it's not as easy. And also, on some level it's crowdsourcing. So you're kind of faced with that same kind of situation with, you know, the Kickstarters of the world, right, in terms of like, getting people's attention, to be able to, you know, raise the amount of funds that you need for that your, your picture. And so, there is a mechanism that I could see in the future that would kind of combine those two efforts where people, especially if you're a well known filmmaker, and you have a track record, and people know, you, you're already going to have a fan base. And so imagine, imagine if there was the Star Wars token, like a mad magic. And but but all those token holders who were fans got to participate in the success almost like the NFT type of model. Right, right. But but from from more of an intellectual property and a revenue sharing model. So, Jake, yeah, I'm sure you got.

Alex Ferrari 38:52
It's like, it's like equity crowdfunding, essentially, almost. But using blockchain and tokens, it's called,

Kim Jackson 38:59
it's complicated because of ky seeing. And because of all of these, these these sec rules and regulations that are from like, 1948, or something that don't really apply to technology today. And so it makes things a bit challenging, but how about this for this specific moment,

Alex Ferrari 39:17
but what about IPOs? So wouldn't this be similar to an IPO? Well,

Jake Carven 39:23
it would be but we forget, I mean, we don't forget it. It's a very small pool of people who actually get to participate in IPOs. Right? It's not IPOs are not something that every person gets to participate in. We might be able to buy a stock after a bank purchases X number and then they sell it again.

Alex Ferrari 39:44
initial point an Ico excuse me, an Ico not an IPO but Ico when they like Dogecoin for God's sakes, or something like that when they put out a coin codepoint initial coin offering could that be kind of like a movie initial movie offer

Jake Carven 39:58
so well. That's the thing, I mean, that we're at, we're at the stage to go back to the knowledge of where we are in the evolution of the technology. Right? There's, we're at the stage where Yeah, it's, you know, 1996 internet, but the SEC has caught up enough learned enough about the internet, right, that they're on, on c span, calling it a series of tubes. But, you know, applying their existing framework to this, and causing a bit more, you know, you know, it's still an evolving process. So, you know, we've gotten to a threshold where, you know, 2017 2018, is where you had the sort of Ico boom. And that's where the technology was very new to a lot of the regulators in, in, you know, countries around the world. But now 2021, it's much more familiar, it's on the radar. So they've limited stuff to a point that you really not seeing those happening as much right now. The coins that are released very often it's, it's not something where people are raising funds through a release of the coins, where people are purchasing them, it's usually more, the new currencies or tokens are being utilized, where they have some utility to them. And they're being distributed to a community of people who can then you know, use them for different purposes, but it's not being used as something to you know, crowdfund in the same way that it was in 2017 2018. So you know, where we look at in terms of if you're a filmmaker, and you're going to raise money. And one of the big aspects is, where's the money coming from, and you can still go out and raise equity and get investors. But what happens more often than not is you're a filmmaker, you get an investor to help you with your first film, you make that film, but from the investor standpoint, the experience of being an investor in independent film is is so bad, because there isn't a lot of information, right? There's, you know, they don't, it's not even that they didn't make their money back. It's just like, there's the black hole, right? There's no data, there's no, it's very hard to get a sense of like, what's going on, you know, what is the act? How is money actually being used? Where's How is the film doing? What was the value of my investment in this. And so it becomes incredibly difficult to get people to investor invest in a second film. And you what we really see is this technology being a tool that creators can use when they go out to investors saying, look, using this, and the technology ensures that you're going to have this access to information. And, you know, we're addressing these sort of pain points that a lot of film investors encounter. And that makes the you as a creator. more intriguing, you know, option for someone to invest in, because there's this level of like, I don't have to trust that you're going to write me a check and pay me back. It's, it's we're utilizing technology that's going to automate all of that. So you're going to get everything as soon as we do. And that our aim is for that to be something that helps these conversations when filmmakers are talking to investors. And that's how it right now without getting into regulations, and sec stuff is a way today that it can be used as a tool to help with financing.

Alex Ferrari 43:20
Well, where can people find out more about what you guys are doing?

Jake Carven 43:26
Well, you can find out on I mean, on our website. So breaker.io is a website. For our technology side, we have a website called tools.breaker.io. We also have our studio side where we produce and finance our own slate of films. And that's breaker studios. And actually, I'll add that those films are our own testcases. So we're using this technology to manage the revenue in the rights for the films that we're producing ourselves. So we're not just asking people to use it, you know, and we're also not just technology people that are trying to build something for the film industry, because we think the film industry is cool and sexy. People that happened to be technology people at the same time, I'm an entertainment attorney. And I spent my career as a distributor working with new distribution mechanisms and new tools and platforms, and Kim's a producer in producing films her whole career. So we're also you We come from the entertainment side and have that background and knowledge that has informed how we guide this technology.

Alex Ferrari 44:34
And the old joke is how do you how do you make millions in the film industry? You start with billions. Yeah. You did. Actually. You don't? I mean, it's Yeah, I mean, and you say that you know you when you define the film industry, Alex Well, the film industry is very there's so many aspects There's the independent film industry. There's the people who, like Marvel. There's Disney, there's, you know, then there's the back back alley, you know, predatory distributors. There's so many aspects of the film industry on the just performance side, then there's the production side, then there's the this, there's, there's so many different aspects of it. But yeah, so you can't make money in the film industry. There are definitely places you can make money in the film industry. But

Kim Jackson 45:30
yeah, if you're a pirate, and you know, I've met them on all beside you're talking about I've met them in production, of course, we'll go We'll go What's your budget, okay. And then they do their own creative accounting on the production budget, so they can filter, you know, filter money over to some other entity, whatever happened. And you're like, you know what, I'm a line producer. I know how to count. I don't think you kidding me? And they look at you with a straight face. Like what do you mean,

Alex Ferrari 45:59
crafts? craft services cost? $20,000. a day on $100,000? movie? I don't understand. You know, $100 bagel?

Kim Jackson 46:12
Yeah, you have? Yeah, there's, there's four extras and you have, you know, $100,000. And for extras, like, you know, like, what? No, extra. So, you know, like these types of things. But yes, you have to be a pirate you do, you have to be a pirate. And, you know, I've definitely made a movies with my fair share of them. And I had to say it was a lot of fun. However, I want to make money, I want to make money, I want enough a business revenue source, you know, that's reliable, that allows me to sustain a business model for myself. And you know, one of the other interesting things that I always bring up to is a lot of colleagues who've been in the business a long time who have survived longtime survivors of you know, independent films specifically, you know, they are coming up against Where are the rights to these films that we sold 15 years ago, where are these are who owns the rights to these films, because they're expiring now and right, and technically, they should be able to, you know, repackage and redistribute these films, especially the sweetheart films that have, you know, an ability to be repackaged in a really, you know, classics or whatever, how or whatever you want to package it. And they're finding that they have no idea where the rights live anymore, because a lot of times the companies that they first sold to were bought, the libraries were bought and sold maybe multiple times, and the the resources that would take them to do the research is just not they're not it's not available to them. So they just kind of have to let things you know, go. And it's a it's a missed opportunity. It's a missed business opportunity, especially if you're a longtime, you know, producer, it's our director, you know, a creator it's, it's, it's a lost opportunity.

Alex Ferrari 47:56
And if you have smart contracts, that kind of voids that situation. if everyone's on a smart contract, like 15 years, it automatically goes to this person's account again, and blah, blah, blah, or whatever it is. All right. I mean, if everything in a magical world, eventually we'll get there. I think we're still years away. from everybody jumping on board, it could because it's, it's like the internet. And how long did it take? I still remember going on line and going Paramount calm? Nope. disney.com? Nope. Like there was I remember those times that there's How long did it take before everybody jumped online before anyone had a website? So this is the same thing I think it's gonna take it's gonna be faster than it did with the internet, though. And Bitcoin is kind of like, done a lot of the heavy lifting over the last decades. It's It's, it's, it's it's come out. It's like, they've kind of refined the idea. And now it's starting, I think he's starting to pick up a little bit of steam. Would you guys agree with all just blockchain and everything is that people are starting to become much more aware of it. Sure.

Jake Carven 48:56
Well, technologies evolved to a point that it's, you know, there are, there are certain hurdles that we encountered and chosen a team that limited our ability to do certain things that were are no longer hurdles, because technology is evolved. So it's growing and improving really, really fast. And that's a great thing. Because, you know, we see the potential use cases and the potential is becoming the actual very quickly.

Alex Ferrari 49:22
Yeah, I mean, if you remember 1996, and then you remember 2006. I mean, YouTube was a year Oh, you're you're too old. And the compression of video was horrible. And it took them another five or eight years before. Oh, look, 720 p. It takes time for this to go. But I think that's I think it's a very exciting time. And I think what you guys are doing is really exciting. And there's there's a lot there's a big learning curve coming. There's a lot of hurdles we have to get over. for everybody involved including the old school dinosaurs and the new young kids coming up who understand is much better than your flitz.

Kim Jackson 50:04
But, you know, don't Don't sell yourself short. I mean, you know, we were there in the beginning. So we have more knowledge, you know, because we were at the sort of the, the beginning of the internet craze. And sure, I think that being around for that and witnessing that and sort of being turned on by it, you know, kids today they just automatically come into it. They don't know they don't understand. They don't this they did not get, you know, like I had a bag phone. I had a phone in my car that was in a bag. Like That was my I was talking about this past weekend with somebody like cell phones was like this giant if anybody

Alex Ferrari 50:39
wants it in a bag, if anybody wants a reference to that watch lethal weapon. And at the end towards the end of lethal weapon, Danny Glover is outside on a bridge talking to rigs on one of those phones.

Kim Jackson 50:51
One of those phones and it was like the $900 a minute like it was really it was seriously like you get you only it was an emergency situation, you know. But you know, the internet was it's very interesting, you know that the whole thing? I mean, I I was in college and I was dating a guy who was a computer science major at BC any I always joke he bought me my own URL for like Valentine's Day and I was like, What is? Where were the flowers? What is the nerdiest the nerdiest,

Alex Ferrari 51:22
dirtiest romantic gesture in the history of?

Kim Jackson 51:25
I have my name calm? Because of him? Yeah. Yeah. And like, there's a million Kim Jackson's on the planet. I mean, I've ran into him. I've had people email me saying, Can I buy my Oh, you're out? Because I I'm like, No, I kidding. Like, that's amazing. But I have my own URL. But I mean, you know, back in the day, if I would not have thought of that, I would not have even thought it. I was like, what's the URL? What do you mean,

Alex Ferrari 51:50
I was lucky enough. I bought Alex Ferrari calm and like late 90s. So I was I was I was, I had a website, business I had, I had an online business in the 90s. I used to make, I've sold this a couple of I used to make like, five, six grand a month. The problem was my server bills were five or six grand a month. Because of bandwidth, bandwidth.

Kim Jackson 52:14
Yes. So that's where we're at now. Yes, this is where we're at right now. And, you know, it's super cool to be talking to you. You're so knowledgeable about it, Alex, and it's really awesome. Because you know, more than you let on that you did. So.

Alex Ferrari 52:32
Like I said, I've been doing a lot of research about this, because I'm really fascinated by the whole concept. I do think it's, it's the future of it's gonna it's gonna affect so many different industries, ours, our small little corner of the world, which is we think it's really big, but the film industry is so small comparatively to medical records and, and just yet, and just just infrastructure on like tracking food and, and manufacturing and finding parts and everything will be on the blockchain eventually, eventually GE medical records everything, everything.

Kim Jackson 53:03
I mean, imagine like, that's one of the examples, I use a lot of medical records, because we will say I don't I don't quite understand. And I say well think about like, you go to the doctor, and then your insurance changes you and you got to go to another network. And that network didn't talk to that network, and you got to fax your faxing, where it's to 2021 were faxing medical records right over to another thing and they didn't get it, you get there and like, we never got the fax and you're like getting it to fax. And I mean, you know, it's like insane the inefficiency and data sharing in the health industry. I mean, it should just be a decentralized network, you can just go Okay, which is a little scary, because then, you know, give the Think about that for one second. I mean, there's some security, and some, you know, privacy things that would have to be it for me to be comfortable to. And by the way, there are blockchain companies who are working on the security and the privacy issues around, you know, the fact that it is decentralized, and you know, anyone could find the hash tag that would be this long that you would have to understand that there's, you know, Jake's hash tag for that particular thing. Unless he told me I wouldn't know that but people don't quite understand that but but and when people's names and more private information is gonna start being shared. I think, you know, it's good to know that there are blockchain companies that are working on the on the privacy and security protocols around that because it will be necessary.

Alex Ferrari 54:34
Now, just really quickly, those What do you think of the NF t situation because I mean, I've done I've done three episodes, I did a series of episodes on NF T's because I was fascinated with them. And once I understood what an NF T was, which is basically a digital baseball card. Like Okay, got it. It's a baseball card. It's a comic book. It's what it is. So I put up some NF T's just for fun and sold out. I was like, wait a minute. How does this work and In my NF T's that I sold, where I have the distinct honor of having the very first filmmaking tutorials ever uploaded to YouTube. Cool, I have a series of six of them. And they were all up there. And I showed the link and everything and they I sold the first three and then I uploaded the other three. And I've had, I had interviews with the the guys that a lot of wanna, who NFT their, their, their feature, and they're not selling their distribution rights, but there's, you're able to buy basically shares in their movie. And then whatever money comes in, gets out there. And then Kevin Smith is selling his entire distribution for his latest film on that, whatever he's doing there. What do you guys think of NF T's and how it affects the film industry? Just out of curiosity? I know, that's not what your company does. But this is just a curious question, Jake.

Jake Carven 55:48
Well, you know, and it's funny, I wouldn't say that we don't do anything with NF T's because NF T's are tokens. And we operate in tokens, right. And so while we see greater application of fungible tokens to a film, where you're creating the, you know, Jake's movie token, and you're creating 100 of those, and each one represents 1%, of the total share of Jake's movie token, it's still a token. And I think that the core concepts that you need to understand to buy and interact with NF T's are the core concepts you need to understand to use any blockchain application. And so to that regard, it's uh, you know, rising tide raises all ships, because the more people that learn about this and become comfortable with the fundamentals of the technology, the better I think, at the end of the day, you know, there are things that come up with NF T's where people like NF T's can do this, they can do that. tokens can do that. It doesn't have to be an NF t to do it, it's tokens. And so we focus and NF T's are flashy, because of the, you know, the dollar amount that comes up with some of the sales. And, you know, I think there's a very particular audience that's very excited about that. And, you know, it's a specific pool of people that are actually transacting and purchasing NF T's it's not, you know, it's a very, it's actually a very small number of people in the whole, you know, of the total population that are actually purchasing. But they're collectibles, right, it comes down to collectible item, merchandise, things like that. And that's great. It's really interesting how it's evolving in the gaming space, you know, and how these tokens can be used to unlock different things. And that's exciting to see that evolve. And I think that's going to be in the next couple of years, where it's going to continue to get exciting is in, in gaming, right? Because video games, the whole world of you know, I bought this game for 150 bucks, I'm playing it and now I have to purchase, you know, in app purchases, I need to play it yet. But then you don't own those things. Right. It's stuck. It's limited to just that game. These are not transferable. That's, that's a, you know, problem in itself. But we just keep going back to you know, the more people become comfortable with tokens, the better for our standpoint, because that is what grows the technology. We, at this point, you know, you mentioned, you know, that that's a lot of the boring stuff, you know, or the boring aspects of blockchain or applications, like with healthcare, we focus on the boring stuff in the film industry. And I'm fine with that. Because, you know, we're nerds and, you know, I said, I'm the attorney and I like the boring stuff. I find it fascinating. And, you know, so what we do is necessarily sexy, you know, you know, videos and flashy stuff that selling for, you know, millions of dollars, but we think it's a tool that can can really help this industry and help independent creators across the board. Whether or not you're tech savvy.

Alex Ferrari 58:55
Yeah. And look what the NBA has been doing with NBA hot shots and, and Major League Baseball's coming out with their like digital packs. And those digital packs are like flying off the shelves and things like that. When do you think when do you think we're gonna see, you know, Marvel's NF T's? Like, you know, when are we going to start because it's coming? It's coming in? There's no question tomorrow it

Jake Carven 59:19
yeah, it might be tomorrow. I think fox is announced they're making a big investment. And, you know, it's, it's, it's an inevitability. But when you look at in that regard, it's it's just an extension of their merchandise division, and it's just more merchandise and with no cost.

Alex Ferrari 59:35
It's very little cost of manufacture.

Jake Carven 59:37
Yeah, exactly. So you know, I think it I think it's a good thing in the long run,

Kim Jackson 59:44
because, you know, what, it's, everything's digital now. Right? So, you're, we're going, we're going been going into the digital world for decades now. And so, one, I think challenge especially for art, you know, is how do you rare Buy and make digital art meaningful and worth something. And so I think that NF T's are, you know, valuable in that way, because then you can, you know, create value in a new in a new way, especially for digital art. And I think that, you know, studios, they've got all the that, you know, they're the, they're the, you know, 1000 pound gorilla sitting in the room, and they just sort of wait till everybody else figures it out, and then they just go, Okay, we'll do that. And here's the money make it happen. Let's do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:28
It also took it also took them 12 years to a major studio to come up with a streaming service. So there's that they aren't, they're not fast, they're not fast. They're not path

Kim Jackson 1:00:36
because it's bureaucratic. And there's operasi, inside of the studio, if you've ever worked at one I had the pleasure of doing when I first came out of the gate, you know, with my career and realize that that didn't think I could remain employable in that atmosphere. So I, you know, just thought the indie road would be would be better, but I feel that what we're the road we're on with building applications on blockchain technology is going to aid in the evolution of our industry. And that's really what we're what we're dedicated to. And and in you know, that that that slow and steady wins the race?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:23
Right? On, there's no question and to bring it back to where we started with the 1996 analogy. Remember, when when the internet first popped out? How many people were scared to put in their credit card? Oh, yeah. And that's the same thing with like, how many people are afraid of buying an NF T or, or buying a token or putting their you know, that's where we're at right now? And yeah, I think it will, it will change probably faster than any of us think it's starting to already grow in self. I mean, even in the small time that I've been aware of this avenue about Bitcoin, obviously, like everybody else has probably, but understanding this, I've only been really got into this deeply, probably the last six months to a year. And just in that time, things have changed so dramatically, and will continue to change as things go forward. So it's exciting. I'm excited about what you guys are doing. Thank you for fighting the good fight and try and help creators and filmmakers out there so I appreciate you guys again, where if everybody wants to check you guys out where they go.

Kim Jackson 1:02:23
breaker.io and watch trust machine the story of blockchain

Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
Yes. With with is it. tetanus tetanus bill, bill from Bill s Preston Esquire. Let's do it correctly.

Kim Jackson 1:02:37
Indeed. He's the director extraordinare.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:39
Yes. Thank you so much.


  • Breaker.io – Website
  • Kim Jackson – Linkedin
  • Jake Craven – Linkedin
  • Trust Machine: The Story Of Blockchain – Amazon
  • Vinay Gupta – A Brief History of Blockchain – Youtube 


  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 488: When Hip-Hop, Skateboarding and Filmmaking Collide with Jeremy Elkin

Right-click here to download the MP3

In today’s episode, we take you back to the late 90s and early 80s hip-hop and skateboarding culture in New York City with director Jeremy Elkin’s new documentary, ‘All The Streets Are Silent: The Convergence of Hip Hop and Skateboarding.

In the late 80s and early 90s, the streets of downtown Manhattan were the site of a collision between two vibrant subcultures: skateboarding and hip hop. All the Streets Are Silent brings to life the magic of that time and the convergence that created a style and visual language that would have an outsized and enduring cultural effect. From the DJ booths and dance floors of the Mars nightclub to the founding of brands like Supreme, this convergence would lay the foundation for modern street style. Paris Is Burning meets Larry Clark’s KIDS, All the Streets Are Silent is a love letter to New York—examining race, society, fashion, and street culture.

Jeremy is the founder of Elkin Editions—an independent video production studio under which he’s done production, writing, cinematography, and directing. 

He’s most notable for his 2015 hot topic directorial debut, Call Me Caitlyn, and a second unit director on recording artist, Demi Lovato’s 2017 documentary, Simply Complicated (trailer). The documentary gives a personal and intimate look into Demi Lovato’s life as not only a regular 25-year-old but also one of the biggest pop stars in the world.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching All The Streets Are Silent. It gives one all the good nostalgic feels while also provoking current socio-cultural consciousness.

Enjoy my chat with Jeremy Elkin.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Jeremy Elkin man. How you doing Jeremy?

Jeremy Elkin 0:07

Alex Ferrari 0:08
How you doing? Right? So I wanted to bring you on the show, man. I saw your film, all the streets are silent. And it really hit a chord with me, man, because I was like I was telling you before I, I was raised in New York as a kid. So for most of the most of the 70s, and up until about 85, I was in New York and my dad, my stepdad was a cab driver. So I would ride with him throughout Manhattan, and I saw hip hop coming up, and breakdance and then skateboarding and all that Washington Square. I was all in that stuff. I was a young kid at the time, but I saw it happening. So when I saw this, I was like, Man, I'm back home. So how did the project get together? Man? How did you put the whole thing together?

Jeremy Elkin 0:54
It's a big question. Which part of the?

Alex Ferrari 0:59
Well, just in general, like I mean, so what was the genesis of the project? Like how did you like At what point did you go I gotta put this thing together. I got to tell this story.

Jeremy Elkin 1:07
Yeah, so you know, I made skate videos for a long time. And I made documentaries for a while and I had always known that he like Eisenhower had this like magical archive based on his footage that was mzr mixtape. And I knew that he was at destruction Bob radio show a lot. I knew he was a club promoter. But I didn't really know the full extent until we started to dive in. So yeah, to be perfectly honest, I didn't I didn't know there was a story until probably like a year and a half and to making it didn't really know if it was anything more than just a behind the scenes on how mixtape was made. And it really wasn't until we discovered Yuki Watanabe, who was the founder of the nightclub Mars, until we discovered his archive from the nightclub. That's where the story opened up.

Alex Ferrari 2:03
Now, how can you explain to people the importance of Mars because I had Moby on the show a little while ago, and and Moby talked about Mars like it was, you know, the second coming? So can you take the importance of those years? Because it wasn't around for a long time. It was around what four or five years? I'm like that two years? Oh, two, it was only around two years. Jesus?

Jeremy Elkin 2:22
Yeah. midnight of the new year's eve of 89. And a close spring of 92. Oh, Jesus. So it was only January 1992. Like, you know, April or May of 92.

Alex Ferrari 2:36
So a couple years, but it was such an impactful club. Can you explain to people what that was about?

Jeremy Elkin 2:42
Yeah, so it was actually not a hip hop club. It was a club that had many different genres of music. And every floors of genre that's that's how you ki and Rudolph set it up. And you he was a DJ, and he was super interested in the youth. And so he set up this little radio station and called radio Mars where he would record mixes in his little office, and he would audition DJs for the for, you know, for the next week or whatever, right? And people will drop off demo tapes. They would come You know, do a session for him and he would figure out who, who could pair with Who and What floor they would go on and whatever. But it wasn't about hip hop. Until there was one evening, famously when Beasley has a character in the film, found a microphone with Eli, the narrator. And this is in the basement. They have like this house party in the basement, they plugged in the mic. And word got around that there was a mic where you could rap because in the basement of the house, but they were like playing hip hop, like you weren't supposed to buy hip hop because it brought like bad insurance, whatever. You didn't want it because it meant like gang violence but they started playing like de la Sol and tribe and black sheep. And a non black sheep. Those later dread Dale's own tribe and you know, jungle brothers, those guys all the cons. And they had a mic and Run DMC showed up. And you know, and and we're like, you know, this is how you Ryan kind of thing. I think just word got out in the in the community that there was an open there was the ability to go to a club with a DJ and you could get a mic. So that sort of that was like the birth of I think the club blowing up and that was within the first like, you know, let's say six months of it opening

Alex Ferrari 4:28
and then I saw the vid in the film that Do you have some footage of Jay Z? A young unknown Jay Z just rapping on the mic? Yeah, that was the

Jeremy Elkin 4:39
Yuki his wife actually filmed that. That was a that was a crazy one. That tape was like that's a whole other story of discovering the tape. But yeah, Jay Z was you know, completely unknown under jazz O's when coming up. Jazz Oh sort of gave him the chain that night to wear and I think he just let off and he had never seen that footage we showed it to him many years ago and he was he couldn't believe he you know he didn't even know anyone record

Alex Ferrari 5:07
he didn't even know that Jay Z ever played that that clip because he always he didn't know who's Jay Z was so he's just was another another rapper right Ryan's name like Jay Z didn't even know that was recorded. Oh, Jay Z didn't even know it was

Jeremy Elkin 5:17
your dad and he didn't know. But no, Yuki Yeah, he didn't know. You know, he, these are all unknown rappers. It's like if you know, it's like if we go to a club next week. And there's a bunch of people rhyming, like we never

Alex Ferrari 5:30
met. And then m&m shows up.

Jeremy Elkin 5:32
We're certainly not gonna tape it. And I think yukia is why Bolton Eli as well. But you know, you I was like younger back then. But they had the foresight to record, you know, every once a week, once or twice a week and record performances of the club. And that was just happened to be one of those nights. Yeah. And I think they only recorded that because the junk if you watch the film, The Jungle brothers, he's kind of doing a dance. Yeah. And there's like an interview there's an interview where they're from, I think MTV or VHS or something like that. And they're interviewing him and so they were filming the jungle brothers being interviewed on broadcast TV like the camera man was in there. So I wonder I don't know they were in there to record the jungle brothers is as an interview in the club. Right? This is according to like what I've seen in the tape. I mean, you he doesn't remember they don't remember but I don't think the cameraman would have had the you know, I don't think they're recording all the all the musical performances that night. I mean, it was a lot of people going on. I doubt they got it in that quality. But you know, Yuki, his wife was able mammy Watanabe was able to record it. And she labeled the tape wrap streetstyle New York group or something?

Alex Ferrari 6:39
So would have never been able to like How the hell do you find that in the probably 1000s and 1000s of times?

Jeremy Elkin 6:45
Yeah, so he he was only giving me the tapes that were properly labeled. And then there was like another 234 1000 tapes that were unlabeled, who were mainly house and disco and not really the nights. It was again, it was this night. It wasn't really like there wasn't like a hip hop night collection. It was the hip hop was sort of embedded in archives. So you know, they would make these highlight reels of each evening. So for instance, you know, one evening it was, I think the one that tape where the Jay Z appear that saw a glimpse of avant was it was a mash up of a variety of evenings. And it was a glimpse of like two to three seconds of most mute of Jay Z on the mic, and I called up right away. I was like, Where's the Jay Z tape? What's that? He's like, he never played in Mars.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
Now he wasn't there.

Jeremy Elkin 7:37
I would have known him, you know? And I was like, No, no, I'm pretty sure it's Jay Z. I sent him a picture. He's like, Yeah, it looks like like, No, no, it's for sure. It's JC. And he's like water. No, like, it must be an unlabeled tape. You know, if we have it, because those highlight reels, you know, may me and him were like doing the tape to tape editing or whatever it was called where you would make like a highlight reel of a variety of tapes on the one tape. But you couldn't have like the audio wouldn't transfer with it. So you just put you choose a song and then you would layer in footage, you know. And that's that was it? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 8:11
So you mentioned the zoo, your mixtape? Can you tell people what Zoo York was and the importance of New York in this whole movement?

Jeremy Elkin 8:21
So yes, New York was a skate company founded by Rodney Smith, Adam Schatz, and he like as our 93. Adam shots, Eli had come over from doing fat farm. And Rodney was the founder of shot skateboards, which is the first New York skate company, the early 80s. And so they sort of combined forces after Eli that success of Mars and fat farm developing platform under Russell. He, you know, they got together started New York, and it was kind of like the first it was really like the first successful East Coast skate company, I guess you could say. Because Sean had some success, but it was definitely underground and more like transition pool skaters, Zoo York was really Street and it had like, the hip hop roots graffiti aspect with the tags. And yeah, it just was a it was a really like Ross street brand that existed for about, you know, seven, eight years before it got bought by Marc Ecko and and became something else but during those first years, 93 to 2000 ish. It was it was you know, as good as it gets for skated for street skate on the east coast.

Alex Ferrari 9:33
And then so um, because at that point, basically West Coast owned the the skating world I mean, with Tony Hawk and the the one of those guys called Dogtown z boys, z boys and Dogtown and they kind of I'm not sure who were they they were the first to skateboard right with it. West Coast was there or is there or is there a conversation?

Jeremy Elkin 9:57
There's a lot more cruise like it was the end Were in San Francisco. There were a lot of amazing skaters in LA that were doing street skating. Just like the New York guys. It's just the only mainstream press was hitting you know, only the mainstream press is picking up Tony authz boys, etc. But there were there were I mean, there were millions gay companies were awesome in the on the west coast. It was it wasn't it wasn't like if anything does Tony out busy boys were seen as corny. And you know, men s and some of the like, Girl chocolate skateboard guys, Spike Jones, his crew, those guys were like, those guys were like, you know, the skaters that everyone like looked up to, at least from you know, the type of skating that I grew up, you know, enjoying,

Alex Ferrari 10:39
right. And then the whole skate scene in New York was a lot more I mean, again, when I was raised there, so it's a lot grittier. There's no palm trees, there's no beaches. You don't want to go to the beaches. Most of the time, things like that. So the energy was just so different. Now. At what point did the street culture combined with hip hop was that the mixtape?

Jeremy Elkin 11:04
I mean, there's I mean, there's a lot of examples of it. You know, I think even going way way back to like breakdancing circles and the projects in the 80s. You know, I'm sure like for kids with skateboards, there was a DJ in the park. And there was a couple of these breakdancing and doing graffiti. I'm sure it was all it was always. It was always like part of one thing, you know, I think it wasn't so like black and white. But I think the mixtape just like showed, as as Josh kailis puts it in the film, he says they show how close they were in relation, I think, you know, as opposed to like, you know, some like abstract, archival photo from the mid 80s. I think just seeing a 40 minute version of that was way more impactful. And just the fact that like, clearly the guy Eli was at the radio station and the guy from escaping, also Eli, an RV family, you could tell they were using the same cameras, it might have been been been from the same tape. So I think that's what really like hit home the people It wasn't like, they just scraped the internet for x footage, and then paired it with the footage they were filming, it was all part of the same body of work. That's probably why it hit harder, you know.

Alex Ferrari 12:15
Now, two of the main people in the movie that are in all this archival footage is Harold and Justin. Who are I mean, gone too soon was luck, of course, but their characters I mean, Harold, I mean, he's a legend. I mean, there's people wearing his name his face on T shirts still. And he passed years ago. I knew him from I was introduced to him by four kids. I mean, I saw kids in the theater when I saw kids. You know, I was just completely blown, right? Rosario Dawson, who's in your movie? I was I think that was her first movie, right? That was her first movie was kids, right? Yeah. Can you explain a dude Can you explain first of all what kids was and then what that impact is kid blew up in a kind of an underground world. It wasn't like a massive worldwide hit or anything. But it was a big thing, especially for basically a bunch of street kids. You know, just running around skateboarding. How what was kids? And then how did that affect Harold and Justin? As far as what how do they affect their lives?

Jeremy Elkin 13:20
Yeah, so harmony was in town. He moved to New York from the south, I think, from to attend school to Zen college. I began this wrong but I think like the new school asked me i think i think it was a new school. And one of his I think it was his thesis project was the script for what became kids and Larry Clark who was a season filmmaker photographer at that time he I think he saw something in harmony and he needed a writer in harmony was like one basically, you know, I can't I can't I don't want to get this wrong but something like that where they you know, they joined forces decided to make this movie based on the kids of Washington Square Park. That's the the gist of it right. And yeah, they decided to cast you know, kids from Alphabet City and Laurie side and Washington Square and Tompkins he's village and and kind of create a film that was like, so real that it could have just been a documentary. That's the that was I think the goal but it's just about you know, what kids get into their their everyday lives downtown New York.

Alex Ferrari 14:34
And how did that how did that fame and exposure affect Terrell and Justin psychologically? Could you talk a little bit about that the doc

Jeremy Elkin 14:44
Yeah, I think, you know, it must have been It must have been pretty nuts. I mean, you know, I don't I don't think how was getting paid by Supreme. I think whatever board royalties and wheels and shirts, whatever he's getting from New York was probably maybe 1000 bucks, whatever you Getting a month you know, they're not exactly like rolling in the dough or, or or forgot about profitable. They weren't really like recognizable outside of the bubble of like the 100 skaters who skated in New York, you know, like, it was tiny. And then all of a sudden, he was like, at the Loews cinema on the big screen and selling out movie theaters. I think it's a it's a huge change. Right? I think, like, it must have really messed with him and Justin, I think, with their, psychologically with their, probably their, like hopes and their their aspirations or what they wanted to do. As kids, the downtown said, for sure. By changing them, you know, they were also getting older and having I don't remember what year or not remember how old Howard was when kids came out, but he must have not been more than 20 or 21 years old, and maybe even maybe they TNR was he was young for sure. Yeah, so yeah, huge effect.

Alex Ferrari 15:59
Now, um, you know, when you approach this, this project, you know, I've, like I said, I've been editing for years, man, How the hell did you go? How did you approach this? I mean, you're talking about 1000s of hours of footage on what was it? High eight, height tape, mix of

Jeremy Elkin 16:17
high eight and mini DV area? And there were like, you know, obviously photographs, 16 mil reels, eight millimeter, etc.

Alex Ferrari 16:24
How the hell did you? I mean, I'm assuming you had help, because I can't believe you did it all yourself, as far as just category category, cataloging all this stuff?

Jeremy Elkin 16:33
Yeah, the cataloging was done by a few people who came in at the very start, it was it was definitely like, you know, three people, one or two of them a week for the first like, you know, three, four months then after that, it was really just me. And my assistant Khyber who, who stayed on and, and helped develop it, you know, we developed it together, I think in terms of like, figuring out, you know, ABC grade footage, you know,

Alex Ferrari 16:57
now as far as the story goes, I'm always fascinated when I talk to documentary filmmakers about, you know, you discover the story as you go along. And, and that's something that a lot of filmmakers listening, don't understand. On the documentary side, like, yeah, you can maybe have a script, maybe you have an outline, maybe you have your thing that you want to kind of go after. But when you start, like, you know, you you meet that one interview, you're like, Oh, my God, that just took me off to a completely new direction. How did you approach the storytelling of this? I mean, did you like you said before, it could have just been a behind the scenes of the mixtape. But once you've got that one interview, how did you kind of like structure it all? Like, how did you put it together? outlining it and stuff?

Jeremy Elkin 17:38
Yeah. So I think it's a three part answer. One, my boss when I was at Vanity Fair, was the producer on the film. And he was a vanity fair for 25 years. He's an amazing journalists, amazing editor writer. So working with him, the way that we work was just the same as what we had a vanity fair. So we worked really well together. And I think that's part of the success of the story is, is the two of us. I think, if he had just been getting, he's not a filmmaker, but if he had just been doing on his own with someone else, maybe it wouldn't have looked the same. I think I would have gone a little nuts, had I not had him. I think he really like, you know, help, sort of like, I think he just, you know, he saw the bigger picture. But he also, let me tell that it was an interesting relationship. You know, like, I think that that's, you know, a, I think, you know, the bottom line here is that it's Eli stories narrator Eli gessner. It's his archival footage, for the most part, you know, largely it's 60 70% of the film is his archive, meaning that we I was trying to just tell it as he was, you know, as what he was recording. So he didn't record Janet Jackson and Midtown, there's no data, you know, that certain things aren't in the story that might pertain to like her dating cutup, or this some weird other connection. Those are left out if we didn't have the footage. We weren't just like taking things off the internet. And then and then figuring out how they were aligned. It was really like, what is the basis of Eli's collection? And how is how is there a story in there? You know, that was first and foremost. And yeah, it's like, you know, it's totally Eli's it's what happened to Eli and and also what Eli recorded that's the result of the film. Like that's the that's like the core of the movie.

Alex Ferrari 19:29
What got you into filmmaking? What What did you make? What made you want to be a filmmaker?

Jeremy Elkin 19:35
Um, yeah, I don't know. It's just it felt like I never was like, I want to be a filmmaker. It wasn't. It wasn't like that. It

Alex Ferrari 19:44
was like I have pictures of Scorsese on the wall and shit.

Jeremy Elkin 19:46
No. Honestly, I haven't probably seen like, 1% of the movies that most filmmakers like I don't like watch a ton of movies. I make things all the time and I just the medium is film but I don't know. Like a student of film, you know, like, I'm

not, I'm not I, you know, I probably watch a movie a month or something like, I don't watch movies. I want to, it's just, it's just the it's just the medium that I'm that I'm using, you know,

it's, it's, you know, it's only it's the thing that I guess I'm good at or is easy and easy for me. And that's that's sort of it. So it's not like I wouldn't have like some big master plan to be like a director. It was never that I never wanted to be a director. I always want to be a designer. And so just sort of like fell into this.

Alex Ferrari 20:34
Yeah. How did you fall into it? What like, what was the Was it a job because of

Jeremy Elkin 20:37
Vanity Fair start films. Yeah, I started filming skateboarding in Montreal. Growing up in MTL, it was like, there weren't many people who have video cameras. And I looked up to this guy, Eric lebeau. Downtown Charles Eric's awesome, great, great, dude. He had the Vx 1000 Sony that I was I was like, 12 years old. So I couldn't afford that. But he was, you know, it's inspiring to see him out there every day. And I just was like, I want to do that, like whatever that is. But also, like, my friends were way better than me at skating. And they were doing tricks that were arguably better than what I was seeing in the video. So I was like, someone's got to film this. And so you know, picked up a camera and then made one skate video and another another another, and then wound up doing things outside of skateboarding. And then, sort of now we're here,

Alex Ferrari 21:24
just kind of like how spike started. Spike Jones?

Jeremy Elkin 21:27
Yeah, a lot. I mean, not just by like, like Ty Evans. I mean, there's a lot of amazing filmmakers that come from just,

Alex Ferrari 21:34
you know, the skate world. Now, I always ask this question of my guests, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn, whether in the film business or in life?

Jeremy Elkin 21:48
Um, I think just like the things take time, like don't rush anything. I think that's the like, that's like the number one. You know, I'm interested in how people can act and how things develop and how scenes sort of intertwine. And that's always been interesting to me. So, you know, the film is a natural progression. But yeah, I think that's just, you know, I would I would say, just do something that do something that you love, and you're passionate about.

Alex Ferrari 22:17
And do you have any advice for filmmakers trying to like, kind of make it in today's world? I don't know. That's, that's my laptop. Just give me a second. Sure. Sure. Okay, we're good. Yeah. So yes. Do you have any advice for filmmakers who are trying to break into the business today?

Jeremy Elkin 22:41
Yeah, I mean, just meet everyone you can and be good to people. And, you know, try and try and make, I mean, the biggest advice, the biggest advice that I would that I would say is like, if you're gonna make a story about a place, or if, if the story that you're trying to tell is in a certain place, like live in that place, don't make a film about Tokyo living in Australia. You know what I mean? Like, it's, it's just not going to have the same texture or the same sound or the same feeling. As someone who understands their environment, I think.

Alex Ferrari 23:18
Yeah, you're absolutely right. So many filmmakers make You're right, the Australian who makes a movie about Tokyo or New York had never been there. And they just what they grab is they grab it from the internet, or books or movies and things like that. There's nothing like actually living it breathing it being there, especially a documentarian. I mean, you've got to as a documentarian,

Jeremy Elkin 23:36
yeah. I mean, the, the walking out your door, whether it's in New York or anywhere else, like, you kind of want the environment to inspire you, you want it to be like a constant source of inspiration. And, you know, just make things in the same environment as your work, you know, I don't know that's, that's, you know, like take in the typography and the architecture and the smell and the pollution and the whatever element is out there and your city put that in the picture and and sound it's gonna make a huge difference than if you're like, that if it wasn't in there. If you're just researching

Alex Ferrari 24:10
what is what, what inspires you as an artist, man, what, like, what kind of makes your juices flow?

Jeremy Elkin 24:17
Just honestly, like opening the front door, that's like the best thing. Just going I can just just walking in one direction for a lot for like, eight hours or an hour, whatever it is you just going around the block. You just at least I live downtown in the city in New York. And and it's like, that's the inspiration for me, you know? I don't know. I like seeing just how different every second of every day is here.

Alex Ferrari 24:45
And where can people watch a movie? So the film is out. When does is there I think right before it comes out. So

Jeremy Elkin 24:54
okay, so the film comes out July 30, nationwide. It's limited, really In New York and until then, and then September 7, it'll be out on digital platforms on Apple and on, I believe on Amazon as well.

Alex Ferrari 25:09
And we're in what are you doing next? What are you working on now? working on a few projects that I can't unfortunately can't. Exciting, super exciting stuff. Jeremy, thank you so much for being on the show, bro. I appreciate your time. And thanks for putting this together. Man. This tells a story that hasn't been told before. So I appreciate you man.

Jeremy Elkin 25:29
Thanks so much, man. I really appreciate it.



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IFH 478: Billie Eilish and Truth in Filmmaking with RJ Cutler

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Our guest today, RJ Cutler opened up 2021 with his raw, emotional, and remarkable new documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry. He’s a phenomenal documentary and TV director and producer with nearly thirty years of experience in the business. 

The $2 million dollars documentary film which was directed, written, and produced by Cutler centered around singer-songwriter teen sensation and Grammy Award artist, Billie Eilish — Revealing the creation process of Eilish’s debut studio album ‘When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?’

The very intimate telling of Eillish’s solid support system and family, navigating the ropes of the music fame as a young artist depicted unconventionally and astoundingly.

From college, Cutler started off as a theater director in New York for nine years until he transitioned to filmmaking in 1993 with his debut film, The War Room. The film follows James Carville and George Stephanopoulos, at first during the New Hampshire primary, and then mostly in Little Rock, Arkansas, at the Clinton campaign headquarters. Producing the film, he was able to combine his journalism and theater directing backgrounds. The film went on to win an Oscar®.

He’s taken on great subject matters and big presences in his documentaries; the likes of legendary John Belushi, Anna Wintour, and Dick Cheney.

Belushi, released in 2020, examines the too-short life of comedian, actor and musician, John Belushi, original SNL cast member, using previously unheard audiotapes recorded shortly after John Belushi’s death. Cutler credits his storytelling to the ability to connect the subject to the processes. People’s desire to have their stories told, especially in documentaries, transcends the technicalities of making a documentary.

Other well-known films or shows from Cutler are The September Issue (2009), Thin (2006), and Dear… (2020)

Dear… profiles game-changing icons and the people whose lives they’ve inspired.

Inspired by Apple’s groundbreaking “Dear Apple” ad for the Apple Watch, Dear… is an inventive approach to biographies of the influential people who are shaping culture and society today using letters that fans have written to them. Dear… focuses on key moments from subjects’ lives and their work that has profoundly impacted not only the individuals who have written letters but the world at large.

All episodes are available to watch now on the Apple TV app with an Apple TV+ subscription.

We talked a lot about Cutler’s journey in the industry and how he landed the project to direct the first TELL ALL of the coolest 19-year-old in the US right now.

Enjoy my enlightening conversation with RJ Cutler.

Alex Ferrari 2:26
Today on the show, we have filmmaker RJ Cutler. And RJ is not only a narrative filmmaker, but he's also a very, very accomplished documentary and nonfiction director as well. He has worked on films like The Oscar nominated the War Room, a perfect candidate, the September issue the world according to Dick Cheney, if I stay Belushi and the brand new film, Billy Eilish, the world's a little blurry for Apple TV, and he's also one of the CO creators of the hit television series, Nashville, RJ and I had a fantastic conversation. It truly is a masterclass in storytelling. I love the way RJ tells his stories in documentary as well as narrative film. And his new documentary Billy is the world's a little blurry, his fan tastic. I knew very little about Billy Eilish, before I saw this, my, of course, my daughters knew a lot about them a lot about her, but I did not. And I was fascinated by this artist, his journey, and RJ was able to capture that in this documentary. So we're going to talk a bunch about that, as well as his process, and all the other films that he's worked on in his career. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with RJ Cutler. I'd like to welcome to the show. RJ Cutler, how're you doing RJ?

RJ Cutler 3:52
All right. Thank you very much. Always good.

Alex Ferrari 3:54
Very cool. I love your mic. It's much more impressive than mine. So I I appreciate the audio.

RJ Cutler 4:01
You know, mic envy is a easily addressed issue.

Alex Ferrari 4:07
I won't feel too bad about it.

RJ Cutler 4:10
Amazon can, can take care that

Alex Ferrari 4:12
That's very true.

RJ Cutler 4:13
Two clicks

Alex Ferrari 4:14
Two clicks and it's done. Exactly. So I wanted to ask you, let's let's just jump into it. How did you get started in the business?

RJ Cutler 4:24
Hmm, I mean, it depends on how thorough and answer you want. But you know, I started directing plays I think I was in first grade and I was I was forcing my my classmates to to adaptations of Charlie Brown Books on the on the school, the baseball field outside of my elementary school, and then we'd invite the whole school to come join in and, you know, I was always I always was a was somehow I was just a kid who liked to put on plays and I also loved journalism and I pursued a career had a career really as a as a young theatre director. It's what I studied at school and and and for eight nine years in New York I directed I you know, I was I was James lupines assistant director on the original production of into the woods I did a the original productions of Secret Garden two productions before it went to Broadway and ran for several seasons I you know, I had I had this wonderful life in the, in the theater, but I always kind of, in the back of my mind somehow thought that I would combine that passion with my equal passion in, in in journalism, or, you know, curiosity about world events, which was, which is just something I always add. And then in the summer of 1992, I had this idea to make a documentary about Bill Clinton's presidential campaign which was which was heading towards the election and and I partnered with a dear friend of mine Wendy injure and we pursued that idea of found our ways to our way to the the brownstone of Da Pennebaker and Chris Hedges and Fraser Pennebaker, the legendary document tree filmmakers and and pitch them this idea and you know, as I say, they're long stories and short stories but the short story is I produced the war room that was my first film and it was not only a fantastic experience and a great success you know, we were nominated for an Oscar and had an incredible time and witnessed the campaign from within it and and introduce the world to James Carville and George Stephanopoulos. But i i along the way, receive this incredible education and documentary filmmaking and cinema, Verity filmmaking from the at the feet of the Masters, you know, da Pennebaker and Chris editors who were so incredibly supportive of me and, and generous with their time. And I, you know, I literally would sit next to Chris as she was editing on the Steam back and ask her questions. And, and Penny, who was a great teacher and philosopher, verite a, was always sharing lessons. And and that's how I got started, you know, since then I've been, you know, that's 1992. So we're nearing 30 years of doing this. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
So you've done a couple things since then. Without question. Now, the War Room specifically, there is a visceral energy in that film. I mean, you can sense it coming off. I mean, that must have been insane. Just being in that room that energy. I mean, I mean, I was, I mean, it's, it's been 30 years. So I was a young, I was a younger man, back then, to say the least. But I remember the excitement around Bill Clinton. And around was crazy. Amy, there's this thing,

RJ Cutler 8:07
That we're rock stars, he and Al Gore, they were young man, they were they 40 If they were they were barely 40. And, and, and they had these young wives and all these young people around them and Pennebaker, who had done a great deal of filming with Bobby and Jack Kennedy in their prime in their, you know, in their, during their rise to power and and until both of their deaths. He said that it hadn't been since then, that he he had experienced anything like this he recognized immediately in the Clinton campaign that kind of youthful energy and vigor and vitality and passion and certainty that that that this group could change the world and and you felt it You sure did feel it, man. It was you really you really felt it, you know, and when you when you when you talk about that it's something that the film was able to capture so beautifully so beautifully.

Alex Ferrari 9:07
Yeah. And and Carvel and Carvel? I mean, he's, I mean, you couldn't see Central Casting couldn't have sent him. I mean,

RJ Cutler 9:14
They couldn't have and, and they did. And you know, we had to wreck it. You know, Penny, first thing, Penny said, James. I remember after the first day or two of filming, he were like, well, maybe we make a film about him. And he was like, I don't know. He's kind of like the drunken uncle that won't leave the party. But then then we got the film processed, and we put it up. And I remember clear as day Penny watching it and saying that guy's a movie star. That's a move we can make a movie about him. And and he was right. And he was right. Because we thought, you know, I didn't know what I believe. No, I didn't I didn't know what I was doing. And I was like, well, we'll follow these two guys because the first time I mentioned depending Chris, that you know that I was like, I got access. I did. I pulled it off, I got to see him were in the campaign. And they said, well, when do we start shooting with Governor Clinton? I was like, Whoa, not Governor Clinton, but the guys who are running the campaign are the guys who are running the campaigns. What are we gonna do with them? I was like, I maybe, you know, we'll we'll Bill take us to Bill Clinton. And when they leave, we'll stay. And I didn't quite know that that's not the way it works. In the whole film. We thought we were making a film about Bill Clinton and one day would you like that? And it just, I remember being disappointed. I remember, on election night, we we never quite got to be with Clinton. We filmed his speech to the world. And we were with James and George and and he hugged them and we filmed that. But then the camera ran out of film. And we couldn't go and we were we couldn't. We we I remember sitting in a cloak room in the governor's mansion, waiting to get access to finally be with Clinton on election night, and just not getting it and into the cloakroom came outdoors, daughters, and they were waiting, and we were all just kind of waiting, you know, and they got brought into the party, of course, but, but we didn't, but it you know, that was that was an as everything was on that film, that was a great lesson in the fact that, you know, you don't always know what you have until you look at what you have. And when we looked at what we have, when we looked at what we had we you know, especially in the hands of his brilliant editors, as Manny and Chris, who could bring it to life and bring the humor to life and bring the characters to life. I mean, man, they used every frame, we shot on that film every frame, but they they made a masterful film

Alex Ferrari 11:51
It is absolutely a masterful film. Now as a documentarian, how do you bring out the truth of your subject, the subject that you shouldn't? Because I mean, human beings generally have a veneer, a wall, sometimes sometimes a wall with arm guns aimed to protect. Sure. So as a documentarian, sometimes they'll agree to do a piece. But that doesn't mean that they're allowing you in yet. So how do you kind of bring the truth out of a subject?

RJ Cutler 12:19
I mean, what a what a great question. And really, to be honest, the only question there is about the work that we do. And the answer is you earn their trust, you earn their trust, and you earn their trust by, you know, being trustworthy. You know, there's a, there's a common misnomer, which is that we're flies on the wall. And that's our goal is to be a fly on the wall and to vanish into the woodwork, that's another one, and to disappear. So you don't even know were there. None of those things are our actual objective. I can't be a fly on the wall. I mean, I'm six one, I got some, I got some, some presents to me, my, my camera person has a camera with them. My sound person has a boom, where people were people in a room, there are only few of us, and we're not hanging lights, and we're good to get out of your way. But we're human beings. And the key is for us as human beings to have a relationship with you as a human being you the subject. And if we have a relationship with you, were in yours, comfortable being yourself with us, as you are with anybody with whom you trust and are fully comfortable being yourself, then we can capture that on film. And that's all we aim for. We want to earn your trust, you know, on Monday, and if we do, we know that we still have to earn it on Tuesday, and we still have to earn it on Wednesday. And as I say, the way to earn people's trust is to be trustworthy, the way you earn their trust in any relationship, you have to be who you say you are, you have to, you can't say hey, there are only three of us and we never use lights or heavy equipment or any cables. And you and I always like to leave 10 minutes before you ask me to leave and, and that's um, that's my approach and trust, you know, you'll see you'll trust us and we'll we'll that's that. That's how we'll make it. You can't say that and then show up with 30 people likes cables, trucks, and refuse to leave until you get it. You know, you can't you gotta be who you say you are. And you know, what we who we say we are people who are there to observe, we just want to see life. We want to see how it happens. How if you're Billy Eilish, how you how you're handling all the things that are going on and how you're living your life and how you're writing your album with your brother and what that's all about, and simply there to see that we I don't want anything else. You know, people ask me, What would would the film have not worked? If she didn't win the Grammys? I don't care if she wins the Grammys. I don't care if she sells a single album. I'm there to tell the story of a remarkable young artist coming of age and a remarkable young woman coming of age and that story however that story unfolds is the story I want to tell. I don't want anything else, I just want to see clearly. And then I want to be able to tell the story truthfully, as you said

Alex Ferrari 15:11
Now in in this and what's remarkable about your career is the subject matters that you've taken on. And, you know, some have obviously been of great, you know, legendary people like Jim Belushi, who have passed. But a lot of John, John John sorry, John. Sorry, Jim. Jim. Jim, still, Jim is still with us.

RJ Cutler 15:31
Harvesting the cannabis. On behalf of us all.

Alex Ferrari 15:34
Oh, yes, yes. Oh, no, no. So that mean, so you do subject matters, like that's a different kind of documentary and work as opposed to, you know, Dick Cheney, or the head of Vogue, or Billy, these are, these are very big presence. You know, these are big people present in very heavy presence, their shadows, especially like Dick Cheney, and, and I forgot her name, the head of Anna Wintour. And yes, having you know, they the shadow that walks in with them on the tour is massive, the trust that they must have to open themselves up because I've seen those films, and they're just, I mean, they open themselves up. And you're right, there needs to be a trust. And obviously, your track record does open some doors as well. But at a certain point, I don't care if you want an Oscar, you didn't want an Oscar, whoever you've worked with, at a certain point is just you and me. I'm here, it's a camera, I don't care who you are, what you are, but I have to trust you. And that's the human aspect of it, regardless of how do you cut through all the celebrity and all of the other stuff that is thrown upon these the souls if you will, and just get to them?

RJ Cutler 16:45
I mean, it's a, there are a number of ways of answering that. One is that what what connects the subject to the process is their desire to have their story told, and that transcends that's a very say it's one we're sitting there, it's two human beings. Well, one of the most human beings wants to have their story told, and the other human being wants to tell their story. So we're actually very much in harmony. And I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm there. I'm there with you, man. I get it. I know, I don't know why you want to have your story told? I don't mean to say I don't think you should, I mean, to say, I don't ask why. That's, that's on you. And, and I, I trust you that you want to have your story told it's a very human desire, and I'm connecting with you on that level. And, and, you know, to be honest, that's really fundamentally it. It's, it's, that's what, that's what draws me to you. And, and then, you know, there are other things that I, you know, I'm an empathic person, I'm a curious person. I, you know, I, I'm present. I'm well trained by you know, by da Pennebaker, grid sagittis, and all my experiences, I'm trustworthy, because I know that, you know, I want it these days, I can say to somebody, you know, feel free to call anyone I've worked with and you'll, you'll see, but, you know, fortunately, the work, you know, is there and, and stands for itself. But that's really what connects us. And that, you know, I know that we're all you know, we're all our parents, children. We're all the little boys and girls that we were one day long ago. I know that it hasn't been all that long since then, no matter how old we are. And I know that one day is, you know, that we're all dust in the wind. And I'm, you know, so celebrity, doesn't it? I honestly, you know, I've made plenty of projects that aren't about celebrities. I mean, I made films about high school kids and college kids and, and young physicians and young men and women in the military and, and those projects are every bit as rich as the celebrity driven projects. But it's not celebrity that is as interesting even though it of course, has been a subject. It's a subject in the in the Billy film. It's a subject in the Baluchi film there's no question but what what what drives my curiosity are people who are you know, who are great at what they do and who care a tremendous amount about it and are doing it as well as they possibly can under high stakes circumstances. I'm you know, I've as I mentioned, I come from the theater I want to put on a good show, and I want to spend a great yarn and I want you to laugh and cry and stomp your feet and share when it's over I you know and leave the theater, grateful that you devoted you know that you you gave up your time to be there. And I want to have earned that gratitude. You know, I want to have spent your time well You're putting your trust in me too. So. So those, those are my goals.

Alex Ferrari 20:06
Now, with those first few projects, like the War Room and the projects that a few projects after that, what were the biggest lessons you learned? Because you were brand new to this medium? You know, what was the biggest lesson you took away from, let's say, the War Room? Because that was such a, I mean, you were surrounded by such amazing, you know, collaborators, what was that one lesson, you're like, Oh, this is the thing I'm taking away one of the big things I'm taking away from this process,

RJ Cutler 20:29
It really is that you have to trust in the process, that the principles reveal themselves, or that they work out. And that the things the characters reveal themselves. The, if you stick very early on, I mean, the different things Penny said to me that I think about every day, you know, one of the very first things he said to me was, you know, if you want to do this kind of work, you better have a bank robbers mentality, travel light and be ready to make a break for it at any moment. And, you know, I didn't know what he meant, but I know now. And, and that, that's you gotta you know, you got to be light on your feet, you got to be, you got to be able to, to adjust. It's you got to you got to make a if necessary, you got to make a break for you know, you gotta but but he also said, you know, the first thing he does when he used to do when he walked into a room into a shooting environment, was find a table to sit down next to and take his camera apart and clean it. Because his he wanted the people who he was filming to know that he was a guy with a job too. He's no different than them. He doesn't he's not, he's not a body with a camera on its head. You know, he's a human being who's there to connect with you on a human level. There's so many of those lessons. One of the one of the kind of lessons that I share with others that to me is the is the, in a way, the kind of Earth lesson of how to approach this kind of filmmaking came to me from from Wayne Gretzky, the great hockey player who never gave, never gave interviews and and but one day, I remember watching an interview with him between periods, somehow they got a hold of him in the and the announcer The interviewer said, Well, tell us great one, what how do you what is your secret? How do you do it? Tell us please tell us. And and and Gretzky said, Well, it's quite simple. I just followed the puck. And I remember thinking, Oh, my God, everybody else on the hockey rink is trying to get the puck to do what they want it to do. But there's Gretzky somehow communing with the puck and letting it lead him. Well, that sounds odd. But it's the key was the key to his success. And I think it's the key to, to the success that I have in doing this in that in that I'm following life. I'm not asking life to do something. I'm not trying to force it. I'm not trying to force the puck into the net. I'm just following the puck man, because it's on a beautiful journey. And if it ends up in that goal, even even, you know so much the better.

Alex Ferrari 23:13
Oh, that's yeah, that's one of the most amazing quotes in sports history. But I think is this tree general. I think it was like, follow, he follows the puck, and he also likes to be where the puck is going to be. And I think I just

RJ Cutler 23:25
That's right. All of those things. Yeah, all of those things. You know, Penny, another thing I wish, you know, we could talk for an hour just me remembering different things kind of Baker said to me at different times. But one of the things he said was that directing is what happens to you don't direct while you're in the field, you're not telling I'm not saying put it over there, put the camera over there for him. And I'm doing that's not directing. Directing, he said is what happens in the bar at the end of the day. And what he meant by that was that after the shoot you you sit around and you and you and you say to each other, what did you see? What did you hear? What was your experience of the day? What moved you What questions did you have, and as long as everybody is communicating about those things, you're ready for the next day, and you move along? Another thing, Penny said I remember wrapping the War Room. And, and I had I had been out at some event and I had I had met a Riley, Pat Riley that who at the time was the Knicks coach, and and I he had seen the War Room. He Yeah, it was out the film was out. So we were in our kind of like, you know, we were we were going to parties. And you know, people knew that I produced the film and someone introduced me to Pat Riley. And we had this great chat. And I said you know we should make a film about you. And it's like, oh, you know, he was he was not uninterested. And that was enough for me and the next day I saw a penny and I said to him what I think I think I found our next film I'll produce and you guys will direct and will tell the story Pat Riley, the New York, the greatest one of the greatest coaches to ever be in all of sports, and he's right here in town down the road at Madison Square Garden. And Penny said, I thought you wanted to be a director. And I was like I do. But look, another project fell into our lap and I love producing and this has been great. And you guys are there. He's like, no, no, you want to be a director, you find a film to direct because you're not a director until you wake up in the middle of the night screaming. And you don't you don't wake up in the middle of the night screaming when you're producing a film only when you're directing it. And then I was like, wow, I was, you know, it was and it was the it was generous, truthful. And a month or so later, I was at my college reunion. And I ran into my old friend, David Van Taylor, who's one of the brilliant documentarian. And he and I started kibitzing about, you know, different stories that people would tell. And he said to me, you know, if you really want to tell a story about America and American politics, Oliver North is going to run our brand contra Ali is going to run for Senate. And we should tell that story. And I said I'll do it if you'll do it. And off we went. And we directed a film together. And and I love that film. It's called a perfect candidate. It's really I'm so proud of it. It's it's if the War Room is a celebration of the kind of joy of American politics that the perfect candidate is its dark underbelly just filthy nasty, just been like I can't believe it. And we got it. We were there. We were inside it. And man did I wake up screaming in the middle of the night, like, more times than I wish to remember. But I learned I learned what directing was what directing one of these films was and you know, you're dealing with powerful stuff, it's, you're harnessing the, you know, you're in that you're, you're you're you're being given an opportunity by the gods to harvest that power and tell the stories of human life and it's, it's it's intense stuff. So you know, now Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night I don't have to scream because I've I've been through it before but but Penny was right. You're you haven't directed one of these films until you've until you've woken up in the middle of the night screaming

Alex Ferrari 27:28
And now you wake up in a cold sweat. You don't scream but there's there might be a cold sweat.

RJ Cutler 27:32
Fortunately, my wife here, isn't it my wife isn't here to to refute your observation. Let's let it stand.

Alex Ferrari 27:40
It Fair enough. Now, you did this a great documentary on. I mean, I'm one of my favorite comedians of all time, John Belushi. And, I mean, his story's remarkable when you go down the rabbit hole of John Belushi. I mean, what was that? Like? Because, I mean, obviously, he's not around to interview. So you had to do this from perspectives of everyone who was close to them. What was it like going down that rabbit hole? Because it was I'm assuming somewhat scary and, and hilarious and everything?

RJ Cutler 28:11
Yeah, it you know, it was a it was actually a big riddle. You're, again, you're asking the exact right question, because, you know, how do you tell the story John Belushi you know, dies of an overdose the early 1980s It's, I'm making this film in 2016 1718, whatever, I've lost track of time. And then post COVID Did who knows what but right in the late 20 teens, that's 30 years later, I'm making this I'm making this this film and and how do you capture it? How do you capture the rawness? How do you capture and my objective with this film is to tell the story of not of what it was like for John Belushi to die, which is one of the most oft told stories in in entertainment history. But the story of what it was like for John Belushi to live and that's a very that's a rarely told story and a story that Judy Belushi and John's family had not granted anybody the opportunity to do since they felt so burned by Bob Woodward when he wrote wired, so they just shut it down. Well, Sean battsek My dear friend and producing partner on the Belushi film and had had one Judy over and had persuaded her in part because he is such a persuasive charming man in part because he spent a decade doing it in part because he brought me in to direct it and in part because Judy saw our film Listen to me Marlon, which, which John and I produced and, and shared it with her. And so she was ready to give us the opportunity to tell the story, but we still had the I had the huge Riddle of how are we going to bring to the audience what it was like for jumble as she delivered all these decades later.

Alex Ferrari 30:08
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

RJ Cutler 30:18
And as I started to do kind of preparatory interviews, talk to people on the phone, have lunch with people who knew John, those kinds of things. I was like, huh, everyone's telling everyone's either talking about themselves as people do. Or they're telling that they're telling the story that they tell about John when they tell stories about John. So they've told this story so many times, and it things felt lost in the foggy haze of memory. They weren't present. They weren't raw, they weren't edgy. And again, if you're going to make a movie about John Belushi, you need raw present edge you need, you need to capture the man and the man was an exposed wire. Well, these conversations I was having was not we're not exposed wire. And, and I was concerned. And fortunately, when I went to Martha's Vineyard and spent time with my team digging through the archive there, we discovered that in the wake of the Woodward book, Judy, and a couple of her friends, including the journalist, Tanner, Colby had set out to collect an oral history of John, they didn't know what they would do with it. They knew one day these tapes would come in handy. They did a book that was kind of the tip of the iceberg. But it came and went. And there were these dozens, hundreds of hours of conversations they had had with people in the years immediately following his death. And boom, there was the there was the solution. Because well, you hear it in the film, those that we the our ability to capture that was a function of the great gift from the gods. And from Judy and Tanner of these of these interviews.

Alex Ferrari 32:07
Yeah, remarkable, absolutely remarkable film. And anybody

RJ Cutler 32:10
And incredible people, you know, we're talking about Harold Ramis and Dan Ackroyd and Lorne Michaels, and, you know, on and on and on, and you're you're hearing from Carrie Fisher, who's who was kind of John's soulmate and addiction as well as his one of his dearest friends, your, you know, your, your, you're getting into the guts of it all. And we got into the guts of it all. And that film does, you know, it definitely does

Alex Ferrari 32:35
In the family was very happy with the way it came out from what

RJ Cutler 32:38
I just spoke to Judy, this morning. She we were just you're just reminiscing, and and, you know, expressing our, you know, our mutual gratitude. And yeah, and Jim has been great about it. And, you know, he's, I'm sure he'd be the first to tell you, he's no easy customer. So. So his response to the film was very meaningful to us. That's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 33:08
Now, you, you, you are one of those rare documentarians, I get the jump in from narrative to documentary and you are able to go back and forth. How do you transit for how did you transition from documentary to narrative? And was there a little bit of because I've spoken to other documentaries who have that, and it's always a little bit like, Well, yeah, you're you can tell people you don't know how to tell you don't have to work with actors. You don't know how to tell a story. That's a narrative, you just tell these documentary stories? Is that what you're feeling? Or how, like, how did you like with with if I stay? How did that project come along? And did you have any, any issues breaking through to get to be able to make that moment that movie?

RJ Cutler 33:46
Well, once again, remember that I am I'm a theatre, a theatre director by training. I mean, I spent 20 I, you know, I started working with actors. When I was in first grade. I was directing my I was directing my fellow first graders and and I and I studied theater and I directed plays in college, I was I was a graduated undergraduate from, from Harvard and in those days, there was no Theatre department, but we all did plays constantly. We just produced them ourselves. And there were theaters all over campus. And we that's what we did, and we were so passionate about it and and and and the teachers who did pass through for the kind of special classes now and then in theater practice or or theater drama history or any of the dramatic I had a constant my my major was dramatic theory and literature, but I had to kind of apply through the special concentration thing. We we we studied, we were imbued with kind of, you know the the importance of of the of the message the importance of the of the of the themes, the importance, you know, Making sure that the audience's time was, was well spent to be they've you know, I can't tell you the number of teachers who, who said to me, you know, you're asking people to come out and spend two and a half hours sitting in a dark room with you, you better have, you better have something important to say you better know what it is, and you better damn well be entertaining. And I mean, so many people, they I was drilled into my head, but so was the importance of how you communicate with your collaborators, actors, designers, everybody writers, everybody with whom you're working. So those are things that I personally am trained in I then as I said, spent many years directing in theater. So working with actors is a great joy to me and, and and working with designers is a great joy to me, I'm working with writers is a great joy to me. So it's not new in that way. But it's very different than documentary work. documentary work is, in a way documentary work is more like the theater than film work. Because because you have time in documentary where a lot of time you lie, you have time in in the theater, you spend weeks and weeks rehearsing and weeks and weeks in previews. And you take your time and I love that in the in the in film, you show up on set. And the first thing you hear is somebody were losing the light, they are running out of time, you know, it's all day long, you're in a frickin panic. That's, that's, that happens not to be my preferred way of going through a day I like to chill. And I like to you know, I like to follow the puck, there's no denying to follow the path. We're making a movie,

Alex Ferrari 36:38
You're creating the puck, you're creating the puck at that point.

RJ Cutler 36:40
And maybe and by the way, maybe in the hands of someone who's more masterful at it than I it's different. And they know how to I'm sure that I am certain that Scorsese doesn't feel all day long. Like he's being rushed. I'm certain of it. But I don't know, man, I got on set. You know, I It's I'm telling you, the first thing you hear is you're losing the light. So, but I did love I did love making that film because I got to work with Chloe Meretz and I got to adapt the Scaleform and brilliant Californian book and I got to buy my I love my produce. I loved everybody. And we had a wonderful time and it was a great experience. And equally equally rich was the process of creating with Kelly curry, the Nashville the television series. Yeah, and directing the first two episodes of that. I mean, the pilot of Nashville is one of the one of the all time great creative experiences I've ever had. And I am I I'm I'm grateful to all who made it possible. My work with Kelly query was just like, incredibly, incredibly rich and satisfying. And she so she created these characters and it was and she was so brilliant. And they kind of arrived fully formed and, and and she understood the language and the music and the air and she's you know, she she Gigi. So that was a an incredible honor and and you know I get to direct Connie Britton it's just like what a thrill what it's so many things and and and and the kids who were in that the younger actors the whole Hayden happens here the whole experience and the music you know to be on the stage at the Grand Ole Opry and work with T bone Burnett on and on it couldn't have been richer couldn't have been more joyful in you know my soul was and my heart were were full with those experiences again the process I like i i You know your right to describe it as going back and forth because I went there for a little bit and really these days I'm super focused on my nonfiction work and and and and it's it couldn't be richer in terms of you know what I'm what I'm trying to do with it and the different the different projects so it's it's it's very exciting, but it's different. You know, we like to say well documentary is scripted stuff is documentary backwards because you do the you do the script before in the in the in the narrative and you do the script in the edit room. And it's kind of that but there was a lot the differences are are just massive. And then the similarities are thrilling. It's your still cinema, it's still cinema. It's to me these documentaries. They are not I'm not interested in I'm not actually interested in the politics of it. I'm not interested in the message. I'm not here to give you facts and information. Google does that far better than any film I could ever. I'm here to tell you a story about the human experience to spin a yarn to make great cinema as or to aspire to make great cinema you know as an end to engage you and to move you emotionally and to tell you stories about the human condition. Those are my those are my only interest. Others make documentaries for other reasons. They're great documentaries that are kind of, you know agit prop, they want it. They're there to as there is great theater the tagit prop as the rose Great Cinema that's after Prop. Not really my thing. My thing is, you know, I'm, I'm, I'm telling stories about people.

Alex Ferrari 40:29
Yeah, very, very well, might I add. Now, I have to ask you about two subjects that you had an in two of your films, who are both very polarizing in their own way, Anna and Dick Cheney have very different human beings, obviously. Sure, from very different walks of life, but both polarizing in their worlds. How, like, in, regardless of your own beliefs, either political beliefs or anything like that, I know you have to be kind of you just got to let happen. Whatever happens, what is it like? Just juggling, you know? I mean, obviously Dick Cheney very, very polarizing political figure. And then Anna, to a lesser extent, but very polarizing in the world of fashion. How do you approach these two kind of juggernauts in their space?

RJ Cutler 41:21
Well, your question is in the context of it, there's a there's a present, not a presumption, your there's an assertion in your question that there polarizing figures. And I and I understand why. All all politicians, I think are, especially in this climate. You know, it they, I remember when I can't remember. But I remember when Ellen Powell, was, was, was flirting with running for president. And everyone knew he was starting with running for president, but nobody knew if he was a Democrat, or a Republican, and his numbers were in the 90s. And then he declared that he was a Republican, and boom, his numbers went down to 49%. Because that's the country we live in, and fats weren't gonna support him anymore. And that's, you know, so of course, the Vice President Vice President Cheney, is is is polarizing. And he and I don't I do not I, you know, I think he's, I would never pull the switch for him, I would never pull the switch for any any of his policies, I think he led us into a war that has been a catastrophe and 70 different ways. And, and I wish he hadn't done it. But I do know that he is as impactful, a non presidential politician as this country has ever seen. And, and, and when I started pursuing him, he was his heart was in failure. He had a battery in his heart, for what for, for a heart, as some would say he had a block of ice for a heart, but he literally had a battery for a heart. And he was frail. When I first met with him. He was weak. He was he told me in our first meeting, that he would look in the mirror and see the ghost of his father. And he knew that he was that his time was coming. And pretty much he was sitting around waiting for one of two things to happen. Either transplant would be available, because he was on a list like everybody else, or he would pass and he was at peace with that. This is what he told me the day I met him for lunch in his in his home, by the way at an address that I couldn't find on Google, because they they there was a Google Maps doesn't have Jamie's address. The next time I met with him, he you know is Liz called me his daughter called me right? Um, right. After he awoke from surgery, it was literally like the day he got surgery from the heart transplant. And she said to me, I just want you to know, the Vice President is doing well. And one of the things he said to us before he went in was that if he survived, he wanted to make sure that making this movie was one of the was one of the things that he did this year, so we're ready to go. I mean, it was crazy. It was it was the day and I'd spent a lot of time waiting for them to say yes or no. And will we do this? And again, human beings want their stories told Yeah. So my my ice I said all this to him. When I met him, there was no mystery. I was introduced to him by a Mary matalin who of course, I knew through James and through her we filmed with her on the war room. She knows my politics, but I wasn't I didn't keep it secret. But I my interest wasn't in debating politics. It was in discussing politics. But my interest was in this human, this guy, this guy who, you know, flunked out of Yale multiple times and and was a was a drunkard working the lines and hanging electrical lines in Wyoming with no future, but was in love with a woman who said to him, you won't get it together, man, you're too good for this stop drinking. I mean, he was on the sleeping on the floor of a of a jail cell because he had been picked up too many times for drunk driving. And they finally threw him in the tank. And and his girlfriend, Lynch Lin, I'm sorry not to remember her name. But the woman who would become limp Janie said, if you want this relationship to go anywhere, if you want to spend the rest of your life with me, you're going to sober on up and get it together. And he did. He did. He got it together. He changed his life. He went to you know, he went to graduate school, he was a incredibly brilliant man. He was he was respected by all of his colleagues in Congress. He he he was admired in the administration, he was, uh, you know, he played this instrumental role during the, the first George Bush administration, George HW and in the Gulf War, and they were reasonable. And they they drew the line, you know, they didn't turn it into a long war, they got in, they got out. And they and and they recognize that certain balances, you know, they did, there was a lot to talk about with him, then something happened on 911. And something you know, and we tell that story. But this is a movie that I think for, you know, I want people to watch this movie 50 years from now I want them to watch it. I want them to know who this man was, where he came from, what he did, how he did it, how he defends himself. And he had to defend himself in this film. But, you know, he, he he he put duty versus honor. And he he said your you know, he dismissed honor as a value in this film. Well, that's a really interesting thing. In a person who's leaving a country to war, he had to defend torture in this film, that's a really intense thing that someone has to do. And as I say, I think he's the single most impactful non-presidential politician who's ever I mean, you know, it's no mystery George George W. Bush gave him gave him a lot of rope. He was a he had a lot of power in the administration, and he wielded it and he did some, he did some questionable things. I as a voter would say some bad things. I as a filmmaker, left them as question a little so that he could defend them and you could hear them and we could be on the record with it. You know, and so that's how I approached that, you know, with and I'm just telling the story about a Greg Dino, one of the world's great editors and what is you know, this this bird like little cumin, who also has her father's daughter, you know, that's a big part of it. The the great you know, a Charles Wintour, chili Charles Wintour, the, you know, legendary Fleet Street editor who, who, you know, who, who, for 20 years ran ran the most important paper in England and, and, and who was for her very much a role model and someone who she always wanted to please but but she single handedly when we were with her she was single handedly running this global industry, this multi billion dollar global industry and, and and how does she do it? How does she do it? Powerful Women are very interesting, fascinating. They tend to be by the way, they tend to be controversial, just because they're women in power cord now and they man they got to, you know, I'm starting to film now about Martha Stewart talk about talk about a person in power, who was kind of punished for being in power, you know, for being successful. So, and there's more to say about it, but but, you know, look, ended the day people are fascinating. People, you know, they're able to remarkable, there's some extraordinary folks out there and it's, they've got great stories to tell. And you know, as you point out, I've had the great good fortune of being able to, to tell the number a number of, you know, fascinating, certainly, you know, complex people's stories.

Alex Ferrari 49:20
Now, your latest project with Billy Eilish, can you tell me a little bit about that film and how that came to be?

RJ Cutler 49:27
I was invited to meet with Billy and it came to be because I accepted the invitation and I sat with her and Phineas and her folks and some people from her team and I, I mean, I instantly was engaged as I'm sure that's no surprise. She's an incredibly magnetic person who's gifted artist and this, you know, incredible young woman and and, and they saw in that first meeting, an opportunity to see simultaneously tell the story of a of a young artist coming of age and coming into her own, and a young woman coming of age and coming into her own. And I loved that I loved how real it could all be. And that's, you know, that's the film. It's really very simple. You know, then we just followed the puck, and the puck went to some amazing.

Alex Ferrari 50:23
I love that. I love that analogy. So wonderful. Yeah. But the isn't a true and you've been in rooms with with these kinds of people, there is an energy to people, especially like to celebrities, or artists like that. There's this thing that he can't explain. Like, there's this energy that that they suck the energy out of the room, like all the attention goes to them. It's like you can feel when someone like this walks into the room, and I've spoken to many, many people of that magnitude have been in the room with many people have done the magnitude. And when you could just with their back turn and they walk into the other side of the room, and you just go someone just walked in and you could just feel that energy. Was that what it was like being with it? It doesn't matter what age it is, by the way, it could be. It could be Michael Jackson at seven years old. It doesn't matter.

RJ Cutler 51:11
Yeah. I mean, Bill is a very magnetic personality, there's no question and she, she, as I understand it, she's she has been her whole life. There's and her her, her talent, her brilliance, her poetry, her, her her vision are all exceptional. And, but but she's also this very real kid, you know, that's around, you know, making fart jokes and eating burritos and wanting to slip that slip out the back door with her boyfriend and, you know, watch porn and whatever, you know, and she's just a kid. And who's got the curiosity of the kid and the outrage of the kid and the, and the and, and the ambitions and the and it all, and she met and she's made a music, you know that she sets the fridge. She says her family was one big fucking song. It's true. It's true. And and, yes, one of the questions I had, upon meeting her was what planet does this person come from? And I and I certainly, and what planet does Phineas come from? And I certainly, you know, I remember thinking and feeling that this is, you know, on some level, she's part human part deity, you know, and she really is She's a shaman, you know, she has a power. She stands before hundreds of 1000s. And, and, and literally on a daily basis. She's on the telephone of 75 million followers on 80 million followers on Instagram. And she she leads she is a she is a modern day, you know? I don't know what the what the what the best way of describing it is? Not enough to be like, yeah, da da, da da, is it is it's very powerful. And it's a it's shamanistic, it's very, you know, it's all of those things and and you feel it, you feel the power, and she Pierce's her, the her audience's hearts, she connects with them, they all feel like she's singing directly to them. I've been in tiny rooms with her singing, I've been in enormous rooms with her singing, there's no difference. She she can be in an arena in Miami, that seats 22,000 people. And the kid in the top, the top bowl of that arena in the back row is connected to Billy Eilish the same way the kid in the front row is or the kid in the club. It's just amazing. The space is feel tiny, she has a power. And you see that you see that in the film?

Alex Ferrari 53:51
How in there's no explanation for it. There's no explanation for that kind of,

RJ Cutler 53:55
Well, I don't want to say there's no explanation. I just want to say, you know, those who explain those I'm not. I'm that's not my business. It's my business to show it. And to tell the story about it. Sure, and others can explain it. But I think the film is, you know, certainly reveals the power. I mean, it's a lot of in there a lot of things involved. Let's talk about the fact that first of all, she's not a she's not an only child prodigy, she's one of two prodigies in that same house, they and they need each other, they make each other even greater than either, you know, she and Phineas, they, they, they are up a partnership. So when I say What planet do they come from, on some level? The answer is, you know, Planet Maggie's womb, that where they both spent nine years, just nine months just stating to the same heartbeat. And then they were raised by the same parents and you see all the complex and they were raised in a particular way which as Billy says in the film, You know, first and foremost, they were encouraged to be themselves. And first and foremost, their family was one big fucking song as she says in the film, you know, those that by the way, those two lines I just quoted are pretty much the first line in the film and the last line in the film. So the whole film is about how those things come together. But there lots of explanations. And then some things are just can't be explained can

Alex Ferrari 55:26
There's just this thing is that thing that is it, you know it when you see it, but you just can't articulate well, with it, you know, by Jim Belushi, John Belushi, John Belushi all this life's, you know,

RJ Cutler 55:37
Again, this is a, this is my, you know, I, I have a lot of gratitude, because I'm able to tell these stories, and these stories kind of live in the landscape of people are just, you know, fascinating. And there are so many remarkable people doing these incredible things. And, you know, I'm not kidding when I say it's dust in the wind, we're all here for a blip. Listen, Billy is nothing if not an existentialist, and raised by Patrick, who is nothing, if not an existentialist, as we see in the film. And she's like, you know, I remember early on her being interviewed, and somebody was like, why do you why do you? You know, why do you do it all your way? Why don't you Why don't you think you'd have even more success if you conform? And she's like, Well, why would I do anything that I don't believe in? Like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna live I'm gonna die. You all you're gonna forget I was ever here. Why would I bother with doing anything? That wasn't true to myself? What's the point? None of it matters. It's like songs that are going to come and then one day no one will even know I was here. And why wouldn't I have spent my time here? There's a child talking. I was gonna say the wisdom your why wouldn't I spend my time being true to myself. And that's our whole thing. That is the whole Billy Eilish thing. Be true to yourself in the way you work. Be true to yourself and the way you treat others. Be true to yourself in the in the art that you put out in the world. Be true to yourself in the way you dress, be true to yourself, be yourself. That's, you know, that's might be considered a kind of radical philosophical approach but hers, and it resonates the world over through her through her, her art and just her persona.

Alex Ferrari 57:20
And where and where can people watch this film?

RJ Cutler 57:24
The world economy according to I'm sorry, we're according to Billy Eilish. Billy Eilish, the world's a little blurry is on Apple TV. Plus there's another series we have on Apple called Dear which is a which is a wonderful project that we did about also about how work impacts people and and then on Showtime is the is the John Belushi film called Belushi. And we talked a lot in this conversation about the war room that's available on criterion. And of course, all these phones, you know, they're all They're all on a streaming service. And, and what a pleasure to chat about it all with you.

Alex Ferrari 58:05
And I can ask you last few questions. I always ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

RJ Cutler 58:13
Make a movie

Alex Ferrari 58:16
Best advice,

RJ Cutler 58:21
Please don't go to film school. Film School is an old paradigm that allow that provided for equipment. And that's it. It's provided for equipment. It gave you access to equipment you couldn't afford. You couldn't afford a camera when it was a film camera steamed dead processing you couldn't afford now. Guess what? Here's a camera. Here's a camera. There's some holding up a telephone. Here's a camera, the new iPhone. It's got an editing equipment on it. Does that trap. It's an upgrade. But you got it all or buy a thing buy a camera from Amazon and return it in 29 days there. It's not illegal. It's their policy. It's how they became the biggest company on the planet. And Jeff Bezos became one of the richest men to ever have lived. He's a Pharaoh. And he says, Please buy stuff from me make a movie and return at 29 days later, and I'll give you your money back. I'll pay for your film. That's what Jeff Bezos says he does. He says it's so so that's what my advice to young filmmakers don't talk about agents. Don't talk about showbiz. Don't talk about film school. Don't just make a movie and guess what? It may suck. Then make another movie it's going to be better than the first one. And that is absolutely my advice. Carry on man. Tell stories with your friends.

Alex Ferrari 59:41
A men preach my friend preach. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Unknown Speaker 59:51
Oh goodness. I hesitate because the left and that took me the longest to learn is when I'm sure I'm still learning. Sure, but But uh, but you know, it's I think it's all going to be it's all going to be alright. It's all going to be fine. Is a good lesson you know, I listen, I mentioned that I was James lupines assistant on into the woods the Broadway musical, the legendary lupine Sondheim musical, that I think it was 1987 or 88 that we did it. And I remember one night James saying to me, you know, the biggest part of my job, you know, what the biggest part of my job is? And it's like what he said, just saying, everybody, it's all going to be great. All gonna be great. And I was like, Oh, shit, that is you say that all the time. Like, that's because part of my job, it's all gonna be great. So how can it be great. So, you know, I say that's a lesson that's that's worth remembering. You know? And so there you go.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:51
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:54
Oh, my goodness. Uh, the Lady Eve. Mm. Preston Sturges film? Mm hmm. Um Let's just leave it at the get. Here we go. Give me shelter. Allen David Maysles. film about the Rolling Stone Maze it out DeMont. And let's see and I'll put on this list. Don't Look Back da Pennebaker, his masterpiece about Bob Dylan.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:30
Fantastic. RJ. It has been a pleasure talking shop with you today, my friend. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I appreciate it, my friend.

RJ Cutler 1:01:38
Likewise, really, really enjoyed it. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:42
I want to thank RJ for coming on the show and dropping his knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much, RJ. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including how to watch Billy Eilish, the world's a little blurry on Apple TV, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/478. And if you haven't already, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com Leave a good review and subscribe. It really helps the show out a lot. Thank you again so much for listening, guys. As always keep that also going. keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.



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