IFH 734: Confessions of a First Time Showrunner with Kaye Singleton

Kaye Singleton is an award-winning writer, producer, and actress that is well on her way to making her own footprint in this industry, or as the much-respected Tyler Perry would say, created her own seat at the table. As a multi-faceted creative talent, she is committed to telling culturally authentic stories for, about, and that explore, the beautifully diverse experiences of Black Women.

To date, as an actress she has taken on a variety of roles on hit shows and films. She’s best known for her series regular role beginning in Season 3 of Tyler Perry’s The Oval on BET as Simone, the beautiful, smart, and cunning wife of the Vice President of the United States, and her Six Season recurring role as the long-suffering, loyal – but problematic – “Josie” on Saints & Sinners, BounceTV’s #1 Show. She’s also had memorable roles on Sistas (BET), Claws (TNT), Don’t Waste Your Pretty (TV One), Tales (BET), American Soul (BET), and Dumplin (Netflix).

In 2020, Kaye secured her first production deal as a first-time Showrunner and Creator for the highly-rated anthology series – Covenant” which premiered on October 14th, 2021 on AMC’s allblk. Covenant’s unique take on bible stories is a stand out for the network as it’s quoted to “create a world of thrilling, suspenseful drama where characters and stories of the bible are thrust into a vicious dystopia of present-day, real-life situations. Each episode will reimagine a classic story as it would take place in the modern world – challenging viewers to examine how sacred lessons of faith and love fit into today’s society.

Enjoy my epic conversation with Kaye Singleton.

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Read more

IFH 722: The Art of Television Showrunning with Steve DeKnight (Marvel’s Daredevil, Spartacus)

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IFH 717: From $7K Film Red 11 to Making SPY KIDS: ARMAGEDDON for Netflix with Racer Max & Rebel Rodriguez

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Racer Max 0:08
This project fell apart because of COVID twice, each time shrinking the budget as it went, because we this film was pre sold. So all the budget that you have is all the budget you got. And twice we almost got it started once in California and once in Canada, but both times it fell through. And so we finally found a way to bring it over to little home called Austin and pulled out Well believe it or not pulled out a lot of our rental love and tricks on this on.

Alex Ferrari 0:38
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com I'd like to welcome to the show Racer Max and Rebel Rodriguez. How're you guys doing?

Racer Max 0:55
Right doing great. Thanks for this really excited.

Alex Ferrari 0:58
Thank you so much for coming on the show guys. I am I was telling you before obviously a lot of people who ever watched the show knows I'm a huge fan of your dad. And but I'm also a fan of what you guys have been doing with him and seeing you grow Literally. Literally seeing you grow as as filmmakers, as actors, as composers, as producers as writers. It has been it's been fascinating to see your guys's journey as well. So I have to ask you, my first question is because everybody listening is gonna want to know, what is it like growing up on movie sets? Like I mean, first movie set I walked onto was when I was in college, and that's not really a movie set. I mean, you were walking around with movie stars, you know who you were like, oh, that's just that person? What was it like for you to kind of growing up in this kind of environment? I kind of protected environment as well. Because, you know, Elizabeth, your mom has been on the show as well. And I know how protected she's been with, you know, to protect you from the less the less nice people in the industry?

Racer Max 2:00
For sure. For sure. Yeah, she was definitely the the moderator and Guardian at Mama Bear. That made it all allowed us to have just a wonderful experience growing up. To be honest, it's a lot like growing up normally, as if your parents do any other kind of job. But you don't realize to later that you're in an industry that's so different and wild and crazy. To you know, as us as kids, you're just running around playing hide and seek. And you run past some crazy costume people as you're hiding under the producer's desk or the accountants desk, and they're helping you hide while they're trying to manage an entire crazy army show that that's going on. It's, it's pretty much that. And, and with the cat, you know, you you meet these famous, he recognizes and are famous as you when you grew up. But when you're a kid, that's just oh, that's just uncle Bruce. Oh, there's uncle moneyshow You can just call him uncle Benny. So you just kind of get a normal childhood, especially with someone like our mothers who was very protective of us and helped ensure that it was just a wonderful experience. So yeah, that's what it was like growing up.

Alex Ferrari 3:15
So when you guys were talking to secondary level, what when? What was it like when you discovered? Oh, oh, this isn't normal. Like, oh, oh, that Uncle bunnies you just won an Oscar. Why when you had that realization, what was that like? For both of you like when I hit because I'm assuming that hit at a certain point when you got older?

Rebel Rodriguez 3:42
Yeah, yep. Definitely. Yeah, it was definitely all the props. So you know, you kind of see as you're running past them as a kid. People like remarking on them like, oh, wow, that's this and that. And as we started to see some of the movies or dad made, I mean, obviously, we didn't see him for a long time other than like Spy Kids and Sharkboy and Lavagirl and stuff, for good reason. When you hear people like remark on it, and it's like, oh, it's like a thing people really, this is like a huge thing for them. Kind of like how for us Spy Kids vehicles are like a big thing. And so, you know, the the, the electric chair from Sin City, we never quite knew what it was. But it was like, you know, that's kind of Yeah. Yeah, like, there's like, Great wax figure of Bruce Willis there as hard again, and it always freaked us out as kids and like, He's just staring at you. But now, you know, you see the posters. Adults are like, Dude, it's just so iconic and cool. And, you know, it was just as impressionable as a kid even if you didn't fully understand what it was but

Alex Ferrari 4:38
I mean that sincerely when you walk when you watch the city for the first time when that first came out, people don't get it. There's nothing in film history that have ever been shot like that ever.

Racer Max 4:47
Yeah, nothing like that ever.

Alex Ferrari 4:49
Ever. Like that was it was insane man is insane. So alright, so let me ask you this. So then when you guys first, so you're growing up with Uncle Bruce uncle? don't need to do all these kind of guys. At a certain point, you're able to watch some of your dad's early work. So what was it like watching mariachi for the very first time,

Racer Max 5:11
Man it was really, really impressive. And what's funny is we held that off for so long, it wasn't till we were, you know, getting in a little late teens, kind of at the end of high school. And from then on out, you're out of school, and you got to figure out what it is that you want to do. And we had an inkling that we wanted to create and be in the creative space, whether that was filmmaking or anything else. But watching that, for the first time, it was just mind blowing to see how much you could step out and accomplish. And to see that it's our dad who we've known our whole lives, and we love him. He's super, he's funny, great father. But to see like, wow, how smart and how little he had then, yet how smart he was, and just how perseverant he was that with absolutely nothing, you can go and create something incredible that sets off a not only a lifetime career, but at the same time an entire wave that inspires so many people across the world for decades. And yeah, yeah, definitely. It was really just an impressive moment and really inspiring of like, Oh, we're at his age, we too can go off and do something like this. And we too can conquer and accomplish just like he did. So that's really what it was the first time

Rebel Rodriguez 6:27
Yeah, it's, it was cool. It's, uh, you know, we grew up with a lot of the wisdom that he kind of injected in the way he worked and also in like, his books, like, you know, Rebel Without a crew. So we'd always kind of heard you know, when you're making something, work with what you have, not with what you need, and all that kind of stuff. But then when we watched it, it was cool to see like everything he's kind of told us through the years that we thought was just like dad wisdom, was like, you know, how we kind of did it and it was incredible to see it in action and see the results you get from it. It was really, really inspiring and cool.

Alex Ferrari 6:56
Did you did you either. Have you ever just go? The old man just doesn't know what he's talking about? Like he I know better? I mean, look what I mean. I did I mean, every every son does that to their data. That's the old way of doing it. Dad, you don't really? We weren't 19 We know life.

Racer Max 7:17
Yeah, you know, it's kind of more sobering when you think about for a second are like, oh, yeah, I'm gonna say that. But then you walk past poster after poster after poster, like, maybe you know what else he taught me to be humble and look at other people's point of view. So I think I'm going to channel that a little. So there have been few, very few moments.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
Many thoughts. Very few many.

Racer Max 7:41
Exactly. That's the way to put it. About you rebels. Same thing.

Rebel Rodriguez 7:45
Yeah, pretty much, pretty much. I mean, it was also another thing as we grew up, right. It's like the era of the Gameboy Advance, and like the DS, and like all the video game kind of stuff. So we're always like, man, but our video games are different. This is our kind of stuff we're into and all that and but spike is still always kind of captured out in a way to where we were like, I mean, we never thought it weird that movies could so well capture what kids were into in that era. Until you see some of the things it's like, right? It just really didn't have that. Right? I don't think but you still have that feeling of like, I don't know, we have this in our thing. And you don't even realize all of its inspired by Well guess who you know? And many other filmmakers. That's like, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 8:20
Yeah, you know, it's fascinating, because when when mariachi came out, I was only probably about five or six years younger than your dad. So I was in high school. I was working at a video store. And that's behind me. That's the video store poster that I can't all these years. mariachi it says Ahmadi Archie poster I have to by the way, I still do for my story. Because he was the only he was the only Latino filmmaker that I could even do there were no Latino. I mean, there were but there was no real out there Latino filmmakers like he was. And in my in my intro people, can you explain to people from your point of view? You know, from my point of view, mariachi is that movie that you said it started it launched an independent film revolution. People still talk about it, like a myth. Like there was this once there was this dude who made a $7,000 movie and then he became a then he got into Hollywood. Like it's a it's a mythical story that they tell in the corners of film schools around the world, to this to this to this day. And I always tell people, because it's this is something I have a this is one of the things I brought the show up I started the show up was because I wanted to tell people how to avoid pitfalls in the industry. And, you know, Robert, and your mom both fell into a lot of those pitfalls along the way. And they were kind of thrust into a world that this you know, Robert wasn't even thinking this is gonna go to the Latino Mexican Film Video market. It was not supposed to be the thing. But a lot of people were like, oh, you know, I'm gonna make a $7,000 movie. I'm like, That's great. It's 2023 It's a little different. Now the markets a little different the world a little different than it was before. And I've been trying to say that again and again, like this is not 1991 anymore. It's not 1999 anymore. It's not what 2009 anymore. It's 2023. From your point of view, how do you think the legacy of mariachi has kind of continued? And do you guys agree with me? That a lot of filmmakers listening to like, Oh, I'm gonna go make go make it? You know, but understand, Roberts path was no, people tried to redo that path, like Quinn's path, or Kevin Smith's path, or Richard Linklater spat, it's insane. So from your point of view, what do you guys think?

Racer Max 10:42
So, first off, absolutely agree and love that about you and your work that you've kind of taken that ethos, and have always updated it for people now of like, how to take that drive that that movie, that Smith inspires people to go create, and helping them adapt it to the current day's current era. And to avoid, as he said, avoid pitfalls, that now we have the knowledge and foresight to be able to avoid. So I've always really liked that about, about your work. Oh, appreciate it. But yeah, what? So agree on that, first off, but then, totally, but what I've always saw from it, is that he got a very specific path, through what you know, it's so many things that happened and came together all at the same time, for that passion and drive and what he went through to equate to what it led to. But I always see that the thing that inspires people the most is kind of the timeless aspects of it, the idea of perseverance and creativity under restriction, intense restriction, and the attitude that put that drive and passion into whatever it is that you love. And you can create something that will turn heads that will get attention that people were will like and want to follow you for. And that can inspire people you've never met. So that's why I always love when people outside of the film industry that read the book, or repaired the myth, and went off to go do things that have nothing to do with film, but just whether it's business or even an accountant or an accounting before as well, like so many different fields that were inspired by that idea. So that's what's really cool to me is that there's something you can adapt to it the modern times, but yet there's this timeless aspects almost have that met.

Rebel Rodriguez 12:32
Yeah. So there's that time almost timeless aspect of that. What it really captured was that it doesn't take a budget of that huge size to create great quality work and great quality story. And especially if you write and you work with what you have, and work with limitations you do have rather than trying to do something that's going to be outside of your scope or possibility at the moment financially, you can create something that turns heads and is really like, you know, Blockbuster remarkable level work with very little and that will that you know, can do a lot. And usually quality like that doesn't go unnoticed for very long. It starts to it starts to make the rounds may make waves and stuff. So there it's really important part of it.

Alex Ferrari 13:16
Now, rebel, you did a little movie years ago when you were five. called Shark, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. And, I mean, I know how you were cast, but how did you even like want to do it? Were you even thinking of acting at that point? You know, you know what, how did that even because one thing is to jump around the set and play around and like, Oh, Uncle Buddha's and all that stuff. But to be in front of the camera, be there even for the small part that you played? I saw that I was like, Man, that kid's got some coordinates. I mean, he's up there with the with the with the things on the scales on the site.

Rebel Rodriguez 13:55
Oh, yeah. Yeah, it's really interesting. So you have to look back a bit to spike. It's one spike. It's two. I was the this is where it really started was spike. It's one I was the baby on the front of the magazine. Kylie Jenner is reading. And when she's in the airport, two spies who fell in love story. That's me on there. That's where it started. Spike gets to win like the Magnum men attack at the banquet, the OSS banquet in there fighting the bad guys. One of the kids takes down one of the guys and that's my oldest brother rocket. The next one comes along and grabs him too. That's racer. So next one down the line. And then I come running out. I kicked the guy in the side and that's me. And I don't know our dad's always been a filmmaker, even outside of film. He loves taking home videos of us and stuff we have like whole archives. Do he just loved filming us too? He thought it was just so interesting, you know, kind of brings back the bedhead kind of days that that short? Yeah. We've always just kind of been used to the idea that there's a camera like right here sometimes for whatever reason, and so it didn't feel like that big of a transit. Should it just be like, well, it's just the other camera here at the place. And there's a bunch of people looking at you while you do something, and they tell everyone Quiet on set, which you've heard a lot if you're running around there. And yeah, it was pretty natural. It was just I liked the story he made. And I was like, I want to be in it too, you know, because that's how kids are. You brothers got it you want it to. So they're obviously, obviously coming, that they would put me up on wires and stuff to simulate the swimming parts and things and spray me with water and all that once I learned how hard it was. And I was freezing up there. And I was doing my own stunts. I was actually even a funny moment where they've got me up there on the wires, and I'm there yelling. Well, how come I have to do my own stunts? I mean, it's like, yeah, so very quickly learned is not not quite as easy as it seems. But I mean, it was very natural to us, considering we just always kind of had a camera in front of us all the time. So it's like, oh, well, you know, they just throw you into the movie. And that's how it goes. And it's like,

Alex Ferrari 15:58
So you're telling me that that film industry is not glamorous? Is that? It's, don't you guys all just eat lobster at lunch all day. That's not the way it works.

Racer Max 16:09
It was surprising to a five and seven year old but it wasn't glamorous. quickly found.

Alex Ferrari 16:15
Yeah. And so it sounds like your parents were pretty much programming you since birth to like, subtly hypnotically.

Rebel Rodriguez 16:25
I mean, a little bit to some extent, but it's like that wasn't even the attention either. Right?

Alex Ferrari 16:30
No subtle. They're very smart. Both of them. Suddenly, it was very subtle.

Racer Max 16:38
They, they never wanted to pressure us into doing anything, which was pretty cool. But so if there was hypnotism, it was very subtle. It was very subtle is very

Rebel Rodriguez 16:48
More than anything, they were excited to show us what they do. And I think that's really special. You know,

Alex Ferrari 16:52
Of course, of course, like any parent would be wanting to show like, hey, look what I do. I just happen to make cool movies, you know, and have cool things happening around you. That's awesome. Now, I wanted to talk to you both about red 11. Because when I heard about red 11, and for people who don't know, please explain to her what red 11 is. But when I heard about red 11, I was so excited. I was like, Oh, the goat is going back. He's gonna go back to do it. Do another $7,000 movie. And he's bringing in the boys with him. So. So Ted, can you tell people what red 11 was

Racer Max 17:25
Absolutely Red 11 is one of our favorite projects. So this myth, we keep talking about a mariachi made for $7,000. In the 90s. For the 25th 25th anniversary of that movie, Robert wanted to go back and make a film for $7,000. Again, no crew, or one other crew member, no money, try to do it all in one location and shoot it all in 14 days, just like he did on the original of mariachi. And so he thought, Oh, my one crew member I'm going to bring my son under this because I had just started working with him apprenticing under him at the time for Alita Battle Angel. And so is that you want to come on and be my one other crew member. So we can do this whole thing together. And while we're making it, let's make an entire documentary about how to make a film with no money. And it was super for such a blast of an experience we quickly brought on rebel to both star in it so that he could be there on set to help us out because the only crew members we had were the cast when they weren't on camera, they were behind camera moving lights, moving props, closing doors for sounds just like being being a

Rebel Rodriguez 18:33
Little light, just like

Racer Max 18:35
Real, real bare bones, film production. And so we cast rubble and put them in a row, I wrote them into almost every scene so that you could always be there to help us. And then our rebel went on to do the score for it as well. And that's the premise of red 11, I'll tell you is to this day, it's still my favorite film project we ever did. Because it's so creative. When you have nothing all you have is your mind. And you have to be creative every single day. Because everything's falling apart even when you've limited so much. Every single day things are falling apart, you have to come up with creative solutions laughing now that laughing about it with your dad and your brother in the cast. But you've quickly become friends with because we're all on the same trench together. It's really, really a sublime experience. And the most the coolest part about it was you know, you see your parents as these figures that have like lived so much life and you don't feel like you could ever be put in this forced in the same situation together and see how each other act but I thought he would be my my dad would be my mentor on this and that oh, he's he knows exactly how to do all this. He's paved the way before. But it was really humbling and inspiring to see him look at me and go, I don't know how we're gonna do it either. Let's figure it out here. You and I we're gonna sit here we're gonna figure it out. We're gonna move this through that. So to really see him put into the same pressure put in the same experience that was mind blowing. And this is one of my favorites.

Rebel Rodriguez 19:56
He doesn't have all the answers all the time he finds them and that's what he's for. really, really good at, though he knows how to find answers on a dime on that and create some really great stuff out of it. So, I mean, it was just cool to finally see it as like, how does he work? When he's put into this pressure? It's like, oh, it's just like all of us too. But he's just that, but he's learned that much more about how to do it and stuff. So it's, it's a skill people can develop and learn. So

Alex Ferrari 20:17
Yeah, it's like a call a call. I told my daughters, I have old man strength. And that's the thing, by the way, old man strength is a thing. I had a trainer who was lifting, I'm lifting more than he is, how are you doing that you're out of shape. I'm like, I have old man strength now. In the same tone, Robert has not all man strength. But you know, he's got experience. He's got a wealth of you know, you just pick up these things. And you know, when you're on set, you just been there before. So even though I might not know how to do it right now. Oh, yeah. This over here, over here, move that over there. It's, it's pretty remarkable. It's pretty remarkable to see

Rebel Rodriguez 20:55
It's cool. How it fundamentally starts, you all start out in the same spot. We don't know how we're gonna do it. And then it's just like, that's what you're developing is the learning of how you're going to do it. So

Alex Ferrari 21:03
Did you go? Did you guys just run a gun? I mean, you had some plan, obviously got a script, but you kind of show up on the day and just go, alright, let's set up the scene or divert. There's a lot of storyboards, things like that.

Racer Max 21:16
Man, it was pretty run and gun because it's funny, the one we kind of restricted it a little, even a little more than mariachi because now we had all the money to make a movie with a budget, but we've cut up the money. Now we, all the crew, and people, we know who could do it, but we cut out the crew. And then it's like, well, I guess all we have left this time, but 14 days. But Robert didn't even have that at this point. Because we were busy, made doing visual effects for Lita Battle Angel and writing other projects. So we would just, we would just pick days that we could get a few hours in and tally it up to 14 to 14 days. And so over the course of a month, month and a half, we just squeezed in some hours, they're squeezing some hours here. So that leads to very much you're texting a cast like an hour before you get there. Hey, we're gonna film the day, we got like four hours, let's go knock out the scene while we can. So people just show up and like, oh, gosh, we don't know how we're gonna do this. But let's figure it out right now, because we've only got what time is it? All right, let's keep going. We got it.

Alex Ferrari 22:13
So what's the side hustle? It was a side hustle.

Racer Max 22:16
Side Hustle film. Yep. Side Hustle phrasing.

Rebel Rodriguez 22:19
I mean, really, I wasn't on the writing side of it. But whole scenes were rewritten because you get on set go, well, we don't have this, this, this and that. Okay, well, let's just change it up to make it work with this. And it was just like, nonstop. I mean, writing, writing it right there, as everyone's showing up. So then you can do the scene right away. I mean, it's really,

Alex Ferrari 22:36
It's remarkable. And that's such a lesson for filmmakers listening, because so many filmmakers, you know, they think they study like Hitchcock or Scorsese, or, you know, Kubrick and, you know, they like, oh, everything has to be exactly the way I have it in my mind, because I'm a genius. And you know, we're all geniuses. I mean, all of us, obviously, are geniuses, filmmaking geniuses. And soon Hollywood will see our genius. And that's how we think because we're all nuts. We're all absolutely insane. The filmmaker we're all in? Absolutely. So I've seen on set when I visited other other filmmakers sets that they just break down if something's not exactly the way they planned it. And that's and I'm like, That guy's not going to make it he. Because filmmaking isn't that filmmaking is even even the biggest guys, we've had an opportunity to talk to many of them, some of the famous famous scenes in the history. I've talked to these, I've talked to some of these filmmakers, and they're just like, yeah, it's on the day.

Rebel Rodriguez 23:33
Everything's planned out, half of it falls apart, which is pretty much how it goes, you plan at all. So that way, as much of what was planned will stay there as possible, the rest is gonna fall apart, and you got to figure it out from there. But it's, yeah, you kind of accept it. And you got to learn to roll with the punches as much as you do figure things out ahead of time. So

Alex Ferrari 23:49
And Racer when you started writing rebel, 11, with, with your dad, you guys, kind of, I think the first time I'd ever heard I'm sure it happened somewhere else in cinema history. But when mariachi was written, he was just riding around the things he had already, which was such a revolutionary idea, as opposed to like, I need to buy I need to have a Porsche in this scene. I need to like do have a Porsche? No, it's gonna cost you for what you have a Volkswagen. Just use the Volkswagen. He wrote around the elements literally like a dog, a turtle and a Mexican town and a couple guns and that's what I had. And that's how I made my movie. Can you explain the power of that in the red 11 experience of just writing around things that you know you have access to? Because it does free you a lot and lessens the stress a bit on a stressful situation already?

Racer Max 24:40
Yep, absolutely. Yeah, we wanted to implement the exact same writing process for read 11 And so we said let's only take what we got and go from there. So we filmed the entire film, all of it on our Treblinka studios, our studios here in Austin, which is to airport to a airport hangars, and then a bunch of hallways and offices. And we thought we'll write a story that works for this location. And that's all we're going to use. And so location, we just use all that we had. Now, what Roberts got kind of in his back pocket now was a little more than a turtle and bus. Now, we have the whole storage that because we're kind of Hoarders, we keep all of our props, and anything we've ever used in a movie before. So we have all the guns, all the gadgets, all the things locked up somewhere. So we pulled from there as all our props, but still, we only wrote around what we could get out of that storage room out about Walker, a lot of people get more than that from Goodwill nowadays, but so are out of their dad's closet really. So we came at it from the same approach. And it is really freeing because it unlocks creativity in a way you can't imagine, suddenly, when you have just the one thing you're going to use in a scene in one room you're going to have to use, you come up with five or six more ideas than you would have just kind of thinking what you would want going what you have versus what you want. It's really powerful. I have anybody I talked to now a day. And they want to make a whole feature film, they've done shorts and whatnot. And they've done it in a traditional setting, I tell them, Okay, write a feature and just go off of what you've got, just trust me, it's powerful. The, what you want is the rep of doing the entire film from beginning to end. You don't want to have to add more pressure of having to get things to land to be there on time, or people or places or objects like that's really free. And to this pretty much on every project, you'll find yourself using that same method going forward.

Rebel Rodriguez 26:40
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, it's really what it does is when you're just there thinking about I could make anything, what am I going to make? I mean, there's like a trillion different options, there's an infinite amount of options, really, it's just, you'll end up with something that's got too many elements too much. There's too much that by just using what you have it streamlines at all in an instant. And it's like you've got three things. Okay. Well, now I gotta write a whole story about these three things. And it's just, it really does probably one of the most important things is really streamlining what kind of an idea you have. And from there a lot generates because you go well, I only have this isn't that how do you make a story with this, this and that. So

Alex Ferrari 27:13
And I'll tell you

Racer Max 27:18
The process just gets a little funny on read 11 Part of why it's so special because you go okay, this scene only has to have a syringe, this office, and the jackhammer that George Clooney used industrial Bob how we're gonna do it. So it's a little unique. And that makes sense. It's

Alex Ferrari 27:33
Like a crazy mad libs, like filmmaking? Well, I'll tell you, I mean, I got inspired going down the road of mariachi and red 11. By last feature, I shot exactly the same way. I said, You know what I'm going to I'm going to shoot an entire movie at Sundance, while the movie while the festival is going on. And still the still the entire movie. have three actors I had never met before. Meet me there. I had an apartment on Main Street, and had cameraman, myself and the sound guy and we just stole the whole thing and three days and shot an entire movie in three days. And we sold it and it made money and and oh yeah, it was so much because I knew it's Sundance. And I'm like, and it's like it was kind of like the Mexican town because you could get 1000 locations in a couple blocks. So tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Everyone's like, how did you how did you did you get permission? I'm like, No. I shot in Sundance headquarters. I went into Sundance headquarters and shot. People are in my scene. Like, can you move? I'm shooting Can you please? Like, my TV is like, Dude, we don't have permission to be like, I'm sorry. I'm the director, the director and he's like, You're ruining my shot. Can you please move sir?

Racer Max 28:51
That is amazing. Okay, I'm right now to watch that later. But yeah

Alex Ferrari 28:59
It was it was so much fun to do. But you know, and I've shot other things and you know, bigger budgets and stuff. But that was so much fun. It was an experimental, just like I don't care what happens with this three grand. Let's just go and have some fun. And the actors I told the actors I sold the actors I go you know, I don't know what's going on. I truly when I was on the trip back to LA at the time, I didn't know if I had a movie that I get enough coverage. I don't know. The dailies you were just like moving Go, go, go. Go go go. So then I tell them like look, at least you're gonna have an insane story to tell somebody in 20 years that that one time you went to Sundance you shot a movie like that's gonna make you have so I'll give you stories because I can't pay you a whole lot. So I'll give you stories and it worked.

Racer Max 29:46
That is amazing. That's incredible. Oh my gosh.

Alex Ferrari 29:50
Oh, that's

Racer Max 29:53
That is the best extrapolation of El Mariachi filmmaking ever heard.

Alex Ferrari 30:01
So, I'm reading love and what was the biggest challenge for you guys? You know, just because there's challenges every day, every second every day. But what was the time that you were just like? How can I get out of this?

Racer Max 30:17
Yeah, oh, man, I felt like there is. Man, I felt like each day I had an existential threat like that, oh, man, like, oh, we might not be able to finish this project ever. Really. I felt like every day had something like that. It's weird. I can't really pinpoint one problem, but rather that the very first time that we had our plan, we had our script. And we got to set. And it was a scene with gosh, we want to say like 20 actors in it. And so much had to ride on what we had written. But then none of it could because the set was off and then a part of the studio broke down so we could use it, as some of the Cast Main cast couldn't be there. And we thought, oh, my gosh, and I was just thinking, How the heck are we going to fix this? Again, running into that moment of having to be creative. The biggest problem was right after my dad tells me, Oh, well, we're guess we're just gonna figure it out. Like what ran through my mind beyond that, after that, that was definitely the biggest problem. But then realizing that every single problem after that, no matter what it was, whether it was the hangar we were in was not soundproof. So it decided to Texas rainstorm on our foot finale scene that included a lot of dialogue all over that hangar, so none of the dialogues usable. Whether it was that or missing cast members, or just completely losing an entire vehicle that we had set up. None of that. Like, none of that is bigger. All of that is just an extension of the same problem of we're gonna figure it out. We're gonna get everybody in a room and it's the quietest room and we're gonna rerecord all the lines we just did, hoping that they match up to what we just filmed over there in the rainy hangar. And it does like magic. So that's so that's funny that that was what I would say is the biggest problem is the recurring one that didn't learn to go with the flow. And by the end of the production, your life, the most of those, and you're like, those were the most fun, really, when we were all put in the same corner, and had to punch our way out that those are the most fun.

Rebel Rodriguez 32:19
Those are the stories as you said, those become the stories. Don't forget that stuff on it.

Alex Ferrari 32:24
That's, that's remarkable. I mean, and one thing I noticed about read 11 Is that you guys used a lot of practical effects, because you just didn't have the budget to do anything else. Really. So can you talk a little bit about the power of practical effects just just the phone, the telekinetic phone on the little another little table? Which is such an easy prac I mean when cuz I saw the behind the scenes by the way everyone listening have to watch Rebel Without a crew the show but also the behind the scenes of red 11 Because it is a film school and then some but the the phone moving with the magnet like it's so when you when you show it to you is super simple. If not, you're just like using wires is it was such a beautiful way. Can you talk about the power of practical effects, where so many filmmakers just want to lean on computer effects? Where practical effects I mean, look at Nolan, he's doing okay. You know, he's doing okay with the practical effect.

Racer Max 33:22
Absolutely, yeah, that that the red 11 was really app coming right off of Alita Battle Angel where it's most visual effects we've ever used. So we didn't have entire characters that didn't exist until we put them in digitally later. Coming off of that it was a shell shock. We got the bends definitely under 11. But it's so much more fun and so much more immediately gratifying on camera when you get a practical effect working. And you see it you go oh my gosh, I can't believe we're getting away with this. Look how look how dumb this looks when you look two feet this way. But in the lens, it looks incredible. Look at that. I'm totally fooled. practical effects I've really come to appreciate and go that's the magic, most timeless aspects of filmmaking, you know, when we when we see the predator and we see oh my gosh, look how much that suit and that face and that creature still holds up this day, where it still feels just as real just as like slimy and tactile as it did when it released in what 8487 Whatever it was. Like that. To me practical effects are the most timeless aspects of film and I want to incorporate a lot more into live action filmmaking and see a lot more of it because it's, as I say, that's the real movie magic right there. But the most I was added the most important thing of a practical effects is that you can write is that you can make it mean a lot more than what it is the simple $2 trick it is because you can write a story around it. You can make it meaningful through the story. You can bring it back multiple times you can make the same trick means something and just then bus stick with the audience. So that's really what I see the power practical effects. How about you?

Rebel Rodriguez 35:07
Yeah, again, if you're because what you have, that phone trick is actually a very important story moment. It's like that's literally dragging a phone on a string or with a magnet is an important story thing. And it's like, that's how you have to approach writing and approach creating as well, because you just get, you get a lot more mileage out of what little you have. And it's really, really cool.

Alex Ferrari 35:26
I mean, I, when I, when I saw, I think it was Once Upon a Time in Mexico was the introduction of the guacamole gun. For me. I remember the first time if you guys have not heard about the guacamole, and I have an entire tutorial on it on YouTube, of how I built my rockabilly gun back in the day, because my friend and I were making our first short film, and we're like, we need to blow this girl's head off. Like how are we going to blow this girl's head off? And we built a we we just cobbled together, Eric, Eric, what is air compressor guy and the PVC pipe we did multiple, like, at first it was like someone was peeing on you is not enough pressure. And then like we got to put like, what's brain matter? Like it was so much fun. But that that's a practical, we use a ton of practical effects. I'm one of those first films I made, because it was cheap. And we had a lot of visual effects too. But the practical effects sell so much easier. And it's done. No rendering.

Racer Max 36:23

Alex Ferrari 36:24
No crashes. No nothing. But the guacamole gun, man, that's

Rebel Rodriguez 36:31
The way it looks when you film it is how it's gonna look in the final movie. It's like, Yes, you got it. You got it. There's no. And let's hope we have enough money to make it look good. It's like, well, if it looks great here, you're gonna be fine, honestly.

Alex Ferrari 36:42
And I'm a big proponent of combining practical and visual. Because if you have a base of practical like in that that headshot that we did in that movie, I had my VFX guy just throw a couple more splatters out off of it, but if it would have been just the VFX you wouldn't have sold it just we didn't have the technology for Oh, wow. Really make blood hits that really song. So those are fire if you do fire, like fire still is rough. Visually.

Racer Max 37:14
It's still difficult. It's it's hard to fake. Make out the human eye.

Alex Ferrari 37:18
Well, I mean, if you remember the rock, remember the movie The Rock? There was an explosion of the the car McCarthy? Yeah, yeah, there. Yeah, the car that blows up. You can see the visual effect flame that they kind of wrapped around that as a little bit while the bottom was all real. And I'm like man that's only trained eyes. cinephiles will notice that for sure, for sure.

Rebel Rodriguez 37:46
But it has a subtle effect to even the people who don't catch it's a subconscious effect of like, this isn't entirely real. And it loses gravity as a result.

Alex Ferrari 37:55
Oh, no, my wife. I mean, she was not in the film industry whatsoever. And when she's you know, I've been together for nearly 20 years now. Well, watching movies like that green screen composite was really bad. And I'm like, really? It's just like, yeah, just the compositing wasn't really good. I mean, didn't they had this a Marvel movie? Did that the money to clean that up a little bit? I'm like, wow, wow. Yeah, audiences, but

Racer Max 38:23
So many kids, really kids are CG was bad. I don't want to get bad CG. But wow, that's something

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Because now as opposed to when mariachi came out, there was no information. There was just no information. Trust me, I looked other than the Raiders of the Lost Ark stunt spectacular VHS behind the scenes of behind the scenes of Star Wars. There really wasn't a lot of behind the scenes, it was still kind of a mystery. And that's when all these DVDs that Robert put out with really practical, you know, stuff was you started that was the beginning I think of that kind of behind the scenes access and then and the YouTubes now everybody, you know, could do anything. But back then for people that listen who don't understand or have a certain age, they don't they don't understand how difficult it was back then to to even begin to do what what they did on mariachi or or Desperado or from dusk till dawn or any of the films that he did during that era. But it was a Yeah, for sure. Yeah, that's

Racer Max 39:28
That's amazing. I forgot to think about that point. But yeah, in for it was almost CG and all that was movie magic back then. Because nobody knew how it worked. But now it was.

Alex Ferrari 39:38
There was a show called Magic. There was a show called Magic. And you would watch it was a 30 minute like behind the scenes of Terminator two. Those kinds of things, and you were just like, that's great. I don't have James Cameron money. So it's nice, but that's why when when you Desperado and from Dessel Don's documentary and behind the scenes on mariachi, it was the first time you like I think I can build a welcome Oh, I can I can. I think I can. I can do that. So it was this inspirational way of looking at filmmaking it's so with with red 11 Rebel, what was it like composing with me because, again, that's another thing that your dad did. He's like, You know what? I'm gonna start writing music for the hell of it. Like, I remember that I'm like, Wow, dude, calm down. Yeah Robert calm the hell down. What's wrong? Steadicam craft service? I'm instance like, Come on dude.

Rebel Rodriguez 40:37
He would just be like, Yeah, you know, I think I want to try that. Yeah, I want the music to be like this, I'll just do it and it's like, wow, okay. I mean, it's, you forget how revolutionary that is like, right? No direct who was director was writing and editing, then what director was writing, editing and doing music and then also doing cinematography and then all that stuff. It's really

Alex Ferrari 40:55
Hard for carpenters, the only one that I know of that didn't use it for his own movies. But he still didn't do everything else.

Rebel Rodriguez 41:02
Crazy. Exactly. So it's really special. But the thing he always that's always been the way he's like, wanted to teach us is if okay, if you want to get into movies and stuff, I'm just gonna throw you in under something you don't know how to do all entirely. And you're gonna learn while you're doing it pretty much. So racer was only on the crew mate. He had to do all the sound he had never done sound before. And so

Alex Ferrari 41:25
I got the feeling brother. Even though I could afford it, like, you know what, screw it. I'm gonna do it. And I'm like, I'm never doing sound. Again,

Rebel Rodriguez 41:35
Again. You learn real quick, though, in life.

Alex Ferrari 41:39
What a good sound what a good sound guy is and why he's valuable. She's valuable. Because my next, my next film, I had a sound guy. Everything sounds good. Thank you. Thank you.

Racer Max 41:50
I know it's getting a budget next time. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 41:53
Oh my god.

Rebel Rodriguez 41:56
Yeah, so it was. I mean, I was writing a little bit of music at home. I was always been playing piano since I was a kid. And I stopped High School stopped taking piano lessons. And I was like, I want to do something with music. And somehow, all those years, I never quite dawned on me. Oh, right. My dad makes movies. I could write music for movies, right? They have stories, and you can write some music. I mean, like, took me that long, by the way. But I was like, you know, that would be cool. So I've been writing a little bit throughout the year before. And I wrote like 15 minutes of music for a VR short, Robert and racer did called the limit. That was like my first scoring project. And then from there, he was like, Well, now you just write a whole feature, you know, just just a little extra, you just got to write longer and more stuff. And I was like, okay, and I was on my laptop on logic. Just logic. Yeah, they can stop. Yeah, it was after writing after writing on GarageBand for most of the time, and I started just like with nothing, just a little keyboard. And I was like, alright, well, we got to figure this out. And it was probably one of the most stressful experiences ever. But it was really, really fun and special to start looking at the movie and go, right I guess this is when you would do a character theme and stuff like here, you can play a theme for a character and build that up across and you start getting understanding if if your tools are really small. You start learning the thinking and the methodology behind it a little bit more so and appreciate like when something time's up well and all that. So it taught me a sense of pacing, at least I kind of learned when I would wrote a scene I was like, that's in pace, that I wasn't paced well to the scene, it felt weird. And then when it actually did work or not, but

Alex Ferrari 43:27
Can we just say can we say something publicly here that your father's insane. Let's just throw that out there. As a general statement, the insanity of trying to make mariachi it's insane at a time that nobody was made. And that insanity has kept going throughout his career. He has been insane. In the most beautiful, wonderful way. Insane to like, Hey, Rob, you've never done it. Come over here. Figure it out. Like that's pretty much on like, you know, small budget films first, but then, you know, then you're like, thrown into the deep end of the water with some bigger budgets.

Rebel Rodriguez 44:04
He's like, you want to learn? Yeah, yeah, he's like, you're gonna learn how to swim. I'm gonna throw you out into the ocean. And once you're like coughing up along the water, I'll fish it back out. That's how you're gonna learn. It's like

Alex Ferrari 44:14
Shark point. Get out

Rebel Rodriguez 44:16
Do your own stunts. Get out there. I mean, it's pretty much always been that and when sharks. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 44:22
Exactly. But we all have to, but we all have to be kind of insane. To even be in this business. This is insane. We're like, this is corny. We're all carnies. And this is the circus. I mean, at a carnival. We're all carnies. We all smell of cabbage. And that's

Racer Max 44:41
Absolutely true.

Rebel Rodriguez 44:42
It's true. It's true. And I think one of the most important lessons it's taught us every time it's happened, you've had to do it where you're like, I have no clue what I'm doing. You just feel like and in this one, even though the budget was small, I had seen all the work we had done, and I was like, I'm gonna score all that work and if it sucks, I I'd like, you know, dropped the ball right after everyone else put in all this effort. So it is a lot, but the most important thing it taught me is you're really not ever going to be ready, it's like you have, you're not always, you're never going to be fully comfortable, I can do this and then dive into it, you're always going to have that I don't know, if I can do this, I, I'm almost there. But I don't know, that's when you got to start is, you'll become ready as you're doing it, and you learn a lot more actually doing it. You know, when you actually have to, when the boat asked to actually hold water, you'll learn a lot more of what actually works, what doesn't work. So you do have to be read, you know, put yourself out there and actually be willing to fail sometimes, you know, don't write Don't Make Your First Movie feature when you you know, you can do it. It's like you're not going to feel like you know, you're ready at all, you know, maybe you've done some shorts, maybe done some of this. You just got to dive in there and do it basically. So

Alex Ferrari 45:49
Would you agree that the one of the biggest the biggest skill sets, any filmmaker at any level, any crew personality, is the ability to understand and accept failure, as far as part of the process? And not to like that, let that derail you, you just have to kind of keep going because that is a skill set that most people don't have let alone filmmakers don't have that ability to fail. And it seems like you know, what your your father and your mother have taught you throughout your career is failures. Okay, you know, hey, everyone has everyone goes up and down and exact. Sometimes you have a good movie, sometimes you have a I liked the movie, but the audience didn't like the movie didn't do well in the box office didn't do this or that. Or oh my god, how the hell did that happen? Like all of it, but but failures are the big deals. Can you talk a little bit about that? From your experience?

Rebel Rodriguez 46:38
Yes. Yeah. No, that is totally it. I mean, he says you learn so much more from your failures and your successes. And I mean, he's shown it all throughout his career, you know, for rooms, was didn't do all that great. But right, what he saw was, hey, it's actually pretty funny to have these two little kids here who like, get into all this trouble. They barely even tie their own shoes, their shoes, and they're like doing all this stuff about like their spies or something. That's where that came from, you know, from his failure, came Spy Kids, which ended up being a humongous thing. So he's always been excited to just jump in and trip and fail, because he knows you'll, you know, when you stumble, when you go down that path that no one's ever gone, where you you're not comfortable with, you'll stumble, but you also stumble upon new things. you'll stumble upon great new ideas for stuff. And yeah, it's I don't think you're ever going to fully appreciate that you have more to learn unless you've seen you have things to work on, basically. So it's almost like you're guaranteed it's not like I was, it's not like it was a home run, making the red 11 score, I had things that I was like, that really didn't work out. This wasn't that but instantly from there, I was like, that's what I need to get better at. That's what you know, this is really important. I never would have probably realized that unless I actually scored a movie. And seen this works. This doesn't work that all that so it's really Yeah, it teaches you to accept failure pretty quick.

Racer Max 47:56
Yeah, absolutely agree. It's one of the most important skill sets that anyone can have. And I can point a lot to what makes you averse to failure. Because we felt that you know, whether you're the son of anybody important, or whether you're just comparing yourself to somebody that you're not like any of the other great filmmakers, because we watch all these great movies, you want to be like them, but the most important you're and you're gonna see only your failures, and you're not going to look at any of theirs. And you're gonna write what are what you what they consider their failure, you consider their greatest work because so you know, you're blind to other people's failures. And, you know, you can compare yourself to like, Ah, man, I'm the he made the mariachi and he did all of that by himself. And like, I haven't done anything. I haven't made a film all by myself like that, too. And it's like this is and he's made such a big splash, but like, I haven't made anything like that. But, you know, comparing to others makes you so averse to failure, because that's one of the biggest drivers or drivers of why you don't want to fail. But you just got to fail. You just got to go at it and fail and compare yourself only with yourself really go as revel just said, you know, okay, wasn't a score wasn't a slam dunk, but I know where I can do better next time. So I'm going to try it. I know I'm gonna make that better for myself and for the audience next time. That's what I want to do. So

Alex Ferrari 49:17
And when you're saying that the first thing that came into my mind is as filmmakers of my generation, first thing you think of is when you hit 23 You go, Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 23 I haven't done crap. And you're like, but it's okay. It's okay. Then it hit 27 Like Spielberg made Jaws at 27 Okay, so then you keep moving is like, couldn't make reservoir like at like, 30 or something like that. And you keep pushing you keep pushing Terminator. 30. And then now, Ridley Scott didn't make his first film till 40 Like trying to make yourself feel better. You're like, oh, by the way, that's gonna be my first feature at 40 Why couldn't I go That's a whole other story of why I didn't do it before, but I did a lot of other directing and other things like that. But you start going like, okay, but if you do compare yourself to these, quote unquote gods and that's another thing that a lot of filmmakers do they put these filmmakers up on pedestals. I mean, look, I have a Stanley Kubrick autographed book behind me that I got Hitchcock right next to it. You know, I mean, although I have, I have books from all my favorite filmmakers behind me, you know, you do put them up on a pedestal. But one of the great honors and privileges of my life of doing the show is I get to talk to some of these sometimes these guys, these guys. And then I start to realize I realized a long time ago, when I did this first year, I was I was like, they all have the same issues. They all have, they don't have enough money. They don't have enough time. They they all I always tell people you can no matter who you are in this business, you're gonna get punched in the face. Every Spielberg still gets punched in the face. Not as much as he used to. You know, Robert, I'm sure still gets punched in the face sideswiped like, Oh, I didn't see that coming, you know, from the business or something like that. The difference is that now that as you get older, you start to learn how to duck a little bit. You know, sometimes it just grazes you. And sometimes you're not even there when the punch is thrown because you've been around a little bit longer. But no, but no matter who you are, you're gonna go through it is the great equalizer filmmaking. No matter who you are, no matter how much money you have, you can have a look at Cameron. Jesus, look at you look what James is doing. You know, I mean, he's all the money in the world is the only filmmaker who does that, by the way is people like, what do you think gonna make only James Cameron? No, absolutely not given they're not giving that to Spielberg to Nolan to Fincher to to Robert to note, no one else is getting half a billion dollars to like, make a movie in a few years. It's just It's insane. Right? It's, it's insane. But, but no matter how much money you have, there's every day there's a problem, because it's part of the the artistic process. So So you brought up four rooms, by the way, my favorite four rooms, obviously is Robert because it was the most fun. And that was that was the moment that you started to see the shift into the family stuff. Because before then it was stuff that you guys could watch. And that's why kids came out. And I want to impress on people. What Spy Kids means to so many people around the world Spy Kids is one of those franchises in the first film. There never been anything like that. Again, Robert, nothing made like that with Latino, Latino people. And I always say this, because I'm Latino. I'm of Cuban descent. And I've never seen myself portrayed in a movie like that before. But anytime I do, it was always like, Hi, I'm Latino. Let me eat my taco. And I'm like, again, like it was so on the nose, where it was never mentioned inspire kids. It was just, there's just people having an adventure. And I think that was another one of those points that inspired other filmmakers to bring in other cultures. And not point out like there's the black guy. There's the Asian guy. There's, it's like, no, let's just it's a story. And it opened up a Spy Kids was one of the first times I saw that in the Latino culture. And, you know, when I when my kids were old enough, I showed them Spy Kids, and they just like gobbled up the first four. Like they were just like, because it's like, it's great. I will always watch a movie or story that gives kids power. It's a give anytime there's kids in power making adults look like idiots. Done. It's a hit

Racer Max 53:49
Very right. make kids feel powerful. make kids feel cool.

Alex Ferrari 53:54
Right. Exactly. And we are heroes. And then you did that with a we are heroes as well. What was your experience when you guys first saw Spy Kids? And because you were on it, you were shooting? Tell me what your experience was making it? Because I know you were how old were you guys were spiking.

Racer Max 54:10
So I like for me,

Rebel Rodriguez 54:12
But yeah.

Racer Max 54:13
You ever was to when it first came out? So okay, it was four when the first one came out. And that was imagine you you're from like zero to four years old. You don't you kind of know that your parents do something. They do work this thing called job. They've got one. But you don't know what it is. You see Dad go off to this office that's attached to the house and he goes off and he disappears all day. And he's doing something and no matter how many times he comes home to tell you that he's making a movie you don't you don't like get it. You don't really understand. Until you're sitting in a you're sitting in a car service. Writing to this movie theater. We're now there's instead of a quiet Tuesday afternoon there's 1000s of kids and families gathered outside of this theater. And you're like oh there's a there's a Carpet. There's like wait, why are we walking down this? Why are we dressed so nice to go to this movie theater? And then you sit in the theater you watch this mind blowing movie called spike. It's one. And end credits come on, and both your mom and dad's names come out at the end. And you're like, what? Okay, wait, I don't know. Like, wait all these other crew people who I've met and I know their names to. This is crazy. Wait, you all make movies that you made this? Yeah. That's people who

Alex Ferrari 55:30
Like racing?

Racer Max 55:34
You made me pancakes yesterday morning. Like what?

Rebel Rodriguez 55:38
Exactly. It really takes him showing you the props afterwards. going, Look, here he is.

Racer Max 55:43
Here's the jetpack.

Rebel Rodriguez 55:44
Here's the buddy pack. Here's the thumb thumb. We made these. They're on the move. It's like it takes that much for you to finally go. Ah, okay, I get it. Yeah, it's like, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 55:54
Oh, my kids. My kids still don't understand what I do. They're like, like, you're on YouTube. But you also make movies and they're like, Can we watch your movies? Now? You're not old enough for the movies I've made. Okay, so but you're on YouTube, get followers. People follow you. Subscribe. You like Yeah. And then I got I got recognized a couple times in public, which is crazy with them. And they're just like, what, what? Why? It's the thumb. It's like showing you the jetpack. And like somebody else's. It's, it's remarkable. The, the, the vaporization of it, the veil that we have as kids to what our parents did. And and you just stuck it you need to be hit over the head for you to go, oh, they make movies.

Rebel Rodriguez 56:46
Because movies and here we are making home movies. And we're like, well, he just kind of like

Alex Ferrari 56:56
Of course everyone makes movies, like,

Racer Max 56:59
Hit over the head with it. For sure. That's good. Yeah, it's an you know, when you see it like that. And then you're a part of the next all the next ones. You know, it makes a lasting impact on YouTube. You know, we joke that our family is the biggest fans, the biggest geeks of Spy Kids ever. Yeah, we got the most over all the props and vehicles and actors and anything. That's amazing. Yeah. So it's it's not just the impact that I'm not it's like not a stretch at all to see how much it's impacted people you know, across the world and how much they remember it and love it and have such fond memories of it.

Alex Ferrari 57:35
And for people listening when spike is one came out. It was a massive hit like it was. It was a massive hit. Like the biggest hit your parents ever had is crazy. Yeah, it was McDonald's toys. I remember McDonald's toys. It was a it was a thing with McDonald's. I was like, this was huge. It was it was it was huge. Hey, maybe we should do some more this kid stuff.

Rebel Rodriguez 58:05
Pretty cool. In the kitchen. There's still a little Routh. I'm, there's a little Ralph toy about this big just sitting up on one of the ledges. And he really one day and I got a picture. I was like, man, it took that long for him to finally fall down. I got a picture of him. I put him right back up

Racer Max 58:21
Back on your bed.

Rebel Rodriguez 58:23
And I was a kid just staring at him up there. Like when can I play with him? They knew we'd lose him as a kid. But so he just stayed up there. It's like, no, no, he's spying. He's just It's crazy how pervasive it was everywhere. I mean, it just and it was just such so impactful to so yeah, and nothing like that. I mean, it's just

Alex Ferrari 58:42
No nothing like that. And you know, what was really fascinating to me, too, is that with Spy Kids, your parents didn't fall into the same trap that so many Hollywood filmmakers get into was when they have a big hit the studio's show up and like, here's more money, take a lot more money, and just double the budget and just do whatever you want. And they said no, we're gonna do the exact same budget. And it'll be fine. And it's that's such a smart move. It's such a brilliant move, because you get intoxicated with money being thrown at success and success. And they said, no, no, no, we're good. Give us the same, we'll make another one. And it was so brilliant. Because if that's not as big of a hit, it's okay. But if they would have taken 100,000 100 They could have easily got $100 million budget for the next episode comfortably and it would not have been a good business move. So that's another lesson you know, for all of us who will eventually have the Spy Kids kind of fame. Number Don't take the 100 million when they offer to you boy

Racer Max 59:55
That's really good observation I'd never thought of I'd never thought about that now wants to event Should it today, but I? Oh, God, I really agree with you. Yeah, that's, I mean, I'm just another side of their genius, you know, the how smart they were and how thoughtful about filmmaking and how much they can make, how much what they can accomplish. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:14
And it's and it is a lesson that can be, you know, we were joking about the 100 million dollars, but, but when you're anywhere, if you have some success anywhere, don't get intoxicated by it. Understand that. This is a moment, it will pass. And you're gonna be right down at the bottom again, real quick, real quick, how many filmmakers? How many wonderful filmmakers have we seen who rose rose rose, got a little too intoxicated, went a little crazy, bombed. And they get thrown into director jail, and you don't see them again. And sometimes you don't see them again, ever again. And it's such a shame. Where you know, that happens. And again, it happens in any interview successes in any field anywhere you go. Don't get intoxicated by it, because the one thing that people and that's one thing I think your parents never really fell into was the you're the greatest. Oh my god, you're this You're that here's more money. Here's it they just really grounded really really grounded the entire the entire time they've been making movies. It has been you could see it in the in the filmography you know, SimCity huge, monumental filmmakers that are legendary were like how to do this, you know, and yet Cool. Cool, very, very high level headed throughout the rest of you know, moving forward, it's pretty admirable to see film a filmmaker and and like your parents, both filmmakers, stay grounded during this whole process and then keeping you guys grounded. I mean, you guys are an example of this. groundedness because you guys could have eat I mean, I've I've met some Hollywood, quote unquote, Hollywood kids. And it's, it's, it's I'm sure you have to it's, it's a it's a brutal business, guys. It's a brutal business that can eat up somebody and tear them apart and destroy them. Like that. Would you agree?

Racer Max 1:02:13
I agree. Absolutely. Yeah, I row is appreciated. That groundedness they applied, you know, to their careers that they applied to raising us and even raising us in the same industry and bringing, and now teaching us and training us in the same industry. So yeah, but I absolutely agree. That's a really cool observation. Thank you for that about them.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
No, absolutely. Absolutely. So now there's this fifth and stuff, because you guys can't stop making Spy Kids. I mean, it's just like, just back to the horse. We go. No, I'm joking.

Racer Max 1:02:49
We had other people tell us these are like Bond movies like this is such a universal tale.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:55
While just new cash will bring Daniel Craig in will bring Pierce Brosnan. It'll be great. It'll be great. No, these these could arguably keep I mean, you guys can be you know, you know, when when Robert and Elizabeth are both, you know, completely retired from making stuff you guys like working to keep going and you could be the petroleum like, can spike it just keep the Brooklyn family just keeps going. And we have to bring in some new Spy Kids. It can easily keep going. I mean, it's it by the way is a Spy Kids Armageddon, the beginning of a new trilogy, that you guys are trying to make.

Racer Max 1:03:31
That is that's the that's the ideas we we got new kids that we really love new family, new parents that we really love. And we just love seeing them together and their energy in the first thing everybody sees when they like any of the crew or the producers, anybody got to see them on set. They're like, Oh, my gosh, I want to see so much more. They have so much fun and so much energy. So that was the idea. We just made it a little standalone reboot on its own. That was its kind of division going in. But seeing it on camera, you go oh my gosh, I want to keep watching this. I want to see more. Just like with Spike, it's one everybody wants to see those kids somewhere. So

Alex Ferrari 1:04:05
Right and now they're like my age those kids. I mean, having kids of their own

Racer Max 1:04:09
Yeah. kids of their own.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:13
And then you see one of them in my chat and you're like wow, okay. Okay. All right. All right. Yeah, go. It's fascinating. But so, so tell us a little bit about Spy Kids. Armageddon. I know. There was no Netflix finally got the rights to help you. You know, make the sequels and they love what you guys did with. We are heroes or we are yours. We are champions. We can be heroes. Yeah, we can be heroes. We are we can be heroes, which by the way loved as well. It's such a beautiful story. Beautiful film. My kids like watched it a ton of times. You know, it's great. Yeah. And the little behind the scenes that they made with you guys on YouTube and stuff like that was so much fun to watch what you guys were doing. And then my kids were like, I want a pen and an iPad. I'm like God, Jesus Christ. Great, thanks. Thanks, Robert. Thanks, Robert. Elizabeth. I appreciate that. Thanks. So tell me a little bit how this this story came about how you guys came at this new this new installment?

Racer Max 1:05:18
Yeah, it's it's perfect that you mentioned we can be heroes because we had just just finished making that. And we loved it. We had such a great time getting to do kids kids film again. And getting it right. That was fun getting to make it was fun. And so, Robert, and I were just joking around, like, how could you imagine what if we do another Spy Kids? I can be really fun, right? Yeah, let's do something like that. And Robert does what he does best. We he starts talking to people about it immediately. And it was Skydance that was really interested. And they said we would love to do Spy Kids. And Robert and I were laughing from the studio that brings you Mission Impossible comes schmuck. That's okay. We laughed at the idea. And we did a writing process that we've been doing since I was seven. And we did Sharkboy and Lavagirl. Together is we jump in the pool, and have a little notepad next to the pool. And just swim around and talk ideas, laugh about things, make jokes talk about it. And pretty much in that. In that pool session, we came to one of the major ideas, the story of the film, including the idea that then that, in that making up for in the behind the scenes with we come here as mentioned the idea of give kids technology like don't hold them back to what whatever you did when you were growing up or growing up or anything like that, give them the best, so that they can go further than you and they will go up leaps and bounds. So try not to hold them to any restrictions you had. See what's available now see what can help them and give that to them. So we loved that. And we were just we were just talking about it in the making of and we thought that would have made the whole story about that was Spy Kids and rebel hoarded a great Lego for a rebel the the idea that you weren't a great lady idea that giving kids technology and wow, that was a huge part of this one.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:07:11
Oh, yeah. Yeah, it was interesting, it kind of all came together because we'd love this. You know, it's technology's kind of gotten a bad rap. To some extent, you know, of like, it's all bad books are better. And so we're like, how about we have a movie where it's the opposite. And the book, the book can be just as bad as the technology can be just as good. And vice versa. You know, it's less about the tool and more about the teaching, what are they learning? You know, what are you learning? What values are you kind of learning from that. But that kind of came together with an idea of like, you know, it'd be really cool to have a To Do A Spy Kids, where is there any way we could make the whole world change to where suddenly kids have like a unique advantage over adults in some way? Like, just conceptually, is there any way to do that? And we're like, you know, what, if like, the only way to access technology in the world was through like video games, since kids have gotten so adept at this and technology in general, that they completely outpaced their parents and stuff and that their own things. It's like the hot time of their lives. And if that's like the inciting event, now, suddenly, the kids are super spies, and everyone else is struggling. So it's like now they're really like the only people that can like save the world. So that's, that was like where the concept really started.

Racer Max 1:08:18
But so kind of the core idea came to that, yeah, let's have a bad guy who's a villain who's video game designer. And he infects the whole world with a video game virus and nobody gets to their vices, except the kids can because they're smart. And they're savvy with technology and games. So they go leaps ahead of the parents. And within the course a few days become super spies and are now having to go save the world take on all the responsibility of that. And so a lot of the core ideas really came to that writing session. And we have from there took off we just started writing, creating it over the course of 2020 2021. And yeah, that was the birth of the new ones like is Armageddon.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:55
I feel that it's going to do well sir. I feel that the kids are gonna really like my girls are like excited to see it. It's, it's, it's so admirable to see how you guys have continued that that franchise and I hope because even when I saw the trailer, I haven't seen the movie yet, because we haven't had access to it yet. But soon, soon, we're seeing hopefully next week. But, but even the trailer kind of that's why I asked Is this a trilogy? Like I saw it, I saw where this was going, I was like, Oh, this is not they're making another trilogy out of this. This is solid, solid.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:09:35
Yeah, it's really it's really special. That was kind of the intention of like, you know, you know, I get the feeling of like, Spike hits five, you know, usually when something gets to the fifth, it's like, I don't know what's going on anymore. But we really were like, We really only wanted to do it if there was really a story we could tell that's different from the old ones, but has the same values and stuff. So that's where we kind of saw the opportunity of like, right, there's almost a modern take on this now that it's been 20 years since the The first one where now we have a very significant gap between what that one was about what this one is about. But they're both still about family and about still about empowerment of kids. And this generation would really love that sort of thing, you know, in this new form factor. And it's really cool now, especially that we learned from we can be heroes is, streaming services is really great for kids, they can watch the movie as much as they want, not as much as they can convince their parents to go to the movie and drive them there. So they get to watch it that much more. So we can be heroes is really impactful. And beloved, because kids could just watch it at the pace, they like watching things, watch it all the way through, gets to the end credits, you just replay it, and you do it again. And you do that a few times a day,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:39
Where you guys might be you guys might be a little young to remember this. But that's exactly what they did. In the video store days with Disney movies, I would rent out a Disney movie and the kids would just on loop, watch the VHS, again, rewind again, they did it with five kids, because both kids was on VHS as well. And they would just loop again and again and again. But now it's instant on their phone, on the car. They could just watch. I mean, I think my girls have seen we can be heroes a few times at least two or three times. And I was like, I'll walk into limits. Great. Are you Why didn't you just see this like last week? Yeah, they have the ability to do that, like I can watch a movie again. And again, mine doesn't do that anymore. Lethal Weapon like five times in a row, I can really do that anymore.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:11:28
Just like different the way they enjoy their entertainment. And it just it was always kind of difficult to make to make that work. But you know, now it's easier than ever for them kind of, I mean, they don't really have much problem watching it on a phone or an iPad, they just want to see it and like be able to watch experience it over and over again, see the jokes again. And, you know, so it's cool to put something in front of them that like really empowers them and shows them you know, they can go on a really cool, awesome adventure, they can do really incredible things. And if they work together with their family as well, you know, you can do, you can move mountains. And it's it's always been about that sort of thing, too. It's really special. So

Alex Ferrari 1:12:00
And we can be heroes, if I'm not mistaken was like number one on Netflix for a while. Right? Was like everybody was like, what's going on? Like, what is Stranger Things like what's going on? I heard that I'm like, good, man. That's awesome. It wasn't and I know the budgets because I know, Robert spent $400 million dollars and make that sounds like good that, you know, a film like that gets that kind of attention worldwide. Worldwide.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:12:34
It's really it's really something.

Racer Max 1:12:37
It's really interesting.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:40
And I believe that this one will probably do, I hope similar business, if you will. So they can make the next two or three, and then your kids will start making them.

Racer Max 1:12:52
That's yeah, that's the hope for us. You know, right now we're still waiting for the launch. And we're like, Oh, I hope I just want to make a second and a third and beyond this. So

Rebel Rodriguez 1:12:59
Yeah, exactly. So just as much as we can be heroes and all that kind of stuff, because it's really hard.

Racer Max 1:13:05
If not, we really had a great time making it but really brought the family together in a really fun way. And what are excited for people to watch it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:14
And what was the biggest challenge of making that film? Because it makes you guys fun? Yeah, cuz you guys got a little different. You got you got some shrapnel. Now you got a little bit of shrapnel on you, you know, you've taken a couple hits along the way. How did this big a little bit bigger budget slightly bigger budget a

Racer Max 1:13:31
Little bigger than red 11

Alex Ferrari 1:13:34
So from a production standpoint and a composing standpoint, how did this like biggest challenges? Yeah.

Racer Max 1:13:39
This one, definitely the biggest challenge was dealing with a legacy, you know, of the originals are so beloved, that and we're just love them so much to that. crafting something that has to capture what came before that. That was all you know, you put on your gloves to deal with that every single day. Just okay, and now we're gonna carefully adjust this and that and make sure this is feels up to snuff. So like reference of the originals was so key and so important. And like, in hindsight, there's still little elements that I watch now in the movie and go, Gosh, I wish I made that more like this or more like that, because like, Oh, I missed, totally missed that whole side of fun that the originals had that, that I only incorporate a little bit. So like that definitely is the biggest challenge. But we're and that haunts you throughout writing throughout production or editing, even through visual effects. It's like no, this has the right shape. They're composing. Compose. Yep. All throughout all of that challenge Honsou throughout all of it, but at the end, I'm really happy with where it how it came together. And how I watched it and I see kids smile sitting next to me and go okay, you know, you can beat yourself up about like, Oh, I wish I did this, this and that. But it really it captures something that's Just like the originals, and that makes us smile as kids that makes us smile now is big kids. Well,

Alex Ferrari 1:15:05
I never I never thought about that. But you're absolutely right. You guys are the the number one fans of this franchise. I mean, and the pressure that that puts on you guys as creators. It's kind of like my parents started this train. I better not do really. Now not at the beginning of the process, you can't do this.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:15:29
Especially, you know, many times this type of stuff hasn't worked out, you're like, the odds are stacked against you for sure. It's definitely

Alex Ferrari 1:15:37
Any sequel, any sequel, the second, third or fifth? Yeah, always. You're always. Occasionally you get the Terminator two. Occasionally, you get aliens. Yeah. Okay. And by the way, I actually liked by kids too, more than I liked by kids, one on my personal I love my kids. But Spy Kids too. I really remember liking it more. I just liked it more than the first one. So

Racer Max 1:16:03
My favorite to write it's like

Alex Ferrari 1:16:05
Occasionally. But man, I can't imagine that kind of pressure. Because from your parents legacy from the films legacy, and also your own love of being part of it. Since you were so young. Must have been How the hell do you make this movie? I'm like, I'm stressed out and I didn't make it.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:16:22
Yeah, definitely the stress and the weight. And like the pressure of all that is what counterbalances a lot is the love and the passion we've had for the series. And it's like, you know, we're like some of the biggest fan. So it's like, we were there the whole time going, it's got to have this, it's got to have that it's got to have this, you know, we need the vehicles, we need a little robot assistant, because you can't go without that. I mean, that's all I wanted as a kid was thinking robotics is I wanted Ralph so badly. And needs this. And it's I mean,

Alex Ferrari 1:16:48
I still need Ralph, Sir. I still think

Rebel Rodriguez 1:16:54
We all told me I could buy one, I'd probably be looking towards that. Yeah, I would 100% Ralph is a necessity. But yeah, it's definitely just as much as it was a huge deal. And there was a lot to a lot to get done here. There was the passion for it was really what drove us. And it was, you know, it's what made it probably one of my favorite projects we've done was that, we get to do all that again, and you know, be able to add a new twist to it and add new flavors to it. And we have enough under our belt that we're like, we know how we can approach that in the writing and this and that, you know, we kind of put all our heads together and can try to do something new, but still have that same feeling as the originals. So it's really beautiful. I think it came at exactly the right time when I didn't feel I was ready for it. But I had the passion to like, if I could do it, this is how I do it. And so yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:17:45
So now moving on real quick. You guys also worked on another little film called hypnotic. Recently you produced and you compose that, again, slightly bigger than read a lovin maker. Yeah, yeah. Hi, Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben was that was a star. So I mean, you guys, you guys are taking on bigger and bigger projects now. You know, it's it's so admirable to see how you guys are taking on this kind of pressure. Because you could. I mean, you guys could easily be all honest. in OBS aside, you guys could Coast comfortably for the rest of your life. But no joke, you can do this. But you guys are challenging yourself and pushing yourselves as creators as filmmakers. And I think that is a legacy of your parents who are pushing you and throwing you into the deep end. Because when I saw like, because I'm like, Oh, they did here. And then when I looked at him, like some of it they did hypnotic too. Like that's, that's a big that's that's a big that's a big boy movie. You know, serious movie, big boy movie, big girl movie. You know? So when you approach that, like, how did you guys I mean, it's it's a it's a bigger deal, guys. It's not like it's not legacy. It's not something else that you're like, Okay, we're we're now in the deep end with Uncle Ben

Racer Max 1:19:11
Absolutely, it's yeah, as you were saying that. We I as you were saying you guys are taking on the challenge the little voice in my head is going Oh, but I love the challenge. And it's like in this moment in this chair, I realized oh gosh, my parents gave me a bit of their insanity Yeah, this is that insanity that

Alex Ferrari 1:19:28
That got programming programming I talked to you about earlier. There he settled

Racer Max 1:19:37
They flipped it around the pressure and challenge that nobody wants they've made us like private and desire it and go after it as a day job

Rebel Rodriguez 1:19:44
Makes you more excited. But it's that's really us kind of thinking that you know, I mean you become unbreakable in that regard. The more challenge you get the more excited you are about it. It's like that's the passion can completely outgun the amount of pressure you have and really that's what generates the ideas if you're not passionate for If you just feel like you're gonna get steamrolled, nothing's gonna come to you at all. But if you're, if you're if you got that rocky kind of mentality to it, where it's like, there's no way you just gotta go the distance and give it everything you've got, you start coming up with stuff, the passion kind of drives it. And that's where you start to get the inspiration impetus to kind of start making something and,

Racer Max 1:20:19
And talk about a challenge that makes you feel unbreakable. With hypnotic. It's like, Yeah, this is a serious thriller. We have major great actor attached to this. And also

Alex Ferrari 1:20:28
And also an Oscar winner, and a great director in his own right, a fantastic director. Absolutely

Racer Max 1:20:34
Fantastic director. Yeah, exactly, exactly. On top of that, it was 2020, it was 2020 2021. We made this during a little something called the pandemic, the

Wow, this project fell apart because of COVID. Twice, each time shrinking the budget as it went, because we this film was pretty sold. So all the budget that you have is all the budget you got. And twice we almost got it started once in California and once in Canada, but both times it fell through. And so we finally found a way to bring it over to little home called Boston and pulled out Well believe it or not pulled out a lot of our rent 11 tricks on this on. A good amount of the movie is shot in the exact same office studio as a good we're like how much how can we use more of our own studio for this film, and just the fact

Rebel Rodriguez 1:21:35
That it's a ruler, and it's got psychological aspects to it. It's literally we kept calling it it's like the spiritual successor of like read 11 like read 11 had a Desperado. It was weird like mariachi had a just really strange how that happened. markable so much of the same kind of DNA that made that was kind of had to put this out of necessity, but it made them so it feel almost like they're linked spiritually a little bit.

Racer Max 1:22:02
So it was it took all sides to do it. You know, we're like, Okay, well, this is just a normal office, but rebel with your incredible music that you've just learned how to compose. We're going to make this feel great and psychological and epic and moving dramatic, even though he's just walking through our same boring gray hall that we have in our studio.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:23
No pressure at all boys.

Racer Max 1:22:24
No pressure at all. Yeah, yeah, it was fun. It was really fun to you know, move on to something like that. That's, as you said, big, big boy, big girl movie. And then tackle it with all the same toolset that we've learned up to this point and gain new ones along the way.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:41
So I have to ask you guys, this question, what is the biggest if you can if you can bring it down to one thing? What is the biggest lesson you've learned from your dad?

Racer Max 1:22:51
Biggest lesson I've learned from my dad filmmaking, filmmaking or life?

Alex Ferrari 1:22:54
It's up to you.

Racer Max 1:22:55
That's kind of the thing with him. It's almost like the kung fu masters. You don't realize he's teaching. He's teaching how to throw a punch. But he's also teaching you how to pay your mortgage or how to how to have a successful relationship or anything like that. I always tell him this one is my favorite. And is he taught me one day I think I was upset about something when I was five or six. And he grabbed visuals are good for parents who grabbed a cup of water filled about halfway. And for less than we've all heard, but you know, just sticks with you. He spilled about halfway and he said, Look at this cup of water. You can look at it. You can either see it as half full or half empty. But is it tea right now. And I said it's half empty. Like there's only half water there. And he said, You just use a negative mindset. To me, I see a lot of potential a little water that's in there. That's half full. I've got so much water to work with. I've got half full cup of water. That's incredible. And he said that is positive thinking with that. I can conquer anything with think with believing I've got so much greatness in this little half full cup of water. I've got so much I can do. And he taught me that I didn't tell him till probably like, a decade later. 17 that that was the most important thing you ever taught me and he went, I remember teaching you that really good. I said,

I'm pretty good. I'm pretty good. Well teach me what did it what did you got from it? But

That absolutely. You know, it's it's filmmaking, it's life. It's everything. That kind of thinking. Pressure and challenges. Don't turn into opportunity unless you can look at it in a positive way. So like, oh, everything I couldn't have learned anything I've learned either from them or from these projects that they've blessed us by putting us on challenging us with unless I have that. So

Rebel Rodriguez 1:24:38
No, I definitely. It's probably one of the most foundational lessons that everything else builds on. It's like if you have that a lot of things can fall into place. It's yeah. Yeah, pretty much that one's Yeah, that's the one that's really it's continued to mean more the more I grew up, it's like wow, this was that was really it and I think the only the other one is his main one that you know, no matter how prepared you think you are, you're always going to everything's gonna fall apart. He said, as much as knowing is half the battle, the other half the battle is not knowing. And so it's just this kind of this eternal, you're never going to have the whole battle basically, it's just always gotta meet, meet it the rest of the way. But, but um, yeah, definitely between those two. That's kind of been what's always driven us because it's really powerful. It allows you to turn a monumental amount of pressure and problems into a monumental amount of potential. And for creativity potential and passion is what makes it grow. So you just beautiful when you got nothing, at least got your mind and like a piece of paper and some ideas. So that takes no budget, but that's what the movie The best movies are made out of. It's all throughout it is fabric. So so if

Alex Ferrari 1:25:51
I may be able to quote Dumb and Dumber, so you're saying there's a chance that's great. And on the other side of that coin of your growth is your mother. And the lessons that she taught me She's a remarkable producer. And holds the entire, the entire place for you know, when when your parents work together and work together early in their in their careers. She held the space for him, for him to be insane. Absolutely. Without question, right. So and inspire kids. And this one as well as she held the space. So everyone could be insane. What lesson if you can hold on to one, what is the lesson that your mother has taught you? From not only in the filmmaking side, but on the life side as well? Because, you know, I you know, I adore your mom, she's, she's, she's amazing. But as a producer, I even respect her so much. Because what she does, she doesn't get a lot of limelight for now and and producers, producers raise producers. Who What about Uncle Ben and Robert?

Rebel Rodriguez 1:27:12
What you know about them is usually because there were a huge problem. That's when

Alex Ferrari 1:27:17
You're like, oh, that producer. Okay. All right. We're we're in the Hollywood Hills. But so, so yep. So that that ability to hold space to protect your creators to hold a set to build a set? What advice to What lesson did you learn from her on that aspect and also in life in general? Yeah, it hurts.

Racer Max 1:27:40
This hurts the same thing filmmaking in life, you kind of learn one rule that applies to everything. And with her it was that you adore her. Everybody who's worked with her loves her. It's everybody, everybody, everybody, and so many, so much that on this new spike, it's we got to work together again, and so I was producing and she was producing. And I watched how much she's a mother, on set, and in production and in post, and seeing how much as much as we talked about the myth of a guy one did it all by himself, no money, none of this all by himself, but you got it. There are so many people in the background that led to something like that. And it's so important to remember that all of them are family too. They're just as much stewards of this creation, as you the lone Maverick, are. And they deserve all the love and all the respect and all the kindness you can give them to where they feel safe, and that they can explore and they can be creative and be insane. So that same foundation that allows them to grow and flourish. That's what she taught me. I see so many, like I studied the secrets of so many other films and TV shows that I love and I do some digging, do some digging and find people saying oh my gosh, the production was lovely because like there was this one person who took care of all of us and I go up they had an Elizabeth havea and I read another was had an Elizabeth Aviana up they had an Elizabeth Ibn I believe that so that would definitely be the biggest thing.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:29:08
Yeah, she always kind of mentioned that offense. Because she's you know, sprays five kids and all in quick succession while also making movies and she always says it took a village to raise to raise kids. I mean, it takes a whole team. But you hear her always say that it takes a village I always catch her saying it on set too. And it's like it's true. It takes a village to make a movie too. And it takes everyone being there. It's a whole team and it's all of us working together well and having a space where we can all be creative and bring our best to it that really is what makes it you know, that's kind of what she does. She sets the space for the magic to happen and yeah, that's

Alex Ferrari 1:29:42
The insanity Oh, don't get it twisted. Your mom's crazy to there they all think oh god different flavors. But there's there's an insanity to all of this love. Absolutely.

Racer Max 1:30:02

Alex Ferrari 1:30:05
Now guys, I'm gonna I'm gonna ask you a few questions ask all of my guests. Please. What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter starting in the business today and trying to break into the business today? Don't say make a mariachi, I'll hit you. Someone asked that to Quinton like ComiCon or something like that, you know what he said, Make Reservoir Dogs. That's the only way I know how to do it. And I'm like, Man, that easy, man, like just write Reservoir Dogs than fiction. I mean, that's it.

Racer Max 1:30:43
That's it's linear, simple, super simple. For me, it definitely be you go. There's the apps, if you haven't, if you want to make films, and you haven't made a feature yet, absolutely make a feature. And absolutely make a feature. And most importantly, put restrictions on it. Put time restrictions, put deadlines, put physical restrictions of what you can use what you got, I'm not telling you to go make mariachi I promise don't hit me, Alex. We talked about the importance of creativity and flourishing that and harnessing that. The dual side of that is you got to have your pants on fire a little bit, you got to have you got to channel insanity, you got to be a little bit crazy, so that it gets done. Because I I say you're not a filmmaker, until someone is sitting somewhere can be a couch that your house can be in a theater, if you're that lucky, or a screening room of some kind, if you make it that far, but you're not a filmmaker until the end credits are rolling. And people around, you have watched a full film you've made in that moment, you're a filmmaker. That's and doesn't matter if it's good or bad, whether they're running out of the theaters, to go grab pitchforks and come chase after you. Or if they're laughing, laughing their butts out harder than the left ever, it doesn't matter. The What matters is that you do that whole rep. Once you It's like doing half a push up and expecting that you've done one, it's now you can't filmmaking, it takes a long time to do a single push up. And you got to get all the way to that to that moment for it to fully count. So that's what I would suggest.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:22
Beautifully said sir, I will not be hitting you. Now it's your turn, you're still on the block. Go ahead.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:32:30
Adding to that, yeah, so that's the first thing we've learned. I've never learned more in my life than I have when there was a deadline, when you've got the pressure, that's when I don't know, I think it turns into kind of fight or flight. That's when you feel like, okay, we got to move, it's something has to be done by now. Even if you made up the deadline, it's something has to be done now. But my own one is, I think the most important thing too, is if you're, you know, you want to get into the business, you have these ideas, you know, because if again, like you said, we're all geniuses, we have this incredible thing in our head. Just start make something, don't care what it is start. Don't go and wait till you've got you know, Terminator till you got avatar, you've written the whole thing. And you can create this monstrosity, make something it doesn't have to be very big, but make at least start doing it and do a whole rep even if it's a little one. Do one show people now you officially made a movie. So it's most people never even start. They're like I want to do it. But I need blank, I have this, I haven't done this, I don't have that, you know, it's, you don't need anything, just start. And you will pick up the pieces that you need along the way. And at least then you've started doing it which most people don't even get there. So just by showing up the first day, you've started the process. Now you'll get momentum, if you're standing around waiting for inspiration or momentum, it's not gonna happen. So you gotta

Alex Ferrari 1:33:50
I feel that I feel like there's like a spirit of Robert in the room. And he's like, channeled through you to at the moment because it sounds so it sounds so beautiful. And both you guys said it's absolutely right. And where were you guys like 15 years ago for me because I wish I would have heard this 15 years ago, all I did was throw obstacles in front of myself. Right? And that's what a lot of filmmakers do. They're like, Oh, I can't do it until I have this camera. I can't do it until this person's there. I can't do it until I have this location. And it's excuses because you're either scared or have some trauma like I did, which is a whole nother story or other stuff like that. That stops you from going forward until you finally get to the place where like, Screw it. I'm gonna go to Sundance and make a movie

Rebel Rodriguez 1:34:38
You had the time of your life doing it and as oh my god I'm sure Nick came up. I'm sure you could feel the vibrancy in it as a result if it you know with what you came out with, it's just gonna it's got this energy to it because you were excited you drove this just the fact they said screw it. We're gonna make a movie. There you go. You started you're doing something now even if it's with your phone, you're going around and doing something at least and it's a difference.

Alex Ferrari 1:34:59
It's very harmful, it's really a powerful idea to just get going and get started. But I think the one thing that's missing from this this little bit is the attachment to what happens to it. The attachment to oh, I have to make this that was the biggest thing like a mariachi was the best. And the worst thing that ever happened to a whole generation of filmmakers, as as was clerks, as was slackers. All those, that generation is like, Oh, when I make my first film, it has to be Reservoir Dogs, right? It has to be mariachi, it's got to be clerks. And that pressure, you're just destroying yourself before you even get off the you can't walk with that kind of weight on you. You know, exactly. And you learned early on that you don't have to do that. Because you you know, I mean, I imagine that as filmmakers, the pressure that was on you guys, we talked a little bit about on Spike, it's too but you've got two very large shadows. They ain't but you're like, Screw it. I'm doing me and I'm going to do what I'm gonna do. They did what they did. I'm going to do what I'm gonna do. And it took me to just say, I'm 40 I gotta, I mean, what am I gonna wake up tomorrow? I'm gonna be 60 I'm going to start doing with this BS. I gotta make something. And I've been directing for 20 years, but I hadn't made the feature. Yeah, that was and that was the thing. So then once, I mean, once you make the one good, bad and different matter, you're like, Okay, I proved to myself, I can make one. Great. And now I can move forward. It doesn't have to be Reservoir Dogs, because no one's gonna make a Reservoir Dogs. Brothers McMullen in the Boys in the Hood. No one's gonna make those movies again, ever, ever. So once you get that out of your head, then it frees you to be the creative, the creative forces that you are now. So

Racer Max 1:36:50
Yeah, that is the missing key. The triumvirate right there. Absolutely agree.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:54
If there was if there was a worst day you've ever been on a production? What was that day? And how did you overcome it?

Racer Max 1:37:03
Oh, that's a good one. Let's see I gave him the raining raining on our climax story. Gosh, what's another? I know that was one of those wagons.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:19
I assume rebel when you're when you're composing. I mean, a hard drive might have crashed here and there. Or you are you get blocked from it's

Rebel Rodriguez 1:37:27
It's almost seems mental. It's almost always mental. It's and it almost happens on every single one of them. I'm gonna say and that's another thing I'll point out in a second. But yeah, it's it was heroes. This was the first time it really hit us. We can be heroes, I wrote that entire score. It was like a blessing and a curse. I wrote the huge battle sequence for the parents fight the aliens and all that I wrote. That was one of the first things I wrote for that. That was like, after he almost a year of learning orchestral music. I'd never written for an orchestra. So I've spending a year writing pretty much garbage. And hit that. And I was like, that's great. And Robert was like, Well, the good news is, that's really great music. That's incredible. You know, I could never write at that level. The bad news is, I can't help you on this anymore. You got to do the whole movie yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:38:14
Because you have to pass the Master, I can't help you anymore. Good luck.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:38:19
It's not gonna sound the same. Exactly. You know, it's just sweat. Get in the way. And it was four months of me. I composed for four months on that one. And it's 90. It's like a 590 minutes of music. All

Alex Ferrari 1:38:37

Rebel Rodriguez 1:38:39
From the music. Yeah. And I was halfway through, it's like two and a half months, I think was actually more than halfway, two and a half months in. And I had written 1/3 of it going as fast as I could go. And that's when it dawns on you. I don't think I'm Omega dude. And it's all mental. You're just up all night, just sitting there going, Dude, it's done for I'm gonna sink this whole movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:39:02
Oh, you start going down the rabbit hole, you start circling the drain.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:39:08
The whole movie has been made everyone's done their things. High fives you saw everyone was so excited when set was over did it's amazing edit. It's all coming together. You're the last guy there. I mean, you're just like, they're all like, Alright, make the last leap. You know, you're right there. And it's like, I don't think I'm gonna make it. And I don't know if something clicks there, where you go into overdrive. It's one of the scariest kinds of things because the way I say it is, the more ideas you create, the more impetus you're gonna get on the project, because you're kind of figuring it out like the puzzle piece of what's the style of it. What's this? What's that? Just keep making don't stop. It doesn't matter if it's good or bad. Don't judge it just keep making stuff, because you're going to have more room to work with. And so you start a movie, at least a score and it's halfway through and you haven't made half you've made like a third maybe even less. It almost like multiplies until by the end You're writing like, 10 times faster than you worked the beginning because you've just figured out more of the movie. So it always feels like you're down to the wire, pretty much. That was the first time I've ever experienced it. And there's always that moment where it dawns on you, it's like Rocky, where he's like, I can't do this, you know, I'm just gonna go the distance I it's, and it's one of if it could either break you or it can make you definitely it's one of those moments where you either quit and say, I can't do it, man, you're gonna have to hire someone else, or you just drive through and you know, it's fairly make it by the skin of your teeth. It's, you know, what's

Alex Ferrari 1:40:28
Fascinating is that I've done I don't know, 1000 episodes at this point. I've had composers on before, but I've never had a composer at your level that's able to do these large movies, or have have the opportunity to these large movies. And this really race pressure, because you're the last leg of the race. Yeah. And if you remember, yeah, if you fumble the damn baton. It's all over no matter how fast the other guys, we're, you're done. That pressure is something I've never really thought about for a composer, because a lot of the composers I've talked to like, you know, Oscar winners are big guys who have done this 1000 times. But you're just like, I've never talked them about like the beginning aspects of their career. Just like I was on a $70 million movie and I and I had no one around me to help like, I don't know, alone by sweating. I didn't really remark here.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:41:25
I'm here today. I survived somehow. i It's a blur. But yeah, it happens. And it's gonna happen. Every single movie, that's all. I come back, you think, Oh, you're on top of the world. That's it? No, it's like Rocky, he comes back. He can't do it again. You got to start from that from scratch again. You're like, I don't think I can do this one. Because this isn't that oh, this. This one's hypnotic. It's, um, it's got you know, and I feel like, we don't have an orchestra. They carried away. I mean, they do amazing work. You write this stuff, you give it to them, they make it sound incredible. It's all on me. What comes out of my computer, is what's gonna be on the movie. And it's like, I don't know if I can do this again. And it's like, you just you get in your head and it's over. So it's Yeah, every single time I've had it. It's just

Alex Ferrari 1:42:06
That's beautiful. Because it's like, like, you know, am I gonna have to go down to the button that a dungeon with Apollo and train again? Like, am I? Because I just can't obviously Mr. T is too much for me. I don't think I'm gonna make it. I think I've been broken. And now I have to come back. So it's so your Mr. T was like, spin off.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:42:30
A glass of water better be powerful, man. Because only thing you got oh my gosh.

Alex Ferrari 1:42:35
That's remarkable. Well, that's, that's great, man. Thank you for that story. That's I've just never really thought about that aspect of all right. I've been in post most of my life. So I've always been at the end. And I always figure it out. And I always, you know, posted and I've been post supervisor VFX, all that kind of stuff. So I always just figure it out along the way. But mines is technical in that sense. Maybe the creative with editing and stuff, but I'm not alone. A lot of times I have either producer. You're out there and an island by yourself. And there's just a phone call. Oh. Yeah. That's amazing. That's amazing. It's

Racer Max 1:43:14
Pretty incredible.

Alex Ferrari 1:43:15
So Rachel, how about you, my friend?

Racer Max 1:43:18
I'll just tack on to what he said. Because it's excellent. We're just really been fortunate. We haven't had really anything bad. You know, we've had things explode. We've had sure everything that could be considered bad, but it's like it's ever been really that bad. Because you just do it rebels had their

Rebel Rodriguez 1:43:34
Movie set standards happens all the time.

Racer Max 1:43:38
Whether it's Oh God, the wind is kicking up so high on our hypnotic finale that none of the actors can see Cassandra's blowing in their eyes. So we got to close out this finale as quick as we can. Let's make it emotional somehow. Because we're at a dry river basin and COVID We can't go anywhere else. Or it's like, oh, gosh, it's 105 degrees outside and our little actor star is just not having this seat. He is having a horrible time. And he's got to deliver some lines right now unless we can cut them cleverly. Right. Now watch this, I'll do a little drawing. I'll show you how we can fix this. So as Robin said, you start getting your head over, the most important thing you can do is get out of your head quickly. Start making it tangible start making tangible solutions, no matter what it is, whether it's the boats linking, the vehicles gone, actor can't make it. You have to rewrite the entire scene. Just start drawing, start writing, start talking to everybody that's there to help you and figure it out. Get out of your head quickly.

Alex Ferrari 1:44:35
Beautiful, beautiful advice, guys. Now, if you had a chance to go back in time, and talk to little rebel and little racer, what advice would you give them have a time machine. Dude, seriously, can I borrow a lot. There's a lot of stuff I need to work on.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:44:59
Yeah. Yeah. Actually, yeah on on Spy Kids, I had this one actually, we were we were in London and recording for the we're there for the orchestra group recorded live because the whole thing is live recorded. And it was up there that I wrote it down. I was telling Theresa, we're always just talk ideas about this kind of stuff. And I told them, I think I finally have something I would have like, gone back a few years and wish I told myself, like, really, really like, Man, I wish I did this five years ago, man, but it's a, it's an interesting kind of trap you rot you fall into because you're doing what you love. It's not what you really expect is. I loved making music. I mean, it was like everything to me, I was just out of school, and I've got all the time, you know, all the time, you could possibly think of got a part time job or whatever, you've got so much time as opposed to when I was in school, and it's like you're squeezing out whatever little bit you got, that isn't school time. And I think the worst thing you can do is be so passionate about it, that you put all of your time into it, and are willing to put in an unbelievable amount of hours into it constantly. And do every little last little touch and try to make the most perfect thing you can make. Because it's not at all how reality works. Honestly, it's, it's almost like you need and it's like it was always weird, I make things and I would just get so into the details and almost lost in the details to where you're not really doing the broad strokes well, and all that kind of stuff. Because that's so much time. It's like, oh, well, I can sit here and do this all day. And you know, mess with every little note I write and all that kind of stuff. It's it's actually counterintuitive. It teaches you all the wrong ways to do things in a weird way I'd watch my dad work. And Robert just has kind of this thing of like, well, I've only got this many hours, let's just hit it and let's do it. And he just dives right in. And he, I mean, he's making broad strokes pretty much but you see how he's not afraid to make mistakes, he's not afraid to make something that it doesn't seem like it's perfect to him. And it's almost like when he's mostly focusing on those broader strokes, he gets a big he gets a better result from it. It's almost like a bolt. I call that line confidence when you're an artist and you draw if you're just trying to make every like line really perfect actually end up kind of screwed scribbly if you've seen a great artists, they're just like, like nothing. I mean, it's just like they're just throwing them out there. And you watch Robert, he does the same thing. I went up and got to work with we got to work with John W on this again, who did the music first bite gets to he did you know it's like it's one all that kind of stuff. And he kind of helped birth the spike it sound but I watched him compose I like never gotten to see like a professional composer, actually in the midst of writing. And he's just like, all this stuff. I had like put all this time and attention to detail to Oh, I do this because I've all this time. He's just like glancing over like, and what he's focusing on is so different than what I was focusing on. Because he doesn't have time he doesn't put a lot of time into he's like, Well, in one hour, I gotta get the scene done. Swish wash, you know, does all that then versus me, I've got eight I could put all the time in the world, I wanted this and you focus on all the wrong things that teaches you to not look at the right things. If you give yourself a little time, this kind of goes into the deadline thing. You actually focus on what's the most important thing that will make the most impact. And that's where you start to make some real progress. So it was once I've started to do that I really started after I watched him write like that as like, oh, that's how you write. All my music was. I mean literally like leaps and bounds improved. So I mean, the

Alex Ferrari 1:48:22
The old guys have a couple of tricks. I'm gonna say baby.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:48:30
It's weird. It's like so counterintuitive, because you're like, I'm so passionate about this, how could I just now be so apathetic towards it? And it's like, it's not an apathy so much is it's like, you have to learn to just let it flow. You got to have that confidence in your strokes and just, you know, move with it. And it's almost more important to put more ideas out there rather than barely squeeze out one because you finally thought it was perfect. You know, get out of your head. Throw down too many. It's way better to have too much stuff. I mean, he would just overdo it. It put in too much and go. That was too much. And he backed off. At least now you found out where the ledge was. If you kept tiptoeing forward, blindfolded, you never know what that legends

Alex Ferrari 1:49:05
And take you forever to get there.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:49:06
Exactly. So it's that was really, really important.

Alex Ferrari 1:49:11
Another good answers racer.

Racer Max 1:49:13
First off, I would take the entire recording of this podcast and just play it to a 17 year old racer, you're gonna listen to this, you're gonna memorize every single word that is said here by all three of these people talking right now. Start with that, that's book one. Appreciate that book too. You're gonna you're at a high school now, little 18 year old racer, okay, you're gonna take a whole year off, you're gonna take gap year, what you're going to do is you're gonna make a feature, you have one year to do it. I don't care how you do it. But it's got to be done in one year and I dare you to make it good. It can't be you can't make it you can't be good. And go over time. You have to try to strive for some level of greatness. And you have to but you have to finish it. It has to be done by the end of this and and put some of your time into it. As Rachel said, Don't put all 16 hours of your day into it. Give yourself a workday, eight hours, six hours, whatever you manage to then go take time for family, for friends, all that stuff, because that's important too. You got to take care of all the other sides of your life because now you're dealing with adult things too. And make that happen. That'll teach you more than anything by and of course, most important thing, make it with what you got. Because without one year, no money. You don't have time for you don't have, there's nothing you can get for that. So once you've got

Alex Ferrari 1:50:35
And now and finally, the last question, and arguably the most difficult one, I've asked this entire conversation. Oh, each of you three of your favorite films of all time.

Racer Max 1:50:45
Oh, I always keep my list ready.

Alex Ferrari 1:50:50
By the way, everyone who's just listened to this, Rubble just grabbed this feels like okay, let me just pull up my list. Actually. That's great. Go ahead, guys.

Racer Max 1:51:01
I keep my top five on hand. So I've got Excalibur 1981 John, my top of the top favorite. Has everything. You see the new spike as you might see some influence. Fair enough. I absolutely love it. Number two, The Incredibles picks classic Pixar. Talk about VHS as you would watch on infinite repeat that that was the first time where I watched a movie all the way to the end. Went through the end credits because they're incredible. The music and everything Michael Giacchino just killing it. And I watched it all and I just hit reset. And I went, I think this is one of my favorite movies. This is the only one I've ever done this on. And then number three is old boy. Absolutely love, love the style from the early 2000s. It's got a style that all my favorite like video games, and like TV shows had at the time, that like this is y2k, dark futurism absolutely love it. So So those are my top three,

Alex Ferrari 1:51:55
The great top three and a half to just tell you a geek story real quick. I was at Sundance at midnight screening of old boy in the US premiere of a while, while the director was there he from Japan. And I met him and he was like, half asleep because the poor guy just flown over. And I remember seeing Oldboy at Sundance at the at the main theater there the Egyptian. And I'm like, What did I just watch? Like he was like, what insanity is this? I was it was it was one of those moments I'll never forget. No,

Racer Max 1:52:36
Nno, no, it's great. I had

Alex Ferrari 1:52:37
A midnight screening at Sundance with the director just flying in from Japan. Like he. He hadn't gotten there yet. When the movie started, he was there at the end for q&a. And then I met him outside outside. Everyone was gone already. I'm like so how are you? He's the end. This interpreter was there and it was like

Racer Max 1:52:55
Aamazing. Oh my god. That's amazing. I had

Alex Ferrari 1:52:59
A little geek story. Stories along the way, but that's

Racer Max 1:53:04
One of the benefits I get a lot of cool stories. That's for sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:53:10
Rebel, how about you? How's your tough time?

Rebel Rodriguez 1:53:13
All of his three are also my favorites, but I pulled out some extra other ones as well. We love those. But definitely one of my top favorite favorite animated at the moment right now cross the spider verse that was in I absolutely loved it. That was so radical. I mean, it's just it's changing the game of animated we love Incredibles, but it's really cool to see something now that's like, shoot. That's like another incredible system. Like it says a

Alex Ferrari 1:53:35
Whole other level. It's when I watched that. I was like, I mean that is going on.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:53:39
It's really impressive. On Mondays that's a classic. I love that one a lot. And now I love it more because I make music more learned. I appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 1:53:49
I laugh Oh my god.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:53:54
Like the more you learn about music, the more you're just like, it's crazy. They captured like the genius of it so well.

Alex Ferrari 1:54:00
It's such a masterpiece.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:54:03
It's just fantastic. And then tied either jaws. That's a classic always loved on musical mountains. Great. I've always been a big fan of that but playing it on piano since I was like, you know, however young I was our dad intrusive to the jostling me. We didn't know what the movie was. So I just stared the music in the car and it was like you'll see it someday. And it's like, that was it. That's all I knew. And what's up, Doc? I love, love.

Racer Max 1:54:30
Nice, great. Comedy. Great. So great.

Alex Ferrari 1:54:34
So I noticed your dad didn't make the list, but that's fine. That's fine. I'm sure his ego will be fine with that. I wouldn't be like SimCity guy seriously did seriously. I drank the Kool Aid. So I'm glad to be of your father's

Racer Max 1:54:55
He's he's got a special list. It's like it almost doesn't count because like

Alex Ferrari 1:55:00
Oh So let me ask you this What is your favorite death?

Racer Max 1:55:03
Your first travel just to make sure I don't pick the same one.

Rebel Rodriguez 1:55:05
No you go for it because I know we're gonna pick the same one. I'll pick it.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:08
Okay top three top three. Top three Robert films in your world.

Racer Max 1:55:13
Number one road racers his second film. Yes, of course. So great. Incredible. I love the rebel spirit of it. So, so good. Then for me next it's Desperado. I just love what he did with mariachi and just like complete spiritual successor that just blew even more heads than the first one. Incredible. And then spike it to honorable mention my favorite my absolute favorite of the Spy Kids. Cuz I love the fantasy and the creatures and the fun and they have the best outfits in that movie. How about you?

Rebel Rodriguez 1:55:45
Road racers. Very big favorite of ours since city though, is another one. Definitely. I loved watching that one. He always puts off showing us his movies. We just wait till he wants to show it to us that when we watched, like midnight, practically we finished was like 2am. And he was like, Hey, let's make the breakfast tacos from the five minute cooking school. We made those 8am and like 3am

Racer Max 1:56:07
Just so we could ask them questions like, Yeah, but that was super

Rebel Rodriguez 1:56:11
Memorable for me. And then definitely MIT Archie as well and Desperado. So those are just,

Alex Ferrari 1:56:17
If I may, if I may throw mine into the ring, go for it. I think Desperado was because I was in film school and Desperado came out. I saw it in the theater. I saw it in the theater. And I saw I had that poster in my my room right in here. Whatever. Yeah, with Uncle Antonia. And that gun that was just amazing. That double barrel. Shotgun. Yeah. I'm gonna say Desperado. Because that was the one that really, that wouldn't really hit me since at without question, do you look at sincerely just like

Racer Max 1:56:52
I don't even know.

Alex Ferrari 1:56:56
And believe it or not, one of the other films that I really loved of his is once upon a time in Mexico. Oh, it's classic. It's excellent. Because once upon a time in Mexico, for me was the film that got me off. To make my first big short film that went on and did it didn't same things for me. And I had Roger Ebert review it and it was a whole. That's great. That's how it all started with once upon a time in Mexico is when I saw the guacamole gun, right? As I saw the welcome all the gun and I saw that and I was like, I think I could do this now. Like it was like there was so much like for sure obstacles that you put in your head. But that was the movie that just kind of pushed me over. So it has a special place in my heart for that was the movie that kind of launched my filmmaking side, not the commercial or music video side that I've been doing. But more the filmmaking filmmaking side was that that was the film that kind of did it for me. So those are my top three.

Racer Max 1:57:49
Wow, that's awesome. That's great. I love those pics. There's just so much to choose from. It's just all great. Oh, no, again, they're their own. That's their own category. You can't even Yeah, but

Alex Ferrari 1:58:00
Boys, I truly appreciate this conversation. Man. It has been such a pleasure and honor talking to both of you. Your your energy is infectious. I want to go make a feature. Now. I don't know why. But I'm gonna go shoot something. I don't know when but I'm gonna figure it out. Just figure it out. Yes, go, No, your energy is infectious. And in this has just been such a pleasure of conversation. And I do believe I agree with your race, or I think that filmmakers will get a whole lot out of this conversation. There's a lot of gems in this. And I hope it helps people around the world kind of maybe demystify a little bit of the myth. And really get into the weeds of how you actually make these films, and actually do this kind of process. The mariachi process, if you will, without the myth is much overhead. And you guys kind of cut through the myth really quickly. Like, we don't know. And, and there's. So it's been an absolute pleasure. So thank you so much. Oh, by the way, where can people watch spike?

Racer Max 1:58:59
It's spike. It'll be on Netflix coming at the end of September. Very soon. Very, very soon. Yeah, very excited. Please, if you're, if you're a fan, if you've grown up, if you have kids, please fill us we'd love for you to see it. And even if you've never heard us by kids, go check them all out there. have excellent, classic classic films.

Alex Ferrari 1:59:18
And do you have do you guys have any parting messages for any young racer or young rebel out there? Who's thinking about getting into this insanity, carnival circus ridiculous business that we're all in any parting messages for them?

Racer Max 1:59:36
Absolutely. I please jump in. Whether you want to do animated live action or shows or whatnot, please jump in because stories and films stories are how one of the methods that humans get truth from the world. And I want to see the truth that you can put into the world and teach all of us about and you're never going to make a mariachi Reservoir Dogs are clerics are any of those. But I don't want to see that from you. I want to see your film. I want to see what you can make. Rebel. That's great. Yeah, definitely. Yeah, shoot me think about that.

Alex Ferrari 2:00:18
Well, while you're thinking about that, I do have to say something. This is kind of the elephant in the room. You guys both have the greatest names ever. I know. I know. Is that your mom? I know it wasn't your mom. Your mom just allowed it but because I'll be honest with you I try already started I started a propaganda campaign with my wife when I was gonna have kids and like if I have a boy he has to be Maximus Ferrari Max Ferrari.

Racer Max 2:00:49
Ferrari has to be

Alex Ferrari 2:00:53
Extra yet I had but luckily I had girls so but it would have been

Racer Max 2:01:02
Maximum world was spared of a backstory

That's true. You can't you can't pass it up. Little bit or not. It's a little little mom's and sanity. Racer Max was chosen because my mom had a crush on Racer X when she swapped Speed Racer

Alex Ferrari 2:01:26
She came up with the name first and our dad came up with

Racer Max 2:01:29
It he they both thought racer would be fun after rocket and and then rebel was gonna be my name too but I was like that's not a rebel. I think this is a racer and came up with the middle name with with the Osama about people

Alex Ferrari 2:01:46
Insane insane all of your nuts anything you want to add Rachel no pressure.

Rebel Rodriguez 2:01:58
Yeah, so I think definitely, if you're gonna dive in, like Rachel said, do so. It's amazing. It's it's creative work is one of the most gratifying kinds of things ever. I mean, it's nothing opens your mind more like creativity. But definitely learn to love the process and all that it is it's all the good all the bad all the crazy days learn to see it Hafele learn to enjoy all of it. Because no matter how big and famous you get, or how much you stay right where you are, it's all gonna be the same the whole time it was just more money so there's more people and there's more problems more of the same thing. So enjoy and love the process for what it is and how gratifying it can be in an exciting that you know, you don't always know what's gonna come your way. So definitely learn to love the process. So

Alex Ferrari 2:02:40
Like P Diddy says more money, more problems. I understand what I got out of that. Guys, again, you guys are amazing. Thank you so much for being on the show and continue this gender, the next generation of Rodriguez insanity. So I appreciate you guys. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.



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IFH 706: Composing the Biggest Hollywood Blockbusters of All-Time with Klaus Badelt

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Alex Ferrari 2:02
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Dave Bullis.

Dave Bullis 2:06
And this episode of the podcast, I have a guest who has been a composer in some of the biggest movies like Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl, Gladiator equilibrium K 19. My guess I got to talk about all that about how you actually work with guys like Khan Zimmerman, how you actually develop soundtracks for these movies. You know how he actually got into that, because he actually was a film a completely different background. And we also don't talk about film hub, which is another avenue for filmmakers, again, it's all about this podcast is about is all exploring all these different avenues, talking about where the film industry is headed. And just hearing all these crazy stories, but how we all got here, and some of the crazy things that we've seen on set. So without further ado, with guest Klaus puddle.

Klaus Badelt 2:49
Yeah, I you know, it was a bit odd, like I had my first like tech startup at 18. And then assault that with 25 and turned around 180 degrees and then did music. And then I, you know, mostly film music, and then in Germany, and then I went on, I think, like 97, likely. So I went on to world Hollywood on vacation and got stuck here ever since.

Dave Bullis 3:17
So what kind of sort of did you have?

Klaus Badelt 3:20
That was already a tech startup there was like in at the time when they didn't call it startup yet to actually make money, and profit. And in order to hire the next guy. And they were writing software that's that at the time I because a part of that decision was that the German music universities didn't take me. So I didn't manage to convince them with my entry exam performance. So I did not, I'm just going to do the easiest stuff. Good stuff I know anyway, and that's a computer stuff. And then only a few years later, I then said, Let's This is good. Dinner was a very successful company. And I can feel it. Let's do music.

Dave Bullis 4:04
You know, it's so true with a lot of these startups is all about, it's all about future earnings or potential value. Have you ever seen a TV show Silicon Valley?

Klaus Badelt 4:14
Yeah, of course. Exactly. It's all true.

Dave Bullis 4:17
Yeah, it's amazing. I have friends, you know, who work out in Silicon Valley. And they swear by the show, they go it is absolutely so true to life. Where, you know, somebody makes, like you and I make a piece of software for a weekend in our in our apartment or, you know, dorm room, and suddenly, you know, we're selling it on Monday for you know, a couple million couple, you know, maybe even more, and it has it doesn't really have an audience or you know what I mean? It does it's just it's just like this theory piece of software that hasn't really proven itself yet. But the potential value is there.

Klaus Badelt 4:51
Yeah, no, it's, it's be creating a spin. I mean, we're going basically backwards here, but I spent the last year quite a bit in Silicon Valley and and Learn how they do things, they're not some of the techniques. And it's great though, it's great how to run a company I learned so much can believe. Compare this to La companies or European companies, how they operate is a very different different way of running things. And, I mean, it has to do with why I'm doing this, this startup as well in the film business to bring in different dimensions, even the way of looking at it, and helping to, you're aiming at like redefining, like a whole industry with us. Because our industry, you're in the film business doesn't really work. That way, you know, oriented with metrics, seeing that, you know, you operate fast and not out of your guts, but have data to back up what you actually do. And that's actually very refreshing to me. Now, as a, as a composer, where you it's interesting, it's quite a bit similar, even though it sounds like it would be just emotional when you're right and just intuitive. And that's true, but at the same time, now, I'm really getting carried away, stop me anytime. But if when you write a theme that say for movie, you are not a musician, you're a filmmaker, right? You you, you have the first five minutes or eight minutes, if you're lucky to introduce the characters, you have to be very careful about the arc telling the story you make people hopefully love the character. So they actually go along with whatever crazy story happens after. And there's a lot of, if you want to analytics about it directly, you know, like a script, they have the X you shaping a something and at the same time, you have to be very creative and emotional about. So this is a great balance. I work a lot with like songwriters. And when it comes to scores, they you can tell the songwriter to adjust or you know you to react or to, to, to tell the story that tell the story in just their absolute space. And that Afghans end in a disaster anyway, but that's different story. But you know, you i you end up being holding the hand and actually making it work to picture you like the director of, of music in a way. So that's shows me every time that it's quite different. Writing music to movies is quite different to writing music. And there's lots of analytics comes into play.

Dave Bullis 7:36
You know, what, what are some of the things you've noticed, just working from Germany to working in here? Because you always hear a lot about, you know, how were you know, America is always compared to Europe, both both in a good way and a bad way. So, what are some of your thoughts? I mean, have you noticed that you do like, what better working over here? I mean, because you know, if you if you were to stereotype Americans working, it's usually you never you never get a day off. You burned out your all your all your vacation days. And you know, you never stop answering emails on your phone.

Klaus Badelt 8:09
That's pretty much me. So obviously, I like it, but much better here. Now. I mean, look, I've been here for 20 minutes, not 20 years. And yeah, I think I can compare and also traveled quite a bit because of the movies. I went a lot to China, to Europe, different European countries, which are quite different. Anyway, the UK is very different to France, very different to Germany, when it comes to movies, but also to like, companies and their attitude and people. I mean, there's a reason I'm, I'm here and I'm staying here, and I live here is I do feel this lots more. I wouldn't call the cliche freedom, but it's much more open what you do look, I would have not have a career. If it wasn't, you know, I came here I had no basically education. And when it comes to music, and you can do whatever you like, if it was as long as you make, you know, make people feel comfortable, and you do a good job. And that's a pretty unique situation, I think in general, whether it's in, in tech or in film or music, but especially in in music maybe and film where you know, it's it's very hard to talk about music right to judge music, you have your opinion, I have my opinion everyone has. But what does the audience do? Everyone is different. So there's no measurement, no picture, you can see if it looks, you know, we can measure it, you can look at the frames, they look, move that visual effect of it over to the left, but in music is really hard. So you have to have that trust. And I think people here are much more generally open. You can totally scurried off quickly and then that's it. But you have much more of a chance, I think to do thing. And yeah.

Alex Ferrari 9:57
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Dave Bullis 10:07
Oh, I'm sorry, I was just gonna agree, you know, you know, as we as we talk about your music career, so at what point did you realize, hey, you know, I want to start composing musical scores for movies, and you've done some video games, too. So what point did you know that this is what you wanted to do?

Klaus Badelt 10:25
I always did more movie than music. I mean, I had my first I didn't have a keyboard first, I had like, a film camera first, and I shot some short movies with the neighbor's son and mother hen or something like that. But so I was felt for movies, but I really never knew that I wanted to do it. I, I, you know, like I said, I started with something very different. I wanted to but I was not like, I, I think part of fit was that I wasn't sure if I could do it. And even when I arrived here, and I sit here in front of, you know, the picture and then look at it like, wow, that's really hard. I mean, I've done this for years. But every time it's really, it's, for me, it's really hard to create music. And to be creative. It's really like, like a writer friend once said, it's like, you have to pour gasoline all over yourself and burn it. And when you feel a pain, then you actually start really creating. It's a bit like that for me. And I'm not alone, I think with that. So yeah, the process is as difficult as it is very rewarding when it works, but it takes a long time to get there.

Dave Bullis 11:43
So, obviously, I want to ask more about that. Because I think that that is a really cool way to put it when you start feeling that pain. And that's sort of the way you create. So if we were to sort of take that and dig a little deeper, do you think that the whole like starving artist, you know, create constant sort of pain? Do you think that if

Klaus Badelt 12:04
I noticed quite a few different types, when I worked also with directors and ultimate, also composers that it's really hard to strike the perfect balance that you are critical enough to create good stuff, but not question yourself to the level of pain that you cannot actually do in your way and beyond way of creating something good, because you might see it, and I think it has to do with experience. But also of course with character you can get get rid of. So it's it's this healthy balance where you don't be too full of yourself, but also be confident. I always say it's like, what you need is a lot of character, but no ego. And that's very difficult, right? So you have to bring in this, this profile and make it very unique, find the unique voice when you create, but don't bring in your own own personality when it comes to actually how to do the job. Because film is definitely teamwork. And that's actually the essential multimedia event, right? You have sound you have picture you have the actress you have, you know, the music, when all comes together. So it's been always the teamwork, which is what I like about film and I've never been the type who like says like, Oh, give me give me the picture. That needs to be the tape, right? Give me the tape and don't talk to me for six weeks, but always been always had like various studios where I move close to where the director is I had no, I have placed here mobile plays when the Warner Brothers and I sit next to the director, if they they're actually edit there or in our or in, in, in Beijing, where we have to go wherever the director is I want to be and right next to the editorial and, and talk not about music, but like just, you know, absorb what they do to you. So you're part of that creative team and to understand I'm often on the set to when they understand where but it is the director actually wants to get out of it, how he sees that arc of the scene, the emotional arc, etc. So you know, you're part of that. And you just have to express that in music, and the edit so to express this with, you know, that the Edit, but it's the same work.

Dave Bullis 14:23
So, when you're on some of these movie sets, and you know, you're getting that feeling and you're not really thinking about the music, you're more ingrained in in what everything's sort of like the minute you're engraved in the process of you know of how it's getting done and everything. Do you when you do go back to that to start composing the music for this like let's use Pirates of the Caribbean for instance. When you start going back and creating that music, you're just drawing from all that experience of being on set of you know, me talking the director of you know of what exactly that Knowledge is what the scene is about, or you know, or the sequence is about. We're just about the whole sort of underlying current of the whole movie.

Klaus Badelt 15:08
Yeah, actually, absolutely, yes. I couldn't agree more. I mean, maybe pose wasn't the best example, because they had virtually no time to create it. But I know what it it was a good example in that way, because you have to then trust your instincts, and improvise. And then it comes to your, what do you what do you do without thinking? But ultimately, it's a lot you're right. It's a lot of yeah, if you want experience to look, I have a lot of young writers who virtually want to prove themselves and I think I have to, and that's true, you have to but you know, the end here, this course, which all sounds like a pot pourri of stuff, because they want to show off, they don't really actively or consciously do this. But it happens like that. And when you make music for film, you're your subordinate to the whole multimedia event to the whole story. You don't, you don't want to not dominate. I mean, there's strong music you have to write off. And so yeah, you have to just be Be careful in the in the give and take.

Dave Bullis 16:11
So, so class, let me ask you this, when you're, you know, online, and maybe you're, you know, look just looking around at, you know, different websites and stuff. Have you ever come across some of the like the stock music websites?

Klaus Badelt 16:24
Oh, yeah, sure, of course,

Dave Bullis 16:26
What are your thoughts on that?

Klaus Badelt 16:32
It's like, I don't even do demos of you know, in this industry, you have this like, where directors asked like a handful of companies for demos. And it's not that I'm like, arrogant enough to say, like, I'm older, I don't do demos, it's about I don't believe in that process, because it's no process. It's a shot in the dark and something sticks. And then you don't know anything about the director, composer relationship, how it could develop, or if the composer understands your movie at the director. And so these sites are Yeah, of course, if you, I, I'm a writer, I always need a picture to work against, I need to be the the filmmaker. I admire that if you can actually write like, Hey, I imagined this kind of picture on here I go, I really, I don't think I've ever done that. So it's it must be a very hard job actually to do that. And as a director, of course, you you want that work relationship more than you want the music, the best directors I had, while I like to work with the best ways of working together was always a director where you where you do not want to show off where you don't need to. You don't talk about music. You don't talk about what instrument you would like God, that's actually the second secondary, but that's the output you don't want the input to talk about what it is not, symbolically what it is what's supposed to happen here. What's the emotional content? What What's that scene for? What's the moment for? How do they feel? And how do you want the audience feel. And by the way, when you write music, then you often as a director, also notice this the suddenly get into like the, the weaknesses of the movie, by putting music on it or, or writing to picture, you suddenly realize issues in editing and issues. And if we're not clear about that moment here, what do you actually want to say? So music kind of crystallizes, that gets takes it outside. And that's music as a filmmaker, right? As a character as a, as a part of the movie, not music, put in a slap on top, which sometimes works too, but it's not. That's not the same.

Dave Bullis 18:59
Yeah, like music as a as a character of of itself. You know, it's like the soundtrack of a level of a life because, you know, when you're watching a movie, it's the most interesting points of that part of that character's life, you know, and it's like, this is the soundtrack of your life. It means so yeah. So clouds. Let me ask you this, when you're watching what movie Have you seen recently, where you have just been like, sort of blown away by the soundtrack?

Klaus Badelt 19:26
I have to admit, I I'm the guy with the smallest score collection right? I have. My inspiration doesn't really come from move film music. And that's for several reasons. A when you actually work you, you inadvertently rip off and you don't want that sound in your head. You don't even know where it comes from. I mean, I rip myself off of project I did three years ago and realize much later like, Oh my God, that's the same thing. I can't believe I wrote this again. I literally had happened.

Alex Ferrari 19:57
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. Sir. And now back to the show.

Klaus Badelt 20:06
And nobody told me and nobody noticed, obviously, but I, I get my inspiration from very different kinds of music. So I'm the Roman to ask if you inspired by that kind of with this off, if if it always movies, it would be hard for me to point out to is, but these were non traditional composers, right. You know, we have too many guys who want to sound like Jerry Goldsmith, or you know, it's like this, this idea which is over. And you need to develop new things and still serve the film. And you get this when Oh, when I listened to a Brian Eno score that to me, well, not all of them, but there are some which were like, Oh, this is interesting, I would have not done it like this. And I probably will never be able to do like that. But that gives you inspiration. I have lots of playlists of songs, though. And classical music and then electronic music, or why keep as an inspiration, like to rolling in my in my head and in the background often just to where I get something from.

Dave Bullis 21:13
So, so when you when you actually ripped off your own score, was it air through air after the movie had come out? You're like, oh my god, did I write that I have that I already wrote that I write that.

Klaus Badelt 21:21
I was the years after. Yeah, it was a TV show, actually, you know, a rip myself off. And I had no idea. And nobody at the time told me and it wasn't like that bad. But I was the same tune. And it felt great at the time twice. I mean, for me, like, like, Oh, I did it. Look, it sounds great. Oh, my gosh, I really, this is good. It works. And I had done this before. And it's big. I don't know it happens in a adult you don't want to. That's the last thing you want. And last thing I want this to sound like something I did before the last thing I want to sound is like someone else who did something which for some it but it's really hard sometimes.

Dave Bullis 21:59
Yeah, it is, you know? So speaking about, you know, just of your process and everything like that, you know, what was the, you know, the absolute best experience that you've had making a score to a film?

Klaus Badelt 22:16
And it's so many I mean, there are a few would like, but I think often is the indie films, which are more you have an opportunity to be you have more integrity, it's easier to have integrity in terms of collaboration and, and there's less opinions out there and Hollywood, there's a lot of different opinions. And it's great to work like that. But it's easy then to like know, take the edge off everywhere. And then at the end, you sound the end up with something mediocre. Because nobody dares. It's, it's dangerous, right. So I had some films like I remember I remember, like life changing was like when I did my first film in China where the director Shankar Agha did me know, let me let me write a little bit put me up in a hotel in the lake to enjoy and write and I thought I came up with something, okay. And he listened to it and nodded and said, Okay, let me make some phone calls. I think I'm going to, if you don't mind sent you around the country for the next few weeks, and you just absorb whatever we show you. So you get a much deeper feel for where we are with all this. Yeah, basically like a 4000 year history lesson, compressed in a few weeks of sightseeing. And that was part of this whole process that went in I think if I look back, I can hear that the I was most inspired and that took me five months there and I remember when I came back here to Hollywood people asked me so where do you move to China? Like no, it just wrote a movie but no movie but i i That was like life changing moment where you just want to be as good as the director. And you know you'll never be you know, achieve that but you want to contribute and there's a deep Yeah, just deep inspiration. That was also a project where we never talked about me I visited him a few times so traveled to China. We met for a week or two and I don't think a single time we even looked at the film The first few times we discussed his life and his his symbolism in every shot and in every not short but in every scene what he envisioned for this and and you just learn and be taught politics he taught all kinds of things. And then you prepared to to give I think that makes a good director right to who is just interested in getting the best out of your creation instead of trying to squeeze you into a certain track.

Dave Bullis 24:57
So what did that what that what else do You went on this, you know, this sort of history lesson this 4000 year history lesson and, and in a week or two, you know, we did when you got out, you know, and they finally got back and they asked you to compose this piece. What was the outcome after that? I mean, what did you was it a success?

Klaus Badelt 25:17
Um, yeah, it was a big movie there, it was called the promise in China was one of the very first, you know, was 10 years ago. So it wasn't one of the very first like, big effects movies and, and the biggest compliment, I mean, you can hear the themes, I had so many inspired themes, and they, and they all did something for the movie at the right time. In the biggest complaint was like, look, I mean, I was this German guy, or European guy who lives in Hollywood and does a Chinese movie. So what you expect me I asked him at the time, so I'm not the guy who writes your age Chinese movie, it was all in Chinese, of course, right? And he's like, no, no, and he wants people to tap with the music to open up the film and the understanding about the film, to a greater audience to the audience. And that's exactly, okay, well, so I absorbed a lot of these Chinese instruments in history and stories and dances had like, I was in museums and mountains, you know, they perform dances to me, you know, listen to ancient songs, and all these different minorities, and absorbed all this and put this in, but not to, like, rip it off not to, you know, use this as a superficial color and impose myself on it, but to really like, you know, work it in and have flavors of this in there. And there was some European flavors in there, and of course, Western flavors in there. So that was so satisfying for me as a process. And you can, you can hear this in the inspiration. It's, there's something new creative, you know, when I heard some people told me that this is one of their favorites course, and not and they didn't know the story. So we can you can always hear how inspired you are.

Dave Bullis 27:07
You mentioned about the indie films. And I, you know, earlier on, I mentioned Pirates of the Caribbean, you know, I imagined just for the sheer thrill of it, because Pirates of the Caribbean, no matter when it would come out is going to be one of the biggest films of the year, you know, you know, from the first one to the fifth one, I think that came out a year or two ago. You know, it's just the fact that it's the pie, you know, it's a huge, huge movie. It's got Johnny dept. You know, it's got, you know, a named director of gore, Gore Verbinski, but if I could actually talk, and, and so I imagine, you know, when that when that comes out, I mean, I mean, I can only imagine a class where you could say, Hey, listen, you know, you see, he's telling anybody, friends, family, whoever, hey, you know, Pirates of the Caribbean that's coming out. You know, I did music for that movie. Because everybody instantly knows Oh, my God, that's Johnny Depp.

Klaus Badelt 28:02
Right, of course. I mean, it's always great to have something where, you know, your your, your family asked me so what do you do next? And you talk about the movie, and they're like, Oh, I never heard of it. But in then there's one. You know, there's the occasional film we're like, oh, yeah, that's in everybody's mind and theaters and certainly one of the music pieces but more known but I don't know look at me I mean, I'm proud of it, of course, but torquing this down, but I it's so many different things. And I always like to it's so easy to fall into this Hollywood trap to to like what you do too much. And Korea was never an option to me to be in the center of my own attention. Just did one thing after another and honestly, I never really thought about like, like moving here. And I was one thing I never would have thought about. I was on vacation, I guess. I don't know. Maybe I can do this. Of course I loved it. And I had the passion for it. But I didn't never expected it to happen. I never expected and the same thing with Unity, right? So I had right after pirates, for example, I didn't. Then the last thing I would want to do is to do 2345 17 Make it a TV show. But instead I remember at the time where I used the opportunity then to do movie with Tecton or do a movie with Wolfgang Petersen to do a movie with Shang chi again, all you know what I just said like went to China five months. My agent was like, pulling his hair and it's like, what are you doing? This is like the moment you put you can your career. Like it's not that I'm not interested. But that is exactly what to do right now, because of this enables me to do really interesting stuff. I've done a lot of French movies, nobody cares, or here in America. They don't travel but just so amazingly satisfying that someone will hear the word ultimately and then you get another job.

Alex Ferrari 29:56
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Klaus Badelt 30:05
Based on something you did, which nobody would have given you an A did suddenly comedy in New York. Wow. And what it would have hired me for New York style comedy. Because the Pirates of the Caribbean but they did that because they're heard, I don't know PDD Kaline in Paris when they went on vacation or you know, had a meeting and like, Who is this and what this German guy amazing, let's do that. So this is, I think if you constantly do good work and try to not really re Have you always reinvent yourself and try not to repeat too much, because everybody wants that, like in other play that put your music and pretend and say, I want exactly this. Don't change the note. This works great. Can you do this again? That's how often you get an assignment here is that you are in the temp and sorry, but the last thing I want to do is, if I was director would ask the composite, right, exactly. Same thing again. That's like, so not inspiring for anyone. And you probably can hear this and you can hear sorry, but you can hear composer would mention names of films definitely where you? You're like, well, I know exactly what happened in the cutting room, how they asked the composer what to do, and he can hear it. That's not what I'm interested in.

Dave Bullis 31:20
You know what I found that in class, I found that in the latest Star Wars films. I like Star Wars. I like the idea behind it. I mean, I come from it from more of a writing perspective. Because if I if you asked me what I what I am made out of everything, you know, don't be enough if that's why whenever someone says they're a jack of all trades, Klaus I kind of go well, everyone has to specialize in something, everybody, you can have knowledge of everything. But everyone at the end of the day, everyone specializes in something that brought because that's what brought you to the dance. You know, you have you know, there's one thing that you do well, so for me, it's writing. And when I'm watching the store with the new ones, you know, and I'm sitting there, I just go, I just feel like everything is exactly the same. It's the same beats, it's the same shots. It's the same music. It's so repetitive.

Klaus Badelt 32:16
Yeah, I mean, this is what now we're getting into what I think is a bit of a problem of Hollywood and a serious problem of Hollywood, the last few years, especially that we are not afraid to tell a story. But yeah, in a way, like it's risky now to tell new stories. It has to be a franchise. And then you do that. As long as there's a lot of people paying tickets for that. How can they be wrong, right? And then it's okay when we have to all create new keep the lights on and keep the industry going. It's just not so much what I'm I know, I did too. I was about to say I never did sequels. I did two sequels, I have to admit, but when it was I made sure that if possible, this was like okay, there's a friendship by the new director a new like a restart or something like you know, a fresh angle at something. Like when I did my first horror film I told the director I don't like horror. Irish it should I'm not a big horror fan. Sorry. But so why are you asking me and then we started talking it turns out he neither so we want to do something no genre but something different. And there was no okay was Well, I wasn't really whorfin But I guess Constantine was a lot of like, dark dark stuff and then ended up with almost like if a French impressionist film score. You know, I think that's interesting stuff happens and and we're a bit we've become a bit afraid of, of doing this year. And that's why indie film can often be this way you try out things and then they become mainstream. I personally think that indie is the new mainstream Anyway, look, the last few years last 10 years, and it's been always indie films, winning or being nominated for for all kinds of awards. But and there's always that commercial blockbuster thinking where you will have to do another sequel of another prequel of another TV show. I know I'm just coming off a film which has like it's the fourth installment but but there was a new idea again in there. This quarter. I think I can talk about is still in the making. It's called the ocean Ocean's eight. You know as the ocean's 11 idea on a very different cast and a very different fresh ideas. It's an all female cast and fantastic fun in it. And it's like smart, right? So that I can live with. And it's a good mix of being okay as commercially very viable. But same time. There's a lot of new and fresh ideas and there's a twist in it. And you can talk about, tell the twist, and work on the twist.

Dave Bullis 35:17
Yeah, I actually have heard of Ocean's eight, you know, the all female, you know, based upon the George Clooney movie, Ocean's 11, but instead of being all males or females, and so, I mean, when you do something like that, you know, and you're sort of brought onto this franchise? Is there any expectations at all? I mean, because really, I mean, what I mean by that is, do they are they saying like, Hey, listen, Klaus, you know, if you listen to Ocean's 1112, or what have you, this is what they did here. And we want something kind of similar. And is there anything like that?

Klaus Badelt 35:53
Yes, and no, look, I mean, they will have, they could have easily asked the the old composer to do that if they want that same thing again. But there's a reason they didn't. But there's also the expectations of the audience that you remember when working on Miami Vice, right? You the audience has a certain expectations or expectation and you as a director or a film as a compositor, you have to not cannot ignore the audience, you should never do that. You play with that? No, no. And my advice was very hard, because the movie was very dark and very different than what you know, the TV show was 30 or 20 years before that, but And here too, it's slightly different, but it plays with it. And actually, to me, that's fun that that's okay, that's smart. That's, that's fulfilling the expectation and hopefully, adding the twist to it. So it's interesting and fresh again. That's fun. That's not like, Okay, I have to do Pirates of the Caribbean times 17. And they want exactly the same thing.

Dave Bullis 36:57
You know, I actually really enjoy the oceans movie. So I mean, I'll check out Ocean's eight. But, uh, yeah, it's kind of like, again, you know, I was saying, I totally get what you're saying about the indie films. It's kind of like, you know, writing you know, it's a it's like composing itself. You know, we are on an indie film, you can, you have a lot more freedom as we you know, but when you're on a big blockbuster, you know, your freedom is kind of constricted. But when you again, when you're telling people about it, you're like, Well, hey, listen, I just did music for excetera they like, oh, wow, I actually, you know, me like, holy crap. Johnny Depp. Sure, I keep going back to Johnny Depp. But he's, he's a very good example.

Klaus Badelt 37:33
Say, you don't have that obsession with Johnny Depp. I like that. No, but I know what you mean. Yeah, no, it's this Exactly. Like it's so tempting. But again, I mean, I remember this when my mom asked me, so I just came out of the meeting with Steven Spielberg and, and he kind of ripped half of the score apart on Gladiator. And we're like, gosh, this was one of the hardest days of my life at the time. And, and I tried to tell a little bit like, look, mommy just did this. And she's like, Okay, what, do you eat enough? So, you know, it grounds you she didn't care. And you you get back to like, okay, you know, what, you need to bypass all this hype about yourself and about others and I think just get to work so I'm not really impressed. Ultimately, with when it comes to celebrities, it's only I'm impressed when, you know, they're getting good sales like when they actually deliver him and when you work with them and you realize and understand why they are who they are. Then it gets very, very interesting. There's some directors out here new work with Tom Cruise. So then it's you understand you know, where that where the success comes from? If you have to have a chance to work well but but again, only an indie it's it's as refreshing as as taxing to your creativity. And again, you can you have more freedom to get out of the no to out of the box thinking. And you can see now that the audience is really tired of the same kind of Game of Thrones and Batman's and stuff, right? They, yeah, they see it, they watch it, but you know, we know they did a lot of gather a lot of data about this too. And not only there felt it, but there is data that people are want more variety. Now that you have the internet you watch much more and you have theoretically access to much more. You don't have these gatekeepers because of shelf space right before you could go to Blockbuster only and they had limited shelf space so you they couldn't put up everything. Or the theaters could only take on one movie night or something. But now you have all this plus the unlimited resources of the internet. So you should be able to watch much more and more more people want that.

Alex Ferrari 39:58
We'll be right back after a word from Our sponsor and now back to the show.

Klaus Badelt 40:07
They expect like everything to be available and that's a big chance of indie I think that you have now the chance of being successful without being broadcast style popular. That means you don't have to have the millions of millions of viewers or tickets sold or something. Without that your movies a flop, I worked on many flops, I know exactly how hot my pressure is read a and how limiting can be, but now you can create something and you make this foreign or maybe a smaller segment of an audience or have more integrity it's a little bit like music, like used to you have to you had to go to a recording studio, you had to use that two inch machine, that tape machine and it was all very expensive. You had to pay the 1000s of dollars per day. So you had to have all this machine would pay for this and you know the industrial these days are like for a few years now you can actually write you know, I've heard the best productions coming from your laptop of some I don't know Pro Tools or whatnot on it and, and it's really great stuff you don't need add on it sounds amazing. Isn't the talent good ideas. And we have this now in movies too, right? That's the big chance of indie we have now digital production pipelines make it very, very cheap for you to produce now including visual effects on your laptop at Starbucks, which rivaled those we do here in in those visual effects studios. But not only visual facts, you know, that's just an example of everything you just you still need just like a music a good idea. Tasteful implementation, etc. That's still the same. But you have now a great opportunity that you can move now a lot of things yourself and that there's a demand on the other side for all people who want to watch more different things want to watch and give you give the attention to your Indie film. Whereas before they didn't even have access to it. Because it wasn't there wasn't available. And now we can make it available world.

Dave Bullis 42:30
Yeah, you know, you mentioned Tom Cruise, by the way to Klaus, you know, I once met I forget what he what he actually is the Tom but I he just said that the he had before you ever met Tom. He goes he always wondered what he was going to be like. And then he said once I met him, I knew why he was successful. And he goes he wakes up every day at four or five in the morning. He gets up he just starts going and he goes he never complains about having to be on set or don't take he never complains about having to do extra work. He goes all the guy does is he party who is you know, he's professional as can be. And he goes he goes I've never seen him with with a bad attitude whatsoever. And he goes, you know, he gets a lot of crap in the media for different things. He goes but you know, all that aside, he goes the guy just is a really hard worker.

Klaus Badelt 43:22
Yeah, and the tabloid news that's one thing but as a hard worker, exactly. I mean, he was issued fantastic to work with us, probably the only you only have the director on the film, I work with him. But you know, you only like producer who, you know, he had no problem seriously, going out at night to the deli and get everyone who was still working because we had to work all night for the last few nights to get us some food. So he had Tom Cruise, looking over my shoulder taking an order for Jerry's Deli. So that's true. And that's not like you want to be a nice guy. He's just like, Yeah, let's do it. You know, keep keep working. And I really appreciate that. And then you can see how this leads to success and well of course how it can lead to divorce but he's a very reasonable man. So in the in the in the news and everywhere. So again, focus always, like I said earlier, like to focus on actually working with these guys. And that's when they gain my respect. And then they will realize oh, yeah, okay, I don't know why.

Dave Bullis 44:27
Yeah, yeah. And see, again, stories like that about Tom, you know, just, you know, insanely hard worker and just likes what he does. And, you know, that's why when his movies come out, you know, I'm always interested to see how well they do began with the whole balancing the tabloid side of things and you know, I mean, I you know, I saw the mummy and I can definitely see what they were trying to do with it. You know, I just think that the the mummy as itself, the premise itself works at its best When Brendan Fraser had the cab, the six cyclists, I agree because Brendan Fraser is just he's just that he looks like a leading man. But he also can act like a goofball. You don't? I mean, and it said funny, and he and you don't I mean, and it just, it works so well, I think the mummy with Tom Cruise just took itself too seriously. And I think a lot of audiences now, you know, with all the options, you know, with all the options of TV and YouTube and everything else and, and also with still going to theater. I don't know if it if it found its I actually I know, it didn't find itself, you know, some of the some of the horror and that was was was fantastic. But I just think at the end of the day, you know, it's a lot of pressure to put on a movie to set up an entire universe. So you know, essentially it has because you know what it you know, it has to do so many things. Well, at the same time, it has to be a movie by itself. So you don't either. It's just it's a lot to do and I think it got pulled in too many directions.

Klaus Badelt 46:01
That happens a lot. And again, it's hard to because we seem to only be able to do franchises and re re re manufacture refactor them. But now Oh, like that's the big thing to do. Yeah, I totally understand what you're saying. Like, the perfect anti hero, you know, was Frasier and you know, reminds me of I don't know Harrison Ford. You know. You know, Indiana Jones like he's like you want that character was like, you know, he's a goofy, but he's more like, he can do he can do it, actually. But he doesn't want to. That's not the character. You know, you. Yeah, it comes in Tom has always Tom Cruise. Right. And that's not whether he's good. Or he's a great actor, actually. But he really I really admire his skills. No, no questions, no matter what, how thin the movie exactly is. But he's really great. But he's always giving himself and into it. So do you expect that it's hard to play against your own character?

Dave Bullis 47:04
Yeah, it's true. And he's doing what he likes and doing what he loves. And he has his own stunts, too. You know, and I know because we talked about distribution. I want to talk about film hub. I know we're starting to run out of time. See how it's you know, Klaus is kind of like a movie. It's like how crab? How do we get all this in here? We've got too much to cover. We don't have enough time.

Klaus Badelt 47:24
No, don't worry about it. No, this is not supposed to. I like to talk about creativity. And I like to talk about the force and the awakening. Now indie should have and I want to bring because I believe in it myself. And I've done it a lot. And with indie film, and I believe that there's now this big change and, and distribution, whatever the the the overall solution is that we have now as indie filmmakers, and new confidence we should have it. And who doesn't have it yet should learn about it. Because it is now possible, all I'm doing all the time now is with either with music, in films to support this in with film up, I'm doing this, to support it on a much larger scale, hopefully, that you can now check this off as a commodity, you can now you know, you cannot do films cheaper with your digital cameras, you can now do visual effects cheaper with or on your own, you can now check that off and check off distribution, you cannot be in every living room in the world. And you have to think of the world and not just your own country or you know, we have to stop thinking in domestic and foreign terms. We have to stop with territorial limitations. We have to stop thinking, windowing this is all what the audience doesn't want. This is all what the industry wants to make a bit more money, you know, to exhorted even more to milk the cow more. But just like in music we've seen, music is like a few years ahead of us in film, we can see how things happen there. Because also, the difference to me is only like bandwidth, right? Music is just less bandwidth needed. But you can see the same flow. And you can learn from that you can see how unimportant a big industry can render itself. And then they come back to what's the actual value. Hollywood does have a big value. But indie film has a much larger value of bread, then we have given us so far, and to strengthen, strengthen that in this case with the distribution platform where you don't have to pay anything and just be there and let it check it off. And then keep creating. And we have much more much more to do there. It's still, even though we have the internet and everybody can watch and do whatever they want whenever they want it in wherever they wanted.

Alex Ferrari 49:56
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Klaus Badelt 50:06
That doesn't mean you don't make movies, by the way for cell phones, right? Like this has been talked about, like the last 10 years. But that's not the case, you just have much more freedom as the audience now to watch what you like, it's harder to find what you like, because there's so much more now. But we have to now put all these tools into place all these digital tools into place, and leverage them as filmmakers, you got to move on and, and embrace this too, we have to stop being that dinosaur ourselves. And there's a lot more to talk about, right when it comes to. But in general, it means like, this is a great opportunity is the digital opportunity now, to create actually very beautiful and meaningful film. Again, more than if I may say, so Hollywood, is dares to produce at this point.

Dave Bullis 51:02
In that's why, you know, stuff like film hub, and I and I was reading your website. So, you know, I've had other people on here, like Jason Brubaker from distributor, you know, things like that, where, you know, people are, you know, companies like yourself, they're, you know, it's a way to get on Amazon, it's way to go on Hulu. You know, so people can, because those are where the eyeballs are right? You know, especially with Amazon, and especially with Amazon, the way it's becoming, they're trying to get more into the video market, you know, who was Hulu? You know, and all these different channels? You know, how do you stand out? How do you get your film on there? Because I mean, even a couple years ago, I remember, you know, just talking to people, and I would say, how the hell do you even get a film on here? You know, how do you get a film? On any of these platforms? You know, do you have to get in a sales agent to pitch to him? And, you know, a few years ago, maybe it's only mean, and actually, you did have to, you know, they had to have the contacts, they had to go through this. And then you had to have deliverables the right way. And, you know, her high ratings. I mean, seriously, and your Netflix has their own way of delivering films, you know, and it's just, you know, do you have all that? Even deliverables a few years ago, before that, Klaus, you know, you had to have? Do you have a 35 millimeter print? You have this? Do you have that? And you're like, well, for indie filmmakers, you know, that's, that's, you know, what, what, how much did prints use the costs? Cost, like $50,000, I think, or something like that, or maybe a lot more so. Right. Exactly. Yeah, yeah, seriously, I would say it's, you know, and so, so that's why I wanted to have you on class to talk about filmhub. And just all this stuff. I know, we can't, we're running out of time. But, you know, just just in closing, Klaus, you know, is there any sort of parting thoughts that you wanted to say, to sort of put a period in this whole conversation?

Klaus Badelt 52:47
Well, again, like I think it's about to me, it's about like, and I love coming on the show like this is to talk about the strength of indie, and that we have to develop now really quick, our own confidence more than we think that often I still I was at Sundance again, and everywhere I go on these festivals is, we still think too much of what we want to achieve is to beat the old system to get your film being picked up. In in terms of, like, like recording artists in music, that also already means the kiss of death, you have to develop it on your own and be your own, have an ownership model, we have to change the model. And then the creativity can actually continue. And so what we're building here with this film, for example, what I'm doing with my movies, into support, like Chinese movies is like there is such a variety out there. And we just have to keep going. creating great stuff. And this is now a much more open world. And then maybe next time we can talk a bit more about how I how I see how, what the what, in my opinion the right way or for what is the right vision forward is where this industry can be in five years. But that's maybe too much for now. We could talk about Alexa.

Dave Bullis 54:02
I know I'm actually now I'm tempted to you know, keep talking to you. Just me I know you got I know you gotta run. And I'm just tempted to give you did to get you hanging on just to just sort of finished that thought. I mean, you know, that's why, you know, I'm getting back into the swing of things too. You know, I got just burned out from doing things and now for for listeners who you know, listen to the past couple of episodes Klaus, they know I'm actually going to start making I want to make a faux trailer again, just a fun fake trailer and throw it up on YouTube. I've been doing a lot more stuff, just with with back and getting into the saddle with this creative stuff I always been writing and you know, it's just it's just getting back into it because I realized you know, I just talked with everybody leaving you know, every guest you know, I always hear different things and it's just important to give keep going and keep trying and get back out there. Because I mean I flat out would be very honest with everybody I got so burned out clouds from just the amount of bullcrap. Just from like, you know, projects never went anywhere. Where to you shoot a project and then somebody holds it hostage on a hard drive, which I've seen, you know, that only happened to me once, thankfully. But other people, it's happened to them like two or three times, you know, just crazy. Because I just sing in the dark the whole time, you know, when it got to. But, but, you know, again, I know you have to go Klaus and, you know. So again, I want to say thank you for coming on. And where can people find you at online?

Klaus Badelt 55:25
So we're at filmhub.com and my own personal website is klausbadelt.com or klausbadelt.com So you can you can find me there and go from there and reach out on Twitter. We're a film hub HQ. I monitor that personally, too. And yeah, get in touch and let's think let's keep creating that revolutionary like that. And I love that, you know, going back getting back into it, too. We have to keep creating. That's the idea.

Dave Bullis 55:52
You got to have one foot in theory one foot and practice. It's dangerous when you don't I mean, so. Exactly. So it will thank you. Thank you Klaus. I just thought is off top my head buddy thought taught me. So, everyone, it's Dave bulls.com. Twitter. It's at db podcast. Klaus, I want to say Aveda sane. And in fact, you see that rudimentary German helped out

Klaus Badelt 56:16
That'll help you worldwide. No, thank you for having me. A lot of fun. Keep following your podcast and hope it was in little bit insightful for someone.



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IFH 702: How to Make Four Features in One Year with Chad Archibald & Cody Calahan

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Alex Ferrari 2:00
Enjoy today's episode with guest host, Jason Buff.

Jason Buff 2:05
Today we're talking with Chad Archibald and Cody Calahan of black fawn films, their films antisocial to and bite just premiered at the Fantasia fest up in Toronto, and it's supposedly somebody like threw up and it was so gross watching the movie bite that somebody threw up, I think, you know, I don't know how true it is. But it's a great thing to for publicity, you know. And I think they after that they started giving out like barf bags with their logo on it and everything. So I mean, these, it's pretty amazing how they have been able to get out and find an audience. And you know, as we talked about in the interview, they get out and they go to horror fests and they go to cons and do you know, they're out there, really getting the word out about their films. And that's how they've been able to build up an audience. And one of the things we talked about a lot on the show is the key to filmmaking is finding your audience. That's all you need to have if you want if you make a film, and are able to sell it and get it out to people who want to see it. That's all you need. Let me go ahead and get to the interview. This is Chad Archibald and Cody Callahan. First thing I wanted to talk about was just coming off of Fantasia fest. And, you know, one of the big things we talk about is distribution and how people are connecting with their audiences. And first, I'm kind of wondering how much of a role Fantasia fest plays into your overall strategy for getting the word out? And how are things working nowadays with with the way that VOD has kind of changed and DVDs aren't as big anymore? Can you talk about just the way that you're getting your film out there? How people can find it, and how you're connecting with your audience?

Chad Archibald 3:51
Um, well, I guess the whole Fantasia thing we, we love going to this festival, it's fairly close to us, it's about eight hours from where we live. So it's, it's been a staple with I think we've had like eight films there over the years. But we, you know, we generally come up with you know, 3040 people, our entire cast and crew. And we have a we have a great time up there. It's, it's kind of like our little vacation from the year. And I mean, it's just aside from that is actually, you know, just one of the best festivals out there. It's, it's run so well. The organizers put so much effort into picking great films and making it such a great experience. And the fans that are like the audiences are just there's so much fun. So I mean, we go up there with our films to revere them but we also love just going to actually watch movies and and, you know, just see what see what's coming and see what's coming out next, I guess, right. Now, I guess as far as getting our films out there, you know, we We have a sales team that goes out to all the markets and whatnot like the FM's and, and whatnot. But you know, it's, it's difficult with any indie film to really get noticed. And there's just so many films out there. So, I mean, we try to, you know, first of all, I guess isn't, you know, we're trying to make, okay movies that, that we hope, kind of end up getting standing out in the sea of other indie horror films right now. So I mean, I think that's obviously the first thing that you got to try to do. But aside from that, I mean, we, you know, we use tons of social media stuff. We have worked hard over the years, creating relationships with fans and whatnot, we go to tons of conventions, and, you know, we're always, you know, trying to get out there and push her films and just as well push ourselves. We, we hire a ton of different people in different shoots. And we always try to treat people with respect. And it, I think, that kind of gets the word out there a little bit, too. I mean, Canada. And then aside from that, you know, we always come up with little marketing gigs. Like we had little barf bags that the bites. You know, we did a big any social campaign at the Cannes market. And yeah, I mean, just try to try to come up with interesting ideas to engage your audience's

Jason Buff 6:35
Has it changed a lot since the technologies become cheaper and people aren't doing DVDs as much. I mean, is it a harder field to get into, like producing horror movies?

Chad Archibald 6:45
Oh, for sure. It's, it's completely different now. And every year, it gets a little bit harder, which is, it's funny, because it's like we, you know, make better movies every year, but the industry kind of gets a little more difficult every year. But it's, I mean, you used to be able to make a film and sell it fairly easily, because any distributor would be like, Okay, well, I mean, we're gonna sell 100,000 copies, to the blockbusters and the Rogers out there instantly. So, you know, there's actually no way we're going to lose money on these films, right. So there's just there's tons of money to be made back then. And distributors nowadays, you know, they have to really work to get people to watch it, or rent it on iTunes, or, you know, there's just so many films accessible to everyone at the touch of a button. So it's, it's, it's now a matter of actually getting people to watch your films and getting people to actually, like, choose them out of the sea of other films. I mean, it's, it's definitely changed. It's an it's still changing. And it's getting, you know, it's just, it's getting more difficult, but it's also just, it's getting different, right? People are just having having to come up with new ideas. And, you know, for years, there's been, you know, people in studios, who would just be paid, like, you know, tons of money to just sit there and try to figure out how to, how to resolve the industry, because it's, uh, you know, so many distributors have closed down, I think there's, like, you know, 13% of the distributors out there still, you know, still still kicking, but I mean, so many of the smaller guys just got ate up by big studios, or just had to close the doors whenever, you know, all the DVD market collapse, right?

Jason Buff 8:39
Do you feel like that has anything to do with people like doing more self distribution, or just the fact that it's, you know, people aren't renting DVDs anymore? There's no more there's really not like a physical product anymore.

Chad Archibald 8:51
Yeah, I mean, they're still out there. We still release all our, our, our films on DVD and blu ray. But yeah, it's, it's, it's got to the point where I think people who are like real big fans who are like collectors of DVDs and whatnot, they don't want to pick that those up. And the people who don't specifically have a giant DVD collection that, you know, they they end up going on VOD, and, and whatnot. So it's, it is hard, but they're still you know, we go to tons of conventions and sell DVDs from a booth and there's still, you know, a lot of people out there that really, really liked them. A lot of people are happy spending, you know, a few bucks on getting an actual physical product, it turns into kind of a collector's item, you know, right. Whereas, you know, you buy it on iTunes and it just disappears after

Jason Buff 9:46
You can't, you can't, you know, autograph or download either.

Alex Ferrari 9:52
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jason Buff 10:00
Oh, And so what, back in the early days before you guys had kind of built up this following what was your primary way of kind of getting the word out? Is it always been the same way? Or have you? You know, have you used social media and view you used? You know, I mean, I guess my question is, how can people who are kind of going in this into this for the first time, start building an audience, and, you know, focusing on who their core audience is going to be.

Chad Archibald 10:29
Um, I think, years ago, me and Cody actually traveled across Canada with a movie called never lost. And we just, you know, we, we rented movie theaters from Montreal to Vancouver, and just kind of traveled every day, we would go to a different location, different theater and try to, you know, cellar versus trying to screen our film actually proved to be very difficult. I mean, we, we had a great time doing it, and we met a ton of people, but it's to make something like that really work and come out financially, okay, it's very difficult to get people to come and sit in a theater, especially if you don't have a following in that area. You know, like we can, we can pack Theatre in Toronto, because, you know, all our friends and family are from here, but but it was, it was something that I think were a little, you know, we learned a lot from doing it. And, I mean, even even when we're starting out, like, the the biggest thing, I think, that we did was just, you know, try to surround ourselves and work with a ton of people who are really passionate, and just from, from their passion and excitement about the film's, you know, they would spread it to other people. And, you know, it's not like it was making a huge difference in the industry or anything. But for us, you know, little guys just making a movie. It does help get the word out there, you know, if you post something on social media, then you have, you know, 10 other people posting it as well. And, you know, all their friends on other front pages, see it, and, you know, it kind of spreads like that. And I mean, we also, you know, we went to we'd rent out theaters around Toronto and Guelph, and whatnot, and Scream Screen, some of our films, they're just trying to make a big show that we, we screened a film years ago, where we had, you know, we had a big party at a bar. And we invited the cast and crew and whoever wanted to come and we had bands play. And at the end of the night, it was like the big trailer release, and we released a trailer there. And then we, you know, a few months later, we went and we had another bigger party, and we had, you know, more bands playing, we released a new trailer that was there. And the third band was like, or the third time was like, a release, where we showed a few of our music videos for the bands that were playing there. And we showed the trailers and we released tickets for the actual screening at the Cineplex and we ended up selling out three or four theaters. Wow. Which was, you know, it was great, but that was, you know, back in the day whenever, you know, there wasn't youtube today, that's

Jason Buff 13:19
No, but that's exactly the kind of things that I hear from a lot of people now which is you know, if you want to have success filmmaking, especially, you know, way outside you know, in the indie film market, you really have to become your, your own giant publicity machine, you know, and connect with people versus some other people who want to, you know, have a company that's like, they're gonna make their film and then they're just gonna go out and sell it to a distributor that doesn't really seem to exist as much anymore.

Chad Archibald 13:49
Yeah, it's a it's definitely a challenge everything's a challenge and I mean, you have to take advantage of the things that don't cost money and ideas are one of those things that you know, you can often come up with ideas that you can do cheap or or I think if you can try to kind of think like a publicist a little bit just finding different angles of you know, how you can promote something you know, we had talked about years ago anti social which was you know, it's kind of like what a Facebook turned on its users into zombies. And we were gonna get, you know, little super cheap USB keys and put the trailers on them and you know, hand them out to everyone on the streets and stuff like that. So you know, people get a little USB key which would be a buck or two and you know, on the USB key there, it'd be like this you know, social media horror movie. But I mean, I think just even doing that there's there's the value of people actually picking up the the product like a USB key or whatever, but there's also a value in just just meeting All right, that'd be in like, Oh, so you guys are the actual filmmakers and you're actually on the street. It's almost like years ago when you're in line for like a concert and like, a guy would come over and be like, here's my band's tape. We're just handing them out to everyone. I'd like listen to the tape and be like, I met that guy. I think nothing FaZe did that years years ago, and I remember like, being like, I'm old school. I Yeah, added me this tape. And now he's, you know, now and watch his music videos on on much music when they played music videos.

Jason Buff 15:33
Right? Well tell me. Yeah, what's my error too? But, well, let me let me ask you one more thing about distribution. And then I'm going to change focus to, you know, screenwriting and some of the other aspects. Now, right now, you've got antisocial too, and you've got bite, and they both premiered at Fantasia fest? What what is the where do they where do you go from there in terms of like, I mean, are you guys kind of out of the the process now? Or are you just doing publicity? Or are you actually involved with where it's going to be going in terms of like, US distribution? European, just, you know, all that stuff? Is that like, where are you right now in that process?

Chad Archibald 16:20
I think we're, we're lucky enough to work with a studio. Okay, now called Breakthrough entertainment. And they have a team of people who, you know, we we've reached out to and sat down and discussing the festivals that the films are going to be in, or at least reach out to and apply to. And they also take it, you know, out as far as into the industry for sales. So I mean, we do our little part with the people that we know, to help out. But in all honesty, we're on our next film already. Well, yeah, we have a pitcher deal with breakthrough entertainment over two years. So we've just finished shooting the third of eight films, and where we're editing it right now and getting ready to go into production on the next five. So what

Jason Buff 17:10
That's like for four films per year? Yeah. Okay, well, let's let's go into that a little bit. Because that seems to me that seems insane. I mean, it seems like you guys probably, you know, make stop to eat for two seconds, and then you go back to work. Is that kind of your lifestyle?

Chad Archibald 17:28
Yeah, that's why I said Fantasia was our holiday because for nine days and, and as soon as we got back, we're back to work. It's funny, Cody's actually away right now working on better the dead, which is the third film that we're doing with Jeff Mahara? Who directed it?

Okay. So can we talk a little bit about? No, go ahead. Sorry.

Cody Calahan 17:54
No, it was just fine. Because I think we drove back from Montreal, I think. I slept in my bed for like, six hours, and then got up and drove to a cottage where we set up like all our edits, edit suites, and I've been here since Fantasia.

Chad Archibald 18:12
And that says, like, we have to kind of do these, these endurance trips of getting things done. So I mean, it's, it is insane. I mean, we, we really, were excited going into this slate of films. And I think the hardest thing is actually just just getting all the concepts together and getting them all approved by the studio and whatnot. Because, you know, like we said, it's it all starts with your idea and your concept being unique. If it's not a unique idea, then there's, you know, it's going to be very different, difficult to stand out.

Jason Buff 18:47
Well, there obviously has to be a profitable aspect of what you guys are doing, you know, so I mean, to to attract a company like breakthrough, right.

Chad Archibald 18:58
Yeah, I mean, I think the industry is, you know, the industry still buying movies, and they're still, you know, I think there's still a spot in it for sure. If you if you make quality films. And yeah, I think breakthrough is also kind of, you know, I think they've seen a lot of the films that we had done in the past for, you know, $10. And they can, they can see, you know, where we've come and where we're going and they really want to kind of invest in our future as well. So, this is, this is a first step to it.

Jason Buff 19:31
Okay, now I wanted to sidetrack for just a second ever. I wanted to sidetrack for one second, because I was reading one of your interviews, Chad, specifically, about desperate souls, which you made, I think when you were 22, right. Yeah. Now, you mentioned that you kind of messed up the sound and everything and you had some issues with that but ended up selling it to Lionsgate and Alliance films, right. Yeah. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 20:00
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Jason Buff 20:09
Can you just describe how that happened or how it's possible that you know, to do something like that, because I hear so many nightmare stories about filmmaking and things going wrong and people who are never able to, you know, their film ends up sitting in a closet somewhere, you know, despite their best efforts and everything, and I was just wondering how that kind of happened or if you can talk a little bit about that.

Chad Archibald 20:31
Yeah, you know, we went out and we made this movie and we made every mistake in the book. We we shot it and all the audio was so horrible that there's generators in the background of everything. I went out and bought three red heads, like three 1k lights and lit the whole movie with that I was just clueless all we knew is that there was these cameras DVS one hundreds that shot. Sorry, there's huge bang and so anyway.

Jason Buff 21:02
And that was the last we heard of Chad.

Chad Archibald 21:04
Yeah. Anyways, there's a these cameras dv x 100 said, We're the first cameras to really shoot 24 P. So it's basically you know, that moment when, you know, a prosumer prosumer camera stop looking like your home video, right. So we had pre ordered two of those. And I mean, I know at that point before then it's like, you know, to go out and film the movie. On a prosumer camera, it still had a very video II look. Right. So these are that does that HD? No, that was standard def, right? Yes. That's what I thought. Yeah. So. So we went out and we shot this movie, you know, we literally thought we could shoot it in a week. And it took you know, two years. Of course, were so clueless. And, yeah, we we made every mistake in the book, I ended up having to build a sound room in my basement and I rerecorded every line of dialogue every sound every movement every footstep in this room in Vegas video and linked it all up and made the m&e and because I figured out what an m&a was at that point. And you had Yeah, and then released a movie. And, you know, we went and met with some people in Toronto, it's, it's kind of it's difficult to get well, it's funny, because so many people think it's, you know, so hard to set up meetings with people in the industry. But I mean, if you have a product, if you have, you know, an idea or whatever it's like, it's really not that hard. Like people are generally, you know, interested in finding what's out there and finding, you know, connecting with people. So we always say that in meetings or whatever it's like, you know, reach out and try to try to meet with people like we we meet with people all the time, people are like, hey, you know, I'm trying to get into film and we'd love to buy a beer. That's, that's what entices us, apparently. But anyways, yeah, we, you know, got it to someone who who was interested in back then there's still again, Rogers videos and all those stores. So they looked at it, and they were like, you know, this is a, it's a complete movie, it's got all the pieces, it's got all the deliverables, which are a whole other story, but we got it all together and, and sold at Lionsgate and lights. And a, it's just, it's a worst movie ever. Like, I wouldn't be able to give it away. Just, it's horrible.

Jason Buff 23:38
That's the first on the show.

Chad Archibald 23:41
But it's, but the fact is, we made every mistake in the book. And I think from that experience, that's where a lot of the knowledge that I have now about filmmaking came from, you know, I think the problem with people is that, you know, people getting into the industry right now is they're so eager to just, like, jump into making a film. And, you know, sorry, that's kind of what we did do. So I'm not saying but I mean, like, there's technology out, there's iPhones, or whatever it's like, go out and just make mistakes and make every mistake that you can possibly do, and work on making and fixing it and figuring you know, figuring out exactly what you have to do to make a movie. And then whenever you actually get some money and put it into a film or if you're investing your own money, you know, you can you can have a better chance of it getting completed from on again. Yeah, there's so many people out there that did start they jump into a feature and underestimate it and don't know how to you know, resolve issues on them by themselves whenever, you know, shit hits the fan. So I think it's it's important if you don't have the money, you have to be able to trust yourself to figure it out to get the project done.

Jason Buff 24:56
Now, you mentioned deliverables and said that was a whole other topic. Can you just bring If we talk about deliverables, the importance of, you know, having the things that you need to give for to make sure the film is all legal and everything, just the kind of most important things.

Chad Archibald 25:12
Well, I mean, I think, you know, you have to have your contracts without your cast and crew and whatnot. There's, there's different kinds of deliverables. There's deliverables, if you want to sell the film, but if you want to do tax credits is a whole other list of deliverables. But I mean, it's, you know, anything that you can think of, that you think you might be available for, right, you know, location agreements. You know, if you're using music from someone, or someone's doing the score, you know, make sure they had signed some paperwork. And a lot of the templates are good enough online, you can search them, search them all up, just basically anyone you work with, who's adding anything creative, just make sure. Or if you're working, you know, if you do know, a distributor or moderator go to anyone and just say, you know, can you send me a list of what you would ask for if you bought a film? And you know, you have all your different you know, an m&e, like your music and effects tracks. So, you know, when you when you release a film you have, you have to deliver one track, that's all your dialogue, then you have to release additional tracks that are basically all the sound effects in the movie. So, you know, footsteps, close, explosions, all the music. And basically, then if you sell it to Japan, they can go they can delete your dialogue track, they still have all the other sounds of the movie, and then they dub over, you know, beautifully in and then of course, like your trailers, your poster elements, you know, 50 stills, you know, stills from set, poster material. Right? Yeah.

Jason Buff 26:50
Okay. So moving into building a project. Okay, and what I want to talk for a second about your process for screenwriting? Because a lot of our we talk a lot with screenwriters, and I'm a screenwriter and people like to know what can you talk a little bit about your process for beginning a project and how you kind of start putting together your screenplays. And especially since you guys are kind of cranking stuff out? What is the secret? If you found one for kind of getting to your final draft of a screenplay quickly and effectively.

Cody Calahan 27:32
I will, I think we used the immune challenges to write a lot more because we would make one or maybe two movies a year. But now since we're we are doing so much we spend sort of less time actually writing scripts and more time, just coming up with solid, solid concepts and then bringing on new new writers. And I think for us, I mean, obviously with every every movie, we do something good. And we're like, Okay, we got to do, we got to remember that do that again. But for every good thing, there's 50 past things we do. And I think as as we've sort of grown, you know, writing and you know, helping other people, right? And then getting people to write for us, is just trying to try to keep our ideas, you know, fun and simple and clean. Because I think both me and shadow made movies where at some point in time, there's a character who needs to explain something. And I think I think we've both had that moment of like, well, I can't cut the scenes, because I'm, I need to get this information across. But I wish I could go back. Because no, no point in a movie. Should somebody sit down in front of somebody and go and take a deep breath and explain why you're watching. And I've done it. I know lots of filmmakers do it. But I think for us, it's like every time we make a movie, you know will sit at Fantasia and then leave and go talk to each other and be like, Okay, so let's never do that again. Everybody loved that. So let's make sure we do that again. So I feel like every every movie even though they're all so so different, like any social to invite, I don't even know if you can compare them how different they are. Both of them came out of what we've learned from the drowns man and sublet, and any social one. And it's it's funny, because it's like, all of those movies are so different. But still, filmmaking comes down to like some pretty simple rules that you can play with and try to break but there's some things you just have to stick to because every time we we don't you can see the audience's reactions or read about it in a review. You can also

Jason Buff 29:46
Big make mistakes then that you learn from.

Alex Ferrari 29:51
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Cody Calahan 30:01
Well, I'd say I would say that the biggest one is, is having a, having a concept that that is cool enough that the audience goes, Oh, okay, well, that's interesting and something a little different. But don't go so wacky, that you need a character to explain why you're watching the film. And like, you know, even on any social, it took us forever to try to figure out a way to tell the audience that Facebook, but you know, in our case, the websites called Red Room, how does how does this website, you know, basically possessed people? And why is it doing it without having one character talk to you for five minutes. So it was about getting all those pieces of information and suddenly trying to put give them to different characters at different times. So by the time the, you know, the hammer comes down, and it's like, this is the thing that's killing people, you already have enough to put everything together so that we don't have to explain a lot. I think that one for for us is the the biggest and also trying to trying to keep when you're going to do such graphic horror movies, where people are throwing up at a theater, you got to remember that, like, for an hour and a half, if you're going to be that discussing that you kind of you should add a little bit of humor. Just just to release the audience here and there. And I think sometimes, you know, I mean, for me, personally, I can get so sore in the movie, and so intense about it that I want it to be so serious, but sometimes you can have to step back and go, Okay, well, there's a movie about Facebook, turning people into zombies. So let's tread lightly on the on the serious factor.

Jason Buff 31:46
So do you start out with a kind of a blueprint and put the whole thing together? You know, before you actually start writing? Or do you just kind of jump in?

Cody Calahan 31:54
I'm usually it's like, shall call me like, he'll be driving home? And they'll call me or something and be like, what about a movie? And like, you know, that that, and I'll call him and with with an idea. And usually we go through? I don't know, recently, we've gone through about 50 different ideas, just trying to find the right one to put our time into writing. But I feel like for us, it's not. It's not that we we take an idea. And we work on it so long that we figured out how to make it work. But we wait until there's that spark, or something different or like okay, cool. I haven't seen that before. And usually we we we wait for each other's reaction. And if the reaction is like, okay, that's really cool, then we keep developing. But as we go through so many different ideas, and sometimes we'll you know, well, we'll write a 12 page treatment, send it to each other, and the other person's like, Nah, not feeling it. My Desktop has like, his a folder called old movies. And I was just looking at it now. And there's, there's probably 24 treatments in there. None of which.

Jason Buff 33:01
Right? Do you have any kind of go to structure that you use when you're like plotting things together? I mean, do you ever use something like save the cat or, or hero's journey or anything like that? Or I assume for a horror movie, it's a little bit different.

Cody Calahan 33:15
Yeah, I mean, say the Cat's got some, I mean, that looks that looks great. Because I do think no matter whether if it's for drama, or comedy, or whatever, there is, there's structure things that have worked forever. So that so you know, there's some things to keep in mind. And especially if it's your, if it's your first film, I would never tell anybody did not experiment. I think that's the point of making movies. But you know, there's some things like that you need to you need to stick to like, giving your your character a reason to be in the story and not just being like, Okay, I'm gonna go make a horror movie. So I'm going to spend, you know, all the money on blood and gore. Because that's what people want to see. It's like, I think, you know, I think there's so many movies, I think audiences are getting smarter. And I think you gotta be, you gotta make something that's about people and stuff before, you know, heads are exploding. Not that we don't do that.

Chad Archibald 34:08
I think the other thing as well, that we've gotten used to doing and I think this is a little bit more of a producer writing thing is that, you know, you make sure that you can pull off what you're writing. So if you already know what your budget is going to be, or if you know that you're going to be doing it on your own with your friends. It's about coming up with ideas that you can that you know, that you can pull off well, as opposed to coming out, like creating ideas that are so big that you're just setting yourself up for failure. We mean, Cody have done it in the past. So many other filmmakers I know have done it, where it's like, you know, they've got a bunch of cops coming in, and it's like, as soon as you see the cops, they're just like a bunch of kids and they're like just wearing all these like, whatever blue dress shirts that are all big and wonky and it just takes you out of the whole story.

Cody Calahan 35:01
You know, you're reading the script. It's like, you know, the bad guys walk out and there's a riot scene, and then you go to shoot it. And it's like, your four buddies, your grips your gaffers. And there's like 10 people in the shot and you're like,

Chad Archibald 35:15
And none of them are actors. So they're all like, you know, there's always a guy who's laughing in the back and

Cody Calahan 35:20
staring at the camera. Yeah.

Jason Buff 35:24
Okay, so moving on from screenwriting. Going into pre production, I'm gonna try to get through this as fast as possible, because this is this is the kind of stuff people need to know a lot of people want to be in your shoes. The there's the touchy subject of budgeting, investing, and kind of having an idea of what a film can make. Can you guys discuss that a little bit? And how you figure out, okay, we can, for example, you know, $100,000, half a million dollars, a million dollars going up and up and up? It's like, how is there some sort of information you can give us about how all that works? And how you budget?

Chad Archibald 36:09
People love that question. It's so funny how often people ask me, like, what's that? What's the sweet spot? Like? Yeah, well, you know, you make a movie for that, and you're gonna make your money back or, you know, it's, I mean, it, it's different, because, and you always have to say this at the start is, it does come down to your concept, you know, you can make a movie, for 100 grand, that has a really good idea. And it could, you know, go insane, it could, it could make you millions, it could, you know, be huge, or make a movie for 100 grand, and it could not sell anywhere. So, I mean, it always does come down to your concept, and you know, the quality of, you know, filmmaking that you're that you're dealing with. So, I mean, there is no sweet spot, that's always going to be like, you know, this is, this is the safe area, you're always going to make your money back. Now, there's accounting things, like for example, if you wanted to use, you know, tax credits, you know, you can look at your budget and be like, Alright, we're gonna invest this much, and we'll get this much back in tax credits. And, you know, it's always a percentage. So it's, you know, depends on what your entire budget is. But it's, I mean, a lot of the stuff that we do is non union. And, I mean, we do things like ad social, to which union. So there's obviously a big gap there. When you go non union, you can, you can shoot stuff for a lot cheaper. And there's, you know, less rules that are going to demand your funds. But I mean, I think if you, you know, if you go and you make a million dollar film, you're probably going to want to go union, because you're going to want to like to get some names, and that's going to help sell your product, because I think it does kind of, unless your films that complete breakout head, it does cap out a little bit, you know, if you don't have any names in your movie, it can be really, really awesome. And still, you know, a lot of distributors will be like, I'm not gonna buy that, or I'm gonna buy it for this much money because it's got nobody at it. So but I mean, you know, there's, there's exceptions to every rule. You know, if people are looking for safe answers, that's, that's your safe answers that, you know, if you're going to, you know, make a movie for a million bucks, you got to make sure you try to get some names in it. If you're going to make a movie for nothing, then make sure you got a good concept to sell it.

Jason Buff 38:43
Yeah, and so where exactly do you find the money? Where's the money? That's yeah, what do you have any like phone numbers and addresses?

Cody Calahan 38:54
Yes, it is the best answer if we can answer that this podcast would be amazing.

Jason Buff 39:00
All right, well, I won't hold you to that.

Chad Archibald 39:03
Industry, they released the phone number.

Jason Buff 39:07
Phone calls from this guy. Okay, so the the main thing I'm what I've been saying is just you have to really, it's like any business, you have to build something that people are going to be interested in, you have to have an actor or actors or, you know, somebody with a track record. You know, I always advise people, you know, if you want to make a movie for $100,000, make a movie for $10,000 or whatever you can afford at that moment, and then, you know, build up, you know, and I don't know how you guys feel about that. But it just seems like most people that are making films, it's like they start out with something really low budget, and just kind of an even just shorts, you know, and then slowly move up with the next project. And as long as they can demonstrate that they have a track record, they're gonna you know, be able to keep making movies.

Alex Ferrari 39:56
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Chad Archibald 40:05
Well, I mean, it's so it's so tricky and it's so like, there, there's like, filmmakers do need to be, to have a sense of responsibility for everyone else. Because it's, it's become an issue over the years now that everyone can make a movie, there's so many people out there that are like, you know, I've never made a movie, but I just think that I was born to make a movie. So I'm, I'm gonna go out, and I'm going to talk to, you know, all these lawyers and dentists or whatever the hell and raise some money and we're gonna go out and we're gonna make the best movie ever because I was born to make movies, and I watched a ton of movie, so I'm just going to be the best at it. And then they go out and they, you know, make a shitty film or a great film, who knows, but chances are, like anything else, it's like, you get better at doing something by doing it. And there's a lot of people that raise a lot of money and lose a lot of money for people in the industry. Or not, not in the industry, there's a lot of people who, you know, sit back, and they look and they're like, Oh, this is like, you know, my sister in law's cousin's son, and he's a filmmaker, and he's telling me, he's going to, you know, hit the jackpot with this movie, and I'm going to give them 50 grand, and they're going to give me back 200 grand, because that's what his little paper proposal told me. And then they go in and invest the funds and into someone who's, you know, made a little booklet that looks really awesome, but has no idea what they're doing. And, you know, then then that person, you know, gets burnt and tells his story that, you know, never invest in a film, you'll lose all your money. And then independent, like, independent people fun, like financing films like that are, you know, they're never going to do it again. I think everyone should be working together and, you know, raising responsible numbers to try to be like, Okay, I'll, how would I get 10 grand from you, even if you lose, if I lose it all, and there's nothing back. Like, I mean, I could print off DVDs and sell 10 grand worth and, you know, a while, you know, it's like, there's still, you know, it's that much money, so you can like, you can still recoup it for someone. But I mean, we, you know, me and Cody know, people who have invested millions of dollars in products that never got finished. And it's, it's sad, but it's, you know, it hurts everyone in the industry. And it's, you know, it's, it's the responsibility now that everyone has the power to actually make a movie, you know, you can go out and buy, you know, a camera for $3,000 and make it, you know, a movie that could be a hit. So, technology's not really a factor anymore. It's just, yeah, you know, there's people out there that have done that they've gone and raised a million dollars in one shot, and maybe with like, casting their buddies in it. Now, it's a crazy. Again, like, I'm not saying don't be ambitious, but I just mean, you know, try to try to figure out what you're doing before you start spending people's money on.

Jason Buff 43:03
Yeah, it's funny, because, you know, back when I was more, you know, in the age in my 20s, trying to make films, I, I had a couple, I think I had three friends who got money by showing people around El Mariachi, and they get like they had they had an investor meeting, they were like, look at this movie, and look how much money this movies made, you know, and they went out and they shot their own movie, and nobody ever saw. I mean, this was back in the days of like, you know, 1635 millimeter, and it was a lot more expensive. But it was always funny to be like, everybody was using the same one example or clerks or, you know, back in like the late 90s, you know?

Chad Archibald 43:39
Yeah, yeah. That was uh, that's it

Cody Calahan 43:48
To go on, and try to try to find money and I mean, me and me and Chad and a few people, we spent a bunch of money and shot trailers for movies that we wanted to make. And we thought, okay, so we're gonna go out we're gonna make these shows we're gonna make them look super high quality, great little concepts, try to get the stories across in these short little two to three minute trailers and then start setting up meetings because we have something to show that will show that we can do show that we can drag bla bla bla and it's funny because I think we made four of them. And we've picked some but and just kind of realized that it's like to go like, Okay, that's cool, but it doesn't you know, show numbers doesn't show you guys can make money back but when we met breakthrough, we showed them the trailers and it's funny because they, they didn't necessarily want to make those movies but when we showed them the trailer, they were kinda like, Okay, do you guys can do you guys can do that. We'll give you a tiny bit tiny bit of money and we'll see if we'll see if this works. And that was that was an historical one. But I've mean half of the why we got that was a trailer for a completely different movie, but at least we You know, put all our effort into that, and we didn't spend too much money getting a getting a pitch piece ready, because that's the other thing, too, is don't spend 20 grand getting something together to pitch to get money for a movie. Make a movie.

Chad Archibald 45:16
Yeah, exactly. And we are like, we also, you know, there's a ton of people out there that will be like, Oh, we've got this DP, and he just did a huge film. So we're gonna put all his stuff in our reel, saying that, you know, our team has made it where, you know, he may have had a ton of money and, you know, a whole different group of filmmakers, you know, it is about the team that you're working with. Everything that we went to break through, it was stuff that, you know, our team had made, specifically. So you know, we can we can say that whenever we walked in, it's like, it's not like, we're just pulling people's reels and creating a team that's never worked together on a budget so low. And saying that we can pull off, you know, what you're seeing here, this was us going in there being like, we made this with, you know, out of our own pocket with the team that we currently have to do this, this film. So

Jason Buff 46:09
You get the feeling that a lot of these companies just want to make sure that, you know, you guys kind of know what you're doing. And it's like, okay, well, we can, you know, we just want to see that they can they have a beautiful image, they have good actors, they have they, you know what I mean? It's like they're there. They know how to make a movie, you know, versus a lot of these people who, you know, you never know, I get people that send me their shorts all the time. And some of them look, you know, high end professionally shot, amazing. And others just look like somebody with their, you know, handycam walking around or their iPhone and have no sense of, you know, cinematography, movement, storytelling, or anything, you know?

Chad Archibald 46:48
Yeah, and it's weird, because there's been like, we've got a ton of shorts and stuff sent to us. And sometimes it's like, you look at them, and they're just a mess, but you can see something in them. And you're like, cool. Let me know. Because I feel like the next thing that they do, they're gonna learn from their mistakes on this one. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, it's, it's, I think, it does come down to just proving yourself making sure that you know, people know that, that you can handle produce a good product. But also, just again, it does come down to content, like if Cody and pitch this idea of Facebook, turning people into zombies in the studio, then like that, it didn't matter what we actually did. It does come down to, we have a concept concept in the industry, you know, people say concept is currency. So, that's how you get creative. So, I mean, you can have, you know, tons of actors and tons of people involved and whatnot, and you bring it all together. And if you don't have a concept that's going to stand out, and you know, you're gonna get burned out. So it is all comes down to it. It's about you know, coming up with that idea that's going to stand out.

Jason Buff 48:00
Okay, let me I'm gonna try and do a little more rapid fire because I know you guys are pressed for time. I didn't mean to interrupt. Sorry. There's a little delay. Okay, so moving into production, who are the most? You know, you've got your screenplay? Where do you go from there? Where do you start? Do you work with like movie magic, start working on the budget, hire a line producer, how does what is the, from the end of the screenplay to the beginning of the filming kind of what what happens there.

Chad Archibald 48:38
So, usually what we do is once we get a treatment, or a script approved, we create our basic budget of the idea. And we start assembling our team, we're lucky enough, we've worked with a lot of the same people, because we're doing so many films back to back. But we've worked hard on you know, building a crew of people that we really trust we really enjoy working with and, and respect. And, I mean, that's, you know, it's another, you know, tell everyone is, you know, find people that you're happy working with, I get to work with Cody every day is my best bud. It's it's, it's, it's finally can doesn't seem like work, you know, obviously that some days it really do. It's more fun to work with people you like, and respect. And there's, there's a lot of people out there in the industry that want to make movies. And, you know, there's a lot of people that let it go to their heads right away that, you know, once the pressures on some pressures on of making a film, you know, they get angry or frustrated or, you know, blow up or whatnot. So, I mean, we, we worked really hard to find people who work really hard deal with stress well, and are always, always able to kind of put a smile on their face and

Alex Ferrari 50:00
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Chad Archibald 50:09
And, and continue on today. So I mean, it's it really makes a difference. Everyone on our crews treats each other with respect. You know, it's a key with with us doing all these films is that everyone, everyone gets along. And if there's an issue, you know, we all talk about it, we all figured out how to how to deal with it. We don't fire people we don't, we don't blow up at people, you never hear people yelling and screaming at each other on our sets. We make a point of making sure that we've got a crew that's, that's passionate, and we're all in it together. And we're, you know, we say black font family all the time, you know, we all we're all the brothers and sisters that can bicker and whatnot. But in the end, we're always we always have each other's back. Anyway, so we call all these people like to see, you know, see if they're able to come out and set up a crew figure out, you know, if it's a studio have to build, we're going to do get people involved there in our pre production times are pretty quick. I mean, we had, I think three or four weeks of pre production on by, and that's like literally from, you know, got the script, like, finished three weeks before we started shooting. So, you know, it all has come together really quick. But yeah, it's just, it's almost like a checklist for us now, here is the people that we need, that's called figure out where are we going to lodge people? Where are we going to shoot this where, you know, what do What elements do, we need to do, that's our gear, we've, again, because we were doing so many films, we've set up relationships with William a flag. So you know, every show that we remember that we're doing, we just, you know, we call them, everything's all our accounts are all set up, everything's ready, we just got a call center, just discuss what we're doing. And you know, they've got our back on everything, you know, television does all the cameras, as well as, you know, some support from from additional camera houses. But it's, you know, we've got it laid out with people that we really trust and work well, within, you know, luckily, we can kind of make all these calls fairly quickly and get everything together. That's from like a producing standpoint, I guess from a directing standpoint, it's, you know, it's even more of a challenge to get a film ready so quickly. And I mean, we're not we haven't done it, it's not like we go on and storyboard all of our stuff with the storyboard artists, you know, as amazing as that would be. That's one of the luxuries that we built, they were always jealous of, because we are making these films. So quickly, we do have to, you know, we end up with a, with a little booklet of like, chicken scratch, where it's like, you know, we've we've storyboarded everything out, but I mean, it's almost like it's in Chinese, it's so far. But I mean, whenever you sit there and actually, you know, go through it with with the DP can decipher it all and then get on the same page. And, you know, we, you know, sometimes we print them off and give them to everyone show everyone what we're doing every day.

Jason Buff 53:16
You just arrive at the morning with like, Okay, we're going to do, you know, this establishing shot, and we're going to do a close up here. And I'm going to you just kind of put all that together the night before and then arrive and do the shot list. Is that kind of how it works.

Chad Archibald 53:32
Yeah, like I mean, we have already extended the whole schedule, and works with us on figuring out the best way that we can, we can do this. And, you know, just go through, you know, they send it out to everyone the day before everyone gets it, they kind of give a little scheme of what we're doing, what rooms we're in. At the end of our days, we generally try to, you know, have a little discussion with our lighting team will honor what we're doing first the next day. And you know how we can get a jump on the day, because that's always the biggest challenge is getting the first shot off. And yes, so I mean, it's a that

Jason Buff 54:12
You have any advice for, like I recently watched the drowns woman. And the quality of the image on that is incredible. And I don't know, I don't know what the budget was on the film. But I was wondering if there were any sort of tricks or tips that you had for, you know, getting that kind of production value, and working at that kind of like budget level. You might need shot or is it just like you'd like the whole thing and then shoot from different areas.

Chad Archibald 54:43
I think I'm the draftsman depending on on where we're talking about, like we're the draftsman, there was a set that we had built. Right and I mean, you know, so many people talked about lighting and cameras and lenses and when not, but I mean it's, it's Something that people just miss, from like an indie perspective, so many people will just just totally skimp out on set design in our direction. Filling your frame with things and Cody came from our background. So, you know, when me and him started working together on stuff I really learned a lot from, from him and kind of his insights on that. Because it is, you know, it's like, light something beautifully, you can, you can have a great camera and but if if your frames not the pieces aren't all in right spots, then you know, it's not gonna, it's not gonna be the shot that you're looking for. So even like things like the John's been, like, we, we've built a bunch of our sets. And when we build their sets, it's literally like, it's us building the sets, it's not like, you know, we hire a big, you know, we have a small team of people that we really trust that are so hard working. And we all get together and build this stuff in a few days, and, you know, it's tired, it's nice, we're, you know, pulling 30 hour days and, and whatnot to actually build on but we do it so that we can actually have that control where we can, you know, put elements wherever we want them to create our friends and whatnot. So it's to start off, you know, that's how we, we try to, you know, make things look great Johnson layer was completely, we decided that we can shoot up in the basement, we don't want to be limited by, you know, your standard basement reps that look like every other indie film. You know, we wanted to use water and we wanted to flood plays, and you know, we can't do that inside of studio or inside someone's basement. So I mean, we could do it, but, you know, again, burning patients and people we can do it once. But as far as you know, you set up your room and you have your, your basic setup of like this is, this is kind of the look that we're going to have, this is our standard look for this room. And then accordingly, depending on how you're shooting things, you know, you have floating lights moving around, you have whatever you need to kind of, in taste the shot a little bit. And I mean, also, you know, keeping continuity with everything, as much as you know, you move later on, in between shots, and you know, make every shot look great, you know, so you don't want to go from a shot a wide where your actors faces shadowed, and, you know, you push into the close up and it's like, they're beautifully lit. You know, it's about standing the lighting for all the shots when you start when you start on your watch, you know. But I mean, it's often that it's, it's just about kind of creating, training or atmosphere filling your frame using using the foreground and the background we had in the Johnson lair, we decided we wanted to use these kind of aquariums. And we've kind of like hidden along so they were like old tomato plants that had dried up from an action that we had kind of dangled over everything just to kind of give everything a little bit more textures, stuff that light can kind of touch as opposed to just have inflatables, right. And then we we took all these aquariums, you know, filled them with dirty water and leaves and crap and then we threw through lights, little lights, and behind them, like just a little keynotes or short keynotes or whatever and let them all up. So then, you know, as they're walking through here, there's no like the only light source is kind of like these beard like, dirty, musty Aquarian. Very sad. That's what the illusion that that's the only light sources these things and they're always you know, there's something going on in the background and, you know, dirty water just kind of has like a little bit of a gradient to it to kind of, you know, create something a little interesting. And just visually appealing in the background. Yeah. Right.

Jason Buff 59:06
Now, can you talk a little bit about sorry, did you Skype okay. It's like doing a broadcast broadcast to the Middle East or something. Okay, so I want to one of the things that always jumps out at me literally, is, you know, these scenes these really gut wrenching horror scenes where you know, you've got your actress there, you've got you know, they're being dragged off or something horrible is happening to them. Can you talk a little bit about directing a scene like that how it feels being on set during something like that, because it just like, I've always been curious how, you know, just what are you talking about? Do you cut the camera, cut the scene and everybody's laughing two seconds later or what? kind of what's that? Like?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
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Cody Calahan 1:00:15
Um, I don't know, sometimes it can, it could go either way. Like, sometimes it's, you know, you'll shoot a scene where, you know, the bad guys getting killed or whatever. And there's a huge explosion of blood. And it sort of as soon as you've had the camera, it's like, you know, the gore guys are cheering and everybody's laughing because it's, you know, it is a little ridiculous, but then sometimes have those scenes where, you know, the actors get so into it, and you get so into it, and you're, you're pushing for the best performance and you sort of get a performance. That's, that's real. And, you know, so I think it goes either way, except, you know, we've had times where, you know, the scene ends, we say, Cut and it's just silence. And everybody's like, holy shit. Okay. Well, I think we can move on. I think kind of depends what what the scene, you know, what the scene is, you know, if it's, if somebody's running around with the chainsaw, people, often there's blood spraying everywhere, we usually get a pretty positive response from our crew. But if it's something more emotional, then, you know, sometimes it's one of those ones where I can't remember the exact scene. But I remember shooting some with Jeff Mahara, those are, those are usually our DP for everything. And I said cut and he just sort of looked at me and he was like, sort of had that holy shit look on his face and said, Okay, now we're moving on. So let's go to scene. Scene. 34. That was 20 minutes before this when you were happy

Chad Archibald 1:01:49
Yeah, it's, we, we did the film bite, and it was full of, you know, gooey, gross, disgusting, a eggs and dripping. Like it sounds to be like mucus. So it was really like, when you watch the film, it's it's pretty gross. But on sad it was, you know, you, you kind of know when you've got something good because you get those reactions, right. That's kind of that's like, what he's talking about whenever you have been foreseen, and it's like, blood explodes everywhere. It's like, you always like hope that when I was done, and he called cut, everyone cheers. And like, you know, it's always a bummer whenever you do one of those scenes, and it goes. And it's like, okay, it's quiet. It's like, shit, you always want that cheer at the end, you know, you want that. With bite, it was like, anytime is the stringy mucus stuff that like as soon as it's stuck to something, it would be like webs it kind of, is really very gross. And, you know, we had so much fun making a movie because, you know, it used to be called cut and be like, ah

So and yeah, but I mean, I think when it does come down to shooting national coverage of your, of your cast, or somebody you know, depending on what your movie is, if it's, you know, if it's a serious moment, and they have to stay in character. You know, a lot of times we'll keep everyone quiet. Or we'll even you know, try to keep as few people on set as possible. But yeah, I mean, we we've shot a bunch of films, we haven't gone into that territory of like, dirty, dark, like truly disturbing, like, upsetting scenes that are so uncomfortable to even shoot. I'm sure we will eventually add a little bit of a lighter tone to them.

Jason Buff 1:03:55
Okay, sure. They're pretty, pretty light hearted. family movies

Chad Archibald 1:04:06
About making like Serbian film or something like that, you know, it's like, I can't I can't. I don't know how people will react on a disturbing scene, like close. Sorry, I had a whole discussion about that movie today. So it's like I look at our movies. Pretty big hearted, you know, joking around and, you know, some of our stuff is a little cartoony even, but

Jason Buff 1:04:29
Uh, was that I didn't hear you.

Chad Archibald 1:04:33
Serbian even sometimes a little jokey and cartoony?

Jason Buff 1:04:37
No, but what film that you say that to what you were talking about?

Chad Archibald 1:04:40
Serbian film. Okay. Which? I don't know if Yeah, well,

Jason Buff 1:04:46
I haven't seen it. I've heard about it. I haven't. You know, it's not on my list that

Chad Archibald 1:04:51
You're thinking about things like that. It's like because I do I've often wondered. I seems They're true and disturbing, or like rape scenes or anything like that, it's like it, you know, we haven't done anything like that, and I'm sure it's, it's a tone that I'm sure there's a weird tone on set for those, they think it would probably be a, you know, something that would be very awkward to direct, or you would really have to put a lot of pay a lot of attention to how you're treating everyone and your actors and respect. And you know, if you're, you know, doing very serious thing, and you want to make sure that everyone shows after, like, take big breaks in between or if you just want to shoot, keep shooting, and you know, everyone can go cry at the end of it.

Jason Buff 1:05:42
Yeah, well, I mean, okay, talking about the I'm trying to wrap up a little bit, because I know you guys have to go. How do you deal with the emotional stress of shooting and everything? Is there any, any way that you have been able to kind of because I mean, you guys, you're shooting a lot of movies, but I mean, for a lot of like normal people? It's, it's, I mean, probably the most stressful thing you can do? You know? Is there any way that you've learned to deal with that overcoming, you know, doubts, or any sort of psychological aspect of filmmaking that you can discuss?

Cody Calahan 1:06:20
I think. I mean, that's kind of the great thing about Blackphone. And myself and Chad, because I think we lean on each other a lot. And we share. Like, when, when I'm directing, I mean, I'm him a lot. And when he's directing, he leans on me a lot. So it's like, at least we know, when we go into a film, even if we're not directing or producing, at least we know, when we go into film, that there's somebody else there if if something goes wrong, or something's like, just we can't handle it, something, at least are some of the some of the person there to powwow with or to, you know, just so we're not ever doing it on our own. But I'd say, for me, what I've learned over making movies is, you know, the minute you get there, put 100% into everything while you're there. But just, you know, try not to take everything home. You know, like Leave, leave, leave some of it. You know, it's, it's hard because filmmaking is, you know, 50% Worth 50% passion. So it's hard to leave it sometimes. But I mean, for me, I think it's made me a better filmmaker, not taking it home, not dwelling on it, and not allowing myself to sleep, because I'm thinking about a scene tomorrow, and I can't figure it out. So I don't know, for me, I, I try my hardest. And then that's not to say that I don't do it, but I tried my hardest to sort of give it all on there. And then, you know, I'll still think about it at home, but I try not to bring it all home.

Chad Archibald 1:07:44
Yeah, it's weird, like filmmaking is weird, especially indie filmmaking. The majority of the products we do are overly ambitious, but just enough, we'd like to think. So it's one of those things is like, you get what you put into it every day, which is, I think it's kind of a dangerous concept. It's almost like, you know, you're, you're swimming in the ocean, and you're doing a contest, and the more water you drink, the better you are, that's how you're gonna win. You just got to keep drinking water anymore. Why? Who whoever drinks the most water wins, where it's like, it's endless. It's not like, a drink all the water, you know, it's like, when you go to make a movie, it's like, there's always more you can do, there's always things that can make the shots better, or make your days go better, or make your, you know, film goes better or more takes and like it's never done. So I mean, there are points, especially directing, when you're just like, you're pushing so hard, and you're like, you know, you just want it to be better and better and better and bigger and bigger. And, you know, you have to kind of control yourself so that you don't get you know, one shot done in a day. It's so I mean, you know, it's, it's, it's always it's always a struggle, and it's always stressful. And yeah, like Cody said, you know, having working with people that you trust and be able to kind of lean on each other. And knowing that you're all in one together and you're all trying to make it work is is definitely what kind of gets us through through our shoots. Because we, you know, we tend to do very long days.

Jason Buff 1:09:26
How long do you guys usually shoot, like a typical film, you know, bite or antisocial to or the draftsman? How long did this take to shoot?

Chad Archibald 1:09:38
I mean, they're all different. I think bite took about 15 days and 15 days in Ontario and then we shot additional two or three days and

Alex Ferrari 1:09:51
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Chad Archibald 1:10:01
I mean, they're all different. But again, it does come down to you know, you're how ambitious you're going to be. Johnson was, oh, man, we just kept going back for more shoots and more. Anytime you're dealing with water, things like that, it just gets so insane. So it's it. I mean, we probably shot 30 days on groundsman, if you actually add them all up, hanging in social too, we shot a fair bit more than we planned as well. Not too many, I've actually been shot like, you know, 20 days or something like that on a social, too. Yeah, and we usually have an editor on side as well, who read it as we go. So we kind of get to actually, you know, on day two, we see one's footage, or we see day one scenes cut together.

Jason Buff 1:10:49
Right! I was gonna ask you that. So you can kind of see what if you're, if you miss anything, or whatever, you can just do a quick reshoot while you have everything set up. Right?

Chad Archibald 1:10:57
Exactly. So you can kind of run over and grab a shot that you mister, at least put it on the list and come on back on a weekend or something like that, to grab it. So I mean, that definitely, that definitely helps us move in. And it also gives, you know, the entire cast and crew and everyone a little bit of it's exciting, you know, it's like you're watching something and you see some scenes come together and they look really, really good. And you can kind of show the cast a little bit of their performance, you know, give them a little taste of what we're doing. You know, there's a lot of ways for the Casco and they do an entire film then they go on the Senate theater and watching like oh my god, this is horrible. And I mean, we all do I'm sure cast is some of our earlier films do that as well. But at least being able to kind of show them there. They have a confidence in the crew has a confidence that everyone's building some thing that's gonna look really good. And then come out and you know, it's a good way to kind of get everyone excited about the project and keep keep everyone's passionate levels up high.

Jason Buff 1:12:03
Okay, so moving into post production just a couple more questions.

Chad Archibald 1:12:07
You hmm, we may have lost Cody

Jason Buff 1:12:13
Oh yeah, let me that's not good. Hold on a second. Yeah, he doesn't look like he's on there. But maybe he had to leave let me see I can try texted me he's like dude, no more

Chad Archibald 1:12:30
Often it won't let him return a line and he let me

Jason Buff 1:12:33
Let me put them back on there we go. Like where did you go man, we were all we were concerned. I don't want to let him know that we didn't notice he wasn't there. There Cody. Hey, man. Yeah, sorry about that. All right. Yeah, okay, so let me let me launch into a few more quick questions about post just for our my people here the getting into the post production process. How long does that typically last? And what is the kind of can you walk through what happens first? What happens next just so people have a general idea of how it all comes together?

Chad Archibald 1:13:26
Yeah, we like I was saying we do a lot of our editing on set. So by the time we're done shooting a movie, you know 80% of it. Ideally cut and I we fairly fast turnarounds on our phones, I think we shot by in December and screen that the cam market in May. So again, like we'd like we were saying with, with all the LEDs that we have for production, we do the same in post. You know, red lab in Toronto does all our color correct? For each one of our films, and we've worked out a deal. So they know when it's coming in. Urban posters are post sound, you know, so we create our schedules with all of them. And, you know, we get an edit together, and we take it to the studio, we sit down with them and kind of get everyone's input and trim it down, make whatever changes you need to lock our picture, send it off to read lab, sit in there and do our color sessions with them. Send it off to urban, they work on on other sound edits, for whatever reason, we always end up on some crazy deadline like it's going to screen somewhere. And you know, it's a big panic to actually get it all done. But I mean luckily we have such great companies are working with and post that. They work really hard to make it all happen to anything excited when they see you need to work on something they get to see in a theater in two weeks. I

Jason Buff 1:15:02
And in terms of the drowns Minh, which is I haven't been able to see the other two movies because they're not out yet. But you work with George Flores on that, right?

Chad Archibald 1:15:14
Yeah, I've worked with George a bunch of times. Because

Jason Buff 1:15:19
George has a friend of mine, actually.

Chad Archibald 1:15:20
I love George.

Jason Buff 1:15:24
He always taught me more about filmmaking, I think when I was starting a small film, down here, and he was just one of the people that I was talking with about doing post sound. And he would just sit there for, you know, and talk about all these things that we need to make sure we had and everything. I mean, just very generous with his time. So I'm, I want to make sure I promote George on the show. Absolutely.

Chad Archibald 1:15:46
No, George did a film called Neverland. With me to go, and he did this. And, you know, we had such a great time working on with those zones. And, yeah, I definitely have a huge supporter of George as well.

Jason Buff 1:16:04
So the typical time from editing and doing sound, and when do you work with, like soundtrack music and things like that.

Chad Archibald 1:16:13
So we have, like, for example, drowns in a social bite, all the sounds were scored by a woman named Steph Copeland, who, you know, we get along with works so well with her, and she's so talented. You know, I'm sure we'll work on many more funds after this. But, you know, she loves to come in early as well. And just kind of minutes or, you know, she's already got stuff that she's working on before she even sees that is where she's just read the script, and she's getting ideas. And building functions, again, very passionate. artist, who just is always working hard and was, you know, really excited to project and we're not, you know, so we, as soon as we pitch a lock, that's kind of what everyone's always waiting on. Everyone's excited to be like, okay, feature lock feature luggage locks, as soon as we get it, we kind of, you know, press the go button, it goes to her, it goes to urban post, it goes to a red live, and everyone gets to start working on it kind of at once.

Okay, well, guys, I don't want to take much. And let me just ask you one final question. How? What can you give just a little bit of advice to people out there who haven't made their first film and are, you know, wanting to, you know, get out and kind of do what you guys have done? Do you have any sort of like, you know, if you could go into a time machine and tell yourself before you started, what what kind of advice would you give yourself?

I mean, the things that, that I would say are definitely, like we're doing now we work on tons of different ideas to find the right one. I would say spend the time Don't, don't get excited with with an idea that is just a generic throwaway idea and just dive at it to make a movie. You know, make sure you spend spend your time a lot of people write scripts, because they're, you know, they sit down as prescriptive, as if it's like, if they have a script, they're going to make a good movie, you know. So, work hard and make sure you understand the concept or your your film that you're going to make and make sure you really wanna make it because that's it to a lot of people lose passion halfway through their eyes. So again, this sounds not really, I don't really care about it. I mean, figure out, figure out what you want to make and figure out a concept that you're really passionate about the you know, you think she can, you know, matters what you want to do. Are you making a film to create an art piece? Are you making a film to sell to the market? Are you going to go for, you know, something that's going to make funds back? Are you trying to do something that's, you know, in our piece, you kind of have to know what you're going to do before you go into it. And then after that, again, take your time and find the right people to work with. There's a lot of great people in the film industry like any other any industry, there's a lot of great people and there's a lot of people that it's actually counterproductive to work with. So find find the right people you want to work with, surround yourself with some and find talented people and I mean, if you you know, go out and show how passionate you are and show people give people confidence that you know what your, your plan is, and you've you've worked hard to organize it and figure things out that you know, they will have confidence in you. And then aside from that, just go out on your own even with your iPhone and shoot some stupid stuff with your friends. You know, it's there's a reason why in film school they're like I go to do an action scene go chasing go do these because like they don't want you to come back with beauty for Chase team, they want you to go realize the mistakes and the issues that you're going to that are going to arise whenever you make a chasing, you know, just so the next time you do it, you you've already gone through a few steps. And, and learn. Now, if you do 10, chasing your 11th one is going to be amazing. And it's going to be even better than the other one. So, that's, you know, don't be don't be afraid to go out and make crappy shorts or whatever, like don't they don't even have to be shorts, you know, you're gonna get giant crews together and devote, you know, understanding how to do these things. And it doesn't take big cameras or anything. It's the same as everything else, you know, you just got to go out and make your mistakes and learn from

Jason Buff 1:20:45
Alright guys, I really appreciate it. Thanks a lot for coming on the show. And I look forward to seeing antisocial too, and bite. But anyway, thanks a lot, guys.

Chad Archibald 1:20:54
Thanks so much.



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Film Production Books You Need to Read – Top 11 List 2023

1) Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Independent Film into a Profitable Business

It’s harder today than ever before for independent filmmakers to make money with their films. From predatory film distributors ripping them off to huckster film aggregators who prey upon them, the odds are stacked against the indie filmmaker. The old distribution model for making money with indie film is broken and there needs to be a change. The future of independent filmmaking is the entrepreneurial filmmaker or the Filmtrepreneur.

In Rise of the Filmtrepreneur author and filmmaker Alex Ferrari breaks down how to actually make money with independent film projects and shows filmmakers how to turn their indie films into profitable businesses. This is not all theory, Alex uses multiple real-world case studies to illustrate each part of his method. This book shows you the step by step way to turn your filmmaking passion into a profitable career. If you are making a feature film, series or any kind of video content, The Filmtrepreneur Method will set you up for success. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

2) Indie Film Production: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking

Indie Film Production explains the simple, basic, clear cut role of the independent film producer. Raising funds to do your dream project, producing award-winning films with a low budget, putting name actors on your indie film-it’s all doable, and this book guides you through the entire process of being a successful producer with bonus tips on how to effortlessly maneuver through the sphere of social media marketing and fundraising tactics. One of the best film production books I’ve read. Also check out: Suzanne Lyon’s Film Producing – Podcast Interview

3) The Reel Truth: Everything You Didn’t Know You Need to Know About Making an Independent Film

The Reel Truth details the pitfalls, snares, and roadblocks that aspiring filmmakers encounter. Reed Martin interviewed more than one hundred luminaries from the independent film world to discuss the near misses that almost derailed their first and second films and identify the close shaves that could have cut their careers short. Other books may tell you the best way to make your independent film or online short, but no other book describes so candidly how to spot and avoid such issues and obstacles as equipment problems, shooting-day snafus, and dozens of other commonly made missteps, including the top fifty mistakes every filmmaker makes. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

4) So You Want to Be a Producer

Few jobs in Hollywood are as shrouded in mystery as the role of the producer. What goes into film producing, how does one get started, and what on earth does one actually do? In So You Want to Be a Producer Lawrence Turman, the producer of more than forty films, including The GraduateThe River WildShort Circuit, and American History X, and Endowed Chair of the famed Peter Stark Producing Program at the University of Southern California, answers these questions and many more. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

5) Produce Your Own Damn Movie by Lloyd Kaufman

When it comes to producing, no one speaks with more authority than Lloyd Kaufman, founder of the longest-running independent film studio, Troma Entertainment. He reveals the best ways to seek out investors, scout locations, hire the film crew and cast talent, navigate legalities, and stay within your budget. One of the most entertaining film production books out there.

Also check out: Lloyd Kaufman’s Interview Podcast

6) Independent Film Producing: How to Produce a Low-Budget Feature Film

The number of independent films produced each year has almost doubled in the past decade, yet only a fraction will succeed. If, like many filmmakers, you have no industry connections, little to no experience, and a low or ultra-low budget, this outsider’s guide will teach you what you need to know to produce a standout, high-quality film and get it into the right hands. Written by an entertainment lawyer and experienced director and producer, this handbook covers all the most essential business, legal, and practical aspects of indie film production. One of the best film production books on the market. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)


7) The Producer’s Business Handbook: The Roadmap for the Balanced Film Producer

With The Producer’s Business Handbook as a film production guide, you’ll learn to create the relationships that the most successful producers have with the various participants in the motion picture industry-this guide provides a global view of how producers direct their relationships with domestic and foreign studios, agencies, attorneys, talent, completion guarantors, banks, and private investors. You’ll also become familiar with the team roles needed to operate these companies and learn how to attach and direct them. For those outside the US, also included is information on how to produce successful films without government funding. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

8) Producing for Profit: A Practical Guide to Making Independent and Studio Films

In Producing for Profit: A Practical Guide to Making Independent and Studio Films, Andrew Stevens provides real-world examples and his own proven techniques for success that can turn passion into profit. Far more than just theory, the book outlines practical applications that filmmakers of all levels can use to succeed in today’s ever-changing marketplace. Readers will learn how to develop screenplays that are commercial, and how to negotiate, finance, cast, produce, sell, distribute, and market a film that will make a profit. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

9) The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking by Michael Polish

Less than a decade since they began working in the movies, Mark and Michael Polish have established themselves as critically acclaimed, award-winning independent filmmakers. Their innovative approach to art direction, use of digital photography, and ability to attract stellar talent to their modestly budgeted films sprang from necessity; now these aesthetics have become admired trademarks of their work.  Also check out: Michael Polish’s Podcast Interview

10) The Complete Film Production Handbook

This book is for working film/TV professionals and students alike. If you’re a line producer, production manager, production supervisor, assistant director or production coordinator–the book has everything you’ll need (including all the forms, contracts, releases and checklists) to set up and run a production–from finding a production office to turning over delivery elements. Even if you know what you’re doing, you will be thrilled to find everything you need in one place. If you’re not already working in film production, but think you’d like to be, read the book — and then decide. One of the best film production books out there.

11) Producer to Producer: A Step-By-Step Guide to Low Budgets Independent Film Production

Maureen Ryan’s Producer to Producer is a clear, concise, and complete guide to independent film production, full of excellent practical advice for both newcomers and experienced producers. I have produced ten independent features, and have often been asked to recommend a book to teach people about what I do. This book will now be my immediate first choice. So many how-to guides to producing get far more details wrong than right– Producer to Producer is as accurate a guide to the current independent producing process as I have seen to date. (FREE AUDIO BOOK VERSIONS HERE)

IFH 686: How to Get Things Done with David Allen

David Allen is a productivity consultant and the author of the book “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.” He is widely recognized for his expertise in personal and organizational productivity and has developed the GTD (Getting Things Done) methodology.

In his book, “Getting Things Done,” Allen presents a system for managing and organizing tasks and projects to increase productivity and reduce stress. The GTD methodology focuses on capturing all tasks and commitments into an external system, clarifying their meaning and desired outcomes, organizing them effectively, reviewing and updating regularly, and taking appropriate actions. The book has gained significant popularity and has become a widely implemented system for personal and professional productivity.

David Allen has been involved in coaching, training, and consulting with various individuals and organizations, including Fortune 500 companies and government agencies. He continues to speak and conduct workshops on productivity and personal development, sharing his insights and strategies to help individuals and teams enhance their effectiveness and achieve their goals.

Alex Ferrari 1:54
Enjoy today's episode with guest host, Jason Buff.

Jason Buff 1:59
Without any further ado, let me get to David Allen, a quick introduction. He is the author of The Amazing book, Getting Things Done. It's a book that's influenced tons and tons of filmmakers out there, in addition to people, you know, he's spoken at Google, he's done TED talks, I'm really lucky to that he's come on the show, because he he influenced me a lot too. You know, as a creative person, I'm kind of all over the map and fairly disorganized. And his book really kind of lays out a plan so that you can, you know, basically get things done how that you can, you know, start working on things, not having a million things in your head. You know, especially for screenwriters, or people who are trying to produce a movie, it's hard to know, sometimes you know what to do next, you wake up and it's like, it's such a large enterprise writing a screenplay or producing a movie or whatever you want to do. It's so huge. It's like, what am I going to do today? What am i What's the one thing that I'm going to do today to start moving forward. And you know, his book, lays that out and talks about a lot of different things. And we'll get into that. So anyway, here's my interview with David Allen, for the people who, you know, are listening to this are mostly writers, producers, people that want to make independent films. And I was hoping that you could take a moment just to talk about the GTD system, the Getting Things Done system, and what the idea is behind it, the concepts behind it.

David Allen 3:24
Sure. One of the basic concepts, is that your heads for having ideas, but not for holding them. People actually don't need time they need space. I mean, how much time does it take to have a creative idea? Zero, but you need room. So what the GTD system is, is really was over the years, this sort of unfolded, as to what are the techniques that actually your that allow you to actually clear your head, get stuff off your mind without necessarily having to finish them? And still, you know, be committed to them? So how do you manage all those agreements with yourself in some external way, as opposed to having your head as an office, your heads a crappy office, by the way, it's a crappy studio really is I mean, it'll if you have stuff in your head, there's a part of you that thinks you should be doing all of it all the time. So your head is is consistently trying to multitask what you can't do. That is you can't focus, you know, with focused attention on more than one thing at a time. But there's a part of your head that's trying to do that if your heads the only place it's holding stuff. So just like people keep calendars, you know, I say, Well, why do you keep a calendar? Well, because my head can't do that. Well, why do you think your head can do everything else? And not that? It's like, well, doesn't make much sense. If you don't want to track stuff out of your head, throw away your calendar, don't be intellectually dishonest. So it's really about how do I externalize and objectify all of my work and work in the broadest sense call anything you want to get done? That ain't done yet. That's get cat food as well as you know, submit a new business plan as well as produce the next movie. So all of those things just need to be externalized. That that allows you to see the difference. And actually, you know, cognitively catch the difference but and of weight between dog food or cat food and produce movie in your head, believe it or not, they take up about the same amount of space. And either one will wake you up at three o'clock in the morning, when you actually can't do anything about it, your head is actually kind of a dumb terminal. And it really, it you'll be driven by latest and loudest by things in there. Right? So that's really all that's behind it. So but there are specific techniques, you can't just you can't just clear your head by meditating or drinking. You know? I know so you can leave your head or numb it out, but it won't clear it.

Jason Buff 5:56
Right! So can you talk about some of the techniques that you recommend?

David Allen 6:02
Sure, I'll give you the 22nd version. Okay, whoever is listening to this, hang on, ready, capture any potentially meaningful thing on your mind in some trusted place, that you then clarify exactly what that thing means sooner than later in terms of whether it's actionable, and if so what you're going to do about it, the next action and the outcome you're committed to, then step back and review those things in appropriate categories. So that some part of you is constantly maintaining an inventory of your gestalt of all of your different commitments on all the different horizons and trust your heart, or your gutters. So your pants or your spirit or whatever you trust, to make a good intuitive judgment call moment to moment about what you do. And that's it. Okay. Sorry, that'll, that'll take you two years to build that as a habit. That was a very quick explanation, even if you understand it, it's easy to understand, it takes two minutes to understand the model to about two days, if you actually were going to implement it, like literally, it literally empty everything out of your head and go through and make next action decisions about them and create an organizational structure that holds all that. And then about two years to make that habitual, so that you'd feel uncomfortable if you weren't doing it. Right.

Jason Buff 7:18
So you talk a lot about taking notes. I mean, what, in a typical day, do you just like? How do you organize all those things that are going on in your life? Or how should people try to do that to get it out of their head?

David Allen 7:32
Yeah, it's the capturing stuff is very different than organizing. So I've got, I've got notepad, right on my desk, right now has a phone number on it, I tried to call and nobody answered, or it was busy, but I gotta call them again, because they're gonna make an appointment about my eyes. So it's just on that notepad, if I if I don't finish that call that notepad by the way, they will go, they will get turned off that page and thrown into my in basket, in which case, then later on, you know, sooner than later, I will drive all that to empty by deciding, okay, where does that go? Where do I park a reminder about that, that I that I need to do. So capturing happens all day long, you know, just at any time, when in time, I you know, I carry a little notepad around in my pocket. And, you know, it's a great little app called Brain toss that I can just pop up my iPhone and talk into it, and it'll show up right into my email as a as a as a sound file, as well as, you know, text about it. Right? You know, any of that any of those things work. But, you know, I want to have the freedom to have a thought but not have to decide exactly what to do about it. Yeah, that actually allows and frees up my creative thinking process. I throw away probably half or three quarters of my notes, you know, but when I have I'm I'm not sure what they mean yet, but they might mean something significant. And so I don't want to lose any of those. But then I need to loop back around from another part of my brain and then assess that stuff and and get the executive about a call. Okay, David, what are you gonna do about that? If anything? What does that mean? That a restaurant you really want to track? Or is that a phone number that you need to put in your telephone and address? Is that something you still need to do about that? And those are the clarifying questions you need to ask yourself to decide what this stuff really means. So step one is to capture Step two is to clarify Step three is to organize the results of that thinking in that decision making. Okay, that's how that's how you get your kitchen under control by the way it looks like you know, tornado hit it you know oh my god I got guests coming over first thing you do is you recognize what's not on cruise control, you capture you identify stuff that's that you probably need to decide and do something about. Number two is you need to clarify is that still good food goes in the fridge is that trash that goes away? Does that is that dirty dish or is that clean? And then you organize those you put spices where spices go you put dirty dishes were dirty dishes go you put trash where trash goes.

Alex Ferrari 9:58
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

David Allen 10:07
Big Dog. But that's what you need to do with every email with every thought with every creative thing that pops into your head if you want to get it under control and not have it run you, right?

Jason Buff 10:18
Yeah, that's a huge thing, especially when it comes to, you know, screenwriting, and most of the writers, I know that they, and I'm also a writer, but you know, we're constantly with notebooks, because you never you, you have these ideas, and if they're gone, they you know, sometimes you're just like, you know, what, what was I, I had this amazing idea, and now it's gone, you know, and so we've gotten in the habit of taking notes. And what you know, I get a lot out of the GTD system is that you should be constantly taking notes, but about every aspect of your life so that you're not constantly in the state of being overwhelmed by thinking I've got a million things to do, I don't know what to do, I don't know what the next step is going to be. Right.

David Allen 11:01
And you obviously don't need to write down the 50,000 thoughts you have a day, you just need to write down the ones that aren't complete when you have them. There's still something I might need to do about that, as opposed to just grazing in your mind.

Jason Buff 11:16
Okay, now, what what is your feeling towards things like multitasking, or, you know, people who can kind of sit there and do like five things at the same time?

David Allen 11:27
They can't, they can rapidly switch. But whether they're actually increasing their performance by doing that is is in question. There's a couple of new books out that have come out in the last year of a lot of cognitive science research that that has basically proven, that's, you know, that's BS. And if you think your, that's going to actually increase your capability to be able to do that. Now, that said, if you can rapidly switch your focus with a placeholder, in other words, if you've sold or sort of interrupted me, Jason, you came in, and you suddenly walk out and say, Hey, David, by the way, could you do X, Y, and Z, let's talk for three minutes or whatever. And I was in the middle of doing something, as long as I have a placeholder for that thing I was doing. So I don't have to keep re remembering that I need to do that. In other words, I'll throw the notes or barbed wire work literally right into my own physical basket. And I'll turn around and then engage with you why, because I got to play somewhere that as soon as I stopped engaging with you, I can pick that right up. But that leaves my brain clear to not focus on you, and whatever's going on there, as opposed to trying to keep hanging on to it. So that's why external having an external brain and having the capability to be able to capture and placeholder stuff that's not finished, in some trusted place, will allow you to switch rapidly. If you don't do that, then you truly and they've proven this that you you do your cognitive function is sub optimal, you're trying to your switching costs are huge. In other words, you're trying to focus over there, but there's a part of you that's still hanging your focus back to where it was, that doesn't want to forget it. But then you're so you're not fully present, really, with any of that. And people can get pretty good at what it looks like. But this is a, you know, there's new, there's a lot of data out there now that that proves that's not true. They've even believe even found that that that even using hands free phones in your car is as dangerous statistically as texting, simply because of the switching costs in your mind. So you'll think you'll think you're driving in the you know, in the right lane, and the brain kind of will kid you to think that's true. And actually, that's visually what you see. But your mind went off somewhere else on that phone call that you were talking about. And it's actually that's actually not true. Surprise me to read that data. But that's the that's all that's what happens, your brain is really wasn't designed to hold on to more than about four meaningful things at once. It does that very well. By the way, that's how you survive on the savanna. That's how you can eat and not be eaten. But that rain took you know, however many millions of years it developed to be able to do that very well. So your brain can recognize brilliantly even better, way better than any computer yet. You walk into a room you recognize patterns, you see, that's a light, that's a chair, that's a person, that's a thing, that's a printer, and the computer still can't even do that yet. You're doing that all the time. By the way, your brain is brilliant at that using long term memory, pattern recognition, making sense out of your world, but it's totally present when it does that. What your brain can't do is remember where you left your keys.

Jason Buff 14:32
But you know, that was one of the really things I loved your TED talk when you were talking about how the brain has almost a you know, and correct me if this wasn't what you were saying. But the the brain's tendency to be a natural planner, to the point of or that we've kind of gotten away from the the way that the mind works, and we've started kind of changing the way that we accomplish goals in a somewhat unnatural Throw away.

David Allen 15:00
Yeah, yeah, that's fascinating. It's fascinating to realize that, that, you know, what we automatically do and how we naturally plan is not how most people actually plan the more complex things. It's how you get out of bed, how you get dressed, it's how you, you know, cook dinner. But when people didn't say, Okay, now I need to, I need to, you know, be the production manager for a movie, how do I plan? You know, how do I plan budget and all this other stuff, and you know, anything anymore? Or even just your wedding? Or how about just a big party you want to give or your next vacation. And most people, you know, either don't then plan them at all, or they're sort of driven by whatever the latest and loudest thing is, as opposed to learning from ourselves in terms of how the brain really naturally does it. It was fascinating to me, just to uncover that,

Jason Buff 15:48
Right! So if somebody's you know, sitting there today, you know, working towards a project, let's say, for example, their their ideas, they they want to produce a film. But, you know, when it comes to screenwriting, and when it comes to producing, you know, something artistic, or, you know, films are basically like a little business anyway, you know, I mean, a lot of people don't think of it like that. But so we kind of get into this abyss where you don't know what to do next. And you're starting out, and you're kind of like, okay, I know, this is the end goal. And I know kind of where I'm at right now, how do I get, you know, from point A to point B to point Z, you know, and not just like, be completely overwhelmed all the time with I have 10 million things I have to do. Yeah.

David Allen 16:36
Well, with all of it, externalizing it getting out of your head, you know, get yourself a pen and paper, just pull, you know, pull up some computer file is pull up a Word doc and just dump it out. All the ideas, every single thing you might need to think about or whatever about to film or about what your project. I mean, that's that is part of the natural planning model is once you have a vision, and it's not met met by current reality, it creates this dissonance it says with God, I got to try to get I tried to get to close the gap between the vision I have in my head and where I am right now. So there's, you know, so you do a part A with that, which is okay, any potentially relevant ID I need to capture, get out of my head. And that's what most people refer to as brainstorming. But that's, and that's, you know, that's the first thing is don't, you know, don't let your brain get constipated by, you know, oh, I got a 10 million things to do, I don't know where to start, well write down where you might start. All the places you might start, you know, as Linus Pauling said, The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas. So get them all out. Now, you don't leave them all out, just in terms of them willy nilly. You get them all out, and then there's a part of you that will then naturally start to recognize patterns and start to recognize components and sequences and priorities. Oh, that's more important than that, oh, yeah, I need to handle that, you know, first thing I really need to do is, and that's just good, sort of natural thinking. But you have to, you know, sort of go with the flow in terms of how your mind really thinks and capture that as opposed to it's got to be right before I write it down. That's death. And that's how we were taught. That's what planning was all about. If you if you know, if you're old as I am, you we were taught outlining in schools, you know, to write reports, and that's, you know, you, you sit down and start by trying to create an outline, but good luck, that that forces your mind to try to figure out what's Roman numeral one. And, you know, there's quite a bit of thinking you have to do before you even can trust what you think Roman numeral ones can be. And so giving yourself permission to have the freedom to be to use the creative aspect of who you are and how your brain works. I think that's, you know, it's our educational system that that sort of cultivated all that. But there is a way you can really make all that work. I mean, you know, come on the, you know, some of my biggest champions, were the Simpson writers. And that really, Joss Whedon, and I can talk about him because they mentioned it publicly. I mean, Josh, in Fast Company article said, Look, you know, when he when he did the last, you know, when he shot the much ado about nothing in his backyard, he said, wow, you know, if it wasn't for David Allen's next action concept, I never could have done that in the three days we did it. So, you know, and, you know, Howard Stern is a huge fan of mine really changed his life, he would tell you that he's spoken about it on you know, on the air for months, right once he wants, you know, he sort of got coached with our with our model is really freedom because what it does is it frees up space for these guys. That's that's what the creative people want. That it actually frees up space for anybody. But you know, what you do with that space is up to you. If you're a rock musician, you'll use space to get more music ideas and to make sure you finish the songs instead of just starting. You know, if you if you're a 55 year old executive that's about to merge with another company. You'll use space to be more strategic and in your negotiations and you're thinking about, you know, priorities

Alex Ferrari 19:59
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

David Allen 20:08
And if you're a writer or screenwriter or you know, if you're an indie producer, what would you do with more space? You know, there's a whole lot of things you could do with more space, I would imagine. But the space is what you need. And, you know, all GTD, the Getting Things Done modeled in bits, okay, here's how you get space. And you don't have to go very far to know where to start. Just Just ask yourself, What's on your mind? You know, Jason, if I ask you, Hey, if you if you weren't talking to me right now, what? Where would you mind go? What's the most on your mind? Right, yeah. Whatever you answer is very probably going to be something that's hung up and you're the bottleneck. The reason it's on your mind is because there's some decision about it you haven't made, or you haven't parked the results of that thinking in some, in some place your trust?

Jason Buff 20:56
Right! Yeah, I mean, I'm your, the book is pretty much for people like me, I think that, you know, I have too many things going on in my head. And, you know, it's, it's really helpful just to say, okay, you know, I went through, when you're doing the TED talk, you had the thing where you take notes, and you get all the things out of your head, that you're, that are kind of occupying your time, and then taking that and figuring out, you know, what, exactly are you going to, you know, what are the what are the next actions you're gonna take? And the really important thing, for me was the concept of what can you actually do right now, and what you're just sitting there worrying about, unless you can actually take action on it right now, there's no point in worrying about it, you know, put it in, put it there and know that you have to do it, but don't sit there and like, kind of go, you know, churn the wheels over and over thinking about that and focus on things you can do.

David Allen 21:49
Sure, there are no problems, there are only projects. So you'll only call something a problem. If you think something ought to be fixed about it, you're just not willing to figure out or take a risk to try to do that. Right, right. I mean, so taking anything that's an issue or problem that you need to decide, look, to your point, can you do something about this or not? 90% of the time, you probably can and just haven't figured that out, or you haven't sat down and force yourself to make that decision. Wait a minute, what more information do I need? Wait a minute, who do I need to talk to about this? What do I need to do to move the needle if I if I was going to pay you a million bucks, just to start making progress on that problem that issue that opportunity? Where would you go right now physically, what would you do? And that kind of rigor, you know, to your point of that the next action thinking is so powerful, it's so mundane. And yet, so, you know, it's the silver bullet.

Jason Buff 22:50
Now, one of the things that I really enjoyed about the book is also the concept of tricks. And, you know, some people now would just would refer to that as hacks. For, you know, organizing, can you talk about a few of your favorite hacks or tricks for, you know, for implementing the GTD system in your life?

David Allen 23:09
One of the best is the two minute rule. Anything you can finish, once you decide the next action, if you can actually take that action within two minutes, if you're ever going to do that action at all, do it right, then it'll take you longer to actually stack and track it and look at it again, than it would be to finish it when it's in your face. If you just did that around your house, or your apartment, or your flat or wherever you live, if you just started to implement the two minute rule, flashlight that needs a battery, it would only take you two minutes to go get that battery and stick it in there. You'd be amazed how much cleaner your house it would be if that's all you got out of what I did is the two minute rule. That's one of the most popular hacks have emerged out of all of this. Go ahead, sorry. Yeah. You know, there's, it's not really a hack. It's just it's an absolutely necessary principle, which is just write stuff down, have an in basket, have a physical injury, throw stuff in there, and then get an empty every, you know, 24 to 48 hours. I mean, that there's there's no bigger, better habit. People say, Gee, David, what rituals and habits have I installed that's laid the main one. You know, there's all kinds of stuff I hate to have to think about and have to decide about. But because I'm so now addicted to getting my in basket empty, it forces me to make those decisions so I can empty it. It's one of the best, that's one of the best tricks in the world, in terms of being productive, because people just avoid next action decisions about all kinds of things. So they just spread stuff around in their life. And then it starts to create this ambient stress, because it's yelling at them all the time. And they just no mouth to it.

Jason Buff 24:48
Now, can you just go a little bit more in depth with the next action concept? Just for a second?

David Allen 24:55
Yeah, well, you know, write everything down that's on your mind. Alright, then take each one of those things. One at a time ago, okay? If this is something to move on at all, it may have been just a harebrained idea or something else. But is there something to do about this? What specifically physically visible action would would I need to take to start moving toward closure on whatever this thing is? If it's if you wrote down cat food, what's your next action? Oh, I need to buy cat food. Or Great. Do you know where to buy it? Yeah, I do. Where they do you keep a list of stuff to buy when you go there? Yeah, right up on the fridge. Great. Go stick it there. Cat food on the posted on the refrigerator and now you're in then it's off your mind? Some fournisseurs. Okay, did that. But you have to decide what's the next step on that. Okay. Okay. New indie movie idea. Fabulous. What's the next action? Oh? Well, I don't even not sure how to start. How would you figure it out? You know, I want to talk to somebody who actually produced it in the field. I have never done one before. And I should talk to him. Great. How would you? How would you plumb their brain? Maybe we should have lunch for them. Great. What's your next action? Set up a lunch? How would you do that? Send an email to send their phone call to me. Let me let me shoot him an email. Great. How long would that take? 30 seconds go. Suddenly, you know, suddenly you're off and running. But you still haven't the foggiest idea how to do an ad, you just made a decision that got you in the driver's seat of this situation, as opposed to feeling the victim of now over committing and having a beat you up.

Jason Buff 26:35
Yeah, and it's so simple. But it actually I mean, it does completely change everything. You start thinking like that.

David Allen 26:41
I call it the magic of the mundane.

Jason Buff 26:46
Do you actually have a Do you have to have a physical exam? I mean, you talk about your in basket and you know, everything that I do if I have papers, it just becomes out of control here. You know, I do everything virtual but you think it's it's better to have physical there.

David Allen 27:01
You still have a physical driver's license. You still you still get some bills in the mail, you certainly get certain some physical mail you get FedEx, it's

Jason Buff 27:10
Not well, I'm an expat like you. I live in. I live in Mexico. So you know, we don't get mail where I live, but I get your point.

David Allen 27:19
Yeah, but you know, believe it or not, there's a lot of stuff that I need to print out from my computer and throw it into my in basket, because there's stuff that I need to do or think about that. And I want to I want to have a written, you know, thing to that helps me think about it, you know, or I'm halfway through something, and I need to remind myself that that's not finished yet. And I need to come back to and I'll print it out and throw it in my in basket, which then is a trigger to then oh, yeah, let me pick that up and keep going with that. Certainly a lot less paper now than there was, you know, 20 30 years ago for sure. Right? But even even so, you know, where do you throw back, you get flashlights that get dead batteries. I throw those in my own basket, if I don't have the batteries in anything. And if you take any kind of notes when you're on the run, what do you do with if you're doing any kind of creative writing by hand? You know, what do you do with those notes? You know, and if you're taking notes on a phone call, right? You ever do that? Yeah. Yeah. What do you do with those notes?

Jason Buff 28:27
Well, I just usually I just use Evernote. So I'm just I type faster than I write. But I've also got a, you know, a notebook. Whenever I go to a store, I just buy like five or six notebooks and just have just have it there, you know, because you'll you'll be able to jot stuff down.

David Allen 28:42
Well, you know, if I were to sit down next to you, deskside you know, Jason, we'd I'd say, I'd say Do you still have bigger those notebooks? Probably not. Well, that's fine. It means you process them. That'd be my point. If you still had them lying around, because there was still stuff in there that you hadn't decided what it meant. And it was still potentially pulling on you to make a decision about it. You know, that's that's unhealthy. spiral notebooks are dangerous, you know, because of that. I use a spiral notebook, but I use one that's perfect. So you can I saw I tear it off so it stays empty. Yeah, you know, but the stuff I tear off goes into my in basket if it's if it's if I can't finish it in that moment. So I still need a physical basket if you can get by with that one. They but there's no there's no right or wrong about any of this. It says okay, got anything in your head. And if you do, there's some because of some something you have not captured somewhere.

Jason Buff 29:42
Now when you say you've got it in your head, I mean, like subconscious thought I was wondering how you feel about like your subconscious thought.

Alex Ferrari 29:51
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jason Buff 29:59
So how is that affecting you? I mean, are you are the things that are in your head, like, you know, if you've got like 20 things that you're kind of like organizing, trying to keep track of? Are you conscious that you're doing that? Or is that something that you're just kind of doing? And it's affecting, you know, just your mental, you know, alertness or being able to be present?

David Allen 30:23
I'm not sure exactly. Obviously, if it's unconscious, you're not conscious of it. I'm not aware. So. But essentially what I do, because I've externalized all of these commitments, then it frees me up to just trust me intuitive judgments. And that intuitive judgment is being matured and constantly, I'm thinking all the time, I'm constantly reassessing, what should I do? Where's the thing? Where what do I feel, you know, like, I need to put my energy and focus right now, you know, that my system doesn't get rid of that it frees you up to do that frees you up to be making good intuitive choices, instead of just being driven by the latest and loudest, and then Lipson and hoping you know, so you want to move from hope to trust basically, in terms of you just your judgement about what you're doing. But um, you know, I'm constantly thinking of what should I do now? When Where's where's the? Where's the optimal place for me? Should I take a nap? Should I have a beer? Should I? Should I go hang out with my dog? Do I need to take a walk? You know, should I be, you know, cranking on this, you know, slide deck that I need to upgrade right now. So I don't know, if it's your unconscious, I think that I think you don't have to go very far just to start to pay attention to what has your attention? What do you then need to do to take that pressure off your head? You know, what's the next thing that should be telling you what to do the weather that's coming where that comes from, you know, the Oracle or God or, or your your liver or I don't know, whatever the source of intuitive knowing is, you know, who knows. So this is about about, you know, sort of structuring your life in some ways. Matter of fact, a lot of people are uncomfortable with how unstructured getting things done is because they want to feel more confidence that they that they really nailed it all down and can and can tack it all down and nothing's gonna move, you know, and come out from under them. Good luck.

Jason Buff 32:14
With that, that was what I was going to ask you about, you know, that, that you talked about the false sense of control that you get from, you know, having everything in your head, and there is that aspect of control? That I mean, that's counter that resistance that people are just like, oh, I don't want to, you know, I don't want to stop having all this some, I don't want to put it on a piece of paper. Because that might mean that something might happen to it. Or it might you know,

David Allen 32:39
You'll make that happen, you'll make you feel more out of control about how out of control you really are. That people get mad at me for their list. I go excuse me, it ain't my list, dude. It's yours. You know, your choices? Where do you want to track that stuff? And I just, and I'm not into convincing anybody, I'm just look, I'm just sharing information with you. Right? And prove me wrong, implement these processes. And I absolutely guarantee you without fail, you'll feel more in control and more focused, so that you can deal with that and have more mental and cognitive space to do the more meaningful things.

Jason Buff 33:18
How did how did you go upon? How did you come upon this? I mean, when you have in your life, where you also kind of just like one of the people that was overwhelmed with stuff and had to I mean, how did you discover this system?

David Allen 33:30
Ah, I've just been a, you know, I'm a freedom guy. And I love I love ClearSpace. Right? I've always been attracted to the Zen aesthetic, you know, sort of the negative space, or, you know, I was I read all of Suzuki and watts, by the time I'm finished high school. So I've always loved that kind of minimalist aesthetic. But then, you know, when I got into sort of the personal growth game, and you know, how do you grow yourselves? And how do you find enlightenment and all that good stuff, you know, this is California in the 60s and 70s. and discovered that actually, there are things you can actually learn to do that actually give you more of a sense of personal freedom, and more of a sense of space, and a whole lot that had to do with your agreements. You know, that was a big aha, in the personal growth loop, which was, you know, how do you manage your agreements, and what's the price you pay? If you break an agreement?

Jason Buff 34:22
Then what do you mean by agreement?

David Allen 34:24
Well, if you just said compromises, you know, the agreement, you make call Hey, David, let's meet at you know, let's do this podcast on you know, this date this time. That's an agreement. I say, Yeah, I just made an agreement. An agreement just says any commitments, you've got to do something whether an all agreements or with yourself, many of them involve other people, but they're all with yourself. You've agreed with yourself, you're gonna do that. You tell yourself I need cat food gets me in an agreement. You know, yeah, I just agreed with myself that yes, I'm going to get cat food somehow in some way. So understanding that When you keep an agreement feels fabulous improves your self confidence. If you break an agreement, they will undermine your self confidence automatically. It's an automatic price you pay that you disintegrate trust. If you didn't show up, you know, or if you you know, there are people I love dearly, but I don't trust for them, and I can throw them to show up, when they're going to tell me they're going to show up just based upon that, because nothing wrong. I don't judge that I just that's just data. But I don't trust them. I don't trust them to keep to, you know, they tell me something, I doubt they're going to do it and shouldn't organize my life accordingly. But but they're all of these agreements with yourself, what happens then, if a broken agreement automatically creates stress. So all those things you've told yourself to do, and most people have between 30 and 100 projects, and between 150 and 200. Next actions, if they actually sat down and truly inventoried their commitments personally and professionally, while the things they think they should do and told themselves they they need to do. So if you want to get rid of the stress of broken agreements, either don't make the agreement, don't throw the list away, say, oh, you know, I'll live spontaneously, you know, good luck. or complete the agreement, go finish it all. Of course, if he went and finished everything on your list in two, three days, you'd have a bigger list because you get so excited having done all that you'll take on bigger, more incomplete stuff. But the real key is, how do I how do I kind of renegotiate those agreements? See if you said, Hey, David, let's do this podcast here. And then I came back said, you know, I agreed to that before, but something came up really, really critical that I have to handle can we do it another time? And you go, yeah, then I renegotiated the agreement, I don't have a broken agreement. But you can't renegotiate agreements with yourself, you can't remember you made that's again, why keeping track of all of this stuff, so that you can look at it and go, No, I'm just gonna do this podcast with Jason right now. That's the best thing to be doing. But the only reason I can be present talking to you right now is because not long ago, I looked at everything else that I might would could should ought to do and said yet. But I couldn't I can't do that in my head. I could remember about four things. And that's about it. Everything else just becomes this huge jumble and jungle. But once I've got them out and have all these decisions made about the actions and just all I have to do is plan for those Action Lists, look at my calendar doesn't take very long, and just feel comfortable that this is it. Nothing, I'm not missing anything. Now I may I may have made a mistake, you know, maybe talking to you is the wrong thing to do. And I'll find out live and learn. But at least I'm confident that this is the next mistake I want to make.

Jason Buff 37:36
That makes sense. Yeah, definitely. Now, you mentioned Howard Stern. And I know Howard Stern's a really big into Transcendental Meditation. And a lot of this seems to be influenced by Eastern thought. Was that something

David Allen 37:51
Eastern thought just came up with the same thoughts I did.

Jason Buff 37:57
They all read your book, you know. mean, just the concept of you know, meditating and emptying your mind in that way. And being present. And you even mentioned in your book, the mind like water? Concept?

David Allen 38:13
Yeah. Well, you know, that was I had, you know, several years in the martial arts, you know, and got a black belt many years ago and in karate, and there's, there's quite a bit of training about how do you clear your head in the martial arts, Bruce Lee was the guy who was sort of made famous, this whole idea of be like water or grasshopper from his guru, because, you know, the idea is don't over under react to be totally open to the to the present moment, you know, be soft and hard as needed be, don't over under react. And that's, that's the idea is that you don't want to take one meeting into the next you don't want to take home to work. You want to be able to be present, really, the whole idea of GTD is about being present, that's your optimal productive state, whether that's the best way to hit a golf ball or tuck your kids into bed at night, or make spaghetti. You just want to be there when you're doing it. As opposed to having your your cognitive function split. So that's, in a way, this is just a mechanical process. It's not something to believe it's not something it's not some cognitive thing, go. Look, the brain sciences is now validated all of this. And it took me 35 years and learning it on the street and watching spending 1000s of hours with some of the best and brightest and sharpest people on the planet and busiest and watching what happened when they started to implement this and how much it changed their life and their work without exception. So that's why I wrote the book because I think it's a better right manual.

Jason Buff 39:44
Now what what were the Are there any books you can aside from your own book? Are there any books that were out there that influenced you and you could recommend as well or any resources out there that people could look

David Allen 39:56
There were there were a lot of them over the years I you know I

Alex Ferrari 40:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

David Allen 40:09
One great book, by the way for especially for creative types would be Steven Pressfield. Book. The War of Art. Oh, yeah. Yeah, that's a great one fabulous book. And that's what and the two I mentioned, by the way, if anybody's interested in the cognitive science stuff, I mean, it really is quite fascinating. And to have shown up in the last few months, one's called the, the organized mind, by Dan Lemington, le VI, ti n. He's head of cognitive science research at McGill University in Quebec, or wherever in Canada, that is, and a Belgian named Theo Compernolle, Compernolle has just written a book called Brain chains to words like chains around your brain brain chains. And, you know, he's he, he was a child psychiatrist, and then an MD, and then I got into cognitive science. And that has been, he's doing quite a bit of executive coaching in terms of stress management, simply because he became fascinated with this whole idea of the brain as a tool. And he's, he's accumulated aggregated, 600 different studies, from the cognitive science field and world in the last decade or so. And, you know, and kind of reads the riot act, everybody about multitasking, and what the digital world and social media and so forth are, are the addiction that that's making so easy for people to get invested in and engaged in, that's been stopping a lot of other you know, real cool stuff, like real conversations and real relationships. And he's got a he's not against technology, he just saying, be careful, because this is highly addictive, and that they've now proven it love truly is an addiction. That if you if you're if your social media, even just having your your smartphone in your pocket, wondering, who's texting you creates a dopamine rush. So you literally are getting the same kinds of things that you do with an opium or heroin.

Jason Buff 42:23
Right, it seems like, you know, the older I get, the more I realized that my life is determined by the little things that give me a little dopamine rush, you know, like, the career that you choose, and the people that you are around and all the little thing, you know, even the the color of paint that you choose in your house or whatever, it's like everything is determined by the that little rush you get from it.

David Allen 42:45
There's nothing wrong with that. I mean, exercise does that so you can't fault exercise. Which is which? Which are the healthier dopamine rushes, you know, what do you want to get addicted to, you want to get addicted to working out, you want to get addicted to, you know, you know, in Fetta means, right.

Jason Buff 43:06
I also like the idea of, you know, you were talking about how you, you want to write stuff down because your future self is not going to be in the same state of mind that you're in. And always, you know, you always need to be somewhat aware of, you know, how your brain changes from maybe one time of day to another time of day, or how you're in a certain kind of state of mind, where you're being very creative and coming up with ideas and appreciate the fact that maybe later on in the day, or maybe whenever that's gonna kind of disappear. And you're leaving kind of like future notes or like, note to future yourself, you know, because it's funny, I had a friend who would go out and drink a lot. And he would always leave himself voice messages. And he would wake up the next day and be like, Okay, what, what's going on? And he'd be like, Dear future, Mike. This is what's smart today.

David Allen 43:59
Welcome, you know, I think it's really intelligent people that realize they're only inspired, and Intel, and then you're only inspired and brilliant, you know, at very random moments in your life. And, you know, so what you want to do is if you're lazy and smart, what you want to do is capture those potentially useful, inspirational intelligent things. So that when you're kind of thick and dumb, you do smart things. So you know that yeah, it's the it's the kind of thick and dumb people that think they're smart all the time. The strange thing is, is that when you are inspired and have an inspired thought that that place that that we seem to operate from there has no sense of space and time you're in your zone. So it doesn't it's not kind of that consciousness is not so well aware of history, or future. It thinks it thinks you'll be inspired and smart all the time. So it isn't was intelligent of your friend to realize, hey, when I'm in school I heard the future me may not be so inspired. So I better grab that and throw it at him. Yeah.

Jason Buff 45:09
I'm always surprised if I go back and look at my notes. Sometimes I came up with, like, you know, I write every day I write in the morning. And that's like, when I'm focused coffees going and everything. And I always shot, you know, I go back sometimes. And I'm like, Yeah, I remember everything that I wrote down, and I'll go back and see those notes. And it's like, oh, wow, that was a really great idea. But I just, you know, for whatever reason, it wasn't there anymore. You know, the, my ability to recall it just had gone away. So can I want to wrap it up? Because I know you, you know, have things to do? Can you just talking to people who are out there? In our audience, it's filmmakers and screenwriters and people who are working on projects? Can you you know, what do you think, is a good idea for them to start doing what can they do today to really start moving forward and not being frustrated and getting their projects, you know, on the road to being, you know, completed?

David Allen 46:05
Well, come on, I would be remiss and not saying get my new version of getting things done. And read it, if you haven't yet. I mean, it truly it is the manual for all of that, and then we'll, it will be pretty evergreen for lots of years to come in terms of, you know, what we've uncovered and what we've discovered about it. So that's, that's essentially a, you know, a great resource. That's, that is a way that is a way to start. But quite frankly, it just make sure you've got some, you know, the take up, you might want to take a few hours. At some point, if you can carve that out of your life, and say, Okay, I'm gonna do this dumb thing called sit down and write down every single thing that's on my mind. You know, anything about anything, you know, little things, big things, personal things, professional things, creative things, anything and truly keep going. You know, most people can do that in about an hour or two leashing get most of it. And then, you know, go through each one of those and say, Okay, what is exactly my next action? On this? What's my next action on that? What's my next action on that? So just capturing, and then applying the sort of next action, cognitive rigor to these things? And then you're gonna have to, then you'll have to get creative to decide what do I want to do? If I can't take that action right now? Where do I want to park? And how do I create a list? How do I create some sort of organizational system, if you don't have one already, you'd need to then go through that process. So ideally, you you know, set up a whole day, get my book, because I actually walk people through this exercise, you know, blow by blow part in part two of the book. That's one of the reasons I wrote it that way, so that people didn't have to hire a coach to walk them through this. But you're not born doing this. And it doesn't come, you know, automatically, you actually have to sit down and put cognitive horsepower to this game. And it does take an investment on the front end, doesn't take a lot of time and energy to maintain it. As a matter of fact, it's much less than what most people are trying to do once you actually get this setup, but it does take an investment on the front end.

Jason Buff 48:07
Well, David, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much for coming on the show. It's a pleasure to have you here with us today.

David Allen 48:15
Hey, it was fun. Jason was great.



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IFH 667: From Short Film Script to Spielberg with Sacha Gervasi

Being a podcaster now for over 600 episodes I’ve heard all sorts of stories on how people make it in the film business. From Sundance darlings to blind luck. Now today’s guest story is easily one of the most incredible and entertaining origin stories I’ve ever heard. We have on the show today award-winning director, producer, and screenwriter, Sacha Gervasi.

Sacha won the screenwriter lottery with his first-ever screenplay, which was a un-produceable short film script, caught the eye of the legendary Steven Spielberg. That script, My Dinner with Herve would eventually be expanded and released in 2018 by HBO. The film stars the incomparable, Peter Dinklage 

Unlike most writers/directors who go on to produce their debut films, Gervasi’s 1993 entry project wasn’t made until just three years ago. I promise you, Sacha spills every detail of the fascinating story of his encounter with Hervé Villechaize, the famous little person from shows like Fantasy Island and films like James Bond’s The Man with the Golden Gun. Hervé was arguably one of the most famous people in the world in the late ’70s and early 80’s. Sacha sat with Herve in a marathon interview, and the connection they forge during their brief, yet impactful meet.

After his life-changing encounter with the Fantasy Island star, which followed Hervé’s abrupt and unfortunate suicide, Sacha was determined to get his story told in its entirety and justifiably.  He ditched his mid-level journalism job in England and moved to Los Angeles to attend film school at UCLA after developing the script for My Dinner with Herve. 

While on the climb-up, Sacha wrote screenplays for The Big Tease (1999) and The Terminal (2004) which was directed by Steven Spielberg and starred Tom Hanks. The comedy-drama film grossed $219.4 million at the Box office with a $60 million budget and has become a holiday classic in the UK.

Tom Hanks played an Eastern European tourist who unexpectedly finds himself stranded in JFK airport, and must take up temporary residence there because he is denied entry into the United States and at the same time is unable to return to his native country because of a military coup.

In 2008, Sacha made his documentary directorial debut and executive produced Anvil! The Story of Anvil

The amazing documentary premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival about a heavy metal band that never gave up on their dreams of being a successful band. Anvil was established in 1978 and became one of the most influential yet commercially unsuccessful acts with thirteen albums. The documentary ranks at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes.

He also directed the 2012 film Hitchcock, a story about the relationship between Alfred Hitchcock and his wife, Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho (1969). It starred Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, and Scarlet Johansson. 

I also interviewed Sacha and an old friend of his, Iron Maiden heavy metal band singer, Bruce Dickinson on my new podcast, Next Level Soul that you have to catch up with if you are down for more knowledge bombs and cool stories from Sacha. That episode comes out on Saturday. 

Here’s a bit on my new podcast Next Level Soul.

The Next Level Soul Podcast is a self-help & spirituality podcast that asks the big questions about living and thriving in the world today by having candid and inspiring conversations with thought leaders from every walk of life. The show covers inspirational, motivational, spiritual, health-oriented, yoga, meditation, wellness, and many more topics. New episodes of Next Level Soul air every Saturday anywhere you listen to podcasts. Let’s take your SOUL to the next level.

Sasha is such an interesting human being, I had such a ball talking with him.  We talk about the film business, his origin stories, his screenwriting craft, what he’s doing now, and so much more.

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Sacha Gervasi.

Alex Ferrari 3:56
I like to welcome to the show Sacha Gervasi, man How you doing Sasha?

Sasha Gervasi 5:03
I'm good man. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 5:04
I'm doing great man. I am I'm excited to talk to you, my friend. we've, we've talked a little bit off air already. And it's I wish we could record it.

Sasha Gervasi 5:14
Frankly, cannot put on this podcast,

Alex Ferrari 5:16
obviously and legal or legal reasons. So I knew just from those few interactions we had that this is going to be, this is going to be fun, without question. And you so I wanted to ask you when we before we start the whole thing, how did you get into this ridiculous business?

Sasha Gervasi 5:37
I got into Well, I was always fascinated with film. I went to a school in unequal Westminster and I started the film club at Westminster School in about 1980. And my what I would do is I would go with my housemaster of I called Tristan Jones Perry, who was literally a character Brideshead Revisited a brilliant mathematician, completely, Ill functioning socially, but really a wonderful man, we wouldn't he would accompany me to Soho where we would pick up 16 millimeter prints of films. And so I remember bringing to all my classmates, I was 15 or 16 at the time, movies, like don't look now and Easy Rider. And so I loved film at school, and, you know, kind of got into actually getting the 16 mil prints and putting them in the film club. So I think it was a very early dream, but I never thought I'd actually end up working film. Because I was for many years, you know, a really terrible musician. And I was struggling with my own mediocrity for quite a few years, even though I ended up in some bands, you know, actually did some stuff. But the reality was, I think the real dream was always film. And ultimately what happened was, I was in the music business, got out of the music business. And then I decided I was offered an opportunity to work for a very sort of famous British satirical magazine called punch. A fantastic guy. They're called Sean McCauley. I called him up, he was the features editor, and pitched him an idea over the phone, I got through to him and Secretary was out to lunch. And he gave me my first assignment. And so I started as a journalist, and I worked for work for punch, punch, punch magazine, and associated newspapers, Evening Standard Mail on Sunday, and I would do kind of profiles and interviews with what I thought to be interesting people. And remember, in one week in 1993, I think it was I interviewed Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols released

Alex Ferrari 7:25
in February, that must have been a hell of an that must have been a hell of an interview,

Sasha Gervasi 7:30
an Italian restaurant in Greek street in Soho, and he ended up throwing a chair at me, because he didn't like he was promoting his book, no black, no Irish, no dogs, which was a great book, but he didn't like the sound of my voice and thought I was a tosser and decided literally to throw some kind of, you know, Art Deco chair in my general direction, which of course made it but that same week, I interviewed, you know, Ted Heath, the former British Conservative Prime Minister, you know, and many, many people along the way, and I just would meet all these fascinating characters. And journalism, for me was just a, you know, an opportunity to try and make money writing, even though I wasn't really, you know, that wasn't really my end goal. But it was massively fun for me to fly around the world. And I remember my first foreign assignment, I was flown by associated newspapers to meet this young prodigy violinist called Sarah Chang and Florence, and I met her. She was 11. And this was brilliant musician who we had performed some exquisite. I think it was of all the I can't remember what she was doing at the time. But you know, she had an entourage her dad, her cousins, her mother's there was like, 40 adults in the room while I interviewed this 11 year old genius. Yes, I have these incredible kind of experiences just meeting very different types of people. And I think all of that ultimately, as you know, probably, if you know, a bit of the story is that, you know, one of the interviews that I was sent to do in the summer of 1993 was was to interview Herve vilchez, who, you know, had been the star of Fantasy Island, and 10, you know, 10 years after you've been fired by Aaron Spelling was in quite a bad condition. I was sort of sent to this interview, kind of as a joke. You know, while I was waiting for, frankly, something more important. So the Gore Vidal interviews appears in, in the film, and ultimately, that experience changed my life and led to screenwriting. I know that sounds very strange, but I was sent from London to LA to do a series of important show business interviews as if that really exists as a concept in reality, and have a village with the kind of throwaway joke piece, you know, and they said to me, you know, get 500 words with the midget, you know, where are they?

Alex Ferrari 9:37
So that's your, cuz I didn't know as a tester to write that's it. Yeah.

Sasha Gervasi 9:41
Yeah nicknack in the bond, film and write a seminal, kind of famous kind of cult figure in the 1970s and, frankly, the most famous little person that's successful that the person after that, that had been at all And you know, I went in there filled with judgment and cynicism and you know, fuck I've got to get through. This is the this is the dregs of celebrity I've been given like the, you know, the formerly famous dwarf from fancy Island, the

Alex Ferrari 9:45
one hit wonder the one hit wonder almost

Sasha Gervasi 10:14
Yeah. I was like, wow, this is really where my career is, you know, I'm interviewing tattoo, I wanted to shoot myself. Well, I won't say I knew I was gonna say something terrible. But anyway, so we, we went to meet at Liberty Chateau in West Hollywood, and I was with this photographer who was sent from the newspaper with me and his, his name was Sloane Pringle. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 10:38
you can't make this up. You can't make this up.

Sasha Gervasi 10:39
You can't make that up. Not a stage name slump. And, you know, Stein was like, Look, we've got to get to this other place. We have half an hour just get your interview. And so you know, I just went through what was your life class, the island, The Man with the Golden got the stories and I literally was packing my shit to go away. Right? To say, you know, thank you heavy. It's been wonderful, great stories about Fantasy Island. You know, it was all the ludicrous kind of showbizzy stuff we knew. And I was putting my stuff and I turned back and Herve had come off his chair and around the corner, and was holding a knife at my throat and I was like, I'm about to be shipped to death by tempted by tattoo is about to kill me. And I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. And he wanted to get my attention. He was like, he literally said to me, You wrote the story before you got here. You prejudge me, you have no idea who I really am. You just see me as a joke, you know, on this show. And I'm just like a sort of Sunset Boulevard, kind of sad, past celebrity. And he was right. He was absolutely right. He wasn't really threatening me with my life. He just wanted to puncture kind of this bubble of judgment and cynicism and disinterest that I kind of clearly walked in with. And he said, if you want to hear the real story of my life, come meet me tomorrow night. So I was so shocked. I was like, you know, because my editors said, Look, 500 words, three paragraphs, you know, where are they now? They didn't really, but I there was something about him that was so fucking compelling. So human and a broken and, but also interesting, I mean, such a charismatic person, that I decided to meet him. And I ended up spending three days with him. And he told me his life story with such kind of emotional intensity and need. And you know, as as I'm sure any other journalists will tell you, when someone tells you the story of their lives, they become quite mad, because how often do you tell all the major emotional events of your life and badger let's take advantage of it, I actually found him so different to how I imagined him to be to me the whole thing was like a lesson about judgment and pre judgment. Because I really did just see him as being defined by his size, and being defined by these kind of quote unquote, you know, jokey roles. But at the end of the three days, I was so compelled, I went to see him at the universal Sheraton where he was staying. And I remember having this really weird feeling and it's actually recreated in the film my dinner with Herve and we shot the final scene of where the actual events have taken place in the same lobby of the universal Sheraton. 25 years after it happened, it was just a very weird thing to think pledge, recreate the scene with, you know, I'd have with her back in the same place. And, you know, I went up to his room, and he had all his band mail laid out, and it was just so sad, you know, it was like he said, they still write to me, and, you know, I just felt I felt they it man, I just, you know, I reconnected with them, I felt, here's this guy who's been basically totally destroyed by the cruel fate of, you know, his biology, and was totally rejected by his mother, and became famous. And of course, none of it really worked, you know, worked for a time, but you know, and then, of course, he lost his mind, blew up his career, and was just, but also underneath, it was really just a painter, you know, he really is really a very talented artists who have won prizes, and gone to, you know, some very famous art schools in Paris. And he was the youngest painter, for example, to be exhibited in the museum of Paris. And he was just an extraordinary character, I really connected with him at the end. And so I remember going back and he had all these photos of his life, and he says, you take these for your article in 2000 slides of his whole life, and I'm like, thinking to myself, my editors want like maybe one photo, and you know, like, what am I gonna do, but I felt like I had to take it. And we went down in the elevator together, and then he sort of tagged me on my sleeve, and he pulled me into very close to him, and he said, he had tears in his eyes, and he said, Tell them I regret nothing. And I just had this like, fear of like, what is going on this? I just knew something was going on. I didn't quite know what it was. But it was just so like, such a shiver up my spine. And I just had this connection with this weirdo that you would never think I would never Why would I connect with this guy? You know, it just we have something in common and yet we have everything in common. I just was newly sober. He was clearly struggling. During our three days together, he tried, you know, I told him that I was stopped drinking, and he was like constantly trying to get me to drink and take him to strip clubs. I mean, it was, he was like the devil and an angel. He was just like, the most interesting, charismatic and unusual person I think I've ever met in my life, probably to this day. And I ended up having this bond. And anyway, so I go home to London, and I've got basically 14 hours or 12 hours of these little micro micro cassettes that used to have, you know, you recorded. I remember listening back to this thing going, how the fuck am I going to put this in an article to take to my editors, like, I'm really interested to begin with, and then I come back with this anyway. So I got a call from Kathy self, who was his girlfriend who I'd met during the sort of three day interview. And Kathy called me at home, it was a Sunday, it was like 615, in the evening, Sunday, September, the fourth 1993. I'll never forget it, it was a really pleasant early afternoon, late afternoon, evening, and the phone rings, it's Kathy and Kathy says, have a committed suicide four and a half out. And I know we will have wanted to let you know that that happened. And just to let you know how they really connected with you, and is so happy that you have this interview. So I'm like listening back to these tapes now. And suddenly, I have a whole new perspective. And the perspective is, this guy knows that he's gonna kill himself. This, this is like some random, you know, English journalists, some young kid who knows nothing has been sent to interview me, I'm just gonna grab him. And I'm gonna give him the whole story about the family about everything. And it really like was like, you know, what do I do with this, I started crying when I listen to the interview again, because I understood that he was absolutely conscious of the fact that he was telling someone his story for the very last time, and he was clearly planning to do this, I decided to change my whole perspective on the article and come at it from a point of view of here, I was walking in this judgmental, cynical British journalist to knows nothing. And I was just completely captivated by this extraordinary character. And he opened his heart to me. And then, you know, six, five days after we see each other, he kills himself. And so the whole article was about so I do a 5000 word piece. And I take it into my editors, the paper, and they were like, this is great. But this is not what we asked for. We wanted you to go do a stupid, funny story. And I was like, but this is the truth. I mean, this is the story important. And luckily, I had already spoken to someone else who I thought would take the story. And they agreed, okay, we'll take the story, and plot it and publish it the way you wanted to do it. And I went to my newspaper, I said, You've got to give me front cover. And I need, you know, six pages, whatever it is lots of photos. Here they are, you know, the whole thing. And so I had this extraordinary thing where they basically said, No, we sent you out there, we own the story, you're going to rewrite it. And it was really tough, and I just couldn't really do it at a certain point. And in the end, someone else rewrote the story. It was, I think, four pages or two pages, somewhere in the middle of the magazine. And I really felt horrible, because I'd had credibly important personal experience completely out of the blue. With this person, I was essentially his suicide note. And here were these guys who would just didn't give a shit, they would just get it to me summed up everything about British journalism, and that and those newsrooms at the time. And the editor literally came out of the room and said, well, Giovanni's top two midgett, which means made a major commit suicide, where do we send him next, and everyone's laughing? And I'm like, Wait, hold on a second, like, this guy is a human being, and you guys are just your pigs, you know, and they're all bitter. And they're all just, you know, judgmental, and they're not, you know, none of them probably wanted to be writers or painters, or filmmakers, and none of them really were willing to take that risk. And so it's much easier to sit on the sidelines and judge than actually take a risk, you know, do something. And so I just got that was where the idea for the film was born. And so I'd never written a script before. And it leads into my very first script. Well, I wrote a short script, a 32 page screenplay. I've never written one before, called my dinner with her back. And I thought, This is great. It's a short about the most famous short man in the world. You know, what I didn't understand is that I'd written essentially, an unmistakable $2 million short film that once someone looked at it, they were like Paris in 1940, and Barbados. I was like,

anyway, um, became an interesting thing, because I wrote this script from the heart to feel like, I felt like the newspaper robbed me of the truth of that story. And so the script was my first attempt to tell the story from a technical point of view. And I, I ended up being read by Steven Spielberg. I mean, that script that I was, you know, got to speak But you

Alex Ferrari 20:01
made the 32 page $2 million short film about a dinner with her but unbreakable, unbreakable called my debt my eat my dinner with with aurvey about the most famous short man in the world, that script. How did that 32 page script that's

Sasha Gervasi 20:19
another story you see as as So, okay, here's the story. This is crazy story. So I had applied to UCLA film school and I was really on the fence about whether I wanted to go and I got for whatever it is, I got I applied to UCLA. So I was in LA doing all these interviews have a and the kids from Beverly Hills 90210, by the way, on the same trip that I interviewed her, but you know, when he pulled the knife on me, the interview was going to was the kids of Beverly Hills 902. That's how I also interview. So I'm like, Well, I'm sitting there listening to these imbeciles talking about this terrible show. And all I'm thinking is about tattoo shaming me. And what happened back then I'm like, I was so disinterested. 24 year old. Anyway, so. So, anyway, so I was I was basically I applied to UCLA because I was in LA so much. And I do I went back to the original dream, you know, I was, I was at school, and I started my Film Club, and I loved film. And, you know, I really wanted to see, you know, UCLA was a legendary school, you know, that so many fantastic filmmakers, and I was a huge I am a huge Paul Schrader fan. And Paul Schrader had been at UCLA, and he's just an extraordinary and USC seem to be like the, you know, really successful, rich kids and UCLA was the kind of, you know, messy disaster. It felt like Anyway, it was much cheaper. So I just applied to UCLA. And I got into UCLA. And so I was in LA. My mom said, Go to LA, I knew not a single person, not one person. And so my mom had an old friend called Ruthie Snyder, who she grew up with in Toronto. My mother came from Toronto, and then it moved to New York, whatever, and then to England. And she said, Look at my old school friend, you know, she hadn't seen her in like, 30 years. I was like, great. I walked up in LA. I have some woman I don't even know. Anyway, so she was very kindly introduced me to her daughter Fonda Fonda Snyder. And what happened was, I got invited she said Fonda was running a company called story opolis, which was a bookstore and in LA, opposite the IB restaurant, Robertson, and Paul Allen, that, you know, the Microsoft guy was funding this kind of children's bookstore. And so she said, I were doing a dinner. Do you want to come? I didn't know her at all. Anyway, so I go to this dinner. And I and I get there early. Because you know, I don't know anyone at all. I'm like, you know, I'm talking to the waiters.

Alex Ferrari 22:47
What year what year? Are we talking?

Sasha Gervasi 22:49
Like 93 to 92? three foot 494. Right. Something like that. Yeah. And anyway, so I'm in my suit, like, cuz I'm very English. I'll put on a suit or the card for me, whatever. So I go there. And I look at this, these long tables, and they're having a dinner to honor the incredible author Maurice Sendak, who did Where the Wild Things Are. So and I'm looking at this table, and I'm looking at David Geffen, Peter Guber, you know, but like the people coming to this dinner would like and so Fonda was like laughing because she thought I was going to some kind of, you know, like free festival

Alex Ferrari 23:26
mixer mixer.

Sasha Gervasi 23:28
What I was talking to so she thought was very funny. So anyway, so I see all these kind of luminaries, Oliver Stone was at the dinner, I think, and you know, unbelievable, so I'm nervous as hell. I'm no one. I have no idea. I'm smoking met read more Brits. Like, without stopping. I've smoked two packs. Anyway. So I go outside. And I'm watching all these Hollywood luminaries through the windows, if you know aware of where new line needs to be opposite the IV. The story of this was all glass and they had this kind of little area, Piazza area with benches. So I'm sitting on the Piazza benches watching through the windows is like Oliver Stone and David Geffen. And all these people arrived, going, what am I doing here? I was thinking about going anyway. So this tramp comes up to me, who was like wearing some sort of that kind of grungy Seattle look or whatever. And it was sort of a bit befuddled, and he sits down and he says, you know, do you have a cigarette? I was like, Sure. So I ended up chatting with him. And we started talking and smoking cigarettes, and he was very nice guy. And he said, you know, what are you doing? I said, Well, I'm English. I'm actually here. I think I'm going to go to film school. And, you know, and he says, really, what, what, what are your plans? I said, Well, you know, I'm going to become a screenwriter. You know, I'm going to be a screenwriter like that. And he looks at me and goes, hmm. And I literally remember thinking I looked at him, I thought maybe I can help this guy. Maybe I could just give him I don't know, some money for the bus or something. I don't mind how he seems nice. So anyway, so we're chatting. We're getting on incredibly well and talking about, you know, America versus England and the favorite TV shows and customers But I can't remember. But it was great conversation and we're big cigarette smokers. Anyway. So I'm watching the assembled mass through the windows, we both are on this very beautiful woman comes out and goes up to this tramp. I thought perhaps to give him money. I didn't really know. But she comes up to him. It turns out, it's her husband. And she is coming to this event. And by the way, he is coming to this event. And I'm like, okay, they're letting the homeless in his open community. I mean, we've got the luminaries, but we're also we're working with. So I, so I was basically just like, okay, so anyway, whatever. So she says, Who are you? And I said, Well, I'm Sasha, Razia come from London. I'm going to UCLA. I'm going to be a screenwriter. And Elizabeth says, Oh, really? That's what my husband does the tramp. And I'm like, Oh, okay. So So who are you? Oh, he's called Steve Zaillian.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
He's like, Oh, my God,

Sasha Gervasi 25:56
the Oscar the previous year for his screenplay for Schindler's List. So I could not speak.

Alex Ferrari 26:03
Oh, my

Sasha Gervasi 26:05
dad's one of the greatest

Alex Ferrari 26:07
living screenwriters

Sasha Gervasi 26:08
ever together right now, then. Doesn't matter. Unbelievable. And so anyway, we go into the dinner. I'm like, freaking out. Elizabeth finds it very funny. Cuz I'm like, you're steaming. Okay. You're Elizabeth Second. Okay, great. So then I find out but I'm seated like three seats away from him my card, you know, next to the head of new life, you know, sees me freaking out. And he finds it hilarious,

Alex Ferrari 26:37
because he's 16

Sasha Gervasi 26:39
as well. So that will like laughing at me anyway. So I couldn't speak after that, because I felt like I behaved like such a dickhead. Like there I am proclaiming, I'm a screenwriter. And there I am next to the academy award winning writer.

Alex Ferrari 26:52
So the equivalent of me of a kid going to Steven Spielberg, you know, one day I'm going to be a director. Right? Not knowing that that was Steven Spielberg.

Sasha Gervasi 27:00
I went into a massive shame spiral. And I remember just eating all the food and picking out on dessert I was trying to eat on my feelings. It was so I was so nervous. I felt terrible. I felt like an imposter. And I felt like I really made a fool of myself in front of essentially, I've never seen him but I'd read all his screenplays. I'd read searching for Bobby Fischer. I'd read his awakening script, you know, it was extraordinary. I, you know, there is so you know, serpentina and other scripts and bad manners, whatever these things. were, you know, he was just an extraordinary human Bob town to me with the guys, right? So I'm like, meeting him made a photo. Anyway, at the end of the dinner. He comes over to me and he said, here's my phone number. If you want to have a coffee, let's have a coffee or whatever.

Alex Ferrari 27:48
How many? How many days? Are you in LA at this point once you arrived?

Sasha Gervasi 27:54
like three weeks? in LA. I know my mother's friend from high school in Toronto. And I'm meeting literally, but so anyway. Now I had written that my dinner with her a script, right? But I didn't know what I was doing. But I had this script. So he said, Do you have anything, you know, that I could read?

And I said,

I have the script. And I told him the story of meeting have any found that story? Very interesting. Yeah. Anyway, so I ended up sending him the script to where to where to where he lived in Santa Monica. I sent him the script. And I didn't hear anything,

Alex Ferrari 28:31
as you know. Yeah.

Sasha Gervasi 28:33
And I was like, okay, I've met Mick Jagger. I've given him my demo tape. And I'm a loser. And I made a fool of myself. And I offer basically the given bus money home. I mean, it's just like, a full on disaster from start to finish. So I was in my little $100 a week apartment. I was living in West Hollywood. And the phone goes and this is like three months later. It seems alien. I'm so sorry for not getting back to you. I've been on a project that's finished. Now. I just happened to get to your script. And I think it's really good. Would you like to have coffee? I drive down theatrics and cinema. In fact, my friend Adam dropped me off because I didn't have a car because remember, I felt Well, for the first two, three years in LA. I did not have a car traveling by bus or walking, which was fine, right? So I'm going to I got dropped off at diederichs. I had a coffee with Steve. And he said, I think this is special. I think you're a writer. I think you're right to go to UCLA. And I think this is a very important and special piece of work. And I was just like, Jesus, I've never written anything. This is the first thing I wrote. And so in the end without getting into it, because there's lots more obviously to chat about. He gave that script to Steven Spielberg. And so I myself on the set of Amistad you know 10 feet away from Anthony Hopkins, you know, right on the on the set with Steve introduced because Steve was oh We're working on that I've rewritten the whole thing was to me to Steve, Steven Spielberg, and I just couldn't believe it. And he complimented me on the script and said, Would you like to watch and was could not have been that nicer. And ultimately, that ended up that led to me working with Steven on the terminal. So it was all through Steve's alien, like literally had I not had that chance meeting with Steve had Steve not been as cool and generous and so unpretentious and kind with me. He was just extraordinary with me extraordinary. Like, you know, in life when you get people who suddenly appear in a certain moment and their aim is alien was for me. He was absolutely an angel. I would not like everything that's happened since that moment, I would have absolutely no career without Steve and his belief in me and and at times when it was really, really tough. You know? Yeah. Anyway, so

Alex Ferrari 30:57
alright, so you basically had and I've talked about this a lot as because I mean, so many screenwriters listening tonight and filmmakers as well who are listening. You You, you look up to people, like you know, Steve Zaillian, and, and Spielberg and, and I, I consider them to be Gods on Mount Hollywood. They're literally like Greek gods in Mount Hollywood. And when one of them decides to come down with the peasants and touches you on the shoulders that you now shall be a screenwriter. You now shall be a director that literally happened to you. And, and he was, and he wasn't even. And the funny thing is, if I if I may go full Greek mythology on you, he was like, hidden. So he was in disguise. Oh, my

Sasha Gervasi 31:40
God, because I was totally myself. I had no I was I didn't, I was giving this guy cigarettes and possibly giving him money. And possibly any screenwriter, helping him when I discovered he, too, was a superhero.

Alex Ferrari 31:54
Oh, my God. No.

Sasha Gervasi 31:56
It was like magic. Because had I not look, I'm very like, had I known it was Steve's alien, I would have probably completely clammed up. And I am. And so therefore, it was a massive gift. It was like such a weird and wonderful thing. And, you know, he and his family and Elizabeth and Nick and Charlie would just have been fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 32:16
Well, yeah. So I have to ask you, because I mean, and I've spoken to other people on my show as well, they've had these kind of magical paths. Because this is a this is absolutely lottery ticket. This is magical. And so so many ways. Do you believe in it, there has to be some sort of fate in this because the chances of this happening? Do you believe there are other things that that kind of guide, because I do, I truly do. Like when doors are supposed to open for you, they opened for you in a magical way that you just can't understand, you know, how how I get how I have had the opportunities to talk to certain people on my show, like yourself, and like, what's happened to my show what's happened to my career, all these other different things, when something's supposed to happen? It happens in a way that you will never know. Like, if I would have told you this exact story, when you were flying over to LA to go to UCLA, you would have said, you're you're mad, you're mad, if I would have told you that tattoo was going to be the catalyst for your entire career, you would have said, That's right. You're insane. So what do you what do you What's your feelings on that?

Sasha Gervasi 33:24
Also, him threatening me with a knife?

Alex Ferrari 33:26
Obviously. I mean, that's, that's the given.

Sasha Gervasi 33:29
The whole thing I do, what how can you ignore that? I mean, there's obviously something going on. I'm not saying that goes on for everyone all the time. That doesn't go on me all the time. But I think there are certain critical moments in life when things happen when you meet someone. And I think it's all about being open. And recognizing it. Because, you know, a lot of times we don't recognize things. Yeah, so I got very lucky because, you know, without getting too much into my personal story, I didn't really, you know, a pretty bad time with drugs when I was younger, and I, you know, nearly was not here. And I think when I got out of that was able to figure out, like, actually, I don't really want to, I actually do want to be here. And here. When I sort of got clear of that. I just saw everything in a strange way as a huge blessing. Because it's like, you know, whenever things would be going badly, you know, I would say to myself, you know, for a dead man, you're not doing that badly. You know, I'm alive. I may and I definitely have that appreciation of life at a very basic level. I don't take stuff for granted. And so I think when you carry that energy, perhaps you invite sometimes positive perhaps the negative but in this case of very positive things. You know, I was recently kind of, you know, in recovery clean and sober when I came to LA like coming to LA was all about a completely new beginning. And I think when you've been through a tough time, and I'm sure many of your viewers have And listeners have been through their own version of that, you know, you know that there's something about getting through it where you just, you want to live. Yes. And that brings stuff to you. And I think that that may be that was an example of that. I don't really know. But I was just, you know, I think when I nearly pop, you know, when I nearly was not here. It's very humbling. Oh, I think that, you know, like, I think the problem is, I see a lot of Hollywood, you know, screenwriters sell their first script for a ton of money, and then it all goes to their head, you know, and, and I had that later, I actually have to say, I call myself all that, you know, because it does affect you, right? When people start telling you all this shit, and you have to really watch it. And I would say, as a writer, as a writer, particularly in Hollywood, you know, if you don't seek humility, it will find you.

Alex Ferrari 35:53
Amen, brother,

Sasha Gervasi 35:54
amen. You will be fired, you will be, you know, taken down and denigrated, and all that. And so, you know, and actually, Suzanne gave me a great good advice. He said, it's a roller coaster, when it when the corner get squeaky, squeeze on tight, just hold on, you know, and I think that, I've always done that there have been some terrible, terrible moments, as well as some extraordinary moments. And I think that, you know, it is about not being a wanker. Being You know, one thing when people like that, but I think what happens is, you get these moments of grace. And clearly, that was some kind of a miracle with Steve, you know, it's when the ego cuts in, and it starts taking credit for all that shit, you get into a lot of trouble. So you have to just count your blessings and go, thank you, rather than start making it about you. And that is something that, you know, we're all prone to at different times. But you've got to watch for that. And I've certainly, if I haven't been watching for it, I've learned the lesson the hard

Alex Ferrari 36:50
way. I mean, the ego is the I mean, listen, the ego is one of the the thing that we all fight every single day, and I believe in the in the film industry, more so than ever because, man it is, so it is so enticing.

Sasha Gervasi 37:07
Having an ego is kind of like, you know, that night in the Monty Python, we get knocked off, and then his leg does that flesh wound. It's like a quivering stump, you know, that's like, a screenwriter will come here,

Alex Ferrari 37:19
come here, I'll take you.

Sasha Gervasi 37:23
You know, it's just a waste of your energy, just better get real and take your breaks when you get them. And and pass it on. That's the key thing. Yes. If people come into your path, and you feel even if you can make it like a tiny difference, but you know, you don't delude yourself into thinking you could do what someone likes things only Steven Spielberg could do. But if you can actually help someone, even if it's reading a script, or listening or whatever, you know, do it, man, because you got given that times 10. And I think it's in a strange way, it's, it's your duty to do that. It's the pay forward. It's not you, you know. So that's, I just think if you're coming from basically a place of honesty and fairness and trying not to be a tosser, trying not to be and catching yourself when you are, then you know, you're going to be alright, you're going to go, you're going to survive the crazy times of the roller coaster, and the ups and downs and the rapids and the river. And there will be plenty, as I'm sure you know, most of your, you know, writers, no, it's just very, you know, and you can go from the hottest thing to the coldest and the hot, you know, and it's like, try not to pay attention to the temperature reading, focus on the process, and the long term plan, because, you know, today's hottest screenwriter is tomorrow's cold is like, I've got, I've got the best reviews and the very worst, you know, it's like you'll have all of it. Try not to get buy into it too much. I think just focus on Okay, I got to deliver this script, and I got to deliver this movie or whatever. Stay in what you do, you know, and don't worry about the other bullshit.

Alex Ferrari 38:46
And look at Herve, I mean, look, I mean, he was the hottest biggest thing in the 70s you couldn't, just couldn't, he was everywhere. I mean, he was, he was so hot, and look where he

Sasha Gervasi 38:59
was the lesson of the Hyundai story. And he went ahead and he got into it with Ricardo montalban. And he wanted to trailer as big and basically spelling fired him because he was completely out of, you know, out of control. And, you know, he was destroyed, he went from, you know, a TV star on an ABC show getting 30 or $40,000 a week in 1979 8081. to, you know, when I found him having to flush his toilet by taking water out of his swimming pool to flush the toilet because the water had been cut off. You know, it was really extreme. So yeah, here's an example to me, you know, and I also fell for him because there was clearly he realized that he kind of completely fucked himself, you know, and if you go you know, his ego was not his amigo as they say, you know,

Alex Ferrari 39:51
what, like, that blew everything off. So

Sasha Gervasi 39:53
anyway, yeah, there are so many examples of that you know, of just don't take the work seriously. They just don't take yourself too seriously.

Alex Ferrari 40:02
Now, so let me ask so you're working with Steve and Steve Steve's on on terminal. What is that? Like did Steve bring you in? I think he It almost sounds like he Donnie Brasco. Do. He's like he's a good fella. He can come in with me. So he kind of like vouched for you. You walked in and Steve's like, I want to work with you on the terminal is how did that? How did you first of all, how do you collaborate with it? Well, it

Sasha Gervasi 40:25
was waterparks really who I work with mostly waterparks. It was then running Mike's also brilliant producer, who we develop the script together. And then initially what happened was that Tom Hanks came into just thinking my first meeting with Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks said he would like to do the script. And then I went to meet him in his office in Santa Monica. And it was, it was unbelievable. It was hilarious.

Alex Ferrari 40:47
Well, what happened? What happened when you?

Sasha Gervasi 40:49
I can't remember I think I had I said, I've got to do something really? No to I'll come up with a joke. So I think I came into his office. And Walter Park said, and here's Tom Hanks. And I looked at Tom and I looked at Walter and I said, but you said Tom holes. And then he laughed his head off. And then we became friends.

Alex Ferrari 41:10
Oh, my God. Oh my God. That's a myth.

Sasha Gervasi 41:13
A notable entry. It was hilarious. So we ended up having a good time. And I ended up being hired. So anyway, so he came on to terminal he wanted to do it. And then originally, actually, Sam Mendez was gonna direct the film. And I met with Sam and Sam was like, don't change the word of the script. And then it sort of all went quiet. And it was really weird. I was on a research trip with Tom Hanks in Europe. And we were working on this other project, but unfortunately, never got made. It was called comrade rock star. It was a great project. And Tom was very into it at the time. And so we flew on on the DreamWorks jet, which was also another, of course,

Alex Ferrari 41:48
why wouldn't you?

Sasha Gervasi 41:50
I went, and we went to, we went to Berlin, to do search and meet various people to do with the Conrad rock star story. And we were staying at the Adlon Hotel in Berlin. You know, this point. I didn't know what was happening with time. And I knew Tom was interested in it. I knew we were developing this other thing. And so Tom was on the catch me if you can, you know, press junket. And I remember I got a call. Tom's driver or whatever called and said, You know that there's a car downstairs, you know, go and have dinner with Tom, right. So I got into the car and I go into this restaurant in Berlin, which I think was called Vaughn or vow, I can't remember it was this big room with a like a gallery and like a main floor. And there was this table of like, 20 people. And there's an empty chair at the end, and there was waterparks, Leonardo DiCaprio, and suddenly, you know, Tom Hanks or whatever. And then there was a guy not facing me, just as I walked in. And Tom was with Steven. And Tom said, Hey, Sasha, yeah, Steven Sasha's here. And Steven Spielberg turned around to me, and he said, congratulations, we shoot November the fifth. And I was like,

what, what are we?

Alex Ferrari 43:02
What are we? What are we? What are we shooting

Sasha Gervasi 43:05
his moment where he said, I'm gonna drag the terminal. And I just was like, they were all again, that they were all laughing at me, because I was just like, so.

Alex Ferrari 43:13
I feel that I hear a theme here, that when I hear a theme here, Sasha, that when, when these giants when the gods when the gods get together, and they see the and they see that the commoners walking among us, they they like to poke fun at them, essentially, is what I hear

Sasha Gervasi 43:32
the same thing with sweetness of all right, oh, yeah. So in fact, when Tom Hanks told me he was going to attach himself to the script, he said, I was at his office, he said, will you drive me home? I said, Sure. I didn't really know. I thought maybe he couldn't afford Uber. I didn't really understand.

Alex Ferrari 43:48
Don't give them don't give him No, he don't give him changed for the bus like you were gonna do.

Sasha Gervasi 43:52
Steve gave some bus tickets designing and then I thought I'll help him with some vouchers. Anyway, so I'm driving. So this is a true story. So the mirror stories that I'm driving with Tommy's in the passenger seat, I'm driving by, you know, very excited, I've solved my first script. And I've Of course, got a Cadillac cuz I'm an idiot. He said, Why did you go from Britain? Why did you lease a Cadillac? And I said, because I'm from Britain, you know, and so anyway, I driving along and he says, I'm just gonna hold the steering wheel for just a minute. And I said, Sure, do you Okay, so he holds the wheel. And he turns to mean, he says, I'm going to start in Terminal. And I was like, because he knew I was gonna have a moment. And so we held the wheel. So Tom did that. And then we had the when Steven Spielberg told me, he was directing the film in Berlin. So it was quite, you know, you're outside. This is my second movie. So I've done a small hairdressing comedy called the big tease at Warner Brothers that no one saw which we made 4 million. And then, you know, suddenly I'm doing the Spielberg Hanks movie. Number two, right? So it's like complete madness.

Alex Ferrari 45:03
Oh my god. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And I have to ask you that, because I told you off air, I absolutely adore the terminal. I adore it. I, my wife and I watch it every few years because everyone's, you know, between the story and the characters, and of course, Hanks his performance and and in Stephens direction. I mean, how did that story come together? Like it's based on a real story, right?

Sasha Gervasi 45:40
I called them Alfred, the Sarah, who lived for many years at a Paris airport shelter ago, he was an Iranian dissident. It was a true story, when it is done, who escaped escaped into, into France illegally, and came back to go to his home country, they discovered that he was he would probably be imprisoned or executed if he got on the plane back to Toronto. And so but at the same time, he did legally been in France, so they wouldn't let him back out. And they said, Just wait in the terminal a minute. So that was a whole story with, you know, a lot of political complexity. And it was about many things. And we decided, well, let's just take the scenario of a man stuck in the airport based on the true story. And let's do something slightly different. So that became, you know, Victor Navasky and crocosmia, and all of that stuff that was in the film. So does that mean, people love that movie? And it's sort of it's sort of, you know, what, some people love to initially not everyone, but over the years, it's become kind of has this own life. And in England, I started to realize it's become a christmas film on the BBC, like five years ago, like, either plays Christmas Eve or Christmas Day on BBC One. BBC, you know, it's sort of a bit of a tradition. Now, I didn't really realize that. But it's obviously great to be part of something like that. And, you know, it was an extraordinary experience having this film made by obviously, some of the greatest people, people had to study the film school, and then, you know, six months, I'm working with them. Yeah, no, it was without those guys. And Spielberg was just, he was extraordinary with me, incredibly generous. And it was hard. You know, when this is happening to you don't really understand what's happening in you, right? You don't handle it brilliantly. I didn't really, it was only like now years later that you really understand my God, Steven Spielberg decided to make your movie. Wow. You know, I kind of knew it at the time. But I really know now. And I really feel grateful to Steven and to Tom and to Walter and to Steve's alien for really creating that whole scenario. So I'm lucky.

Alex Ferrari 47:43
I mean, lucky. I mean, I can only imagine reading a textbook with Steven Spielberg in it. And then a few months later, or a year later working with him. I can't even I can't even comprehend that. Now, you You are not just a screenwriter, you're also a director. How did you make the jump from screenwriting to directing?

Sasha Gervasi 48:06
Well, I just decided that I was gonna direct something. I wanted to be a director always. And then I thought, you know, because what happened after terminal was that I got offered lots of kind of big studio comedy rewrites and stuff, right, you know, and I thought, I obviously had this incredible experience, but I didn't really want to be, you know, just doing big assignments all the time. I really wanted to see if I could be a filmmaker and to you know, have a go. So I realized no one was really going to give me a chance. And I realized that I'd have to, you know, think think it through on my own. I knew this band. And then tie a tie into what we what we talk about later with our mystery special guests. Yes, I, I knew this band when I was 15 called Danville, a Canadian heavy metal band. And I met them when I was 15 at the marquee club in London, in 1982. And I got into the dressing room and I ended up talking to them. They'd never been to London before they were my heroes. I said, Have you been here? They said no. I said, I'll give you a tour of London. I ended up taking Advil, you know the band behind metal on metal and, and, you know, strength of steel and hard and heavy. I ended up taking them on a tour of the Houses of Parliament, the Tate Gallery, and I took them back home to meet my mother. You can imagine my mother's how thrilled she was when she opens the door to find me with the four members of a 15 year old 5050 with posters on the wall of that band. She's completely she said, You've got 10 minutes, get them out of it. Anyway, so they will find me quite entertaining. And I found them I'd say they said look, what do you do next summer. I said, Well, I'm old school holiday. Do you want to come on the road with us? Rob Reiner, the drummer of amber was named Rob Reiner. Like as in the director of spinal tap. You couldn't again make that shit up. And Rob said, Would you like to be my drum tech on this tour? So I following summer, I lied to my mom. She was never letting me go on tour with them. But I told my dad, they were split up he lived in New York. I said I'm gonna spend this Somewhere my dad went to my dad and I said, I'm going on tour with this heavy metal band will you meet them to make Give me your blessing and my father, you know taught economics at Oxford. So you know that Andrew was not his core demographic band. And they met and he was you know, he gave them a talking to and said protect my son, but he gave me the go ahead to go on tour. We went on a tour of Canadian hockey arenas in the summer of 1984. And I learned how to play drums from the drummer of and or Brian and on that tour, and had you know, an incredible experience. I was just really young. Yeah, at I went on three tours, I think at three, four or five or four or five or six. I can't remember but I was a, you know, a drum rodeo is a roadie. So I met those guys, and I loved them. And I remember this young guy, this young Danish tennis prodigy, or prodigy or player called Lars Ulrich, who was around my age who was around at the time and anvil fan and Scott Ian, who later went on to be anthrax. And basically 20 years past, I lost touch with Advil. And then I realized that you know, all the bands that influenced you know, Metallica, anthrax, mega death or whatever, they don't become mega bands and and all that disappeared. I went online, I figured out and I figured out that they were playing like pub gigs in like Northern Ontario. It was still going after 30 years. And I was like, why are you still going? So I wrote to the lead singer, whose name is lips. And I said, Come to California lips flew out, he was wearing exactly the same scorpions t shirt he'd been wearing. Last time, I'd seen him in 1987. He was like, frozen in time. And he was going, my band's gonna make it man, it's gonna be great. We're gonna do it. And I was like, thinking to myself, he is completely mental, like, What is he talking about? It's over, right? But there was something so infectious. And actually, I took him to see Steve's alien mental that weekend when he was in LA. And I'm sitting there with Steve making coffee, and we're looking out as lips is talking to Steve's wife, Elizabeth. And he's saying, Who the hell is this guy? And I told him the whole story. And he said, there's a movie there. There's a movie about friendship and not giving up on your dream. And it's bittersweet, and you should direct it. And I said, wow. And I did. And it became and so it was and it was one of the enville

Alex Ferrari 52:13
the story of anthem.

Sasha Gervasi 52:16
And I just rolled the dice, no one was gonna pay for it. I financed it myself. And I within, I think, 12 weeks of that encounter with Steve, down on the beach with the lips. I was in northern Romania, shooting Advil on one of the worst tours that you've ever, ever seen the film. I mean, it was beyond a disaster. Oh, my God. And so that and that movie, then, you know, became my directorial debut, which then came into Sundance. And, you know, still to this day, actually, you know, people love that movie. Because it really is about not giving up. And it really is about, you know, doing something for the right reasons and passion, and you know, all of that stuff.

Alex Ferrari 52:55
absolutely remarkable. So that documentary, which has become a cult phenomenon. People love that movie. And you were telling me, like, everyone says, is your best work ever?

Sasha Gervasi 53:07
Well, people love that film. It's so well, it's also done from a place of total naivety innocence, and I don't know what I'm doing. I'm just following a feeling. And I think the film captures that, the essence of it. And it just has travelled so far and wide. And it was like an amazing story, because he was this banner that the movie in one sense is essentially a portrait in failure. And yet, every band loves this film. And in fact, ACDC we're doing a stadium tour and invited Anvil to open for them. I remember standing on the side of the stage with Anvil, a giant stadium and 50,000 people are shouting, Advil, Advil, apple, and it was just like, you never know what's going to happen. You just never know. Like, we had no idea that any of that stuff, we had no idea that, you know, they went to the total rock awards, you know, Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin came up and bill to thank them for inspiring him to keep doing what he's doing. And it's like, you know, it was just like, we were at the Bowery Hotel in New York. And, and, and lips is smoking a cigarette on the terrace of the bar, and he comes out, he said, this is really interesting guy, and another guy, and they really like the movie and I don't know who they are. Maybe you can go talk to them. For me. I'd like to know more about them anyway, so go out with lips. And it's Chris Martin of Coldplay and Jay Z. And they're talking about and they had no idea. They had no idea if anyone

Alex Ferrari 54:28
they live in this. They live in this black bubble.

Sasha Gervasi 54:31
Yeah, I mean, the premiere in Hollywood. We did the premiere at the Egyptian theater, Dustin Hoffman came to the premiere. And he's in tears after the movie coming up to lips and Rob and Rob is like, has no idea who he is. And then after about 10 minutes he he turns to me he goes, is that the guy from Pappy? Oh yes. I feel happy. Oh, was wonderful about this is they're just living their own magical world. But were it not for that there would have been no movie to make about, you know, and then I'll be turned into as inspired, you know, other bands and certainly a lot of other movies about bands. Emotional,

Alex Ferrari 55:12
amazing. Amazing. So then, okay, so from story from from Anvil, so I'd love the title and what the story is. Great title. So once that happens, that's a documentary. But then you're, then you're thrown into more narrative work. And one of the films you worked on was Hitchcock,

Sasha Gervasi 55:29
which, well, that's that, but it's all to do with Advil,

Alex Ferrari 55:33
right? Like, how did Advil, get you? Hitchcock?

Sasha Gervasi 55:37
So what happened was that Tom Pollack, who was another angel of mine who would run universal from 85, to 95, incredible guy, and he was partners with Ivan Reitman, and they had Montecito pictures, and they financed them they did, you know, and they, they were fantastic. You know, they, they just supported young filmmakers. I actually got my first fan letter with about Ando was from Tom Pollack, who saw the film and said, This makes the old guys think they can keep going, and I want to meet you. Anyway. So they had this assignment for Hitchcock. And I was like, Okay, I'm fast. I'm, you're obviously Hitchcock. I'm fascinated subject. I thought it was based on this thing that Hitchcock in the making of psycho. I thought the book was brilliant. And I was just like, so I thought, okay, I'll you know, my agent said, we'll just go in and meet Tom Pollock. He likes your movie and, and the, the meeting began with, it's lovely to meet you. We love and Bill, you're not going to get this job. But anyway, let's just meet we just wanted to meet you. Yeah. And I was just like, you know, when someone says, something's not gonna happen, you're just like, fuck it. Okay, whatever. So I just, I said, this has got to be about Alma and you know, the, the unknown force behind hitch and it's got to be fun and irreverent, and tongue in cheek, hopefully. And it's, you know, it's only a movie, you know, like, Don't take it too seriously. It's meant to be sort of droll in the way that Hitchcock was, so I pitched them this. Anyway, they were like, well, this is great. But you know, Anthony Hopkins, pretty major actor, you know, probably you're not going to get past him. Anyway. He was a massive and OFAC was an apple fan.

Alex Ferrari 57:18
Oh my god,

Sasha Gervasi 57:20
how it just goes to show like you're coming from a place and you're doing it for your own fucking reasons. Fuck everyone else. And somehow. So Tony was like, let's do the film. And then Helen was like, love it need a bit more of our so I did some work on the script. You know, it was john McLaughlin script, but I did do a little work on the Alma roll. And yeah, and then the movie came together and such like made the film. So you know, it was and then I got Scarlett Johansson. I did have this weird moment where I was in rehearsals with with Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren. And I was like, I can't believe I'm actually in. I can't believe that talking to me, let alone like, you know, listening to a potential suggestion. Anyway, it was. I learned so much. I mean, you could imagine like working with those people in Scala Johansen and Jeff Crone and laugh and the incredible Pam Martin who cut the fighter was cutting the movie and working with searchlight. I mean, it was an extraordinary learning experience.

Alex Ferrari 58:20
Yeah, I, you just says like, I can't believe I think if there's a biography about you ever, it's gonna be I can't believe I just can't believe this is happening. Because it's from everything you've told me. There's just been one amazing event to Atlanta. And I know look over the years. These are the highlights and I know there's been ups and downs throughout like anybody's life. But again, just like Herve just like Steve Zaillian and then and then you're like, you'll never gonna get past it. Anthony Hopkins, because I watch saw your documentary. I'm a huge and,

Sasha Gervasi 58:51
like, in it three times. Yeah. Like mean is like, what

Alex Ferrari 58:54
is the what are the chances that the legendary Anthony Hopkins would be a fan of a, basically a failed metal band from the 80s that you happen to make a documentary about? Because you have, by the way happened to be

Sasha Gervasi 59:11
the thing that people should take them all of this? No, the thing that people should take for this is the deep down inside. Anthony Hopkins feels like a failed metal band from the 80s. You know, we all you know, have like it's a human right. We all you know, we're always on ourselves, and we're most more critical of ourselves than perhaps anyone elses. And it's, you know, so it was just it was very truthful. You know, it was about flawed human beings who are trying their best who don't actually necessarily succeed. And I'd say, of all the people I've met, who, some of whom are massive successes, they don't necessarily think about things like that or feel that they often just carry the wounds of the failures with them. Structurally, it's just a weird thing that I've observed. I don't know if it's true, but I think that that Sometimes true. So, you know, some of the greatest successes feel like failures.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:04
Oh, no, I mean, I can get 1000 good reviews. But I'll focus on the one bad review. And it's just, it's, it's human nature. And it's so overwhelming because you're looking you've obviously been given literally 1000 reviews are fantastic. But there's that one guy or gal who just like, you know what? terminal? Yeah. But then there's 1000 other ones that are just like, right. Now,

Sasha Gervasi 1:00:29
there's a great English newspaper, but I can't forget it. It's a terrible review. They said something like, watching this film was like standing in a waterfall of vomit and treacle,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:42
oh, my God, what a visual.

Sasha Gervasi 1:00:46
And I just thought, you know, okay, but what I'm saying is, you remember, I just remember that, I don't remember anything else. Apart from that, like the worst kind of shave. You know, and I don't know, maybe that's just human nature.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:59
I was, I was talking to Troy Duffy, the the famous director from boondock, saints, that whole legendary documentary, ledgering documentary, as well. And he told me, he's like, there was this one review, I he goes, by the LA Times, I think it was so brilliantly written, that if you're going to get smashed by someone, at least, let it be a really good writer, because it was entertaining, it was

Sasha Gervasi 1:01:26
world class beating, you're gonna have to deal with that man, you're gonna have to deal with getting shipped in every part of your body by someone at some point, you're gonna have a knife sticking out of it. But you know, you've got to kind of also ignore it. It's like, you know, having been also having been a viewer, myself, and having been a journalist, I really do understand what's on the other side of that, you know, a lot of those people are blocked creatives, they're blocked filmmakers who aren't able to actually do it themselves for whatever reasons, either they don't have the talent or the courage or both, or whatever, or it just hasn't happened, you know, so, you know, so it's, they're kind of bitter, slightly, a, some of them and others are really constructive. And they use the criticism to try and say, actually, here's how you could have done a better job. And here's, you know, and you can actually learn from a great review, you learn a ton of shit. So it's important to be aware of them and look for the stuff that you can learn from, rather than taking any of it too seriously. Because when it gets like, nasty, you know, the person's got, like an axe to grind. Like, you know, people have a, they've got an agenda that's not really about, you know, like, sometimes you read a review of something, and you go, and you've seen the film, and you go, they obviously did not see the same film. The film they just had this is that this was, this is a review based on the what they wanted it to be, and what I was, you know, then go make your film. You don't I mean, but everyone's entitled to be creative in their own way. Anyway, so it's you, you can learn that for I think you can learn

Alex Ferrari 1:02:52
Oh, no, absolutely. I mean, I mean, Roger,

Sasha Gervasi 1:02:55
although highly entertained by the, you know, standing in a waterfall of trouble and vomit, which is I mean,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
I mean, that's amazing. But like Roger Ebert literally got the Pulitzer for his criticism, his film criticism, and he's, he's one of those. And he loved filmmakers, he loved filmmakers. And I have a Roger Ebert story, I'll tell you off afterwards, that when he he was kind to a short film

Sasha Gervasi 1:03:16
of mine, for example, when we have when we had an NGO, right? No, we didn't know how anyone, if anyone was even gonna see it, let alone review it. And it was incredible. I got the New Yorker one week, and we had two and a half pages from Anthony lane. He's one of our greatest viewers. And he said, this is all about mortality and aging. And this is the ravages of time. And I was like, Oh, my God, you know, I will know. But what I'm saying is circumstance, people will get stuff from it that you didn't even intend, yeah, that you do something for a pure point of view for you, then you do something for an emotional point of view, or you want to tell a certain story. And if there's something pure about it, people will bring in their own interpretations which you had no idea, you know, yeah. So I feel lucky when that happens. And it has a couple of times, and I feel good about it and the other stuff we learn from

Alex Ferrari 1:04:06
Okay, I wanted to touch on something really quickly for you. Because you've I mean, you've obviously played you know, you've roamed in circles, with you know, legendary filmmakers, and you've worked with studios and you've worked inside the machine. Can you touch a little bit about the politics of working and navigating those waters? Because

Sasha Gervasi 1:04:24
I would say what I've what I've learned is very simple, is listen to everyone. executives, producers go crazy. If they feel they have not been heard. You know, I just think that when when you're in a development meeting, a writer or a director shuts an idea down without entertaining it, that person gets really mad. And look, to be fair, those people are considering giving you millions of dollars to go off and make your dream come true and tell your story. You know, the least you could do is at least listen to them. doesn't mean you have to take their suggestion, but at least be civil and at least Do that. And I see a lot of people get into problems where they're just like, oh, that guy's an idiot, you know, he's also writing you a check for $10 million, about listening to that part of it, you know, so, but there are certain techniques, when you do have someone in the creative mix who's absolutely stupid, you just keep that to yourself. First of all, don't say anything. And then you can do something called IOI, which is technique I use, have you heard of IOI? I have not. Okay. It's, it's a term called it's It stands for the illusion of inclusion, where what you do is you listen to that absolutely stupid idea. And you pretend to No, you got that, that's great. I'm gonna try that, you know, knowing that it's done. And you just let them feel that they've been considered and that their thoughts have been entertained. So that's, but just be nice to everyone. Even if it's like, this should take place on a skateboard on the moon, you know, just go. Okay, you know, let's, let's see what we can do with that, you know, so I just think it's best to be polite, and use the IOI technique, if in doubt, because, you know, there's nothing worse than a frustrated filmmaker who wants you to do something. And who is not a filmmaker, but who's an executive or producer, or, you know, someone who everyone just wants to be heard. So that's one thing I would do is listen to everyone. Even if disagree, just be politic. Just don't tell people that idiots people do not like to hear that. They're idiots.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:20
And by the way, and you might, and this is something I've seen throughout my, my, you know, being a student of the industry for the last 20 odd years, is that there might be a moment where you have the power and you are hot, and you have the power to crush somebody. Yeah, but that power generally doesn't hang forever. And there will be a moment where you go down. I mean, even Steven Spielberg, I mean, I remember 91 when Hulk came out, everyone's like, It's over. It's over. He's done. He's done. And hooked. By the way, still one of my favorite i'd love hook, but it didn't do well. And he's like, Oh, he's, he's washed up. He's not. And then Jurassic Park is Schindler's List, same year.

Sasha Gervasi 1:07:02
The same? Yeah. But you know, probably took that as like, well screw these guys. I'll show them you know, sometimes down. But really, it's like, anger is a powerful emotion. You could wrap it in the right way. You know, it's like, it's a very powerful thing. You know, I think when I direct an Advil, I was like, I got something to prove that I, you know, yeah, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do it. Like, I'm just doing it right. And I think that so use it, like, whatever your cards are, even if they're shit, use the power of what they give you, even if it is disappointment, anger, frustration. People, listen, people write you off all the time, all the time. And they take delight in it. Nothing Hollywood than the sharpen Freud aspect, right? Luckily, I hang out with a group of filmmakers who are extremely supportive of one another. Like, for example, Alexander Payne, you know, whoever it is, you know, we, we read each other's scripts, we're supported, you know, we give each other notes and thoughts and stuff, I try and support all other filmmakers, you know, because it's so hard. Oh, my God. You know, sitting in judgment and kind of belittling people and trying to you know, it's just not, it's just not the way to live. Because if that's what you put out, that's obviously what you're going to get back. If you put out support genuine help and generosity, that's what comes back to you. Amen. Very, very simple. So it's really math, it's physics actually. Just, you know, be smart about it. And the people who are hot and take advantage and you know, put people down and, and, you know, act like they're hot shit, you know, guess what ain't gonna last. And then you will come a time when you want people when you're down to be supportive of you. And because you are such an asshole when you are hot, they won't do that. You've there's many careers where people were so unpleasant as they went up that when they got hit, no one wanted to help the Knights coming. You know, endless executive studio heads will make it No, just, you know, what is it that a wise man learns from his own mistakes? A genius learns from the mistakes of others, you know, just look around? Because if you just learn from what other people do, you know, you know, take that information they get.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:16
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests because I know I could talk to you for about another hour. And I might actually with our mystery guest and a little bit. But a few questions ask all my guests. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read?

Sasha Gervasi 1:09:29
Well, for me, I would absolutely say that Chinatown. I would absolutely say that Steve's aliens. Shooting script of Schindler's List is extraordinary. There are so many The Godfather.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:45
Yeah, of course.

Sasha Gervasi 1:09:48
The Graduate script is incredible. Sunset Boulevard is incredible. You know, even I read recently again that the original Magnificent Seven script is You know, so those are the kinds of scripts that were an A useful technique. If you're blocked as a writer, which I've been many, many times, I nearly threw me out of UCLA at the end of the first year, because I didn't finish a script, I started three and finished. Now, a great thing is take a great script, like it's trying to town and begin typing it out, as in copying it out. So when I've had a blog, I'll take a Rob town script, or Robert Towne script, or a steep learning script, or a Scott Frank script, depending on you know, and I'll sit down, I'll begin typing it out, you unblock maybe because when you've like, got nine pages into Chinatown, it's that something just by the proximity, the engagement with the energy of that kind of intellect and ferocious kind of justice, it just somehow could just push your block. So it's a technique I just discovered by accident, because I was so frustrated. And I actually started writing Schindler's List, if you actually go and copy a script out in is great for unblocking.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:58
That's what I what I thought when I when I'm writing, one of the things I found as well as like, when I get blocked in something, I'll actually just go back to the beginning, and just start reading. And just that process of going, it's kind of like getting the it's kind of getting the momentum going. So as you're reading, then it just kind of and then you.

Sasha Gervasi 1:11:16
But then there's a potential trap there, Alex, which is you can also have people who spend 10 years polishing the first 30 pages, it's important to write a compiler is less than you've got to write a complete bad script, but just get the end, even if it's total shit, because it's much harder to go from nothing to something than from something to something better. So just get to the end, even if it's trash. Another trick people use is right, the end seen first. So you kind of know, okay, but I'm getting there, you know, so you don't have this big, you know, wild, sort of massive unknown ahead of you, you know, you're going to end on this scene, which you've already written. So I would say that, I agree with you, the layering, and the going back and forth is important. But I also know people who can get stuck in the pattern of writing 30 to 50 pages, and then overnight, just write the rest,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:11
I go back to I go back to like that scene or a couple scenes back, I try not to go back all the way to the beginning. Because if I go where the beginning, I get caught. And you're right, it's it's like this kind of Whirlpool.

Sasha Gervasi 1:12:22
Exactly. That gets you. If you're if you're a good writer, or you think you're a good writer, you know, that you get, you have to work yourself into a place where you're basically taking notes, and you're basically getting something, it's not about you creating it, it's about you allowing it, it's doing the kind of grunt work so that you can kind of deserve actually to get to get what it is you have to sort of earn it through hard work, if that makes

Alex Ferrari 1:12:47
sense. So yeah, so and I think this is, I believe this completely is when I'm writing, I honestly, sometimes I don't even know who's writing like, I'll just I'll be it's almost channeling, if you will, like something is just like they're talking and it's talking by themselves. And I'm like, Okay, I'm just here to write this stuff out. Do you as you as a writer, do you feel that as well,

Sasha Gervasi 1:13:06
I think in the best cases, when I remember when I was really writing the draft of the terminal that Spielberg said that he wanted to do, I remember being in a zone for the first time where it was just like I was irrelevant. I was just in the stream, just kind of servicing whatever the story was that wanted to come through, and it is blissful. But guess you're just able to not you're not responsible for it, you're not the source of it. But you're doing the work, you're earning your place by kind of like servicing, you know, your creativity. And it's a it's a freeing feeling. And actually, when you're starting to write, it's a lot of work, and it's horrible, and you get headaches, and you want to distract yourself with any number of things. But if you just push through, then you reach that time where it's just like, okay, the thing basically is working on its own now. And you just allow it to kind of pull you where it wants to go, rather than you determining everything. I think that's the difference. You'd go from cerebral to kind of creativity being the spirit that pulls you through the thing and gets gets it done. You know, I did not do the best work I've done. Like it comes from somewhere. Hopefully there's some source out there. And I think people who take credit and think that they're geniuses, you know, I don't know, I just I would say that if they're being honest, they know that, you know, they're merely the facilitator. I think I don't think they're the facilitator then the probably have a crash at some point.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:34
Absolutely. Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Sasha Gervasi 1:14:38
Write a fucking good script. I mean, it's as simple as that.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:42
You put that on a T shirts or

Sasha Gervasi 1:14:43
put that on a T shirt? No, it's not like having part you know, going to the right parties and meeting people. There's a certain amount of bullshit that you can do and have the right agent But at a certain point, your script will find its home. If you just focus on the work, just focus on the work, not the bullshit or the trades. Or you know what your task

Alex Ferrari 1:15:01
was not.

Sasha Gervasi 1:15:03
And don't jump on a bandwagon? And don't, you know, just do try and be you. You know. So I do think the screenwriting courses I find UCLA massively helpful, you know, the full time program, but there's also the professional program is fantastic. There are some great teachers in it, you know, go and meet other writers, man, find your group of people, you know, that you respect and trust, work together, support each other, read each other's material, you know, engage, but focus on the material, because the material will get the actors, the actors will get the film made, you know, because actors want a great role. So if you're writing, you know, strong roles, you know, you can focus on getting good at that it will fall into place. That's my feeling.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:43
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry our life,

Sasha Gervasi 1:15:52
I obviously I'm still learning it. Just to be really grateful for every thing that tap is happening right now. Like right now, because that's really all we've got, you know, I've got like, right now, I'm really enjoying this chat with you. Right? Thank you. You know, but because as we're doing this, I never really obviously do stuff like this very often, when I'm promoting a film, I do an interview, I never really do an in depth chat or anything like this. So for me, as you're asking me these questions, I'm like, remembering all the fighting, that I had to all the fighting I had to do to get all of these films made, to get them seen to get anyone to be bothered. And it just reminds me that like, you know, I just feel lucky and grateful for that. So what I'm saying is right now I'm in that because you're replaying to me all this stuff, and I don't think about this stuff. So I think staying present focusing on the work, I would, I would say, you know, be genuine, be genuine in your dealings with people be genuine in the emotion you're trying to put on the page. You know, if it's being funny, be genuinely funny, like, do stuff for you, not because you think other people are gonna like it. Yeah. most authentic to your voice. Like Anvil is a movie that like literally no other person could have made apart from me. My dinner with Kobe is a movie that literally no other person could have made apart from me. What are those stories that are so singular to you and your existence in your experience, and what you want to say in the world, that you alone must do them. And I think if you're coming from that place, you know, you can just get through a lot of bullshit. You know, life is short, man, we're not here for that long. For long, man, you know, so you might as well go for it and, and Don't bullshit around. And also procrastination. I think that's a lesson I could still learn. I still procrastinate. I still, you know, go well, I maybe I'll watch that daytime TV show. It's really fascinating. I really want to learn about haymaking in Flanders in 1765 it's fascinating. It's just I'm trying, I don't want to face the pain. But I am a shit writer who must earn my place at the table every time to become a slightly better writer. You write a really good, you feel good about it, you go back to the beginning page ones blank, your total shit again, all that experience is gone. You've got to climb another mountain, and it's just as fucking hard. That's my experience. So don't procrastinate still working on it. But I would say I probably wasted two full years of watching bad daytime soap operas, televisions, game shows and useless historical programs.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:28
And this is pre This is pre Netflix pre populates. Now what is what did you learn from your biggest failure?

Sasha Gervasi 1:18:41
Only work at studios where you like the studio head word namely that is you learn you know in the immortal words of yes keyboard is Rick Wakeman, who played keyboards for years. He said success is buried in the garden of failure. And so that's important by the way you know we have our special guests

Alex Ferrari 1:19:04
Yes, we're gonna we're gonna be there in one second Give me one second and we're gonna bring him in and

Sasha Gervasi 1:19:13
then I feel it and I

Alex Ferrari 1:19:14
know I can I can feel the energy as well we're gonna bring him in in a minute because I just want to finish right off and last question sir. Three of your favorite films of all time.

Sasha Gervasi 1:19:24
Oh my god with nail and I with nail and I have you had with now my Bruce Robinson genius film? Yes. As

Alex Ferrari 1:19:30
long as was that 80s

Sasha Gervasi 1:19:32
Yeah, yes, that's gonna pay for the killing fields. Yes. With the with Leyland I terribly uncommercial film one of the most brilliant films of all time, Richard II grant, Bruce wrote and directed the film. If I were to pitch that film, no one would buy it to unemployed actors go away to Wales for the weekend. That is the plot of Withnail and I can do it is absolutely fucking brilliant, sweet smell of success one of the best scripts ever. But I guess the Tony curve Is Clifford Odette's and it's late. James Wong How is the camera man it is. Kendrick directed it. Brilliant. So I'd say that also Chinatown I have to go with Chinatown again. This is a nice sweet smell of success Chinatown. And also Christmas American movie I love

Alex Ferrari 1:20:19
Oh my god so good

Sasha Gervasi 1:20:20
cause spinal tap. Yes, but I will say Bertolucci's underrated masterpiece, the last emperor won the Best Academy at seven o'clock. If you go back and look at that film, it's unbelievable. I have a 35 millimeter print of it. So those are some of my films. I love the Bond movies obviously not the Pierce Brosnan period. A little bit limited. But yeah, so stuff like that. Any jack tatty is fantastic. And all that jack tatty stuff made its way into the original script of terminal. So yeah, those are films British films. I also love the long Good Friday with Bob hoskin. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:57
Yeah. Yeah.

Sasha Gervasi 1:20:59
Fantastic British film.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:01
Sasha, we could, I know, we can keep talking for hours about your insight, you're easily one of the most interesting screenwriters I've ever had in the show. Your adventures are mythical almost in its way so much drug fueled. I mean, I mean, this is Hollywood.

Sasha Gervasi 1:21:18
I like the sound of

Alex Ferrari 1:21:20
Exactly, but I appreciate your time. And thank you so much for for coming on the show

Sasha Gervasi 1:21:25
Project snacks.



  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook

IFH 661: How to Make Money in TODAY’s Indie Film with Jon Erwin

In 2002, Jon Erwin founded a production company with his brother, Andrew. Their first ventures were commercials, documentaries, and music videos. The brothers soon were directing videos and producing concerts and television programs for platinum recording artists such as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Casting Crowns, Switchfoot, Skillet, and others.

They received 11 GMA Dove Awards nominations and 3 wins for Music Video of the Year. Jon and Andrew have also produced and directed several documentaries, including the multiple award-winning 9/11 story, THE CROSS AND THE TOWERS.

In 2010, Jon and Andrew began exclusively developing dramatic feature films. In August 2018, they partnered with Kevin Downs and Tony Young to launch Kingdom Story Company, in an exclusive partnership with Lionsgate, which creates life-changing content from a variety of talented storytellers.
Their features have all opened in the top-ten box office and they have received the coveted A+ CinemaScore® three times.

Early hits include OCTOBER BABY, MOMS’ NIGHT OUT, WOODLAWN, and the surprise hit I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, which became the #1 independent film of 2018, earning more than $86 million at the box office. Others include I STILL BELIEVE, a biopic about CCM megastar Jeremy Camp which was released by Lionsgate in 2020, followed by the 2021 release of THE JESUS MUSIC, sharing the untold story of how Jesus Music transformed into the multi-billion-dollar industry of Christian Contemporary Music.

AMERICAN UNDERDOG followed in 2021, which told the story of NFL MVP and Hall of Famer, Kurt Warner. JOHNNY CASH: THE REDEMPTION OF AN AMERICAN ICON, is a documentary that details the true story of a music legend’s spiritual quest and releases Dec 2022. Their latest film, JESUS REVOLUTION based on The Jesus Movement that changed the course of history and comes to theaters Feb 2023.

Jon is also the author of the book Beyond Valor: A World War II Story of Extraordinary Heroism, Sacrificial Love, and a Race Against Time, which tells the amazing true story of his grandfather Red Erwin, who received the Congressional Medal of Honor in World War II. Beyond Valor was published in August 2020.

Enjoy my conversation with Jon Erwin.

Jon Erwin 0:00
Like if you can combine two things, eventually you'll win. And those two things are just, you know, maybe call it grit, or just pain tolerance or endurance versus perseverance. If you can, perseverance if you can combine that with curiosity. Yeah, eventually you'll win. Like if you can just have a higher tolerance to pay. And just keep going like it's going to take longer than you think.

Alex Ferrari 0:25
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show Jon Erwin, how're you doing Jon?

Jon Erwin 0:39
I'm good man. You've already had my brother on so set the bar low. You know, you've had the you've had the suave, friendly brother on the product. You know, like mad scientist, brother. I think he calls me anyway. So, but thanks for having me on. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 0:54
I've had Andy, I had Andy on when you guys were promoting American underdog, which I love that film. And after I watched that film, I went back and I just went through your catalog because I was so impressed with how that film was put together. story wise, I was like, wow, there's something here. And then I went, and then I'd heard of the other films I hadn't seen, you know, I still believe and I can you imagine and all those kinds of films. And my wife and I just had them binge them all, man, you guys. Really? Yeah, you guys are doing some really good. Yeah, seriously, you guys are doing some really good stuff. So when your new film, Jesus revolution came up, I was like, Oh, I gotta have I gotta have John on, you know, if I had one, I gotta have the other one on. And then yeah, I'll have both of you on and now.

Jon Erwin 1:33
We'll do it together. Right now we're dividing and conquering. You know, we do so much grass roots, marketing. But I'm glad you enjoyed the films. I mean, ultimately, it's a privilege. I mean, it's a privilege to entertain people, like it's, I just think the business of entertainment is so hard, and, you know, sometimes sucks on a certain level, because it's so hyper competitive. You know, sometimes it's easy to lose sight of just how cool it is to get to do what we do, you know, and anytime that you can have, you can sort of see something in your mind or feel it deeply in your soul, write it on a piece of paper. And then hundreds of people come around you to make that thing real. And you're you're sitting there with an audience and they're, they're moved by it, and they're watching it as if it were real. It's like magic. It's like dreaming while awake. It is a privilege to do this. And I'm grateful for the audience to supporting the work enough to let us do this for a living. And this is a job that you should like work another job like behind the desk for years and years and years, save up some money and just blow it all getting to do this. So the fact that we get paid at all for this is really, really cool.

Alex Ferrari 2:39
It's a miracle that anything gets paid. It's a miracle that any gets made. And that is fascinating that as as, as an artist, we are the artists that spends the least amount of time doing the art, which is the days on set are so few and far between. It's mostly revving up to get the damn thing made writing getting produced getting trying to raise money, do all that stuff, then you spend if you're lucky 30 to 60 days if you're lucky.

Jon Erwin 3:12
Yeah, I was. I was talking to but having said that, I'm going to talking to Mel Gibson about his movie, Hacksaw Ridge. Very good movie. And, you know, it's the directors question. Like I was like, how many days did you ever shoot it? And he was like, man, you know, they didn't quite have their money together. I had to shoot that movie in 58 days shooting. I'm like, oh, shoot two movies now. And he's like, Well, on Braveheart. We had 85 I'm like, I would shoot three movies. So yeah, I've never had more than 30 days to shoot a movie. And, and there's there's magic to that, though. I think the absence limitation is the death of creativity. Like there's magic to being in a corner backed into a corner, feeling panicked, you know, and in not being able to second guess your instincts. But But yeah, you're right, you prep for months, you shoot for just a small time, you know, and it's like summer camp, and then it's over and then you then you edit it for months, and then you market it for months. And so you're right. actual making of the theme. The theme, the overall process is very, very short.

Alex Ferrari 4:15
And if you want to really get crazy, if you remember, John Woo, on the killer, he had 170 days.

Jon Erwin 4:24
Oh, come on. What do you do? What do you show you make one shot and you're like, Okay, there's good day,

Alex Ferrari 4:30
You, you basically shoot those insane action sequences until your heart's content. Like that's how he was able to make the killer and hardboiled. They had like 140 180 Day

Jon Erwin 4:43
That's insane, man. That's that's no idea. I don't even know. I don't know. I wouldn't I wouldn't know what to do. I would have no clue how to even show up for a day's work.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
We're gonna shoot half a page today guys. We're gonna shoot it yeah.

Jon Erwin 5:02
Gonna get it 18 Always and we're done. Yeah. You know what's funny, though is is for the independent filmmakers out there, I think, for me, we used to do music videos in our career started in sports television, lied about our age to live on Mondays, we go caravan, somebody gets sick randomly. And then my dad bought us a camera started making stuff. And it's like that Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 Hour Rule. kicked in, just, you know, I really think what we do is, to your point, much more of a business than it is an art form. It's the symphony of art. And it's also much more of a craft than it is an art form. And it combines a lot of art. But a craft is something that you sort of like, just get better and better at every day. You know, it's sort of an iterative process. It's sort of like you against you. And it's a quest to just improve and slowly but surely, seek to master your craft. But you know, way back in the day, we would make all kinds of music videos, that was sort of our grind. And we would do a bunch of them, like four or five a month. And

Alex Ferrari 6:09
500 bucks, like 500 bucks 1000?

Jon Erwin 6:10
Well, that's the thing, it won't know what happened. It was after Napster. And so Andy and I came into Nashville, and the whole industry was like, there are no more $300,000 music videos, what are we going to do? Well, and we were like, someone's gonna pay us $15,000 To do a music video. Let's do all of them, you know. And so we just, we just don't, you know, and so we, but it was this process. But what I realized is, whenever we were on the random occasion that we had all the money in the world. And there were, you know, it just becomes decisions by committee, and there were 12 execs there and all that stuff. There was a magic loss, whenever, like, the way we would do it is like Andy would prep a music video, and I so I would show up to his that, and I hadn't even heard the song, and then he would show up to my set. And he had, you know, we would just sort of LeapFrog. And there was just always a magic when we never quite had enough and time or money. And there's something to the strain of having to solve problems creatively in an environment that's full of pressure that you can't second guess your instincts. It's terrible for your health and, you know, mental sanity, but it really is good for the work. And so I'm a huge fan of, of even like on the movie that you mentioned, American underdog that went from a 46 day schedule pre COVID to a 30 day schedule post COVID, we had to cut a third of the budget out to keep it greenlit. And I don't think that they're the other movie would have been better. And a lot of a lot of the things that we came up with, like using the real footage of the game, you know, which in editorial really did well, we couldn't choreograph near as much stuff. So we choreographed what we could exactly as it happened in the real game. And then that way, we could use the actual game footage, but and so a lot there was a lot of articles, a lot of people saying that was a great artistic choice. And I'm like, that wasn't an artistic choice. That was a production limitation, you know. And so I think you just find great ideas when you're constrained.

Alex Ferrari 8:09
Right! It's like, it's Jaws is the classic example of that, right? Yeah, the sharp doesn't work. Okay, I guess we're gonna show it. We're not going to show the shark as much it kind of worked out for that that that I forgot the guy's name. I don't even know that guy's name. Did he do anything else after?

Jon Erwin 8:24
Now that was that was a 50 day shootings getting jobs was they went 150 days. They went

Alex Ferrari 8:31
But what not his fault. And can you imagine that his first big like he did Sugarland Express. He did duel. We're talking about Steven Spielberg, everybody, if you don't know. And then and then you and this is his first kind of big studio based on a best selling book. And he's like, I'm never gonna work again. I'm never going to work again. He's like yeah,

Jon Erwin 8:53
He was gonna get fired every day and his credit water is horrible. Anytime you introduce in any substantive way to to our industry,

Alex Ferrari 9:05
Nature and general nature in general, but water has water specifically because you got cold water, you can't move everything just and it doesn't doesn't do what it doesn't do what you want it to do. It doesn't

Jon Erwin 9:21
Look good. Boy Does it look good. I think in this movie that we just did Jesus revolution there's a whole sequence in the rain and and there's also some underwater dive take work and for this sort of dream sequence and and I remember talking to a keystone cinematographer, and I'm like yeah, I think we do the sequence and you know, a couple hours or whatever this conversation in the rain, he was like, six hours later. I was like, You were totally right. AKIsE and, but you know, we do have this thing that we say Pain is temporary film is forever, you know, and I do believe it. Yeah, like, go for difficult. It Go for it. Go for death. because no question and, you know, because it's just better.

Alex Ferrari 10:04
So John, I mean, we just kind of ran off with this because a lot of people don't know who you, you, you and and we did.

Unknown Speaker 10:09
We went on it. We just we just went because yeah, we just we just went off. Probably so

Alex Ferrari 10:14
So tell me tell me how you and your brother got you said you got into the business by music videos. Yeah. But your your first kind of F if I'm not mistaken your first narrative was October Baby or one of your first Yeah, was that so right. And that was a completely indie film back then, how did you raise the money for that? How did you you know, get that off the ground wasn't an easy film. You know, subject matter.

Jon Erwin 10:40
Yeah. Why start there? You know, looking back. You know, basically, we were, you know, we, we started in as sports Gehrman was 15. And then we, you know, when we started, we were a service company, really found our footing doing music, videos, and commercials. And then I went to but you know, from the south, right, born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, you know, obviously, my faith has always been a huge part of our life and community and upbringing. And, and, and then, you know, just around the time that all this sort of new thing of faith based films was sort of emerging, post passionate of Christ, and Sony was doing faith based films. And so I went to direct second unit on a faith based film called courageous in Georgia, and the real Cinderella story, these, this church was making these movies and Sony was funding them. And they were doing like 30 million a box office, and they were tiny films like wanting to make movies. So it was amazing. And, and so I went down there to work on those films, they wanted to do a police drama with car chases, and action sequences, and like, churches, making movies and car chases should never be combined, you know, people will die. And so I was hired to sort of go in and with professionals and take go far away from the set and do the stunt work and do the action sequences. And which I love. And the director of that movie asked the question that doesn't really matter, I think what your your beliefs are? And it's a great question to ask, he's, like, you know, trying to understand you like, like, what's your purpose and the purpose of your work? Like, why do you do what you do? And I think a lot of us focus on what we do. Very few of us focus on why we do what we do. And, and I couldn't stop thinking about the question like I couldn't, the whole time I was working on a film. I was like, I couldn't stop thinking about it. And that led to sort of a fusion of a career and calling and the idea of, of joining the fray and jumping in on values based faith based entertainment, you know, Heartland type stuff, and I remember it, we were doing a film with Sean Astin. And he said, I see you guys frontiersmen pioneers. And I said, Thank you, Shawn, That's high praise is like, you know, most volunteers didn't die on the frontier. And I'm like, well, the name roads actress and the, the, the trail will be paved. But what I learned was, it's such an, it's such a privilege to be a part of anything that's emerging, you know, most industries are, it's like, the cement to the foundation has hardened. So to be able to make your mark on anything that's emerging right in front of you, is, first of all completely out of your control. It's a factor of timing. So that's like technology in the 70s. You know, in you know, computers or, or even that group of directors like Spielberg and Scorsese and Lucas and Coppola and department, all these guys inventing the modern blockbuster, like you just have to sort of catch lightning in a bottle. So it's cool to, to be a part of something, you know. And so that led to a completely different business to finally answer your question which is, which is going from a service company to intellectual property is coming and starting raising money for for, you know, our own films, and October Baby was first we had to raise $100,000, to get the production to that movie made. And, and then we had to raise the marketing as well. In the first quarter million, no joke was from my grandmother, who I kept getting to remind that she invested in film, and, and then the second quarter million from a surgeon named Jim who we hit film, like 150, of his orthopedic trauma cases, and, and so it's just you have to be very pragmatic, you got to get really good at solving problems. And I think the thing that we didn't realize was that, that really helped us was that, you know, you really have to think holistically about a business. And in entertainment, we don't so we think so much about the product, and then but we don't think about how to market and distribute the product. And so as a filmmaker a lot of times, it's like you're, you're climbing a mountain and you get to the top of the mountain. And, you know, you think that you've summited Everest or something, and actually the fog clears and there's a mountain ahead of you that's twice as tall and, and that's marketing and distribution. And so it was very it was it was it was it was it was good fortune at the time that we couldn't had a distributor sorted the film and had to then go raise another three and a half million, which is this category of money that we that was printed advertising was called PNA to get the movie released, and then you know, you're throwing up in a in a trash can on Thursday night because you You bet your your grandmother and everyone else believe that, you know, and, you know, you're thinking, you know, it's funny, as you know, we make the utricle movies. And so, you know, it's a, it's a rare part of our business that on on a Friday by about new, you know, if the last two years of your life were worth anything at all. It's like an election. And I've experienced all sides of it. And it's a thrill. But But luckily, the film went well, and it cracked the top 10. And everyone made money that God included, my grandmother made a film for Sony, called mom's night out. But I think one of the biggest things that I would recommend is just like, if you can combine two things, eventually, you'll win. And those two things are just, you know, maybe call it grit, or just pain tolerance or endurance versus perseverance. If you can perseverance, if you can combine that with curiosity. Yeah, eventually, you'll win. Like if you can just have a higher tolerance to pain, and just keep going like it's going to take longer than you think. But if you keep going, but you're not learning anything, then you're just going to repeat your mistakes over and over again, there's a lot of people like that. But if if you have a level of tenacity, and perseverance, and you match that with just being a student, and learning all the time, and trying to understand how things work, eventually, you'll you'll catch your moment. And for me, I became obsessed with the interrelated disciplines of our industry that a lot of people resent, like, if you're a writer, and director, he's like, Oh, the marketing people, or the finance people. But what I learned is all these things are sort of inextricably linked, you know, the high concept and scripts is essential to the marketing campaign, and the movie itself and its budget is essential to the overall p&l of the enterprise. And, and so what I think really helped me was the ability to think holistically and understand and just by, by, by, by virtue of having to being able to look sort of, like the name of your book that, so Film, film to film intrapreneur, that's such a cool terror, to try to really have the mindset of an entrepreneur, first and foremost, and then let your creativity funnel through that, I think, I think is a much better way to be successful in our industry.

Alex Ferrari 17:41
Well, I mean, that's the thing. That's the reason I wrote the book is because so many filmmakers, and I've been doing this now, eight years, and I've been doing my business I've been doing the film is almost 30. So I've seen and played in so many different sandboxes over the course of my career. But I keep seeing filmmakers make the same mistakes. They just they, they just like they're stuck in the 90s. They think they're going to make a movie, go to Sundance, and someone is going to come down from Mount Hollywood, write them a check. And then they're making a Marvel movie like that's, that's their idea of success. But you and I both know that that's not the reality of the marketplace. The marketplace isn't what it was in the 90s a movie like slacker could find, could find its footing of film, like clerks could find its footing in the 90s. Because it was the new VHS, the video is

Jon Erwin 18:27
Home Entertainment safety net, you know, you lose money at the time. Yeah, totally. And then pick it up in home entertainment. And the theatrical window was and that was enough of a billboard to justify the spin even if you lost a lot of money, because Home Entertainment was so lucrative. But that was a 2030 year bubble, you know? And, and unfortunately, it's changed. The other thing that the reason you got to stay curious is we are in an industry that is rapidly changing. And and so, you know, that's one of the I think the problems with film schools is if you're out of the industry, for four years, it's a different industry. And certainly COVID has actually accelerated that change. And so what COVID did, in my contrarian point of view is that COVID COVID is going to end up reshaping our industry very similar to how Napster reshaping music and and what it's going to do is it just it's going to pull forward about a decade of change into a more constricted window. And it's going to take a lot of time for that. Now, having said that, if you can sort of skate where the puck is going to be as Wayne Gretzky said, there's enormous opportunities opening up. But you got to sort of let go of the past and really be hyper curious about the future. And so learning to me being curious and learning and I'll give you an example of what you just said, we did our second film, our first 100 5 million or second 10 was very profitable. Then we found our voice with a phone call Woodlawn. We, we you know, they say a filmmaker finds their story and tells it over and over again and our we found inspirational true stories and that's just like our Our niche spent raised all the money for the film was about third of the PNA did the wrong deals, didn't basically make as much money as we hoped we were about 15. And box office really needed to do 20. And that was the first time I didn't get all the money back to the investors, we had like this perfect batting average up till then with the films and documentaries. And we really, I couldn't sleep at night, I just I hate to lose, it's like, my philosophy is like, either either we win, or let's just play again, let's just whatever it is ping pong, whatever, you know, go go get and so. And so what we did is we actually, to me, a huge part of success is just learning to fail correctly. And mindfully, and failure, in my opinion, is the great teacher, if you'll let it be. And so with Woodlawn, we stopped in for five months, we studied it, we asked questions. And we did something that I don't know why more people don't do we solicited a ton of criticism from people like if we're going to be in an industry that has this whole category of people called critics that and we're going to read all those things obsessively. Why not solicit criticism from people that actually care about you, and want want the best for you? So we went out to all of our friends and people in the campaign outside of the campaign, what did we do wrong? How can we do better? What what can we learn from this, and it ended up with this 170 page, you know, post mortem slash Jerry Maguire manifesto. So you know, and, and we saw inside the market, we saw new business model. And that was the playbook that led to I can only imagine, and I can only imagine was built to break even at 15 million box office. It did that in its first two days, first three days. And it did. So everything between that and the 86 million in box office that it did, and becoming number one of the year was margin. But that would have never happened if we hadn't failed number one, and we hadn't feel correctly. Number two, and really learned, we didn't make a better movie we actually spent less on the movie with Imagine we actually implemented a better business model, and a much more innovative business model. And that's what led to the success of the movie. And we also learned a lot about what people wanted. And so I would just say that you have to embrace and what I found is the titans of our industry, Steven Spielberg, you know, we were just talking about he is as good a businessman. Oh, as he is an artist and filmmaker, he's produced more films that he's directed. He is incredibly true on the business. So it was Tom Hanks. And so it was Matt Damon. So it was Ben Affleck, like, like, we think of these people as artists, but they're also really astute business people. And you have to hold both together, and you have to value both. And you have to see the interrelatedness of both. And I think what keeps a lot of filmmakers back is they have this sort of almost elitist resentment, that we're in a business and we're selling products right now. And they had to buy, you know,

Alex Ferrari 23:05
It's so annoying. It's, again, why I wrote the book, because it was so annoying that nobody's thinking outside the box. No one's thinking that this is a product. And we're like, It's art. Dude, if you want to go make art in the backyard, my friend knock yourself out. But the second you take grandma's $250,000, you better figure out a way to get grandma's money back. I mean,

Jon Erwin 23:25
It's entertainment. It's not art, it's entertainment. It's a symphony of art to create it. But there's a nobility, I think it was John Lasseter, that said, the nobility of entertainment. You know, the idea that, you know, we provide a service and by the way, and I just believe we're in a service business, like one of the things that we say there's not about us, it's about the people sitting in the seats and the experience they're having. And that's it. And you got to get out of the way of that. And, and so to me, it's about entertaining an audience about loving an audience is about getting getting to know an audience and serving that audience well. And the people that have really done well in sort of other niche sectors like Jason Blum has become a good friend. And the way he thinks and the way he talks about the audience, and entertaining the audience and the way he places you know, jail is this friend of mine, and he was one of the pilots and Top Guns he talked about every day, Tom Cruise shut up and just said, this is a privilege what we do is a privilege, how can we exceed the expectations of the audience? So I've found the really great people our industry are much more service oriented than they are sort of selfish about their, about their precious ego and their their sort of artistic expression and the greats in our industry are much more about let's entertain the audience like that's the normal thing to do is people are paying money. They're paying, they're they're paying in their time, they're buying popcorn that's more expensive than anywhere else on the earth. They're paying basically the same price. For my movie as they are for Avatar, they cost like

Alex Ferrari 25:03
100 times more 540 million.

Jon Erwin 25:07
So the attitude that I need to have is like, I'm gonna do everything I can to entertain you, and to uplift you, and to give you a great experience in the movie theater. And then if I've done that, well, maybe I can also tell you what I believe, and what I hope will enrich your life as well. But if I just the more you apply a mindset that is not common, and certainly not taught in business, in film school, but a mindset of the pregnant is in the business, and a mindset of service, entertainment, the more the more you win in this industry, that's what I found. And I think a lot of what the attitude that comes out of you know, that that's expected, from filmmakers is actually the opposite of what will actually get you to the top of the industry.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
Well, let me ask you this, because I'm really curious to hear your position on this, you know, the theatrical business model has changed dramatically since COVID. It was already on the downward slope, we were all we all saw. And like you said, a decade worth of change is been compacted in two or three years, and the theatrical business is hurting. There's no question about it. Last time, I went to a theater. And I've said, last last year, there was only two movies that I went to the theater that I actually went and paid money to go see, which was Top Gun, and Avatar. And those are the only two because those are the only two that I felt that deserved a theatrical experience, from my from my point of view for me to get out of the house and go and all that there are other deserving movies. But you know, for me to the kids, all that stuff, you know how it is. But your films are interesting, because you are servicing an audience that doesn't get serviced, often, and definitely not serviced. Well, often. So it's, again, goes back to that, that my book was, which is the future of filmmaking is niche filmmaking, finding an audience of good news. Yeah, finding an audience and serving that audience. Like you said, you want to serve them, you it's a privilege. So your audience is faith based. And and specifically, not only faith based, but the sub genre of, you know, true stories that are that's kind of like where you found your, your, your really, your, your magic, your secret sauce, if you will. But so, it was so interesting, because I just moved from LA to Austin. And it's a very difference. Great City. I love Austin, low Austin. It's amazing. But I you know, when I go to the theater, or I passed by the theater, what was one of the posters I saw Jesus revolution?

Jon Erwin 27:36
Oh, great. Yeah, we're doing that.

Alex Ferrari 27:39
But that was, but I but I saw that months ago, months ago, I saw that in the theater, I would have probably not seen that in LA. Probably not, because it's not the demographic, quote, unquote, of this film. This is a Heartland center of the country kind of film. And but that audience shows up. They show up to the theaters, they do that. So it's a lesson that I hope everyone listening is, is about is one, an audience will show up for Top Gun. Because it was an amazing experience. I would go see it in IMAX today. There's such an amazing experience. But if there's something that touches their emotional nerves, that's what will get people out of seats. But with that said, What do you feel about where the pucks going to be in three or four or five years because theaters are starting to drop more and more screens are just going away? I've seen them just close the shop. So how is your business model going to work differently as you might still, you probably have a longer life theatrically than most filmmakers. But at a certain point. Yeah, I think it's, you know, yeah,

Jon Erwin 28:47
Well, it's interesting that you it's a great question. It's one of the questions to ask is what's the future of the theatrical experience in theatrical window? I do study it obsessively. In RG has put out some really good reports on trends post COVID. I really, I the short and the long. The short answer is I think that the actual window will absolutely endure, but it's just going to be different. And I think it's going to look a lot more like Broadway. Then then then what we had before COVID And I could literally talk about for hours about until like Steve Carell and Crazy Stupid Love. You want to like roll out of a moving car, like oh my gosh, I'm done with this guy. I'm a nerd for this stuff. But But, but I'll say I'll say this. Here's the question to ask for every independent filmmaker. If you're asking the question, which I think traps us, is this a good movie? Therefore, it deserves a theatrical experience. That's the wrong question. The best thing that I wrote down that I think is way more true now than even when I wrote it in that post mortem to Woodlawn is I wrote down this is no longer a movie business. This is a brand driven event business. And that's what it is. So avatars a brand, you know, top guns a brand, and it's an event, it's a social event. And we need those things and we need to go see them. The thing is, we just need fewer of them. And we want them to be bigger, and there's just there's not everything. Post COVID, coinciding with the streaming war, we don't need a lot of categories of films outside of our home. So if you can be one of the things that works outside the home, you actually make a lot more money right now, like Avatar sitting on top of the box office number one, or was it six weeks, seven weeks? Like that's not a good indicator, most of the industry, that means that we're all just gonna go see Avatar and Avatar is going to play forever, like a show on Broadway, like Les Moonves or you know, whatever. And Tompkins the same way. And so what does that mean for all of us? And yeah, loves doing it. Megan did great. You know, and things will work, but less work. So the real question, the real question to ask yourself with evaluating a movie for theatrical opportunity is can I think my god live at Samuel Goldwyn, who is true to my first film, one of the great old Titan executives, the industry said, he always asked, you know, is it a? Is it a? Is it a good movie? Not the right question. Is it a great movie for an audience? How many of them are there? And do I know how to talk to them? And so the real question is, can I make this as an event? For an audience? If the answer to that is yes, then you have a theatrical shot. Okay, then you ask how large is that audience? And do I know how to talk to them, and then you actually reverse engineer the economics to that end. And so what I've learned is, I'm still alive in this business, number one, by the grace of God. But secondly, it's much more about mitigating risks and modeling a downside than it is betting for an upside. So like with imagine, we built it to break even in our prior film, films box office 15 million. The film that I'm doing right now Jesus revolution, I feel that it's an event for our core audience, I think people are going to show up for it, I don't know, talk to me in three weeks, or whatever. But I really do feel like I really do feel like it's an advance. And it's like a social event. And that's why we're putting in theaters and really going for it. But it still has a very achievable, breakeven. And so to me, it's really about reverse engineering outcomes and protecting a downside. And so and letting instead of saying, what does this movie cost? That's the wrong question. And say, what's the business model of this? What do we think it could achieve? And, you know, if we don't know if it's the actual, but it might be well then make it at a cost where the product is now usable. And you can probably create a marketplace around it and flip it to a streamer at a profit. But still test it for theatrical, you get over a certain budget where sort of has to go theatrical so. So I think it's just about really thinking about the audience. And I think that the actual question will become, is this an event for the audience, if you can say, with a straight face, this is an event for an audience of people that I know, release it in theaters, that's going to still work? If it's not, if it's not a social event, and typically a social event that's undergirded by a brand, then you're going to really struggle in today's environment, releasing computers.

Alex Ferrari 33:30
Well, I mean, the brand, you guys put it right in the title Jesus. That's the brand. Arguably, what a great marketing by the way, Jesus, His people. Great, great marketing over the years. Yeah, well, we'll see. Yeah, Jesus, Jesus has done well. But the point is to me,

Jon Erwin 33:47
Yeah, but

Alex Ferrari 33:49
I didn't You didn't hide it. And that's why I was so impressed about it. Because a lot of people would be scared, they would change it to something else. But the put the word Jesus, that Jesus is a trigger word, for a lot of people has nothing to do with poor Jesus. But it's a trigger word for a lot of people. And you decided to put it right out there because you know who your audience is. And that man, God bless. God bless you for that, brother. I mean, seriously, I was like,

Jon Erwin 34:12
Well, also, you know, what I want to make your movies that I don't care who you are, or what you believe, I'm going to try to make a movie that you love. But I found it's actually better. Instead of trying to make a million people love like you. Yep, just find 100 People that absolutely love you, and build a relationship with them, and super serve them and then let their let them be your voice to the masses, and just trust that those people are indicative of some level of the population, you know, and there's more of them. And so with Jesus revolution, you know, it'll be very interesting to see what happens because we don't have as much you know, advertising money as we did with American underdog but we've taken the time to go all over the country and really connect the film to the audience. It's leaders and, and you know, there's just a there's a message behind the movie and it's, I love the movie. It's a fun movie, it's you make you laugh and cry. I think the performance is really good. It's kind of like my almost famous or some like, you know, to a Cameron Crowe film, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:15
oh, I could tell that could see that.

Jon Erwin 35:17
What is the cost of a good artists copy Great artists steal Cameron Carver, listen to this, I'm sorry. But, you know, but it sort of is in that spirit. And the cool thing I think about it is I didn't name the movie, Time Magazine named the movie. And this is a cover of Time magazine from 1971 at a very similar time, and there was this psychedelic sort of Jesus on the cover and, and with this 10 page spread that was so incredibly optimistic and hopeful. And it just said, Jesus revolution, and it was this sweeping hippie revival that was going on all over America. So the good news is, there's a historical context in Time magazine called, we're just telling the story that cover.

Alex Ferrari 36:00
And you know, what's fascinating is, after I watched the movie, it's not a it's not a preachy movie. It's actually I love the trailer, because it's not like, you know, if you don't believe in Jesus, or you don't believe in that, you could still enjoy this film, because it's just a great story, of transformation of people searching for themselves and finding, you know, the divine within themselves and divine, within groups of people opening up doors that are shut discrimination against people just because of the way they look. Yeah, there's so many themes in this film that I absolutely loved and connected with. It's not like a beat you beat you over the head with a Bible conversation. It is not by any stretch of the imagination. It really is a wonderful thing that almost anybody can enjoy.

Jon Erwin 36:42
I'm glad you said, man. So that's what we were trying for it. I'm so yeah, you say that we we basically. That's that was exactly the intent. You know, I wanted to make a movie, I just think the narrower the focus, the wider the appeal. And that's why I think Jason Blum does that really well. Oh, yeah, something specific, really well, but I took my daughter Megan, and really enjoyed it, you know, and, and so I think that, that, what we're doing is we understand who we are and the audience that we serve. And we're, we're unapologetic and unafraid of telling stories that we love that we hope other people are going to love to. And with this story, what's been interesting about it is because it is set in the world of the church, in the 70s, but people that don't believe or have any sort of religious affiliation at all, love and appreciate the movie because they see it as sort of a modern day allegory of loving the other. So basically, the story is this sort of square pasture geared by his daughter, opens his church to this group of hippies, that at the time, weren't allowed become the church like the at the time, it was like, you know, for a hippie to go to church, it was like, go home, get a job, take a bath, cut your hair, we joined society now maybe you can come to church, and he just let him in. And there was this hippie street preacher named Ronnie frisbee, and it was like a nitroglycerin moment. And that sparked this nationwide awakening. So there's a ton of natural humor in it, because these groups of people are so different. But that theme of like opening your heart in your mind. And literally your diverse to a group of people that society would see you can't hang out with that society would say is a polar opposite point of view, then you and actually learning to love each other. And joining together in something that seems to play a really strong and really rabid relevant to today's sort of just this, this situation that we're in as a country, you know, no matter no matter what people believe. And so it's cool to be able to do something really specific. But that also plays as a broader sort of motivational allegory, you know,

Alex Ferrari 38:53
And you know, what's, what's wonderful about what you and Andy your brother do with your films, is that you have this beautiful balancing act that you do with all of your films that you put just enough in to serve the core audience. But you put just enough in that someone outside of your core audience could enjoy like, I can only imagine was you man, you nailed it right down the middle for your core audience. But when you're watching it, anyone can enjoy that film. Anyone can enjoy American underdog. Like you don't have to,

Jon Erwin 39:25
I'm glad you say that's the goal. I mean, a lot of times it's like it's fun to be able to test contrary in opinions, like like opinions that maybe other people don't share. And my opinion about Christianity is it's not divisive. It's not. You know, there's this verse in the Bible. It says, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness. And then it says against these things, there is no law. And my opinion is when you portray those things correctly, like who's gonna say we don't We'd more love joy, peace and patience and kindness to each other and goodness and society like, like, we need these things today. And I think if you just let the story do the work, you know, trust the audience's, you know, abilities, and you don't have to beat them over the head. And I think that just choose stories that you feel are powerful and life changing, and tell them to the best of your ability. I think that that's just a better way to do it. And I think if you do it, right, these stories can be inviting and inspiring, no matter what belief you have, and I don't think anyone should ever feel alienated or driven away, or ostracized by Christianity, I just think that that's, that's unfortunate. And one of the things that I would hope changes, you know, over the next decade is this is this is just, this is good stuff for everybody. And those are the stories that we want to tell. And I think when you just really portray and infuse the virtues of Christianity in ways that are really entertaining and stories, you know, they're things that are universally needed, and, and things that we who doesn't love a good redemption story? You know,

Alex Ferrari 41:09
I mean, absolutely. And I mean, it's very progressive, what you're saying, you know, it, it shouldn't be, but it is, and wonderful in a wonderful way. Because your point of view on your faith is not, you know, it, this is a weird thing, because I lived in the bubble of Los Angeles for 13 years. And then when I moved to Austin, I just saw things a little bit differently. It's really interesting to see and by the way, Austin, not the, the most conservative situation. The imagination, all the crazies and all the weirdos, you know, Keep Austin weird. It's a wonderful city. But yeah, I just start seeing things a little bit differently on the way I'm like, oh, okay, this makes sense now, and it's, I love this, I love what you guys are trying to do, because you are trying to bring the two, the two sides, whatever, those two sides together together, because that's what we should be doing. Regardless, you know, you and I both grew up at a time where we both could, you know, believe different things and still have a beer, or still have a conversation. I was, like, you know, are you kidding me? My, my father and me have completely different points of view on life, you know, and uncles and, you know, all that kind of stuff in the family. But, you know, we still get together, we still love each other, we still, you know,

Jon Erwin 42:28
That's right. You know, it's, it sounds like such a cliche, but yeah, love really is the, you know, in the sense of, like, you know, when you think of like, you know, there's so much more that unifies us, and things to agree on, and then then divides us. And I think there's just this gap of sere in the middle. And, and I, for me, you know, I had the good fortune of being born and raised in like the buckle of the Bible Belt, Birmingham, Alabama, but very quickly at the age of 15, traveling outside of it, because I was working for ESPN. And then in marketing the film's you know, I live in Nashville, Tennessee, I commute to and work in Los Angeles, spent about half a week or a week of the month or whatever, there. We market these films everywhere. I've traveled the continental United States man. And you just realize that there's a lot that binds us together. And there's a lot to have a beer over and talk about and celebrate. And when you just boil things down to their themes and their values, there's a lot of values that we agree on. And so I think as a as a Christian, what I've realized is man, actually there's a hunger for this stuff beyond belief, you know, in terms of like, beyond what people believe, I think if you sit down and watch some things that are really well made. But but you know, this is where we had a decade of the antihero are very good versions of that. But if you binge Game of Thrones House of Cards Breaking Bad, you just it's hard to believe in anything, let alone yourself. And I think people are craving a sense of meaning and purpose and, and values. And so there's sort of a return. So yeah, has Christianity been weaponized and counterfeit? Absolutely. But that's just what we do as people, whether it's politics, or religion, or whatever,

Alex Ferrari 44:24
All religions, by the way, almost all of it, yes.

Jon Erwin 44:27
But I would say that, you know, it says something about the source because you only ever really weaponize something that's intrinsically powerful, and you only counterfeit something that's intrinsically valuable. So of course, the crazies are going to use this thing to their own, you know, purposes, and there's going to be televangelists, and there's going to be rogue people but, but I think the thing at its source is, is beautiful and meaningful and powerful. And whether you believe it to be absolutely true, like, like I do, and I find great meaning from that or whether you like Thomas Jefferson, who famously cut all of the references to the divinity of Christ out of a Bible. It's called the Thomas Jefferson Bible. The reason he did that is he said, he didn't really believe in the the Divinity, or questioned it, but he thought the teachings of Jesus were the greatest moral reset in the history of the world, you know, and I agree with them. And so what it's just good stuff, it's, you know, loving your neighbor, going the extra mile turning, turning the cheek, you know, being known by how you love people like these are things that if we reintroduced to society, society would be better for it. And I think that the best way to do that is through stories. And so what we want to do is we want to tell stories that, that certainly resonate with our core audience with that Heartland audience and super served them. But also are just hopefully, entertaining and applicable to whoever wanders in the theater. But what we want to do first and foremost is entertain. We're entertainers first, and I hope to there's nothing like being in an audience of people and hearing them laugh and cry, and tear at it at a movie. I've never seen a movie. Like Jesus revolution, we really screened it far and wide and early last week, let us we've shown it to a lot of people. And you know, I've not ever been a part of the movie where people are cheering during the film, at certain points. And that's a wonderful experience. And it's so it's wonderful to connect with a core audience like that.

Alex Ferrari 46:26
You know, it's in what you're saying is true, because I've noticed that as well, in some of the other work that I do, and other shows that I do, that people are starving for this kind of message, these positive messages, these positive stories, these things that are that fill you up. And look, I love Breaking Bad. I thought Breaking Bad was one of the

Jon Erwin 46:49
Most perfect last hours of television ever, ever,

Alex Ferrari 46:52
Ever made. And other than maybe two episodes of the entire series, but that fly episode drove me nuts. Other than that, the whole series was almost perfection. It really was as as, as as an art as an art piece. It was beautiful. But at the end, you don't feel really uplifted by by what Walter White has been doing. You know, it's been entertaining as hell. But then you watch something like Shawshank, which is one of my favorite films of all time.

Jon Erwin 47:20
And that's right, that's exactly the difference. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 47:23
And then you look at Shawshank and if you look at IMDb, it overtook the Godfather as the most is the best film ever made. How and why? And I've said this and I've talked to Oscar winning screenwriters about this. I've talked to every story analysts about this. I've talked to filmmakers about this and like what is it about that film that is connected with so many people from every walk of life since it's released, and it's the worst name in film history worst name in film history? On on paper, it is not a particularly great story. You know, it's like oh, it's a it's a pretty it's a it's not a it's not a particularly like innovative story on the surface. But what Frank Darabont was able to do with that movie has connected so deeply with people who you know people who think Steven Seagal is the greatest actor of all time. Love Shawshank.

Jon Erwin 48:22
Yeah, though it transcends man, and I'll tell you what it is at its essence. You know, I love I love to think about and find the essence of things. There's this great book, Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl disguises was in several, you know, survived the Holocaust, his family did and a psychologist was in several camps came out and finished the work that he beaten began before, which led to one of the Great's psychology books ever written, which is Man's Search for Meaning and, and he had this incredible optimism, even though of all he had been through, and his take was that he can was thing logotherapy is the Greek word for me, or Lagertha, I don't know how to say it is the Greek word for meaning. And his point was that actually, pleasure wasn't sort of the end all. Like Freud, you know, his point was that actually, the the quest is to find a sense of meaning and purpose to your life, that is what everyone's looking for. So if you talk about the function of the storyteller, whether that's a movie, or a play, or sitting around a campfire, the function of the storyteller in society is to try to take all this nonsense and all these things that don't connect and, you know, and fit them together to bring a sense of order and meaning and purpose. So the stories that I think transcend you know, when, when, when a wall is right, that line, every man dies, not every man really lives in the middle of a brilliant film Braveheart. But that's meaning and purpose. And I think it's actually the power of that theme that makes that movie transcend not that you Onra I think it's the theme of living from your heart and living from your soul, you know, and living from your passion and Shawshank the same way Hard movie but brilliant material in terms of meaning and purpose. And so I think when we did I can only imagine barbicide just as what is the essence of like, what do people how does this dude that looks like you know, offense? Right? This multi platinum juggernaut independent artists, not you, I'm talking about Bart, you look great anyway. And so does Bart now, but anyway, but the idea of, you know, how does how does, you know, just, he's just an everyman, you know, I'm saying like, there's anything, you know, and he was an everyman with an everyman band that was, you know, independent from Texas, how do you ride this multi platinum juggernaut? I just said, what do people feel when they hear the song and because I got to match that with the movie, whether people know it or not, they're gonna feel the same way. And he said, You know, it's a rush of hope. That's what they feel. And so we sort of, we sort of engineered the whole movie around that same experience. And I just feel like people need a rush of hope right? Now, they need a sense of like, my life matters. There's meaning to life. There's some sort of destiny, there's some sort of purpose here. And, and I and I need sort of, I need to go out of a theater feeling hopeful and feeling like, I'm matter, and life is worth living. And I think that, as great as Breaking Bad is as great as Game of Thrones is, except for the last season, please remake it, you know, you know, that you, you have the opposite. After you watch those things, you just sort of feel this sense of, it's me versus everyone else, hopelessness, you know, and it's survival at all cost. And I think that seeped into our society a little bit. And I honestly think that the aggregate entertainment is one of the reasons why we're at each other's throats, you know? Because if you watch Game of Thrones, and house guards, Breaking Bad and other things, it's like, Okay, there's one law, I gotta live and you gotta die. And that's it. You know, it's me versus everybody. And I think that's gotten into society a little bit. And I actually think, you know, what we say is the world needs a little more Catherine. Sense of Frank Capra, you know, It's a Wonderful Life and things like that a little a little optimism, a little hope. And, and I think that there's room in the marketplace.

Alex Ferrari 52:22
Do you think that because I think there's going to come up, I do think there's going to come a point in the next decade that there's going to be a runaway hit like a juggernaut hit, and it's not going to be one there's going to be a series of them that are and you guys are probably going to be behind one or two of them at least. But there that's going to connect with the majority of people looking for that rush of hope. And they're gonna go oh, wait a minute. Maybe we shouldn't remake another Star Wars or another Marvel show. And maybe we should start putting some money into this. Do you think that will ever happen within the studio's because they always go with the money goes, even after passion.

Jon Erwin 53:02
Everything is cyclical. I think everything is cyclical, and everything is counterprogramming. And I think one of the reasons I can only imagine worked was there was an article before it came out that deadline wrote that said like the music biopic is dead like these films don't work anymore. The point is, we sort of were at the front end of the reemergence of a dormant genre. Now you think like Elvis and stars born and, you know, Bohemian Rhapsody, and all these music, like one right after the other, this is now a reestablish genres, it's actually a little more risky. One of the real hard things about filmmaking is an independent filmmaking especially, is that the way to win with independent film is our minds are differential engines, meaning there's a great marketing book, Seth Godin book Purple Cow. Yeah, his whole thesis is that if you see a cow, you don't take a photo of a cow, you don't tweet a cow. You've seen a cow. They're all cows, they'll say, but my gosh, if that cow was purple, you know, oh, my gosh, there's a Purple Cow. You know, so I'm going to tweet that, you know. So my point is, that you really have to have the courage and conviction that if something is entertaining and meaningful to you, it'll be entertaining and meaningful to other people. Like there's more of you. And I remember what I can only imagine we had done all this research and we had seen a gap in the market. And then we had seen the need for a brand and I knew that I love that song. And everybody I knew love that song. And so in the core community, but every studio told us now one executive is Studio said, you know, you know, I think there's 18,000 people that would watch this movie and that's, that's it. That's the total audience. This will never work. But we just went forward with a conviction, but because we record with the conviction, we owned it because nobody would. Nobody would take a risk on And we benefited from that. And so I think you have to be willing to be different, you know. And you have to be willing to take it take bets on things that you feel deeply. And, you know, I think when you listen to the stories of like Star Wars or jaws were one of the great one of the great blocks of our industry. And that three our entire dreams documentary is the chairman of 20th century fox came to Alan Ladd Jr, who was the who was the chairman most vision group and said it was in post production said shut down the Star Wars, The Star Wars thing. It's an embarrassment to the studio. And Alan Ladd Jr, not having seen a frame of the film said, I've seen it, it's the greatest movie ever made. It's one of the greatest flops in the history of our industry. But the point is, that's how weird Star Wars was to, to everyone that that was looking at it, you know, and they were the studio was sending notes, like the Wookie should have pants, why does the pinata and they're like, really, the point is that the studio business is a rear view business. And they only the thing is like, hey, we want something totally original, that's just like something else that made a billion dollars last year, like that's just the way they think. And so it takes a level of conviction. And, and it takes a level of as an independent filmmaker, extraordinary belief. And, and I actually think a lot of filmmakers have like, they want to stay above that, like, Oh, I'm working on this thing. And you know, it's gonna be good, you actually have to have an attitude of like, I love this. I know, there's people that love this, I'm trying to make it the best I can. But I'm telling you, there's an audience for this. And you have to have a level of conviction in yourself, and in the thing that you're creating that is uncommon, to will it through the system, and to get money for it, and then to will it into existence. And that and that's, I think missing a lot within independence all you know,

Alex Ferrari 56:57
And I think the one thing that we can kind of summarize from this conversation is as independent filmmakers, you need to not just make a movie that tickles your own fancy, it has to do with a little bit of that. But you have to find out if there's an audience for it. And don't say horror movies, a lot of people like a horror movie, that's that that's too big, which is again, going back to my book, it's about niching, down and niching down to the point where like, what is an audience that will enjoy this movie? And I can talk to, which is what your what would that executive said? Can you reach that audience with the money and the resources and the abilities that you have? And if you can kick them by combine those two, then you have a potential, not a guarantee of potential for success. But the biggest thing is, I'm gonna make an action movie because people like action movies, you've done, you're done.

Jon Erwin 57:48
Well, you know, what's interesting about that is, I think one of the, one of the real secrets to that if you want to know like a key that sort of unlocked it. It's summarized in the word distain. And what I mean by that, that's what I really bonded with Jason Blum over was the any audience that feels the same, right? He felt like 20 years ago, the horror audience felt mistake, like studios were like, they don't care, like just murder a bunch of people, it doesn't have to be good. And the audience felt that and, you know, I've learned in therapy, and shouldn't do it a little more, you know, the primary needs of people are to not to be agreed with, you have to agree with them. People just want to feel seen, and heard and understood. And, and, you know, identifying, oh, people like horror movies is like, well, now it's like, well, no, yeah, they like horror movies. And guess who saw that before no one else did Jason Blum. And now he's dominated and monopolize the market. So you have like, a one in 1000 chance of competing with him. What you really have to see and have the courage to, to embrace is an underserved audience. That, that, that is being sustained by the industry. And you have to be willing to understand that instead of trying to be cool at cocktail parties in LA, you know, what makes you cool at cocktail parties in LA winning, so go in with an audience, and then, you know, in focus on just loving an audience, and so for me, the faith audience is one of those groups that, you know, they're being called things like, again, it's not a political affiliation, but it's seen that way in LA and so they're being called things like deplorable. And so and there's also this stigma of poor quality, and I'm talking to an investor whose daughter was there and I said, you want to know the you want to know the opportunity and the problem in faith, it's the same things the chart, turned his daughter and said, Let's Play rapid word association game. I'm just gonna say something just responded. She said, Okay, I said, Christian movies, and she just do and I'm like, in one syllable, she just described the problem in the opportunity, like if you fix that, so for a lot of people, they don't wanna be associated with it. I would rather go right at it like Jason Blum went right at it. with work and say, Okay, we hear you, we hear that there's a quality problem. And it's also a lack of authenticity and you're underserved, and you're disdained by whatever you're getting, we're gonna, we're gonna fix that on your behalf. That's the business opportunity. So you really know whether that's Crunchyroll. Think about it. Vic's plus is just having huge growth right now. Or, or or Blum. Doing something's

Alex Ferrari 1:00:26
Or Mr. Beast, Mr. Beast on YouTube

Jon Erwin 1:00:29
Yeah, is getting to know developing a relationship nurturing relationship with an audience that's underserved, that no one else sees value in yet, then, or no one has the courage to really give them what they want. Or an audience that you understand and are representing in a unique way, like a movie like Crazy Rich Asians or whatever, having the courage to do that, instead of like, have the courage to be unique. Conformity is not the way forward in our industry, everyone in LA looks the same, has the same spec script in their back pocket, you know, wants to talk about themselves, you know, and so, how it's homogenized and so to me, the courage to be different is is the way forward and the people like Tyler Perry, or Jason or people that, you know, interacted with, they have way more success by differentiating. And the narrower the focus is, the wider the appeal. And so it's just have the courage and conviction to do something that you really believe in, that you want in need. And that you're connected to an audience that wants wants and needs and be willing to be unpopular while you do it, because you'll be popular when it works. And and, and that's just a different a different way to think in a different way forward. But if you if you identify if you're just in the rearview mirror, and like, you know, oh, the audience was actually filmed his work. Yeah. And everyone knows that. And that's why it's it's saturation. That's impossible. You have to be the one that says, hey, this will work. And everyone says you're crazy and weird. For years.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
Not all of them,

Jon Erwin 1:02:06
Cameron, that's how you know, right? That's

Alex Ferrari 1:02:10
Horrible idea. Avatar, horrible idea. Right?

Jon Erwin 1:02:14
If you listen to Peter Chernin Titanic, most expensive movie, at the time, on top of the most expensive movie, it was $100 million at the time, and he went 110 million over budget. Yeah. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:27
That we knew the first story that we ending of.

Jon Erwin 1:02:31
So so to me, just, I think, look, if I can leave you with anything, is do things that you really believe in, and just match perseverance with curiosity. And then also a level of courage and your decisions, you know, I would rather fail courageously than fail, because I made a safe choice, you know, and do something that you really believe and have the courage to be different and have the courage to put a different voice out there. Because I think that that's what people want is, is unique voices that represent unique audiences. That's one of the joys of the film world is you get to sort see thing through through someone else's eyes. And so and so that's what I'll what I'll leave otherwise, the biggest thing is just keep learning constantly, and never ever, ever quit. Success might be just around the corner, you never know.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:19
So Jon asked you a few questions asked all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Jon Erwin 1:03:25
Oh, my gosh, I'm horrible at answering questions. You know, I would I would actually say the value of failure, I think, yeah, I think that's what people don't under failure is incredibly valuable. And it's really the only path to success. And I think it's something that we all run from. But if we actually ran towards it, and learn to sort of fail, small and iterate, you know, I mean, whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Yes, some things do kill you, though. You want to avoid those things. But if you can sort of fail and learn, it's like Thomas Edison said, have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways not to make the light bulb. If you embrace failure as a part of your process, I think that that's the way to win. And it takes took me a long time to, to it. It's a very vulnerable thing to be willing to fail so that you can learn how to win and and I think that took me the longest to learn,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:18
And the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.

Jon Erwin 1:04:22
Three, my favorite films of all time, I have this list of sort of films that I just think No, first of all, there's no perfect film. I think George Lucas said the best films are never completed. They're only abandoned. But but there are films that I think for the moment in time in which they were created are untouchable, like don't change a frame. So I think I'm trying to think it's one of those and then there's also just great films that that that I've seen, you know, recently but to me Braveheart is still just like, super my soul. I just think that that's such a The well made film that I just it just gets me man, it just gets me. Good. You know, I still think Saving Private Ryan is, is one of those things when he says earn this at the end I'm just that's a summary of an entire generation and, and and just incredible you know I think I think the King's speech is amazing. I think, Gosh I'm beyond three Slumdog Millionaire Fellowship of the Ring was just one of the transcendent experiences I had in the theater like oh my gosh and then I think some of the old ones I think it's a wonderful life and you know, Casablanca you know, I think it's a perfect movie. I've exceeded my

Alex Ferrari 1:05:55
Well, I mean, I

Jon Erwin 1:05:57
What's your answer to that question?

Alex Ferrari 1:05:58
I mean, well, Shawshank is a perfect movie in my opinion. I mean, Shawshank is, it's perfect. I think back to the future is perfect. It's one of the greatest scripts ever made. It kind of is, isn't it is it's the it is as perfect of a screenplay and perfect and an execution

Jon Erwin 1:06:12
Produced by Steven Spielberg. There's no better there's no better producing the director.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:18
And everyone said he was everyone said they were crazy. And it was only the Steven that was able to push it through and then they stopped at two weeks after shooting with the wrong guy like yeah, we're gonna redo these laughs Can you imagine? And Jocelyn Jaws is another perfect film. I mean, that that movie doesn't, it just is perfect.

Jon Erwin 1:06:37
Jaws is Jaws is one of those things where the limitations, the limits personal limitations are what made it perfect. For sure. I think. Look, I would put Top Gun Maverick up there as one as experiences I've had in the theater. Oh, long time, man. I can really really good

Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
Man it is such a good, good movie. It's yeah, there's nostalgia with that film. Without question for guys like you and me. But it is just damn near perfect in what it was aimed to do. Without question and I mean, and also put up the matrix as almost as a perfect movie as well.

Jon Erwin 1:07:16
The matrix is a tote is one of the again, it's it's as perfect as a movie gets by far. I think probably the filmmaker that I most trust now. And I can't wait for Indiana Jones is James mango. I think that dude just fires he nails nails every time. Like I thought Ford versus Ferrari. Unbelievable. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:37
Logan, I mean, Logan Logan sent it transcended the genre.

Jon Erwin 1:07:40
And again, Logan is one of those where it transcends, you know, it's hyper violent, it's gritty. But that quest for meaning and purpose and transcendence is all right there and then television I just think I'm one of those I know everyone's on it. But I think the last and this is great. I just think it's

Alex Ferrari 1:08:01
I hear I hear that's good. But for me Yellowstone right now is anything that tailors

Jon Erwin 1:08:05
I haven't taken the Yellowstone trip like I haven't moved yet. It's on my list

Alex Ferrari 1:08:11
Best writing I've ever seen on television. It's so good.

Jon Erwin 1:08:15
And then I think anything that's I think anyone's Gilligan does is just like he's such a student of our industry. And that just comes out Tarantino in that way. He just comes out his love and obsession of the of the craft comes out so

Alex Ferrari 1:08:29
Jon, man, when can when and where can we see Jesus revolution?

Jon Erwin 1:08:33
Jesus revolution comes out nationwide, February 24. It's in theaters everywhere. And thank you, Cameron Crowe for all the things that I still and I hope you enjoy the very same way and and I think I think no matter what you believe you really enjoy it's an enjoyable film and, and go check it out theaters.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:49
Jon, I could talk to you for hours, brother, I appreciate you coming on man. My man like you and your brother have to eat. When you come down to Austin. We gotta go grab a beer man. Without question.

Jon Erwin 1:08:58
I love it. I'm there. I'm there pretty frequently. So let's do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:01
I appreciate you!



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IFH 660: What Talent Agencies Look for in a Screenplay with Christopher Lockhart

Today on the show we have award-winning producer, film executive, educator, and industry story analyst Christopher Lockhart. Christopher is renowned for his script editing acumen. He has read over 60,000 screenplays.  He is also an award-winning filmmaker and member of the WGA, PGA, and the Television Academy.

Chris got his start at International Creative Management (ICM), where he worked as script consultant to legendary talent agent Ed Limato, who represented industry giants such as Mel Gibson, Richard Gere, Michelle Pfeiffer, Liam Neeson, and Robert Downey, Jr.

He later moved to the venerable William Morris Agency, which merged with Endeavor to form WME.  At WME Chris has worked on award-winning projects for A-list clients like Denzel Washington, Russel Crowe, and Rachel McAdams among others.

Chris branched off into film producing with the cult horror hit The Collector and its sequel The Collection, which opened in the top ten American box-office.   He wrote and produced the award winning documentary Most Valuable Players, which was acquired by Oprah Winfrey for her network.  Chris has set up several other projects, including A Rhinestone Alibi at Paramount, and Crooked Creek, a modern noir thriller.

As an educator, Lockhart shares his talent and 30+ years of industry experience as an adjunct professor at Screenwriting program and at UCLA. His writing workshop The Inside Pitch was filmed for Los Angeles television and earned him an Emmy Award nomination.

Chris and I also teamed up for a new webinar from IFH Academy called How to Become a Hollywood Script Reader from Industry Insiders

HOW TO BE A HOLLYWOOD READER is a webinar focusing on the secrets of one of Hollywood’s most vital and mysterious jobs. A reader evaluates screenplays and stories, practicing quality control through “coverage” – a written report that judges creative success. The reader wields huge influence that empowers Hollywood chiefs to greenlight film, television, and new media.

This webinar examines the core components of coverage, how to write it, and provides tools and pro tips to navigate the reading profession – led by two preeminent Hollywood readers. By pulling back the curtain on this creative process, the webinar also gives writers, directors, actors, and producers a rare look inside the mind of those who decide the fate of their material. To access the webinar Click Here

Chris prioritizes emotionality and his client’s character role and development ahead of the overall story solidity. He shared some tips for new writers, some lessons learned from bad scripts, what goes on behind the agency curtain and the blessing of untapping a story’s best version from re-writes.

Enjoy my conversation with Christopher Lockhart.

Alex Ferrari 2:24
I'd like to welcome to the show Christopher Lockhart thank you for so much for being on the show Christopher.

Christopher Lockhart 4:27
Thank you. It's great to be able to talk to somebody

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Exactly as we're we're all locked up in our in our little quarantine caves here in LA. Well, I was gonna ask you though, like, you know, you being on the agency side, I've been hearing from a lot of agents and managers to say that the world has changed. They're never going to jump into a car for an hour and a half again, to go take a 30 minute meeting and then come back to their office. What are you hearing on your end?

Christopher Lockhart 4:54
Well, you know, my policy has always been that I try to get people to come to me for my meetings, generally speaking. But yeah, you know, I think that that we have been forced out of our comfort zone, believe it or not our comfort zone was driving an hour and a half to go to a meeting. And now, we realized that this technology works, it's equally as efficient, and perhaps more efficient, because now we can utilize our time more wisely. Let's face it less time in an automobile makes a very big difference. And I think we're gonna see this ripple through a lot of industries. I think, for example, the commercial real estate industries, you know, you're going to end up with a lot of vacant buildings, because I think a lot of a lot of companies might actually have people just work from home in the future. It's cheaper, it's easier, right, you know, less rent. It's less wear and tear, I think that there are a lot of people who would be open to that.

I haven't been in my office in many months. I look forward to getting back to it. Just you know, just because, you know, you never know what you have until it's gone.

And so I hope that a lot of us just generally speaking, not even with work, but just with life that we realize, I think sort of how lucky we are generally speaking, and then there are some pluses to this, perhaps some people spending more time with their families than they might have or maybe want to, but I think that there are some definite pluses to to, to this, need to cling to those at least otherwise.

Alex Ferrari 6:43
There's some sort of silver lining in this ridiculousness that is 2020. But yeah, you're right. I think it's going to up end the commercial real estate business without question, because there's going to be a lot less people renting, because they don't need to, like, you know, I know, attorneys and things like that. They're like, I'm shutting down my office because I don't need it anymore.

So, before we get started, how did you get into the business?

Christopher Lockhart 7:10
Ah you know, it's always just who you know, you know, who, you know, is very important. And I've been out here for a while, working as a writer, and, and and then, you know, I sort of had some crossroads and, and some things happened in my life. And an opportunity was presented to me to go and meet with this Uber agent named Ed llamado, who was the CO -resident at ICM and agent to the stars Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, Richard Gere, Michelle Pfeiffer. Robert Downey, Jr, Liam Neeson, you know, go on and on. And he basically needed a script consultant, he needed somebody who could go through all of these projects that were coming to his office for his clients. And, you know, make a long story short, I took the job, and 25 years later

Alex Ferrari 8:15
And Big Bang, boom, we're here. Now, and did you when you were working with? Well, you've been you've been working with, you know, big actors and big, big agencies, because you move from ICM to over to WMA? WME? Excuse me?

Christopher Lockhart 8:31
Both, actually. Yeah. Because in 2007, we left ICM, we went to William Morris. And then in 2009, William Morris merged with endeavour and then it became WME.

Alex Ferrari 8:44
Right. And you've been working with clients, high end clients ever since then doing the same thing, just basically vetting their projects. So you've, you, you, you have a very inside inside information in regards to what big movie stars are looking for, in their movie in their projects, generally speaking.

Christopher Lockhart 9:02
Yeah. And believe it or not, it's, it's not always it's not really rocket science. You know, they're really just looking for good projects. And and I think the, the smartest actors are the ones who don't pigeonhole themselves. So very rarely do I get marching orders. You know, rarely do I get a client who says, Listen, I only want a script that does a, b and c, that that order comes down sometimes, but not often. And I think that's how actors really succeed because they are open minded to all different kinds of projects. And hopefully, the ones that I'm sending their way are, are good. They can't do all of the projects that are sent their way they can only do some. But, but yeah, my job is to it. is to be be a taster, you know, so to speak.

Sometimes I liken myself to a little, like a real estate agent, you know, where I'm trying to find a piece of property for a client. And the job involves other things as well. Yeah, there's a lot of reading. But I'm a little bit of a development executive, because I'll work with some of our writer, director clients, on their projects from the very beginning. Sometimes I'm called in in like a hail mary pass to go into the editing room and consult there. So I basically work with story anywhere from the very earliest of the development process, right through post, I even go on to sets, you know, and sort of work from there also. So, so so it the job entails a lot of elements that make it interesting, because each day is different. Maybe not right now. Right now, every day is exactly

Alex Ferrari 11:09
it's groundhogs day.

Christopher Lockhart 11:10
It's Groundhog's Day. But typically, it's it's, it is varied, but there's a lot of reading, there's no doubt about that.

Alex Ferrari 11:20
Lots and lots of homework to do. Now, obviously COVID has up ended the entire world, let alone our small little corner of the world that is Hollywood. How do you see COVID affecting not only Hollywood, as we're currently seeing it, what you're seeing currently, right now, because it's changing pretty much on a weekly, weekly, or monthly basis. At this point,

Christopher Lockhart 11:43
Warner Brothers just broke the news about how they're going to start to release their projects for 2021. And it's pretty shattering. Actually, it's really changing the game. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 11:56
God, how are they doing it? I haven't read that.

Christopher Lockhart 11:58
Well, there. I've only skimmed through it because it literally just came out. But they are going to do a day and date with HBO max with a 31 day license. And so it's it's it looks pretty complicated. I'm sure it'll be complicated from the agency end. As these deals of course have to be brokered. So ya know, not exactly sure yet, how it's going to ripple out, or what the other studios are going to do. But let's face it, everybody, everybody's improvising. And people always ask, oh, you know, what's the business going to be? Like, in six months? I don't know. I know, I know, just as much as you do. If you would ask me yesterday about Warner Brothers release plan for 2021. I wouldn't have told you that this is what they were gonna do. So maybe the writing was on the wall for other people who are more intuitive or pay more attention to that. But I don't, I don't have a clue. I'm literally riding the surf like everybody else.

Alex Ferrari 13:11
So I No wonder woman is being released. I think Christmas Day or something like that. Day in and day is where they're going to release in the theater. And they're going to do so it's a similar thing, but they're only going to allow it on the platform for 31 days, and then that's when it gets pulled off.

Christopher Lockhart 13:25
That's right, that's exactly what they are doing for all of their 2021 releases.

Alex Ferrari 13:30
Wow, that is a huge, that's really upside down. Yeah, because 2021 even with the vaccine with everything, we're not going to get back to where we were in 2019 for at least a couple years.

Christopher Lockhart 13:42
Well, what what might this news even do, let's say to the stockholders of AMC, you know, I mean, is this going to send complete panic through the ranks there. So, I, you know, this is just this has been a crazy year, and people who say, Oh, I can't wait until 2020 ends, like, there's just gonna be a hell of a lot more than 2021.

Alex Ferrari 14:08
I keep telling people that 2020 can make 2020 is when you want to make 20 look like 2019?

Christopher Lockhart 14:14
Very well might, I hope not,

Alex Ferrari 14:16
I hope not to trust me, because like, I don't know how much more I personally could take. I don't think any of us.

Christopher Lockhart 14:22
I just I it's like I'm on a 12 step program. I just I, I take this day, you know, one day at a time, I really think that's, that's just the best way to do it. Because things are changing so rapidly. You know, there were a lot of layoffs throughout the industry. And, you know, who knows, you know, who knows if anybody will even have a job in six months. So it's just, it's too much to think about. So I just sort of do what it is that I need to do day in and day out, and I just don't think about or try to control those things that are in the future.

Alex Ferrari 15:00
And how do you think all of this is affecting screenwriters? Because, you know, and how can they kind of adjust themselves to this new, this new world that's changing by the minute,

Christopher Lockhart 15:13
What's new about isolation for screening?

Alex Ferrari 15:16
Well, there's that

Christopher Lockhart 15:17
This this is, you know, this is, if there's anybody in the industry who can thrive during this time, it is the writer, because the writer should be writing. That's exactly what they should be doing. Now, it's hard for director to go out and direct or producer to produce. But a writer can be writing at this very moment, by the end of COVID, every writer in town should have two to three new scripts that they've written. And there are still deals, you know, so there are still still writing deals going on, and writers are working. So I think if, if anything, they have the the, they're able to make the best out of this.

Alex Ferrari 16:08
Now there was, there's I think one misconception that I hear a lot of screenwriters that I talk to all the time, is that they look very much like independent filmmakers. They think they're making films today, like it was 1992. So they like thinking of like, Oh, just go to Sundance, and I'll get this and that and they have this kind of magical world that was then I think screenwriters have the same thing with the spec market, which in the 90s. I mean, the Shane blacks and the Joe Ester houses. I mean,

Christopher Lockhart 16:35

Alex Ferrari 16:35
Can you talk a little bit about the spec market? And what is if there is a spec market? is it happening? What's the deal?

Christopher Lockhart 16:43
Yeah, there's not really all that much of a spec market right now, a few scripts have sold clearly this is this is not a banner year for selling a screenplay on spec, which is why screenwriter should be writing because there is a possibility that when this drought is over, that people will be looking for content much like after, you know, any WGA strike. You know, we've often seen remember a lot of that that spec boom of the early 90s was fueled by the writers strike in the late 80s. So, so there is a great possibility that that will be hungry for content once the industry is up and running again, which is why people should be writing now worry less about the business at this moment and concentrate more on the creative, because then I think you will be prepared for the business when it is reanimated.

Alex Ferrari 17:53
Now, what is some? What is one of the biggest misconceptions that screenwriters have about the industry about Hollywood in general?

Christopher Lockhart 18:01
Oh, boy, I don't know probably 1000s.

A few. I think I Well, I don't know, I think that, that maybe some more naive writers might think that they literally just sort of can write a screenplay, and then the doors sort of open for them. I don't really understand that. That process as to how the doors would just automatically open. But that's, but that's what they think. Or they feel like because they've written a screenplay that the industry owes them the respect the time to read their script, when that is definitely not the case, by any means. I'm not saying that they don't deserve the respect and time. Sure they do. But nobody's going to give it to me. So. So I think that's a really big misconception. I think another big misconception, of course, is that they're going to make millions and millions and millions of dollars. Write screenplays, when, like anybody in this business, it's a lot of struggle. And one reason of course, that writers at least in the WGA get paid what they get paid is because that might be all that they get paid for three or four years. And, and so they need that money to hold them over. Right. You know, this is why actors get residuals and etc, etc. Because the work is often far and few between. So so there's a lot of struggle. There are, I think, misconceptions that a writer sells a script and their career is made. I would say probably the majority of writers who sell scripts never, never go on to a career.

It's a you know, it's like a one hit wonder. You're always working, it never gets easy. It never gets easy. And I really think that a lot of writers who haven't been out here they think Yeah, I just I just need to sell that one script with no, you know, listen if, if you sell it in it, and it and it rocks the town, that's one thing. But that's not most, that's not most scripts sales. You know, most script sales are for load and no money. And they go under the radar, the movies never made. Or if the movie is made, nobody sees it.

Alex Ferrari 20:26

Christopher Lockhart 20:27
So there's just so there's so many ways for your career not to get started after it's got started.

Alex Ferrari 20:36
It's funny because I always tell people about Kauffman and Sorkin like the you know, they have scripts that they can't they can't produce, like they they can't, that they're amazing. But no one's willing to give the money. And I was telling if Charlie Kaufman and Aaron Sorkin are having problems, what do you think you could have? right to be? It'd be as realistic as possible about this.

Christopher Lockhart 20:59
That's well, and, and, and not every script that an A list writer writes, hits it out of the ballpark. So you know, I've read a lot of scripts by writers that I love. And unlike Yeah, this just doesn't work. This just doesn't work. And this probably wasn't a great project.

You know, that happens all the time. And for new writers. I think that they're often under the impression that because they wrote a screenplay that they've written a screenplay, and yeah, often when you read it, yeah, sure. It starts with fade, and it's got fade out. It's got slug lines. It's in proper format. It's got 120 pages, but it isn't a screenplay. Right? And, and so it often takes a lot, a lot of trial and error, to be able to get to that screenplay that eventually can help you break through. So impatience is certainly an issue with new writers thinking that they don't necessarily have to put in their time.

Alex Ferrari 22:09
So like, you know, a 12 month plan is not long enough, is what you're telling me to start my career as a screenwriter?

Christopher Lockhart 22:15
Yeah, I'd say 12 years. Probably would be more realistic.

Alex Ferrari 22:21
Right? I have a long Yeah. I have a one year plan, like you haven't had a 10 year plan.

Christopher Lockhart 22:25
And then you're just starting. And listen, there are always exceptions to the rule. I had always,

Alex Ferrari 22:31
of course,

Christopher Lockhart 22:32
I had a student many years ago named Josh Schwartz, who's a, you know, this phenomenal show runner. He created the the OC and, you know, Bob, lots and lots of other shows the runaways which is on Disney Plus, I think, yeah, and just, you know, right, on and on and on. Amazing kid. And, you know, he sold his first spec script for like, $1.75 million, or something like that.

Alex Ferrari 22:59

Christopher Lockhart 23:00
You know, yeah. And so, people look to that. And they're like, you know, I'm gonna do that. But that's the Powerball.

Alex Ferrari 23:08
No, it's a lottery, lottery ticket, I call it the lottery,

you know, somebody wins the Powerball lottery every week.

Christopher Lockhart 23:14
But that doesn't mean that you should quit your job, and wait for your numbers to come in. So, you know, that, that That to me is, is, is something that people really need to consider is, is the long term plan. And just having patience,

Alex Ferrari 23:36
Right? And that's that every time I was people always ask me, What do you What's your biggest piece of advice I could patients? It took me a long time. I mean, I was just, I just was talking to James v. Hart, who was on the show the other day, and after doing some research on him, he he got hook, when he was in his 40s. And he and he was, he was bumping around Hollywood for 1015 years, had a couple of things produced and he was writing and getting paid to write but nothing was getting produced. And it was, you know, then, Mr. Spielberg called and life changed.

Christopher Lockhart 24:08
Right? But and that can happen, but he really had to put in the mileage

Alex Ferrari 24:14
Correct. He had to get to that time. Now you said something about residuals earlier and I wanted to see what your take was on this. Because the game of residuals and, and those those kind of deals like the friends have and and Seinfeld and you know, all these residuals, Netflix has changed the game in regards to buyouts or and now I think even Disney is trying to do like maybe a two year season run or something like that, and then it's done. What what is what are your feelings on like that? Or is it you know, is that too touchy of a tough topic to talk about?

Christopher Lockhart 24:47
Well, you know, I'm not going to pretend that that I'm an expert on that. Thankfully, I don't have to negotiate deals. I'm not an agent. So you know, I get too strict. really stick with the creative. But all I can tell you is this that a lot of big talent is more than willing to work for the streamers. So and you see that, you know, so that isn't a secret. You know, we have a lot of big names, good names in series. And a lot of big names. Look at somebody like you know, Sandra Bullock and birdbox for Netflix. We've got George Clooney coming up in

Alex Ferrari 25:35
Can't wait for that movie.

Christopher Lockhart 25:37
Yeah, I can I read the script. It was called Good. Good morning. Something.

Alex Ferrari 25:43
I forgot the name of it.

Christopher Lockhart 25:45
But it changed the title now. And and

Alex Ferrari 25:50
Fincher Fincher, too, he's, I mean,

Christopher Lockhart 25:53
yeah, you know, and so we can go on and on. This is I remember, you know, 10 years ago, if your movie went to Netflix, you didn't tell people it was embarrassing.

Alex Ferrari 26:08
Right, right. Right. You're right.

Christopher Lockhart 26:10
It was it was, you know, it was like, a, it was like The Scarlet Letter. And, and now, you'd be lucky if you could get your movie on Netflix.

Alex Ferrari 26:23

Christopher Lockhart 26:24
So it's, it is amazing how it has evolved. And, and talent wants to work with the streamers very much. So. So there's clearly a big future in the streamers provided that the that their business model can be sustained. You know, I still ask myself all the time, how is Netflix going to sustain its business model when it spends so much money on content? Now, I did notice that they raised my monthly rate, like $1, or something, you know, eventually Netflix is going to be $25 a month. You know, like, I feel certain for that of that. Because that's going to be the only way to hold up that model. Because they have to they they must have content in order to compete.

Alex Ferrari 27:19
And to me, that's it, you got to feed the beast, it's like a constant feeding of the beast. And it's, I mean, I have a I have a streaming service and it's small. I mean, obviously it's like a miniscule thing. And I feel like I have to constantly be putting new content up obviously my my projects don't cost $200 million to to, to put them up, but it's just it's not never ending and also by the way, Netflix set that priority that that standard up to release 15,000 things every week. And I

Christopher Lockhart 27:50
Listen, I'm glad they do.

Alex Ferrari 27:51

Christopher Lockhart 27:52
Right. And when did they when they raised my rate $1 I was like, give me something like I appreciate Netflix. I appreciate the content I don't love everything but there's always something there that I can find to watch and and I suspect that it will only get better but again they you know they they are they are shelling out a lot of money for content a lot of money yeah and and that and that's why you see big talent flocking, there

Alex Ferrari 28:27
It is it's kind of like a gold rush. But I agree with you i just don't know how how long this can sustain itself because they are an obscene amounts of debt. They earn an obscene amounts of dead right now.

Christopher Lockhart 28:37
Well, we have to hope that they that they can figure it out. Because if we lose the streamers after having lost the movie theaters, you're then then we're screwed.

Alex Ferrari 28:49
There's no there's no, there's no because we lost DVD. We lost VHS. We lost DVD, which was so much money. And and then, yeah, you're absolutely right. Because if Netflix goes down, it's it shatters a lot of things.

Christopher Lockhart 29:02
Right? So they can't go down. And, you know, people will often say, Oh, you know, how does Hollywood feel about Netflix? And I'm like, Netflix is Hollywood. You know, we just it's just Hollywood is evolving. You know, there was a time when movies had no sound, you know? So

Alex Ferrari 29:22
no color.

Christopher Lockhart 29:24
No, no color. So it's evolving. You know, you got you got to go with the flow. So yeah, you know, I wish any venture the very best, because that means opportunities for my clients, which in turn keeps me employed.

Alex Ferrari 29:46
And then there you go. Now what when you're looking at scripts for your clients, what are you looking for, but I mean, is it just basically I just need a good story, but there's there anything specific in the scripts that maybe give some tips to screenwriters

Christopher Lockhart 30:09
You know, I think generally speaking, I do not have a checklist. I always say that I look at scripts holistically, I'll read any script that is given to me, I will read it from beginning to end, even if I know by page 12, that the script is terrible. Because actually, sometimes I'm wrong. Sometimes on page 12, and 15, and even 30. I'm like, Oh, my God, this script is so boring. And then a little bit later on something happens, A Beautiful Mind. For example, I remember reading that for Russell Crowe and and just wanting to toss it aside. Because I was like, Oh, my God, this is just like a perfunctory spy thriller. And I was like, This is so boring. And then you get to that twist, you have the rug pulled out from under you, if I had tossed that script aside by page 30. And listen, I still think that that twist should have been moved up a little bit earlier in the script. But regardless, if I had tossed it aside, you know, things might have been a little different for Russell Crowe. So. So I've learned my lessons over the years to stick with scripts I I also learn a lot from bad writing, actually learn more from bad writing than I do good writing, but an answer to your question. Because of looking for talent, my eye is always drawn, most importantly, to the protagonist of the story, the role that might client might play. So for me, I'm looking at that. And how does that character evolve? What is the character's journey through the story? how active is the character? How does the character change?

Alex Ferrari 31:59
How does conflict inform the character? These are things that I look at. So often, I'll read a script, where sort of the stuff on the periphery, I don't think is very good. But I'll say this is a terrific role. And not all that long ago. And I'll make this a blind item. But there was a screenplay that I read for a client. And I thought the role was amazing. But I really felt like the story went off the tracks at about midpoint. And then for the second half of the script, I didn't really have a clue what it was about, but I was like, Man, this is a good role. And that client made that film and won an Oscar nomination for Best Actor.


Christopher Lockhart 32:50
So you know, so my eye is always drawn first and foremost, to the character. And, and, and how I see the client in that role. So that's first and foremost for me. So that's what's really important to me.

Alex Ferrari 33:11
I mean, in a lot of times, I find this I've been speaking to so many different people in the industry and writers and screenwriters. I've come to realize that character I mean, plot is very important. But you don't generate remember plots of movies you remember characters of movies like I can I remember Indiana Jones? Do I remember the plot of Raiders of Lost Ark? Yes, because I've seen it 1000 times. But if you put my my feet to the fire on Temple of Doom, kind of remember the plot, but I remember, I remember the characters I remember all of those characters. so clear.

Christopher Lockhart 33:43
And most importantly, at least from my experience is that we remember the the emotionality

Alex Ferrari 33:50

Christopher Lockhart 33:51
Attached to the character. Because ultimately, you know, movies, screenplays, any art form, at least in my opinion, is is an emotional experience.

Right You know, if you if you go back to Aristotle, it's all about catharsis. So it so it is, it is about emotion. And for me, when I read a screenplay, I want to be moved. For me a screenplay is never should never be an intellectual exercise. That doesn't mean that it can't be smart. It doesn't mean that it can explore intellectual subjects. But ultimately, it has to be emotional. And, and so if I read a screenplay, and I feel the same way at the end, as I did at the beginning, it's probably a pass.

Alex Ferrari 34:49
Now, you said something earlier about you learn more from bad writing that you do for good writing. Can you tell us tell us a little bit about what you learn when you read a bad script?

Christopher Lockhart 34:58
Well, you know, you often learn and sort of what you shouldn't do, and more importantly, why. But I also think that, because I've read so many scripts, I've read over 60,000 scripts in 30 plus years. So I, like I have so many stories in my head. So let's say that you write a screenplay, and I read the screenplay, and I don't think it works. Now, I can guarantee you that I have read at least a dozen screenplays, very similar to your story. Because you know, you're all using the same archetypes and, and tropes and motifs. And I can then think, on those other dozen screenplays and how they were able to make work. What you weren't able to make work, just and then I can sort of compare and contrast. And so often, I can sort of figure things out or even through rewrites because I have, I have to read a lot of rewrites, you know, I can remember, you know, a script like, like man on fire with Denzel, I must have read 17 or 18 different drafts of that script as it came in. But I can remember very specific scripts that I had read, that didn't work. And, and, and I couldn't figure out why it didn't work. I could articulate that it wasn't working. And I might even be able to say why it wasn't working, but couldn't tell you how to fix it. And then you get a rewrite that comes in. And whatever it was, that I was feeling has been altered, the rewrite is much more successful. And then I'm able to look at what they did, and compare it to what it was before. And then have a learning experience. through that. I always bring up Matchstick men. As an example. That was the Ridley Scott Nicolas Cage movie.

I don't want to screw this up. But in the film, he he Nicolas Cage is a con man who meets his a strange daughter. And then they go out and do a con together. And then spoiler alert, we find out that she has content, she is not his daughter. Right? So really clever. The first draft that I read, she was his daughter. She was his daughter. And so then you get so then you get to this third act, it never has a really interesting climax. And it really felt like something was missing. And I couldn't figure it out. And then seven months later, a rewrite comes in. And I read that I'm like, Ah, that's it. Of course, it makes total sense. This is a movie about cons. This is a movie about confidence men. So you need a great con, you need a twist in the third act. I love the sting.

Alex Ferrari 38:09

Christopher Lockhart 38:10
And, you know, this has been all sort of part of my learning experience through reading so much. And and you know, I studied dramaturgy as a graduate student at NYU, I've been MFA. But really, so much of my education has come through reading scripts, and of course, being forced to read scripts. So my education has been at gunpoint, so to speak. But a lot I've learned a lot as a result.

Alex Ferrari 38:45
So you're like a database of of stories and screenplays because of just just sitting around reading very much like I'm very much like, Bill Murray and Groundhog's Day, so I'll bring it back to that. He's like, maybe there is no God, maybe he's just been around so long that he knows everything. So I'm not saying you're a god, sir. But, but but you but you, but you do have a database of all these stories in your head that helps you, you know, has I mean, it's like a computer almost. So you could just kind of go in and dive into things. That's really where

Christopher Lockhart 39:15
You know, a lot. A lot of what I do is somebody saying, Hey, you know, we're looking for romantic comedies for this actor. Can you you know, come up with a list. And, and so yeah, you know, so I go into my database, which is not just here, but is also on my computer, although I have a very antediluvian kind of system. So it's, it's very tough. Sometimes I it's it's really weird how I have to find projects that can often remember the stories but titles now for me, because there's so many titles, I can't recall titles. Sometimes I'll have a co worker who will call me say hey listened. You know, last week you read the ABC script. And I'll say, Wait, wait, wait. I remember that script at all, what was the logline? Because you know, that was like 30 scripts to go from me already. So it's like I read it, I move on to the next. But once I get a prompt, everything opens up in my head, and then I can really remember the story.

Alex Ferrari 40:24
So can you talk about what a screen when a screenwriter is ready for an agent or manager? Because so many times I hear screenwriters say, All I need is that agent or manager, I just need that that champion to just get me that deal. When are they actually ready for an agent or manager to take them on?

Christopher Lockhart 40:42
Well, my glib answer to that is always they're ready when the agent or manager knocks on their door. Because ultimately, when, when they're coming to you, you're ready. And people might say, Oh, well, how do they come to you? Well, they come to you because you want the nickel fellowship?

Alex Ferrari 41:04

Christopher Lockhart 41:05
You know, or maybe you wrote some low budget film that you thought nobody would see. But you know it, it was Sundance on fire. So but ultimately, it's a one thing that any writer can do is turn to his network to get feedback on his screenplays to see what's working and what isn't working. Because sometimes the writer isn't the best judge, especially when you've been working on a script for so long. And right. Yeah, absolutely. So So having that network of people that you trust, who can read your script, I give you notes. And then eventually, I think you can get the feeling when the notes go from from this to this, that maybe your screenplay is ready to share with representation. But that still may not mean you're ready, because in some cases, a rep might read your script and say, Wow, this is great. You're a great writer. I can't sell this, though. There's no market for this. What else do you have? And then you don't have anything? Right? So maybe having that follow up script, I used to work with an agent named Brian Cher, who's a manager now.

He's a he was a real wonder kantipur he was selling spec scripts at William Morris when he was in the mailroom. True story,

Alex Ferrari 42:39
That's amazing.

Christopher Lockhart 42:40
Yeah, so I have a lot of respect for him. And he always used to say, you know, something, a writer only needs one script, that's all I need. I just need if a writer's has only written one script, and I can sell that script, that's all that matters. But the truth is, is that often you're not writing that one script that's gonna sell, it just might be enough to sort of get the door open a jar. So having more than one project. And then of course, helping a rep, a representative see you and understand who you are. So if you do have more than one script, and there's a little bit of controversy here, but I suggest that writers brand themselves and that and that they stay with one genre, because if an agent or manager reads your action script, and they love it, but they can't sell it, but they love it, and they want to see what you have next. And it is a historical romance. Oh, that's gonna be a big letdown. So it kind of sucks, I think because writers hate the thought of having to be pigeonholed. But I think branding yourself is wiser. And then eventually, when you break through, and you want to do other things, then your reps job will be to help you cross over and do other things. But branding yourself, so you become that guy. I also, I also think there's just some common sense in it. So it's like if you write action scripts, and you write one action script, and on a scale from one to 10, it's a five, then you write a second action script, this time, that's a six, then you write your third one, it's a seven, you write your fourth one, it's an eight. And then by the time you have your fifth one, it's a nine. Now you're now you've got a really great action script that you can share with the town that the town will be excited about. But if you started with your first action script you wrote that was a five and then your second script is a romance. That's a five, and then you write a mystery, and that's a five. You're not, you're not necessarily growing. And the truth is, is that every time you write a script, you're a new writer Anyway, you know, and but so it helps to carry over some of those tools and get really, really good at doing one thing, and then a rep can sell you because if you have all different genres, a rep doesn't know how to sell you.

Alex Ferrari 45:14
So thinking along those lines help, and just getting your work out there again, you know, sharing your work with people entering it into contests that are reputable, like the nickel fellowship, for example.


Christopher Lockhart 45:29
yeah, yeah, I, you know, like, really the, in my opinion, the only contest that that matters industry wide is the nickel.

Alex Ferrari 45:40

Christopher Lockhart 45:41
And the and the studio fellowships, which are these TV writers, fellowships, they're just good. Because often if you are, if you are accepted, and you do the fellowship, you are transitioned to a staff, TV job at any of those studios. And so clearly, that's a really beneficial program, but screenwriting contests like Austin or scripta, Palooza, or even final draft, I wouldn't say that they are accepted universally through the industry, I would say that a lot of them have fans. But they don't have the kinds of brand that the Nickel fellowship does.

Alex Ferrari 46:32
Got it,

Christopher Lockhart 46:32
for whatever reason.

Alex Ferrari 46:33
Fair enough. Now, you said something earlier in regards to a low budget, low wonder like a kind of like a hit low budget hit? Do you recommend that screenwriters write a low budget independent film that can actually get produced so they actually have something out in the world as opposed to just a screenplay in hand with a cup in hand?

Christopher Lockhart 46:56
Right. You know, I think if a screenwriter has access to filmmakers, and money, even if she's not going to direct or even produce the movie, then it would behoove her to do that. But trying to sort of second guess the industry. I don't always know if that's wise, sometimes I just think the best thing riders should do is write the best fucking crazy ass memorable script that they can write, whether it's a gazillion dollar budget, or a low budget, because the odds of it selling are slim to none anyway, right. And what you want to do is make a splash. You want people to read your script and go, Wow, I want to meet this guy. That's what you want. First and foremost, the idea of trying to sell a script is I'm not saying that you shouldn't think that way. But, but again, the odds are that you're not going to sell a script, what you want to do you want to get representation, what you want to do is get a job. You know, you want somebody to say, Hey, I'm not going to make your movie, but we have a project that is similar to this. And maybe we can bring you on to do a rewrite.

Let's face it most. The majority of writers in the business, their bread and butter is through assignments. It's not spec selling.

Alex Ferrari 48:24
Right. Yeah, exactly. The spec selling thing is that lottery tickets that Powerball. That's right, that and so

Christopher Lockhart 48:31
So I say right, what you're good at, right? What you want to write, and write the hell out of it. You know, we're doing a logline contest right now. On my writers group, my Facebook writers group, and, you know, so we got about 400 log lines. And you know, a lot of them it's like, you look at these and I'm like, Yeah, like, Man, this this just doesn't feel like a movie in me.

Alex Ferrari 49:03

Christopher Lockhart 49:03
You know, maybe the screenplay is different. Maybe the screenplay is gonna take me in some, you know, other direction. Surprise me. But like, Yeah, I don't know about this that just doesn't feel like a movie. It's not it's not very exciting. Doesn't really smack with with conflict, which is something that I always look for in a logline. You know, I want to know what the conflict is. And does it sound like it's compelling? Does it sound like it could, you know, hold up a script for 120 pages? And and so I just, you know, I think that that writers should just just really think about what they're writing, you know, the process starts at the beginning, when they're hatching an idea and come up with something that's really compelling, because you have to stand out, you know, if you're just going to write that's that relationship script.

Alex Ferrari 50:08

Christopher Lockhart 50:08
About You know, you and your dad and you know your estrangement, and you come together under some sort of circumstance. And like I've read a million of those look, it doesn't mean that your writing may not be brilliant to could be brilliant look at Juno, right, like, read a script like Juno. And the writing is really fresh. But if you heard the logline You know, it would sound like an after school special from the 80s

Alex Ferrari 50:36
You're right

Christopher Lockhart 50:36
It does, but the writing is amazing. The problem is that it The problem is that you have to get people to read your writing. You know, Diablo Cody was she had a very popular blog. You know, I believe she'd already written a novel I think she'd even been on like the David Letterman show. And, and Mason Novick, who was a manager, he he approached her and said, you know, have you thought about writing a screenplay? And and so she was already juiced in. It's like, if you're somebody from Iowa, and you have no connections, and nobody's banging on your door, and you write Juno, how, how are you going to get it out there, especially when the logline is an after school special from? Well, hopefully, you entered into the nickel and they recognize the writing, and you win, or place very, very high, which perhaps opens some doors for you, as we said earlier, but but I just think that writers need to think about what they're writing, and, and just light it on fire, you know, light it on fire, because I read a lot of scripts, as do many other people in this town. And a lot of them feel the same. They're just sort of homogenized is when you're reading a screenplay, and you come across a character who's making compelling and unique choices, in pursuit of whatever it is that he or she is pursuing. Right? And these choices result in very unique and compelling conflicts. Then you say, Wow, I'm going to remember this. And then also, as I said, earlier, we remember the emotion.

And, and so it's like, you know, if you can write just one amazing scene that is moving and that doesn't mean moving somebody to tears, it means you could move them to laughter moves into fear. Again, out of all screenplays that I've read, I could I could tell you moments in screenplays like oh, yeah, there was this one script. I don't remember what it's called. And it really remembered the story. But there's this amazing beat, where ABCD happens. I might even remember where I was when I read it.

Alex Ferrari 53:13
Because it hit you emotionally.

Christopher Lockhart 53:14
Yes, exactly. Right. So you know, those are the things that you need to be going for, you know, so, so think so think, original, think, think emotionally, write a screenplay that is going to grab the reader by the throat, even if it is on producible. That wouldn't matter.

Alex Ferrari 53:39
Yeah. Which brings me to the next question I had, do you should screenwriters that are trying to break into the business. Think about budget when writing? Do they write the $200 million original story that more than likely will never get produced? Because that's just not the way the system is working right now? Or do they make that they write something that could be done for $20 million for Netflix? What should it should that even be a consideration?

Christopher Lockhart 54:07
You know, I have there's obviously two schools on that. I am a pragmatist. I and I'm very realistic about things. And so yeah, I would say Listen, don't write a $500 million script. But at the same time, I just said before, nobody's gonna buy your script anyway. So go ahead and write an amazing $500 million script. The thing is, this is it's not about budget. It's it's it really comes down to whether the script is good or not. This is I wish this is what people would worry about. But this is what writers don't concentrate on. They concentrate on all these things that they can control. Like, oh, I shouldn't use we see in my screenplay. That's a no no. Or I can't write it. big budget, screenplay or you know all of these things that are in their control. The one thing that they don't think about is writing an amazing screenplay. because believe it or not, that is out of the control of most of most new writers. Because, look, to be honest, most new writers shouldn't be writing, they shouldn't be writing screenplays, they probably shouldn't be writing emails. And so, you know, it's worry about your craft worried about the quality of what you're writing, don't think about the business. Because Great, so you write a script that Netflix can produce, but the script sucks. And as a result, Netflix isn't going to produce it. So what does it matter?

Right, exactly. Now, if you if there's a writer who wants to break into television today, what should should they write a spec script on an existing show? Or should they write an original piece?

They should be writing original pilots.

Alex Ferrari 56:01

Christopher Lockhart 56:02
Yeah. However, I would say that a lot of the studio TV fellowships that I mentioned earlier, like Warner Brothers, for example. They I believe, also want to see an existing a spec from an existing show. So it wouldn't hurt a TV writer to have both. But definitely, original pilot.

Alex Ferrari 56:32
Now, what is the biggest mistake you see screenwriters make in writing screenplays? Because I'm you have a few written if you've read a few. So I'm sure you've read a few bad ones. What are these constant mistakes, story wise, structural wise, character wise, that you see that you just like, Oh, God, I wish they would just stop this.

Christopher Lockhart 56:51
Yeah, the number my number one on that list. And I don't really make lists. But this would be my number one is that they create a protagonist, who has nothing to do through the story

Alex Ferrari 57:06
Who's just like a just an observer, or just hanging out

Christopher Lockhart 57:10
in an active protagonist. So, you know, ultimately, in drama. And again, you know, this is, this is the way I look at material, this is not the way everybody looks at material. You know, I definitely when I, you know, first started writing and studying, you know, like, Aristotle was definitely my guy. So, you know, I believe that, that you have to give your protagonist something to do. And in a film needs to be something that that is active. And that can be filmed. So when somebody says, Yeah, so I have this really exciting story. It's, it's about a character who wants to feel safe in a world where she's lost. And I'm like, Yeah, I don't know what that means.

Alex Ferrari 58:23
Because I was watching a movie The other day, and I can't remember it because it was bad. But the character didn't, the main character was just along for the ride. They didn't, they didn't generate the story. They didn't because of their actions, nothing that they did affected the story, the story was going in the direction it was going to go regardless if they weren't, and they were the protagonist, which was just a weird thing, as opposed to someone that is constantly moving the foot moving the story forward in one way, shape, or form.

Christopher Lockhart 58:52
Right, it's it's it. So I will meet writers who will say, well, the character doesn't have a lot to do, because this is a character piece. And like, yeah, that doesn't make any sense to me. Because in drama, a character is defined by the choices that she makes. Yes, you will create little idiosyncrasies for your character that texturizers the character, but that is not what creates a dramatic character. So in a screenplay, you give a character something to do something important, like in Erin Brockovich, she spearheads a legal case. Right? So she, she sets out to win a legal case. She's even a lawyer, and she sets out to win a case for these cancer stricken people who have been screwed over by some utility company, right. And so that's her goal, right? Her goal is to win this lawsuit. That's her goal. And now through the movie, she sets out to achieve that goal, scene after scene after scene. And there are choices that she has to make things that she has to do. And these choices reveal who she is. So for example, she goes to some place and she needs copies. And so she lifts up her boobs, and, you know, she, she playfully seduces the nerdy clerk, that gives us an inkling of who she is. So the choices that characters make, let me just give you a very broad example, if I may. So let's say you have your your characters walking down the street, and he looks down at the sidewalk, and he sees a wallet, somebody had dropped their wallet, and it's filled with cash. And what your character does with that wallet, will help to define who the character is. If the character just leaves the wallet on the ground, and walks away. That's one character. If the character takes the money and leaves the wall behind, that's another character. If he takes the whole wallet, that's somebody else. If he takes half the money and leaves the other half, that's a different character. If he takes the wallet to the police station, to return it. That's another character if the owner of the wallet comes to the police station and offers the character a reward, if the character takes it or doesn't take it also reveals character, this is what reveals character in movies, it is the choices your character makes, it's not the novelistic details that people get caught up in, like these idiosyncrasies of well, this character drinks Coca Cola out of a bottle, Pan, it looks that's interesting. Like it that's, that is a fine piece of texture for a character. It's not dramatic, it's not speaking in the language of which you are trying to tell your story.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:21

Christopher Lockhart 1:02:22
So So and of course, you want these choices to be made within a dramatic framework. So Erin Brockovich is making these choices in this framework of her having to win a case, right, or Hamlet sets out to avenge the murder of his father. That's, that's Hamlet's journey through that five act play, or Sheriff protein, jaws has to kill the shark, you must give your character something to do, you must give your character a goal, because that keeps the character active. And it also keeps the audience engaged because we want to know what will happen. We asked ourselves, gee, will Aaron win the case? And we stick around for two hours to see if she will, will Hamlet avenge the death of his father, we stick around through five acts to see if he will, will Sheriff Brodie kill the shark? We stick around for two hours to see if he will. If you don't ask that question. There's no reason for the audience to stick around.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:31
Right. And we won't and you think it's that's story one on one, but a lot of a lot of writers don't get that

Christopher Lockhart 1:03:39
not a lot. Not a lot. Most.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:42

Christopher Lockhart 1:03:43
I'm saying for because I do read a lot of amateur scripts. You know, I also teach so I read a lot of students scripts. That is, it is it's like the COVID-19 of screenwriting, is not giving your protagonist something to do that is the virus. It is a pandemic. And no matter how many times I can say this, it doesn't matter. Like sometimes I'm at these events where people pitch. So they'll come up and they'll pitch and they'll you know, spend two minutes and then I'll say, Well, I'm not sure what is it that your character is doing in your story? And they don't have an answer. And I say, Okay, look, you know, let me hear a pitch where your character is active, where there is a goal and your character is, is traveling through the story to reach this goal. Let me hear and then somebody comes up and does the pitch. And there's no goal. Like Okay, I guess you didn't understand me. And so I explained it to get who has a story where the protagonist is active and has something to do. Every hand goes up and it doesn't matter you literally can go one after the other after the other after the other. So they seem to understand it but then it gets lost in translation somewhere. Listen screenwriting is an easy it's the reason why not a lot of people do it. It's really hard. It's really hard work. And and also, I think a lot of writers come in writing from from a perspective that they're writing. You know, I always say that screenwriters are not really writers. They're really not write screenplays are constructed, they're built.

The writing the the, the writing spirits, like you're committing mellifluous prose to the page is not what screenwriting is about, because nobody will see that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:55

Christopher Lockhart 1:05:56
Nobody wants you to describe a sunrise in 1000 words, in a screenplay, like you wouldn't have novel, you have to describe that same sunrise in five words, in a screenplay,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:06
but get the same emotion but get the same emotion to say

Christopher Lockhart 1:06:08
of course. So screenwriting isn't about writing. I mean, you know, look at the word playwright, right. Like if if, if you actually look at the word play, right, it's w ri ght? Er, right? Like a ship, right? Right, a builder of so you're building, you're building, a screenplay, it's all about, it's all about structure. It's all about how it is constructed. The way one scene is juxtaposed to another, the ebb and flow, the cause and effect, the setup and the payoff. It's all about construction. And so a lot of people come at screenplays as writers, rather than builders. And I think it's the builders who are successful. First and foremost, look, that doesn't mean that you can't, you know, have beautiful writing in your screenplay. Sure, you know, but ultimately, that doesn't translate to the audience experience.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:08
No, I mean, you read a Shane Black script, or a Tarantino script and Tarantino's dialogue snaps, and you will hear it. But if you look at the Shane Black script, I still I still love Shane's descriptions. His descriptions are amazing, but no one loves it.

Christopher Lockhart 1:07:22
And, but he's also not trying to be literary.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:26
Right? He is.

Christopher Lockhart 1:07:27
He is sort of he is a storyteller. And he's telling a story as if he were in the room almost.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:34

Christopher Lockhart 1:07:35
And and you know, he has that very sort of specific where he's winking at the reader all along. And, but it's not Faulkner,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:44
you know, it's by any stretch. Now, I'm gonna ask you the last few questions I asked all my guests. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read?

Christopher Lockhart 1:07:55

Alex Ferrari 1:07:57
I read the pop into your head. I hear the questions.

Christopher Lockhart 1:08:01
I say this, you know, because I use it in my classes. insomnia. Yeah.Hilary Seitz wrote a screenplay that was adapted from a foreign film. Which country I don't recall.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:17
Swedish, Swedish Swedish perhaps? Yeah.

Christopher Lockhart 1:08:19
And I'm not saying the movie. Mind. Your screenplay is much better than the film. The script. I believe the screenplay for insomnia is the actual reading experience is interesting. I would say that is The Very Best Screenplay that I have ever read.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:40
And the Nolan remake the Nolan remake one not the original script of the remake the Hollywood

Christopher Lockhart 1:08:47
IMAX. Correct. But again, I'm not talking about the movie. So don't go out and watch the movie. I'm talking about reading the screenplay, because that was your question. And and yeah, I think that script was was an is brilliant. And and because it just does everything that a screenplay should do. And does it so well and in an in a fairly complicated way. So So I love that script. Andwhat do you want me to say Chinatown? You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:09:26
Godfather, Shawshank Redemption.

Christopher Lockhart 1:09:30
You know something? i? I honestly think that in some ways, once you've seen the movie, the the screenplay experience is ruined for you. I feel like I'm lucky in the sense that I read all of these movies before their movies.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:49
Do you think you read meant you were you were involved with a man on fire, which is I love man on fire but on the page. Please tell me that Tony Scott translation that he did for the film, that kinetic energy that vibe, the thing was that on the page was even close to being on the page, or was it just a completely different experience?

Christopher Lockhart 1:10:13
The, the, the thing that's in the screenplay is the emotionality right there, the relationship between creasy and the girl. And, and that's, that's, that's what sells the script. Tony Scott is Tony Scott. And then he brings what he brings. Of course, I knew that Tony Scott was I but I'm pretty sure that I knew that Tony Scott was attached to direct when I read the script, so I could probably imagine the way certain things would go. But ultimately, reading a screenplay before it's a movie, in my opinion, is the most beneficial thing for a screenwriter, that doesn't mean that they shouldn't also read screenplays of films they love. But I say this, because once you see the movie, when you read the screenplay, you are now interpreting that screenplay, through the director, through the cinematographer, through the performances, through the music, it's all been done for you. When you read a script, before, it's a film, none of that is done for you, you have to bring all of that to the page, I have read a lot of mediocre screenplays, that have been great films, because you end up with a really good director and a really good actor, and you have a good film. And, but if you're just reading that screenplay, you you can you can see the flaws. So, so I'm definitely an advocate of of that. So I'm gonna tell people that if they read in the trades, that screenplay just sold for a million dollars, try to get your hands on that script. You know, this is why you got to have a network of people, by the way. But you know, try to try to get your hands on that's good to read that script and try to understand why somebody would invest that kind of money into this project. Sometimes you just scratch your head

Alex Ferrari 1:12:27

Christopher Lockhart 1:12:28
And sometimes you don't, sometimes you're like, wow, like, I totally get this,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:32
Or have sold a bunch of scripts that never got produced, and he got paid handsomely for them back in the day

Christopher Lockhart 1:12:37
absolut, absolutly will, let's face it, again, the majority of scripts that sell never get made. So so that is not that is not unusual. I have read many scripts over the years, that I still feel sad that they have not been made. and and, and and I continue to promote those scripts. So I will always continue to promote those scripts. So when somebody asks me for a list, and there's that script that I love from 15 years ago, but it's perfect for this actor, that title goes on that list. And that's how movies get made.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:20
Yeah, I mean, I remember seeing an interview with john Cusack who said, he wants to his agents, he's like, give me the script that you can't, no one is ever going to produce. And then they ended up being john malkovich. Because you mean john, being john malkovich is not a commercial film. But it was, it was brilliant. And then you give it to spike Jones, and then you put that cast together. And it all it all worked. Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Christopher Lockhart 1:13:47

Alex Ferrari 1:13:49

Christopher Lockhart 1:13:51
That is paramount, and create a network. So you start to create a network. And again, you can do that. If you live outside of the industry here in town. You can follow people on Twitter, and on Instagram. There's all kinds of Facebook groups. Again, I invite anybody to come to my Facebook group, it's called the inside pitch. And it is a place where you can meet people and have friends and exchange screenplays with them. And creating that network is really important. Those are the things that screenwriters need to be doing all the time. And in my opinion, it should almost be 5050 it should be you know your writing 50% of the time and your networking 50% of the time, because one without the other is fairly useless. It's great to have an amazing script but if you do not have a network in which to share it, then you're at a loss and yet at the same time if you if you have a network, but no work to share with it, then you're also at a loss. So those are those the things and those are things that you can do. Those are the easy, simple things. And then of course, you should be educating yourself. So watch movies and read screenplays. I mean, it's kind of just all basic stuff.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:17
And what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? I'd love your reactions. By the way, everybody who's not watching this, his faces are amazing.

Christopher Lockhart 1:15:33
Why don't you just ask me what kind of tree? I would be? What was the question again?

Alex Ferrari 1:15:38
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Christopher Lockhart 1:15:43
Oh, that's easy, because I actually just learned it very recently. You have to vacuum every day.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:51
The best answer to that question?

Christopher Lockhart 1:15:53
No, but it's absolutely true. You have to vacuum every single day. And then you don't get a lot of dust in your apartment. You know, I mean, I just, it has just just just come to me. You know, I'm like, because I'm always dusting all the time. It's a pain in the ass. And I just realized through COVID every day I vacuum, and I'm not hardly dusting. So my advice, vacuum every day.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:21
That should be the title of a book. Vacuum every day.

Christopher Lockhart 1:16:26
See? Maybe you and I will write it. Yes.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:29
Christopher, I truly appreciate you being on the show. And if people want to reach out to you, I guess the inside pitch Facebook group is the best place. That's the best place. Thank you again, so much for being on the show. And and just your wealth of information has been very beneficial to my tribe. So I appreciate it my friend.

Christopher Lockhart 1:16:45
Right. Thank your tribe, and you'd be well.



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