IFH 542: Producing Films in Today’s Hollywood with Oscar® Nominee Chris Moore

Every once in a while I have a conversation on this show that blows my mind, this episode did just that. Today on the show we have Oscar® Nominated producer Chris Moore. He produced films like Good Will Hunting, American Pie, Waiting, The Adjustment Bureau, and Manchester by the Sea. Chris’ profile grew from his appearance as the producer on the early 2000’s filmmaker reality show Project: Greenlight.

I have a short, and I mean short, history with Project: Greenlight. You can see below.

After graduating from college, Chris Moore moved to Los Angeles after sometime working in the mailroom of a major agency he got promoted to literary agent. He championed projects like: The Stoned Age, PCU, Airheads, Last Action Hero, and My Girl. 

When Chris’ agency was acquired by ICM, he left and became an indie film producer. With some friends, he raised the budget to produce the indie film Glory Daze, which starred an unknown Matt Damon. Damon turned down the leading role in favor of paid work on another paid project but introduced him to his friend Ben Affleck, who ultimately starred in Glory Daze.

Afterward, Affleck and Damon wrote the screenplay for what would become the Oscar® winning Good Will Hunting, and they asked Chris help them produce the film that was directed by Gus Van Sant.

Will Hunting (Matt Damon) is twenty years old, and already stands out in his rough, working-class neighborhood in South Boston. He’s never been to college, except to scrub floors as a janitor at MIT. Yet he can summon obscure historical references from a photographic memory, and almost instantly solve math problems that frustrate Nobel Prize winning professors. The one thing this remarkably bright, impossibly angry young man can’t do – after his latest bar fight – is talk his way out of a pending jail sentence.

His only hope is Sean McGuire (Robin Williams), a college professor-turned-therapist with an admiration for Will’s emotional struggles, and a keen understanding of what it’s like to fight your way through life.

Chris and I had a remarkable conversation about how to produce films in today eco-system. We also discuss what it’s like working in the studio system, some of the issues he has with the system, how filmmakers are treated, and so much more. This an EPIC 2-hour conversation full of knowledge and truth bombs so prepare to take some notes.

Enjoy my conversation with Chris Moore.

Right-click here to download the MP3


Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Chris Moore, man. How you doing, Chris?

Chris Moore 0:15
I'm good. How are you Alex?

Alex Ferrari 0:18
I'm doing great, man. I'm doing really great. I I've been a fan of yours from back in the day. Not even during good. You know, obviously Good Will Hunting and all that. But specifically, this little show you did called Project Greenlight, and I have to ask you, man, season two. Why don't I make the top 10 man I made the top 25 man, why did I make the top 10 I'm just.

Chris Moore 0:39
I wish I could remember. I'm sure there was a reason though.

Alex Ferrari 0:44
I'm sure there. I'm sure there was.

Chris Moore 0:46
But the other thing to remember is that we didn't I guess I was in charge of the top 10 So I'll take that hit.

Alex Ferrari 0:55
But not busting your balls and bust your balls. I always people always like cuz on my IMDb I'm on Project Greenlight. Season two in the like, Did you were you on Project Greenlight? I go. Yes for three seconds in the opening montage. Project Greenlight two because I had to send it I was one I got to the level of least sending in a director of video. So and we'll talk about Project Greenlight in a little bit, but I just wanted to push it a bit.

Chris Moore 1:20
Fair enough. I mean, I'm so old Alex that I'm sure there's a story for almost anyone who runs into me at this point. But uh, you know, those are the hardest is because the the fact that no one became a big star coming out of Project Greenlight people had careers, and it definitely helped people and that kind of stuff. I can't speak to the fourth season that was involved, but the a lot of people are like, well, if this guy wasn't such a genius, you know, one of the winners, why don't you're like, Dude, that was like, 15 years ago, I can't remember. I just know, we made our decisions. I had somebody stopped me in an airport this Thanksgiving. No, 15 days ago.

Alex Ferrari 2:03

Chris Moore 2:04
Are you Chris Moore from Project Greenlight? And I felt like saying no, but I was like, I think that's a dick move to be like, No, it's like, yes, long time ago. He's like, you know, I never got over not making the top three. And I was like, Oh, my God. Like, I don't know what to say. Like, I'm so sorry. It's like those people at once soft fair enough that the film business is tough. Because everybody judges everybody.

Alex Ferrari 2:30
Oh, my God, that's hilarious. Alright, so let's go back a bit. How did you get started? And why did you want to be in this insane business?

Chris Moore 2:40
Well, the hard part about that question is the first answer. I'll answer the second question first, which is I never set out to be in the business I, I am the worst sort of how did they get their stories because she just kept happening to me. And I just wrote along with it. As I said, people, I'm not trying to be falsely modest. I clearly had an okay ability to identify talent or good scripts or whatever it might be. But I actually think that was just because I grew up in small town in Maryland, and love movies. So like, I came with a predisposed, like sort of saying, you know, how did you get into basketball or whatever you're doing? It's like, Well, I happen to be seven foot two. And you're like, you don't have any control over that like, and you decide it's good, you liked it. Because if you decide you want to be a jockey being seven foot two is not a good idea. But so I would say I got lucky I came out here. The quick story is, when I was in college, at Harvard, and Boston to get all that out of the way, I worked as a PA. And then I sort of graduated up to other jobs in live television, sports, and I thought I was going to work in television, sports. And over time, by the time I had graduated, I decided to move out here to my best friends are coming out here and had a sweep place, they were working on Wall Street, but for for here, and they had a sweet place in Manhattan Beach. And I knew that the entertainment business was sort of startup kind of money, you're not going to be paying for a sweet place in Manhattan Beach. So I was like, sounds good to get away from everyone and warm weather. So I ended up in California living with them. And a friend of mine, who I had met through, you know, I've worked as a PA on a television show for USA Network and was sort of checking it out. So he was gone, said, You know, this little agency that I work for, is expanding. They've just recruited four agents from the other big agencies, and we don't have enough people. You want to come just work, check out an agency and I thought, you know, that might be interesting to see how you sell stuff through whatever. I was actually only going to be in LA for six months because I owed a semester to college. So I was gonna go back in the spring. So I was like, I'll go work for five, six months at this agency. So it's like, you know, and it really was for the old people. They can remember the Saturday Night Live skit, it really was making copies and kit and coffee deliver and packages and shit all which is digital now except the coffee. But I, I liked it, I really love reading scripts, you know, we had to read like 1015 scripts a week, and give him my thoughts. And I, it was kind of fun to be at that beginning phase where you say this could be a great movie, and then, you know, it sells and then you know, I wasn't there long enough to see anything get made. But I, I had a lot of fun. So they then I guess, like me and said, Look, when you come back from college, we'd love you to come back, keep working here. So, so I really sort of was like, Okay, that's a good job, my parents are gonna want me to have a job and get paid. And I'll work in the mailroom. And then, when I got back after my, you know, that last semester, to LA, the, the agency had expanded again, and brought in some more people. And so they didn't even put me back in the mailroom, I became an assistant to an agent. And then I moved up to one of the, the sort of founding agents desk after about three or four months. And then they expanded again and needed, like young agents at the time, one of your big jobs as a young agent was to go out and sort of just gather information, you weren't experienced enough to, you know, have clients of your own, but you go out and you you know, and so you got territories, and you'd be in charge of territories. And so myself and another assistant got promoted, and we were sort of these, you know, Junior guys would just drive around all day to studios and networks and other places and, you know, sort of learn what they need, you know, do they need writers on this project? Do they need actors on that project? Do they need, you know, we want a horror movie for Halloween shit like that. And I was primarily in the movie business. And so anyway, I was doing that. And then I ended up finding some scripts that sold and some movies that got made, I ended up signing some young talents early, you know, from Sundance and from you know, film festivals, and, you know, had a had an okay run as a producer as an agent. And, you know, and, and I realized this gonna make me sound like the dumbest person on earth. But I, I got frustrated with, I would fall in love with these visions of the scripts, and I would sell using the vision. And then by the time they got made, they were not good. And I was always like, the fuck out, excuse me what happened? Like, like, maybe there's a job I could have, or at least I had more of a chance to be part of the whole process. So I, the agency, the small agency I was working for it was called inter talent. And it sold it basically the some of the founding partners got in a fight. A group went to UTA and a group went to ICM, and I went to ICM for a year, but the big agency business is very different than the small agency business. And so after a year, I raised a million dollars, you know, 1992, and made a little movie that's out there called glory days, that happened to star guy named Ben Affleck. And, you know, Ben came in and audition, and I was paying the casting director out of my pocket. He was great. And I liked him a lot. So we gave him the lead in the movie and, and then as we made that movie, and I learned a ton about it, it's a great way to learn is to be the financier and the producer, of you know of a little movie, because you get to see everything. And it's it's a huge nightmare. And I'm sure I you know, I'm gonna die earlier than I would have having done that. But the, but I learned a ton and I became friends with Ben and Ben. And I know Matt a little bit in college, but we weren't friends. And then I knew him through Ben and, and but my reputation as a young literary agent was pretty good. I've been profiled in some magazine so much. So Ben just said, Look, my buddy, and I wrote the script. Would you read this script and tell me what you think? And I was petrified? Because, you know, actors, writers, actors, directors can go one way or the other. They there can be super, you know, sort of stuck on themselves. And it's hard, or they can actually be really talented. That's probably true of other people, but actors in particular. Anyway, I didn't read it for a while because we were still shooting a little movie. And I didn't want to have to tell them I hated a script while he was shooting. The movie we were making. And but I read it and I thought it was awesome. Like a little I was like, Look, dude, you don't? You don't want to give this to me. I'm a little producer trying to start out you just sell this for a million dollars. Like there's no I can just tell you that right now. This is a great script. And he got one that no then we regret shooting and we sat down we thought that and they told me they wanted to start it and they want to do it. I said well, that's gonna be a little harder because no one's heard of any of you but I was like, you still could probably sell it you will probably get faced with the question of started less money. More money don't start. So anyway, Be The rest was sort of history and that's why I say I'm, that's a bad story of a came out before I graduated college, worked in the mailroom got a job became an agent, all happened within a three year period of time I had produced good wine. And so the point is that you can't say to anybody in the hustle, you know, copy that, because right, that was pure luck and a little bit of taste, right. I mean, there were other people that read that first draft of Google hunting were like, I'm not sure this is very good. So all I can say is I was smart enough to know, you know, some of the guys I worked with very early in the career like Night Shyamalan rituals. Richville Zak, Penn, some of these guys are being writers now and, and directors and whatever. And then Matt and Ben, obviously. And so the point is that the best The only thing I can say, I was okay, at being able to read or look at watch something and be like, I really like that. Maybe if I'm lucky enough if I really like other people like it. And I'm sure if your favorite movie is, you know, some obscure Japanese film. That's harder, because your natural taste isn't, you know, my favorite movies are like diehard,I think diehard is close. Great, perfect movie,

Alex Ferrari 11:13
And, and the greatest Christmas in the grid, it's just Christmas movie of all time.

Chris Moore 11:16
Exactly. Get ready to watch it over the next six weeks. But like so that's what I try to say to people who might be listening or thinking about it is you got to lean into your talents, you have to think about what it is. And you some of it is luck in this business.

Alex Ferrari 11:33
I think I think I agree with you 100% So many people and trust me from from when I was coming up, you know, I try to study everybody else's path. So you know, you try to go down Robert Rodriguez's path or Kevin Smith's path or been in Matt's path. I mean, how many actors after Goodwill Hunting sec. We're gonna write a movie and we're gonna get it one first. I mean, Sylvester Stallone, oh, gosh, face. Oh, of course. I mean, yeah. Yeah. You dropped the mic.

Chris Moore 12:00
That's, that's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 12:02
Exactly. But for that generation, you know, they were big, big, big inspiration. And the funny thing is, and I've just in this is just, you know, a couple of all old farts talking with age, you really realize that there is no path you can take from somebody else. You might be inspired by somebody else's path. But it's truly your own path. That is weird, because every single one of those people I just mentioned, from from Ed burns for from Spike Lee, all of those 90s directors that we all idolize, they all had different paths. He all went down different paths. None of them were like, Well, Kevin went down the rabbit Rodriguez path No, nope, no, he didn't he he did his own thing. He was inspired by lit by Rick. Linkletter slacker and so many people were in so so it's just I just wanted to put that out there for people, as much as you want to kind of emulate somebody else's path. I promise you will never work. But you could be inspired by it and move forward going forward. Now, you know, obviously, your your history with finding talent. And you know, especially with Project Greenlight and the chair and things like that, that you were you're always looking for directing talent, is there something you look for specifically in a director?

Chris Moore 13:17
Well, it's a good question. I mean, what I would say is, I still love sort of professional storytelling. And my view is, I take this larger, historic view that humans need storytelling. I don't know why I'm not a psych guy. I didn't study any of that shit. But I know that it's valuable. And I know that it's valuable on the escape entertainment side. And I know it's valuable on the just learn about stuff or having catharsis or whatever. And I've been very fortunate to be part of all of those kinds of projects. The thing that I would say about a director and specific is, I believe, and I think we're actually in the heyday of it right now, which is, there's the right medium for all kinds of stories. And the point is that, you know, yes, when the Brothers Grimm were out there just walking around the forest telling stories to people, that's the only choice they had. But the truth of the matter is, not every Grimms fairy tale should be filmed with a camera and a crew, right? And so what I look for in a director is, why did they pick this story, to film and tell as a movie or a television show, right? Because if you don't make it better than it was right on paper, or better than it was when somebody told you the story in a podcast, or better than it was as a graphic novel. There's no reason to direct it. So as a director, you have to prove to me that you're gonna take this and make it better, right and use the skills of what I call, you know, audio visual effects, you know, music, you get to use all of those tools. To really knock me down with how great the story is. So like to me it you use all those 90 directors, I think a few of them. Kevin Smith being one and I think it's actually happened is, he could have done Clark's as a podcast. And it would have been super funny, and it wouldn't work. And he's got the whole smodcast network, and he's got a bunch of podcasts. And he, he under his dialogue is unbelievable. His characters are unbelievable. What he does with the camera was the genre or the medium that was available for him then, right? What he would do now he still makes movies every now and then. And he's still, and those are different, they have effects and they do whatever. But I, Kevin's a guy who would say to you, I just want to tell these great stories about these people and these characters and situations. And however is best to tell them I'll tell them, right. Robert loves effects loves us. And again, I don't know these guys, well, I've met them. But the point is that you look at Robert, he's got troublemaker he loves, you know, turn it. So Robert needs to be in this genre. You're not the podcast of Spy Kids isn't fun.

Alex Ferrari 16:05
Right, right.

Chris Moore 16:08
Yeah, I'm gonna go listen to Spy Kids. Right? That's, that isn't how it's gonna work. So I think that, for me, what it is, is a director or a icon, sort of professional storyteller, saying, I decided this is the best way to tell this story, right. And I'm going to come in and show you that you want to give your story if I'm the producer, if I'm the writer, if I'm the rights holder of the story, you want to give it to me, because I'm going to take the tools of writing, directing, working with actors working with composer, and I'm going to make this story badass. Right? And, and that's what I look for in a director is, well, what will this benify Just read it as a novel? Right? What are what would I have liked this story just as much? Right? What would it be? And that's, you know, I think New because now there's way more professional ways to be a storyteller than there used to be, or you can make a living. And that's the kind of thing I did when I was an agent, I'd say, Look, this thing, maybe you should do this as a graphic novel. Or maybe this would be really cool as a play. Right? Or, or, you know, maybe this is a is an animated piece, because you can do really funny stuff with animation that you can't really get away with in live action, right. So. So I think part of it when you look at a director because I still look at as a director or a sort of episodic showrunner, also as sort of the leader of the whole thing, right? This sort of vision, the the NI, not a believer in committee, I think you want one or two people who are really the creative center of any project, but the, but I think you really want them to see and have a vision for why it's better this way or that way. Not they did it that way. Because somebody would pay him to do it, or they did whatever. And you see a lot of what I would call, you know, sort of people who are really good at one off storytelling have moved into limited series, right? six episodes, five episodes. That's to me a movie, that's anything else. It's you're telling one story over a period of time. In that case, you have more episodes, so you can get more into it. Right? You know, but the point is, that's also because the buyers seem to be interested in that. Right, right. So I always when I do these, I say to people think about what Good Will Hunting would be today? How would we have made Good Will Hunting today? I'm not sure it would have been a $25 million movie. Right? Right. It could have been a bunch of episode hell, it could have been a podcast, it's just that and that's characters talking to each other about how the hell to get out of Southie? Which, which then, which will then lead to other stuff. But like, how does how does a story get out into the world? And so for a director, that's a big part. And then the other thing for a writer is is not that you asked, but just to answer is, are they? Did they capture a story and I was read things twice? Because there's the first time where it's all new. Right? And then it's the second time when you know everything that's about to happen. Do you still like it? You know? And that's it just did I like it. I look at myself more as a consumer who was buying early than

Alex Ferrari 19:19
Your early investor,

Chris Moore 19:22
Expert anything right? I still see 20 movies a week. You know, I watch it shows all the time.

Alex Ferrari 19:28
It's all about this is the one thing that that filmmakers and screenwriters don't understand is that you can't teach taste, taste. It's something you are programmed with at the factory and developed over the course of your life. There's nothing you can do. And that's, that's why when I work with with collaborators, as a director, I'm looking for taste because you can teach craft. You can teach craft, you can teach technique, but taste man is just like, Oh, it's so tough.

Chris Moore 19:56
You're 100% right and the thing that makes taste so hard to quantify is I think tastes weirdly can be muted or, or affected by mood. So like, I think that the mood is something that none of us have any real control over, right? So like you can, you know, the mood of the world today is different because of COVID. Because of the economy because of partisanship, if you're in America, because of whatever right mood as you said, We're two older guys, right? So our mood and what we might respond to is gonna be different than potentially what we responded to when we were 25. Right. So part of it is also looking at yourself and saying, what, what am I looking at? Or who am I speaking for? What, what who else is in the same sort of move or frame of mind that I'm in? Because I think there's other ones like, today there are, I just need to get away and I want to go somewhere fantastical, like, I've been watching Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings with my 14 year old recently, and it's fun. I'm always like, Yeah, dude, let's go back. Okay, let's get in there. Let's go to Middle Earth, right. And that works, you know, and I loved it when it came out. It's not like I've watched it 10 times between when it came out on my 14 year old just got interested. So I'm watching it again. You know, that's different than, you know, watching something that's more serious or more interesting, or more about grownups, you know, actually really like this Spencer, movie about Princess die will say a little too much Princess die in the last, you know, two years. But that one was weird, because it's basically a study of how you just fall into craziness, like your life. And so I was fascinated as an older person who had people I've known for 4050 years of my life, who go crazy, sort of watching somebody do that. Is it weird that they did it really well. And now I couldn't recommend I would go on out and say everybody should watch this movie. You gotta be in the frame of mind that you're gonna watch somebody go crazy, right? I think that's the, and I certainly would never want to marry into the royal family. I'll tell you that.

Alex Ferrari 22:02
Oh, no, no, no, no no No, yes.

Chris Moore 22:04
But anyway, that's what I think's interesting about, you know, professional storytelling right now is there's a lot of options. There's a lot of ways to do it. Some are more lucrative than others. But

Alex Ferrari 22:14
Now, now, there's, there's I heard you once talk about three leverage points in producing, which I found fascinating, and I never heard it clarified so beautifully. Can you please, can you please talk about the three leverage points of being a producer? Because Because producing is such a nebulous thing, and you actually quoted a couple things they can help you

Chris Moore 22:37
The embarrassing part of this moment is you got to Malia which three I talked about on that one? I mean, I have, I have the three, what I always go is so this may be the three you're talking about is that there's the material, there's sort of the money and distribution, you know, that can be divided into two or can be one. And then there's the talent. And in my my view, for a producer, you're really only value. Yes, there is a skill set to producing sort of like what you said about craft, there are things you've learned as a producer about how to make deals, how to sell stuff, how to budget stuff, how to manage people on set, but somebody could, you know, throw me into a construction project. And I could probably figure out how to manage it relatively quickly. There's a skill set, but producers don't really have a craft as it were, we're salespeople were taste, right? Makers, man, where then we're management of the humans that you need to make it right. So your power or your leverage comes from the three areas that you have to have. And so at certain periods, like when the internet was less prevalent, I had four which was there's eyeballs, people who can get you to eyeballs and distribute distributors were a lot bigger. Now with YouTube and the internet and all this other stuff. You have a lot more power yourself to reach eyeballs, right? You You may not know how to monetize it, you may not be doing paid advertising, but you can put stuff out there. And over time, some stuff does get just discovered because people liked it. Right? But money is still important, you know, particularly audio visual, perfect professional storytelling is expensive. It's not, it's not you know, even if you're doing a $250,000 movie, that's still a shitload more expensive than many other things you could do. Right? Right. So it's like, so there's money and so a lot of producers come from the money set, they come from the you know, I'm gonna get your money or I'm gonna put the money in or I am rich and then I'm gonna bring other people right. So those two areas you can either work for a distributor, you know, a 24 trusts you and you can get a 24 to pick you up. So that gives you some power or rich guide number two loves you and whatever you bring them they'll give you half the budget. You So that's one version of power. I personally came the other way, which is talent and story or like the project itself, right material that I never really was a rights guy. I bought some life rights, but I've never really bought books or anything like that, which is put me in a bad spot right now as a producer, because right now we're in a weird moment in the business where some sort of past life for the material seems to be necessary. Yeah, it seems to, you know, the IP. And I've always been a believer that movies and television could create value. And most of the successes on my resume Greenlight, you've talked about Goodwill Hunting, we've talked about American Pie, that, you know, we those were original ideas that were made in either film or TV, right? Today, they probably say go do it somewhere else first, let us know people like it, and then we'll make a movie out of it. Or then, you know, very rarely today, do you see original material coming through movies and television.

Alex Ferrari 26:00
Let me ask you, let me ask you this question. Why is it that because right now Hollywood is mining, the 70s 80s and 90s. For material and IP that's basically we're just getting rehashes remakes read everything in a time period were they allowed creativity to come up with original ideas? Like Gremlins in goo? Do you think Goonies would be made in today's world? Or even Gremlins would be or even Good Will Hunting would have never been made by Studio? And today's out of 25 million? That's like a dead zone. 25 million bucks. You know what? It just doesn't make any sense. So what is it? Why do you think from your point of view? Is the studio so just resistant to new ideas? Or you've got to be James Cameron to come in with $500 million to make an original IP, which is Avatar.

Chris Moore 26:48
Well, the irony is the answer to that question is both is the same answer, actually, which is the entertainment industry, if I can go back just a tiny bit, has had basically 100 years where they own the audience. They had complete control over the audience. And it was basically four or five companies in America, right? They would tell the movie theaters, what movies they were coming out with, they would put on what they thought was necessary on the television channels. If you were at home, like I grew up in a small town of Maryland, you you're just waiting around to see what's going to be available Friday night, right? You have no control. And there's not a lot of choices, right? This is there's no video games competing against it. There's no social media that can't just go on YouTube and go down a rabbit hole for three hours. There's no tick tock. That. I mean, it's literally they own you, right. And the two things that they own are the scarcity of product. So you have no other movies, like when home video came, they all got nervous. Well, maybe now we're not gonna own people, because you might be home and decide, you know, I'd rather watch diehard again this Christmas and go see whatever the new Christmas movie is, right. But what they found was people still like the experience of seeing the new thing. And they actually just watched double, they still watch diehard. And so I would say we hit a heyday in the big DVDs, big cable channels, big foreign markets, that people just making money all over the place. We analysis late 80s into early 2000s. Right? It was just a machine for money. And the reason was because of marketing, right? The reason was they could aim people at stuff, and 100 million people worldwide would do it. You're right. That isn't possible anymore. Right? It's just not possible because that 100 million people today has way more choices. Oh, yeah, they they have video games, they have tick tock. They also have all these older movies that are now available on their screen that because they have these subscriptions. Right? Secondly, the economics of the business, again, because of marketing are not really driven by opening weekend anymore. They talk about it, they push it, but it's not a condensed period of time. Right? So doesn't matter. You can be Netflix that comes out next week. And then people find it like Queen's gambit was like two months after it came out. People started finding squid game was seven months after it first was available on Netflix. That became big, right? Like the point is they don't care. They just want people to keep coming back to Netflix. So every time it you find it right? Yeah. So what that did is it made marketing to make something matter, become, in my opinion, way over important. And so to your example it's either IP people have heard of which they think they're going to want to see in this new medium, which is only 50% At best, actually reliable to get people to come. Right. And then it was talent and talent has become way more I saw Jim Cameron and Avatar is possible because people want to see what Jim Cameron does. And there's one avatar people really like. So dropping $500 million on that makes a lot more sense, right? Because you can, Jim Jim cameras do movie, and it's an avatar, right?

Alex Ferrari 30:19
And it's a technology and everything he was doing.

Chris Moore 30:22
Right. So if you're, you know, and also I bet it's gonna be one, you're gonna have a better experience watching it on in a theater, no matter how big your home screening room is. Right. And, and so the point is that those things get a lot of attention. And then anything else that can spark a article a, you know, interview people's want to see. Now over time, that has been diminishing, there's very few stars now that are guaranteed big successes, there's very few, but they still are bigger success, you know, read notice, is still going to be bigger for Netflix, you know, then a movie that doesn't have the rock Galco and Ryan Reynolds, right. But my example when I use that example, when I'm speaking in colleges and stuff, what I say to them is think about it for a second. That should be seen as the example of the end, right? Like to some extent that movie should be recognized in our business as the jumping of the shark. And some older people don't know what that means. It's an analogy to a show called Happy Days that was wildly popular and had a character the Fonz wrote a motorcycle wore leather jacket, and they got into their fifth I think, or seventh season. And they had nothing to do. And people still love the characters. And they literally had an episode where Fonzie this, you know, goes waterskiing and jumps a shark and you're sort of like their that is literally net became this word in the business this phrase of you have now gone so far off the this sort of creative drive, right? That you're literally having Fonzie jump a shark, like you got nothing else in your mind. And so what I'd say is read notice is, look, they had to have three of the biggest stars in the world in the movie to get any attention. Right? You're right, you're absolutely right. And and so you look at it and you're like, it's basically look, I think those are three of the most charismatic performer out there. Right? I did a movie years ago with Ron lentils called waiting. Yeah, and he is super entertaining. Like, just unsung. I think the rock is so charismatic, and galgos proven to be very charismatic. She can be funny acts like I saw. I was like, Yeah, I'm definitely watching a movie, right? But when I watched it, I was like, it's sort of this phrase of all sizzle, and no steak, right? Like, I was like, it's fine. It has all the stuff there. But if you're gonna sit down and bring the rock, Ryan Reynolds and galgut out again, you should fucking blow me out of the water. You should be like, holy shit. That was awesome.

Alex Ferrari 33:01
It should be. It should be diehard meets, Lethal Weapon meets, the predator.

Chris Moore 33:05
Spider Man is coming out what two days and it's like, some reviews have been all the best spider man ever and other reviews as well, whatever. It's, you know, you got Dr. Strange and you got the multiverse. He goes, I'm worried I'm just gonna be totally confused. But we bought nine tickets to the first show, because they're desperate to go see it. But the point is that we might be at the moment of volume right now. We're all the streamers and everybody wants so many product that everyone is jumping the shark that like the whole business is jumping the shark right now?

Alex Ferrari 33:39
No, it's it's it's a great analogy. You're absolutely right. Because I've been saying for a long time ago, people are like, oh, I need to get a movie star. And they're like, Look, if you can get a movie star and the term movie star is not what it used to be. Because before Tom Cruise Kurita, a telephone book and it would open to 20 million. I mean, it just it Will Smith could do the same thing back in the day. Remember Arnold and you know, it just just showed up and it was $20 million $30 million opening? Those days are gone, because it's just it's just so much dilution. But as an independent filmmaker, if you can get a star or a recognizable face in your film, it's always better than not having that like, I'm not sure. I'm not sure Google hunting would have gone without Robin. Like

Chris Moore 34:18
I can tell you right now. That's 100% True. I mean, Matt was on his way. He had done Rainmaker and some other stuff. So maybe two years later, sure would have been tough for you know, Ben and Ben and Chasing Amy and other stuff. So they might but the reason it got made when it got me was solely Robin Williams

Alex Ferrari 34:39
And that budget to that's it that wasn't a small budget.

Chris Moore 34:42
No, I mean, today $25 million. Like that. They'd look at you like you've lost your mind.

Alex Ferrari 34:46
That's, that's in today's world. That's a 3 million 5 million tops, depending on the star.

Chris Moore 34:51
Absolutely. Yeah, there's no way and if Robin was in it, it still would have been that but he would own 50%

Alex Ferrari 34:58
On the backend. Absolutely.

Chris Moore 35:00
So, yeah, God rest his soul.

Alex Ferrari 35:03
He is He was I had the pleasure of meeting him once and it was just ah, I just God rest his soul man. So sorry. So you got so you got Good Will Hunting off the ground is your second feature film, which is not a bad not a bad thing Oscar nominations and you know Ben and Matt and all this kind of stuff, man, what was it? Like just being in the center of that that hurricane? Because I remember that it was it? No, everybody was talking about that movie that

Chris Moore 35:28
You're, you're being generous to say I was in the center of it. I was more, you know, Toto in the basket. You know, the widths flying around the hurricane, I would say they were in the center. They were very loyal and nice guys to keep me around. You know, that doesn't happen as much anymore. For producers were the talent that helped you get your first movie made? Don't, you know, the producers don't get carried nearly like they did. But we it was intense. I mean, it was, you know, and I think the having it be the three of us and to some extent, their agent, Patrick Weitzel, who I had also worked with as an agent. When I was an agent, the four of us and then they they have a, you know, a lawyer that's been with them a long time. And Sam Fisher, you know, the five, there was a lot, there was a lot of calming of, you know, let's figure out the best way to take advantage and, and to some extent Matt and Ben made different choices as actors as they went forward, you know, and, but they're still together, they still produce together, they did the last door they wrote together and they did other stuff. So they're, you know, I think what it was was, it was also the hay day for Miramax. You know, I know, Harvey's bad person talking about and he is a bad person I'm not trying to make but that that version of Miramax at that time now owned by Disney and they were doing whatever they were on fire. You know, and I'm sure Robert, we talked about that Quentin or Lawrence Bender does I mean, we were we were in there every moment. Yeah. Yeah. Kevin Smith, you know, it would be gone. You know. So there was a lot that that were part of it. And what they always said, which I respected about them was okay, we got here, like, what are we going to do with it, you know, like, and so they, they have always tried to get some projects a little bit harder made, they've always tried to help people move forward and use their star power or whatever to, to advance other stuff. But they also want to become John stars, you know, and they did very well. You know, and I, I respect them immensely, as I and I got to produce with them and be partners with them. And then we started this internet thing called Live planet together. And, you know, we saw a lot that celebrity, their celebrity, let me have access to that I never would have had as a producer. And then I had this great luxury where I also was doing their American Pie movies that had nothing to do with them. Right. So I was very lucky that I could sort of make the argument that I was doing all right, as a producer. And I was working with Matt and Ben. Right. And, you know, and it's, it's one of those things where it was crazy. I mean, we were making stuff, but like Project Greenlight, his example was where the celebrity and the sort of well known pneus got an idea that nobody really liked off the ground. And it was surprised success. Because the three of us could be on camera and could do stuff and sort of became likable enough that HBO was like, Okay, let's keep doing this. Right. And, you know, and that that's an exempt, but then you have you know, all the Bruckheimer movies that Ben, did you have the other stuff, you know, when that got brought into the Bourne movies, like, all that stuff, had nothing to do with me. And I'm really happy for them. And they, they knew what they wanted from the beginning. And these are guys who've been, you know, you asked me when we first started, you know, did you know, I had no idea, you know, I was kicking around doing whatever. And this worked out, these two guys were driving down to New York to audition for stuff when they were in high school, whenever, you know, they wanted to be movie stars and wanted to be players and wanted to be creators, since they can remember, I could have say that I happen to be the dude who recognized it got lucky and wrote it as long as we possibly could. Right. Yeah, but but the point is that they so what I'd say is that whirlwind was really weird. And there were some bad decisions got made, there was some overwhelming stuff that happened. There's a lot of projects we set up that are never going to get made that, you know, we probably overused our, you know, our position within Miramax and the universe. But ultimately, it it was just like, sort of going through the whole process. I think a lot of people go through in overdrive. It just happened a shitload faster. Right. And so it was just like, all of a sudden, we're like 2830 and we've been they'd won Oscars. We'd had 100 million dollar hits. We had an office with some six employees developing stuff, we had TV shows, we had documentaries, we were doing all this stuff. And it, it was just going so fast that it also I don't think had a chance to survive over time. Because, you know, you were going too fast. Like,

Alex Ferrari 40:17
You can't sustain that.

Chris Moore 40:20
You all had our ways of dealing with it. And and you know that that's always Shawn Bailey, who joined later in the process is now the president of the Walt Disney Pictures, same thing, we just went buck wild up until sort of the late the mid 2000s. And then it was sort of like, okay, what are we really doing, and that's the weird thing. Like, it's a little better than we ever expected to be. But it's also different. So now is this what we really want to do is we want to have a company want to do whatever. And I think that ultimately, they are just awesome talent, and really smart and really talented. And Shawn has an unbelievable executive. And I'm sort of this flaky dude on the outside who likes to push stuff. And, you know, I'm not really built for corporate Hollywood, and I'm not really a talent. And I, you know, I really love, you know, sort of working on projects, I really care about the success of American Pie and the success of, you know, some of the other stuff allows me the freedom to sort of work on projects I really care about and study the business and do podcasts like this and teach some classes and stuff like that, because it's, it isn't, you know, for Harvard kids, since I went to Harvard, I do stuff. There's no ladder, there's no process, like use

Alex Ferrari 41:32
Not doctor or a lawyer. It's not doctor,

Chris Moore 41:34
Right. So you, that's what I like about it. And some days were on fire, like the fact that, you know, my last big movie was Manchester by the Sea. Like if anybody said, a movie about three kids died in a fire and their father never being able to deal with it. And you know, whatever, like, and then the brother dies, and the nephew is homeless, like you're like, if you pitch that, like I just pitched it to you, not a soul on earth would ever make that movie, right? More joy out of the fact that people liked that movie. And that it actually, we made it and we made it honorably. And I think Kenny Loggins have been big talent. So does Matt. That's how I met him was through Matt. But the point is that those are not if you're trying to manage a career, you would not say, after all the success I've had, let's go make Manchester by the Sea, right. But I just loved it. I love Kenny and Matt loved it. And I think Casey's a real star. And it was like, Yeah, let's go try to get it made. And that's what I think happens as you become a little bit more successful. You can take a little bit more risks, like I say to young producers, or bring me projects. Now I do mostly consulting stuff where I try to help people move their project along and it bums me out that more successful producers are always trying to get into other people's projects always feel like you know, don't, don't do that. Let them go out and and see what it's like. But it's it. I'm just so fortunate had so much fun making these things. But that that sort of tornado, I'm also afraid. I would argue that I'm probably here partly because not really sure I want to get all the way back into the tornado.

Alex Ferrari 43:05
Well, I mean, listen, I mean, you also put yourself out there in a way that most producers don't by being on camera and a character on on a huge show on HBO, which is why so many people want me I promise you not as many people walk up to Jerry Bruckheimer in the middle of an airport, but they go, Hey, man, why don't I get on season three of Project Greenlight? Like why did I make it? So if everyone listening who's not as old as us, when Project Greenlight came out, it was the first time that I can remember that a doorway was opened to the unknown, because I lived in Florida at the time. So for me, it was just like, oh my god, some somebody from Mount Hollywood is opening up a doorway for us to try to come through. And that was the that was the idea. And for people don't understand the part of the project is extremely popular first season was extremely popular. And then I promise when I when I appeared for three seconds. On the opening, opening montage of season two, I got 20 phone calls. Was that you on HBO? Where you had you just a project? Really? It was it was insane. It was insane. So how did I mean? And I have to give you guys credit, you guys decided to do something that at the time? Nope. I'm sure everyone said this is a horrible idea.

Chris Moore 44:26
Well, that's why I said that's where their celebrity became really valuable is because you know, a lot of this business is about risk reward. Right? And you know, if you're running HBO and Chris Albrecht was running at the time and I think Chris is actually an example of an adventurous Head of Programming outlet right? He could run a studio he could run a network he he'll here and he knows he's got to do programming. Right like you don't have the luxury of just be like yeah, I don't need to do shit this year. They're gonna put some on so but he could hide behind Matt and Ben, right? He could. No one was gonna say you're an idiot for Putting Matt and Ben on HBO, right? Sure. They might say, couldn't you have come up with a better idea for Matt and Ben, like, but the point was that we walked in and he said, we walked in, we're just look, what we're really trying to do is do a reality. We were a little early in the sort of Docu reality show stuff to Project Greenlight was one of the first ones that sort of was a series of watching people do shit, you know, and what we said to them was that there was this fun, we're saying if we could put down the experience of what we went through on Goodwill Hunting, right, yeah, people would people would have been amazed, right? And I said, I can add, what happened. I mean, American Pie was that way for Sean William Scott for Jason Biggs for a lot of these people like they, when you go through that process of not really being that person, and then you are that person. Now we never in my personal opinion, we never really captured it because we got stuck. And all the when do you release the movie? And does the show keep on past when the movie comes out? And what's think, but you're right, it was the first time insiders actually said, Okay, we're gonna let you see it. And the great thing about Matt and Ben as human beings is, they're incredibly confident in who they are. Right? So like, you can hate them, you can like them, you can be mad at them. They can say something stupid, there. They are, who they are, there's not a sort of weird, you know, thing. And so and I am, as you can probably tell, and as hopefully I've shown since project are nice. I'm really that guy like that wasn't me playing a character. Yeah. So it was like, it's sort of so the point is that we were sort of like, we felt like we were given back to a community that had really helped us and that what we had gone through was crazy. And people should see it. But it was also awesome. Anytime you can watch people fulfilling their dreams, anytime you can be part of helping somebody get a shot to you know, not no, this for everyone is working in an Amazon, you know, fulfillment center right now, I'm so happy. And I'm glad you have a job. And I'm not trying to belittle it, but I'm saying getting to be Matt and Ben or even me is probably better than that. Right? And so when you're part of that, just like the shows that exist now, like hard knocks for the NFL, yeah, baseball does it or, you know, there's a ton of music stuff, because it's a lot cheaper to watch people seeing than it is to make a movie. But the point is that people love being around watching people trying to get their dream watching people struggle. And when it's honest, and it's true, it's great. And I think that that was where we came from. So it actually that somehow came through in the show that these are people who actually are humbled by all the success they had, they thought they deserve it, and they are super talented. But people need this opportunity. It's not. And ironically, I like prizes gonna be more valuable today, in some ways, because there's so many people struggling to get their thing done that to go do a show about how do you start now, because as we said earlier, it's so different now. Oh, my God back, back then it was pretty straightforward to get Miramax to make your movie, your Kevin Smith, your head burns you whoever, Robert Rodriguez, I mean, all three of those guys went through at different stages, the Harvey machine and the Harvey bar. But my point is that the that today, it's even harder to tell somebody what they should do. You know, we I taught a class for AFI last semester. And it was really hard because by the end of it, people got comfortable with me, and they're willing to ask me about their own personal careers. And for some of them, I was like, Look, I can't tell you. And this is, by the way, why I'm not been invited back to teach another class for EFI. I said that people listen, if you're here for career advancement, which all education is not purely career advancement, but like I read on your website, you guys have classes, you do stuff, you're trying to help people be better at it. And that, to me makes a lot of sense, right? But when you're paying all that money, and you're coming to f5, particularly as a producer, so it's not like you're mastering your skill, right, you're trying to contact you're trying to learn about it's one thing to be an editor and get to edit six things during your two years.

Alex Ferrari 49:08
Cinematographer even directing, even directing.

Chris Moore 49:12
Directing, writing, your the production designing program, the cinematography program, they're great, right? But where I got in trouble just said, Look, if you really got whatever it cost to go to AFI, you might be better off going to make a film. It might be better off going out and saying to those same people, look, you know, it's not and when you ask AFI graduates, well, what did you think about the producers? They don't graduate from AFI wanting to work with the producer they worked with in film school, they want to work with me. They need to graduate up to the person that's going to help them right. And so I said, Look, I can't 100% Get behind. If you're trying to decide whether you want to be a producer or not. Sure, take couple classes learn about what it's like. Watch Project Greenlight. Come to indie hustle, right, like the point There's a bunch of ways to make that decision whether you want to dedicate some of your life to being a producer, right? I still know that anyway, you can see how they were unhappy with that

Alex Ferrari 50:11
It's shocking. It's shocking. I don't understand why.

Chris Moore 50:13
And I said to them, Look, I think you should take what I'm saying, and let's revamp the class is that you're acknowledging that you're helping them in what you need to do? And they said, No, we're gonna keep doing what we're doing. I said, Okay, that's fine. It's not like, the very small amount of money you're paying me is gonna make me lose my house, if I lose it. And I love AFI, they've been around a long time supporting a lot of people. So it's not, it's the producing programs in particular, it's very hard to justify what wasting That's unfair. spending two years of your life, studying it, versus two years of your life doing it. Oh, great, I think is way more,

Alex Ferrari 50:54
I couldn't, I couldn't agree with you more. I mean, I went to I went to full sail in Orlando. And it's a great technical school, and I walked out with all a good amount of technical skill, and you had to wrap cable and you had to make a good cup of coffee, you know, the core things that you need to learn. Yeah. But at the end of the day, and also, when I went, I was 9596. It wasn't where we are now, it was still expensive as hell to go make a movie. You know, we're still all film, all that kind of stuff. But in today's world, you're gonna learn a lot more by making a $10,000 feature than you will by spending $10,000 going to film school, in my opinion.

Chris Moore 51:34
Yeah. So yeah, that's why I said when we first came out, I think we're gonna agree on because I saw that one of your sections, and I was like, This guy just didn't. But the thing you also gotta remember about film schools, they started because the equipment was so expensive, right? The average person couldn't buy a camera that was a film camera, like Spike Lee talks about his first movie was like, I had to go to NYU. It wasn't like somebody's gonna say, here's a film camera. Here's, here's an edit rack system. Here's all this stuff. That's how you got the stuff, right? Today, that stuff's The Best Buy. I had,

Alex Ferrari 52:07
I had I had this poor, I had this poor filmmaker, come on, he had a $300,000 plus debt, student debt, going to film school $300,000. And I told him, and he's done. And he's like, I'm like, He's working. He's trying to make it up. But he'll never ever get out of that hole. It's just gonna take him for his entire life. And I was just like, Oh, my God, man. I mean, can you imagine if you would have taken that money and just made 20 movies?

Chris Moore 52:34
Yeah, and that's the thing. And look, I went through it on a bigger level, I raised about $5 million for what is currently my production company called the media farm. And our whole concept, the reason was called The farm was we're gonna grow stories basically, from the beginning, right? Like, I'm not a genius. So that's a pretty straightforward analogy. And we had about $5 million. And I was so arrogant and stuck up about, well, I can't go into podcasts. I can't. That's just like below me. I'm a feature film, guys. So let's see, how do we take this five minute done? If I had taken that $5 million, and spread it across the 10 Awesome podcasts or the 10? Awesome, like you said, $10,000 movies or pilots or web series that came through my office, right? I literally have a library of content right now. Right? That I'd be selling up the chain, and just be basking in the glory of my genius. I'm here talking about how arrogant and stupid I was. And then I couldn't see that this is the same storytelling that's going on. And these people are Matt and Ben, now that they were then, you know, I had people become wildly successful walking up to Sam Esmail does all these fucking shows. AFI grant walks in, he had a great show, we could have figured out how to do you know, there's a guy who's getting right now, Rob, was Rob's last name. He was like the number one comedian on Twitter. And he created this show called catastrophe with Sharon, Oregon. I can't believe I'm forgetting Rob's I think, but he walked in one day. I was like, I have this idea. And I was like, Well, you know, I'm not sure how that is a TV show. But it was a catastrophe. But the point is that I was so arrogant about the medium. And also with my investors. I had promised this sort of scale, that spending $10,000 on a podcast wasn't exactly what they thought they thought I'd be spending $250,000 on Manchester by the Sea, which we did. But that the $5 million is gonna go a shitload faster if you're everything is costing you 250 to a million than if you had done things for 25 $50,000. And I was more like, and that's part of the insider part about why I joke about present Greenlight and it's great what they do with an ISA Ray took it over, and it's gonna, you know, it's it's gonna be a whole new thing with her and I think that's awesome. But the point is that that the storytelling is what you love, which is what I've realized I love his storytelling and getting stories out there. There's a way to do it. And if you're thinking about being a producer, where you find stories you love and you want to be part of the machine that gets them out into the world, whether it's a piece of talent, whether it's a specific story, whatever, you you're better off getting into it, then you are, you know, not getting into No, I guess

Alex Ferrari 55:22
Which brings me to a question. If you had to, if you have Goodwill Hunting, and American Pie today, you were the producer on it? How would you do it differently? Would you try to own it more? Would you try to hold the rights to it more? Would you self distributed? How would you approach both those projects differently? Or would you still try to go down the studio path?

Chris Moore 55:44
Well, I think what I tell people now when I'm doing some of my consulting stuff is look, the more it can exist in the world, somehow, the more leverage, you'll have to control it later. So if your goal is to try to control it, that or at least you have a vision for it, you don't really want that vision, which as I said earlier, was Why stop being an agent is because the vision is only a sales vision, and then you're done as an agent. But the thing is that there are all of these other ways right to get something done, like even Rob's project catastrophe he tried to sell in America, but it's sold in England. And we I met him right at the time when he was deciding whether he was gonna move England or not. Right. And I remember very clearly his agent, he's having this whole conversation and meant that our show we weren't gonna be able to shoot cuz he was gonna be put into right. And but I was like, yeah, man, if somebody wants to make your show do it. Right. And but and so what I'd say is, I think American Pie think about a lot, because I actually think there's an update to that. Where, because I think teenagers today, and this may not be appropriate, I apologize. But I think their sex lives and their way they're losing their virginity, and the way they're doing stuff is different. on a macro level, like I don't think it's just different technology, or we have different morals, I think, is gone to a whole other thing. And just having a 20 year old daughter, a 17 year old son and a 14 year old son, I just sit here watching, I think what would be the American Pie. And the truth of the matter is, I think there's a direct camera YouTube, Tik Tok kind of version, where you could have started that story with four friends trying to help each other lose their virginity before they go to college, and how they help each other and you film it with, you know, your, you know, your phones, and you you sort of start cutting it together. But then you, you see a way to then summarize it up into a 90 minute experience of whether it happened or not, or what happened. And you you play the line? Are these real characters? Are these are these just written? Are these fictional or this could have been a podcast? I think it's funnier, because there's physical comedy, that was really great. And that, so I think visual, but tick tock in bite sized stuff, you could interest a lot of people, and then you could go to them and say, Okay, we want to turn this into something most likely, it would have been a limited series, or, you know, like, there's one that just came out called the sex lies of college kids, another one sex, and I think and then, you know, and so I think it would probably not been a one off movie, it would have been, let's follow these guys for six episodes or six, whatever. And then, and but it would still have been the one story of that end of senior year. Then if it was successful, you'd come back like we did, you'd come up with reasons they all get back together. They've just, they wouldn't be coming of age as much as just sex comedies. Right, right. There used to be a lot of I mean, in my opinion, the best one is sleeper by Woody Allen. It wasn't like people were doing sex comedies before. I mean, you know, and I quirky generation work marquees fast times. And that's yeah. And so I think some of those things, particularly because the younger audience is there, I would be recommending to people, let's put out some of this funny stuff. Let's introduce Stiffler. And Jim, and, you know, Jessica, which is the Natasha young character, they would have been featured, they would have been great. Tik Tok YouTube sort of web series. Imagine, yeah, and you could have had so much fun and and then you could put it together into a bigger thing. Right. And, and I think that's for something like that. I think Good Will Hunting because of the nature of what it is, you would have had to try to make it as a drama right away. Like I don't think that the best you could have done and you know, we joked about this was take the screenplay and turn it into some sort of coming of age novel that was actually written by Will Hunting. And you try to sell the book and you try to get somebody think it's there and then people realize it's fake and then they let's make the movie. But the truth of the matter is, I would there still some things get made now most likely again, it might have ended up as a limited series. As I said, I think the the limited series has created, in my opinion, just longer movies. I don't think they're in so the way I talk about it now I try to convince people to so many use your platform to continue my evangelical preach, I think the what the new term should be is one off stories versus episodic meaning it a one off story can still have episodes, but it's one story, the last episode will be who is the murderer? Does the couple get together? Do people so you know, it's one story now you may fall in love with those characters and decide to make more one off stories with them. You know, we've talked about how much we're both like diehard I mean, whether we're up to six of them, right. And I think that they have jumped the shark in the sense of this one cop can't be in all these stories, but I do love John McClane as a character. Right? Like, I think it's great. I actually think the new process of having a series that works and then having a movie that sort of wraps it all up like they did with Breaking Bad like they don't, where I think that's actually not a bad way to go where you where you sort of then have the the wrap up thing of it. But my point is on goodwill, it's sort of, it's either super intimate. So it could have been like, if Matt was not as well known. And he could have started a YouTube channel where he's talking directly to the camera and doing Hey, I'm whale hunting, and I live in Southie. And, you know, I'm a math genius, but it's not really what YouTube's about. Right? And it's not, you know, so then you could have done something like there's some other character, maybe it's Chucky who's trying to have or Iowa's joke, the better one would have been Casey's character's name was Morgan, trying to have a YouTube channel. And he's like, Dude, you're genius. You gotta come on my YouTube channel. Come on, you guys. What am I it's always like, I don't fucking know, talk about math, talk about whatever, just come on the channel I need can't just be me, you know? How much you jerk off upstairs. Like, you know that that kind of thing would have been funny to get to know these guys. But it doesn't really fit who they are, that any of them would even have a laptop. Yeah. So so that's why I'd say that's why I say producer's job is to know a little bit about the business to say when they find stories that they find talent that they believe in to say, look, this, we should do like, I have a friend who had a great action movie idea. And he's pretty well known writer. He's written a bunch of shinies, read the Marvel movies done all this stuff. And he was one of my clients early on, he's and well known and he went around, he pitched it to all the people, and nobody would buy it, because it was brand new, big action franchise female lead, and I'm not producing it at all. But we had lunch one day, and I was like, dude, just find somebody who'll do it as a graphic novel. It's a great idea as a graphic novel, you could get a cool artist to draw her and to draw the thing to create this visual. And you know, I always use kick ass as an example. Everybody talks about oh, yeah, they were they were out there and they adapted this graphic novel kick ass then you go and you actually look up the numbers kick ass never sold more than 5000 copies. Right. I mean, I could get a Facebook post have 5000 reads right now. Right. But somehow in the mind of Lionsgate and and Matthew Vaughn's a genius salesman that he goes, like he created the Kingsmen. I don't know where the hell that came from. But he went out and said, We can do this. And the point is that they just had this graphic novel. Like I said, the people loved it. They could show on a blog somewhere that somebody loved it. But it wasn't like, there were so many fans of kick ass, the graphic novel that you could do the math of, we should definitely turn this into a big movie with Nicolas Cage, right? Like, they just sort of got Lionsgate to do it. Right. And so my point was, and I'm just not saying names, because it hasn't been made yet. Whatever. But what I what I was saying was, look, try to get somebody to do it. So it turns out he has a guy went to college whose friend has has a tiny, tiny little graphic novel label, right? So he calls him up. He's like, What do you think I'll write it. He introduces them to this cool young female artists, she starts Johnson pictures. And one of these like graphic novel blogs, probably has, you know, a quarter of the listeners you have, right? says, Oh, I hear that this company is about to do this with this writer. Here's a picture of the girl, right? Done. Seven people bid on it. He sells it for $2 million to somebody who already heard the pitch, who passed on it, who literally now is buying it in a bidding war because some 20 year old, literally, he's got 200 people listening to all about graphic novels, but some young executive inside that production come he's like, holy shit, this thing's about to be a graphic novel. We should get into it now. Right? And so it was like, okay, but then of course, because the money was so high. They said you can't publish the graphic novel until we're making the movie and of course the movie hasn't got made. So the graphic novel hasn't come out and ended up in the exact same development hell he was in before, except he has probably a million dollars. Okay. So what I said was you shouldn't have sold on the rights, you should have said, Look, I'll give you a year. But if you don't figure it out, we're putting out the graphic novel, and you know, whatever. But the point to potentially screenwriters and producers people might be listening to this is literally, they never even made the graphic novel. They just got lucky that some, you know, junior executive at some production company was validating his job by saying, Hey, I'm on the pulse of graphic novels. I listened to these blogs that nobody else knows about this blog. And you're like, you heard the pitch four weeks ago? Like, what do you mean, you're on the pulse? Right? Like, they should have realized they could have bought the rights from him for a lot less than that. And then said to him, we're gonna go publish a graphic novel, right? Like, but movie people are so stuck up, that they want to wait for somebody else to say, Oh, this is a good idea. You know, and it didn't used to be that way. There was a lot of heads of studios alive. Yes. Was you know, Joe silver, again, not the greatest guy on Earth. But he's, he read Lethal Weapon, totally unknown writer, totally unknown thing. And was like, this is an awesome movie. We can make it great. And now lethal weapons, Lethal Weapon.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:18
I was I was talking to Richard Donner's ahead of his studio a while ago, and he was telling me he's like, I go, what was it, like, rolling with Dick back in the 80s. And he's like, Alex, all I needed to do all it all. It says like, oh, Dick's wants to do it. He would just call up Warner Brothers. And they said, Sure. And I go, Well, what were the budgets is like, we never had a budget. We just, they just, they just gave us what we needed to make the movie. Like, it was never even a question. Because we were very responsible with it. We didn't go crazy. But I never, I never saw a budget for Lethal Weapon. We just kept like, this is what we need guys. It was a different world. But there was Guys, guys, it specifically they were all pretty much man at that point. That would say, Hey, this is what I'm gonna do. I'm gonna make, I'm gonna make good. Well, I'm gonna make good wanting.

Chris Moore 1:07:11
And the thing, but that goes back to what I said not to pretend that I'm a genius. But I will just bring it back to my comment, which is, that was because they believe they control the audience,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:22
Right! That's a really good point, man. That's

Chris Moore 1:07:24
Meaning the Warner Brothers guys could look at that and say, we know we can make a new hit this year. Right? Which one of these projects is going to be our new hit? Well, we like this Lethal Weapon thing. So let's go try that.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:39
Right. It's got dick. It's got Joel

Chris Moore 1:07:41
Right, and we'll see what happens. You know, I mean, Keannu Reeves couldn't get arrested when they made the matrix. He'd been in Bill and Ted.He's been a, you know, a teenage star, and he still was doing some movies, but point break it, you know, and it was sort of like, okay, let's put you on a reason that makes a big, cool, awesome idea. This Warshawski. They, they have a real vision. Let's make the matrix.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:06
But that thing but but the matrix was if I'm if I know my history correctly, Joel is the one who pushed that through. And you needed a champion.

Chris Moore 1:08:16
Yeah, but that that's what I'm saying. Guys like Joel, right. Larry Gordon. You know, Jerry Bruckheimer deserves a lot of credit. But the point is that these guys were like, we can make hits, right? We can, we can make it happen. Right? And every now and then something would sneak up on them. Right. But most of the time, you had a pretty good idea, you know, and some of it was based purely on marketing budget, if you spent $50 million, you're gonna make $100 million? Sure. No, that's a great business to be in. If I could be in that business in Vegas, and just be like, every time I've read on 13 Read on roulette, I'm gonna win. Yeah, I just been there right now dropping money on 13. Right, right. And then they lost the ability to control that machine. Right.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:02
And that's why it took them almost a decade to come up with their first streaming service. And Netflix had a huge head start because they were terrified of Netflix, you know, and they and they still, I don't think there is terrified now, but I mean, it literally was like 12 years for Disney plus to show up, and then everybody showed up, and then everybody has one now,but it took forever.

Chris Moore 1:09:19
Well, after they believed that it was gonna be the new version of DVD. Yeah, and for like, a year, or maybe four years, it was I mean, that was the big problem with Disney is Netflix was playing them so much money to have the Disney product on Netflix. Yeah, that they were like, why would we ever start our own that's just gonna cost us money. And we're gonna lose all this money we're getting from Netflix, right? But then when Netflix started premiering stuff, right, when they started coming up with new stuff, when they started competing with Disney on original intellectual property, right, then all of a sudden they're like Wait a minute, they're getting all this money by showing our content. And then they're out bidding us, right. And we can't, we can't. And that's the big thing. I'll say, another one of my, you know, to your point about my three leverage points. The other thing is that the industry has changed now to where there's, there used to be these windows. And sometimes people read these articles about windowing. And they think this is over my head, I can't figure this out what the hell are they talking about windowing? But what it really comes down to is you had three to six moments to make money off your product, right? If you have ever made a product and tried to sell it, the holy grails failed to make it once and sell it five times. Right? Like, you know, that's, that's the holy grail of manufacturing is you never have to spend any more money which you get to sell it again. And in that late 90s, early 2000s. That's what it was, you had foreign, you had premium cable, you had regular cable, you had broadcast TV, you had DVD, right, and you had the box office. So what happened is, the big companies were only focused on that first window, right? They do the big theatrical thing, the launch was what I call it into the world. So you have a piece up made something, you're gonna launch it, you want to control that, right. But once you're done launching it, the rest of it is just gravy, right? So you have these other windows. And so they looked at all those people on the other windows as sort of the second tier, the JV, this sort of extra money all the way to the point is something like red box, where I bet if you went to the head of Paramount Pictures in 2010, and said, Do you even know which one of your movies are in the red box right now? You'd be like, No, I have no idea. I don't care. I love that we get money out of it. It's totally irrelevant. Right? And that's what they all thought Netflix was gonna be Redbox. Right? They were like, Okay, for the geeks who want to have streaming, when the Internet is big enough that they can have, you know, big files, and people can watch HD, but they're never going to be in the business, we're in of launching content. Right? Yeah. And the second they were in it, Disney realized, we can't have Netflix doing that we can't, we gotta have get those people to our side. And that that's why I think it's changed dramatically, because now there's just launch. And then there's the whole life after launch, there are these other windows where you can make money. So all the people that are green lighting material are green lighting it based on whether they think they can make money in launch, or whether they think like they think it's just gonna be good to have in their library. You know, and and that's why I think the producers, the writers, people got to think through where is your project in this, right. So like, read notice back to the movie talked about for Netflix, that's super important at launch to make people think they're still a big studio to make people want to be part of it, to have new big stuff. So when you see your 1399 every month, you're like, I get it, this is why I do it. Right? Stranger Things for will come out

Alex Ferrari 1:13:05
And don't look up, Jessica is coming out.

Chris Moore 1:13:08
Exactly. And the Sandra Bullock movie just came out. But but the point is that, that that's where it's changed a lot as a producer, because you really don't have any of that back end part anymore. None of that is for you. So you're either selling into the launch machine and saying this will be valuable for you. Over time, Netflix, you'll just want to have this in your library. Or you're saying this is one of your launch projects. And all the big producers and the big writers and the big directors are trying to make sure they only work in the launch area. Right. But a lot of us are going to get relegated to the you know what, in the old days would be called the straight to DVD. Right? Nobody wants to be called that. But I mean, a joke amongst producers today is if you make a movie and it premieres on Netflix, did you really make a movie? Because of No, but if nobody's heard of it, right? Did you do it? Yeah, you got paid. But, you know, no one's stopping me in an airport, you know, for things that get made on Netflix, right, unless it breaks out as one of their things. And so that's, that's what I think the whole industry is trying to figure out right now. That's why I think podcasts like this, and whole communities, like what you're building on your website, and what you're doing with your classes, and your interviews are super important because it's wiggling itself down to where as a producer, as a writer, as a director, as a creator, performer, comedian, whoever, you have to understand where you fit into the new marketplace, to make reasonable expectations for what you're trying to get out of it. You know, and that's why I say like, if I were starting American Pie, I'd say let's go do this stuff. You're not gonna get paid for the first two years of this. Alright, maybe we can pay, you know, 100 bucks or we can pay you scale minimum for a podcast. I don't know what that is, but I'm sure there is one. But the point is, you're doing it so that we promised You get to be part of it as it grows.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:02
Well, that's I mean, that's Jason plums entire model. I mean, when I had Jason on the show, I, it was just so fascinating. He was just so like, these are the rules. I don't break my rules. That's why I'm successful. And like, and that's why every single thing has to fall within these parameters. I don't care if you're JLo. I don't care for anything. You're working scaling, you're going to get the backend, and we do pay everybody. And that's the way it works. And it's just like, that's brilliant. And he's done fairly well for himself.

Chris Moore 1:15:30
He's done. Great. He's done. And I think he's also he's actually a pretty good judge of talent. Yes, yes. I mean, like he he sees somebody Jordan peels example. I mean, that's an easy example. Because now he's become Jordan Peele, but like,

Alex Ferrari 1:15:44
James De Monaco,with the purge.

Chris Moore 1:15:46
Yeah. I mean, the point is, it wasn't like those guys weren't out here already. That it just fall off the turnip truck. In some ways, Jason is example. And there's not a lot of Jason's now, of the Joel Silver, the Jerry Bruckheimer from we were just talking about in the 90s, right, where they looked at and said, we can make this a hit. Right. So he paranormal activity and the purge, and you know, these things, and that, that's why I think it's a, it's a fascinating time, it can be a little bit wild, wild west, the problem is back to the conversation of the three points of leverage, as a producer, or a writer, where you're sort of traditionally low person, you know, on the pecking order, right, you, you need to find leverage, because it is a business right now, because of the Wild Wild West, that will try to, you know, diminish you down as the process moves forward. You know, I've been working with a group producers to start this sort of producers union. And part of the reason we're trying to just collectively bargain is that in certain situations, producers are literally the person getting paid the least on set, and have no health care, and are actually legally responsible for everything that happens, but legally have no control over everything. So, you know, it, it's, it's sort of like, again, what, what people say, you know, when they, you know, sell somebody, a six pack, and that person has a drunk driving accident, you know, that they didn't know what they were going to do. Right? With the six pack, you know, you set up, make a movie and do whatever, and then somebody, you know, gets COVID, or somebody in the worst case, scenario shot or somebody, whatever, you're, you're on the hook. And it's like you, you want to really think some of this stuff through because if you jump in using the past as the way to do stuff, you could find yourself in a really bad spot. Inadvertently,

Alex Ferrari 1:17:42
Do you feel that filmmakers in today's world need to start building audience or understand them? First of all, they have to understand marketing, before filmmakers need to understand marketing, they have to absolutely in today's world, especially in the indie world, need to understand marketing, and audience building. Because when I, you know, when I release a feature that I've shot, you know, I targeted towards my audience and I, I've built product to feed my audience, because I know, the kind of audience, I'm not gonna make Manchester by the Sea, and sell it to, to my audience, because that's not the audience, but I will make them the last Jason globe. Right, exactly. But I will make a movie about filmmakers going to Sundance trying to sell their movie, and giving and getting out to the artist because like, oh, that's what that's what my audience wants to see. So do you feel that that is where the future is for independent filmmakers? I know a lot of filmmakers don't want to so many filmmakers, I'm sure you've met these met filmmakers like this. I just want to be an artist. I don't want to think about the business. I don't want to think about the marketing. I just want to just go be an artist and I'm done. Yeah, if you're certain director, you might be able to do that. But I argue that even all those directors we've mentioned in this entire show, all understand marketing, all understand the business of it, they James Cameron, you know, David Fincher, all these guys understand every aspect of the business. So do you agree that audience is something that filmmakers need to understand marketing and maybe gathering an audience to be able to sell product?

Chris Moore 1:19:05
I do in the same way that I said, you know, pretend it's gonna be a graphic novel, and you might, you know, sell it? Or if you have 2 million people, you know, who are following you? Right? You know, but you had to be careful. You know, in the chair we did, we used a big YouTube celebrity at 9 million people, quote, unquote, subscribe. But it turned out a lot of those people are young, and they don't have credit cards, and they can't go see all rated movies. And so it didn't really translate to his movie becoming, you know, a box office success. So you got to be careful what the followers mean. But I think the other thing, what, I guess the answer, I'd say so yes, for a human being, who is sales, marketing promotion, I use the term promotion because a lot of times you don't have the money for paid marketing, right. And so you're, you're trying to promote your stuff in a way where you get an audience and one way is to build your own Audience I agree with that completely. I think there's also going to be a lot of room for partners for filmmakers. And, and that people like me in today's world, and that's part of what my consulting thing is, and is to try to say, look. And then I think companies like, you know, the A 20, fours or neon, or they're basically the promoters of the music business from five or 10 years ago, right. We're like, you know, and they might merge and become Live Nation and they become a bigger, you know, district. But I, a lot of times tell people look at the music business five years ago is always where the film businesses and it's mostly the lag is the fact that it takes longer to make movies than it does record songs. And it's a shitload more expensive. So people have to be worried about but ultimately now, because it's no longer theatrically driven, right? We are creating digital files, just like songwriters, and song. And so the point is that in so what I try to say to people is, look, if you're not going to be that person, and you should listen to podcasts, go to one of your classes, and say to yourself, can I be a promoter of my own work? Because some people, they need to take a shower after their promoter, right? Like, hey, they think trying to talk somebody into doing something or buy something or do whatever, is somehow a dirty thing, right? And yeah, if you lie to people, and you cheat it is, but promoting something you believe in is a totally fair, and I think great way to spend your time. And so my point is, there can also be these partnerships, like one of the things I recommended years ago to YouTube, you may remember, they came out and said, We're gonna come to Hollywood and spend $100 million to get all these original, you know, content. This is even before YouTube TV is just YouTube. And I said, You're crazy. Don't do it that way. I said, what you should do is you know the numbers. Pick your people because I would say of every YouTube influencer YouTube influencer, I've met. They're either our promoter, meaning they're great at getting audience, but their contents average, right? Or they're great at creating content. And they're horrible. I've promoted and they've risen, because on one side of the content, push them up on the other side that I said, Pick those people and merge them. Just go ahead and say, here's $3 million X, Y, you're now a company, you figure out how to promote this stuff, you figure out how to make their content better, and go. And they're like, Well, I can't, that's all inside the YouTube ecosystem, we're trying to bring people in. And that really hasn't worked. There hasn't been a ton of crossover between the YouTube ecosystem, and sort of big Hollywood. But the point is that I do think promotion is super, super important. But I do accept that there are some people that just can't promote. And what I'd say is, if you're not that kind of person, you know, sit, it's sort of like taste, it's know yourself, right? And if you realize I'm never going to be a good promoter, go find one, right? out on YouTube, go out on whatever say, I love the way this person sells. I love the way this person talks about stuff I love. Hey, would you ever helped me promote this stuff? Yeah, you might have to share a little money. Yeah, every now and then they might come up with some gimmick that you're like, This is the dumbest thing ever. And you're and you may battle but it's gonna be a lot better than us sending out really boring emails that are gonna make me say, I don't want to watch this guy's movie. Right. Meanwhile, you might have made a great movie. You know? And, and I think that that's the, you know, which is why to some extent, comedians have built the biggest audience the fastest, because they're already funny. So you're like, I'll sign up for Louie CK or Dave Chappelle or whatever it is. And they can sell me stuff directly, just because I'm probably gonna laugh. Right? Yeah. And, and I think if you talk to big musicians, big bands, there, a lot of them are doing it directly now to okay might have hired people to run their business, but they're not, you know, they're taking a small piece of what the record label has to offer, not given them 80% To do all of it. Right. And so again, using the music business, I would say, I think there's going to be a lot of companies a lot of places that become, you know, promoters for talent, and that that the new talent company will be the promoter and the the talent together, figuring out what to do, right, like, and what's the best way and that might include somebody who understands the business, right? Like we're about to find out whether Reese Witherspoon selling her company to a private equity firm actually makes her any more money than just be at risk Reese Witherspoon, right like, she obviously thinks it will. Right. It looks good in a press release. But haven't been a guy for a lot of money and had a production company that had a lot of money. I'm not 100% Sure for somebody like Reese whether having money really benefits her, you know, and if If it were to fall apart or times change, do whatever it can also be negative in the sense of like, you know what happened I like Reese live I believe in her and I love the mission of hello sunshine. But the whole thing is like, the world is still trying to figure out where best to put the money. And I would say again, if you go all the way back to the brothers Graham or Shakespeare, sure never, you know, fuck Homer walking around telling us poems. You go back, somebody had to tell everybody Homer was showing up to tell a story. Right? There's a Harold aerobill up and tell story. Right? And I don't think it was Homer Shakespeare all the time. Right. There were other people in that mix. And I think that's the traditionally best partnership in any creative endeavor is the promoter and the talent,

Alex Ferrari 1:25:46
The Grazer and the Howard. Yes, those are the that's that's the perfect analogy. Brian Grazer, Ron Howard. And because Ron's not a promoter, Brian definitely. Yeah, absolutely. And they've done they've done okay for themselves over the years. Um, Chris, man, I could keep talking you for at least three or four more hours, man. And you're always welcome back anytime you want to keep talk, because I have literally 1000 Other questions I can ask you. But I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into this business today?

Chris Moore 1:26:20
Well, by filmmaker do you mean like somebody who's not a producer?

Alex Ferrari 1:26:25
Yeah, Director, like the director of filmmakers trying to trying to get their movies made,

Chris Moore 1:26:29
Make stuff and put it out. Like, like, it's just constantly be putting out and making stuff, whether it's, you know, smaller pieces, longer pieces, trying to get it and then, you know, find this promotional person, whether it's internally or inside yourself, or, you know, look, there's a famous story out there of a director who just basically changed his voice and created this character, that was his agent. And he would call around as the agent and got himself jobs. And, and then finally got a real agent and had to go through the whole thing of firing his agent, who was him just doing a voice. But you know, Hollywood is,

Alex Ferrari 1:27:08
Who is that guy, I want to get him on show.

Chris Moore 1:27:13
Okay, but I'm sure there's other people who've done it, but But your point is that there is a unwritten thing in Hollywood about, it's easier to talk to a third party about somebody than it is to talk to the person directly. Right. So, you know, sometimes, so that's why I say if you find this other person, manager, promoter, producer, agent, all those are the same thing. Right? And, and, and the point at the launching of your career, but then it's put out work, try to get something that some audience has liked, right? And make sure it's in the space where you'd like to be a director, right? Like, don't, don't go make some romantic comedy short thing, and then come out and say, All I want to do is the next Jason Bourne. Because people you know, it's sort of like, don't go play basketball, and then say, what I want to do is be a pro football player, like, like the point is, put yourself in a space where you're showing this stuff, and you're doing this stuff, and just keep putting stuff out. You know, and I think, as a writer, try to find a director or somebody to help you make, right because for writers, it's even worse, because it's so hard right now, for script for people, they just not wrapping their head around the page to the screen. And so normally, I would have said, write stuff, sell some scripts. But at this point, I think you, you still need to potentially take it one step further and make sure it's I mean, your story starts at a short, right? Like the, the at least on your website. And so the point is that make stuff and if you're a writer, find a director you like and it doesn't mean you have to be partners forever, it doesn't mean you have to do it. But the point is, the more stuff gets made, the more people look at you and say, Wow, that's a voice or that's a skill set, or that's a thing. But like I said, we're so either stuck up or insecure, whichever way you want to look at it, or I think a shrink would say those two things are somehow melded together. But the point is outside validation somehow carries, in my opinion, an inordinate amount of weight right now. So if you're trying to get in, do everything you can to have outside validation, when you try to get in, as I said, even to the point of faking it, right? Like here's where the they might go to jail because called Ozzy media where the guys pretended they had all this, you know, viewership, and they had a big meeting with an investor and one of their executives pretended he was an executive from YouTube. And the executive figured it out.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:39
There's a point there's a point of where you fake it till you make it

Chris Moore 1:29:42
I'm saying hi and do that, but what I'm saying is, if if people you know if you are having success, let people know. Yes, no,

Alex Ferrari 1:29:53
Yeah, no, no question. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Chris Moore 1:29:59
You know, this is more personal or, you know, it's larger than just the film industry, but it applies directly, which is, I think the hardest thing that I learned is I don't function well, in situations that are primarily driven by financial success. Meaning that as I got deeper into the studio system, as I started making movies that really were getting made, because they filled a pipeline, or because they, you know, were big enough budgets that everybody was getting paid, that that didn't, I wasn't my best, I didn't enjoy it that much. But also, I wasn't that good at it. Like I didn't, I need to love the story and want the story to get made to be good. And that has limitations. So part of it is is for everybody out there. You know, this is the dumbest. Even if I were at the lesson, we're like, fuck that guy. Like, excuse my language. But the but the point is that what I'd say is spend a little time with a pad of paper, the voice recording on your phone and say what it is you really love to do. You have actually a great paragraph on your website, where you say, people ask me, Why do I do this? And you say, I love doing it. And to me, that's the number one thing and somebody may have said to you, you're gonna make less money doing this than you are directing episodes of some show on The CW. But But, But your point is, I'd rather spend this two hours with me doing this thing and sharing it with your audience than doing it that episode, right. And so the point is, you learned that at some point how you want to spend your time. And my point is it took me the longest because you get in this thing of oh my god, I could be president of production at a studio, I make all this money, I do this. And then you realize the movies you'd be making, you don't like and you wouldn't watch, but the corporate politics of it. That's what they should make, right. And so I have the great luxury to to allow myself to function primarily outside the need for a certain level of money, I have to make some money every year. And I do that. But it's not. It's not what drives every decision. And it took me a long time to accept that it took me a long time to turn down. Like, as an independent producer, turning down projects, turning down paychecks, is really counterintuitive. You're like, I spent the first 10 years trying to get to the point where somebody offered me this job. And now I'm like, yeah, there's no way I'm doing that job, right, like, but it's so true. And so that would be the lesson I would say is if you're in the place where you're literally not homeless, so any job you need to take, right, you're not living in your car. But you're at a place where you have to be like, This is what really gets me going, this is what I love to do. This is where I think my craft again, we're talking about people have a real craft, which in my opinion, I don't think salesmanship and understanding the business, and sort of giving creative notes isn't necessarily a craft, it's just, it is a skill set as a producer, but ultimately producing is more learning how to sell learning about the business, networking, doing all that kind of stuff, the so that's why I say for those people, it's getting out and putting the work out there and doing but it's also sitting home and saying, you know, I like doing this better, right? Or I need to have this outlet. So I can support my life, like I was talking about Gus Malzahn, who I made two movies with. And I think Gus is a real artist. And he's, he's, he's really great director when he wants to be. But he also occasionally goes off and makes his own movies that I don't understand at all. But I'm just sort of like, why why would you make this movie or in the case of Jerry, which I know a little bit about because Casey and Matt started, there's a whole second half of that story, because it's based on sort of a real life thing. That's awesome. And I'm always like, how could you tell the story of that without going into the second story because I don't care about that story, right. But guess also somewhat, will be honest about he also will go make a big studio, whatever movie for a paycheck not not just for the money, but for this is also what I use my skill set and my craft for so he's figured out a balance in his life. And you can go look at his his resume or his biography and you can see it. So my point is, I You really got to spend time on figuring out your lifestyle and its relation to your career. Because if you're constantly struggling, if you constantly feel like you're failing, if you constantly get frustrated, you won't be good at your job. And so you have to set your bar on your lifestyle. And I don't think this is unusual thing. I think every kid in college every kid is thinking about like, if I'm going to go be a public school teacher, you know, right away what your financial upside unless you happen to invent some shit in your garage in your free time. You're, you know, this is where I'm capping out. Right, right. And you've decided I get more out of being a Teacher, then I would be on Wall Street where the cap is a lot higher. Right? And so what I'd say the answer that question is what? It took me a long time, partly because it went fast. And so I never really had a chance to stop and think about it. But partly because I wasn't aware enough, and I wasn't, you know, whatever, smart enough human being, and nobody was saying this in public have better figure out what it is I really like, because this is what I'm actually good at. And, you know, fighting and sticking out a project like Manchester by the Sea, you know, is a lot more fun and interesting for me than it would be going and making, you know, read notice for Netflix, not that I don't like that movie. But it's not, it would be hard to leave my family. And it partly, that's where it gave me the was leaving my kids for a period of time became much, much harder to do. And so then your bar is like, what, why am I leaving my kids for this? Like, you know, and that is a luxury. And I say that openly to all of your listeners and all the people there. It's a luxury I have that I'm not going to lose my house. And what I would have done is sort of what I just said about Gus is like, I wouldn't have doing one thing a year where I got paid, and then I'd have this other stuff and I'd figure it out for the last four or five years. I haven't had to do that.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:21
Yeah, and it's so I always found you to be a very scrappy, scrappy producer, you just like you'd like that. Like I'm gonna get material about Manchester by the bay done. Alright, so bad to see done like that. That's, I don't see you as like working for Marvel or, you know, big franchise, this is just not your flavor. And there's nothing wrong with that. And a lot of people look at me, they're like, oh, man, why aren't you pumping out more features? Or why aren't you doing more stuff? I'm like, Guys, I'm happy. You took me a long time to get here. Man. I was a bitter and angry motherfucker, for a long, long time. Because I was like, oh, I want that. I want that. I want that. And when that thing never came, or I got so close to it so many times that I just decided, I'm just gonna do me. And now I'm like, hey, I want to put a movie out. I'll go make a small little movie with myself. If some opportunity presents itself, it presents itself. But I'm not chasing anymore. And man, am I so much happier. And that only comes with age, man, you can't get that. It's hard to experience, right age and experience.

Chris Moore 1:37:21
And a bunch of that stuff had happened to you in a way where all of a sudden you are out there doing it. You might say, well, this is what I ended up doing. Right. But you know, Jason, I don't know if he talked about the drum movie. I always forget the title of it. That someone? No, no, he did the one where the JK Simmons is the guy Oh, yeah. Whiplash, you know, his name is on that he was part of getting that maybe he was a big part of getting me but it's not a Blumhouse movie. Nobody had to do it outside of his company and stuff. And that happens. You know, I remember talking to Thomas toll, you know, runs legendary. And he did that documentary with Jack White. And the guy from Led Zeppelin and the other guitar guys is like, I couldn't do that through legendary. That's not what legendary set up to do. Right. And so I'm the guy wants to make whiplash and the guitar documentary. So like, where's the company that set up to do that? And there isn't one, because they're risky. There's no margin in any of them. Maybe you make money? Maybe you don't. So it's people have been successful in some other place, pick their passion project, and they go do it. Right. And I think that that's what people have to look at is, you know, and that's part of that, again, not to keep coming back to this, but just to talk about this union is that part of the reason producers need I think a little bit of a collective experiences, passion project shouldn't become only for the rich, right? You should be able to be passionate about something and have a process where you can make a living, like I said, you may only get paid what a third grade teacher in, you know, the Omaha, Nebraska public schools get paid, right? But that's a choice, you may have to make that your passion project isn't going to be American Pie, right. But the point is, I'd rather have somebody tell me that going into it. And I can, as you said, I can make my lifestyle to fit what I like to do. But I can actually make a living again, it may not be this living, but it's this living, but I can be happy, because I set the expectations correctly. Right. And that's the part that is being missed right now is people are looking at someone who should make $50 million a year. And it's like, very few people are gonna be making $50 million a year as streamers take over, because it's gonna be much more, you get paid for fees up front, you're doing programming for these big multinational machines. And they'll hopefully there'll be a small, independent business just like, again, the music business, right, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:39:44
And it's, I agree with you 100% And I've told that I've been yelling at that from the top of the mountain. Guys, it's we're all not going to be millionaires. We're all not going to make studio movies. You know, Spielberg Nolan Fincher that there's a handful of directors who get to play on that sandbox, you've got to build out something that echo if you made $100,000 a year, if you made $50,000 a year, and you live in Kansas, in the middle of Kansas somewhere, is that enough to put food on the table to support your family? And and be happy? And can you do that while making movies? Holy cow, you have one, you have one 110% You don't need to make a million dollars a year or $2 million to $5 million a year. And that's where people are so upset and depressed and angry. And I was that way for years, over probably 1020 years of my career. I was always angry because I wasn't that guy. But when I finally figured out like, wait a minute, how much do I actually need to make to be happy? Oh, man, that changed the whole that changed the whole game for me. And now I'm super happy. And then now I get to talk to people like yourself, and, and make make relationships connections. And, and, you know, look, if I would have told my self in 2005 Hey, man, you're gonna sit down and talk for a couple hours to Chris Moore on a podcast. And I was like, What the hell's a podcast? But I would if I would have been pinching myself. Or if I talked to any of the amazing guests that I have on my show. That's, that's because I found my happy place. I found my happy place if you will. And that's fine for themselves.

Chris Moore 1:41:19
Right. And I that's why I think it's a tiny bit bigger than just the film is but it's very true for the film business because finding your happy place. In a business that is a little bit more like the wild wild west is hard because it redefines itself. You know, every time a new gunslinger comes to town, we're whereas, you know, if you're in the public school system in Omaha or Kansas, you're, you can see a little bit more of what the process is and what's going to happen if you decide to get into academia. I mean, I flew with that I taught I taught at NYU I taught at UCLA. I was like, maybe this is the future for me because I do love share me Project Greenlight came out of me and this young guy, Alex collegian talking about how can we capture what can we do? Could we fake it? Like, I still believe in this? Why would come do a podcast with you? Right is because I'd like to share my experience for one macro reason, which is, I don't think every producer needs to go through all the shit I went through a man I don't think they need to go through everything you went through. And I think that if as an industry, we didn't think that there was some secret shit. That's why I like RV I think originally introduced us, you know, stage stage. 32 always takes this

Alex Ferrari 1:42:27
Friend, a friend of my friend of the show.

Chris Moore 1:42:30
And I love them. And he's like, look, I'm struggling. I go out, I learned all this stuff. But like, why should every next guy who's a writer, actor, whatever, coming out in New Jersey, you have to learn everything I learned from scratch. Right? And I think that's the industry should do more of that where we help people. And that's what one of the parts of Project Greenlight was about when it originally happened was Why Why should everybody go through completely blind as you said, no one's gonna have the same experience. Matt and Ben had go on, right. And we never recreated it. In Project Greenlight. I didn't recreate it in the chair. There was no you can't recreate it. But you give people an insight. Like one of our favorite things we used to get in the first couple seasons, Project Greenlight is people write to us. And they say, I'm so grateful to your show, we'd expect like, and then I wrote my screenplay, and now I'm going to USC film, school, whatever. But what they would say is, you completely convinced me I don't ever want to work in Hollywood. And we say, yes, that

Alex Ferrari 1:43:30
We saved the game. We saved another one.

Chris Moore 1:43:34
You know, that's another doctor. That's another guy. Sound Engineer somebody, right? It's like that's, but they feel happy in that job. Because in the back of their mind, they're not constantly I should have gone to Hollywood.

Alex Ferrari 1:43:46
It's like,look man, this business is not for the faint of heart. It's not for everybody. I call it a sickness, a beautiful sickness that we have. Because it is it. And once you're bitten, you can't get rid of it. And it's it's really hard, but it is an absolute insanity. I had a guy on the show who lost his house six kids, because his first movie died at the box office, he mortgaged his house at the move back into his to his parents house with five or six, five or six kids. And he said to me, the only thing I was thinking was, oh my god, I'm never gonna get the direct again. I'm like, is that what you were thinking?

Chris Moore 1:44:25
And if you have ever been part of the 12 step program, which I will admit, I have been, that's exactly what happens when you sit in those rooms, right? I'm, I'm in jail. I've wrecked my car. My wife left me. And all I'm thinking about is how soon can I have another drink? Right? Yeah, that is fucking what happens in this business. It's like, I lost my house. My wife is pissed. My kids are homeless. And all I can think about is how do I get to direct my next move? And that's part of why I think what You're doing what I would like to do. And what other people do is, it's part of why it's so important. Because again, you want to at least give them a resource to make an educated decision before they end up living in their day house, because they, they thought the business was reliable. I mean, and they, they made decisions and and worse, a lot of times, I don't know where he got his money, but I'm sure he had more money besides the mortgaging of his house, that he probably owes people money to, or like the person you talked about owes 300 grand from film school, like, that's the other thing, you go on this debt, it lives with you forever. It doesn't. And that and that's why I feel so fortunate that I'm not sitting here, you know, I was able to pretty much pay everybody back. And in the cases of where I wasn't, I was at least we made one or two things that people were proud of helping me get made. And that's it. That's why I'm not out raising money right now. Because I couldn't say to somebody, what's the best way to use money right now? And I just don't think there's a way that money makes you more money. That's why I made the comment about Hello, Sunshine was like, I don't know what they do. And I think annapurnas For example, She got all the money she needs, and you can't figure out what to do with the money. Yes, you can Greenlight and do stuff. But then you end up losing that money. And so then, you know, so then you might as well make it a charity, you know, you might just say, this is pro bono film, finance, right? Just like a lawyer says, I'll go take this case for free. Okay, I'll produce this movie for free.

Alex Ferrari 1:46:27
And I know it's, and then you know what, it's so awesome that you said that, because it's not about just the money. Because you're right, you could have if someone gave a filmmaker $100 million, one that you could give it to 10 Different filmmakers and 10 different filmmakers will make all you're gonna make $100 million movie. And just or you go with Jason Blum does is like, Oh, I'm gonna make like 50 to 75 movies. With that, and I'm gonna make money with it. Because this is my, this is my system. But it's no camera, but there's no guarantee. This is the only business in the world you could spend $100 million and gamble worthless product.

Chris Moore 1:47:01
Yeah, and I have zero. I mean, when I say zero, I have friends at this age, um, as some of them are wealthy, like they've done real well. Yeah. And they're starting to fade out of their jobs and thinking, What should I do? And of course, there's always some friend who's a movie producer, or some friend who wrote a movie and calls them to say, yeah, why don't you finance my movie? And luckily, they know me. Well, the cops would say, that's the last thing you should do. Right? Like, like, unless, unless you're just want to give this person money, right? Or unless, like, I had one situation where person was going through a divorce, and they were like, Look, I need to have less money, so that I don't have to give it to my wife because I hate her. Right? Fair enough. Okay, I can find the movie for that. Oh, but the point is that, that's not that often. And, and but I think that that's, that's the thing is, the more podcasts like yours are out there, the more there's honesty, people will be able to make smarter decisions about what it is, and the industry will start to defy out that thing of, okay, if you go in this part of the business, this is what your life's gonna be like. Just like if you decide you want to go in academia, but you decide I want to teach at a private school, or I decide I want to teach it public school, you decided you want to be a college professor, right? Like, you know, college professor can be a great job, if you get tenure, they can't hire you, you get paid 100 300,000 bucks a year. You know, and people think you're a genius, right? So if that's what you want to do, do it, you know, but I think that that's the that's the funny part is, and again, I'm the worst person to giving us advice, because I got so successful so fast, that I never sat down, had to think about it until I was somewhat, you know, 20 years in and was like, now it's getting a little bit harder. Do I really want to do this Matt and Ben are big stars. Am I gonna go out and find the next Matt and Ben? Or am I going to keep going down the road I didn't want to keep going down the road with them because the producer for movie stars and this is no offense to anybody who's doing that as a living right now. But the point is, you're you're really there to facilitate whatever it is they want to go do to your point about taste. You're giving up your taste to that person shoots the bad if you agree with their tastes, but my experience is you never agree with everybody all the time. Sure on shit you like, you know, um, but the point is that the that the more people can listen to some of this and say, Okay, let's take 20 minutes after this podcast is over. Let's just think about what have I liked over the last 10 years? What have I been really good at? What has the world told me? I'm good at what is the you know what, and what lifestyle do I want? Right? Do I really do I only want to make 50 grand a year and live with my dad. That guy, whoever it was sounds like yeah, he's okay with that. I'd be willing to bet that he didn't explain that to his wife when he got married and had six kids, that all I want to do is direct and lose money.

Alex Ferrari 1:49:58
He did. By the way, happy ending took him seven years he built other businesses up, he got back out he made another movie. But he was a lot smarter about it the next time around. Yeah, but it took him but it took him a minute. It took him a minute to go back out. It took him a minute.

Chris Moore 1:50:11
And that's, but that's the point is he probably had that moment. I, you know, I'm not a religious person. But I spend a lot of time in churches. So I was called to come to Jesus moment. Yes, is what they used to call and anywhere you whether it's you had a failure, whether there's too many options in front of you, whether somebody offers you something you're not quite sure whatever it is, everyone ends up in that come to Jesus moment of, Is this really what I should be doing? And there's a lot of factors lifestyle, family, time health, all that plus what I like doing, and what are people going to let me do, right. And I think the more you can sit down in any version of a life, but certainly in Hollywood, because it is wildly unpredictable. And the thing that's funny about high was even unpredictable, if you take the more predictable route, like if you become an executive, you still could get fired anytime. And pretty much if you're a lawyer or an agent. If you work at one of the big management companies, you can have a relatively predictable way. But you're also trapped in that situation. And a lot of people who are interested in Hollywood are not people who are interested in being trapped. So

Alex Ferrari 1:51:17
Right, exactly. And I'll ask you one last question, sir. three of your favorite films of all time.

Chris Moore 1:51:23
Well, we talked about diehard. I also love Clockwork Orange, which some people's think is crazy, amazing. Um, oh, yes. I just think that movie is a perfect example of how to be about something but also be a really fucking good, scary, sort of interesting

Alex Ferrari 1:51:46
How in God's green earth did the first 20 minutes of that thing past any sort of censorship in the 70s? Can you imagine if the first 20 minutes of Clockwork Orange would show up today?

Chris Moore 1:51:56
It will be nc 17. And, you know, but it's also so clearly one guy's view of violence, which I'm interested in, I'm afraid of random violence. And I think that whole study, so that to me, I like that, like, the third or the next three or four are always hard, because, again, back to what we said earlier, sort of mood related, like, I do really love Peter Jackson's Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, like I can go back there and I get sucked in. You know, there's, I think Chris Nolan's pretty much most of what he's done. I'll be honest, I was a little confused by Tennant and inception. But I, there's a filmmaking skill. I don't know if I like this next one. You know, sometimes directors go, they stretch their muscles in a way that the average spurt, but there's a chunk there, particularly the Batman movies, but even, you know, the movies before that, that were really, really well done. And he's dark, like, you know, some of that stuff, but it's sort of then becomes more popcorn, you know, sort of fun movies I've seen, you know, some smaller movies. I mean, I always joke that I tell my kids all the time, one of my favorite younger movies was baby, the first baby horse. Road Warrior series that George Miller did, were awesome, even his most recent one with Tom Hardy. And, you know, I, I grew up, you know, as I said, in a small town, my parents got divorced, blah, blah, blah, but I sort of escaped a lot of that by going to the movies. And you know, literally the year they got divorced was 1977 when Star Wars came out, and I watched that movie 11 times in a row in over four days in theaters. And just wanted to believe I was out there fighting the Empire, you know, and I believe movies still have that power to take you away or give you a chance or do whatever, and it's a saint, you know, it's close, not the same year, but in that it's close to another horrible, you know, another much rougher movie that would have trouble getting made but it was one we talked about a little bit with Manchester by the Sea was ordinary people, you know, you know, that's just a horrifying said, traumatic now, as a parent, I can't watch. But I, in my younger days, I was always like, you know, they're brave to go out and talk about this. And it's easier to experience what's happening here in the movie than it is in you know, real life. So, I'm a real believer in that. And, and I think that that's the That, to me, is the biggest sort of use for these stories. You know, recently I've loved these limited series. I've loved a lot of the stuff that has come out on a tender right now like the British ones in the sort of Scandinavian ones more than I like the American ones. But you know, my wife is producing the Luthor movie. They're making a movie now. Yes. At the end of the Luther show, and I love the Luther show and I'm sure so happy they're making another Luther because I think that's a great character to see. So there's an exam

Alex Ferrari 1:54:51
And and I agree with you, man, like with Nolan and Fincher and these kind of guys. They're taking swings at the bat that just they just there's not many people given that opportunity. There is only one Nolan no one no one's getting to do the Oppenheimer 100 million dollar movie

Chris Moore 1:55:05
Right! And that's why I'm so look, Spielberg has taken a little bit of hit for his West Side Story. But he did an unbelievable job. And like, and he he's taken swings, and it's literally one of the best many movies I've ever seen. And the story is the start, like, like, for anyone to be somehow shocked in the sense that things been around forever. Like they change it completely. And I like I just, to me watching an expert who also brings in experts, I like Tony Kushner's, a bad writer and these that like, and the performers are great, and whatever, and you're like, that's what you want to see. You want these people? Well, I'm psyched for Jim Cameron's Avatar. I always thought a no, no, Sadie. It's just waiting for COVID to go away and waiting for like to finish, but it's like, I want to see great filmmakers do stuff, you know.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:55
Exactly. Chris, man, I am so grateful for this conversation, man. I mean, I argue this is probably one of the most important conversations that filmmakers should listen to. I swear to God, man, it's there's so much there's so much gold in this in the up in these hills, sir, I do truly appreciate my friend.

Chris Moore 1:56:14
Given the list on your website, I would say it's sort of, um, third tier, but I hope people listen to it. And I really appreciate what you do for the business as a whole and for talking about it. And, you know, I'm gonna listen to a bunch of them, because I think that group of people that you've had are also experiencing a change in the business that that they've been in. I'd recommend trying to get Kevin, I'm willing to write to Kevin Smith if you want if you've tried.

Alex Ferrari 1:56:41
Amen, sir. I've been trying to get through to Kevin for the longest time

Chris Moore 1:56:45
He may not do it because he has other podcasts or whatever. But Kevin fits in with the story.

Alex Ferrari 1:56:49
He does podcast. I think when clerks three comes out, hopefully he'll want to promote it.

Chris Moore 1:56:56
Because I think he'd have a lot based on what we're talking about. And I know him enough to write him and just say

Alex Ferrari 1:57:03
I had Scott on. Oh, Scott Scott is

Chris Moore 1:57:07
He's the best.

Alex Ferrari 1:57:08
Brother, I appreciate your time. Man. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Chris Moore 1:57:10
Thank you so much.


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IFH 536: How to Production Design for Ridley Scott with Oscar® Winner Janty Yates

Janty Yates costumer designer

Today on the show we have Oscars® winning costume designer Janty Yates.

Janty Yates has had a collaborative relationship with Ridley Scott since the great success of Gladiator in 2000, for which she won an Academy Award®, one of the eight Oscars® garnered by the film.

She was also nominated for a BAFTA, a Golden Satellite and a Saturn Award. She has also had CDG nominations for De-lovely and for The Martian, a Golden Satellite nomination for De-lovely and a Goya nomination for Kingdom of Heaven.

Yates is a frequent collaborator with Scott, having worked on thirteen films with him in addition to Gladiator, including: Hannibal (2001); Kingdom of Heaven (2005); American Gangster (2007); Body of Lies (2008); Robin Hood (2010), for which she received a Saturn Award nomination and her fourth Satellite Award nomination; Prometheus (2012), Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014),  and The Martian (2015). Her most recent films with Scott include the epic historical drama film The Last Duel and the biographical crime drama film House of Gucci, both released in 2021.

The historical epic is a cinematic and thought-provoking drama set in the midst of the Hundred Years War that explores the ubiquitous power of men, the frailty of justice and the strength and courage of one woman willing to stand alone in the service of truth. Based on actual events, the film unravels long-held assumptions about France’s last sanctioned duel between Jean de Carrouges and Jacques Le Gris, two friends turned bitter rivals.

Carrouges is a respected knight known for his bravery and skill on the battlefield. Le Gris is a Norman squire whose intelligence and eloquence make him one of the most admired nobles in court. When Carrouges’ wife, Marguerite, is viciously assaulted by Le Gris, a charge he denies, she refuses to stay silent, stepping forward to accuse her attacker, an act of bravery and defiance that puts her life in jeopardy.

The ensuing trial by combat, a grueling duel to the death, places the fate of all three in God’s hands. The film is based on Eric Jager’s book “The Last Duel: A True Story of Crime, Scandal, and Trial by Combat in Medieval France.”

It is produced and directed by Ridley Scott, Kevin J. Walsh (“Manchester by the Sea”), Jennifer Fox (“Nightcrawler”), Nicole Holofcener, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck with Kevin Halloran (“Ford v Ferrari”), Drew Vinton (“Promised Land”), Madison Ainley (“Justice League”) serving as executive producers.

You can watch The Last Duel through popular video-on-demand (VOD) retailers like Amazon Prime Video, Vudu, Apple TV (iTunes), Microsoft Movies, and YouTube.

Enjoy my conversation with Janty Yates. 

Right-click here to download the MP3


Alex Ferrari 0:00
This episode is brought to you by Indie Film Hustle Academy, where filmmakers and screenwriters go to learn from Top Hollywood Industry Professionals. Learn more at ifhacademy.com. I'd like to welcome to the show Janty Yates, How are you doing Janty?

Janty Yates 0:15
Hi, how nice of you to invite me. I'm very honored.

Alex Ferrari 0:19
Thank you. I'm honored to have you on the show. As I was telling you earlier, I think you are the officially first costume designer we've ever had on the show, and a heck of a costume designer. To do that with after almost 500 episodes of the of the of the show. I am I am honored to speak to someone of your caliber, and artistic skill because I've been a fan of your work for a long time. Probably the first the first time, of course, I recognized your name was in Gladiator a few years ago.

Janty Yates 0:54
I'm extremely doubly honored now to find that I'm the first to thank you so much. And thank you so much for your compliments as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:04
So so how did you get started in the business? What made you want to jump into this insanity that is the show business?

Janty Yates 1:12
Oh, hell, yes. I couldn't agree with you more. It really is insane. But I started making clothes when I was like 10 or 11. And I never stopped. And I just went off to college. And I did pattern cutting dress design, dressmaking. And I started off thinking I would break the fashion industry. And that was not going to happen. And I started with wholesale fashion manufacturers. And that was just not my cup of tea. I was not the inspirational Alexander McQueen or John Galliano, I didn't sleep under my cutting table to produce eight perfect outfits, I realized that I didn't have that sort of quality. And also you have to be extremely well funded, unless you do sleep on your cutting table. And so I then was living with an editor, Martin Smith, who basically steered me into the world of commercials. And I knew nobody in commercials. And I was just literally putting myself out there with friends of his and working for no money being an assistants assistant assistant, and just learning one's way around and happy to work just for no money. I do have to say my boyfriend did subsidize me for the first six months, which is pretty nice of him.

Alex Ferrari 2:53
Now, was there a film that kind of lit the flame of you wanting to jump into the future world?

Janty Yates 3:01
Oh, no, listen, I was I could have done commercials all my life, I would have been so happy working with different directors, you know, three or four days or a fortnight or three weeks. I was so gobsmacked when I was offered just a half hour film for television. And that was because the costume designer who was doing it was ill. So it was by default, in fact. And so it just I was clambering up this Dickie scope, I think recall it. Basically, I then did a lot of television, a lot of television series. And then did my first feature in mid 80s. I think that was was probably my budget was really what I'd spend on a good dinner now.

Alex Ferrari 4:08
Times the times have definitely have changed. Yeah, I mean, working in the commercial world, when especially during those years, when there were budgets, like major budgets, that I mean, oh my god, they were massive budgets that you had so much fun. I can only imagine what a department like costume would have with a budget like that even on a commercial.

Janty Yates 4:31
Well, commercials are like mini films. And basically it's like, I want this sky blue pink suit on this man. And we're shooting on Monday, and it's Friday. You know, it's that sort of hairiness and so I was kind of quite glad to leave that behind after X amount. Oh, I've got six weeks to do this film How marvelous films I did

Alex Ferrari 5:05
So when you were working with so can you tell the audience a little bit about what a costume designer does? You know, because I think there is a lot of miscommunication. A lot of misunderstandings about what you actually do?

Janty Yates 5:19
Well, yes, we dress everybody on set, literally, from the socks upwards. And whether it's contemporary, or period, or space, science fiction, we do it from beginning to end, unless it's such a low budget that they've said, the director said, they can come in their own clothes. And then you know, you always, always do all the actors, all the main actors, it's only background that you'd let go on a on a low budget crowd seen that they, you know, and then they'd say, Well do we don't want red, and we don't want yellow. And we don't want primary colors, or we only want red, and yellow, and blue, and primary colors. Usually, they'll say that, when they've all come in beige. But a bigger film, then you get more chance to, to construct, and you have more time to do the research, which could be upwards of a month or six weeks of research. And then basically you start your cutter, and he or she cuts and you make prototypes, then your actor is with you for your first fitting, then you take photos, and the director throws it all out, or doesn't make sense. If you got your brief from your director, so I'm talking, you know, basically, everybody from leads number 12345 and six, right through we have about 185 actors on this film I'm doing at the moment. But they're possibly, you know, just one will be saying nominee parties, you know, and it's one outfit, but they're all all costumed by us. It's responsibility

Alex Ferrari 7:28
Oh, I can I can only imagine. And then it also is all themed. Do you have a whole kind of idea? I mean, obviously, depending on I mean, if it's like in the Martian when you worked on, obviously, there's the Martian costumes, and then there's the back and NASA costumes. So they're not to get but you there is a color theme. There is a general theme throughout throughout the movie itself, because even in some of the I mean, if you look at something like Gladiator, there's definitely a theme within all of the costumes that you've created. Because you could have gone one way or you could have gone another way with with theme of things. So it is all kind of cohesive. If I'm not if I'm not mistaken, correct.

Janty Yates 8:12
We always have basically, we always have a big meeting with the DOP, who at the moment is Doris Wolski, with Arthur Mac's the production designer, and with Ridley, and he will set the tone because he's a painter. And he was at art college for seven years, he went to the Slade and Royal College of Art. And he goes down to his heart at the bottom of the garden a Christmas and he just paints which is wonderful. My whole room is papered with storyboards, which he does ad infinitum on every film so you know exactly what's in his brain. And basically, you have to really go by storyboards because he's got a complete vision, a total vision, and basically no, having said no red, you know, reds, yellows and blues, nothing primary is really he's because he's a painter. He loves. He loves old masters, he loves the feel of a painting. And so it's that you veer to the feel of a master a bridle or you know, a George La Tour, you know, you will you will go to that direction, rather than just here it is the red dress or you know, here it is the blue dress. So, a lot of it is guided by Ridley we just talk along.

Alex Ferrari 9:56
Now, how did you meet Ridley Scott and how did you guys become The collaborators that you've had, because you've done a couple movies with him at this point,

Janty Yates 10:03
One or two, only as good as your last movie, so never assume. Never, ever assume, frankly, you know, I basically was doing a film with his son called Plunkett and McLean, which we thought was the most fabulous movie, and I still believe it is the most fabulous movie. And he come in, and he says, Oh, my dad was watching rushes the weekend, when I've had a huge hero worship of Sir Ridley Scott for decades, and decades, decades, and I guess I'm sure he's not, you know, I never really believed Jake. And because there was, you know, he was in LA and Jake, and we were all shooting in Prague. I thought, Oh, sure. He hasn't seen them. You know, this was back in 98. However, he did, and he he stole from Jake, the makeup artist. Me the Steadicam operator, and the second second second unit director. So there off the top was it Jake is a great commercial Jake is a very, very lovely and very creative guy. And he never minded he wasn't making movie after movie like as well there was he was quite happy

Alex Ferrari 11:34
So that's so that's how you guys got together. And it was was your first collaboration with Ridley Gladiator?

Janty Yates 11:43
Oh, no.

Alex Ferrari 11:45
You did that. You did a couple movies before that, right?

Janty Yates 11:48
No, no. No. Why me? You know, how blessed was I? It was it was incredible. You know, just the fact that we were making tunics down to the needs look like Scottish kilts. I was running around the helmets that we had. I was making sure that the brims are they're not they're actually hit blockers that they were on the end on the edge of the helmet to look like a baseball cap, right. And they just really trying to make them look cool. Rather than you know, if you look at Trojans column, which is the best place for research actually just standing in front of this column, it has acres of legionaries just marching round it all carved beautifully. And they all have short skirts they all had. They just didn't really it didn't really work. So we just cheated a little bit on their on their legionary uniforms.

Alex Ferrari 12:54
I mean, because I'm in that film alone, you had I mean, between the iconic now Gladiator. You had these multiple gladiator characters who had a very distinct look like that silver with the the Teardrop of Oh, my God. Yeah, all of those amazing costumes. And you also had the legionnaires. And you also so it's like, almost two completely different worlds. And then you have the commoners and the peasants. And this is your first big movie at this point. Correct?

Janty Yates 13:25
Completely. And I really was guided through it by my supervisor, Rosemary Barrows. And, you know, I didn't know where to go. We interviewed so many different specialists effects costume makers, we you know, we luckily, prep was delayed because of some reason I can't remember. But we they grabbed us another month and a half, which was terrific. And we had we had the germ, the barbarians, the Germans, we had the Praetorian Guard to design. And you know, it was very, very exciting. It really was terrifying. I was every single day of that entire prep and shoot, it was terrifying.

Alex Ferrari 14:12
How do you how do you research a project? Like where do you find your inspiration for the individuals like from I mean, if something from like the gladiator to the Martian, like there said that's such an alien. There's so many different or brief Prometheus. There's so many there's so different. Where do you go to find inspiration per project, and how do you what's your process?

Janty Yates 14:35
In Gladiator you just walk around Rome, you know, because every single statue is either a legionary or it's Caesar. Or it's, you know, Augustus It's extraordinary. Obviously, books, huge amount of books, Ridley came up with the most wonderful inspiration For the crowd you wanted ALMA to Deema. Who painted? He was a late 19th. No, sorry, late. He was 19 Eight, not nine today to 1880 to 1910. He painted wonderful Roman scenes. And we used a lot of his paintings as inspiration. Obviously the British Museum, the Ashmolean Museum, just museums that go go libraries, and artists, and roam, and then really the Martian. Ridley, briefed me that he wanted similar to Prometheus for Prometheus. He'd said, We want skinny suits, we want them to be body hugging. And we were ahead of the curve there. We, you know, there's been a lot of movies since which have nicked our ideas. But the great thing about The Martian spacesuit was that really, it was Ridley again, who just said, I want orange in it. I want it to be silver and orange, or gray and orange. So we just worked with that. And we just worked worked. And we added and we took away. And it was, you know, a whole host of trial and error until we came up with it. And the the helmets on Prometheus, they were a work of art, they had a seat recording for sound. We lit the actors, and we had 11 monitors with tech running on them constantly. Batteries at gogo just drove everyone mad replacing the batteries. And obviously they had to breathe. So we had to, you know, pump air into their, into their helmets, and also for not fogging up. So we were doing a lot of, you know, really quite broken ground. Excuse me ground breaking work on on this. Now maybe they did all CGI, but CGI was around. We just did it.

Alex Ferrari 17:19
Practical is practical. You know, there's something about practical human human beings can feel it. It's enhancing with visual effects, even in clothing, where there's capes and things like that and other things that they do in visual effects that can maybe add to but even then, you can't replicate. Even with as much amazing technologies we have today. It's hard to replicate reality.

Janty Yates 17:45
Yeah, and all these capes are usually on fishing wire.

Alex Ferrari 17:51
Right, exactly. Exactly.

Janty Yates 17:53
Two main I decide. I should screen obviously. pulling, pulling wondering exactly.

Alex Ferrari 18:03
Not none the most. That what you think about? Yeah, not what you think about you're like, oh, there's must be something high tech. It's fishing wire. It's fishing wire in a dude in the corner polling to generally generally to now. So you've worked with Ridley for for, you know, for the better part of two decades. Now. What is his approach to costume design? How does he approach? I mean, because we know he has a vision. I mean, all his films are so visual, and he does storyboard. He is an artist, a painter? How does he specifically approach the costuming of his characters within within the conflicts? Let's say the last duel is one of his latest films. How did he approach that?

Janty Yates 18:45
Well, he's very visual. He's very visual indeed. And he, he is a huge collaborator. And he will, you know, he will come up with ideas. He was the one that found the most wonderful effigy, which was still the front of his CQRS to make Adams battle armor. In actual fact, Adams battle armor, he just punches around in he doesn't really do much battling he's just, you know, it's just a peers. right hand man. And he, it was wonderful. It was gold circles on each breast and a gold circle in the middle of the grass. And really found that and so we went with it. You know, I basically I'm just a facilitator.

Alex Ferrari 19:42
There. Yeah. And it just basically, whatever really comes up with you're like, okay, and obviously it's a collaboration you're he's asking you for your ideas and your input, obviously, and how to put it all together. But I mean, imagining I mean, working with someone like Ridley Scott who is so specific, yeah, about his vision. During but there's still obviously room for collaboration. I mean, you obviously are throwing ideas at him. He's either batting them away or or agreeing with him.

Janty Yates 20:09
Absolutely. And, you know, we we do go backwards and forwards. But he, for example, he's done every single scene in this film that we're collaborating on at the moment in a store in a storyboard, and I noticed that he had Josephine, because we're doing Napolean in a red dress in a red setting. And so I questioned him on that. And he said, Yes, he wanted a red dress. Well, we were doing Josephine different colorway, but we made him the red dress. And that's fantastic. So, you know, you can never really tell, but basically, his storyboards are the Bible. They really are. But we always we always get together and work out the colors. I sat down with Arthur Mac's a week ago, and we went through all the sets. And I mean, we're shooting entirely on location that he always shows me through, says, Well, what do you think? Should we redo the drapes on this bed? And really won't necessarily have any input on that, but he will. You know, he'll comment if the drapes are wrong. And you know, he'll comment in time for them to make new ones. It's same for paste a bed.

Alex Ferrari 21:33
Right! He's, he's not gonna do it on the day of generally speaking,

Janty Yates 21:43
Generally speaking. I wouldn't know but I mean, he did this on Gucci, E. LG, I came running down with LG, she had this red dress that we'd made another red dress for, ironically, that we'd made for eight weeks, we'd been making the twile, fitting it, making it in the fabric, fitting it, fitting it again. And then we run down to the set. It's supposed to be when she meets Maritza, for the first time. And we're doing what's this? And I said, it's the red dress. And he won't see her legs. So we put her up on an apple box. And thank God, she brought her wonderful man from New York, who did the cutting because I would have just gone like, we took 18 inches off the hem of the dress to make it a nice legs dress. Oh, my hemming, nothing just like with five camera crews all standing around drumming their fingers. Chewing gum waiting for us.

Alex Ferrari 22:56
Oh, that must that. I mean, I can imagine that's a little bit a little bit of pressure, a little bit of stress

Janty Yates 23:01
Ohh no on his role with Ridley his called role was Ridley he'll say, he'll say something like on the in the court of Ramses the third, he'll go or is read again. Actually, he's he'll say everyone's in white and gold. And you know, there's lots of clerics and say, I don't I'd like something red. You're just about to shoot. On maybe there's 10 clerics. So it's roll with Ridley, you know,really.

Alex Ferrari 23:32
And you're and you're always locked and loaded, just in case, I'm assuming at this point in the game?

Janty Yates 23:38
Yes, of course. Haha.

Alex Ferrari 23:41
You figure it out. You figure it out. But that's what makes?

Janty Yates 23:44
I know, I know. You never know what he's going to come up with. What? Okay, right. I mean, I remember on the Martian, and Matt, Matt's just sitting in a park and 20 students jog past him. And he went, why haven't they got any baseball caps on? Okay, and as Sarah said, run the crew. And we were blocking a gaffer taping. I mean, that's just a day in the life of costume designer, blacking out the Nike signs, you know, just beanie hats. Yes, I'll have 10 of your beanie hats, camera crew for, you know,

Alex Ferrari 24:25

Janty Yates 24:28
Because it was supposed to be New York, or America really.

Alex Ferrari 24:32
Exactly. Now, can you talk a little bit about the power of color in the work that you do and the emotional attachment that we have with color? And you know what red kind of means what green kind of means? Or is it basically just whatever, you know, release feeling that day? Is there. I mean, obviously red has a very different distinction than blue or green and address. Can you talk a little bit about that for the audience?

Janty Yates 24:57
Well, he basically He only goes to red. Usually when it's involved with something quite personal, something fairly, maybe sexual, you know, it's sort of it's the naughty woman will wear red. And the reason that LG wore it was because she was kind of on the hunt, even though she was very innocent and young in that time, early, early days when she's seduces Maritza that night on the dance floor. And he's not very keen on brush colors is not keen on. On what's the word? When you can see them at night,

Alex Ferrari 25:50
Neon, neon loud.

Janty Yates 25:52
Exactly, exactly. He's not keen on those sort of colors. He prefers the colors of an old master. He loves grays, browns, beiges. He loves all those all those tones. That was navy blue, he loves blues of all colors. But it's all dependent on the setup, all dependent on you know, whether it's contemporary, or period, everything is pertinent to the set.

Alex Ferrari 26:24
Now on a film, like the last duel, which I just I just recently watched a few days ago. And, you know, I have to say there are very few directors left working inside the Hollywood system that can paint with a brush like Ridley does, that's given the resources to paint these large on large canvases, which are not based on a superhero, or a major IP or Harry Potter or something like that. I can probably count them on one hand, one or two hands, how many of these are left? What was it like working on last duel in this? I mean, if you've also worked in the kingdom of heaven, which is also a massive, medieval medieval part, how was it like working on and last? And how did you specifically question? How did you handle the mass amount of people and battle sequences and clothes? You know, costuming, all of those? What's the process?

Janty Yates 27:30
Yes, you basically you have a wonderful wardrobe supervisor who I have in Italy, and we get a lot of costumes from Italy. And they just look after the street. People. They look after the upper class, the middle class, obviously, the the battles where they had to be really in full armor. So that was, that was a problem. We rented a lot of armor, because we couldn't make for every single soldier, you know, there's no way we could afford that. Because it was bad enough, just getting the 12 or so for each of the, of the leads. So they basically they did work we had one or two, maybe five or six in actual metal, but most of it was urethane, which is you know, the go to fabric of making armor now. And so that was that taken care of the deal. They were all upper class along the the top most of them were actors. So we we designed them I mean, it's a very I could just drone on about it, you know, from where everybody everybody costume came from, you know, the king we had embroidered in Chalk Farm, North London, for example. And the queen, you know, everything I really could I could sort of write a book about where everything came from, you know,

Alex Ferrari 29:19
So so on on a project that big, you know, because most filmmakers listening to the show will never be able to play that kind of, you know, that kind of color palette is a very few people that can do that. What is the process of just literally the actual production process of clothing? On day one everyone's call time is five o'clock in the morning. Okay, we've got you know, 1500 extras 250 extras is everyone going through a tent and just basically almost like a assembly line, getting fitted for the for the background and things like that and maybe on a battle sequence. We're working to see on screen at one time, maybe 500 to you know, not 500 but 100 people at a time because I know a lot of my be added in post to make it look bigger. But I know from what I've read about Ridley, he likes to do as much in camera as possible. Is that correct?

Janty Yates 30:08
Yes, that's absolutely correct. And we fit them all in advance. So they all come in the day of shooting, they know exactly what they're wearing. There it is literally a production line, they come into us, they get dressed, they get then go on to hair and makeup, they go there. And then after they're out of hair and makeup, they go to the armor, let's say we're talking soldiers here. And also, there's a huge amount of stunts that are used now in in battles, because they're more useful, frankly, than just having extras who can ride. So they have their own tents they have, but there's exactly the same production. And the same with the civilians, they literally will come in maybe at three or four in the morning. Not quite as bad as Gladiator, which was 132 in the morning. But we had 3000 there.

Alex Ferrari 31:12
So was it was it really literally 3000 people that you guys had to

Janty Yates 31:16
Yeah, he had 3000 in Morocco. So one of the smaller battles. And then 3000 A day in Malta for the Colosseum for four weeks, I think.

Alex Ferrari 31:36
I can't I mean, I can't even comprehend on a production of that magnitude. That's just the people let alone feeding the people, let alone clothing people, let alone bathrooms.

Janty Yates 31:51
It's, it's a huge moving circus, you know, it really is. But we've always fitted them before we fit them, you know, upfront. And basically, they know what they're going to wear. They know what they've also visited hair and makeup before. So they know they're going to get a, you know, a shock of new hair or, you know, brows or, you know, great big bushy beard or whatever. And so they know all of that. And there's no surprises, really. And they know what arms because the armors always deal with, you know, however many there are 200 300 400 they deal with them, and they have them out, you know, when they're actually on set. As for feeding them and Lou stops, then you know this huge, great tents of catering honey wagon that go on as far as the eye can see.

Alex Ferrari 32:52
Basically no other productions are around you at that time. They basically have taken all the honey wagons. Yeah, exactly. Now, I mean, you've had the pleasure of collaborating with Ridley for the last, you know, couple a couple decades, you must have been on set multiple times watching him? Is there anything that you can see, because it takes a very special director to be able to orchestrate on such a large scale? You know, it, you know, really doesn't make private movies in a room? That's not he doesn't make the one location film. That's not what really does. What did you What do you see in working with him over these years? That is a skill set that he has, that allows him to continuously? Not only do this once every few years due to a year? It's insanity. How does he What does that thing you see?

Janty Yates 33:49
Yes, it is. It's just madness. He's a complete fiend for work. You know, I've spoken to him over Christmas. And he goes, No, I'm just going down to my shed to paint. You know, I can't bear this hanging around nothing to do. You know, he's an complete, he's a fantastic workaholic. But what I never, ever will understand is how he can position five cameras and be done. That's what I can't answer. I can watch him work. And I can see his brain working. And he's mapped it all out beforehand, every shot that he's going to shoot, which is extraordinary. I mean, that's extraordinary in itself. But the fact that he handles these five cameras, so commonly he in the DOP is Doris Wolski at the moment, you know, they just handled camera crews so gently and so you just put yourself there and you get this close up and you get the mid shot. You know, they just do it. I mean, x amount of times a day, and very often he'll feel Shirley because he's got everything in two tapes. He's a miracle worker, he really is.

Alex Ferrari 35:06
Yeah, I was gonna say, because to be able to shoot at that scale with that kind of Canvas, and with that kind of just humanity that you have to deal with sometimes, especially like on the last duel, or even out of Gucci, there's so many people you got to deal with. I've heard that he shoots five cameras at a time, that is a master as a master at work, be able, because to be able to light four or five cameras, be able to move and capture everything, he has to be able to move quickly to be able to efficiently to be able to work within these budgets, and he's working within.

Janty Yates 35:42
Well, absolutely. And I think Daris works, they work very well alongside each other. And they've got it down to a really, you know, a fast pace. And it's fantastic. And he moves on. He beats the schedule, sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 36:01
He's ahead of schedule, sometimes on some of the most massive projects going on in Hollywood.

Janty Yates 36:08
But he's confident in what he's got. That's the thing. It's amazing. I mean, that's what he wants.

Alex Ferrari 36:15
Right! Exactly. Because he's been I mean, he's gone to war so many times. I mean, he made his first feature, and at I think 40. But before that he had shot 5000 Commercials

Janty Yates 36:26
5000 Probably 6000. Exactly. He was a past master even before he shot, you know, the dualists his first feature.

Alex Ferrari 36:37
Yeah. It's remarkable. Now, all these years as you've been working, is there ever been a day and I have to believe there has been when there's a day on set where everything in your department, something has gone wrong? The world is coming crashing down around you. You're like, oh my god, how am I going to get out of this? And what was that moment? And what project if you can tell me? And how did you overcome it? Or does it happen every day?

Janty Yates 37:07
Every day. How a costume designer can just sit at their desk, and let everything go on around them. I'm on set all the time, because Ridley will come out with Well, we're going to have a couple of horses, can we just get a couple of Grooms and, you know, maybe a child on the back of the horse or something like that, you know, oh, okay, running off putting out fires all the time. You know, he's just, he's inspirational. He really is. And you've just got to roll with it. Because otherwise,

Alex Ferrari 37:44
You lose your mind.

Janty Yates 37:46
Yeah, but he doesn't. He doesn't get what he wants. So you're facilitating him? As much as you possibly can, you know, and I mean, he understands if you haven't got that sky blue pink suit, you know, over the weekend. That's fair enough. He understands that. But he's he's a very tight taskmaster. He keeps you on your toes. He but he inspires constantly. So what's not to love?

Alex Ferrari 38:17
And when you were so when you run that set of Gladiator, and that's your first big movie, which I can't believe you were thrown into the deep end of the pool at your first feature. I mean, you're basically working with a living.

Janty Yates 38:31
I did a lot of features before but never anything of that.

Alex Ferrari 38:36
Right! With Ridley Yeah, if you had worked on future

Janty Yates 38:40
Huge budget, huge. And then for it to have the success. Unbelievable. You know, it was extraordinary. But now I had done I have done some features before.

Alex Ferrari 38:54
No, no. Yeah, I know you've I've done yeah, but nothing at the scale of gladiator and being kind of tossed into your into the deep end with Ridley. I mean, I have to ask you, because I always love asking anybody who happens to win an Oscar, what's that all experience being in that hurricane? The center of the storm like that, being on your first big monster Hollywood film? What was it like?

Janty Yates 39:18
Well, it didn't belong to me the Oscar, she belonged to my entire team. She you know, had four different companies making armor. I had you know, even from the drivers for everybody in Morocco, everyone in in Malta, I think there are probably, you know, 200 people that that Oscar belong to, and my assistant and my supervisor. I didn't feel worthy of it, to be honest.

Alex Ferrari 39:49
Really, and it just kind of like it must be it must have been surreal. It must have been surreal.

Janty Yates 39:57
Well, it's like nothing else that whole weekend of completely feeling like a princess. And you know, I didn't. There's no way I was going to get it. You know, the fact that I got it, I was completely stunned and speechless. So that was, that was extraordinary. But I wanted to thank everybody, you know, I would have stayed up there for an hour, listing everybody's name because I didn't feel it belonged to me.

Alex Ferrari 40:30
Now, I have to ask you, you also worked on another film that just got released. Because really releases a movie a week apparently. House of Gucci. When I saw that, when I saw the trailer for that I was like, oh my god, the costume designer must have had a ball diving into the archives of Gucci of all companies. What was it? Like? How much fun did you have on that project?

Janty Yates 40:57
Had so much fun. It was great. And basically, they open the archive. But the archive was moving. And they were storing us we finally got to see the archive, there only about 20 outfits, but they allowed us to ship them over to LG. And she fit them all like a glove. They were fabulous. And we actually then this was October, we fit her kind of, I think in January in LA. And then basically, or maybe it was December anyway, it doesn't matter. Then they when we started shooting towards the end of February, they released them and we kept them in a strong room in the hotel. We were all bubbled in. And so we basically we knew that they fit and we knew that they look great. But Patrizia Reggiani didn't wear a lot of Gucci, because it was kind of a bit conservative. She liked Eve zanla Wrong. She loved Dior. She loved she Vaughn, she etc. So I was so lucky. I found two really. And they had the most wonderful archives. Also alamode and Ferrante. They had archives as well. But it was it couldn't see the other end of the room. It was just because I was thinking where am I going to find all of this costume that I need for LG because I had a cutter, and he was making the most wonderful stuff. But I needed the archive as well. And I found all of your all of Shivaji all of Eve Center at tirelli. It was amazing. Absolutely amazing. So I was very, very happy. And you know, LG would come into a fitting and she goes, that's what I'm going to wear when I meet or Axio. Or this is what I'd like because we all have all the stuff that we'd made as well. I my cutter started very early. And so we'd have a lot that was just punted to fit. And then we'd have to see.

Alex Ferrari 43:08
I mean, I mean, Lady Gaga is essentially a, essentially a fashion icon in her own right prior to being here. So I could only imagine having her almost as a collaborator, as well as going, Hey, I want that. I think this would be good. And let's ask Ridley

Janty Yates 43:25
She was great. She was so collaborative, and so happy to, but she would never ever wear the same outfit. She had 54 different outfits. She would always say right, that's it that's done and we'd pack it away with the earrings. With the three necklaces, with the bracelets with the brooches with the handbag, we'd pack it away and it would never be touched again.

Alex Ferrari 43:49
Wow, really? So sitting somewhere in a warehouse.

Janty Yates 43:53
No, it's actually in LA. Oh, it's over. I think MGM I think they have it the moment. But everything else. For example, the 40 suits I made for Adam and the 1520 seats. I made Frappuccino there at the moment in a warehouse in Rome because they're embargoed until the film has come out. Well now. Last week it came out so we'll be sending those all over to MGM. I guess.

Alex Ferrari 44:27
You're too busy on Napoleon right now think about things like this. Guess Yeah. Because normally you get you get a year off, you know, you know, between projects. So you're like, oh, maybe I get six months off. But I guess working with Ridley you don't get much breaks.

Janty Yates 44:42
Well, this has been extraordinary. You know, I think what happened? Because I knew about Gucci a year before we actually started it. And I was sent the script I went to the museum in Florence is beyond fantastic. It really is Gucci museum. And I went there, and I crewed up all my Italian crew. And then we didn't do it that year, because Matt brang Ridley, and said, Well, I've just written a script with Ben, would you like to shoot it? And he went, Yeah. Would you like shoot it now? Because we're all free? Yeah. So you know, that just came like a missile out of the blue.

Alex Ferrari 45:30
Again, the small little independent film that Matt wrote, Matt and Ben wrote that's the thing. It's like,

Janty Yates 45:38
Came along, you know,

Alex Ferrari 45:40
It wasn't a small little movie to like, sneak in between house of Gucci.

Janty Yates 45:46
Well, in point of fact, because COVID happened, right? There's six weeks in France in medieval France. And then we thought we were going to Ireland to shoot the rest of it. But no, we were all sent home from Ireland. So that

Alex Ferrari 46:05
Slowed things down

Janty Yates 46:06
A bit. Yeah. That was COVID. But MGM reached out to me and said, Would I like to do six to eight weeks on research and development of Gucci? During during a lockdown? Yes, please. Thank you. We did a huge amount of research. It was terrific.

Alex Ferrari 46:25
What it shows on that it shows on the on the screen that you had you would you have gotten that much time prep on a movie like Gucci? Or did was COVID allowed you a little extra time that you wouldn't have normally had?

Janty Yates 46:38
No, I think I'd have probably been asked to do research and development. Anyway, they might. But I had to get my cutter to start early. Because we were just Dancing in the Dark measurements wise, we haven't sure for everything up with LG. So thank goodness, the MGM head of physical production. said yes, he can start early. So I might have been just asked to do that research and development then. But who will never know we

Alex Ferrari 47:16
Never will never will look after COVID has changed everything for everybody on the planet. So it's will never there's a lot of will never notice of what if there's a lot of what ifs?

Janty Yates 47:28
No, I was I was working at a local food bank. And I was just happy to actually earn some money during lockdown. That was great.

Alex Ferrari 47:40

Janty Yates 47:43
I'm saying Alice that. Very happy to get my teeth into Gucci.

Alex Ferrari 47:49
That's fantastic. Now, what advice would you give a costume designer or that wants to kind of break in of someone who wants to get into your kind of line of work in the business?

Janty Yates 48:01
Well, I knew nobody. Absolutely nobody. And my partner at the time was an editor. And he said he pointed out you know, commercials and little films and things like that they all need costuming, I didn't really. I didn't know that knew. I mean that's how naive I was. But I had been to college and I had you know, done my time. So I basically worked for anybody who'd have me I did stills I did you know and assistants assistant assistant, working for no money, literally sort of you know, but she washing stockings and awning skirts and doing anything that they give me to do. And gradually I sometimes be asked back and given a small amount of money. So really it's get yourself a basic training. And persevere. Be as nice as you can because that helps that you get us back. Never seen no. Right All right. All always carry a notebook and if you can't think of anything to do on something

Alex Ferrari 49:20
No, that's so look busy is what you're saying if you keep busy. Wow, that Jan she looks she's working hard over there. We should bring on the next. No, now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What is the lesson that has taken you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Janty Yates 49:43
Well, I've trusted people terribly and made terrible choices. And I really still always believed the best of everyone. And I'm getting more and more cynical as I get into my Olden age, so, I think really, I would just say, you know, always give people the benefit of the doubt. But only three times.

Alex Ferrari 50:16
Wow, only three times. That's just once three times. So you're not that cynical yet. You're not that cynical yet. No. And what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Janty Yates 50:30
Oh, well, Lawrence, of course. Every Yeah, I just still, I watch it probably once a year. And love it, I will say loved Anna Karenina of that time with. And listen, there's another David Lean. Direct directorial. I love David Lean any of his work. The third one, I can't really think I'm just running through all the movies I've seen. There will be blood, possibly such. Yeah, that's such a Great Dane is who? Thomas Edison. Just all day? No, just amazing.

Alex Ferrari 51:23
Now, are there any projects that you would would aim someone interested in costume design to look at? Are there any films that you can go? Oh, if you want to get it? I know. It's a tough question. I know. She just made she if anyone just listening, she just gave me a look. It's anything that pops to the top of your head, you're like, you know what, these, these two or three movies are really great. But there's 1000 of them out there. But the things that may be synced to you personally?

Janty Yates 51:50
Well, it's very, very hard. I have to say that's why I was I was giving you the look of what there's so much out there. I really didn't think off the top of my head. I could pick anything to say, watch this and learn. Because I think you learn every day from everything you see. Every film, every movie that you watch, you just learn. And you know I could I honestly cannot think of three just off the off the cuff like that. I would have to email them to you. Hard, like, oh, but that's not fair on that one. That one.

Alex Ferrari 52:39
It's like putting a guest list together for a wedding. Well, if I invite this person to help them and then you got 500 people.

Janty Yates 52:48
Yeah, exactly. I'm sorry. I'm gonna Wiltshire's that one.

Alex Ferrari 52:54
Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough. Jessie, thank you so much for being on the show. It has been an absolute pleasure and honor speaking to you and please continue doing the amazing work you're doing with with all with every every project you work with and, and and with Ridley because we need. We need projects like the ones you're working on out there because it they're an endangered species in Hollywood. They really are. So thank you so much for the work you do.

Janty Yates 53:22
Well, thank you so much for talking to me. I've so enjoyed it. And really, it's all Ridley it's not me.


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IFH 534: Swingers, Scream & Rudy – The Art of Producing with Cary Woods

Today on the show we have legendary film producer Cary Woods. 

Cary Woods is a film producer best known for producing worldwide blockbusters such as Scream and Godzilla, the beloved independent films Kids, Cop Land, and Gummo, and modern classics like Rudy and Swingers.

Woods is also responsible for producing the breakthrough features of such notable directors as James Mangold, Doug Liman, M. Night Shyamalan, Alexander Payne, Harmony Korine, and Larry Clark, as well as the screenwriting debuts of Jon Favreau, Kevin Williamson, and Scott Rosenberg.

Woods’ filmography features a lineup of A-List actors, including: Robert Downey, Jr., Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Marisa Tomei, Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel, Mike Myers, Laura Dern, Heather Graham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Drew Barrymore, Matthew Broderick, Courteney Cox, Timothy Hutton, Andy Garcia, Neve Campbell, Sean Astin, Michael Rapaport, Jean Reno, and Steve Buscemi.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Woods graduated from the USC Gould School of Law before beginning his career at the William Morris Agency (now WME). As an agent, Woods represented – and in many cases introduced audiences to – the likes of Gus Van Sant, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Connelly, Milla Jovovich, Charlie Sheen, Matt Dillon, Todd Solondz, and most prominently, Gregory Peck.

At WMA, Woods also represented many of the industry’s most successful stand-up comedians including Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Gilbert Gottfried, Sandra Bernhard, Tommy Davidson, and Jackie Mason.

After developing the Indie favorites Heathers and Drugstore Cowboy as an agent, Woods accepted a position at Sony Pictures Entertainment (the parent company of Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures) as a Vice President – Office of the Chairman, reporting directly to Peter Guber. Woods later segued to a production deal at Sony, resulting in the release of a succession of iconic films, including So I Married An Axe Murderer, Rudy, Only You, and Threesome.

After starting his own production company – Independent Pictures – the explosive release of the 1995 cultural phenomenon Kids (starring then-newcomers Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny) began a streak of culturally significant, critically-acclaimed independent films produced by Woods under his banner.

The next few years saw the releases of Citizen Ruth (the first film from future two-time Oscar winner Alexander Payne), Beautiful Girls (which introduced American audiences to Natalie Portman), and Swingers (springboarding Vince Vaughn to comedy mega-stardom).

His 1996 film Scream (the most successful film of “Master of Horror” Wes Craven’s career) marked a turning point for the entire genre, grossing over $170 million and setting a box office record that would stand for 22 years. The film instantly and single-handedly pivoted horror toward postmodernism, spawning a massive billion-dollar franchise (consisting of successful sequels, a TV series, toys, and Halloween costumes), as well as inspiring countless knock-offs in the years since.

Gummo – the directorial debut of Kids’ screenwriter Harmony Korine – received the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1997 Venice Film Festival. Bernando Bertolucci, the famed director of Last Tango in Paris, praised the film, calling it “The one revolutionary film of the late 20th century.”

In 1998, the first US-produced entry of the iconic Godzilla film franchise would become Woods’ and Independent Pictures’ single highest-grossing film, earning nearly $400 million.

Woods would go on to serve as co-Chairman, and Chief Creative Officer of Plum TV, in which he was a founding partner. Broadcasting in the nation’s most affluent markets (i.e. Aspen, the Hamptons, Miami Beach), the luxury lifestyle network would go on to earn eight Emmy Awards.

Enjoy my conversation with Cary Woods.

Right-click here to download the MP3


Alex Ferrari 2:20
Well guys today on the show, we have legendary film producer, Cary Woods. Cary has, he's produced some films that have been very, very important in my life over the years. And I'm just going to list off a handful of the projects that he's produced from So I Married an Axe Murderer Rudy, kids, the legendary swingers scream, Cop Land, M Night Shyamalan first film wide awake, and even going all the way from Indy to the big budget Godzilla from the 90s. I mean, Cary has done it all. And I want to have Cary on the show to just dive into what he does what a producer does, and to discuss these amazing films, and how he got involved with them, and so on. So this is really not only entertaining, but also fairly educational. So get ready to take some notes. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Cary Woods. I'd like to welcome to the show Cary Woods how are you doin' Cary?

Cary Woods 3:33
Thank you very much love being here.

Alex Ferrari 3:36
I I've been a fan of your work as a producer for many years. You know, me coming up in the 90s. As a young filmmaker, I was influenced by many of the films that you worked on. And we're going to we're going to go down memory lane a little bit and I'm sure from our other conversations, I know that you've got some good stories.

Cary Woods 4:02
Well, I'm flattered.

Alex Ferrari 4:04
So how did you get started in the business?

Cary Woods 4:09
Well, I went to Southern California to go to law school. And I did so at the University of Southern California law school. Not long thereafter, I realized I didn't really want to be a practicing lawyer and and I loved film. And being the guy from the Bronx, the notion that I was going to come to California and end up in the film business would have been like you're telling me I was going to be an astronaut. But if you're in Southern California news, throws stone you're gonna hit somebody who either is or who has a relative in the film business from a television business, which I did at law school. And nonetheless, long story short, I made my way into the William Morris mailroom passed the law school.

Alex Ferrari 5:03
Very cool. And that's it. That's where many, many a career has started.

Cary Woods 5:10
Excuse me?

Alex Ferrari 5:11
That is how many, many have a career in Hollywood have started it?

Cary Woods 5:16
Yeah, I'm definitely not alone with the William Morris mailroom as a starting place.

Alex Ferrari 5:22
Now, how did you get from the mailroom to producing your first project?

Cary Woods 5:27
Well, um, my first project do you mean as a as a film producer?

Alex Ferrari 5:33
As a film producer correct.

Cary Woods 5:35
Well, I had ended up working as an executive at Sony Pictures for join Peters and Peter Guber, I was hired as an executive working for them. And when seemed I just didn't want to be a studio executive. I wanted to be a movie producer. And I had a friend Rob freed who had a production deal at Columbia, which is where I was, and I was given the deal there. And Rob had been working on a movie called sewing Married an Axe Murderer. And I think at the time, he was developing it and Chevy Chase was attached to play the lead. But we weren't getting any traction. And I had a friend who was an agent at Uta, her name was Cynthia Shelton, and she represented Mike Myers, who I was a gigantic fan of on Saturday Night Live. And she thought that the part would be great for Mike. So I said, Well, you know, I love Mike. Let's see what he thinks. He reads a script. He really, really likes it. He wants to make a substantial amount of changes, but we love all of the ideas that he had. And he did make those changes. And then we were lucky enough to then have Wayne's World come out and pretty much making the biggest comedy star in the world. And so Tristar, which was where the movie was set up, was thrilled to have Mike Mars now be the star. So I Married an Axe Murderer.

Alex Ferrari 7:19
And you rode the Wayne Wayne's World tidal wave.

Cary Woods 7:24
Well, you know, it's like when you have the guy who just starred in the biggest comedy of the year before starring in your comedy. Movie, it's kind of a stroke of luck.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you also you worked with Peter Gubers. Who, who are obviously, you know, legendary film producers, what were what were some of the lessons you took away from working with them.

Cary Woods 7:55
Peter was incredibly first of all he's very, very smart in you can't teach that. But he was an incredibly organized guy. So we would get on the plane, and he would take out a sheet of paper, and he would go over his to do list and his to do list would be anywhere from 20 to 50 things that you would be constantly reviewing of things, projects that you were doing together. And so that you would basically I mean, and there was no particular time of day that you would be going over them. I we were together a lot. And he would go you having a to do list and I go Yeah, and goes, Okay, let's, let's go through it. You know, and it'd be like, Okay, what's going on with this? And what's going on with that. And basically, it was just a sense that projects are constantly on, you know, the reading the moving forward, or, or nothing's happening. And when you go through those lists, it's sometimes painfully obvious that you haven't done anything on something for a few days or a few weeks, or whatever it is, but he was tightly in control of everything that he wanted to get done. And so yeah, so that was pretty much a pretty good learning experience.

Alex Ferrari 9:09
So I've been asked so many times over my career, what a producer does carry. And you know, the question is such a loaded question, because there's so many different kinds of producers. But in your opinion, what does a producer do on a on a feature film, let's say?

Cary Woods 9:25
Well, you know, I'll go back and make that same pun, which is, how long as a piece of string? I mean, really, there are so many different types of producers. I mean, I think one, probably one of the best ways to do it is isn't talk about it is that without whatever contribution that person made, there would be no movie. You know, that's a producer. If that person didn't exist, you would have never seen that movie. You can be a little bit less strict about it and say, okay, the movie wouldn't have been the same movie it would have gotten made. But it would not have been the same movie without that person. Sometimes good sometimes bad. Yeah, the academy actually has rules about it, which is that it used to be to be a member of the Academy, Producers Guild, you had to have two credits, but they couldn't be shared amongst more than two people. So if you shared credit with one other person, you got to have a point. And you needed four of those to equal to, if there were three or more, it counted for nothing. So that's the way the academy strictly looked at produce. I don't know if it still does. I mean, I joined many years ago, and I was asked, Well, do you have four credits? And I said, Well, yeah. And but I didn't realize that that was the math that we used to be curious to see if that's the way it's still done. But they basically, were recognizing that there was two producers that were required there. Now you can have, I don't even know how many producers but I don't even know if there is a number. That is can you have 30? I don't know, I don't really know the

Alex Ferrari 11:17
I'll tell you what I worked up. I worked on a project that had 30 producers, because I did the credits on it. And my God, it must have taken me two weeks just to do the credits, because everybody's like, Well, my name is above this, and I have a shared card with this. And where's how big the font? Oh, it's insanity.

Cary Woods 11:35
My guess would be that we're not for I think they're probably a few of those that had they not existed, the film probably still would

Alex Ferrari 11:45
Couple probably a couple

Cary Woods 11:48
It took the strict definition, then that would be I mean, you know, a producer makes the movie happened, it doesn't, you know, either the movie wouldn't have happened wouldn't have happened in the same way, then there's no point in their executive producers

Alex Ferrari 12:05

Cary Woods 12:07
Or can make a significant contribution. I mean, line producers, the people are on the field actually putting the movie together physically. They don't often get producer credit, they get co producer or associate producer, Executive Producer, they physically make the movie, like I count them among people, without whom there wouldn't be a movie, you know. So there's a lot of different kinds, and basically, some contribute and actually make the movie or make the movie better. And some don't, you know, and that's, that's what it comes down to.

Alex Ferrari 12:42
So you you made a movie earlier in your career that it obviously impacted me. And of course, I can't watch it without crying even to this day, which is Rudy, how did you bring a story like that to the big screen? I mean, it doesn't seem like a automatic blockbuster idea.

Cary Woods 13:04
Well, Rudy is the producer of the movie, Rudy you know, he felt that this was a movie. He felt his story was a movie. And there was a brilliant sports movie called Hoosiers. Also an Indiana sports movie that was written by Angelo Pizzo, the same person who and and Rudy loved that movie and being Rudy. He meaning he wasn't going to let anything get in his way. He came out to Los Angeles and he found Angelo Pizzo. And he said, I want to tell you my story. And Angelo being the kind of guy he is he's a great guy didn't slam the door face and said, Yeah, I mean, come on in and he starts telling them the story. And Angelo, thanks. Yeah, that's, if that's a true story. That's a movie. And Angela starts writing it. And I mean, Rudy is the, you know, the movies about him. But he, he's the he is the producer of the movie in many, many ways. He didn't get it made. But if you think about the person who first saw an idea, a story and said, Wow, that could be a movie. In this instance, that person was rude. And it was also Angelo after that, who confirmed it and wrote it. But yeah, that's how that happened.

Alex Ferrari 14:28
And how'd you get involved?

Cary Woods 14:30
And then I got involved because my partner, Rob freed. This was one of the projects that he had percolating when we joined together at Columbia. And, and it was right at the beginning of the project getting going in and then David, on SPA or director met Sean Aston in Chicago, and called the SAP and said I've got our Rudy, when he said, What do you mean? He goes, I mean, he was showing us and Rudy Rudy was involved in every part of that movie because he was just that kind of infectious guy. So just around. And Rudy felt that Shawn Aston should be rooting. And then that was it. Now, at the time, Sean asked, and wasn't the big star casting Sean asked and didn't really help us with the studio saying, Oh, this movie, but that Shawn was perfect for the part, you know, obviously, and we just went at it. This is the guy

Alex Ferrari 15:41
And then did you and then you peppered and you peppered a bunch of good actors, and very known, respected actors around Sean, to kind of round out the cast.

Cary Woods 15:53
It was never really a cast heavy or star heavy thing. It was just based on the fact that it was a true story. I mean, we had tape of Joe Montana on the Sunday morning show where they asked literally, they asked him what was the most exciting sport? What happened the most striking moments for you in sports, and he starts to tell the Rooney story. He goes, Well, when I was a sophomore at Notre Dame, he starts telling story, Joe Montana, and we had this on, that we were showing to the studio guys, you know, because we were saying this, these are the kinds of people are going to come out this movie for us. I mean, we did so much there's so much into getting a studio behind the movie. I mean, one of the things that happened when this was because I had worked for Peter Guber before I you know, turned it into a producing deal with Sony, I invited him to one of the Notre Dame games that year they were in the top five or 10 and there was a game against Michigan, if anybody's not a college football fan, this will bore you but if you are, you're going to love it and we invited him to come to that game. And you know, we got him seats on the 50 yard line in that morning, you know, they were gonna fly in on the Sony jet had a bunch put together a Notre Dame pack of like, you know, a fanny pack and a scarf and gloves and they will all put it in each of their seats on the plane without them knowing about it so that when they came on the plane, they had all the stuff flying out to South Bend for the game where they were when the plane was meant on by a South Bend Police Force and driven in to the stadium you know, with you know, police sirens blaring and then went were brought into the tunnel so that they could come in the tunnel to their seats. I mean, we did like a whole thing. And you know, they loved it and obviously you want the studio to be beat this was in the middle of production you want the studio to be in to your movie and to love it be that matter as it relates to their How much are they going to spend on it? What dates are they gonna put it out and all of that plus it was incredible fun.

Alex Ferrari 18:22
Yeah, I couldn't imagine I can only imagine Yeah, I remember seeing it in the theater. I remember when it came out. Everyone was just you know, it's one of those it's it's always on the like the top 10 sports movies of all time because of Rudy story. It's pretty remarkable. Honestly. This whole store

Cary Woods 18:41
Angelo Pizzo and David Anspaugh, the director credible. I mean, the those same two guys did Hoosiers, which arguably is another movie among the top 10 best sports films and like, same guy. Yeah. You know, and they're both Deanna they both went to school at Indiana. They were college roommates. I mean, they are Indiana, Indiana.

Alex Ferrari 19:07
Now, how did you go from a film like Rudy? And I'm not sure if it was the very next one. But I know it was a couple movies down to kids. Which is it? I remember going to the theater to see kids. It's, you know, obviously the legendary Larry Clark made that. I remember seeing it in the theater. I don't know how old I was. I must have been Oh, I was older than the kids in the movie. But not by much probably about five or six years. And I just was like, How Did This Get Made? How did this get out? And and I remember hearing but like it's you know, it's there's so much hoopla about a film like that. How did you get involved in with kids and how to come to life?

Cary Woods 19:50
Well, Gus when I was Gus Van Sant, first agent at William Morris. And, you know, we obviously remained friends after I After I went off to be a producer, and he called me up and he said, you know, hey, look, I got this script, you know, Larry Clark is directing it. It's incredible. I mean, he just went on about how much he loved it, and how much you love this writer and blah, blah, blah, what I read it because no one's gonna make it. And I said, I'd love to read it. And I had, literally about three weeks earlier met with these guys who were about to, they were, they were gonna invest about five to $10 million into the film business. And we're talking to me about things that we could potentially do together. So I read the script. And he sent me that and Ken part, two scripts at Harmony Queen wrote, and I literally either read them in the same night, or one night after another, I couldn't believe what I was reading, because it was, it was so fresh and so original. It's he was writing about a generation that he was part of, and usually it takes about seven to 10 years for somebody to become old enough to write about that generation. So if you're writing about in 1617 year olds, usually you're about 25 When you write, but harmony was writing it when he was 17. So he was living it and writing it. And it was incredible. And so he told me harmony is coming to LA and would I meet him? And, and I did and, you know, he looked like he was 15. And, and we just spent the day. I mean, I knew he was gonna make the movie after I read the script. And then I flew to New York immediately to meet with Larry. And, and then that was it. I called the guys and I said, I think I found our first movie. And, you know, and I sent it to them. And, you know, they said, I mean, I'm still to this day match you if they've ever read it or not. But I was extremely enthusiastic. And, you know, it was, it was really, really fresh and exciting. And Larry had, I mean, talking Larry, it was like he had directed 20 move. He didn't have an iota of doubt about what he was gonna do with that movie. And, you know, so so we went forward.

Alex Ferrari 22:31
And that kind of I mean, it was also a young, a young Rosario Dawson was her first project. I mean, you guys literally plucked her off the stoop, didn't you in New York, right?

Cary Woods 22:42
Barry and harmony walking in the Lower East Side. And her mom, Rosario and a mom on the stoop talking. And they heard her and they heard the dialect. And they just stopped and walked over and said, you know, this is they've just started talking to her. This is what we're doing. Would you like to be involved? I mean, Rosario doesn't have you know, she's not in the movie all that much. But you know, really important point. And obviously, she's Rosario. She was fantastic. And yeah, it was just one of those things where they just passed by hurdle on the stoop. A mother is incredibly interesting woman too. And, yeah, that's exactly how it happened.

Alex Ferrari 23:28
How? So I remember when that movie came out. I mean, it was obviously done independently. It wasn't done by Studio. I, if I'm, if I'm if I'm correct, correct. There wasn't a major studio behind that film.

Cary Woods 23:43

Alex Ferrari 23:43
Right. So it was done independently. And I remember when it was coming out, there was so much controversy about it because of the subject matter and kids and the sexuality of it all. And, and I've just never seen something so raw and honest, because I was a kid, too. We all were, and we all knew what was going on with those during those years. I mean, that was a heightened version of that. No question, at least in that group of kids. But how? How did you get this out? Because I remember there was like picket lines. People were like, well boycotting this thing come out.

Cary Woods 24:19
Well, I can tell you this. There's a lot of thought into it. We hired first of all, I hired a lawyer called off the Garbers, who was one of the kings of First Amendment law, he represented the New York Times. His daughter, Liz Garbus is a pretty important documentary filmmaker right now. But we showed the I anticipated that we could find ourselves people you know, and down south or wherever, actually challenging us legally. And so I wanted to have, you know, a legal opinion shutting that down. Before it could even happen. I mean, there was nothing about The film that in any way skirted the law, but I just wanted to be sure that we had all of our I's dotted and T's crossed. So off the Garbus, you know, was our first amendment lawyer. So he he did that. I mean, we were very, we knew going in I mean, we, everybody was legal, you know, everything was done correctly, because we knew what it was. And we knew that it was dynamite. But at the same time, we were dealing with St. Kitts, so you're you had to be extremely cautious about the way we went about things a couple of guys was sleeping, you know, at Larry's house, or at Harmony's house, because otherwise, there were times where you just wouldn't know if they would show up. You know? And

Alex Ferrari 25:53
That's how you get that that's how you kept an eye on that's how you kept an eye on?

Cary Woods 25:57
Well, yeah, you know, because, I mean, they were excited to be in the movie, but, you know, when, when, when the movie was done, they went back to being kids, you know, to being done, which meant they were out.

Alex Ferrari 26:09
Right. And I saw another documentary about many of those kids. And they became, you know, just legends on the streets of Washington Square and all that. But after that movie came out, it was it was one of those movies in the 90s, like that only could be released in the 90s. I don't think that that there's no way in God's green earth that kids could be released today. In a theatrical experience.

Cary Woods 26:33
I don't think no. Just couldn't get made that, you know, that movie wasn't independently made. Nobody was giving anybody the money to make that movie. I think that we had one shot, and we were lucky. We took it. And that was it. You know, but it was just one of those things where it all came together. And and I think having it,

Alex Ferrari 27:02
I think I love that film, too. I think it's one of those films that independent filmmakers should definitely watch. And it's such a almost cinema Veritate way of looking at it you feel like a fly on the wall during that film. It is it is one of those quintessential 90s films to say,

Cary Woods 27:21
I'll tell you how many times people ask me how much of it was scripted. And how much of it was scripted was almost 90% Virtually every word was scripted is you know, there's the scenes, the girls talking scene where Larry and Irene let them go, you know, just say, Sure, go for it. But other than that, every single word in that script was scripted. You know, that's,

Alex Ferrari 27:45
I mean, remarkable. It seems so natural. It seems like Yep. It's dialogue that it, it's like, there's no way someone sat down and wrote that. But

Cary Woods 27:55
Well, he was there, Pierre, he was there. He was, he was a skater. And these guys were his friends. And he hung out with them. And he knew how they talked about them. And he, you know, so you couldn't possibly be, you know, he, he was there. These were these. This was the kind of dialogue that he was part of it.

Alex Ferrari 28:21
Yeah, that's remarkable. Now, now, you also worked on another movie, which is essentially one of those quintessential 90s indie films. And they're, you know, I always you know that that whole time period of the 90s is where the independent film boomed again and you know, for mariachi, Two Brothers McMullen and clerks and all of these films, and one of those films was Swingers, and swingers was one of those films because for me, when it came out, it was one of those. I can't believe they made that in the sense of like, I How did they make that movie for such a small budget? How did you can you tell me how that project came to be?

Cary Woods 29:03
Well, all of that stuff. Well, I came into it a little bit late, but here's was my relationship to it. Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, we're both in Rudy. John fans currently Rudy's best friend. Yeah. And John fabro played the quarterback at the end. He's a little bit of an asshole, so I got to know them in that movie. John then went off and wrote in John and Vince are friends in John went off and wrote that script, which is kind of a little bit of their story of his and Vincent story in Chicago. And Doug Liman the director. Originally, John wrote it to direct it. And Doug Liman got the script and read it and wanted to direct it and he offered to find the answer this father As a lawyer, and he had clients, and they were gonna put together the money to finance it, and it wasn't a lot of money.

Alex Ferrari 30:06
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Cary Woods 30:16
And, you know, when John was going to star in it, and he wrote it, so he agreed to that. He agreed to do that. So then the movie happened. And then when it was done, they weren't getting into festivals, and they were having some, so they called me and they said, Hey, would you look at this movie? You know, I think he may like it. And then, you know, I'm like, sure. I loved it. I absolutely knocked me out. I couldn't believe how much I loved it. And you know, and then we did some work, they did some music stuff, and, and they didn't get into Sundance. And I remember calling people. back a couple weeks before Sundance, I started to call around to the studios, to set up screenings for people who were, you know, the heads of the studios saying, Look, if you haven't been, if you haven't not been to Sundance yet, so you haven't spent any money, which is good, because the most valuable film in Sundance this year is not going to be in Sundance, I'm going to send it to you right now. And essentially, they watch the film, you know, it wasn't in Sundance, and people started to like it Now eventually, Harvey one with whom I had a deal. He really wanted it. He just, he had to have it. And there was one other company, who, whose person whose highest level person who can see the movie had seen it and liked it. But in order to get it bought, the person who could say yes or no to that level of decision, wasn't in the state, and was going to be another day before he came back. And so basically was like I either had to take Harvey Weinstein's offer, which he hasn't even said anything yet, or dance for day two, until this guy got back to the United States without even knowing whether he was gonna say yes, even if he did see it. So I really didn't have a short thing. I had no one of the offers. So I got a tremendous amount of pressure from Harvey Weinstein about, of course, so he didn't know really, that I didn't, that the decision maker wasn't around. He didn't, he didn't know that he didn't know how long it would take for the guy to be back. You know, he just knew that I was holding out, you know, like, he was gonna see it any minute. And he finally said, Well, you know, I said it look, you know, if you want it, make me an offer that makes me take it off the table so that I don't do anything irresponsible to my partners, you know? And he said, Okay, well, what's that number? And I told him, and it was a larger number than I think he thought, but he said, Yes. And, and so we he got the movie, and he put it out. I never was really happy with the way he put it out. I don't think that the movie, it gained a tremendous amount of acclaim and fame after it's released, but didn't do didn't have a really big box office rice. But, you know, but he put it out it is, you know, and then, of course, on video and streaming, it became a thing, but I don't think he really understood what it was when he put it out.

Alex Ferrari 33:56
But that so, it so let me ask you though, because I remember that, if I remember correctly, because it's been a few years since then. The budget of that film was like to 200,000 a quarter million or something like that, right. 250 Yeah, accordingly, accordingly. So it was a $250,000 budget film. And Doug Liman made that movie look like it was made for me, you know, at least three or $4 million, if not more.

Cary Woods 34:23
Doug is a super, super talented guy, super talented guy. The casting was incredible. There was no stars movie, you know, Heather Graham, the only sort of known person in the movie, but she didn't work at her anywhere near what her salary would have been. And, you know, he did a beautiful job. He's really talented, you know, and in in those kinds of movies, the script was so good. You know, when you think about movies that don't cost a lot. It's the screenplay you know, that screenplay. I was just sad. You know, what people remember about that movie is no one really remembers the shot. They everybody remembers, Oh, mine come up to me Oh, remember the shot when this happened, but they will come up to me and say your money, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:15
Oh God, I mean that guy. Oh my god, how many lines that movie is like one of the most quotable movies of the 90s. I mean, it was everybody was quoting that movie and I was in college, when that movie hit and it was just like everybody was talking about swingers and how they got it made and, and how it looked and it looks like such high production value. It's so It's remarkable because do you think a movie like swingers would even dent the world today? In today's marketplace? I mean, the quote, the script is good, obviously it but

Cary Woods 35:49
It's hard to know. I mean, it's look, the movie is a love story between these two gods. Right? They love each other. Sure. No, John and Vince love each other. Is there room for with a different backdrop for two guys of that age really loving one another as friends? I think so. I mean, that's the kind of story those stories happen. You know, and, and I think, you know, well written and well told, you know, not not about swing music, but about around something else. I think it worked. You know, I mean, those are the kinds of human relationships that are gonna always resonate one way or another.

Alex Ferrari 36:31
And in the end, the investors of that film did okay.

Cary Woods 36:34
Everybody did great.

Alex Ferrari 36:39
I know, I remember I read something that Doug lime was like, yeah, there was some dentists that we got some money from, and, and they got a check back. And they're like, when can we do more of these movies? Is this the way it always is?

Cary Woods 36:52
Well, look, everybody did great. But, John, you know, John Van, and Doug really did. And it's not because they all got rich on that movie, but their careers just all took off. And their careers are incredible. All three of them have amazing careers right now.

Alex Ferrari 37:11
Right! And Vince Vince is I mean, he built a car to his his comedic career. And John is built as not only acting career, but also his directing career. And Doug is, he's a fantastic, fantastic. Is he gonna do that? That space movie with Tom Cruise? Now? They're gonna actually shoot in space.

Cary Woods 37:28
They're talking about it. No one talked about it. I'll tell you, John bathroom thing that's amazing about him is that when he was on the set of Rudy, he was always around the director. I mean, there was it was so clear that this guy wanted to direct and that he would direct, you know, he was he was constantly around the director picking his brain, you know, it was like, it was very clear that this was a guy that would one day be sitting in the director's seat

Alex Ferrari 37:58
And launched the biggest movie franchise in the history of cinema. Can you imagine if you would have said, Oh, the guy from swingers? Right? It's gonna launch a multi billion dollar franchise that Hollywood has never seen before. Yeah. And now he's redoing it. And now he's heading up Star Wars, essentially. So he's done. Okay. He's money. He's money as they say,

Cary Woods 38:26
He is money. Really smart. And he really works hard.

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Yeah, I heard he's the nicest sweetest guy on the planet.

Cary Woods 38:34
Sweetest guy. Yep.

Alex Ferrari 38:36
I hear. So so then you got to work on another project from the 90s, which also is kind of a redefined genre, which is scream. How did you get involved in screaming and how did was it like,

Cary Woods 38:53
Well, it was weird one because, you know, some of the people might company you know, some of the development people read the script came into my office. You've got to read this script. This heart phone came in. First of all, it was called scary movie. Right? Right. You got to read the script called scary movie. I go, Well, what is it? It's a heart. I said, but you guys know, I don't like horror movies. Which is the truth. I'm not a big horror fan. It's not a horror film. It is a comedic. It's a spoof on the horror genre. It's calm. So I said, Well, I like comedy, and I like spoof so I read it. I loved it. It was hilarious. And so I, you know, I read I loved it. And I immediately called up the studio and I sent it over them and said, We got to make this thing. So it was Miramax. And they agreed, and, and I knew Drew Barrymore and I sent her the script for the lead, not the part that we know that you Barrymore played, and she wanted to do it. And so then, you know, then that was it. I Drew Barrymore and the script, and you know, we were ready to go. So, um, and then and then when then that happened, but I then got I got a call from drew a few weeks later saying that she didn't want she wanted to play the part of girl number one. And I'm thinking wow, okay, great, cool. So we're gonna play that, like, how do you want to look different? Like, how do you want to do that? She was No, no, I only want to play girl number one. And I thought, oh god that goes to movies. My league just left. So I say, well, that goes dead on page 22. She goes, yeah, no, I love that part. I want to do it. And I'll do anything else. I'll do any publicity or anything like that. Now, at this point we had with Craven, you know, he had come on. And so the film itself was more solid, you know, yet Wes Craven directing it. And she said, you know, I'll talk to Wes, and I'll explain it. And I. And when she explained it, she said to me, Look, if I die on page 20, whatever, then anything can happen after that. The audience will, nothing will surprise them, they'll be up for anything. Because, you know, if they've killed me on page 22, then anything could happen. I knew she was right. And I went, I called Harvey wanting the next day. And I said, Look, Drew doesn't, you know, wants to play girl number one, but she will let us you know, she'll do all the press that we wanted to do. And, you know, you'll save millions of dollars, because you won't have to pay her much. And you'll still and he said, Okay, let's do what is Westbank? And I said Wesson is fine. He said, Okay, let's do it. And a few remember the poster for school one? Oh, yeah, Drew Barrymore's? Right. That's it. He's in the middle. She's in the movie for like three minutes. And the poster is her beautiful face with her blue eyes, you know, shining out of the poster. Hilarious.

Alex Ferrari 42:30
But she was so it was Drew's idea to be that part. It wasn't it wasn't was his idea.

Cary Woods 42:35
No, no. Wow. Drew Barrymore is brilliant. Some actors sometimes just have an instinct about these things that you just don't see. I mean, Matt Dillon had it about drugstore cowboy. You know, drugstore cowboy was written for a 40 year old man. You know, Gus, drugstore can be the, you know, firstline 40 year old Bob. And I had given I was an agent and I gave it to Matt as a writing sample, because I had just signed Gus as my client. And I wanted him to hire Gus as a writer. And I gave him drugstore cowboy is a writing sample for the script that he wanted to write. He read the script. And he called me up. He was happy to see you. I go, why he goes, I'll tell you what, dinner so we go to dinner. He goes, Listen, I have to play this part. I met the guys 40 years old. We've already sent it to Bill hurt, which we had sent it to Bill hurt after kiss of the Spider Woman. He goes, No, that's too old. He can't be 40 because if he's a 40 year old guy who has been a drug addict, since he's like, 13, there's no so persuaded me and I introduced them. You know, I set up a meeting with him and Gus, and he persuaded Gus to and ended up being a drugstore cowboy. And it was purely because he saw something about that character being 20 years younger. That the writer director didn't see surely I didn't see. And you know, we were connecting it to Drew saying that she should play the part of the girl. Girl number one she didn't even have a name she just drove number one. Sometimes out to see things that we don't see. It's an interesting,

Alex Ferrari 44:32
It's and that's the brilliance of that movie. I mean, if you don't kill me, spoiler alert for anyone listening if you don't kill a bear. If you don't kill Drew Barrymore off in the first three or four minutes of the film. I'm not sure the movie does well, it even it's the thing that it was the Hitchcock aspect of things you know, you killed off your main lead. Well, wait a minute, if I could, I just killed off Jubair more. Nothing is everything's out the window. And it was So perfect with a commentary on the horror genre and what Kevin Williamson script was doing. And it was a remarkable script now, I got to ask you though, with with working with Wes, did you? What was it like working with, you know, kind of like a legend? You know, and he was at the, I think at the top of his game at that point.

Cary Woods 45:19
What it was like was Yes, sir. What else do you need? Yes, was a horror movie with West Craven, for now. And, you know, and I'm not even a guy and even if I was didn't matter, I'm not even a guy who like pretended to, you know, have a great interest in the genre of great knowledge about the genre. Only news ahead, Wes Craven directing a horror movie, you know, so that was it, you know, whatever he needed was, what was what my job, you know, and, and he was a pleasure to work with.

Alex Ferrari 45:58
Now, how did you get involved with Cop Land, another film, that just is, I mean, one of the starting films for James bang Mangold, who, who's had a decent career, since then,

Cary Woods 46:10
I had, I saw heavy at Sundance, Jim angle, first movie, and I flipped out for it. I just flipped. And, and I'm very director centric, you know, if I see a filmmaker that I really like, and that's interesting, I want to talk to them and meet them and see what they're interested in, you know. And so I saw heavy at Sundance, and Jim was there. And, you know, the beautiful little movie. I don't remember if at the time movies were selling for a lot at Sundance, but it wasn't that kind of movie wasn't going to be like a big commercial thing. But beautifully done. And I met with him and I said, Well, what do you do you have anything you want to do? Next? He goes, Yeah, I want to do a contemporary Western. It takes place in a police to any pitches me Copland? I go, That sounds really great. You know, when when you're done writing it, can I read those, I'm done writing it. Great. Let me read it. So I read it, I love it. I say I want to do it. I go down to Harvey I go, I think I found our next movie, and I give him Cop Land. And then, and he loved it too. And then he sent it to John Travolta, they had just finished Pulp Fiction, and he sent it to John Travolta to play the lead. And I remember going down to meet with John Travolta who liked it. But who as he put it, wanted to get paid. And what he meant by that was that apparently on Pulp Fiction, knowing that pay, no. And Pulp Fiction then became a big giant hit, and John Travolta now was back at what his price would be on the open market, which was nowhere near what Harvey was gonna pay him. So he said, Look, I love it. I want to do it. Tell Harvey I just want to be paid. And so. Okay. And then an agent at William Morris. I think John Stuart storm was at ICM at the time and somebody at William Morris, who was trying to sign him sent him the script, because an agent thing to do is to send a script to somebody at another agency that their own agent might not have thought of them for, which is what happened here. Stallone had never heard of the movie. And he read it, he loved it. He was down in Florida, he offered to fly up to New York and meet. We met him, you know, he said he was going to gain weight. He couldn't have been any nicer or any more respectful. I mean, it was like, you know, the opposite of things that you heard about Sly Stallone, and you know, he was going to be working with a first pet Well, a second time filmmaker, but essentially, you know, first time filmmaker, and couldn't have been a nicer, more respectful guy couldn't have been, and he, you know, he, he worked as hard as you can work on that port. And I think he did a great job. He was great.

Alex Ferrari 49:36
And how did you put together that cast and being it's an insanity of a cast?

Cary Woods 49:43
It's always a script, really. It's always about it's about the script and the director. You know, if you have a script and the director can go into the room, and persuade the actor that he's going to get what is on the page if the actor likes what's on the page. You're going to get him, he's not going to do it because he likes you because you're a nice guy, and you'd be the guy to go out to a game with, you know, it has to be these are artists and they want to do something that's gonna challenge them. And that was a really, really good script. And then of course, as we kept going on this cast started become better. So then the actor was like, Well, wait a minute, you've got De Niro and Stallone and yeah, you know, so then all of a sudden, it becomes like a snowball effect with Harvey Keitel, you know, and it's like, all of a sudden, yeah, you know, now you want to be part of

Alex Ferrari 50:36
Nobody. Nobody wants to get to the party first. But once once the mood right, once the movie is dating a pretty girl, all the pretty girls want to come?

Cary Woods 50:45
Exactly Well, we had a lot of pretty girls at that party.

Alex Ferrari 50:48
There's no no question. No question. I mean, you're looking at I mean, Robert Patrick Lee Ray Liotta. Like he just got the list just goes on and on. You just watch that movie. You're like, how did it get this guy had to get this guy, holy cow. It was, and still alone is probably one of his best performances in, throughout his career

Cary Woods 51:06
Go out as a producer and say, Oh, well, I'm so amazing. It isn't you don't have a script, you could be I don't know, whatever you are, you have to have a script. And you have to have the right talent director that's going to be shooting it, you know, and then they you predicting the made, you can make it look good as a producer, if you have those two things, you know, without them. I don't know what else you can do.

Alex Ferrari 51:29
Exactly. Now, you also worked with a young, a young filmmaker, writer director, by the name of M Night Shyamalan, on his first feature called Wide Awake, which has, which he's completely gotten nothing to do with his career. As far as his where his path, but yet you worked with EMI at the very beginning of his career. What was that experience like?

Cary Woods 51:58
That boy, graphical, very nice guy. Here's the thing about an night, first movie or second movie, you did a little thing in India before that. But he carried himself again, like Larry Clark, he carried himself like he had directed 20 movies. I mean, this guy knew filming. Or he knew what he wanted to do. And he was he's going after he's a pleasure to work with. And this was the kind of thing where his Indian movie and him he the power of his talking about his script and about what the movie was going to be and just as intelligence made us feel, and it wasn't a very expensive movie made us feel like well, yeah, we want to be we want to work with this guy. And that was a major milestone.

Alex Ferrari 52:47
And then and then as I say, the rest is history when he wrote that little ghost movie.

Cary Woods 52:53
That will go smoothly Correct.

Alex Ferrari 52:56
Did he Did he mention the ghost movie while you guys were working together or not?

Cary Woods 53:00
No, unfortunately. He and the Weinstein's had a falling out shockingly, the shocking. Shockingly, another director that didn't want to work with them ever again. And just my luck, I'm stuck there. And he goes off and does that movie, you know? And I'm just like, you know, nothing I can do about it, because I still had my deal where I was stuck at Miramax, right. So, yeah, so there were a number of there were a number of those.

Alex Ferrari 53:36
I'm sure. I'm sure there was a couple of drinks after success came out.

Cary Woods 53:42
Yes, listen, I love them. I wish nothing but the best and I surely understood why he didn't want to do anything with those guys again. So you know, no quarrel for me.

Alex Ferrari 53:52
Of course, of course. And then you know, so you've been living during your career at this point. You've been living in the indie world in the Miramax world, you know, it basically in the heyday of Miramax, which was the 90s, basically from the early 90s, all the way into the basically the early 2000s. And then you got to jump into a very deep pool, working on a huge big budget blockbuster like Godzilla with Roland Emmerich, who is, you know, arguably one of the best action directors and spectacle directors. Honestly, I think in the history of cinema, what was it like and what did you take away from that experience from working on smaller budgets, smaller films to jumping to

Cary Woods 54:38
The truth of the matter is that it went backwards. I worked on the big ones first. I had my deal in Sony before I did kit or gumbo was good shirt or any of those, you know, Godzilla was an odd thing because I was dealing with a guy. We always chasing down the rights to Mr. Magoo. You And there was a Japanese company called toe toe ha that represented that owned the rights and there was a guy in the Valley who represented them in dealing with people who wanted to come to them for the rights and I came to them for the rights will came to him to see if the right for Mr. Magoo available may work. And I went back to Tristar and Colombia which is where my home was. And they wanted nothing to do with Mr. Magoo. And despite the fact I have to go tells the guy from Magoo that they don't want to do it even with Mike Meyer, they didn't like the dailies on AX murder. Don't that's a whole other story I read not even get into because it's so aggravating. But, um, I mean, Mike Myers was a comedic genius as far as I was concerned, and the studio didn't like the dailies or So I Married an Axe Murderer. So consequently, they didn't want to get the rights to Magoo for Mike Myers to write and star and Magoo. I mean, think about that. Any event, I had to go back to the guy and say, Look, I'm really sorry, but the studio is passing. It was Oh, that's too bad. But you know, what just became available is that my clients own the rights to Godzilla. And up until now, the director who created it was alive and he didn't want to share the reading want us to option the rights to an American studio, but he passed away sadly, a month ago now my clients are willing to do it. And I'm Godzilla. So I raced back to the office. And they said, No. And I had worked for Peter Guber, who was their boss. He was the chairman of the studio overs. You know, Columbia and Tristar. I tracked him down. And, you know, basically he said, Well, how's it going to go? Not that great. This is what happened. And he goes, the rights to Godzilla the fire breathing monster, I go, Yes. He goes, Oh, no, we have to do that. Leave it with me. And then again, that was it. They got the rights. No one was happy with me. But nonetheless, we got the rights.

Alex Ferrari 57:20
And you said you had to jump you had to jump over a couple people said to get that project greenlit.

Cary Woods 57:25
It was the kind of thing that you're not supposed to do. So if I was taught political politics in studio 101, I broke every possible rule.

Alex Ferrari 57:38
But it's Godzilla man.

Cary Woods 57:40
But it's Godzilla man. Yeah, it was Godzilla. And you know, just sometimes, it just happens so often, when you just know somebody is missing. You know, somebody's missing something here. Anyway.

Alex Ferrari 57:53
And I remember I mean, I remember when Godzilla came out, it was the marketing budget on that, oh, God, Oh, my God, it was everywhere. It was. I remember, they took big chunks out of like, the Empire State Building or something like that, like they had a banner. And it looks like, literally, there was a chunk missing. It was

Cary Woods 58:13
For the premiere screaming in New York was at Madison Square Garden. Madison, in the marketing was brilliant. You know, you have to say, I mean, size does matter. I mean, they were having so much fun with it, you know, um, it was fun. It was a it was a fun project to make into market. You know?

Alex Ferrari 58:43
What was in that? Obviously, that was probably the biggest budget thing that you'd ever worked on,

Cary Woods 58:48
Yeah, by by a lot.

Alex Ferrari 58:50
Right. So what was it? Is there any little lessons or gold nuggets that you kind of pulled away from that experience?

Cary Woods 58:58
Can you do a movie that size? Have a director like Roland Emmerich? You know, it's having some experience and doing movies of that size is really important, because it's not what I did. No, it's not my thing. And he knew exactly what he was doing. So

Alex Ferrari 59:21
Yeah, it's remarkable. It's remarkable now that they give Marvel movies to younger, inexperienced directors or just they maybe have one or two indies under their belt, and they get thrown into this 100 and $50 million beast. But I think that that's a machine.

Cary Woods 59:39
I think the exactly, I think the infrastructure is in place right now, where the line producers and everything else, where you basically can put somebody in there who creatively puts together who talks about what it is they want to do, and then they've got this giant team of people who can make it happen. ad budgets that work for them. And obviously the budgets generous, but I don't think I think it's it. They've now got it down to a science, especially at Marvel. They didn't you know? How many of them were here? Are they turning out?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:16
Three three to four if you include the Sony stuff? Yeah, it's

Cary Woods 1:00:20
I mean, it's essentially it's right. They got it down to a sign.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:26
It's a factory. It's a factory.

Cary Woods 1:00:27
It's a factory.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:29
Yeah. And there's, you know, those kind of movies. God, I just remember, seeing Godzilla was freaking everywhere, man. Like there's, it almost reminded me of Batman 89. Like, it was at that level of marketing.

Cary Woods 1:00:43
It was, well, you got to remember the guys, the producers of Batman. Damn, you know, the studio about Godzilla. Makes perfect sense. Yeah, it's probably not a complete coincidence.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:59
Now, um, what are you working on now? What are the projects you're working on now?

Cary Woods 1:01:04
Well, we just finished shooting a movie, The John Slattery directed go Maggie Moore, starring Jon Hamm, and Tina Fey. And based based and actually, it's based on a true story of a killing that happened about 30 years ago outside of Euston two women about the same age pretty much kind of nondescript in their 40s. And they were both murdered three days apart about 30 miles from each other. And the thing about it is, they both had the same name. So three days, murders three days apart, 30 miles apart, pretty much the same age with the same name. They investigate and the authorities conclude that it's a coincidence.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
Of course, of course it is,

Cary Woods 1:02:05
Of course. Alright, a pearl. Paul Birnbaum reads about it and thinks no possible way. Is that a coincidence? So he concocts a tale. And this was on America's Unsolved Mysteries. I mean, Robert Stack did an episode on this. Our writer saw it and thought this, you know, this is perfect fodder for like a, you know, Fargo like black comedy, which he wrote, and is great. And Slattery found it and he put it together. And you know, him and Faye are incredible. Nick, Mohammed from Ted lasso is in it. And he's great. I love him and Ted lasso. And yeah, so I'm excited about that. We just wrapped that a couple of weeks ago. And I'm doing a teeny tiny little movie called man with a really talented, who I think you spoke to called Steve Friedman, who's like a 21 year old kid who basically put together a movie for like, $15,000 as a crowdfunded thing. And somebody brought him to my attention. And I took a look at, you know, a few minutes of it and just spoke to him for a little while, and it was clear that he was talking to a filmmaker. So

Alex Ferrari 1:03:26
Yeah, he has he has a very interesting story and he's going to be on the show in probably a few weeks after your your you air. But he, he's great.

Cary Woods 1:03:36
He's very much one of a kind. He's funny, Tik Tok generate he's an old soul from a different generation. Yeah, yes, very much. And, and he's really smart. And I think really talented. And I only don't know many people who love movies as much as he does. He truly loves cinema. And he's a throwback and I'm really and he's 21 So I'm really curious to see what the future holds in store for him and I have no doubt it'll be great things but it's fun it's fun working with you know another 21 year old director kit you know, it's been a while for me

Alex Ferrari 1:04:14
And he probably has any probably has a ghost movie that he's gonna direct soon soon after.

Cary Woods 1:04:19
Oh, I would imagine but this time I'll be the producer

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
There you go this time you're not gonna let that go? Yeah, no.

Cary Woods 1:04:27
He's not having a fight with the studio.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
You're the studio you're in the studio.

Cary Woods 1:04:33
I am the studio right now he's I don't know that his ghost movies gonna be the next one. But he'll do whatever it's gonna be it'll be interesting.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:46
Now as a as a producer carry me. We all you know being on set and working on projects over the years. There's always that day that everything's around you is it everything is crashing down around you. There's you're losing the sun and actor doesn't show up the cameras broken the director as a fit. Something happens as a producer, that the whole world's coming down crashing around you? Is there a specific project or day that sticks out in your mind? And how did you overcome that day?

Cary Woods 1:05:17
I think interesting question. For me, it's, it's different than than a day on a set. Okay. For me, it's more like the movies going away. In other words, like for me once we're on the set the movies happening, so there's a day and you're gonna have a problem with that de you'll fix it somehow. To me, I'm the bigger calamities is Oh, shit, they're not making the movie. You know, the bigger calamity for me was getting the phone call from my lead, you know, Drew Barrymore. Like, I don't want to play the lead, I want to play the girl who's gone on page 20. You know, and I literally, I'm on the phone, and I'm seeing the movie go away. I'm seeing myself having to go up. Oh, well, we lost the lead. So they're not gonna make that movie. And there's that, you know, it's more like, those are the kinds of things I mean, the other kinds of things. I mean, I've never gotten the calamitous call, you know, like my directors, mother died, or my, there are those. Look, we're human beings, and we live human life. No, so it is divorce, there's death, there's all accidents, that can kind of happen. But even those things, you know, will close you down for a couple of days, but you're still making the movie, the other kinds of things where you're just your movies gone, you know, it just went away, you lost your lead, or the money is not coming in, you know, the money changed their mind. Those are more the kinds of things that I've had to deal with. And Drew's probably the best example of one where it was like, Oh, God, there goes, it's, it's, I mean, I have to get ready to have the meeting, where I'm gonna go try. Now I was sold, she sold me, you know, I mean, creatively, I was totally sold creatively, it wasn't my saving money. With them, it was gonna be, hey, you're gonna save X amount of millions of dollars, you know, and it's a good idea creatively. So I was plotting how I was going to sell it to them. But, you know, I got lucky that they saw it that way. And they ended up making well, they got lucky too. And they ended up making the movie, but it could have easily gone another direction.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:42
Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today.

Cary Woods 1:07:52
But in one, it would in a filmmaker,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:55
As a director as a director,

Cary Woods 1:07:57
Shoot, go out there and shoot stuff and put it on YouTube and get it up. And as much as you can shoot, and if you can write, write as much as you can write? Because, look, it's a different era. You know, when I started in this business, saying to some kid go shoot, well, how am I going to shoot a camera cost $60,000. Now you can go, go get yourself a phone for $500. And shoot, you know, and all you need is a couple of friends or a couple of actors. Do it sweet. Did you know that's basically trees, the model of a guy who didn't have anything, he had a phone, and he started shooting things and cutting, cutting it on the actual phone himself, and putting it up on YouTube. And that's there are a lot of people who are doing that. And now there are a lot more places than YouTube and there's tech top and there's Instagram and there's just go out and do your thing, because there's no reason not to because there's no barriers to entry as it relates to economics.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:59
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Cary Woods 1:09:18
One of the biggest one of the biggest bands, the thing that gets in the way of people both in life and in art and in this business and many businesses ego, put your ego aside, you don't have to be overly modest, but none of that means anything. What means something speaking since we're talking about movies is what's on screen, or you know what ends up on the screen with your name on it. That's all really that needs to map. You know, the rest of it is like what position credit or you and all of this kind of stuff doesn't really matter at the end, you know? because you can, I won't get asked me about a lot of people and a lot of movies and I won't know what position they were in, I'll just know if their name was on the movie or not. You know, it doesn't matter. You know, Jim Brooks, great filmmaker once said to me, because he was having a screen, I was developing something with him and examine a screening of a movie he had just finished. And he invited everybody in the office to the screening. And very often, you know, a lot of filmmakers are really precious about who gets to see a cut to the movie. And he was invited in the receptionist's and the secretaries and everybody, and I sit there, Hey, Jim, how you know, you're really generous with who you invite to your early screening. You know, well, how come you feel so comfortable doing that? He said, hey, look, these are just stories, and everybody can have ideas about stories. And so therefore, they can have a good suggestion. And if they do, at the end of the day, it's gonna say, directed by Jim Brooks. And I thought that is it's both humble, and it's confident. Yeah, and it's smart. Now, and that's the truth. The end of the day, what's up on the screen is what's gonna matter. The rest of it is all just noise.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:19
Great, great. Great lesson. Now and lastly, three of your favorite films of all time.

Cary Woods 1:11:24
Oh, God.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:25
Whatever comes to mind at right now?

Cary Woods 1:11:27
I mean, come on. Um, well, what you know, it's like me. Okay, the godfather shockingly shockingly. Mean Streets. Marty. And then where do I go from there? Well, I'm going to exclude any of my own movies because they could be in there but um, uh, huh. I mean, just because it's Citizen Kane. I have to say Citizen Kane. Sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:08
Hey, that's that's very respectable list. Very, very.

Cary Woods 1:12:11
I mean, you know, you don't want to say Oh, well, yeah, Citizen Kane in The Godfather, but then you watch them in your Yeah. How else can you not?

Alex Ferrari 1:12:20
I mean, yeah, I mean, my list is always generally each it fluctuates. But it's you know, it's it's Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, the matrix, Blade Runner. I mean, the list goes on and on Pulp Fiction, you

Cary Woods 1:12:34
No, there's so many there's so many.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:37
There's so many. But I always like to like what's coming at the top of the hill? What's, what's the mike throw away, like, if it comes on on TNT? Or if it see on streaming or something like that, you just throw the remote away and just keep watching.

Cary Woods 1:12:49
What have you seen it like? I I mean, I saw Mean Streets not too long ago. I'm talking about showing my son, the godfather. All of this has been happening in the last three weeks. And I guess I was talking about citizen. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 1:13:04
It's fresh. It's fresh in the mind. It's fresh.

Cary Woods 1:13:07
Yeah. But I mean, if I would have seen about a year ago or so I saw Goodfellas at the film forum in New York. You know, if you talked to me a week after that, it would have been good phones instead of means

Alex Ferrari 1:13:19
As as much as it should be, as it should. Yeah. It's, it's It's tough. It's a tough, it's a tough thing. It's a tough thing. But Karen, I really appreciate you coming on the show my friend and Oh, my pleasure and sharing, and sharing and sharing your knowledge with everybody. So I appreciate it. And please, keep making great movies my friend.

Cary Woods 1:13:39
Thank you very, very much. I really appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:43
I want to thank Carrie so much for coming on the show and dropping his knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much, Cary. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/534. And guys, I will be making a big announcement in the coming weeks for that big project I have been working on that will be released in early January sometime early 2022. I'm really excited about it. I cannot wait to share this info with you guys. So keep an eye out for that. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that also going. keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.


  • Cary Wood – IMDB


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IFH 533: From James Cameron to Steven Spielberg, the Life of Lance Henriksen

Lance Henriksen

Today on the show we have legendary actor Lance Henriksen. I had the pleasure of work with Lance on my film Red Princess Blues: Genesis and if was a surreal experience.

Lance has been in over 300 films through-out his remarkable career.

He’s mentored Tarzan, Evel Knievel and the Antichrist, and fought Terminators, Aliens, Predators, Pumpkinhead, Pinhead, Bigfoot, Superman, the Autobots, Mr. T, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal.

He’s worked with directors James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Sidney Lumet, Francois Truffaut, John Huston, Walter Hill, David Fincher, John Woo, Jim Jarmusch and Sam Raimi, but this is just skimming the surface.

An intense, versatile actor as adept at playing clean-cut FBI agents as he is psychotic motorcycle-gang leaders, who can go from portraying soulless, murderous vampires to burned-out, world-weary homicide detectives, Lance Henriksen has starred in a variety of films that have allowed him to stretch his talents just about as far as an actor could possibly hope.

He played Awful Knoffel in the TNT original movie EVIL KNIEVEL, directed by John Badham and executive produced by Mel Gibson. Henriksen portrayed Awful Knoffel in this project based on the life of the famed daredevil, played by George Eads. Henriksen starred for three seasons (1996-1999) on Millennium, Fox-TV’s critically acclaimed series created by Chris Carter (The X-Files).

His performance as Frank Black, a retired FBI agent who has the ability to get inside the minds of killers, landed him three consecutive Golden Globe nominations for “Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Drama Series” and a People’s Choice Award nomination for “Favorite New TV Male Star.”

Henriksen was born in New York City. His mother, Margueritte, was a waitress, dance instructor, and model. His father, James Marin Henriksen, who was from Tønsberg, Norway, was a boxer and merchant sailor.

Henriksen studied at the Actors Studio and began his career off-Broadway in Eugene O’Neill’s Three Plays of the Sea. One of his first film appearances was as an FBI agent in Sidney Lumet’s DOG DAY AFTERNOON, followed by parts in Lumet’s NETWORK and PRINCE OF THE CITY.

He then appeared in Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND with Richard Dreyfuss and François Truffaut, DAMIEN: OMEN II and in Philip Kaufman’s THE RIGHT STUFF, in which he played Mercury astronaut Capt. Wally Schirra.

James Cameron cast Henriksen in his first directorial effort, PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, then used him again in THE TERMINATOR and as the android Bishop in the sci-fi classic ALIENS. Sam Raimi cast Henriksen as an outrageously garbed gunfighter in his quirky western THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.

Henriksen has also appeared in what has developed into a cult classic: Kathryn Bigelow’s NEAR DARK, in which he plays the head of a clan of murderous redneck vampires. He was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the TNT original film THE DAY LINCOLN WAS SHOT.

In addition to his abilities as an actor, Henriksen is an accomplished painter and potter. His talent as a ceramist has enabled him to create some of the most unusual ceramic artworks available on the art market today.

His new film is called Alpha Rift.

Nolan Parthmore was just a regular guy, hanging with friends, working his game store, flirting with his co-worker, then one day, destiny came calling. A courier delivers a mysterious antique helmet with no note or description. When Nolan puts it on, his whole world changes. The helmet comes to life and calls out to an evil demon, Lord Dragsmere, who was imprisoned by Nolan’s deceased father.

Nolan soon discovers he is next in the bloodline, heir to The Nobleman, destined to become a hero whether he wants to be or not. Since the Dark Ages, the Noblemen have been guardians against the 13 Devil’s Apostles: dark forces escaped from hell and let loose upon on earth. Generations later, it’s the heirs of these original knights that possess the power to open the Alpha Rift:the only defense against these supernatural foes.

Enjoy my conversation with Lance Henriksen.

Right-click here to download the MP3


Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Lance Henriksen Lance, how are you my friend?

Lance Henriksen 0:16
I'm good, Alex. Very good. I remember your name we've worked before.

Alex Ferrari 0:22
Yes, we have we have worked before we worked years ago on my on my short film Red Princess Blues Genesis, I reached out to your people and you were kind enough to bless our project with your voice, your remarkable voice. And I never forgot it. I was still just Fresh Off the Boat maybe a couple years in LA. And it was such a thrill to to work with with you and and

Lance Henriksen 0:47
Wilcox Hotel.

Alex Ferrari 0:49
I'm sorry.

Lance Henriksen 0:50
When you first got to LA where you're staying at the Wilcox hotel.

Alex Ferrari 0:54
I was lucky enough to get an apartment in North Hollywood,

Lance Henriksen 0:57
Split side hotel. You leave your brands on the ceiling.

Alex Ferrari 1:04
What's those? What are those apartments by Warner Brothers that everybody used to go live live at when you first got there?

Lance Henriksen 1:10
Yeah, I don't remember

Alex Ferrari 1:11
I don't remember the name of it. But there's that. Yeah. So

Lance Henriksen 1:16
First tell I couldn't afford.

Alex Ferrari 1:19
So so. So tell me, how did you get started in this business man? You've been around for a few years.

Lance Henriksen 1:28
New York. Okay. Yeah, I already had done theater in New York and stuff. And I did one movie, you know, and I liked it. So I thought I'm gonna get into and duke it out, you know, see what happens.

Alex Ferrari 1:43
And then and then you arrive in LA and LA back at those years were a little different than LA nowadays. Not as not as much competition.

Lance Henriksen 1:53
Well, there's a weird thing. I got a job as a desk clerk in a retirement home called, I forget the name of it, but was all real people, you know, like, like this kind of old people. And they were always coming up to the desk saying, Did I get any cards or pictures or anything from my kids? And it was pathetic. It really was. So I started writing them cards and putting boxes. You know, like, hi, you know, cuz I get there. I get the name of their kids. Who never called them nobody. Yeah, so that was a good setting of beginning for what it feels like to be in the business.

Alex Ferrari 2:43
No one calls you no one calls you that's for sure.

Lance Henriksen 2:45
My phone was as useless as you get.

Alex Ferrari 2:50
So when you so when you first started out, you know, one of your first projects was a little film called Dog Day Afternoon. With a little with a little director. Yeah, with a little direct Mr. Mr. Sidney Lumet what was it like? Being on that set that energy on that set seem to be

Lance Henriksen 3:07
I knew those people. I knew them all. Yeah, just studio people from New York. Sidney Lumet said I don't know what you're doing. But keep doing it. That's the only direction I got from him.

Alex Ferrari 3:23
Really? That was it. Just like just keep doing what you're doing. Now is the energy on that set was it seems so like, kinetic was it like that behind the scenes as well?

Lance Henriksen 3:36
Oh, yeah. Uh, we were real. You know, everybody was real. You know, John Casals was one of the great guys in the world. And yeah, and, and I remember I had to shoot him. And we said, John said to me, Look, let's, let's rehearse it because you don't know what's going to happen. So I turned to him, and I say, Sal, keep the gun pointed out, because you might hit a bump, you know, something will go off and, and we started laughing. We were in hysterics laughing. And I thought, Oh, it's a good thing. We did this, because when we get to the airport, you know, we're gonna be screwed if we do this, right. Laugh. I mean, we laugh for an hour while they were setting the commerce up on the hood and all over the view. And it was because I really liked them. And it's so absurd that I'm going to shoot them. I mean, it was like, and he got the same feeling. So it was like, we were go for I mean, really laughing for an hour.

Alex Ferrari 4:51
Wow. Because it seems like almost a documentary. It literally almost looked like a documentary.

Lance Henriksen 4:59
Yeah, it was And oddly enough, a lot of the guys that were actually involved in that they they were there on the street, you know, with all the extras. So weird for them.

Alex Ferrari 5:14
Oh god reliving that from a different perspective. Yeah, totally. So then, so then you've made a few other films and you you run across. Another, you have the list of directors you work with is ridiculous. But the next one on the list is Mr. Steven Spielberg, and you're working on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Is that the biggest budget at that point in your career that you worked on?

Lance Henriksen 5:38
I never saw anything like it. We flew all the way to, you know, India, to run up that mountain and have 1000. I think there were 5,000 extras there that day, where we're saying, Where did it come from? What did you see? And they all went, they all pointed up, you know? And suddenly a rabbit ran across the field with all these experts. And they chased it. So you got 10,000 extras chasing a rabbit was the funniest site in the world, man.

Alex Ferrari 6:26
And when you're working in so when you're working with Spielberg, I mean, that's, uh, he's, he's, he's fresh off of jaws. So he's the biggest director on the planet at that moment in time because he created the blockbuster. What was it like working with Steven at that time in his career?

Lance Henriksen 6:42
Well, he was a kid. Yeah. He was a kid. I went up to him and I said, Look, I want to get one of these little monsters, you know, aliens. And I want to throw my coat over and go into the porta potty and just hold him so we got proof. That was one of the ship takes off. They're gone. And he's any look at me like, I don't know, like, I just fell into his birthday cake. And he looked at me anyway. That's, that's a different movie. Okay, I got it. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
I'm good. Steven. Thank you. Thank you very much. Was there anything that oh, you also you also got to work with Truffaut on that he wasn't he an actor in that correct.

Lance Henriksen 7:31
François Truffaut?

Alex Ferrari 7:32
Yeah, François, right. Yeah. Did you work with him? Did you interact with Truffaut ?

Lance Henriksen 7:36
Oh, he was with him every day.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
What was it? I mean, I got I've never spoken to anyone who actually knew Mr. Truffaut. What was it like what was he like as a as a because he was acting and then not directing?

Lance Henriksen 7:48
I mean, the guy look, I was on that movie for six months. So yeah, getting paid scale. You know, it was okay. Yeah, sure. The truck while I was there, I learned to fly. Because we were on an airport. You know, it was a big airport hangar, right. And I'd get up in the morning at four in the morning, and I'd go do my flying lessons. And then I would land at eight and walk into the set. So I felt like, look at me, I just landed. But anyway, they stopped me when I wanted to skydive. They sent him one of the ladies out there said you can't do it. So

Alex Ferrari 8:37
Please, yeah, now I'll put it after production. Do it all you like, after production you could do it all you like, but not while we're doing it production.

Lance Henriksen 8:45
François Truffaut this is his story. He did a movie called 400 blows. Sure. So did yours in Germany did Fahrenheit 451 All of this stuff. And I never mentioned 400 blows only because it was two. When I saw it. I was a kid. You know, younger kid. And I didn't want to talk about that. I talked about Jules and Jim I talked about Fahrenheit 451 and all of that. And he at the end of the movie. Well, he got pissed at me, first of all, for always going on standing on the set. He said no, you got to read a book. You got to do something else. You can't be in a hangar watching a movie being made. And I said yeah, but I never saw anything like this. So anyway, he gave me a book by Joshua Logan. And he said I'm going to quiz you on it. That's the kind of guy as you know. And I said okay, and I only read the Marlon Brando chapter from tea house. Niaga small. And it said Josh Logan said This is like walking through a maze with me but I'm filling you in on all the little truths. But anyway said the first two Tech's he did with random one, Brando gave it everything in that tech. And the second take that Brando did with him. He did nothing. And you said the biggest mistake I ever made was choosing second date. That is the truth. Whoa, I got that piece of information.

Alex Ferrari 10:39
That's amazing. It's amazing. So I think

Lance Henriksen 10:45
Kindest guy in the world. Yeah. And if you were a restaurant, all the women in the restaurant would like zero and on him. He had that energy. I don't know, French dress good.

Alex Ferrari 11:01
There was that vibe, that vibe. There's a thing that's it's you can't really, when you've got it, you got it. And you know,

Lance Henriksen 11:07
When you got it, you don't have to push. You had a lot of girlfriends along the way. I got to learn from you tell me how to do that.

Alex Ferrari 11:19
So there's so one of the films that I see. I saw you and I, you know, I remember you vividly and it was a terminator. And there has been so many mythical stories. It's almost folklore on how that movie was made. And you know it Jim did this, Jim do that. How did what was it like from your sight from your perspective working on that film? And what are the truths behind?

Lance Henriksen 11:48
He said to me go in to Emmerdale. You know, do the Terminator

Alex Ferrari 11:54
Because you were originally going to be the Terminator.

Lance Henriksen 11:58
I blew it though. Because Jim said go in 15 minutes before me. And I said, okay, and then I'll leave. You know, I'll just give a shout out, shake him up. And so I kept the door open am Dells office. And, and the Secretary was sitting there, grabbed her typewriter and pulled it off into her lap. She got shook, because I had cuts and silver teeth. And then I went into handhelds office. And I soon just stared at him for like, five minutes. And then Jim arrived and I left. You know, I didn't even I didn't even think I was going to do Terminator. I mean, I would have played him more like, like a spider, a real dangerous spider. Right, which they're fun. He was like a bulldozer. So that was fine. Yeah, I mean, Winfield and I, Paul Winfield. We had a great relationship. We made each other fucking crack up all the time. So it was what was great about it. It was Gail Bell. Her was producing it, I think. And it was like, Jim was coming out of the chute, you could tell he just just had a rhythm about him. And he always does. He knows. He's like an isolated animal of some kind. That is just so focused, you know, after we did aliens, and it was one of the most dynamic directors I've ever worked with ever.

Alex Ferrari 13:43
But you also, but you also worked with him on Pirana to the spawning, as well. Right? Is that where you met him?

Lance Henriksen 13:49
We don't talk about that. No, no, we don't it's just like awful.

Alex Ferrari 14:00
What Jim but Jim says it is the best flying Pirana movie ever made.

Lance Henriksen 14:09
Yeah, it was so excited because I had to buy my wardrobe. Off the waiter. Okay, because I had no wardrobe. Right? So I gave the guy 75 bucks for his pants and a shirt. Because I'm playing a harbor cop. It had a blue stripe. But I got over that really quick.

Alex Ferrari 14:38
So when you do you imagine you've met Jim on that show, right?

Lance Henriksen 14:42

Alex Ferrari 14:45
I'm sorry. That's the best thing about the movies.

Lance Henriksen 14:49
But even I saw what he could do, you know? Yeah, it's up and I was buying my suit off a waiter. He was up in his room making rubber fish cuz they didn't have enough of them you know all kinds of stuff. I mean it was I put the harbor boat up on the pier because they wouldn't even be down there let me learn how to drive it. Alright so by x i come weapon and he said come with and then okay I whipped in and put it right up on the pier

Alex Ferrari 15:24
Ohh different times different times. So when you're when you're working on the Terminator because that was a fairly low budget film I think it was if I if that if I know the budget was I think anywhere between five to 7 million or something

Lance Henriksen 15:39
You couldn't prove it by me that it was love budget it was but right. I don't know what the budget was. Right. But it was all his friends all the talented people involved in it. You know, is really, once once the train leaves the station, it doesn't stop. Right. And that's no matter what the budget,

Alex Ferrari 16:03
Right! Because if you're going you're going into whoever

Lance Henriksen 16:07
They would go, Yeah, you're in.

Alex Ferrari 16:10
So when you saw Arnold show up as the Terminator for the first time and you saw him What did you what was your first reaction?

Lance Henriksen 16:18
He was he was sitting on the on the steps of his honey wagon. Okay. Trailer, he got a Honeywell Sure will. Because the budget didn't allow, you know, a Tiffany anyway. But anyway, he was sitting there smoking a cigar and a and he was really happy. He was amazingly happy. Just like greeting everybody and making jokes and he was happy. And I was grateful for that

Alex Ferrari 16:58
He is. And and at that time of his life. He was really big. I mean, he was he was still

Lance Henriksen 17:04
He got that all going, you know.

Alex Ferrari 17:07
Yeah. And he was did you see? Did you see the same thing in Jim that you did sign Arnold when you saw him? You're like, Oh, this guy's gonna be a star. Did you see that? When you were on the set?

Lance Henriksen 17:17
I know how I saw how Jim was treating Jim was treating him. Like I don't know. He was telling him everything that he needed. Jim would tell him. I need you to be quiet and just look up. Walked out way. You know, I mean, he knew what he wanted from Arnold. It's good. It wasn't you know, wasn't the later. Be careful.

Alex Ferrari 17:51
Right. Yeah, he barely had any dialogue on the first one. Then he opened up in the second one a bit.

Lance Henriksen 17:58
Yeah, yeah. Those lines Get Cover!.

Alex Ferrari 18:05
Get down! Now one of your best known characters, his Bishop in Aliens, which you brought such humanity to that Android. It is remarkable.

Lance Henriksen 18:28
It was really on purpose. I hadn't I had made a decision that before I even got to England, you know, that there was what what is Android is he say, a protecting devices, a tech take care of humans to devices is also as vulnerable as during Apartheid a black child, you know, who wouldn't even dream of making any motions or noise? Because they're afraid of getting snuffed out? You know, I mean, anyway, a lot of elements like that work. I wouldn't dream of hurting anybody or anything. You know, I mean, it was there was the, the innocence of that, you know, so. And I got the role, but Jim said, in England, if you if you've got a if there's somebody in England, it's better. Jim told me, he said I would have given him the part but what you brought to the table was just exactly was good, you know, so grateful for that. Now, you learn shit to do with the knives and stuff because he told me, he called me before I went to London said Remember when we used to do the knife thing? And I said, Yeah, I can get good at it. When I got to England, I had all 29 Because I know it, he might pick a different, and I had to work with all of them. Sure. So I got there. I was good at it all. But anyway, they almost wouldn't let me in the country. Because the guy, they saw it on the scanner that I had knives and said, step away from your bags. Not let me in. Yeah. All right. Pretty active around that time.

Alex Ferrari 20:33
Sure, sure. And that was 86' 85'. So that's not even post 911 For God's sakes. Can you imagine? It must have been on edge.

Lance Henriksen 20:42

Alex Ferrari 20:45
Now is there's so many, you know, stories of the English crew and Jim and Gail having such a hard time making that movie because they were basically fighting the crew and they didn't really believe in Jim and no one had seen Terminator yet.

Lance Henriksen 21:03
Yet. They were given them. They were dragging their feet, they were taking tea breaks every five minutes, they go to the bar that was at Pinewood and they had lunch near come back and slowed down again. You know, I mean, it was, those guys were all under contract. So they didn't have anybody, but they, despite all of that personality stuff going on. They called him Grizzly Adams, Jim, because you have grown a little beard. And who the hell was he to come in after Ridley Scott. You know, who is a British are better, you know, was their whole thing. And and it was like, for us. It banded us together even more. The only time it wasn't Bishop was one of one of the ad's British Hadees pushed me on the chest. You know, say hey said stop. Push me. I said you do that again. I'm gonna kick your ass. I meant Sure so who? I'll never forget his face when I did that. He got shut up man, you don't fucking push me.

Alex Ferrari 22:22
New York In New York maybe?

Lance Henriksen 22:28
Oh, good.

Alex Ferrari 22:29
And I'm assuming and I'm assuming having a

Lance Henriksen 22:33
Days, weeks and months of working together all of us. We all know each other and believed in each other. You know, that's, that's a different feeling. than just going we're gonna leave a bunch of garbage in pull our trailer out of here and we're gonna go home. We didn't do that we were there to do it. Really do. And those guys by the way. The guys on contract mind would. There was some of the best makers of props and things and sets. They were unbelievably good. If they just welcomed us, we would have been fine. But so we went through about a month a bullshit. And then I guess I don't know the real story behind it. But Gail was saying we'll just get out we'll leave here and go do it somewhere else. You know, you're not gonna screw up his movie. I mean, and they turned around turned around completely.

Alex Ferrari 23:38
Really? Yeah. Yeah, because I can imagine that having you know, in 1986 A female producer on top of it all was it was a shock because you generally didn't have female promoters.

Lance Henriksen 23:52
She's 5'5" you know she's but tough. Oh, yeah. She's smart. I love her.

Alex Ferrari 24:02
And she and and honestly, many people say this and I say it as well as aliens is essentially a masterpiece in in the genre there really it really holds up.

Lance Henriksen 24:13
It is it holds up.

Alex Ferrari 24:14
You can watch that today. You can still watch that today. And it's not you don't you don't see the date. There's no date.

Lance Henriksen 24:21
Oh, we get a lot more attention than I am. Now.

Alex Ferrari 24:24
Oh, okay. Now you also, right, exactly. Now that you also worked on another classic film called near dark with with Miss Kathryn Bigelow. I remember I was working in a video store in the 80s late 80s Oh yeah, I work I worked in a video store for five years. All I saw everything from 86 movies from 86 to like 93 I pretty much watched everything Because anything that came out, I watched it because it was I was in a video store, I was a kid in high school didn't have much social life. So that's all I did was just watch three, four movies a day, constantly. So I remember watching your dark, I was just like, Oh, my God, this is remarkable. And I have to say, Kathryn Bigelow is easily one of the best action directors of her generation, and she doesn't get the credit that she deserves, in my opinion. I mean, she won the Oscar obviously, for for, for her lock on everything. But as an action director, Mike got sheet. She holds her own with anybody.

Lance Henriksen 25:32
Anybody believe me

Alex Ferrari 25:37
What was it like working on that?

Lance Henriksen 25:39
You know, she would do things incredible. Like, we had to, we had to deal with sunlight. So we're, we improvised a whole rehearsal of how do you enter a room that's brightly lit with Windows and stuff? So we would improvise all the things and we actually use them in the movie. I mean, we, our instincts were already there. Because we rehearsed. You know, spraying the windows, put tin foils on the windows, like Elvis used to do in Vegas. And then, um, we would improvise even dialogue where we had we had these characters down so well, no matter what you threw out those. We would, we would, Billy Paxton was brilliant. At work he did, and all of us felt we were those people. The day we finished shooting, we're standing on a road in Arizona. And we suddenly said, we should start the prequel right now. Because we were ready. We liked these characters.

Alex Ferrari 26:56
And there was never seek and there was never sequel or prequel. And it's such a sad,

Lance Henriksen 27:01
Went belly up. So our first ad was as big as this. You know? And so it just lost. It was lost boys doing rock and roll vampires. It was like, come on, but they had full page ads.

Alex Ferrari 27:21
So yeah, you were the cult, the cult film.

Lance Henriksen 27:26
Poor step kid.

Alex Ferrari 27:28
But I mean, anyone listening, if you have not seen near dark is arguably one of the best vampire films ever made it no question.

Lance Henriksen 27:35
Much fun, man. We pick your own wardrobes, right? They, you know, they had some we had a great wardrobe guy. And I said, we had to write our own bios, like, how did we get turned? Where did we come from? We had to ride a mile. And mine was that that I was sailing on an iron clad for the south during the Civil War. And we got slaughtered by it by you know, cannons from the shore and stuff. But we kept drifting into the marshes at night. And we started to get fed on the lot of vampires feeding on the dying man. And I got I got a turn because my chest was blown open and, and I was steaming into the night air. And it stood over man, and instead of killing me and feeding on me and turn me so I mean, I have my own figured out. That's why I had a rebel flag inside my code and my hair had a pigtail on a dipped in tar, like Stiller's did back in those days. You know, we just created our own our own ambience and we picked each other up along the way. That's what if we had done a what he call it, you know, a prequel, he would see all those people got together. They're different. The 20s 1800s You know,

Alex Ferrari 29:22
That wouldn't have been that would have been amazing. You could have done you could have done an anreise thing where you go through all history kind of figure

Lance Henriksen 29:32
Have dinner with her. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 29:34
What does she love the film? Does she like the film?

Lance Henriksen 29:39
Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 29:44
Now, you

Lance Henriksen 29:47
You know after I did the movie.

Alex Ferrari 29:50
Now you you've you've worked with so many directors is there. I'm not going to ask you if you have a favorite director but is there a way that that you like to be directed and and then did you connect with a certain director in a way from like, as a collaborator in a way that just stepped stands out throughout your career?

Lance Henriksen 30:11
Yeah. I met with so many good ones, you know, I mean, it's there, there is an automatic kind of understanding a member, a member, certainly, Sydney Limmat. Love New York actors, he would hire you and say, Look, this, this part only lasts a week, but I'm going to give you a run on the show, because you wanted to, say, get an apartment, you didn't know. It was like, he is the kindest man. And it was great to be around him because he was so knowledgeable. You know, standing on the set with the best actors in New York. All around you, and you're watching these guys work. And I was young. You know, I was 30. So it was like, yeah, it was my, my experience. I could never single out one. There are parts of all of them that I'll never forget. You know, and they influence me about freedom and about, you know, how to how to make something that it's even beyond your wildest dream by just getting on board and going with it. Get off these guys. They they they're not Intimidators they're nice. They're nice people. You know, most that especially in that era, the 80s and the 90s.

Alex Ferrari 31:46
Did you is your Is there a way that you'd like to be directed as an actor? Because I know every actor has a different way. Some people want more attention.

Lance Henriksen 31:56
Yeah, everything happens in rehearsal. You know, when you're when you're approaching when you're no part, I did a movie with Viggo Mortensen, who was he was probably one of the kindest, smartest people I've ever worked with, is he wrote it, directed it Zenna he produced it. I mean, did the music for it, and edited cheeses and never complain the minute we just was so busy trying to form those that relationship and those relationships. It was the greatest experience I've ever had. I mean, it's like, but that's for a very different reasons. So we're the only mechanical thing in it. I mean, the rest is, was shot beautifully and all of that. But by the time we started, we knew what we were going to do.

Alex Ferrari 33:00
What advice would you give a young filmmaker or film directors in general, on directing actors, because I find that they focus so much on the lenses and the gear and the how, look how many K's we have, but they don't focus on.

Lance Henriksen 33:16
Everybody's at them to get information. Right. Right. That's part of the deal. You know, the camera guys, they it's all about he is the core focus of it is getting less. So there are more producers, businessman with they know the answers to everything. Right? Like politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth and out there. And everything. Where the director is responsible. I mean, he's responsible for the approach that there's so many levels. But it's also they've got a bunch of ravens trying to pick their eyeballs out, you know, which are the producers?

Alex Ferrari 34:06
Right? Or the studio execs or something along those lines. Yeah. But is there a way that you would recommend directors working or approaching actors and how they work?

Lance Henriksen 34:17
Well, yeah, I mean, just, I think the only answer is just to be heard. And I think it's up to the actors not to prove, you know, not to do it at an inappropriate time. We've got a guy jump in and jump off the hook onto an airbag and you're talking about what do you think I jump in my car and try to save him? What do I do? You know, I mean, why don't you just shut up and go watch, you know, right now.

Alex Ferrari 34:48
Is it. Is it true? And I want out because I always tell people there's my experience as a director, that actors sometimes if they don't feel safe on set, they will test The director to see if they feel if there's if this is a safe space. And if it's not, they might go rogue, they might protect themselves and they might shut down and they're like, look, I'm here. I got to do what I got to do. But this is obviously I'm not getting the support I need. Do you find that actors do test director sometimes just to see where they're at? in general?

Lance Henriksen 35:20
I don't know what neurosis an actor might bring with him. Sure. I don't have any, any way. I know what I do. Okay. I mean, I, I've done now it looks like somebody said the other day that I've done 300 movies. Well, that's a shocker. Because that's, that's a lot of days, weeks, months and years on a set. Yeah. One thing. I guess one of my favorite. Jim Jarmusch is probably one of the kindest, illuminated humans that I've ever worked with. I remember getting a part in for I forget the name of the movie. And I walked in, and I said, Jim, look, I know, I might not get the part because of what I'm going to say. But, but I don't think anything you wrote for this character that I'm going to play has anything to do with, with acting or whatever it is, you know, I mean, I can improvise everything through this whole movie. And make it work as a Western, you know, with Johnny Depp. And you know, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 36:41
Dead man it was called dead man.

Lance Henriksen 36:45
Yeah, I'm talking so much that I'm forgetting. No, but when I'm talking, I don't think And fair enough. So But anyway, that's what I did in that movie. I improvised the whole role. Wow. Yeah, I remember walking, I had to kill this kid who? This black kid who's, he's got knives. And he's a nasty kind of guide. And he insults me. And I remember walking into a Native American post, and looking at all the stuff, you know, the beautiful jewelry and all that. But there was a brick. And and I said to the guy and there was a car painted on the brick. I said, what is that? And he goes, it's Navajo mentor. And as a wife, okay. When I got on the set, and I shot that kid, he said, he said, he's only my partner said he's only a kid. He's just a kid. And I said, Well, isn't Melbourne on mud toy now? How? Wow. It's like I go through a period of gathering. Unconscious gathering was something that intrigues me. I, I know I'm going to do this move beyond seeing it through the eyes of the character. So so that was a great experience because he just let me fly. That must have been I was an actor anymore. You were being just being

Alex Ferrari 38:34
Yeah, that's amazing. And you also worked on one of my favorite Westerns of all time, the quick and the dead. Quick in the dead. I love clicking a dead.

Lance Henriksen 38:46
Yeah, no, that was a trip. The crew made a they made a thing where they said you cannot kill ace. Mm hmm.

Alex Ferrari 39:01
You were like you were one of the look in that cast was ridiculous. I mean, from Russell Crowe as like a supporting actor. Sharon Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio in you and Sam Raimi is directing and you're just like, a you stood at Jesus. And you stood out like your character was so wonderfully constructed. You played so beautifully. And you're right, like when you when spoiler alert. When you have to end your your scene. I was pissed. I'm like, no,

Lance Henriksen 39:43
No, no. Greet him like that. Right before I went on, I got that little thing with the moustache one thing I didn't know if I was going to use it. But then as Jean was talking me I was going Yeah, Yeah, I shot one guy one, right.

Alex Ferrari 40:05
And how was Sam? How was Sam to work with because I've heard so many wonderful stories about Sam Raimi and as a director working with actors.

Lance Henriksen 40:13
Oh, he was, he was very young, you know, and he was he was so excited about having any camera he wanted anything you wanted. You know, he was he was like, I remember I said, look, look at this wardrobe. I got embroidery all over it. And I said, I, I look like a showman. You know, and so, I went with a buddy of mine, who's Rex Rossi, who was one of the great ropers you know, one of those guys and he, in fact, he was I've wanted him to be my daughter's godfather. And he did, he said, but anyway, I've said, Rex, the guy's a showman, I got to have some way of shooting the card out of this girl's hand and making it a showman, you know? So we started working on and we came up with that flip off the horse, where I just want to turn sideways, flipped off and shot her into the belly. And I showed that to Sam before we did it. And he went, oh, oh, that's in the movie. He was like, yes, that's in the movie. We did it.

Alex Ferrari 41:32
That's that's the thing. Like, I guess that was I think that was probably the first time he was given a real budget and it was a big but I mean, it was a studio project. And he and he had like I could only imagine like having every toy at your disposal with this insane cast

Lance Henriksen 41:49
They set everything up. That was that was one of the great sets.

Alex Ferrari 41:54
Oh, was. It was it was absolutely beautiful. And you also got to work with another director and legendary director, Mr. John Woo. On

Lance Henriksen 42:07
Favorite John was scared because he thought I was going off the deep end, right? Characters so fucking crazy, man. I know. They'll with John. I'm still friends with him. He sent me champagne. I send him pottery, you know? But he's, he's so kind, kind hearted man. He just and he does the most violent films. He's probably getting back at his goats, you know, whatever they are.

Alex Ferrari 42:42
Yeah. And so for everyone listening the movie that that Lance and John worked on was hard target, which was a John Claude Van Damme vehicle back in the 90s. And as Lance's head is twisting left and right as I said this name. But

Lance Henriksen 43:02
Emma's, actually, he's a good guy, and he's very talented. Physically. Sure. Know what I mean? Oh, yeah. You know, he identified seeing when we kicked me in the face. He did a spinning hit. And it just barely touched me. He's so control. Yeah. Made me relax a lot more.

Alex Ferrari 43:25
Yeah, cuz I mean, and this was the first was that what was that the first John Woo American film was a broken arrow. I don't remember if it was that one or broken arrow. I think it might have been the first time he came over from Hong Kong. Yeah, cuz it was I mean, you look at some of these editing. Yeah.

Lance Henriksen 43:45
He was a universal. Yeah, it was universally. One of the producers from the tower would come down and go. How's it going, John? Oh, that scene? What if you cut it that way? And then he'd leave. He would leave. And then another one would come down. He said all I want to do is get out of here. They're not leaving me alone. Keep coming. juggles.

Alex Ferrari 44:19
Now oh, by the way, I have to tell you one of my favorite films I've seen of yours. Which is not one of your better, like best known films, but it impacted me because I saw it on a date. I took my date to see this film in the theater. Yes. And we both loved it. Stone Cold. Oh, Brian Bosworth Brian. Both were stars and you are the main villain as a biker gang. I never forgot that movie. I must have watched that movie a dozen times when I was at video store. I was just he played that part so beautifully. Thank you.

I was a bit fun.

Lance Henriksen 44:56
Changes car. You know what I, again, I do better work when I improvise. Because we had a script the guy, the guy. What happened on that movie was chains was always talking biblical talk literally right out of the Bible, or in the movie, but but in the script, and he got fired. His first dailies came in, I wasn't in any of those scenes, but they saw them and fired him and brought a guy who was really good. Craig Baxley. And Higley, Craig had done stunts and stunts, you know, all kinds of movies and, and Craig came in, and I met him when it came in from the airport. And I met him and I was sitting in the lobby waiting for him. When he came in, and I said, Greg, can we have a beer together or something? Let's talk about this. Because your script, you read it? It's, it's, it's really abusive shit. I mean, it was bad. You know, I don't know how he got the job. The other director, I don't even know. But But anyway. So he said, Well, what are we going to do? Because I said, the dialogue is shit, all of it. So he said, What do you want to do? And I said, Well, we'll get there. If our call time is six. I'll get there at five with, with. Let's just face football. prions was, yeah, but yeah. So and We'll improvise. We'll just improvise the whole scene. We know what it has to actually was, you know, improvise. So that's what we did.

Alex Ferrari 46:57
It worked out, really. So every every every piece of dialogue almost was completely just. Yeah. That's brilliant. That makes that that's a nice little tidbit about that. I mean, over over the course of your career, Lance. I mean, you've been on set like you just said, you've done close at 300 over 300 projects. You've been on set so many times. What was the project or the day that was that stands out in your history in your mind? As like, Man, this is really, how are we going to get out of this? Like, you feel like everything's coming crashing down around you? What was that day? And how did you get through it? How did you make it through that day?

Lance Henriksen 47:42
I try to get those. There's a whole group of movies that I've done. They're called alimony films.

Alex Ferrari 47:52
You said that to me. You said that to me when we work together.

Lance Henriksen 47:56
It's good to know that that's that's real. Yeah. A lot of actors take movies that the only one that's there, they need money, you know, blah, blah, blah. And I've done some of those that were like, oh my god, I thought you know, you. You don't want to be seen on the street when that comes out. You don't want to do, right. I only see my movies once. And then I don't look at them ever again. You know, the only one that I might have watched more than once was powder. Yeah, sugar powder.

Alex Ferrari 48:34
I love powder.

Lance Henriksen 48:35
I thought that that was a really good movie. But, you know, some other political shit happened. I didn't go to release but but you know what? You got to take the good with the bad. You really do? I mean, try to do something. I have a will that says don't give up, man. You know, just be there. Be there even for a bad situation. You know, don't don't don't run away. Because that then you turn into a runaway

Alex Ferrari 49:13
Now is there.

Lance Henriksen 49:15
You have to go with it. I would. I would like to mention some of those big only because they tried everybody tried. Sure. Yeah. And they were stricken by a lot of different things. Like look oh can happen on a sir. When you when you see this wonderful woman. She was when I met her. She was a Steadicam operator, very strong woman and wonderful and beautiful. And you know, and she gets shot on a set. That's that's the ultimate total thing. I mean, it's over. Once that happens. I mean, it's over. Right? You fix in you know It's gonna be an ugly thing for a long time. But anyway, that's how bad it can get. I've never been hurt on the side. In my 300 movies never been hurt. And I've done physical shit wherever anybody, I don't care. You know, I'm still doing it. It's like I'm not. I'll probably just drop dead quickly one day, you know? Okay, well, it's a rap.

Alex Ferrari 50:30
It's a rap. And where's Lance Lance is he's got he's got a new cast, they call he's got a new cast, they call. Now, out of all of your movies, and all the people you work with, which is the craziest story that you can share publicly?

Lance Henriksen 50:53
I did a movie called The visitor. Yeah, I was young. Yeah. It's like the the hot young guy in that movie. They just there was Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, all these actors that we all know from the 40s. You. They were in John Hughes cheeses. All these guys and I got to talk to John. Finally, one day after we made a joke. And he said, Okay, look, I don't want to come back last. So let's do it now. He's like my hero. And I said, Okay, let's let's do it. And I'm staring at him. And he goes, you have the first lines last, so I'm sorry, John. I got my first direction from John Houston. So

Alex Ferrari 51:55
Not a bad Not bad. Not bad.

Lance Henriksen 52:00
Not a bad moment.

Alex Ferrari 52:03
Can we talk a little bit about your new film? Okay.

Lance Henriksen 52:09
The visitor? Yeah. Yeah, I did in Rome. Okay. We go to Rome. The movie turns to shit. I don't know why.

Alex Ferrari 52:20
Because Pirana wasn't Parana shot.

Lance Henriksen 52:24
No, yeah. That was an Italian producer. Yes. Yes. I've never worked in Rome again.

Alex Ferrari 52:32
But your visit, but your visit. Now, tell me about your new film Alpha drift. How did you enjoy working on that?

Lance Henriksen 52:43
I gotta tell you, I was impressed with him and took that movie. Because he started is almost like with a grain of sand. You know, he made key chains with the alphabet symbol on it. And every day, he was battling budget every day. And that's why that was done years ago. And now it's coming out. You know, I think almost three years, two or three years. But he was tenacious. He's a guy that we'll talk about. I won't give up. And then he would, he would do what good movie makers do they wangle what they want. I want a McLaren. And one of his people pull some strings. And they got a McLaren. That is the most expensive car in the world. There's some have sold for $13 million at least a million to drive it. And the owner was standing by the fucking camera shaking. Because it's so fast. If you just touched that gas, you're gonna fly down, you know, Moon, you're gone. And again, that's an example of making do as good as you can. With limited, you know, with limited choices, and you did very well with it. His location choices were were good choices because he was containing it. You know, I mean, I wanted to do it. I just felt I didn't. I didn't really understand it. When I first started the hell I was, you know, you know, it's, it's a very it's a very, almost like looking back into time. In a way. They're dragging the past into the present. And saying to a young man, you're genetically right. You are the next whatever. Why I had to respect it and do the best I could, you know, I mean, with what we had. And and it was, and it looks like he pulled it off because he got distribution. I'm really, I'm super happy for him. I really am.

Alex Ferrari 55:18
Yeah. And we'll put and we'll put links on where you guys can watch Alpha drift afterwards. It does look fantastic. It's a good fit. It's a family film. So it looks like a lot of fun.

Lance Henriksen 55:26
There isn't a real rough moment in it. Well, listen, killings, but sure, your demons so it's not. You Have you noticed how violent all the movies are like on YouTube and all these cable things?

Alex Ferrari 55:47
It makes it it makes the 80s look tame.

Lance Henriksen 55:51
Oh, yeah, it's more murders than you can imagine. Right and peak ruimin You know, where you're seeing a little bit? Not a lot, you know, there. But it's just the whole porridge. They're like remakes of movies that are still out. You can

Alex Ferrari 56:09
Look I look. When they remade point break. I was like, stop it. Is that that is a masterpiece of its time. You can't really?

Lance Henriksen 56:21
Yeah, what you can't you can't remake that. They're just going over to I think screenwriters Guild and saying, Can I read a bunch of these scripts? And they do. And then they write out a clone of that script.

Alex Ferrari 56:35
It's, it's, it's because everyone because if you know, you know this better than most that the whole town is run by fear. So you know, because it's run by fear. They're like, well, this is has an established audience that they think is going to come out but like, perfect example. Any executives listening out there? You bring a movie like point break out there who's a generation who's gonna watch Point Break my generation, the one that grew up with Point Break? Really? What are we going to run out to see Point Break? The remake? No. And then the new kids are going to be like, what's that? Oh, skydiving? Oh, that's not a big deal. But in 1990, whatever it was when it came out. No one had really seen before.

Lance Henriksen 57:17
No, you're right. Right. So it's different. Reaction, a lot of stories. Even Korean movie companies are doing their we our movies, their movies, or doesn't matter.

Alex Ferrari 57:35
But the funny thing is that the that the era that they're mining, was allowed to be creative. Where you could make a Gremlins of Goonies a Terminator, and aliens, you know, can you imagine trying to launch an aliens franchise now without the IP of aliens? But can you imagine just alien in it just wouldn't wouldn't be not not in the studio system you'd have to do in in the independent world.

Lance Henriksen 58:03
I think I think that's a great description what's going on now? Which made me feel like I never want to be a director. I have no interest at all. I'm a better supporter of a director. Alright, then, you know, of wanting to be one who 100 people a day, hitting you up for answers? Who the hell wants to live like that?

Alex Ferrari 58:31
I love it. Some people are built like that.

Lance Henriksen 58:36
But see, you maybe will break out into your dream so totally, that it will be what you want it to do. But I have no desire. I'm in a job that I shouldn't be doing.

Alex Ferrari 58:50
Right. And I have like, I've had to act a couple times in my life in front of the camera and it. No, no, thank you. It's not what I like to do. It is terrifying. I have such respect. Oh my god, it's an it even when I was playing myself on camera for a movie. It still was terrifying for me. I was like, oh my god, this is horrible. I don't want to be in front of camera ever again.

Lance Henriksen 59:17
You feel a lot better. Yeah. That's it. Okay. Looks from a different mother. But

Alex Ferrari 59:26
Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. Lance. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Lance Henriksen 59:35
God, that's hard. I just did a movie. And it's called the artifice girl. And a guy named Franklin rich directed it wrote it. He's even in it. It's a three act movie. I feel I feel like it's one of the most interesting roles I've ever done. Yeah, and he wrote it, he did it. And the relationship during the shooting was this was in Florida. This is gonna come out and peep is so original and so good. I mean, I'm proud of it. I'm proud of I really am. I mean, I've done like three movies over the last year or so. And they're all different. They're all different. Sure. And I've been lucky. I mean, there's no word to touch you. But anyway, it's, I've been blessed with a career.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
Absolutely. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Lance Henriksen 1:00:48
Wait, say that again?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:49
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Lance Henriksen 1:00:57
I think there's a pocket in all brands where we have a fantasy world apart. And it's like a, it's probably a different organ and I was born with it. I didn't know I had it. But really what it's about, I think, is learning how to be a human, you know, a humanity. That I think when I see people be kind to somebody else. I am. I just get a lift. I get a jolt, right. We're slipping through some nasty shit right now. Excuse my friends. Sure. That we really need to see the best in people and not not fucking punish them because they made a mistake. And even in dialogue, everybody wants to punish somebody. I blame I blame politicians for all

Alex Ferrari 1:01:57
Yeah, I

Lance Henriksen 1:01:59
I think that whole system sucks.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
Well, I think they've been saying that says politics were created. Yeah. Now and last question, if you can answer this three of your favorite films of all time.

Lance Henriksen 1:02:18
Oh, yeah. Well, they are the 80s films. I mean, it's certainly aliens. Your dark the ones you mentioned there. And Jim Jarmusch his movie dead man. Yeah, I love that card is total killer. But even killers have a soul?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:43
Well, that's the thing. You have played a lot of bad guys in your day. And you always bring humanity to all of those bad guys. And I think that's what makes a good bad guy is that there's something it's not if you're just twisting your your mustache literally and going Haha, I'm just bad to be bad. It's boring. You know, we're not in. It's yeah, it's not 1910 anymore. We're not on a train track anymore. Bad guys need to have depth. And you brought that to every bad guy ever seen you play

Lance Henriksen 1:03:10
Some of these action movies that are on you know, like Netflix. Really well done. Especially the Chinese ones. South Korean ones. They're in terms of action movies, these guys. And they're way ahead of us now. I mean, it's like an occasionally there's one of those movies with American. Right. Mariah good.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
Yeah. All right, kill him and make it a lot. Kill him a lot.

Lance Henriksen 1:03:50
A lot, a lot. And then he comes back and a lot more than that.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
Oh, no, I didn't it. Um, Frank Grillo, the actor Frank Grillo. He's like one of the biggest movie stars in the Chinese market because he just plays the American bad guy.

Lance Henriksen 1:04:06
You want to hear something? Yeah. Yeah. The Chinese is smart. i The Macao International Film Festival was on when falling was shown there. The one I did with Vigo they gave me best actor. Wow. shockers. Here's the shocker. I mean, I was done that I got this wonderful actress, you know, gave it to me and all this stuff. But what blew me away was China. Love this American story. They love the movie. I mean, it was and this is our story. This is a guy slipping into dementia and a son. And it's it's just I was like gave the the award away I gave it said the guy that worked with me when I was preparing for that movie. You know, he worked with me for a month and when I got the award I I look up and I got a bunch of awards. My daughter when she was five used to polish them, that's about what they're worth, you know, I mean, but I knew that if I gave it to this young young kid who was really smart and he studied acting in Ireland and stuff he's really bright. And I knew I needed to stir the pot I really need to find a way to make it real and Vigo would come over and we we'd rehearse a little bit you know and stuff. But he deserved it. I wanted him to be happy that he had that experience because the movie speaks for itself. The movies is what it is is wonderful movie less skilled our release. And Corona just shot.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:13
Lance it has been an absolute honor and pleasure talking to you my friend it I mean I can keep talking to you for at least five or six more days. Just to try to go over your career. But is

Lance Henriksen 1:06:26
Dan Lance by the way, let's let's leave it with him. Here's a guy who inevitably will make movies with the budget he needs. And you'll have this but he did this all by himself. This is like him and his friends. It's not a it's not a low budget looking film at all.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
No, you're talking about Alpha drift. Alpha drift

Lance Henriksen 1:06:54
Yes, kids will like it.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:57
I iIThank you for your time my friend and also thank you for your for the work that you've done as an artist throughout your career. It is it is is definitely affected my life over the years and it was again an honor working with you on my little short film all those years ago. So thank you again, my friend and continued health and success team, my friend.

Lance Henriksen 1:07:19
I'll see you down the road. There's more to come!



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Film Crew Positions: Ultimate Guide to Everyone on a Film Set

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Unlike many other art forms filmmaking needs a film crew of collaborators to bring the art to life. A film’s success or failure depends on the ability of the film crew to make good decisions.

If you are new to filmmaking, you might find it helpful to take some time to learn about the roles of the various members of a film crew and how they can contribute to making a successful film. This article will briefly discuss the film crew positions in a typical production.

Please note: We have added a couple of ridiculous easter eggs for the film and tv professionals in the audience. Enjoy!   

Table of Content (click to jump to the department of your choice)

Above the Line vs Below the Line

“Above the line” film crew positions are usually found at the very top of a production hierarchy chart. Above the line crew members are those who carry the most creative or financial responsibility for a given project, and they usually work all the way from pre-production to post.

They are the ones who make major decisions and are often directly responsible for securing financing.

Most of the crew on a film set is “below the line.” Their job descriptions are varied from department to department. This large collection of film set jobs would be broken down into separate departments. A film crew hierarchy is contained within each of the individual departments and starts with a department head.

Above the Line Crew

Film Director

The term “director” usually refers to someone who directs actors on stage, in a movie, on television, or even on video games. However, the director of a film also directs the other people involved in the production. This includes casting, scriptwriting, and even the special effects and music in the film.

Many directors like Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher are consider “Auteurs.” Auteur Theory is a way of looking at films that state that the director is the “author” of a film.

Film Producer

film Producer is often the person responsible for making sure all the details fall into place for the production of a movie. One key thing to know is that the majority of projects have multiple producers.  Another key thing to know is that there are different types of producers. 

Some focus predominantly on securing funding and/or distribution and/or attaching special assets early on in the development process, in the independent world, while some focus on story and creative aspects of the project, while some focus on specific stages of filmmaking such as development or post production.

This can include, but is not limited to setting the tone of the production (ie. what tone should the production be set at), picking a director, and finding a cast and crew.

producer also handles casting (finding the actors and actresses, usually in conjunction with the director), organizing the budget, and hiring the staff needed to make a film happen. A film producer is usually the one who hires all the different professionals needed to put a movie together. More commonly, they hire the department heads, who in turn bring the rest of the crew on board.

They make sure that everything’s going according to plan. They might also work closely with directors and screenwriters, especially where certain decisions pertain to cost. They typically have final say on any decisions affecting the final output of the film, for example the final edit, unless someone like the director is contractually entitled to this.

There are many types of producers. Some producers only deal with financing of the film, others are development/creative and some producers are connectors and only fine money and/or talent.

Executive Producer

The person who sources and secures the financing for a film production is called the executive producer. Ensuring there is enough money for the project is the executive producer’s top priority.

Below the Line Crew – Production

Line Producer

During preproduction, often it is the line producer who generates the full production (sometimes called a line item) budget, as well as breaking down the script and generating a preliminary shooting schedule. The line producer is responsible for ensuring that the movie is shot according to the production schedule and budget.

On the production side, the line producer’s main task is to make sure that the movie is delivered on time and under budget. If it doesn’t meet these goals, he or she will make sure to change things up until the filming is completed.

It’s not a creative role. Typically, it’s all about project management. The line producer hires most of the “below the line” talent and craftspeople. Sometimes they are required to get approval from the producer and/or director for choices in department heads. The best ones makes the budget and makes sure the project doesn’t go over.

Unit Production Manager (UPM)

On very low budget movies, this position is often combined with that of line producer. A UPM or unit production manager manages the day-to-day operations of the film production team (film crew) and ensures that they are well supported and equipped to complete their tasks.

In other words, a UPM ensures the safety of cast and crew during production and ensures that the final footage meets expectations. More often than not, this is done in conjunction with one or more of the producers. The job requires great attention to detail.

A unit production manager might also ensure that safety rules are followed during filming. This is because it is vital that the safety of actors and crew is the number one priority, especially when shooting on location.

Production Coordinator

In lower budget production, this role is often combined with UPM. Production Coordinators are essential for making sure that all the little things happen on a set or in a movie studio. They keep everything in sync and organized on a film set. They ensure that there’s enough food and drinks on set. They check in with various departments to avoid and/or solve minor to medium level problems.

They ensure that the actors are prepared and managed. They make sure everyone is where they need to be before they begin filming each day on set.

Assistant Production Coordinator

The Assistant Production Coordinator is involved in all aspects of production, from solving problems on the set and distributing scripts to taking care of the logistics of everything on set.

Set Accountant

The Set Accountant monitors the film production’s finances, making sure that he or she keep tracks of expenses that the production stays on budget. It requires specialized knowledge of how the various departments of a production function on their own, both physically and financially.

Office Production Assistant

Office production assistants duties typically include: assisting with answering phones, filing paperwork, and data entry; organizing lunches, dinners, and transportation reservations; photocopying; general office administration; and distributing production paperwork.

Assistant Directors

1st Assistant Director

A 1st Assistant Director (first or 1st AD) is one of many crew members responsible for keeping the set running smoothly. They are debatably the most important crew position that handles this. A 1st AD coordinates various functions on set with the rest of the crew.

They manage the day-to-day operations of the film production, from scheduling cast, crew, and equipment to coordinating with certain department heads as it pertains to shoot scheduling. They are typically in charge of safety on set and supervising the shooting of each take.

2nd Assistant Director

A second assistant director creates daily call sheets from the production schedule. The “second” also serves as the “backstage manager”.  They liaise with actors, put them through their make-up and wardrobe and relieve the “first” of these duties. They report to the 1st AD.

2nd 2nd Assistant Director

The 2nd 2nd AD (often referred to as the 3rd AD outside the U.S.) is the primary assistant to the first assistant director, and is responsible for coordinating the work of all the background actors, certain crew, production assistants and sometimes talent.

Key Production Assistant

This is the lead production assistant on production. Many times they will help the first assistant director and line producer coordinate the other production assistants on a film set.

Production Assistants

A production assistant (PA) helps keep the cast, crew and production staff of a film or television project organized and on track.

This can include: setting up aspects of the set, taking out trash, helping cast and crew find their stations, running errands for various departments, making sure that there are enough food and drinks available, and most importantly, taking care of the actors and crew.

Production Assistants, while critical to a well run set, are not involved in any decision making of any kind for the film.  It is often considered the lowest rung on the production ladder and hierarchy.  Having said that, it is still important. For someone without formal departmental training, this is a perfect starter position for someone who wants a career in film production.


Having qualified technicians handle equipment helps keep everyone safe.


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Location Manager

The location manager is responsible for managing shooting locations to be used in a film. This can (occasionally include scouting for locations) include dealing with permits, settling location contracts, coordinating with other departments, and more.

Location managers are also responsible for making sure that the production company, the cast, and the crew all have the best experience possible on set. If the location manager is not properly prepared and knowledgeable, the entire production may fail to meet the director’s vision for the film.

Location Scouts

The location scout’s job is to find the perfect place to shoot. He or she will study the space, read the script, and make sure there are no major obstacles in the way. The location scout will most likely meet with the director and producers beforehand to determine if the space will work for their needs.

The location scout should also have a keen eye for cost. Because the location scout will be doing a lot of scouting for free, he or she must be able to find good locations for a fee that fits within the production budget. On low budget productions, this position may be absorbed by one or more of the producers.


Transportation Captain

The Transport Captains in your film transport the cast and crew from one location to another by private cars, mini-buses or coaches. If you’re a low-budget film, you may only have one Transport Captain who makes sure that everyone arrives on time.

Transportation Coordinator

All transportation needs for the production will be coordinated by the transportation coordination person. Transporting equipment and crew to the filming locations as well as to any other necessary areas relative to the shoot is included in this.

Picture Car Coordinator

The picture car coordinator is responsible for everything relating to the usage, repair, modification, and movement of vehicles on the set. They are also responsible for ensuring that the cars are always kept in good shape, so that unforeseen accidents will not interrupt the rigid schedule of movie production.

However, this position often only exists are very large budget films.  Otherwise this job may be handled by either the head of transportation department, a member of the art department, or a producer.


Production Sound Mixer

A production sound mixer typically works with audio engineers and directors to ensure that the soundtrack of a film production is in sync and properly balanced.

Depending on the type of film being made, this could involve working with sound engineers on location, working with a studio to produce the sounds in post-production, or any combination thereof. Often in low budget production, the mixer manages all sound recording on the set, and any on site real time mixing.  They also typically manage any wireless personal microphones.

Boom Operator

Boom operators work in conjunction with the production sound mixer. The boom operator holds a microphone on a pole and that microphone is often the primary source of audio. The Boom operator is also responsible for yelling ACTION into the boom mic before each take…we are just joking on that last one that would be insane = )

Sound Utility

The sound utility assists the sound department and acts as a liaison between the department and set to problem-solve any issues that arise in the production that could jeopardize sound quality. This position is far more common on larger budget productions.

They support the production sound mixer and boom operators by setting up and maintaining audio hardware, keeping the set quiet for capture, and helping resolve any audio problems that might come up.


Script Supervisor

A script supervisor is primarily responsible for making sure the script dialog and shots are adhered to, notating each take, as well as notating improvisations by the actors. Their log is often passed to the editor to make editing the film significantly easier.

On a lower budget set, they are in charge of the continuity of the motion picture including wardrobe, props, set dressing, hair, makeup and the actions of the actors during a scene. However, on medium and larger budget productions, a separate person performs these functions.

Camera Department

Director of Photography

director of photography (Cinematographer, DP, DOP) is responsible for establishing the visual look of the movie. They are typically the one who will be in charge of the camera, and will set the camera’s lighting, as well as use different lenses to capture the images, film stock (if you are shooting film), camera selection, shot selection, camera operation and other elements.

Generally they tell production the cost of the camera and lighting packages that will be needed to shoot the production. It is important to note that their decision making power is still usually superceded by the director and sometimes the producer(s). 

Camera Operator

The camera operator is in charge of capturing the film’s footage as dictated by the script, director, and cinematographer. They shoot what’s happening. On lower budget film productions the cinematographer will be his or her own cameraman. The person responsible for creating the look of a film is also known as the director of photography.

1st Assistant Camera (aka: Focus Puller)

The first assistant camera (also called the 1st assistant camera, 1st AC, first AC, or focus puller) has one main job: to keep the right subject in focus throughout each scene.

Many people just think 1st AC’s just pull focus but that is just the tip of the iceberg. They are thinking ahead 25 steps to ensure that the department runs smoothly while their hand is on the focus wheel keeping the shot in focus.

2nd Assistant Camera

The second assistant camera (2nd AC) or clapper loader is a member of a film crew whose main function is to load film magazines (if you are shooting on film), loading hard drive or cards for recording on digital film cameras, operate the slate, creating camera reports, and keep records and paperwork. 2nd ACs are needed in every production; they are essential to every single project.

Steadicam Operator

A Steadicam operator, is responsible for setting up and operating a Steadicam camera system for recording a live-action video or animation sequence. This includes:

  • Setting up the Steadicam rig
  • Testing and calibrating the Steadicam rig

Steadicam operators are responsible for monitoring the cameras during filming but the 1st AC is responsible on making sure the camera remains in working order, while also helping the director achieve his or her vision. The job requires strong communication skills and the ability to multitask, as well as the ability to make quick decisions and work in a dynamic environment. A comfortable pair of shoes is also a must.

They answer directly to the director of photography.

Drone Operator

Any person or organisation who rents or owns a drone is a drone operator. If you are also the person who actually flies the drones, you can be both a drone operator and a remote pilot.

DIT/Media Management

A Digital Imaging Technician or DIT is the person on the camera department crew who works with the director of photography to make sure that the camera settings, signal integrity, on-set preliminary color correction and other image manipulation are perfect.

They often create LUTs with the director of photography so the colorist has a starting point when the project gets to color grading. A DIT is the liaison between production and post production teams on feature films, handling data management from set to editorial suite.

Still Photographer

The still photographer contributes daily to the filming process by creating set stills, while the on set still photographer creates photographs for the promotion of a film. All the details of the cast wardrobe, appearance and background are recorded by the photographer with these.


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Grip Department

Key Grip

The key grip is the person in charge of the grip crew on a film or television production. The men and women are in charge of positioning the production’s nonelectrical lighting gear. The people who position this equipment are also under their supervision.

He’s also responsible for all the keys on a film set…again just kidding on that last one. = )

Best Boy Grip

A best boy is the first assistant to the grip crew or the lighting department and usually fills a number of roles on a television or film set. The best boys take care of everything in the grip department to ensure a seamless production and works directly with the gaffer and the director of photography.

The best boy grip’s most important job is handling payroll for the grip department. They do the timecards and make sure everyone is getting paid what they are due. The best boy grip is the point of contact for all the other departments.

Dolly Grip

The dolly grip is used to operate the camera dolly. This technician places, levels, and moves the dolly track, then pushes and pulls the dolly while the camera operator and camera assistant ride.

Rigging Grip

Rigging Grips (aka Riggers), are a type of Grip. They assist with sets up, production moves, and setting up and dismantling sets, equipment, and scenery.

Electrical Department


A Gaffer is in charge of running the crew and overseeing all the lighting equipment. The Chief Lighting Technician, also known as the Gaffer, works directly with the cinematographer to provide the lights and electricity needed for a given set-up.

To execute the lighting plan for a production, the gaffer has to run a team of lighting technicians.

Best Boy Electric

The Best Boy Electric is the head assistant to the gaffer. While managing and scheduling the rest of the electricians and lighting technicians, they are the second in charge, typically watching over the electric truck and rentals. The best boy electric’s most important job is handling payroll for the electrical department.

They do the timecards and make sure everyone is getting paid what they are due. The best boy electric is the point of contact for all the other departments.

Rigging Electricians

Rigging electricians are a separate crew who work in advance of and after the shooting crew. They pre-rig stages and locations with cable and lighting equipment, along with the rigging grips, so the shooting crew spends more time shooting and less time waiting for lighting. They will also wrap locations and stages after the shooting crew is done.

Set Electricians

Set electricians will set up and focus lights for each shot of the shooting day. They will provide power to other departments as needed during the shoot day.

Shop Electricians

Shop Electricians work with the art and set dressing departments and construction crews to wire up lights and equipment that are part of the set. They also provide work lights and portable generators at locations that are being prepped.

Basecamp Electricians

Base Camp electricians provide power for campers and other vehicles away from set.

Generator Operator

Generator Operators (aka: Genny Operator) are responsible for loading the generator, transporting it to the location of the film shoot, and ensuring that it is operational before production begins.

Art Department

Production Designer

A production designer is responsible for the art direction, design and execution of visual elements on a film production. A Production Designer’s primary job is to create environments and design key props and set dressing that help tell the story and advance the plot in the most cinematic way possible.

He or she needs to work closely with certain other departments to ensure that the visual elements they’ve created are consistent with the rest of the film. This may include wardrobe, make-up, special make-up effects, and digital effects departments, and sometimes even the location scout.

A production designer must be organized and detail oriented, as well as able to multi-task in a fast paced world of film production. They must also be a creative problem solver, able to think outside of the box.


  • Collaborate with the Director and Producer to determine what type of sets and props will be needed.
  • Work with the Art Director and Set Decorator to decide how to best design the set and make sure it is completed in time for filming.
  • Create and oversee the construction of sets and props that are part of the story being told.

Art Director

Art Directors are responsible for executing the vision and instructions of the production designer on the set. This person helps set the tone for each shot and scene. She is in charge of the visual palette (color palette, lighting, etc.) and shapes the shots in such a way that they fit into the overall flow of the story and the overall feel of the film. They are, in many ways, a production designer’s second in command.

The director may assign specific tasks to the art director, but it’s ultimately up to them to interpret those instructions and create something unique. They also have to balance their style with that of other departments, like costume designers, sound editors, and ultimately answer to production designers.

Art Department Coordinator

The art department coordinator is a position on the production crew that is in charge of overseeing the entire art department. They are concerned with the execution of visual artistry on set. They monitor the budget for the department, keep everything in order, and make sure information flows smoothly between fields.

Construction Coordinator

Construction Managers are in charge of the construction of sets and stages for film productions. From initial planning through to the final coat of paint on the finished sets, they coordinate the entire process of set building.


The Production Carpenter builds, installs, and removes wooden structures on the film set and location. The design and creative vision of the producer and the director are carried out by several members of the construction team.

Key Scenic

The key scenic is an artist, supervisor, and organizer who are responsible for making the surroundings and sets of a film look realistic within the world that’s being established on screen. This often is in the form of paint and texturing of surfaces. Sometimes it includes sculptural elements and even molding and casting.

Scenic Artists

The scenic artist is in charge of laying out, painting, sculpting, priming, detailing, and the rest of backdrops and hard scenic items.

Set Decorator

Set decorators add interest to the drama by creating the background of the action and explaining the context. While prop masters deal with the placing of objects an actor holds, set decorators are concerned with the walls, floors, vehicles, and furniture.

Set decoration is a multi-disciplinary art form. A set decorator must be well versed in the technical aspects of production, lighting, camera movement, and be able to interface with Special Effects department where relevant.


A leadman is a set decoration department member who is in charge of the props and swing gang. The set dressing and removal is done by the swing gang.

Set Dressers

Before rolling the camera, the set dressers arranged objects on the film set. They are working under the direction of a Production Designer and the Set Decorator. Placing furniture, hanging pictures, and putting out decorative items are done by the set dressers.


A greensman (aka: greensperson, nurseryman, greenskeeper) is responsible for taking care of anything “green” or natural used in the production of the film. Plants, bushes, trees, flowers, etc.

Art Department Production Assistants

The assistant to the art director helps the entire art department. In many ways they are like standard production assistants by support the art department exclusively. 

Their responsibilities can be everything from running paperwork back and forth, to retrieving props and set decoration items from and returning props and set decoration items to rental houses, to any general departmental errands during preproduction, production, and the earliest stages of post production as it pertains to the art department.


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Property Master

Property Masters are responsible for all props in the production, including acquiring them, keeping them organized and making sure they’re used safely. The props master reports to the production designer, and leads a team of prop makers or props-department runners.

Assistant Property Master

The assistant property masters help the prop masters with anything on set. Once a scene is wrapped, they make sure the correct props are prepared, are on hand for the shoot, and are archives.

Prop Maker

Any props that aren’t bought in, or hired, are made by prop makers in the properties department of feature films. A wide variety of materials, techniques and tools is used by prop makers.

Prop Assistants

The prop assistant aids the assistant props master where needed. An outside props person may be assigned to purchase props and an inside props person may be assigned to oversee the use and maintenance of props. They report to the prop master.

Food Stylists

A food stylist is a person who prepares food for photography, video, film and even live events. The best promotional pictures and video of a dish can be achieved with the help of a food stylist, who has an artistic and technical background.

Animal Wranglers

The animal wrangler ensures that animals or other hazardous animals don’t interfere with filming. He or she may handle and train animals for on-screen roles in movies or television shows.

Costume and Wardrobe

Costume Designer

Costume designers design and create the wardrobe, both in terms of style and functionality, which gives the actors the outfits they wear on screen. 

The main responsibility of a costume designer is to create the look of a character, whether it is a superhero, an action hero or a villain, a princess, a pirate, a cowboy, a police officer or a nurse.

He or she can dress a character in any color, and they can be of any ethnicity. The designer’s goal is to create a look that reflects the character’s role and personality. Sometimes the costume designer must work in conjunction with the make-up designer to help create a seamless character design.

Assistant Costume Designer

The assistant costume designers help the costume designers with looks for actors They plan, create, organize, and help maintain clothing.

Key Costumers

The costume designer’s artistic vision is maintained by the key costumer, who is responsible for managing personnel and on-set activities. He or she should be aware of the needs of each scene and the evolution of the costumes.

Set Costumers

Set costumers keep track of the costumes so that they don’t get damaged or dirty when they are unloaded. After each use for dirt, tears and other problems, they establish guidelines for actors to check their costumes, and where to put them.

Wardrobe Supervisor

The wardrobe supervisor is responsible for all the costumes. In consultation with the production manager, costume designer, and sometimes the director, the wardrobe supervisor can help coordinate and assign dressers to specific performers.


In addition to supporting the filmmaker’s vision through their work, seamstresses, tailors, stitchers, and sewers help actors move around comfortably in their clothes. Alterations to outfits are one of their responsibilities.

Agers and Dyers

These technicians are responsible for taking freshly made costumes and adjusting them, through distressing, and painting, to look (lived in).  Sometimes this work is very subtle (a chip on a button, fray of a thread, a little wrinkling) and sometimes it can be extreme (massive dirt and sweat, tearing and heavy fraying).


If show demands do not require a separate buyer, the duties are does basic shopping, buying, and returns, assists with research and phoning, can do costume breakdown and aging, can do laundry, ironing, sewing skills and costume maintenance, may assist with fittings and alterations.

Hair and Makeup

Hair Department Head

A hair department head designs all of the hairstyles for the show and manages a team of hairdressers that help with the implementation and maintenance of the design vision for the principal cast, background actors, stunt performers, photo doubles, and any other hairstyle that will appear on camera.

The hair designer works with the director to discuss the story and characters’ needs. The hair designer is also responsible for sourcing or creating all of the wigs that appear in the show, and their design is closely tied to the hairstyles that are being worn.

This can be seen in the fact that it takes the longest amount of time for a hairstyle to be designed, and that the hairstyles are very detailed and unique to each character.

Makeup Department Head

The head of the makeup department is NOT to be confused with the key makeup artist, who is in fact the makeup department second in command. It is the Department Head who oversees the makeup design for the entire production and ensures continuity throughout filming.

For special or hard to produce looks, they will often apply makeup to lead and other principal actors.

Special Makeup Effects

Makeup and prosthetics are used by special makeup effects artists to recreate wounds, defects, and supernatural features. Basic film makeup can be combined with knowledge of advanced makeup techniques for more dramatic effects.

The makeup effects artist usually works in conjunction with the hair stylist, standard makeup artist, the special effects coordinator and/or costume designer. Makeup Effects artists are also responsible for proper skin care before and after removal of special cosmetic products and prosthetics.


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Stunt Coordinator

Stunt coordinators are responsible for making sure that actors perform their stunts safely and without injury. They work closely with the stunt team and the director to ensure that the stunt work looks good on screen.

The more stunts an actor has to do, the more likely it is for something to go wrong. Because of this, stunt coordinators must have excellent communication skills and knowledge of how to handle actors who get injured on set.

Stunts are often dangerous and require careful planning. They can be as simple as a person jumping from a moving car or as complicated as a person being shot by an arrow or bullet.

It’s important for stunt coordinators to know what their actors can and cannot do, and how to safely work with them in order to keep the production going smoothly.

Stunt Performer

A stuntman performs stunts to be used in a film or television show. Car crashes, falls from great height, drags behind a horse, and explosions are some of the stunts that are seen in films and television.

Stunt performers are often referred to as stuntmen or stuntwomen although the gender-neutral term stunt performer may be used.

Stunt Rigger

The ropes and pulleys that allow stunt doubles and actors to fly off cliffs or under speeding cars without actually falling or getting run over are designed and implemented by stunt riggers. They set up hoists, scaffolding, lifts, and booms needed on film and television sets.

Visual Effects

Visual Effects Supervisor

Visual Effects (VFX) Supervisors are in charge of supervising all visual effects shots on a film project. All of the VFX artists that work in the process are managed by the VFX Supervisor. They make a decision on what is needed for every shot of the film.

The visual effects supervisors and the visual effects artists sometimes create previsualization materials to help plan everything from specific VFX shots to digital elements like digitally rendered creatures or full backgrounds.

Afterward, they discuss the details of each shot and present the final VFX materials to the director, producer and other members of the filmmaking team. In a movie scene, VFX supervisors have the ability to tell the VFX artists what kind of effects to use for any given shot.

VFX Coordinator

The VFX Coordinator organizes all the VFX for the show. This includes: Working on all aspects of the visual effects in the post-production process – Being able to understand the workflows for the visual effects – Managing schedules and resources – Scheduling and managing shots – Coordinating visual effects – Assisting with the post-production workflow of the film.

Special Effects (Practical Effects)

Special Effects Coordinator

The Director wants explosions, natural disasters, or general destruction on the set of a movie or television show, and that’s where the Special Effects coordinators come in. Special effects can include everything from a gas explosion in a movie to a car crash in a movie.

These are one form practical effect, however these days it is more and more common to included special makeup effects under the header of the term “practical effects.”

The special effects coordinator is responsible for coordinating the work of several other departments, which may include make-up, stunts, costume, and art departments, to create the desired result.

This includes everything from hiring the right people to get the job done, to making sure the equipment and materials are in place when they need them to be.

Special Effects Foreman

The Special Effects Foreman (aka: SFX Forman) is the supervisor of the mechanical effects used to create non-digital optical illusions. He or she is responsible for overseeing the creation and execution of special effects on films.

The SFX Foreman is in charge of all special effects created in the visual effects industry. Their primary responsibility is to ensure that all aspects of the effects are well executed and delivered on time.

Special Effects Technicians

Special effects technicians assist the SFX supervisor and foreman in executing all necessary wind, rain, explosions, fire, and other special effects.


The transport, storage, and safe use of all weaponry and firearms on film sets are the responsibility of armorers. Unless a licensed armorer is present, it is not permissible to use firearms on set.
The weapons master, also known as the armorer, weapons specialist, weapons handler, weapons wrangler, or weapons coordinators, is a film crew specialist that works with the property master, director, actors, stunt coordinators and script supervisor.
If you are looking for safe and realistic alternative to blank firing movie guns we recommend airlift guns or using digital VFX.


This is a specific branch of Special Effects. A Pyrotechnician is responsible for designing and orchestrating all the explosions in the movies. The work that goes into setting off explosions that end up on the big screen is much more methodical than the explosions themselves.

The explosion of fireworks is a delicate process, requiring precision, skill and a lot of practice. And while there are plenty of ways to create explosions, there are very few ways to create the explosions that you see on the big screen.

Catering and Food Services

Production Caterer

The production caterer is responsible for providing the crew with healthy foods in order to keep them happy and satisfied so they can do their job without interruption. Otherwise, if the production crew has to work very long hours, they will not be able to eat or have to leave the set to go to restaurants or to get food brought to the set.

In order to deliver the right food for the shoot, the production caterer needs to have a deep understanding of the shooting schedule, as well as a good working knowledge of the production budget.

The production caterer should be knowledgeable about the film’s script, production team, production schedule, and other logistical details that are critical to the success of the shoot.

Key Craft Services

Craft services (aka: Crafty) is a film production position tasked with providing snacks and drinks to all crew members of a film set. Craft service typically provides a spread of coffee, water, and prepackaged snacks at a designated food and drink area.
The best thing about craft service is that it provides an outlet for film crews to eat, rest, and refresh throughout the duration of a long day of filming.

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Set Medic

A set medic is someone who provides emergency medical assistance to people on TV or film productions. You work as a set medic on set. You have responsibilities for waiting on medical issues during shooting.

Advising the production team on safety issues is one of the other duties. When working as a set medic, you travel a lot. They work in water, at heights, in studios, or anywhere a production takes place.

Intimacy Coordinator

The well-being of actors who participate in sex scenes or other intimate scenes in theater, film and television production is ensured by an Intimacy Coordinator. When nudity/hyper exposed work, simulating sex acts, and intimate physical contact are needed on set the Intimacy Coordinator acts as an liaison between the actors or performers and the production.

Covid Compliance Officer (CCO)

A Covid Compliance Officer works directly with the production to make sure the protocols and guidelines are followed. A CCO is either a stand alone position or supported by a covid compliance supervisor on longer productions of 1-2 weeks when more planning is needed.

Enforcement of Covid Compliance is served by these individuals. The Health and Safety Department usually supports CCO’s on longer shoots. Covid Compliance Officers (CCO’s) will work with Production/Production Management (PM), Production Assistant (PA), and Production Supervisor (PS) to ensure that COVID-19 protocols are followed by the cast and crew.

CCO’s will be in constant contact with Production during the shoot to make sure that COVID-19 protocols are being followed and enforced. If you want to learn more on filming durning COVID check out our webinar: How to Shoot a Feature Film in a COVID World.

Honey Wagon Operator

The Honey Wagon Operator is in charge of the “honey wagon.” The honeywagon is a trailer that has a number of staircases leading off of it. There will be staircases to restrooms that the cast and crew use. They will usually will not be clearly labeled “mens and women” rest rooms. This is probably to discourage non-production crew from using them.

Some of the staircases lead to small dressing rooms for the actors. One of the staircases may lead to a room that PAs and ADs operate out of.


How to Make Prop Money for Your Indie Film

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

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

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

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

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

If you are not the DIY kind of filmmaker or just don’t have the time you can just buy some ready-made prop money. For $25 might be worth it.

PROP MOVIE MONEY Real Looking New Style Copy $100s FULL PRINT Stack – Total $10,000

  • $100 NEW STYLE FULL PRINT prop money stack with current bank strap.
  • Each “FULL PRINT STACK” comes with (100) double-sided production prop money bills.
  • The “BEST” quality and designs on the market used by the major movie studios worldwide by PROPMOVIEMONEY.
  • NOT SHINEY OR GLOSSY! Best and most realistic quality for on-camera use, training, or novelty.

Please note: Counterfeiting Money is a Federal Crime. Be smart and only use the above techniques for prop money used in film or TV. You don’t want to go to jail, do you?

Here’s a bonus. If you are needing prop money for your film you probably also need realistic and safe prop guns alternatives. Check out the video and link below for more on that.

How to Get Bad Ass Prop Guns for Your Film

Walkie Talkie Lingo: Film Set Cheatsheet for Beginners

Walkie Talkie Lingo, Walkie Talkie Lingo film set, Walkie Talkie Lingo filmmaking

On every project, you will be given a walkie talkie lingo and will be expected to know how to use it to communicate professionally with your department. Initially, this can be daunting if you don’t know how to use it correctly, but radio can save time and is an effective way for people to communicate across the expanse of a film set.

Nobody likes wearing a walkie. It’s difficult to listen to one person talk to you, while you hear other people talking over the radio stuck in your ear. With these simple tips, you’ll be running the channels like a pro.

Each department generally has its own channel except for the ADs, Art, Costume, Makeup, and Medics, who often all use channel 1 together. If using channel 1, it is important to restrict the only necessary conversation to that channel.

Anything that is specific to one person or lengthy in explanation is best served by channel 2 or another designated chat channel. This keeps the channel free for any immediate contact.

Walkie talkie lingo isn’t just for talking but also for listening to instructions and keeping up with what is happening on set. Depending on your department, most of the information to go about your work will be said over the radio via a superior or another department.

Train yourself to listen when you hear these voices so you don’t find yourself asking dumb questions that have already been answered seconds earlier.

Here’s a bunch of tips on understanding walkie talkie lingo like a boss:

  • Speaking – push the button and wait half a second before talking. This ensures that the beginning of what you are saying is not lost.
  • State your name plus state their name, et voila! Simple, transparent communication is achieved. E.g. ‘Matt to Sam’.
  • Wait for their response… E.g. ‘go-ahead’ or ‘hello’. You now have their attention and can ask what you need. If you don’t initially get their attention they could be speaking to someone face to face and won’t catch anything you say.
  • If your conversation is going to take longer than a couple of sentences, then best get them to switch to channel 2 or the chat channel. You can now speak freely on channel 2 but don’t forget to switch back to channel 1 when you’re finished or you will miss all the important info rolling around.
  • Note – channel 2 isn’t a private channel. Many people will eavesdrop on these conversations if they think it involves them or they are just bored with the regular channel 1 talk. Don’t go stating all your innermost secrets.
  • Be clear and precise. Don’t mumble. Don’t use superfluous language, and get to the point already. This involves thinking about what you need to say before engaging in a conversation over the radio. You may find yourself saying some funny things when everyone is listening if you don’t think before you speak.
  • Eventually, your battery will die. Charged batteries or ‘hot bricks’ can be found in containers scattered around set or if you’re desperate and in a hurry, the PAs usually carry spares on them.
  • Take care of your radio. Charge it each night in the truck and try not to get it wet when it’s raining. There’s nothing worse than a faulty radio that is preventing you from communicating and listening to your department when the set is moving at a million miles an hour.

When starting out, it’s extremely important that you understand how to use the radio effectively. If you are unable to master a simple task like this, your department will banish you immediately and deem you a useless cause. It’s harsh but true.

Alternatively, if you nail this within your first week and can be relied on to listen and communicate effectively, you will become an invaluable part of their team.

Basic Conversation

  • “Radio Check” – Make sure your radio is working
  • “10-4” or “Copy” – Used to confirm a transmission
  • “Over” – I have finished chatting
  • “Go Again” / “Come Back On That” – Repeat the message please
  • “John for Melissa” – John being your name, Melissa being the person you want to reach.
  • “Go for Melissa” – The response to being called.
  • “20” – What is Your Location
  • “What’s Your 20”  – Where the heck are you?
  • “On It” – I’m working on it
  • “Eyes On” – Has anyone seen someone/something
  • “Stand By” – Busy, Stand by
  • “Standing By” – Waiting for more instruction
  • “Flying In” – When a person or object is on the way to set
  • “Switching” – Switching a radio channel
  • “Walkie Check” – Check to see if your walkie talkie is working properly before you turn it on. Make sure someone replies with “Good Check” if they can hear you clearly.
  • “Keying” – When someone is holding the “talk” button down on their walkie and everyone can hear them.

Taking a Break

  • “10-1” – Need to hit the bathroom / #1
  • “10-2” – Need to hit the bathroom / #2

Recording a Shot

  • “Final Checks” or “Last Looks” – Last chance to check the shot
  • “Lock it Up” – Don’t let anyone through your location
  • “Going For a Take” – Going to be recording soon
  • “Roll Camera” / “Turnover” – Start recording the camera
  • “Reset” or “Back to One” – Reset the scene / action / camera position back to the beginning position

Additional Lingo

  • “First Team” – The principal actors
  • “Second Team” – The stand-ins for the principal actors
  • “Strike” / “86” – When something needs to be removed
  • “Kill” – When something needs to be turned off
  • “Traveling” – The person/thing you asked for is on its way
  • “Stepping Off” – I’m leaving set / I’m going off the radio
  • “ETA” – Estimated time of arrival
  • “Bogies” – Unwanted people on set
  • “Stinger” – An extension cord
  • “Hot Brick” – A fully-charged battery

Standard Department Channels

While every set can create its own rules based on its needs, there are generally standard channel assignments for walkies on a film set. They are as follows:

  • Channel 1 – Production
  • Channel 2 – Open (for individual conversations)
  • Channel 3 – Transportation
  • Channel 4 – Open (for individual conversations)
  • Channel 5 – Props / Art
  • Channel 6 – Camera
  • Channel 7 – Electric
  • Channel 8 – Grip
  • Channel 9 – Locations
  • Channel 10-16 – Open (for individual conversations)
Source: Setheroapp.com

Matt Webb is the author of Setlife: A Guide To Getting A Job in Film (And Keeping It). He is an Assistant Director with credits including The Great Gatsby, Mad Max: Fury Road, Hacksaw Ridge, Pirates of the Carribean and Alien: Covenant

Setlife: A Guide To Getting A… is a must-have guide designed to prepare you for what happens on a typical day on a film set. Matt Webb’s no-fuss, practical tips are essential reading for anyone chasing a career in the film industry. He definitely knows on set Film Terms. The book is available for $25 from Amazon.

Film Production Insurance: The Beginner’s Guide

Film Production Insurance

As filmmakers, there are a few aspects of the process we may not always enjoy. Budgets can quickly remind us of why we failed 9th-grade algebra. Location permitting takes out all the fun of being a “guerrilla filmmaker.” And then there’s insurance. Production insurance can sometimes feel unnecessary and the cost is often “not in the budget” for us fellow weekend warriors. However, if there is anything that is necessary when it comes to legitimizing your shoot, it is having proper and adequate insurance coverage.

Before I sound too heavy-handed like a nagging parent, hear me out. Insurance does a number of things. Most importantly, it covers you for lawsuits, and it opens doors to work with more esteemed vendors and clients. A lot of equipment owners, both rental houses, and individuals will always require insurance before they lend you their gear–especially if they’re lending it to you at a discounted rate. They want assurance that they’re covered if the gear is damaged or stolen from you, so they don’t have to sue you to recoup their losses…hopefully, by now I’ve gotten your attention.

So, I decided to do a little homework and research insurance quotes and coverages from some of the top entertainment insurance brokers in the business today. Specifically, I called seven companies to see who would be the best in supplying me with an insurance policy for my upcoming project. I needed a 4-day policy to cover $50,000 worth of rented equipment.

Alas, below, are quotes, levels of service, and the overall experience I received from each and every insurance broker. Let’s dive into my results.

(Disclaimer, I am not being paid, sponsored or in partnership with any of these companies. I am acting solely independent in my research.)


As expected, it was quite difficult to track down answers and accurate information from most insurance brokers. Some companies didn’t respond for more than a day, and some never responded. Others only communicated via email. What?? Isn’t it 2018?

InsureMyEquipment.comdoesn’t do phone calls, only emails. I get it, I myself have moved a lot of correspondence to email and text. However, when it comes to insurance, finances and a deadline looming, I need answers and the reassurance that an actual human will help when questions arise… not a delayed, cold email conversation. Truman Van Dyke was relatively fast to respond via email and TCP Insurance responded after 5 hours which was nice.

Film Emporiumtook a full day and Front Row never responded to any of my emails or phone calls. Hmm?

Athos Insurance was the clear front-runner when it came to communication. I called. They answered. After 1 and a half rings! And my questions were answered within our 7 min and 36-second call (yes I timed it).

Turnaround Time

In the age of Uber, Venmo and millennial immediacy, the fast turnaround time for insurance is like asking my Grandma to color correct my feature film. However, some did impress me. Athos’ painless phone call really helped me decide what I needed for a policy and it took me about 10 minutes to buy the policy online after the call had ended.

InsureMyEquipment was simple to use online as well. Like Athos, they have an “instant” online platform where I can buy a policy. And Truman Van Dyke answered pretty quickly.

Film Emporium took a full day and both TCP and Front Row’s time took far too long for anyone…even my Grandma.


Now, let’s talk about money. This was a wakeup call for me. One thing I learned is that a lot of insurance companies lock you in at a higher premium because they bake-in unnecessary coverages or terms. For example, Film Emporium requires liability insurance. Therefore my premium was $650 which was too rich for my blood.

Truman Van Dyke and Momentouswere far out of my budget in the $1K or higher range. Whereas InsureMyEquipment was extremely affordable at $259. However, they locked me in at a $500 deductible.

The winner here, is yet again, Athos Insurance. At $200 and a deductible of $250, this felt more than doable considering my budget. And if I wanted to buy a bigger policy with more insurance, Athos offered that to me as well.

At the end of the day, I felt confident with a few of these insurance brokers. They were pleasant on the phone, had decent pricing and pretty solid coverage plans. However, there was one that I felt overwhelmingly confident with, and that was Athos Insurance.

When I looked into them a little more, it all made a lot more sense. Athos sounded familiar to me because they are the exclusive partner to ShareGrid. I’ve interviewed the co-founder of ShareGrid before, Brent Barbano and is a big fan of what they’ve been up to. But why it makes sense that Athos is the clear front-runner is because they’re not my Grandma. They get indie production. They are integrated with ShareGrid and have done an amazing job appealing to filmmakers like you and I. Easy to get in touch with, instant/fast insurance and most importantly, affordable.

They also made a video with ShareGrid last year. Both President, Kat Wong and Vice President, Aylene Villarin had some amazing insight on what filmmakers should do to properly cover themselves in today’s filmmaking world. Not to mention some amazing misconceptions and mistakes around production insurance.

If you want to listen to there interview with me click here: Complete Guide To Understanding Film And Production Equipment Insurance

Let me know your thoughts on production insurance and if this was helpful! Remember, it’s better to be safe and protected than guerrilla and screwed….well, sometimes.

Private Placement Memorandum: How to Raise Money for Your Film

Private Placement Memorandum, PPM, film investors, film investing

Now I know this is the sexy part of the film business but stay with me here. In the late 1990s, I was asked to be involved with a film that was to be funded via a Private Placement Memorandum/an LLC.

My company was to be the worldwide sales agent for the film, which was budgeted at about $1.2m. I read the script and also reviewed the film package (writer/director/actors/producers etc) and the production budget. I did my due diligence on the film project.

I liked the project, the genre, and pace of the script, etc., so I was happy to provide revenue estimates for the film. Those estimates were for worldwide revenue potential at a low/medium/high basis, by each major territory worldwide. Doing such estimates was commonplace for me, as I have been a sales agent for independent films for many years and I know the film sales market very well both domestically and internationally.

I also knew that it was important to have at least one established actor of note that would help sell this film and there was such an actor for the project. Secondly, I knew the film had to have good production value and that the budget had to go on screen and not all to upfront fees for the producers. Based on my review I then gave permission for my name to be included in the Private Placement Memorandum for the financing of this film.

A short time later, I was presented with a Private Placement Memorandum that looked very professional and had a quality marketing presentation. This memorandum included my company as the official sales agent for the project. In other words, it was my job to sell the film and generate revenue to pay back the investors who would subscribe to this film, by funding, offering and generating profits for all concerned.

Film Funding … films can be and are funded in many different ways and over the 25 years of being in the independent film business, I have taken advantage of most of them including…

  • Equity Loans/Investments.
  • Negative Pickups.
  • Presale Financing.
  • Bank Gap Financing.
  • Film Incentives – Government Assistance.
  • Film Industry Assistance.
  • Product Placement/Etc.

A Private Placement Memorandum (PPM) is an extremely detailed and complex document. The Private Placement Memorandum is the legal document that governs the terms and conditions of the investment made by outside investors.

The prospectus is the marketing material that film producers may use to solicit interest in the film project investment.

The primary purpose of such a document is to give the film producers the opportunity to present all potential risks to potential investors.

The PPM is supposed to protect the film producers in the event that the investment goes sour! That’s why it’s so important that the private placement memorandum is accurate, complete and meets the highest standards of full disclosure (under securities laws).

I am no attorney but believe me, the Private Placement Memorandum must be prepared by qualified attorneys who understand those complexities very well. Therefore, such a document has to be treated with great care and diligence and can have serious results for all parties involved if not correctly prepared.

Such PPMs can be a starting point for film producers considering the possibility of raising capital via a Private Placement.

Such a Private Placement Memorandum may have the following statement right up front:

“The shares offered hereby are highly speculative, and an investment in shares involves a high degree of risk and immediate and substantial dilution from the offering price. See “Risk Factors” and “Dilution.”

As you see from this statement, risk is an important ingredient in full disclosure, required by the film producers.

Issuing a PPM lets your film company sell shares to “passive investors”, (those who invest but take no active role in the production), in order to raise the money needed for the film project.

The PPM discloses all of the risks associated with the project, (including being unable to find a distributor for the film and if it never achieves commercial success). This makes it difficult for investors to claim that they were not adequately warned.

I read the film producer’s Private Placement Memorandum and became alarmed with the section on “Revenue Projections” and the section discussing the “Film Industry”, after numerous discussions with the producers, I withdrew from the film project and asked my company be removed from the PPM.

What was it that alarmed me so?

Before I go in-depth on that topic, I wish to state that the film in question went into production with funding raised via the Private Placement Memorandum and was completed and sales were made. Unfortunately, the film and the investors lost money, they felt that certain parts of the Private Placement Memorandum contents left a great deal to be desired, to the point the investors reported the film producers to the relevant authorities and after some time those producers were arrested!

Also, another Private Placement Memorandum was handed to me recently with a similar “contents” issue and I thought we should all discuss my doubts to help budding producers take care when using a Private Placement Memorandum vehicle to raise film financing.

The “contents” issue revolved around the fact that full disclosure in these legal documents must make sense and be appropriate for the film project in hand. By this I mean, that if the film project was to be invested in at an obviously low, low budget, then discussing the film business of the major studios at length in the Private Placement Memorandum, is not appropriate and may be interpreted as misleading. That is my contention!

Let us discuss further!

In the case of the Private Placement Memorandum just handed to me recently, the film is budgeted at $1.3m and is a family film. The Private Placement Memorandum is looking for equity financing of $1m via the Private Placement Memorandum.

It is important to look at the following matters when reviewing such a Private Placement Memorandum from an investor’s perspective, as they would wish to ensure they were getting full disclosure concerning their potential investment.

So let us look at the following matters to help evaluate the film funding project:

  1. The budget of the film.
  2. Film package – genre/actors/director/dept heads etc.
  3. Revenue projections – both domestic and foreign.
  4. Marketing/distribution strategy.
  5. Distribution deals in place if any.
  6. Detailed discussion on the film industry and in particular the film business pertaining to this budget level/type of film.
  7. Producers etc. film business credentials/credits.

The PPM we are discussing states the following and based on these representations, we can discuss from an investor’s perspective, whether the PPM truly reflects full and complete disclosure and fairly represents the risks relating to the investment proposed.

  1. Budget is $1.3m/ Investment needed $1m.
  2. Film Package: Family film/no actors or director attached.
  3. Revenue Projections – worldwide.
    • High – $36m.
    • Mid Range – $18m.
    • Low-$6m.
  4. Distribution strategy – the film festival route and screenings for distributors/sales agents.
  5. No distribution deals in place.
  6. Discussion on the film industry – see below.
  7. Producers – credentials are ok but limited.

Let us discuss item number six, namely “Detailed discussion on the film industry and in particular the film business pertaining to this budget level/type of film”.

The PPM discusses the film industry at some length and uses the Price Waterhouse Coopers report as an extensive reference source, “Global Entertainment and Media Outlook: 2006-2010”, as well as other sources including the Motion Picture Association of America and the research of Nielsen Entertainment.

What concerns me about most of this data, is that it relates to major studios and theatrical releases in the USA and are major factors in the revenue stream of films.

The film to be invested in is budgeted at $1.3m. Much of the discussion in this PPM is about the theatrical release, even though it is very unlikely the film will ever actually make a theatrical release but will go to DVD and TV, which follows the usual route of a low, low budget film.

There is little if any discussion about the true world of the average low budget film made by independents in the USA, how those revenue streams happen and what the independent film business is really about…… just look to the AFM in November in Santa Monica.

Therefore I say “beware!”…. when you as a producer use a Private Placement Memorandum for raising film finance, you must ensure that you match apples with apples and that you don’t use studios or large independents as a reference for investors, when your film is a low, low independent film destined to be sold at the AFM directly to DVD and then to TV, with no theatrical release insight.

Such references in Private Placement Memorandum can lead to serious consequences for all concerned, as there may be intended to mislead investors and that is not where you wish to go… ask the producers who I dealt with many years ago.

In conclusion:

  1. Make sure your discussion of the film business in the Private Placement Memorandum is appropriate to the budget level and type of film you are producing. Include reference material that covers the film market and its revenue streams in a realistic manner.
  2. Ensure your revenue estimates are based on expected reality and not the exception and that they are conservative.
  3. Find an attorney who is an expert in Private Placement Memorandum and who knows the film business appropriate to your budget level and type of film product.

Producers, please have fair weather sailing in the troubled waters of film financing.

10 Legal Mistakes Indie Filmmakers Make

Independent films are often rewarded with significant awards, being appreciated for the personal artistic vision they have to offer. As an independent filmmaker, you might beam with positivity and optimism; even though your resources are limited, and the risk of failure is high, you will nevertheless pursue your dream.

From a legal perspective, some legal mistakes can put you in difficulty. As an indie filmmaker, it is essential to be aware of these mistakes and avoid them altogether. A good rule of thumb is to discuss every legal aspect with a lawyer experienced in business law.

#1 No written agreement

A verbal agreement is quickly made, and it can save a lot of time, not to mention it is 100% valid. The law states that oral agreements are enforceable, this being the reason for which these represent the first option most of the times. However, such an agreement only leaves room for problems and misunderstandings. A written contract will ensure that the rights and obligations of all involved parties are stated; moreover, there will not be any room for confusion.

#2 Copyright registration 

Registering a script at the copyright office is a simple task to achieve but one that is often overlooked. However, in the situation that copyright infringement has occurred and you are looking to sue the guilty party, you will regret not having completed this registration. Many indie filmmakers make the mistake of thinking that the WGA script registration is sufficient – in reality, this is not true. The copyright office registration allows you to receive a generous amount of money in case of an infringement lawsuit (plus attorney fees).

#3 Not working out the specifics from the start

When you are interested in making an independent film, decision-making abilities are essential. If you do not work out the details from the outset, you will find yourself in a lot of conflicting situations later on. Do not shy away from difficult conversations and make sure that you have laid your terms at that moment; get everything in writing, as this will protect you from further complications.

#4 Not hiring an attorney at the right time

As an independent filmmaker, you might believe in goodwill and put your trust in the people you are collaborating. However, when it comes to the legal aspects, relying on goodwill and trustworthiness is never a good idea. To protect yourself and ensure that everything is alright, you need to hire an attorney at the right time. As soon as you have agreed to develop a script, you need legal assistance.

#5 Fighting over who controls the film

Indie filmmakers are artistic, presenting an immense potential for creating something truly unique. Nevertheless, they are not always the best when it comes to the legal matters involving the development of a script. As one puts a lot of effort into the creative process, the temptation of detaining control is quite significant. Fighting over who controls the film can hurt its development, whether we are talking about the artistic or financial aspects. In such situations, we return to the written agreement – you can easily prevent conflicts of this kind by stipulating who controls the film in the said contract.

#6 Trusting the wrong partner

Many people go into the indie business together – often, one is the creative mind, while the other handles the financial aspects. Partners end up working together for an extended period, going from one project to the other. It can happen that you will put your trust in the wrong partner; if you base your project solely on a handshake, you might end up losing everything. It is always for the best to take your time in selecting a partner, one who is trustworthy and interested in going through this journey together.

#7 Not paying the writer of the script

The scriptwriter is an essential actor in the universe of an independent filmmaker. Acting as the creative brain, he/she will ensure that you can develop the script into an excellent movie that everyone can enjoy. However, you need to keep in mind that the scriptwriter has some rights, which have to be respected at all costs. You need to pay the writer for the work done, according to the terms you have established in the first place. Otherwise, you will only expose yourself to legal complications and even lawsuits.

#8 Not giving credits to your producer

The producer is the person who will take your artistic vision and transform it into reality. He/she will work hard to ensure that you are satisfied with the development of the movie, requiring that you respect his/her rights at the same time. If you fail to give the promised credits to your producer, it is highly likely you will be sued (especially if a written agreement has been made at the beginning of the creative process).

#9 Not protecting your film 

This is high on the legal mistakes list. When you complete a movie, the biggest temptation is to show it to everyone. However, you have to remember that there are a lot of people who want to make a profit out of your effort. You might find your film distributes on different websites, despite being copyrighted material. To ensure that your film will reach the target audience and gather sufficient profits, in the beginning, show it to a few people as it is possible. Discuss such aspects with your lawyer and learn about the legal measures that you can take.

#10 Not taking action against defamation 

Independent filmmakers are often criticized, especially when their artistic vision does not line up with the general opinion. However, there is a fragile line between critic and defamation. Indie filmmakers are often subjected to online defamation, with the slanderous material genuinely hurting their reputation. It is always a good idea to seek out legal assistance and take action against defamation; otherwise, you will risk for your film not to reach the level of success it deserves.

These are some of the most common legal mistakes that indie filmmakers make, whether they are just beginning in this field or they have years of experience. To protect your film and reputation, it is for the best to seek out legal assistance and hire a lawyer specialized in film business law. This specialist can ensure that everything goes according to plan, without any legal hassles or risks.

About the author: John Rodsett is a Media Producer; International Film distributor; published Author; Speaker and University lecturer. He has had numerous fascinating careers from being an executive at 20th Century Fox; to being Vice President, Controller of the Los Angeles Summer Olympic Organizing Committee; to being a full-time University Professor (adjunct) at the University of Miami, School of Business.
For over 20 years John has owned his company film producing, financing, selling, marketing and distributing independent feature films. John has published a number of books on the film industry including his best-seller “The Film Biz Bible,” which is a comprehensive view of the business aspects of the independent film industry. 

IFH 520: Making El Mariachi and Troublemaker Studios with Elizabeth Avellán

Elizabeth Avellán, Robert Rodriguez, Troublemaker Studios, El Rey, El Mariachi

Get ready to have you mind blown. If you ever wanted to know the TRUE STORY on how the mythical El Mariachi, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, then this is the conversation you want to listen to.

Today on the show we have producer Elizabeth Avellán.

Elizabeth Avellan was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where her grandfather, Gonzalo Veloz, pioneered commercial television. At thirteen, she moved to Houston with her family and later graduated from Rice University, where she had her first behind-the-scenes experience working as stage manager and prop master for several student productions.

She moved to Austin in 1986 to work in the Office of the Executive Vice-President and Provost of the University of Texas, continuing her studies in film production, art, and architecture. There she meet Robert Rodriguez – cult filmmaker and her husband to be.

Avellan worked as an animator on Rodriguez’s award-winning 16mm film, Bedhead, which aired on PBS after gathering acclaim on the festival circuit. She and Robert co-founded Los Hooligans Productions when the two began work on El Mariachi (1992) in 1991. Since then, Avellan has co-produced Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Desperado (1995), The Faculty (1998), and upcoming Spy Kids (2001).

Besides she developed several scripts and produced with Pamela Cederquist and Rana Joy Glickman, Real Stories of the Donut Men, a dark comedy written and directed by Beeaje Quick, which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March, 1997. Additionally, Avellan served as producers’ rep. with Rana Joy Glickman for Love You Don’t Touch Me, a romantic comedy premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.

She co-founder Troublemaker Studios with Robert and have been causing “trouble” in Hollywood ever since. Elizabeth and I have an epic two-hour conversation spanning decades in the history of her, Robert and Troublemaker Studios.

We did a bit of myth busting on the now legendary indie film El Mariachi. Elizabeth also discussed what it was like working inside the Hollywood machine, the moment she introduced Robert to Quentin Tarantino, the uphill battles she faced becoming a producer and so much more.

Get ready for one heck of a ride. Enjoy my conversation with Elizabeth Avellán.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Elizabeth Avellán. How are you doing, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Avellán 0:16
I'm doing great. Alex, thank you for having me come and share some fun stories with you.

Alex Ferrari 0:23
Yes, absolutely, it is. I'm a great fan of the work that you've done over the years. And I mean, you know, as a Latino filmmaker, you know, you and Robert and what you guys did together with El Mariachi and Desperado. And everything that your your giant filmography? Is, is remarkable. And I mean, I can only imagine the the struggle that you had not only being a female producer, in the studio system, but being a Latina, female, you were like, the one right, there weren't many in the 90s. I can't remember. But one of the few, one of the few. So I mean, it is an inspiration to see what you've, you've done, specifically as a producer. But before we go down this road, what was the thing that made you want to be in this insane business?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:16
Same, you know, I try to be go back to a little bit to the beginning. Because that encourages people, they themselves go back to that moment, when you're a kid. And you're starting to see what what your talents are. Little things inform that. You know, even when you're seven, even that was a huge film lover, as a kid, my parents loved going to movies, it's been a lot of time in theaters. And I, you know, I recognized good writing, I could tell that I recognize why isn't good, movie Good? And why some of it is kind of like bad, you know, because they will take us to all kinds of movies. And some of them, Are they fun, you know, like some sort of pulpy kind of your Lawrence of Arabia at six years old, that you're like, Okay, this is amazing, you know, like, you realize, you can't handle the contact, but you see the shots, and you're like, Whoa, and they don't my siblings didn't really in this early, you know, especially my, you know, just in general, at least I didn't realize they were noticing anything. And but I did, I noticed I noticed Peter tool, I noticed every nuance moment of you know, his blue eyes. And you know, when to close David Lee, I mean, just all those shots. And then the next week we went to see, I think it was A Fistful of Dollars, you know, part of the trilogy so it just kind of like game to the Yang, you know, very fun that way. My father loved all movies. So when they played on TV, you have watch this, you know, and he was not at all my mom's side of the family in Venezuela, are the ones that were in the film business. Well, in the TV business, my grandfather was panning of commercial television on Salloway lozman. Sara, the pioneer of commercial television in Venezuela, and but by the time I was born, he had sold what is now when we assume and moved on, you know, he was getting older. He had done he had been a groundbreaking guy. And he was ready to move on and had grandkids and his, you know, his, his daughters and sons. And so I didn't really grow up in it. But my father was very much against showbiz, and never allowed us. I mean, we were set, we were seven kids, my parents had seven kids, I was a second of seven. And we were asked to be in commercial because we have a few kids, you know, and my cousins were all in commercials. And we were not allowed, I mean, not allowed. And that so but I always had this yearning. And when I turn 40 We moved to the States when I was 13. And I started watching TV, I love seeing the pilot to things, because from there, I could see there was a seed of something or not, you know, I could tell, but I was like, how do you make money doing that? You know? And, you know, I was very, very studio so I went to rise, my father wanted to be an architect. And yet, you know, I there was the seed inside me that I got my car, it wasn't to go hang out with my friends. It was to go to River Oaks theater in Houston without anybody knowing to go watch all the, you know, high end film, it was the art house theater, and all in Houston, Texas. And that's what I wanted my car for. I just kind of plot it out and go see a movie there. And so I grew up doing that. I you know, my sister went to see Saturday Night Fever, it's 10 times I never saw it. You know, I was not that girl, you know, like whatever,

Alex Ferrari 4:40
John Travolta

Elizabeth Avellán 4:42
What I've chosen not to watch whatever, right? But as well as what I've chosen to watch. And so you see that and you don't know what it is, you know, and it's not until you piece it together. I freshman week I went to Rice University as a 16 year old, because I studied so much to learn English and I didn't want to go backwards by not taking summer school that I ended up graduating early and ended up at Rice University. And this senior girl said to me, you know, come on be come down to with me to the rice players, you know, I'm part of the rice players, it was the theatre group. I was like, I never had a chance in high school to do any of that I was studying, studying studying. So I mean, I just focused on learning the language really getting it down. And so I was like, okay, so I went. And of course, I mean, I knew that if I ever got involved in theater, because I love going to theater, I would be hooked. And it was always behind the scenes and never auditioned, it was always for me behind the scenes. So that's when you start kind of putting things together while you're going to architecture school. And you see a perfect marriage of Gosh, you could be designing sets for theater or, well, and rice at that moment, I think it was like one of the top five architecture schools in the country. And you got accepted into Rice University, and then you get accepted into the architecture school, they didn't see it that way. They were like you're wasting your time you you're the slot we've given you is precious, and you're not appreciating it very down, grading me. And at the same time, I thought I was working for an architect and I hated it. And I love working. So it wasn't the work part of it. So I'm like, this is definitely where I need to be. But my father's like, if you don't study architecture, I'm not paying for it. I got to be a little sneaky. Because so many athletes, so many art classes and the film classes, and the theater classes were all under under art, because it was such a small Rice's a very small school. And so I just knocked them in there without him, I need to take this for this, and I'm doing this for that, you know, so I kind of got them in there. And, and then, you know, it was the decision of, I really don't want to be an architect. And it's very painful to have to, you know, I was daddy's girl. And yet I knew that I needed to work. So I worked in medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, then I moved to Austin. And that's where things kind of shifted for me because I started working with executive vice president Provost at the University of Texas, and about three, four months in and my new my film, you know, reading all of that stuff is still in full growing mode, you know, and yet, I know I have to have a day job, you know. And in comes this young man, he wasn't even a sophomore in college had he just finished his freshman year thing, Robert Rodriguez, he was going to be our file clerk. And I was the youngest in the office. So and Latina Latino, you know, I was the only end of the night. Yeah. And, and he so we hit it off, you know, and he had done like, 20 short films, 20 Something short films. And he showed me one of them. That was a you know, we all got together and and, and I was so blown away. I was like, Whoa, shoot, he's He's like, he's really bugging me. He's like real, this is real. And and he hadn't even turned it into a film festival. You want to contest with it or something. And, and I and I thought, so I started talking when we started talking about all this. And I started telling him pointing out Film Festival. So that's how it started. He couldn't get into the film school because he didn't have the grades. I'm very academic. So I would we took some classes together so he would get his grades up. You know, even though I didn't need to take any classes I did. They wouldn't allow me one to take the hardest biology or things like that to get him through the gauntlet. You know, I think I got him through all his science.

Alex Ferrari 8:43
Science and Math right science and math. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 8:47
And so but by the way, he became an all a student thing. And and he got into the film school because he also knew the new chairman of the film's called Tom shots because I worked for the second vice president problems and he was young and hip and cool. And he let Robert in because Robert one, the film festival that was a precursor to South by Southwest, the student films that were there with just Billy you know, and this little he grabbed three of his short films he's already he already made and put them together. And that's how it all really began to take off. And then mariachi you know and then he did bedhead first year his his production class so I was like whatever he needed, you know making a dummy so you could drag his brother to the ground you know just ways to do things without need because I need a dummy so you don't need a dummy. So we went to Walgreens grabbed a bunch of legs panty hoses and some stuffing from Michaels and I made him a dummy you know ever dressed it up and it set itself you know

Alex Ferrari 9:46
I remember I remember that dummy very well I remember that dummy very well i

Elizabeth Avellán 9:51
Im sure you've used that dummy

Alex Ferrari 9:54
I'm sure No,look

Elizabeth Avellán 9:54
Legs pantyhose

Alex Ferrari 9:56
Legs pantyhose and a wheelchair for a dolly. I mean, that's that's pretty much That's a that's a precursor.

Elizabeth Avellán 10:02
So So you know, it was really a beautiful thing because I also loved working at the university. So there was always an a plan that I would go get my Master's become a, you know, Vice Prez executive, but not exactly but never an executive, because professors do that, but at least an assistant vice president and had wonderful relationships there and, and Robert, they loved him. And he was working on mariachi, you know, just, you know, writing it there, you know, the computers there because nobody had computers at home

Alex Ferrari 10:31
89 - 90

Elizabeth Avellán 10:33
The rice at home, you know, I mean, I was a sugar mama the most cheap sugar mama you could ever have, you know. But, you know, I paid the bills, and I paid the rent, and I was really good with money, I had been able to be that person in my life always. And, and I, you know, so so as a result, we got all of that off the ground and things took off from there. So all of that. So the big question was, are you coming with me? Or are you not, you know, and it was a very Crossroads moment. For me. It's a very, like, and I thought that business is so hard, you know, we all know, and, you know, what context Do I go in? You know, how do I do this? I need to be thoughtful about because I'm a very, since I was very young, very thoughtful about when I saw broadcast news, I knew that too. I was, I mean, I was Holly Hunter. I was either going to go into news or I was going to go into into film, you know, or TV. I it was like, clear, crystal clear. For me. It's like that up. There it is. That's what I am a producer. Okay, got it. I understand now what I am. And I had been doing that with Robert all throughout. And so I really, really thoughtfully Alex, I didn't want to just do it because I want fame. I didn't want to do it because I wanted anything I wanted to do it because it's where I was supposed to be a my real destiny of life admission, you know? And I thought, you know, how do you guess who figured that? Well, you sit still. So I had already quit my other job. We had insurance. And I sat still for about a month in my in Houston, Austin, Robert was gone a lot of the time. And, and I was really, really, for the first time in my life, I think I was able to sit still. And try to listen to where I was supposed to be if I was supposed to do it. And it was. And, you know, it became very clear to me that I was supposed to. I didn't know why though. You know,

Alex Ferrari 12:47
That's the way the universe works. The universe. Yeah, the universe doesn't do that. Oh, yeah, no, no, no, no, no, that's not the way it works.

Elizabeth Avellán 12:56
You know, like, you know, because, because if somebody tells you the why, or the universe, God, whatever you want to call it, it may not make sense, you know, or it may, you know, it may not make sense until you are practicing in it, you know, so I did I, you know, I started began to work. And it's an interesting thing, because, to me, the reason I am in this is for the crew, and the cast, to be there as a person that tries to be and by the way, I haven't necessarily been this person every time because you know, life goes like cyclical, but consistently, I try, you know, to be that person, including in this last movie, where the needs what are this? Because once you prep the movie, the producer is just what is it that my other person does, I'm just going to spare change on the set, you know, if you've done it, right,

Alex Ferrari 13:52
Sure, if you, if you built them, if you bought the machine, the machine runs,

Elizabeth Avellán 13:56
You build the machine. And by the way, you just keep adjusting you make sure it has oil, you make sure that it has what it needs, you do all that. But really truly at that point is where are the potholes that you need to be fluid to fill so that people have a smooth ride? We all give up our lives, you know, for a moment of we're making a movie, or we're shooting a movie especially everybody puts their lives on hold or so they think but things happen every time you know, it never ceases to amaze me the how something to a crew member or cast member. And then do you have the wherewithal and the compassion to be sure that that person if they if they can continue the film great if not, I mean I've had, for example, you talked about John Sayles, Felipe Fernandez, El Paso was our set decorator industrial Don, he went to do a movie with John Sayles after that as a production designer, the one he did down in Chiapas.

Alex Ferrari 14:57
Oh, not that long star. No Was it was in Lonestar

Elizabeth Avellán 15:01
It's down in Mexico

Alex Ferrari 15:03
Yeah, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. I remember that movie. Yes.

Elizabeth Avellán 15:07
And my brain is going to come to me. But anyway, but Philippe's mother passed away, but we're in the middle of shooting Dusk Till Dawn in Mexico and and he had been my my set decorator also on Desperado that was the movie after Desperado. And he was like, No, I'll stay. I'm here, you know, we're in the middle of a dry lake bed in Barstow in the middle of August. And I had to sit with him and say, No, you have to go see your mom, we will do all the work. And if you want to come back, open the door for that, you know, if you need to stay, you stay, if you want to come back, your your step decorate, right. So thank God for those moments, because everybody was going so fast, it was a really rough shoot in that dry lake bed. And to be able to, to do that, for Felipe. And throughout I mean, Felipe is just one example. So life continues, you know, and you were laughing about how people are like, oh, you know, movie, the film business. So exciting, you know, and kids are like, I don't want to work. Why do you want to be in the service, I don't want to be in a job eight to five. And I'm like, so you want to be in one from 7am to 7pm, or from like noon to like midnight or more? You know, like,

Alex Ferrari 16:21
I was about to say those were very slow days,

Elizabeth Avellán 16:24
In the cold in the past in the whatever, you know, in the whatever. With the movie, you know, that's where you really, and that's, you know, there are some that that is their passion.

Alex Ferrari 16:37
It's I call it I once you get no, yeah, no, absolutely. And I've I mean, I've obviously I've talked to him a million filmmakers throughout my career, and worked with tons throughout my career as well. And I've just realized that there's an insanity. There is an insanity to being a filmmaker, I literally was having a conversation with with a guest yesterday filmmaker, who lost everything lost their home with six kids moved in with their parents, because the movie failed, because they didn't know what they were doing. And their ego was out of control. Because when you're young filmmaker, your egos out of control. And his only thought was not that I can't eat not that have no roof. Not that I've had to move back in with my parents for eight months while they come back out of this. Oh my god, I might not remember the movie again. And that was the only thought in his head. And I'm like, do you understand? And I stopped him. And I said, everyone, I want you to listen, we're insane. We're insane creatures. As artists, we're probably one of the more insane artists, because it's the most expensive. It's one of the most expensive art forms on the planet. And you can't do it by yourself. You need a lot of people.

Elizabeth Avellán 17:47
You need I mean, you need a good crew. I mean, you need crews to sign it with about 40 something. And let me tell you, that means the producer is Lord have mercy. Everything No, absolutely not being fluid. Yeah, but it's true. It is insane. And you know, it's always interesting to me when you have new people that are PhDs or you see which ones haven't mean they're, they're innate, you know, they have the innate passion, that they're so good that you're like, This guy's never really been on a real movie set. That's amazing. Because, I mean, we had one pa in our group, this last movie that was this kid, you know, that came to we're in a tiny town in Oklahoma. And he came because his parents were moving. So he came to help them. He did you know, he's doing a little theater, but he's doing visual effects mainly. And this kid the woman? I'm talking about town the most Oklahomans don't know. And this kid named Johnny Juanito. One that that I call him, Johnny, because, you know, he spoke English and Spanish. Sure. And he was our intern. His mom was, you know, because they're in that town. She was a dishwasher in the, and she told me, Nancy, what's her name? She told me about him. And then I met him and I was like, great. Oh, you can be standing as an intern, whatever, right? Oh, my God, that kid was like, a rock star. Everybody wanted to take him to the next thing with them. I mean, incredible. And it's an intern, you know? And then you have others and you're like, Okay, do you not understand that? People walk through, like hot coals to do have the job you have? Do you understand that? How many people would like do anything to replace you? And here you are, like, 111? You know, it's it's hard because at the moment, I'm like, and what I always try to get across is like, this is a very short intense time. The shooting part of it is very short and intense time and you if you're not loving it, don't be in it.

Alex Ferrari 19:54
Oh, no, no, no, it's just and I've told people that so many times if you don't absolutely love what you're doing in this business, You need to leave because it will eat you alive. It you it will eat you alive. And I've seen a few bitter Oh. So this is

Elizabeth Avellán 20:08
It because you're like, Yeah, you know, the best situations, you know,you're, you know,

Alex Ferrari 20:16
If you're angry and the one thing I always tell people when I speak when I speak sometimes to film students and stuff, I'll go How many of you guys here know one angry and bitter filmmaker, and then handful of people who raised their hands on like, Whoever didn't raise your hand, you're the angry and bitter filmmaker that everybody else knows. And because it's true, because we all know an angry, bitter filmmaker, an angry, bitter screenwriter. And if you don't know them, it's you. It's you know, a lot. So I wanted to go back a little bit to mariachi because mariachi is it? Well, first of all, for me, it was again, an integral part of my growing up. I mean, I was working at a video store in 91. When that was released. I was in high school still,

Elizabeth Avellán 20:59

Alex Ferrari 21:00
Yeah, very Quintin. Very Quintin, very Quintines yes. Yes. That was my film school as well.

Elizabeth Avellán 21:07
I love it.

Alex Ferrari 21:07
Yes, I was working at a video store. I still have my El Mariachi video. So poster by the way. I've never I've got two copies of I stole two from the video store. I've never gotten rid of them. And my wife's like, what are you gonna do with those? I'm like, don't worry. One day, I'll put them up. And I have the but I always have them always, always ask them. And I remember when it came out, and it blew my mind because it was the first time to be honest, there was the first time I ever saw a Latino filmmaker. It was at a at any at any level in Hollywood, really. And there obviously had been Latino filmmakers before. But no one that really took the stage like Robert, and what you and Robert did. And obviously and I talk about Robert, I talk about El Mariachi constantly throughout the years of the show purely because I go look man, you guys are people still talk about mariachis, it's an urban myth at this point. It's an urban myth. They still talk about mariachi like, oh, you remember like mariachi, if he could do it for 7000. I could do my it was 1991. It was a very special time. It was the birth of the independent film movement, the Sundance independent film movement, you know, with Rick and, and Edward Burns and Kevin Smith and Quinton and Stuart, a Bergen, that that those that decade? Very specific time is a very specific time. And I always tell I had I had Edward Edward Burns on the show. And I asked him Oh, wow, yeah, I had Eddie on the show. And I asked, Ed, if if Brothers McMullen came out today, would you what do you think it would do anything? He goes? Probably not. And I'd argue that if mariachi showed up today, it'd be difficult to cut through the noise. Because originally from what I heard, and that's nothing against the movie, because there's a lot of no I agree with it's, it was just that time and then of course, all the blocks that hit you know, Robert Newman and, and that whole thing, but it was it because you can come on, of course, the story of mariachi, he was just going to do something for the Mexican video market. It was never actually supposed to ever be released in English. It was just as like his practice, film, all this kind of stuff. I have to ask you, what was it like being in the center of that hurricane? Because that was like, that must have been a world when? Because I mean, I read the book, obviously have it back there. It's it's it's a Bible for any filmmaker to listen to, to watch. And but what was it like being in the center of that? Because Oh, my God.

Elizabeth Avellán 23:34
No, it truly, I'll tell you, and let me begin with the fact that the seed for it. You know, one of the things that Robert was always confounded by was that people he would hear people say, Oh, well, if you go to film school, your short film and film school will cost $100,000 150 to $200,000. And, you know, it comes from a family of 10. We had, I mean, I barely we bet you know, we were it's not like my job paid a lot of money. But we we were able to stay out of debt, you know, which is a big one. That's a big one. Tell people out of college debt. And I talked to young kids about this, you know, it was a Tovar. But to say we can't be in debt, because you won't be able to be free, you know, to go do and take what you need to take. So my most important thing for Robert was that he continued to go to school and to get a camera. So when he did Bedhead, his first semester of film, was to get a hold of film cam, as he thought without a film camera. You know, I can't go to festivals, it's kind of thing, you know, without it being on film, really true to the bigger festivals, and so when he was able and everybody else was spending 1000s of dollars, you know, 2000 and he's, we don't have that kind of money. So because of his abilities, you know, and his siblings, he wrote Something that he already was just like my it, why do I have my kid my little siblings? I can do something interesting with them. And, and he had the film camera, which was an MLS film camera. You know, it was just a 16 tank tiny one of those crank up once

Alex Ferrari 25:18
Oh, well it was oh, so it wasn't even it wasn't even crystals. It was just a crank. So your production was probably was a ball either Bolex or an airy one of those. It was a fireball is one of those old ones. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 25:31
So he ended up spending, including transferring the film editing the film and everything. 800 bucks, which he had gone to paramiko to get lab tested. So he had a little money to do that way. And you know, you know, in the meantime, I was helping with whatever pay per semester or whatever needed to happen. And he was doing a comic strip that he got eight bucks a day whenever he did that comic strip. So he made a little, a couple 100 bucks a month. And so that started sort of like his ability to go, okay. $800.08 minutes, $1,000.80 minutes, that was the see. Wow, from there is when he thought I can make a feature for like, I don't know, 8000 10,000. So he talked to Carlos Guyardo. And this is he and I got married in January 1990 got married. And so this is a now a year later, when he's already that the film started going to festivals and started winning things. So he was like, okay, okay, this is possible, you know? Oh, and he also did the animation. And interestingly, that his professor at the time was like, Robert, you already have an A. And Robert looked at him. And he was like, Dude, this is not about getting an A, you know, this is? So anyway, and I, you know, I help them with I helped with whatever I filled in the little cockroach wings on the animation like, oh, so great. Yeah, one of those, you know, very, it was a very sweet time, you know, for us. And then, you know, so he had some friends that borrowed a 60 NES. He had been writing, and they've been talking about it. So some guys he'd met at the access channel, you know, in Austin. And so those guys said, yeah, we can let you borrow it. So you can go shoot my edge, but he'd been writing it. He'd been doing, you know, taking sophomore year semester, but he was kind of like, and let somebody else write that movie, and I'll be a part of it and blah, blah, blah. So then a, he was writing in, in the computers at the office, so he would stay there longer. And we work together that worked in that office still and, you know, with everybody was so kind because he loved these people to just like me. So it was a wonderful group of folks that loved him and loved us, you know, and what he was doing, you know, they saw the passion, they saw that and how much he gave to the office. Anytime there's a birthday, he do a beautiful put, he's an amazing artist. So do a beautiful little poster in full Prisma color. You know, like really funny stuff, caricature but funny. Most people in the office were part of his comic strip, they started getting in there as characters, including the executive, Dr. Funk. So, you know, so for him, if it hadn't been that we worked in that place, it would have been harder, because no computer, you know, no free time in between classes to sit there and answer phones while we were doing other things. So he could continue to write a script. And then it was ready, he was ready to go, you know, and then he went to farmaco for a month. And that's where he finished reading, writing the script. So it all kind of converged together, the right combination of having the right people around you that are supportive. And so and then Carlos, and he already had done so many short films. And Carlos was dialed in that shoot that shot there before many short films. So everybody knew them as his kids, I'd love to do this stuff. So Carlos had a lot. So they wrote everything around. Robert wrote everything around what he knew he had, that is really what he did. So went down there. And then he gets a phone call about 10 days in and the guys need the camera back. So they're under the gun. There's like we got and he didn't answer the phone, you know, it was a no cell phones back then. So you could pretend it in here that like they're calling me and they're asking for the camera and he goes okay until the weekend. So the 14 days of shooting. Thank God he was able to kind of stretch it so that he could do that and then drove back with all the film, transferred it to three quarter inch, and you know, and then edited out the Austin axis. So all of that together is what leads to if I tell people if Robert got $1 paid for every hour, he's mariachi, forget me forget Carlos forget anybody. It would have cost

Alex Ferrari 29:58

Elizabeth Avellán 29:58

Alex Ferrari 30:00

Elizabeth Avellán 30:01
Easily I mean easily the budget would not be what it is. Plus he also did not make a film print. So that's why it's not 30 some $1,000 people he didn't make it for me stills, you know, urban mess. Oh no, he didn't make a film print. Hello me pictures made a film print for him. You know what the sound is? The sound guys in this plasma. So I heard the Columbia spent $200,000 in sound, because it sound Oh my gosh, is it? True? Not true.

Alex Ferrari 30:27
So what's what's the Okay, so this is the this is the urban myth that I've heard about this, like, okay, everyone's like, because I have I've had to defend Roberts honor many times at at film festivals, film festivals and things like that. They're like, that's all BS. That's all pressed at Columbia. He never made a movie for 7000. And I'm like, Look, he made the movie for 7000 He transferred the movie onto three quarter inch tape because I remember because I used to

Elizabeth Avellán 30:54
That only the film and then development of the film will release what cost 7000. and transferring right to 7000. restaurant was his own time.

Alex Ferrari 31:04
Right, exactly. So then he from what I understand he transferred it to three quarter ranch. He cut it, he cut it at the access at the access. You know, tape the tape? No, I did. That was my first job. I was cutting reels for a commercial house in Miami. And I know the Sony I know the Sony very well. So I edited on the exact same machine he edited on on three quarter inch, three quarters because you couldn't afford beta that was really expensive. So you couldn't do beta, you had to beta stuff dispelling the you know it's not true because it is true. So it's all so all of that. And I mean, and of course in the book, like he stayed overnight, and he couldn't leave because the alarms he had to he had to pee and in a jug of water, like all these stories, so you hear all this, but then they go so and then. And so they always talk about well, how about the audio and I go from my understanding, and this is this is what I understand. And I've done. I've read all the books and I've done that I've done all the research. I've I've studied Robert in depth, especially during that period of time. It was of course, he's wonderful. Yeah. To to so to my understanding. When Columbia got it. They obviously remastered the they went back to the print or to the not the print, do the negative remastered it all that stuff. But the sound is what cost them a good amount of money to redo cuz you have to be done everything.

Elizabeth Avellán 32:22
I'll tell you why. So he had him. It was as 16 escenarios 16 S No sound, right. So he had a Moran's tape recorder and a $50 mic and a box of TDK tapes. Same as that. Hey, the other kind that

Alex Ferrari 32:40
No, no, no, no old school with a pencil the pencil Pencil. Pencil. You're good.

Elizabeth Avellán 32:45
Those very much. Yes. And he since these guys were not actors, they kind of set things up the same rhythm so he could match the mouth, you know pretty well. So he would go through the paces all the Foley like they put the glass down. Like they think about the scene in the in the, in the bar, those three guys, you know, the beer, the thing, all the sounds is sound so he would go up and redo the whole scene for sound after after we shot so it's that so after you're done, and by the way, and he would grab when the beer was being poured. So he grabbed that kind of stuff, that glass hitting that same table. So he was kind of doing Foley slash down and they would go through say all the words again, you know, because he didn't have a sound guy with them.You know? None of that.

Alex Ferrari 33:33
And it wasn't it wasn't as cheap as it is today because now you now all this equipment is super super cheap, though Yeah, it's super affordable.

Elizabeth Avellán 33:40
So so that's why I was flipping through my sound guys this past movie. Let's it so what happened is so Jimmy Andre from Columbia Pictures that post production guy comes all the way to Texas to pick up the elements quote unquote Yeah, so he goes away with like, he brings us big bag. I mean the the film didn't even the TDK tape, just like you know the little box here it is. And Jimmy is sitting there in our apartment going Hello CUDA, by the way really good sound because he took the time to get so much stuff clean. Now, mind you, you're never going to be able to project this movie with that sound necessarily, necessarily. Unless you transfer it. And they didn't. They only sweeten things you can talk to Sergio antennae. They can tell you there were mixers at Columbia. And yes, they spent money in order to put something on the big screen like they were planning on it. You know? You can't show something that's in cassette tapes, of course not sleep, right. So, but they used all that sound. There was no ADR man There was none of that.

Alex Ferrari 35:01
When so there was no way so there's no so there's no ADR for sound but how about but for how about dialogue?

Elizabeth Avellán 35:07
No idea for sound. There was some Foley I saw that Foley happen. But Robert had gotten so many of the sounds in place they used whatever they could use it just wow. Oh, by the way, I mean, we're talking Columbia Pictures. Sergio antennae their biggest. Oh, no, no, no, no, they're just Latino. You know, antennae is a cool guy. They're like, we'll do this is we fun? You know,

Alex Ferrari 35:28
Nobody would nobody wanted to do this

Elizabeth Avellán 35:31
Sergio just passed away. He has been our mixer. All of these years. Oh, pretty much every single movie. He even moved to Austin. So he has mixed everything Sergio has So okay, so so he can tell he's passed away with all the you know, the truth which is this is the truth. I know it because we've talked about it so much.

Alex Ferrari 35:51
So So still think it's bullshit, you know? So, so then so then basically it was all sweetening there was there ADR that that all the talent have to come back in? And so all the all the dialogue

Elizabeth Avellán 36:01
All from the TDK cassette tapes,

Alex Ferrari 36:03
No hold up no hold up

Elizabeth Avellán 36:05
All of it

Alex Ferrari 36:05
So the dialogue the dialogue as well

Elizabeth Avellán 36:08
The dialogue all there was never ADR man. Never. Never no

Alex Ferrari 36:15
So they just so they just basically put it in their system sweetened it up, made it professional surround sound and did did as best as they could.

Elizabeth Avellán 36:21
Everything they needed to do. Yeah, exactly. And then then Robert himself and cut the film and a film print from his cut three quarter inch, they sat there with a camera looking at it.

Alex Ferrari 36:34
So they read Okay, there was no EDL there was there was no

Elizabeth Avellán 36:38
Self literally did this. And

Alex Ferrari 36:41
He did a frame he did like an old

Elizabeth Avellán 36:45
We created. That's what I'm talking about for every dollar. Mike. Yeah, if the amount of time Robert gave to this is pretty incredible. So then, so anyway, when I saw the film, because I'm I'm a critic, you know. Normally I said Why put as a film person, you know, I love I love film, you know? And I said to him, when I saw Moriarty in the three quarter inch version before he went to LA with it. I said, You know what? I give it three out of five. For the movie, I saw this movie is that three out of five? I saw it knowing rough, rough audience, but knowing the story of how you made this and how much it cost. This is a five out of five, you go out there and tell that story. You know, I mean, we agreed that that was really the thing. By the way, what he wanted to do also was, you know, he was a kid that never thought he could do it, because he heard there was so much cloak, you know, like these huge cloak curtains that you just did not touch as a Latino as a kid from a family of 10 or a family of seven. Sure. I know. You you financially know, you know, and to go to a family. We are in awe of like Rick Linkletter and your cantina who dared? You know, who dared? You know, but Robert decided to go open the curtain. And the wizard behind that is who exactly let's let's look at the wizard please. Okay. No, okay. There's no wizard is just keeping people up. So that's what he felt he had to do, which is why he convinced Columbia Pictures. It was laser discs. But back then.

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Oh, I know. I I had a laser disc

Elizabeth Avellán 38:34
That for the first time a movie like Omar Yeah, because it was all criterion. You didn't get to have

Alex Ferrari 38:39
Audio commentaries. You know, your your right, your right nobody

Elizabeth Avellán 38:46
It was criteria. And it was like

Alex Ferrari 38:48
$125. And it was $125. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 38:52
Absolutely. Or Exactly. Or Robert convincing, this amazing guy named Clint Culpeper, who was so full of joy and, and enthusiasm for what was going on, you know, and he's still a dear friend. And Clint, and Robert. He was like, we're doing this and he convinced Clint Culpeper. And Robert convinced Columbia Pictures to do a laserdisc with the commentary. So to dispel the myths, but you know, people still think that is not true. And it is, it's, it's so beautiful, because it is all really true. So I'm so sad. You know, people were really angry some of them at Sundance that he had been. He had been a what do they call it media trained? No. By the way, Robert is one of the most shy humans in a lot of ways is very quiet. Very shy. You give him a microphone is the opposite of the of the states right? Yeah, the frog from Warner Brothers you know, hello, my baby. That's Robert backwards. You give that man a microphone, because he got so much sited about taking all that cloak and dagger stuff of filmmaking you know? And that's been his life you know?

Alex Ferrari 40:08
Oh he's been he is a troublemaker troublemaker Studios was and that was the thing that I and that's one of the things that I mean obviously found an immense inspiration for mariachi and Desperado and Robert and years career moving forward. But I've never seen the amount of hate bitterness of people that like when all he got him because of this or that and I got it because when you see when you see someone who has Oh, he got lucky Mita lucky and lucky no okay, look at the look look Lucky is lucky buddy man. Listen, Lucky will get you in the door, but it doesn't keep you there. And, and, you know and and yet there are certain certain things that the universe put in place, you know, that got mariachi? There's no question. The timing was right. I always tell people Robert was there with the right product at the right time. And and it just so happened that it went got to Robert Newman, Robert Newman said hey, let's do this. And and then it kind of took off from there. By the way,

Elizabeth Avellán 41:14
Robert Newman had no clients, right? He wasn't this big one was in ICM, right? I don't want a new one had that other people didn't have Robert Newman, Robert was given that name by a guy named dunk dominant. Robert Newman was coming down for a party for the film commission here in Texas. And Robert Newman, was the foreign sales guy at ICM he had no, he didn't represent anyone. He represented films that needed to have foreign sales. Sure that they had filmmakers that they were represent.

Alex Ferrari 41:46
Oh, by the way, just real quick, everybody. Robert Newman is Robert

Elizabeth Avellán 41:50
Robert's agent. Yeah. Yeah, he's that William Morris Endeavor, Robert Newman. And he has been from the beginning. But Robert was his first client, just so that you people know that, you know, but Robert Newman had been trained, he was the fourth person at a place called Miramax. And he worked for the Weinstein Brothers. Basically, when before they were an actual studio, or any kind of any kind, they were just, they would buy foreign films. So they went to festivals, and they physically take them to the Angelika theater to the laemmli in LA, all that stuff. They, you know, they, they, and they worked on campaigns for those little films to get them foreign, you know, Oscars if possible, you know, that kind of thing. But lots of Robert Newman was very used to foreign films, he was trained by the, you know, I hate to say not everyone's gonna is a genius of sorts in that realm, you know, and, and so that's who he, he was the fourth person, it was Bob Harvey, a British guy, I can't remember his name, and then Robert Newman. So he came from a training that he was really, really ready to see mariachi, with a different pair of eyes, timing agents would imagine, there could even if we just did the serendipity that the blessed sort of path, and by the way, and then it takes an assistant to an agent that is willing to open that door. So when Robert made that phone call, that assistant truly opened that door, so it is you know, I mean, I'm always very that person, you know, I try to be that person. So and I knew I knew who Robert was, and and I knew the purity of what he was trying to do too. Because it was it was pretty rough for people you know, you could not get it even if you were passionate and love the business you couldn't be in the business you know, you would never dream of assuming you're gonna be in the business

Alex Ferrari 43:53
Let alone Latino, let alone a Latina, let alone a Latino. Latino,

Elizabeth Avellán 43:57
Yeah, exactly. So so it was. It's a very opening of a world. So many people, you know, that. But it was also funny because Vietnam toto had done a lot of films Cronos you know, and we all were in festivals together with a mariachi, you know, and we went around the world with them. And lucked out to be as Quinton was finishing Reservoir Dogs. Last place that showed was Toronto and we were there. That was the second festival we were in. And when I met Robert not a person with a lot of friends. You know, he's shy. So he just works on his thing very obsessive and he has 10 siblings, you know, I mean, I understand it on my you know, you become friends with your loved ones in your house, you know? So, you know, you don't have time to go party. You don't have money like that. So, so a when I met Quinton, I was like, like I felt this immediately. I found a friend. I swear to you in the lobby of the Toronto hotel, we were staying. And I looked at him, because somebody introduced him to me. I may have been Robert Newman. And I said, it was oh my gosh, oh, wow. You know, and I was like, I want you to meet Robert, I want you to meet my husband. And he was like, Let's go immediately, like, let's go. And I was like, okay, so I took him up to our room, and I opened the door. I said, Robert, I have somebody for you to meet. It was like, magic. It was magic to find this.

Alex Ferrari 45:39
Brothers, brothers brothers.

Elizabeth Avellán 45:41
They've been that since you know, yeah, it found each other and they could understand each other. So well, you know, the same thing with em. There's just been certain people that Robert has done this with, you know, like, very, you know, I clicked into it. Yeah. And it's beautiful. Bizarre, you know, it's, it's not easy. This business bunch of fancy ones. You know? We're live in LA, we've never wanted to live in LA, you know? So it's been a beautiful, I mean, Jim Cameron. And Robert always hit it off, like, boom, you know, like, very close knit. So people are like, how did I leave that happened? It's like, they've been friends for a long time. Robert had been friends for a while, just like the emulator and Jim Cameron, you know? Yeah, he's his own person, you know, very close, tight knit people. They don't really hang out with a bunch of, you know, Hollywood types. Right now. So, so yeah, so it's beautiful. You know,

Alex Ferrari 46:33
It's kind of, it's kind of like, you know, we can smell our own. When you meet someone like that. It's like, oh, okay, I find it looks growing up you, it's hard to find other filmmakers that you can can or other people that you can connect with at that level. And that's why a lot of times when I'm when I say my passion, the, the that level of passion, the level of skill, and like all of that kind of because there's a lot of people who might be passionate, but that can actually pull off what you're doing. That's a very small group.

Elizabeth Avellán 47:04
That passion, though, leads to everything. I'm doing it because for example, in film school, it was hard for Robert because the other people that he was working with to make bedhead. You know, okay, get a party, I gotta go to you know, I gotta hurry up. We're gonna happen then to get tivity is a very interesting thing. It was hard for him, you know, and he just kind of went, you know what, it's okay. And he did all those films by himself. He didn't really need people to, to do that. You know? So so, you know, it was like that,

Alex Ferrari 47:35
I'm glad. I'm glad that we were able to put in the public record the story of mariachi, because it's been such an urban myth about so many things about mariachi through the and and yeah, and it's, it's beautiful.

Elizabeth Avellán 47:48
And the way that with my heart full, I can tell you and the writing of the book, I mean, that's his diary. Right? Look, his diary. He entrusted it to me to edit it a little bit. I was the pre editor before the editor got it. You know, just I just, you know, made sure that it made sense, you know, because it's just his stream of consciousness. And I admire that I don't write a diary. I don't. I'm not I'm not that person. You know,

Alex Ferrari 48:14
I've I've tried, I can't journal. I'm not. I've tried. I've sat down. I'm like, do we

Elizabeth Avellán 48:21
Yeah, it can do a greatfull list. That's about it.

Alex Ferrari 48:26
No, I'm a and that book. And that book, Rebel Without a crew is still to this day. It's a seminal book in independent film. I've, I remember. I was I remember when it came out. I was in I was in film school in Orlando. I picked up the book and I read it in one sitting. I just sat there just in awe. Because you again and for people listening you have to understand and 9192 I was in film school. I was 9494 95. I picked up a first edition. I still have my first edition of Rebel Without a crew. And wow. Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, no, no. So I said you said you. And I remember reading it. And for me, you people have to understand in the 90s there wasn't this. It wasn't cool to be the filmmaker just yet. The Rock and Roll filmmaker, the Rock and Roll director, which I think Quinton and Robert kind of created that kind of persona, because Spielberg had been around and Scorsese and Coppola, but there wasn't a rock and roll kind of like, present this kind of person. And so but there was no information there was no YouTube there was barely any making offs. There was like you had LaserDisc with commentaries. If you were lucky. There was nothing tense in that book for me when I was reading it. It was like a portal into Hollywood, which seemed like a world away. And I was being taken on a journey with a with a filmmaker, a Latino filmmaker, like so you have to understand the power of that for Latino reading. It was so influential and so powerful for me and I such reverence for that book that I always tell people, I wrote a book called shooting for the mob, about how I almost made him was made a movie for $20 million movie for the mafia. And I always tell people, oh, yeah, and then I was and then in many ways, so. So that what happened was, I made this book. And then, in many ways, because of the mariachi story, a lot of the stuff that happens to me in that book, I got flown out to LA, I met the biggest movie stars, I bet I met big power players. And I'm like, Oh, my God, this is my mariachi, but I got this psychotic gangster behind me threatening my life on a daily basis. So I always tell people, if you want to read two books in the film business, you read Rebel Without a crew. And that's the way that's the positive side of how a career could go and that you read my book is the opposite side of the coin, where I went into complete depression and almost got myself. So it's like the complete opposite.

Elizabeth Avellán 50:59
Yeah. I would say that.

Alex Ferrari 51:03
Like that book says, like, you could go off and have Roberts career, or you can go off and like, oh, you almost got killed. Almost this almost did that. It was it was a remarkable story. But anyway, but yeah, but

Elizabeth Avellán 51:16
He loved that. It was love that it must have been hard.

Alex Ferrari 51:20
No, hold on. No. I mean, it was it was

Elizabeth Avellán 51:22
No, but you know what I mean, I think that the negativity that came from it was harsh. I will be really honest, there was a lot of you either hate or hate, oh, God, a lot of hurtful things said. And Robert was really clear, he would even say it at the same Sundance where the other guys were, they're the ones that had a $38,000 movie. Howard said they did the same thing I did. It just made a film print. I didn't realize that's what a $30,000 is, you know, so that's the difference. I you know, I ended up going and shopping it around and somebody else made a film point for me. Because he was trying to encourage people that, yeah, you could do don't necessarily have to make the thumbprint. You know, so think about that, you know, he was already helping people think of it a little different, because it was like, I'm no different than a $30,000 movie. He was very clear in the panels. That probably wasn't even filmed at that time, you know, and saved. Because it, it really, but I just love that people like Kevin Smith saw that. And it. I mean, he was like, Okay, I gotta I gotta store that I work at a convenience store. I got some friends that are hilarious. You know, there it is. clerks. You know, I love that. I love that. And it keeps, you know, repeating itself. And, and by the way, I don't know if you know this, Robert, with some of our kids made a film called Read 11.

Alex Ferrari 52:47
Yeah, I'm dying to see it. When is it coming out?

Elizabeth Avellán 52:50
I don't know. I have to find out. But it is. It is a visual of how to do a $7,000 movie today with what you have. And exactly the mariachi styled but somebody, he had an actual crew film with him doing it.

Alex Ferrari 53:08
Oh, God, please, please release this

Elizabeth Avellán 53:10
So Luca fesi. resists. Latino also is the guy that filmed him doing it, but they were doing it, you know, exactly. The actors themselves. Were the ones. You know, my son rebel, is in it. And he also is the composer of the movie, I pay no money. But now he's composed to other movies. He hadn't paid for it. You know, he made the sacrifice for Cena, because he's a really good composed. You did we can be heroes for Robert. And you know, he's just a 22 year old kid. But man, he really is good. So you. And by the way, and he was buoyed by people like Don Dabney who, you know, wanted help to help them succeed, because we have had other people like that. Their kids have wanted to be filmmakers, and we've had them come and be interns with us or working on movies. You know. I mean, James Spader son, Sebastian worked with us for a whole year and a half, as you know, behind the scenes, because he loved and he had been working since he was amazing. You know, what I mean? We try to help mothers, you know, to for their kids to come in. It's and, and that they want something they want to learn from someone else.

Alex Ferrari 54:20
What I what I found amazing about what about what we've talked about so far, and just from what I've studied over the years about what you and Robert have done, is that you really did pull that curtain back for a generation of filmmakers, because they're, I mean, everyone on everyone listen, you have to understand before before mariachi before what Robert and, and honestly a lot of that generation, you know, Eddie and and Rick and all those guys. It was closed. There was the door was closed. There was no opportunity to do anything. And Robert was

Elizabeth Avellán 54:56
That glimmer of light it was one of those like thick blackout curtain. Yeah, you couldn't see. Yeah, it wasn't curtain but you thought it was a wall. You know it really wasn't curtain, but not one ounce of light came through it to help you nothing might nothing.

Alex Ferrari 55:12
Yeah, it was all you would see is I always say like there's there's gods and there's Demi gods of film industry and you would look at Spielberg and you would look at Coppola and Scorsese and and then Hitchcock and Lucas and Lucas and all these all these guys and and they would they just seem so far away the stories you heard that they were almost like you know, Stephen had his his mythical urban myth of him jumping off the trade off the off the tram and all that stuff. One day when I get him on the show, that's the first question I'm asking him. I'm like that Steven, please. Is this true? I just need to know. But, but it was so far away and when the story of mariachi showed up, and that's what I love about about one of the many things I love about mariachi is it was the first time the making of the film was in the marketing. Prior to that, no one ever led with I made a $7,000 movie. By the way, everyone listening don't do that anymore. You don't that's it's gone, because everybody can do that. Now. Stop Don't lead that you like I shot my movie with an iPhone don't care. Is it a good story, but back then, it was extremely impressive for him for Kevin, for even Rick and all those guys. It was extremely impressive.

Elizabeth Avellán 56:32
Nicholas Lopez, Lopez from LA you know, he He came with his little first film and and I love that he said he came all the way from Chile wrote me letters letter, you know, inspired. There's a character in Brasilia Rocco called Roberto Rodriguez. They lead characters named Robert Rodriguez, and he loves to draw and all this stuff. And, and he looked around at all Maker Studios and said, and I love this. He said, I'm going back to chillin to do this. And he has, you know, and that's beautiful. You know, when somebody gets inspired like that. I just heard while I was doing this movie about a, another filmmaker. That literally said, you told me to go home and create this at home. Sterling Sterling Harjo the Native American filmmaker, he, you know, he was like, I'm gonna move to Austin. I was like, and he told somebody that said to me, that I was the inspiration because I said, No Sterling go do and for your farm. That's what it's about in with your people with everything. And now he's working with Taika Waititi in reservation dogs. That's amazing. You know, and I love hearing stories of you said a little something that planted a seed and now it's giving, you know, it's growing and really going out there. And so sterling is doing it in Oklahoma man, and now they have 35% tax rebates. That's amazing. Amazing. That's amazing. Amazing. You know, so in Oklahoma,

Alex Ferrari 58:14
In Oklahoma, no less.

Elizabeth Avellán 58:17
So very cool. You know,

Alex Ferrari 58:19
So as so as a producer. Alright, so you go through the mariachi and and the whole world when and they go okay, Robert, we want you to make another movie and it's Desperado. And they give him more money. Then I kind of well no, no, no, actually it was road racers are road racers first

Elizabeth Avellán 58:37
I know about the road racers, but it was like, once they won the Audience Award, they were so confused as to what they wanted. They didn't know if they wanted a sequel. Or if they wanted to remake it reshoot redoing of it. They it was so confusing, because it won the Audience Award. That's what you're getting at Sundance. Yes. Before it was cool, just remake, you know,

Alex Ferrari 58:59
But then be like, wait a minute, people actually, like, reward people like this people like this movie. So it was Oh my god. So I good man, right. Originally, it was a blessing of a mess. Because originally it was not supposed to be released widely. It was like, okay, so obviously, we'll do this. We'll do that. But then Cool. Interesting. Cool. All right. He's got talent. Let's see what we can do. But now like, wait a minute one. Oh, my God, we're gonna have to put this out there. Like what do we want?

Elizabeth Avellán 59:26
By the way I mean, people are like, Oh, he just was media train and he was able media trinken media training tell you but let me tell you that that's not true. Because I'm gonna tell you right now, I'll tell you, right. It's not a competitive Film Festival. That was our first film festival. And, you know, we had the blessing of somebody like Chuck Jones, you know, from bunts money fame. Yeah. You know, John Wiley Coyote, who has a house intelli, right, and he had come to UT When lava was a cartoonist, and we love chuck a monkey. So he signed the book for us and everything. Robert always said the mariachi was kind of like a cartoon movie, you could turn off the volume and you knew exactly what was going on. And that his hero was Chuck Jones. And this man showed up. At a screening, we ended up with five screenings in, in Telluride, which is pretty unheard of. Yeah, like, huge films get by Sure. Sure, sure. Um, you know, movies that have done extremely well, but everybody wants to see it, because Robert got out there, and could explain what he did. And so it's really interesting. It's not, you know, Oh, he got a media train between, you know, but for Sundance, no, he went to Toronto, he did the same thing. He already been doing it, but he already knew what was important. Robert always knows how to, when you give them a microphone, he knows when you interview him. He knows how to get it's just natural with it really is.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:58
Yeah, and the thing, any interview. And I want I want everybody listening to understand that there was so many people and I was there. I wasn't there with you guys. But I saw it from a distance. How many people tried to tear him down? How many people try to break them down? Whether for whatever reason, there was so much jealousy? Oh, my God, I can imagine the amount of jealousy, even jealousy from like,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:01:22
If a lot of it from him, because me being people didn't know my face. Right? Here. These, you know, for example, somebody said, How dare they give him you know, go from the 7000 to $30 million talking another filmmaker that had been at Sundance $30 million for Desperado after tonight 30 million I went, No, it's not. I mean, it sounds like a lot. 7 million, but we had full actors full every day.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:46
And oh, no, no, no, it wasn't a lot. It wasn't no,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:01:49
It wasn't a lot. So and by the way, he'd done a $1 million movie called road racers. In the meantime, he did as Roger Ebert always said, the best room out of four rooms, they all have the same amount of budget. They all had Iraq, right. Yeah. And by the way, and that poor rooms is the seat of small kids. Yeah. When he says people, you know, it was like one of these people. Hmm. And then he thought, keep your mouth shut. Don't even say that word. Say it to no one, keep that seed, start writing it, start doing it. So when Bob needed somebody to do the faculty, which was a Kevin Williamson script, he had overpaid a lot of money for Robert it was like, okay, but you can't tell anyone this name until we got a deal where we could do spike ins and we could do other things. So, but we know it's like, okay, you do this for me. I'll give you five picture deals, you know, because already, you know, we had done though still done, you know? Okay, so now you want us to the faculty, okay, we'll do that. You know, you paid a lot of money for that. And nobody really wants to direct this thing. And we had fun with it. We had a blast. Yeah. And it but it helped us. That's when we began to work in Austin with our crew. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:54
In the family. We're building. Yeah, the family

Elizabeth Avellán 1:02:56
It's literally with the people that we've created as a film family here. So all of that the faculty was a really important thing for us to do to come home. We always kept our apartment here in Austin. It was just that, you know, just they didn't let us edit Desperado. Here. So in Austin, I'm in Austin. And it but so he had to go to LA to edit it in the meantime, does still don't happen. So while we're there, we would come home and we had our stuff here. So and but yeah, so that's how that happened. That's a progression of things.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:30
So we

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:31
Were like, how did he get all that? And how did he you know

Alex Ferrari 1:03:35
Again Oh, my God, it was so much hate so much. Eight. I just remember so many filmmakers

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:40
In hate it's sad. It was suddenly we quietly and by the way, we also had it from the Latinos, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:46
Oh, no, I know. Everybody

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:48
Knows it was pretty. It was pretty astounding. You know, when your own people, you know, crabs in a bucket, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:53
No, it's crabs. It's crap. It was because

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:56
By the way our leaving, leaving, being at home is part of the reason that we just got really out of the way of everybody and just made our thing happen here, including the studios little by little, you know, they were close. I love it to get for a short time to film spike, it's one you know, and then lobby for keep it for longer than lobby to get the big deal that we got to be able to keep it and put money into it. So we've invested a lot in ourselves and just quietly got people to shut up. So and then whenever anybody of those people that were so negative wanted to glom on to anything, we just kind of went, we're okay here. Maybe I don't want to bring that.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
I don't think you guys would have been able to do what you did in LA. There's just no way. There's just no way. There's no no way.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:04:48
They amount. Yeah, because when you when you're in a place where people are. We just kept doing that thing. We just kept doing our thing and Bob was not in LA Bob Weinstein and who we worked for Bob, you know, that's what we have. They're up doing the rest of the movies for a long time for. And it was wonderful because I love Bob, I love what Bob Weinstein is, you know, hobbies, you know, whatever, you know, but Bob Weinstein was always a fair. And very, I just call Bob, I never had to call anybody else. It was just right. And so I got to the, you know, the buck stops here, kind of So, and, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:23
So as a producer, when you were working on Desperado, this is your first big, you know, you got 7 million obviously, you're not the only producer obviously on that project, but

Elizabeth Avellán 1:05:31
Oh, no, by the way, I was just starting, like, nobody, I took no money. I was the wife, you know, like people are like the wife of

Alex Ferrari 1:05:39
I guess, if we get robbery I think that yeah,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:05:42
By the way, no. So I looked at them. I said, I'll tell you what, I'll be the producer intern that takes no money and I will work from beginning to end because I do want to learn so you know, people like Tony Mark who was our UPM really admired that because that person maybe that busted a move the people my the other line producer from Mexico, you know, they're still dear, dear friends, you know, cuz I passed the move. And I worked all through post production, nothing and learned so much. And I'm a studious human being you give me something to learn, I want to learn whatever it takes, you know, and, and you know what, so it didn't take anything from the movie. And I just was, you know, I was able to really navigate those things. Because nobody could say that I was being paid in right out of my art, you know, so, and I'm glad that would make it's not global was making a ton of money at that point, either. You know, that was the first film that was his first look film for Columbia Pictures. So it wasn't like, you know, oh, yeah, like, you gotta have a match check. Apparently, I'm going to put it all on the screen. I mean, we and by the way, and it was beautiful to be able to go back to that Konya where we shot a mariachi, yeah, actually pay people. You know, that's what we chose to shoot it there to go back and really pay people, because mariachi, there was no money. $7,000 What can you pay? So it's a beautiful way to bless a place that had been a blessing already to us, you know. And you had that back, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:08
And you had that in your head that young, young to two unknowns, here in the States, Mr. Antonio Banderas and Miss Salma Hayek and Mr. Danny Trejo, for that matter,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:07:19
Which, by the way, everybody wanted Antonio Salma, it was hard. Oh, no, it

Alex Ferrari 1:07:25
Oh, no, it was a first it was a female, first female lead Latino

Elizabeth Avellán 1:07:28
Road racers with her to give her one screen title on a movie in the United States. That was for Showtime. And that was strategic, you know? And he put her in there was actually that movie is David Arquette. Yeah. And it's tama, and it's John Hawkes. Yeah, on hawks, burst. I mean, he's such an incredible actor jaw. And David, it was really his first real lead, you know, like three of them leading and a million bucks. And the thing is interesting. So this is what sold Columbia Pictures. Finally, because Robert wrote 13 versions of the script. They can rewrites and more rewrites and more rewrites while he's doing road racers. Well, when he came in, it was 10 films for rebel highway series. Yeah, for sure. Right. It was me John Melius was one of the directors I mean, big time directors were doing this. And so many fell out. And they needed Wes Craven was doing one. I mean, people like that, you know, be and Robert was like, Oh, my God was Craven. And the reason why Robert did is because Deborah Hill was producing John Carpenter's. Sure. So by the way, she became one of my big mentors. Even before I did Desperado, I was able to take classes at UCLA Extension, because she called in favors for me to go into the higher level classes. And she let me sit not in Roberts part of the film, but in the other films, because I had nothing to do with those. And I was able to sit in budget meetings. So you know, I got a lot out of that, you know. And so it was a real blessing just to be humble. And somebody say, what are you when another woman says to you, what do you want to do? Me, Pascal pulled me into the office one day, I was just Roberts, white, you know, I can write and she pulled me into her office. She was not President. Back then. She was one of the executives. What did you I want to I want to get to know you. Tell me what you want it. I mean, how beautiful that is women, unreal. And so I've been blessed with having really amazing mentors that took me seriously, but also lovingly, you know, and so so that's the reason and Salman was able to get in because of that movie, but also because Robert really, really leaned in to get her to be the actress that he because that's what he wanted. He wanted some there was no option and I think it was that. There wasn't even a screen test, you know, and Robert just literally he coached some Yeah, he goes yeah. He would get it, you know, because he was like, hell no, that's what I want. You're not gonna give me some non Latina because there was some in the bunch that were non Latinas? Sure, that would have been testing, you know? So, you know, I was like, No, you know, this is who I want. This is the star that I'm going to put in my movie. This is the person, she has everything that I need for this movie. And she's going to be a huge star.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:25
And the chemistry and history. Yeah, and as we're speaking right now, Marvel Studios, the Eternals is opening. And she's, and she's one of the stars. She looks amazing and so proud of her. She done okay, she's done okay.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:10:45
Now, when she's such a dear, dear, dear sister, you know, I always, you know, just, we, we've had a great relationship throughout and I read act in love.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:55
I read somewhere I read somewhere that Salma called you like the best kept secret of troublemaker. Like, it was a very, like, like a really best kept secret of troublemaker

Elizabeth Avellán 1:11:05
She knows me because it's so weird what I do, you know, as a producer,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:10
so what is? So what is a producer? What is the definition of a producer for you,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:11:13
A producer is a person that, you know, in general, you know, gets the story of his book, or, you know, an article and puts together the development to create that script. And the filmmaker as a typical producer, the money sure brings in whoever the studio, you bring in, you start creating the creative group that will decide what the actors are you trusting who but the the director that you choose, or if it's a writer director that wrote the script and all that stuff, that's what I produce. And then you start, you know, in my case, I worked very closely with my line producer, UPM, and a man named Bill Scott to create the budget and to create, you know, we literally, that's what we did here, starting with a faculty and we did it for 17 films. So A, you just create all the synergy that has to happen, then you begin to choose the crew members, you know, and the teams that are going to come in. And like I said, All that happens in pre production, you're making it all work so that it is you have a schedule that matches what your budget that you know, that you know, that you're going to shoot, where are the locations that you you create all of those things along with the director. And, you know, with your, you know, with your first ad and you know, you you work in teams, you know, that's what a producer does. And then you you know, make sure that the everyday running of the movie as is going and you fix on and by the way, you make the deals with the actors, you so you're dealing with the agents, and then making sure the actors arrive and everything that's contractually theirs is there. And, you know, and happens and all of the the fun stuff. And you know, and you also, if you're a good producer, in my opinion, you make sure that they all feel, you know, safe and warm and cozy, you know, in a way.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:04
Like mother like a mother, like almost a mother hen in many ways, in a way.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:13:08
Yeah. And in some ways, you're also the principal. Yeah. Very much. And he comes in and it's when he has the gas here, so he's like, all bloody. So is this the principal's office? Am I Am I in trouble? Yes, it is. But it depends if you've been naughty behaved or not. What how you how we deal with you. It was so great. I love and he's always so funny. Oh my god. Hilarious. So i By the way, what a gentle way he was raised by his mama. Right? Let me tell you that guys like bad manners out the wazoo for women. But just in general, you know, like people just like, you know, very attentive, you know, very Latino that way people are nice, you know? Yes, he's and I'm like, noticing, look at that guy. Nobody else got up on him. When an actress came in, we were all at the pool. He noticed when she came in not because he didn't have any other reason than a gentleman you know. And he found a chair had a chair for that person made sure that he didn't just sit around and keep chatting, you know? So for that actress because she was just arriving into the fall. We were having a little party here at the house and I was like, man watching you and he's Yeah, I'm watching Yeah, that's good. Brownie points. So anyway, so So at the same time for me, like I told you from the beginning, there was a way bigger way bigger call for me. And it has to do with building something. It has to be with do with building. Even if I've never worked with a crew, how do you to help everything work? How do you become fluid or have the assistance so that you you foresee situations, you know, yeah. gonna happen or you see it. You know, most actors are in, you know, like, incredibly and very few that didn't feel the love that we create with it with a family we created in Austin with our crew. And, and it's a joy for anyone to come into that group and, and be received and then become part of the family if you had never worked with us and, and enjoy that it's a really beautiful way of working, you know, and I couldn't again, couldn't have done that in LA. No way we wouldn't have never had our own stages, you know, they're just angers nothing magical, just dumb boxes, that's all stages are. But to create a real place that you know, you're gonna be something happens, somebody cares, in your family in your life in, you know, in real life, you know, like real life always intersects a world of madness, you know, yeah. And I've had situations, somebody whose daughter, all of a sudden, I'm a big crew member, the higher up echelons overnight, all of a sudden has is in a in a coma because type one diabetic and didn't nobody knew a nine year old, you know, things like that have happened during my movies, and to not be able to cover for that person, so that their real life can be truly dealt with. And we create a bridge for that person. You know, it happens on everybody. We all are going through things, you know, oh, and then somehow, and if you don't have those eyes, and that heart, yeah, you can make movies. But you also don't. You know, I just I just finished a movie on Friday. Right? I told you, friend, it's not Saturday, Saturday, actually Sunday at midnight, one o'clock in the morning. And I never worked with this crew. In Oklahoma. They're mostly Oklahomans. And but it's a director I've been working with for a long time, who is a dear Lance Larson, writer, director, and a couple of other people that I've known for 20 years. Two of them were my breaking grips and the the faculty and inspire kids. And now all three were producers with me, and another produce for an entire period. But three, the three of them, one of them had been a first ad in a few movies for me, but he was a rigging grip 23 years ago. Another one is a big time DP he just finished crater. But he had been a rigging grip back then and went to UT. And the other one lands that writer director, and that the DP had gone to UT together. So it's these three beautiful humans that I have been around for many years. And then to be able to produce this with them, and then to, to let them do their job to you know, of being but Bobby bass thrash was, but he's Bob basta Raj producer, Bobby is the first ad guy back then. But now he was able to really be on set. And I knew that this set was taking care of, you know, we could you know, we had planned everything, so that he could be the producer there with his two buddies, it was their dream to do this together. But you know, the interesting thing is, you know, it's hard. It's hard. 99 degrees, but it was really cold one day, it was Yeah, you were in West Texas, and you know, a lot of stuff. And to be able to be so fluid as to make sure that you could take care of their wants. And it was only a 40 Something people crew and cast. And for me a movie making a movie. It's like going to summer camp and going to war.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:50
Oh, God. That's that whole lot. stop after stop there a second. That is the most perfect definition of going to a movie ever because it is a summer camp. But it is war at the exact same time. What a wonderful quote. Oh,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:19:04
It's war. Oh, and, and my job. I see my mission. My job as a producer is to make it more summer camp than more. And that's, that's why that whatever it takes, whatever it takes the fluidity of that. I mean, for example, we lost our caters. When we were going down to West Texas for reasons you know. They were they were great, but they couldn't come down to wisdom. So the Terra Pyrenean I decided, you know, we had to feed people a second meal. We're in the middle of nowhere in Westchester. I mean, like no cell reception, nothing. So we decided, You know what, we'll take care of the breakfast part of it get tacos and whatever from the businesses there. And you and I do the second meal because we have to provide a second meal for everyone before they go to bed, you know, and came all the way to us and we plotted it out so for six days She and I cooked a second meal a proper second meal for crew that was delicious, nutritious, yet nutritious. And you know what they felt so loved by what we did. So we would do everything we needed to do producer wise. And then we jumped in the afternoon to create a second meal and said, serve something, you know, that was that was that that helped them you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:27
And they would and when you as a producer, and as a filmmaker in general, when when the crew sees that, they will go down the alley of hell for you, they will walk right into it with you. Because you don't I've look, I've been on 1000 sets. That doesn't happen often. Unfortunately, unfortunately, it does not you don't you don't get to work with people like that often. And that's why when people do work with people like that, they're like, oh, no, no, no, I'm not gonna let you go, Oh, we're gonna work. That's why Clint Eastwood has the same team for the last 40 years. Like, and Ron Howard doesn't do a movie without his first ad. Like, and he waits for his first ad to be available and things like that. Because when you grab on, yeah, when you grab onto it,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:09
Emily is a family you begin to create. And by the way, just because I had never worked with them doesn't mean that I'm not gonna be the same person, you know, and be present for them. And by the way, it was not an easy shoot. But even though it was the first time these guys are just on a huge Martin Scorsese movie there in Oklahoma, the flower Moon something

Alex Ferrari 1:21:33
Yeah, they're posting that now. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:35
Yeah, exactly. And that he, so you know, it so big. Lots of crafty, lots of them?

Alex Ferrari 1:21:43
Of course. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:45
And this was a little movie. And so the ones that did decide to come play with us. I wanted to make sure that it was as good in other ways. Sure. The Independent to set a standard for what an independent film should be. Yeah. For them. And the Choose carefully in their life. You know, they want to continue in movies to find a way it's hard. It's not it's, it's hard making movies is art. It's not easy to never is lovely. And it was beautiful. Because Tyra Pyrenean, the other producer that she had interviewed me in spike, it's one. And that's what inspired her to want to be a producer, she was a journalist. And this was kind of beautiful, you know, because I got to take her by the arm, and she's a badass producer. She's worked for BBC, she lived in London, and you know, did all those royal, you know, documentaries, and that and I was like, Okay, in this one, we're going to be, this is what we're doing. And she goes, Okay, so we can't have any ego said no, actually, it's the opposite. It's very healthy ego, because nothing we do. Even if it's picking up trash, doing whatever we do, doesn't take away from us, and who we are, as producers, it's actually seen as a higher calling, in some ways, because most producers won't do. So all of a sudden, you are creating a situation in which people go, you know, what, if someday, I'm a producer, I want to be like that producer, versus that producer.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:19
And I hope everyone listening takes this everything that you're saying Elizabeth to heart, because these are the kind of words that I this is one of the reasons why I do the show, is to get this kind of information out into the world. That is not something you hear often, the things that you're saying are things we want to happen on a set I want people to act like, but often is never really, like I said, you've been around. I've been around, you don't see it often. You've created your own world. And you've had the privilege of being able to do that. And I think you you and Robert both understand the privilege that you've have in the youth that the universe is giving you and you've taken that and really done something pretty magical with it. I'll tell you one of the things I just recently moved to Austin, and I I'm Yes, living here. I live here. I live in Austin You're kiddingme. I live in Austin. Yes, I

Elizabeth Avellán 1:24:09
Do we get to hang out. We get we should definitely hang out to me, your wife and your daughter.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:13
Absolutely. Absolutely. But the reason the reason I brought that up is because I moved from Miami to LA because it was LA like you do you have to do. I was there I was there. 13 years, I met our common friends draw there to a month after I got there. And I haven't been able to get rid of him since I've tried many times. I can't get rid of him. He's like a dirty Penny. He's like a dirty Penny just keeps it all

Elizabeth Avellán 1:24:37
Wiseman is he's a patron saint of filmmakers he really is

Alex Ferrari 1:24:41
No no, no, no, he's it's one of those candles. Oh my god, that would be amazing. I should get that for his birthday. Oh my god, that would be amazing. No straw straw has been on the show. I had him on the show years ago to talk about what it's like to to what he does. Straw is a whole other conversation. But But I was there for 13 years. And I finally got to the point where people were like, Why did you move to Austin? Why did you leave la like the dream is to be in LA and, and to do all that stuff and I said to I said to everybody, I go I, I reached the limits of what I could do in LA, not in the business, but what I wanted to do for my family, or what I wanted to do for my company. Just like you guys couldn't have build troublemaker in LA. I can't build what I'm building with indie film, hustle and everything. I couldn't take it to the next level there. So here there's there's nothing but land. I just realize there's like

Elizabeth Avellán 1:25:38
A frickin

Alex Ferrari 1:25:39
There's nothing but land out here. Like I'm driving around like oh my god, like I cuz I live in bro. I lived in Burbank, so I lived in Burbank. And Burbank was awesome. I agree. I mean, it was just like, we're houses were on top of each other. And don't get me wrong. I love LA I love what I did. I love. I love going to LA I love LA I love LA not crapple that I love there. It's amazing. It's amazing. But But like, you know, I was right down the street from Warner Brothers. And I found out that my house actually was originally on the Warner Brothers ranch studio set. And they picked it up in the 30s and moved it to where it sat. I was like, What is going on? But you drive around a lake there's just there's no there's nothing there's no land. I mean, you got to go far out before you start seeing real land. And here the second I got here I was just like, oh my god, there's nothing even I mean obviously in the city it's the city but like it

Elizabeth Avellán 1:26:35
Yeah, the city is the city.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:38
The the smoke from Willie's 28 years does this smoke from Willie's house come over, you get a contact high or not?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:26:50
I can go visit him.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:54
But anyway, but that was one of the reasons I moved here in a lot of people have to understand that as you get older, you realize that there's things that what's important to you in life? You know, and where do you want to go? And it's a lesson for filmmakers to do as well. Because a lot of filmmakers think that you can only make it in LA and that's not true. I do do I think that filmmakers should go to LA for a short amount of time, you if you can get the experience that you get in LA I learned more in one year in LA working with straw. Then I did five years in Miami. And there's because it's just so much stuff going on there. But at a certain point you just go where do I go? What do I got to do?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:27:37
Where are they? Where are they openings to to? To grow to? To to expand to to allow the next set stage? Because you go in stages you know?

Alex Ferrari 1:27:49

Elizabeth Avellán 1:27:49
Let me tell you a I'm at a place right now. Where I am extremely picky what I do and how I do it with Yeah, I know the feeling it's especially things that I've been working on for a while this particular movie and it's called dead land I Lance and I have known each other like I said I've known these guys so long loved them they're good people they've developed their talents to a point that man they can ask for money whatever money Lance has been an editor for a long time for Disney for people like that, you know like big studios and but they're all from around here you know that when T T and and I've known them so long and they've always proven to be these incredible hard working talented humans that love film that love movies love storytelling, great writers, Lance and jazz Shelton that up wrote the script with a couple other people David Elliot of people like that so so you know so to be able to now work and by the way the movie is 75% Latinos because it was written as a beautiful story of not about it by the way when Lance said it was a movie as a border movie I was like I don't do border

Alex Ferrari 1:29:20
Yeah, I'm good I'm good

Elizabeth Avellán 1:29:21
You know me it's not really a border movie takes place in the border. I said I said it wrong. Okay, Lance because I love Lance Larson

Alex Ferrari 1:29:29

Elizabeth Avellán 1:29:32
Spiritual open human that I loved working with just the crew just adore he and jazz. I mean, they just spirit in that set was so cool, you know, and I, but it's just how, you know, you think your personal history is a certain you have on pathology. We're talking about mythology about your family and what it is and What do you think it is, and the thing you've written into it yourself from things you heard as a kid, you know, and then there's the mystery part of it, you know, there's certain things that nobody talks about in your life trying to figure it out, or things like that. So, and it's a movie kind of like that, you know, that has to do with a, a guy that thinks his father never showed up for him is a border patrol guy. And yet the story's not that simple. And, and so the beautiful in development of what goes about because he's about to have a baby, you know, so that he can be more of a complete man is the story of this movie, but we had a productive Vina and Juliet Restrepo. Both of them are Colombians. We had Manuel Luisa, who is Mexican and Mexican American, but he's amazing. And then we had Julio Sileo, who has been a ton of stuff really was amazing. And also Luis Chavis. That is this wonderful. Young man. I don't know if you remember in in Ocean's 13 He's the guy in the truck with Casey Affleck. He's the Mexican guy. That's that's Luis. Oh, Elise is this incredible? He comes from from Michoacan indigenous comes from a little, basically Adobe. And just to hear, we drove together from West Texas, and I said, I want you to tell me just like your first question. I want you to tell me, what's your house? What was the seed? Oh, my God, what a trip that we took across the Texas landscape, you know, hearing this amazing story of how he got to where he was, you know, and so much of it, you know, the steps sometimes of what we made happen, or if somebody like the Capitol Montalban Foundation, to create a space for Latinos to train in, you know, acting and film and things. That's incredible. You know, it's all in values, you know, little little stepping stones, and that's

Alex Ferrari 1:32:10
Yeah, and that's the thing that people also listen, they have to understand, if you guys didn't do what you did, like in a year, like it, it's step by step, step by step, piece by piece patient by patients. And when opportunities present themselves, you take advantage of the opportunities and you keep moving forward, and you just, and you keep going, and you don't let the haters in. And that was one of the things I admired from a distance about what you and Robert, were doing, because you just kept doing you and you're like, you know what, the hell with everybody we're going to set up in Austin, you know, we're going to build up our own thing here. We're going to keep our doing our thinking, and we're just going to keep going forward. And I don't care what anybody else says. And that is something that because I mean, the amount of pressure that that you guys have been under. And that just with mariachi, it's continued and still probably continues to this day. Yes, it always is.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:33:02
By the way, sometimes Robert doesn't choose to do Latino centered films, you know, he's done. I mean, yeah, lead was a Latina girl.

Alex Ferrari 1:33:12
Of course it was. And there was a couple other Latinos in there. Of course, of course, it was a couple of

Elizabeth Avellán 1:33:16
Michelle Rodrigues plays a huge part. But people are like me and believe me, it's a term drives bad but I didn't produce Alita of a John Landau came and just loved working with our family. Yeah. Brew. You know, that was beautiful for me. Because I know that John understands. That wasn't built overnight, either, you know, Oh, no. And that love he found in a tiny state because by the way, our green Queen strange, it's like 9000 square feet. It's not big, yet, we were able to shoot everything and create that backlog. On it's insane. We're in this, you know, I used to be airport hangers, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:33:51
Right. It know. And working in. I've heard stories of Jim and Robert working together and, you know, just talking together about stuff. And when I heard that this movie was gonna come out. I was like, That makes all the sense in the world. Because if not, Jim is never going to make it because he's an avatar world.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:07
He's busy. He's so my job. We know. Well, he has avatar 2 3 4 and he has Titanic 2

Alex Ferrari 1:34:15
And there we go. Is that an insight is that a scoop? No. It's called Titanic 2 Jack's back

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:26
Somehow found something amazing but yeah, so So you know there's been that friendship for a long time you know between those two and and a beautiful one you know between Robert and Jim took him under his wing in some ways you know, and then and encouraged him go

Alex Ferrari 1:34:43
When did they meet when they meet when did they meet

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:45
Long I mean long like this Mariachi time Desperado times. A we probably met him blabbered got to spend time with him. What was the name of that movie when Robert really got To hang out a little bit back in so excited was way back. I mean, oh, it was a after Desperado, I would say also,

Alex Ferrari 1:35:07
So it's around there.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:08
We're living in LA. Yeah. What was the it was? It was with Arnold Schwarzenegger the one with that. Jody Curtis. What's

Alex Ferrari 1:35:16
True Lies True Lies 94 True Lies

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:19
Around there. Exactly. When we were living in LA to live in LA, so he got to hang out. We went to the premiere. And,

Alex Ferrari 1:35:28
And he was just, he was even in it for Jim was Jim like,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:34
Anyway, you know, this is one of the things people blah, blah, blah with Jim Cameron. And, you know, my oldest son is someone that pointed this out to me a while back and this continues. He goes Mom, what other filmmaker Do you know, that has never in his life made a flop ever.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:49
Like, amen. amen,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:52
Like never had a movie that didn't perform and made money. And it's like Jim Cameron's.

And at a high level No, and I always tell people I always I loved and I also defend Jim not that he needs my defense. But anytime. I'm always out there. I know. Jim. Jim is Jim is one of one of the on the Mount Rushmore of filmmakers for me, Jim, so Jim and Pete because he's such an underrated writer. And he's such an underrated, you know, a lot of times people like because everyone's like, Oh, he's direct. He's very direct. Like you read aliens. Are you kidding me

What he'd already done. Character, by the way, the character was the one that told me is Elizabeth, the character. But I've learned so much just receiving this treasure to direct. Because it taught me the character break. I mean, he knows who these people are. Each one of them is fresh and fully out, you know? And he said, It is such an incredible joy. And trust me that He has given me to do this, you know, and I hope we get to you know that the studio gets to make a second one. Oh, no. Has to because it's definitely part. Yeah, I'm praying hoping for that. Because they're incredible stories, you know, that? Truly, I mean, the father daughter story is just

Alex Ferrari 1:37:17
No, no, it's it's, it was beautifully shot. And what Robert did was amazing with it. But what I always also say with Jim ago, who else what other filmmaker on the planet today, can walk into Fox Studios and goes, Listen, I've got an idea. It's about a bunch of blue people, it's based no IP, there's a new technology that I'm going to develop, I'm going to need 200 million to develop the technology. It's gonna take me justice, just to see if we can make it happen, then there's going to be three years to three years of me, you know, messing around with that twiddling around with that, then I'll probably need to probably a couple 100 million more to finish it all up. And and we're going to do all that and it's going to be probably about good five, six years. Before you see anything. I challenge anyone who who will not any of the other gods that we've talked about filmmaking gods like that Scorsese and that Spielberg no one else has that. There's nobody else on the planet that can do that.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:38:13
It my, every day, I take my hat off to it can't really do it. sounding. So I'm going to ask him love the relationship with his brother to find Yeah, synergy of, you know, creating, I mean, we were able to do a 3d movie because of what they had done. Yeah. When we did track reliable girl 3d I love that movie came from, you know, on a spike. It's 3d. It came from the rig. They had an event, you know, and they have created so it's such an insanity. So much. I mean, imagine I mean, he's creating equipment, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:38:49
He's like, he's like, creating equipment. It's like, it's, it's an insane,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:38:53
Unbelievable, designing a little submarine that can go down to the friggin Titanic. I mean, that's a shoe. That's some high level stuff. But that's high level, that people from another planet know. And that's how I, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:39:08
And you start looking and you see, like, people like people, aliens. They're literally I think they're from the abyss. No, and people always talk to me, like, you know, a lot of people I know have worked with Jim. And they go, Jim gets frustrated on set when you can't do things the way he wants to do it. But the thing is that he can do your job better than you and everybody else is better because he's, he's not. He's, he's not. He's a completely different level.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:39:35
No, no, he's a tough guy, by the way, but John Landau was so yeah, he's moved things over. He reminds me, you know, he's a great example of being that person, you know, that can help smooth things out. You know, you know, Robert can get frustrated at times. Because, by the way, everything nobody else in that set. If Robert doesn't wake up and get that thing moving and tells them where to go. Nothing. Nothing goes. That's the director. And that's what I try to impart into directors. It's like so you and I also even tell them it's like you need once you're finished, I told Lance, I said, we was finished shooting, and I said, I need you to take the week off and cool your brain down. Feed your brain. Relax your brain. Because you have been on a daily calm, let for months now. You know? Yeah, and you have to, and I'm glad that Jim takes time in between things. That helps him

Alex Ferrari 1:40:35
Too many too many too many years, though. I mean, I mean, he's, he's, he's bordering Kubrick now at this point in the game. I mean, it's like, yeah, Jim. It's enough, Jim. Let's Can we just get them out, please?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:40:49
That's one of the things I love about filmmaking. And by the way, one of the most generous human beings is Quentin Tarantino, who I adore and winner and Desperado. He said to me that somebody asked him, you know, again, people throw in trash, you know, oh, God,

Alex Ferrari 1:41:01
I'll talk about hate

Elizabeth Avellán 1:41:03
And Quinton said, you know, they asked him so what are you gonna do next? He just finished Pulp Fiction won the Palme d'Or, the thing was going on in theaters. And and he was acting in Desperado. And they were sitting around, he goes, Do you have no idea? People ask me, What are you doing next? And I tell them, I'm gonna take a couple of years off. And this person goes, you can you can afford take a couple years off. And Quinton looked at them and said, because you're a filmmaker that was actively making films. Yeah. And he says, You can't Quinton lives. So simply, and it still does, you know. So simply, you know, he still was renting the apartments where he would have been living forever and present it you know, at that point, and driving in the little Geo Metro that he got from the money he got for Natural Born Killers, you know, 30,000 He got for that. And so when he said those words to me, he goes, Nick, people go, you know, oh, they've throwing trash with people. And he goes, I want my friends to make great films, because I can only make one every two or three years. So and I love going to the movies. So why wouldn't I want my friends want to support my friends in making good movies? You know? Yeah. That was, that was back in the day. And he still has the same ethos. He's still that person. And I love that, you know, he still loves going to the movies. I mean, seen him stop for a moment with a bunch of kids, when he's coming out with the, you know, the Arclight or whatever, you know, and talk to them. They're just standing around, and he just came out of a movie. And they're like, we'd known to just talk to us like, yeah, that sorry, did some, you know, awesome, that see that person still great. Clink laters the same way?

Alex Ferrari 1:42:49
Oh, Rick is Rick is. I love loving.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:42:53
I would i By the way, that's whether it's funny because I don't get to choose. I didn't get to choose with Robert, what themes? Movies I would make. I would dream to have been the producer of the before trilogy.

Alex Ferrari 1:43:07
Oh. boyhood or Yeah, no, no.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:43:11
I think those that by the way. He gave me original posters and sign them and everything because he knows how I feel about his movies in general, but also about that trilogy. To me. It's just

Alex Ferrari 1:43:22
Oh, it's Oh, it's beautiful. Oh, it's beautiful. And talking to Rick when I'm boyhood. Yeah. No, when I had Rick on the show, and I had the pleasure of talking to him for a couple hours. He was so generous with his time. He's such an artist. He is just such a. He is like, he's a consummate artist. And the one thing he said best advice I ever heard one of the best pieces of advice. I always ask people, what's your advice? And he's like, however long it's gonna take, you think it's gonna take it's gonna be twice as long and twice as hard. And it was like, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:43:59
And even for him, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:44:00
And it's still it's still struggle. He says I was talking to him the other day.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:44:03
And the movie is I tell people don't think that because you've made all those movies and you now have a studio do whatever the hell you think you have. No, it's still going to be hard. Still hustle? It Right? It's still hustle. Exactly. Right? Nation of, and by the way, and with me, I'm one of those people that I'm always bringing the ones I'm supposed to be here and take the ones out that are not supposed to be I'm in that process the whole time. So I'm never like, sad when an actor can't or decides not to or whatever says not for me. I'm always like, that's not the person that is supposed to be here, you know? And so they come in and out and then it begins to shape up. You know, Lance, we've been working on dead land for a couple years cuz you know, they got jobs. I got job. I mean, I got stuff to do too. You know, and so, someday we all had our jobs, you know, being the peas and things and editors and stop First Ladies, and you know, and I was always kind of the one there making sure that we were trying to get the right cast, you know, as the cast had to be just right. And and then Lance said to me, back in April, he said, Elizabeth, so, because he said, Oh, we're gonna start such a tilted date, and it never felt right for me. And I was like, okay, okay, perfect. Sure. And then he said in April, he said, So Jim is going to go off and do crater, jazz Shelton as it and then after that, he's going to free himself up, and we're going to go do the movie. So we're gonna start September 27. And I can't tell you how it was almost like, oh, just hit me. Just hit me like, This is it? We're moving? In? And it's been a couple years, you know, COVID kind of stopped the flow of Sure. You know, when it's September 27. That's what we're doing. That is exactly what that's what we're, we got to pull toward the scope, you know, and then, at one point, you know, we're running a little behind and some stuff happened. And I, you know, they were like, well, maybe we'll push and I said, if we don't start September 27. It's gonna fall apart. You gotta go. And we started September 27. And I'm so glad we did. Because none, by the way, is the first day of Mercury Retrograde, which is hilarious. By the way, the wireless thing is Robert, with hypnotic, which had fallen apart because of COVID. Last year, started September 27. Also, there was something about that date. Really important. Good, if not extend that day to, you know, at the studio. I was up in Oklahoma doing it. But But yeah, so there was something about that, you know, how you know, that, you know, you have this have the wish, that that's going to happen, and you have to have the faith that's going to happen that day, moments gonna come when it all coalesces. And man, when it does is like lightning in a bottle.

Alex Ferrari 1:47:06
When can I have to ask you, you I mean, you seem like a person who really listens to their instincts, listens to their gut a lot. And it and as I've gotten older in life, I've realized how important listening to my inner voice is. And and those feelings and especially like what you just said, like not September 27, like hot? And when other people don't understand what's going on. You're like, no, no, no, no. That's when this happened. The importance of understand listening to your inner voice as a creative and as a producer is so so important. Would you agree?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:47:39
Yes, by the way, it's truly what has guided me. And it's a thing that is elusive. Because it's you know, because sometimes you question it. Sometimes you like throughout the process with LANSON and COVID happens, and then No, no, this happened. You're like, that moment? You have to know that that moment, unless we like, okay. You know, because as a filmmaker, he's trying to lift it up as hard, you know, as he could. And it's funny, because we talked about it. And he goes, Elizabeth, when you said it's September 27, back in April. That's when I knew. I know. Because I knew that you knew, you know, and so you're like, No, yes. It's a it's some moment of like, the synergy of it. Yeah. I don't know why I thought September 27. Would be the moment. But we had no way we would go into a whole new wave of COVID. I mean, Jesus, I mean, it just got thick, man. And so you're like, No, no, we're gonna I did a movie during COVID with no vaccines the year before. And totally, but we really really became like a bubble. Yeah, camp, a real bubble. Nobody left. You know, it was a very simple movie with six actors total that four of them were the adults and that was it. And so the blazing world and I so a and that one was filmmakers that I didn't know I met them along the way but Carlson Young is just a beautiful writer and a beautiful young woman and a really great director that is sure she's gonna have a beautiful career. And so anyway, I but with Lance's we've been together for 10 years and the couple of scripts that you know, several things that he's written, and just a friendship and that's a real real connection, and his wife from Panama, and she's hilarious and they used to live in Santa Clarita, you know, until about about nine months ago, Ted no beginning of year, so about a year ago, and he decided he was coming home and she's from Austin. She grew up in Austin, her mom's Panamanian Rose, Rose Larson, and she She was like, I'm not coming back to LA, done. I'm not. And, you know, talk about the gut, you know. And she, and he's still working at Fox, and then everything shuts down. So he's working out of his house. He's like, What am I doing here? My family's back there. I'm here, you know. And so, so he moved this way. And by the way, but before that, Rose had said, No more brighter kids. They were in Texas, and the school that their son was going to start freshman year in. There was a shootout, puncher shooter, an active shooter. first week of school, oh, my God, so many of their little friends. And that's when Lance realized his wife had a gut, too. And was like, she knew something I didn't know. You know. And so I have to start listening to God, you know, really listen, so he moved. The funny thing is, I called her from Austin, I won't tell them what to do you know what I mean? And then, so he finished, he moved in. And I was like, so what did you move to? And he goes, Oh, and we ended up in Lake clay rough house, and like, You're seven miles from my house. Down the street. And so the house is pretty funny, you know, that people you just let them be. And so it's been fun, you know, because we could deal with things, you know, from here from this side of the town. No more cars, you know, and his kids are doing amazing, like, Travis and you know, cuz they have programs that they don't have in Los Angeles. So

Alex Ferrari 1:51:25
I know, I know. I know, I know, the so I'm gonna ask you a few questions, because I know we can keep talking and I please, I want to invite you back in a future time to keep talking to I absolutely adore talking to you. I'm gonna ask you a few questions, I ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:51:45
Start with a great story script, don't tell me you have a half written script. And I have an idea,

Alex Ferrari 1:51:53
I have an idea, an idea

Elizabeth Avellán 1:51:56
Everybody has, we all have stories, we all have ideas, we're storytellers by nature. And so put it down on paper, even if the then you write write a memoir, write something, put it together have an IP that you can leverage as a filmmaker, because that's the best way, you know, or, you know, that story has to be something that you can make for very little money. You know, if possible, and let's say 7000, but something that you understand and can carry out to get that first movie out there, you're going to learn a lot, in the process, make a lot of short films, maybe even make a short film about that particular subject matter. That's what Carlson Young was able to show me that she was a filmmaker, you know, she had his short, based on the movie, a little piece of it, that then when I read the script, it made sense. And it had gone to Sundance, so she already had made some. And that's how you start. And that's, I really believe that if you don't really learn those lessons, by making shorts, getting in there, knowing how to tell stories, in in moving pictures, no matter what format it is, it's animation, if it's whatever, then you're going in a little green, you have to have that as a filmmaker, if you want to be a filmmaker, and director, you know, even a producer, you have to understand how to do that. So that's my biggest advice.

Alex Ferrari 1:53:32
Great advice. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:53:43
To trust that something above you will guide you and really truly be able to give that over. And in Spanish we say something, don't put a coupon you know, I'm preoccupied. I'm used to always say not apropos pay the pay the preoccupied, don't do that. That let let go let thing let the universe move it let let have the the knowledge and confidence that if your heart you're in your passion you're in you're in you're you're you're developing those talents that are only you were like snowflakes when it comes to the combination of talents and what we love we that's how we are snowflakes. So if you are a person that is following that with their heart, I really believe that the universe God whatever you want to call it won't say no. It'll either happen or it will be not yet. Or it will be I have a better plan. Oh so Be open to that.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:02

Elizabeth Avellán 1:55:05
That's a hard lesson, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:06
Oh, tell me about it. You know how many of us listening? How many of us listening are always thinking like, I want this to happen this to happen to this to happen. And from from my experience, and I'm sure yours as well, first of all never happens how you want it to happen. Most of the times it happens in a different way that's better. And it might not be it might not be apparent when it happens. But in hindsight, you're like, Oh, I didn't get that job. I'm just I'm devastated. Like I got I was in. I was in Project Greenlight. In season two, I made it to the top 25. But I didn't get onto the show. And I was devastated that I got to very like right there. And I didn't get in I was devastated. And then after I saw what happened on the show was like, Man, I dodged the bullet. I'm so glad I didn't become that director because I didn't want I didn't want to be that person. So there's things that happen at a moment in time that you think that oh, God, it's the end of the world. But really, it you know, it happens. So plan, there's always a but there's a better plan. And that's what you have to kind of trust

Elizabeth Avellán 1:56:11
To trust that, you know, to trust that I think, you know, I always say I both my parents went away and each one taught me a huge lesson on their way. My mom, just she was 58 years old. 96. And she it was the process of the last seven weeks of her life. Were so hard and so beautiful. That she gave me the gift of not being afraid to die. Like be able to just go, Oh, it's just okay. And then that year, a movie, again, a movie, called Antonia's line gave me the language of what I had been at won the Academy Award that year for best foreign films and Dutch film. And this woman called it the miracle of death. And that's what I had seen a month before. Wow. So you know, so to to experience that and know that it's just a change of status. Because my mom's been in my life. Unbelievable. I mean, people can tell you the stories from this past movie, my mom shows up as a skunk. In this movie, the past three or four days she transmogrified herself. I literally go around. I'll show you one second. That's amazing. I carry around every movie every time I travel. Yeah, I got in Paris a long time ago. I have two of them. One travels, one stays on my desk, just in case you're my kids. Yes. And I'll tell you, it was insane. The last the last year, so the last two days, it was insane. And then my father passed away in 2018. And I took care of him the last seven months. Very interesting. My mom was seven weeks. And so now seven months were seven kids. And the last seven months, my father had a very, you know, difficult time it was it wasn't it was a heart failure, but just odd and all that stuff. But I was a person that handled in meditation, you know, yoga meditation as I do it, you know, but because of my dad, and I was the only person at that point, taking care of him a lot of the time by myself. I woke up early every morning to be able to be present for him. Whatever was going on with him, I had to be ready. And so amazing training for seven months, anything you do for seven months and consistently is going to, you're going to see a difference and feel the difference within you when you don't have that when you haven't done that. So I do that no matter what's going on, no matter what's happening. I wake up a couple of when it's called time, I wake up a couple hours before, so that I can do that and then be present, you know, and that's a huge gift. So those are the lessons that I learned lessons there. But it's, um, from that place, you know, you have to be present for a whole crew, no matter what happens because some stuff goes south man sometimes. And that's producer if you don't have the wherewithal to, to to be center right there. You know, like just and be able to handle in the comment. It's it can be hectic

Alex Ferrari 1:59:18
I've been I've been I've been telling my audience for years that I've been meditating heavily to two hours a day, at least every day, and it changed my life. It changed my life when I start meditating. It's

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:30
I recommended everyone

Alex Ferrari 1:59:31
If you have if you have a problem, if you have a question, meditate and a lot of times the answer comes to you in the meditation. It's pretty remarkable. It's really, really remarkable. And last and last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:47
Oh, gosh. He loves so many of them gosh.

Alex Ferrari 1:59:50
Three that come to mind right now.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:52
Three that come to mind immediately, you know Lawrence of Arabia Definitely because I got to see a couple of years ago presented to my kids. And it was a brand new 70 millimeter

Alex Ferrari 2:00:07
I saw it. I saw it in LA. I saw it in LA I saw that print the 70 millimeter print in LA at the end. Oh my god was gorgeous

Elizabeth Avellán 2:00:14
Here at the Paramount on believable marches. It was him again, transporting yourself back to the child in and then another seminal seminal moment was a movie that could kept me standing as a little girl. This is when I really fell in love with movies. Oliver. Oh, yeah. All over you from based on the Oliver Twist. I remember. So I mean, being a little girl and seeing this kid go through this journey. And being so moving Rex Reed and it was so heavy. It was a heavy film. Yeah. If you think about it as a kid, and I hope I mean, the image is still Oh, yeah. And I think I think I'm gonna mention Well, the trilogy from Rick, those were given already mentioned those. But I think one that I just thought Chase man has something else. Waking Life.

Alex Ferrari 2:01:10
Oh, Rick. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:14
That movie. It's one of those you know? Yeah. Watch it again. You're like, wow, what I thought your facts, I think different, you know, such a weird dream, like, and I just thought what the guts to do that?

Alex Ferrari 2:01:31
Oh, no, it's the guts that he has to do anything. All the films that he does like

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:36
Boyhood, oh, my god, like have the foresight to do something like that.

Alex Ferrari 2:01:40
I mean, and that there was there was a

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:43
He's one of my favorite human beings. Let's just begin. He's a sweet, you know, like, he's humans. And she's such as one of my favorite filmmakers and to for it to be in, in this person that I mean, I love Bernie. It depends on the person we recommend. Rick's over to the sheriff in the little town in Oklahoma. You gotta see Bernie man. Bernie's great, you know, so. So yeah, so you know, there are filmmakers out there that are just transcendent and I thought I think I have to say Django have to kind of go by and filmmakers Django is one of my it's my favorite. Winton's. Is it my it used to be my dogs believe it. Yeah, Django Django for me. So like, crazy. Like wow, what a yarn for me. yarn

Alex Ferrari 2:02:31
For me. For me. And for me for Quinton, I have to say it's once upon a time in Hollywood, but it's just because it's it is it's everything as a filmmaker, it's everything. It's just like he's it's his love letter to La it's his love letter to Hollywood. It's totally and it was just so great. It was just this and that and it was those two probably. Yeah, and Django is not too far behind. Yeah, and then Inglourious.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:02:55
Inglourious was great anyway, there's so many but I mean, I love so many films and so many filmmakers I just admire the form and I'm part of the academy so should have signed up and I signed up again this year to to judge the to be the one that takes on like the task of the foreign films you know, to to nominate I'm proud of the producers brands and that's just something extra you can do as and let me tell you the best thing of all was knowing that filmmaking and storytelling was alive and well. I still films and most incredible if you haven't seen this film neon bought it. It's called the night of the kings by Wow from Ivory Coast. And instead of a prison movie, like again, like border movie, so not a prison movie.

Alex Ferrari 2:03:48
Yeah, watch. Okay, watch. It's like Shawshank looks like Shawshank Prison movie.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:03:58
Exactly. So you know, I just I love I love. I'm one of those people that the thing I miss the most from COVID From the whole period of this situation has been I go to the movies, lunch in a movie by myself at least once a week if not twice. Yeah. Alamo Drafthouse violet crown, I just literally make it. I'm going to a meeting so I schedule what's what's playing, and then I kind of make afternoon I miss I miss doing that, you know, and I love that, you know, by myself by myself. Yeah. And Tuesday afternoon, one o'clock, whatever, you know, and, and that's been the thing I missed the most. And I also think, wow, but I saw those foreign films. Each one was magical My God, like your honor from Guatemala.

Alex Ferrari 2:04:47
Oh my god. I can't

Elizabeth Avellán 2:04:49
By the way from Chile. That documentary. How the hell did she do that? And oh my god, I can't wait to see these things. Trade in this manner. I mean, it's just amazing. I mean, I saw incredible movies that I was in awe. I mean, like, Oh my god. So anyway, so filmmaking is alive and well,

Alex Ferrari 2:05:13
Thank God for that because we need stories now more than ever forever. Honestly, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you today. It has been so wonderful, the energy and the words of wisdom that you've you've dropped on on the audience. And I really hope that this helps a lot of people out there listening to it and gives people hope. And everyone and of course, we set the record straight into mariachi, which was very important. But really the inspiration that that you and Robert have given generations of filmmakers over the years has been it has been remarkable. So thank you so much for everything you do. And you will have to come back because I know we could talk for another five hours. But thank you so much for being

Elizabeth Avellán 2:05:59
We'll talk some people that you should interview that I really like my one of them is Jeff Fahey he's one of us, my brother. Oh, no, he was just here in Austin doing doing hypnotic. He's the I love Jeff. Jeff. I love adore him. He's such an amazing he's his brain is just, it's so interesting. You know, we brought him out of Afghanistan when we were doing Planet Terror. Yeah. Rebel Without a crew. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 2:06:28
Thank you. Thank you, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:06:31
Thank you so much.


  • Elizabeth Avellán – IMDB


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