fbpx

IFH 585: What is the Controversial Indie Film NFT Franchising Method? with Cameron Van Hoy

Cameron Van Hoy is a veteran in the entertainment industry. After a stint acting, he wrote and produced films such as Treasure of the Black Jaguar, Tooken, and Sharkproof. He really came into his own producing the hit horror comedy Tragedy Girls, which hit theaters around the world and has gone on to become a cult classic.

His debut directorial feature, Flinch, was released early this year to great acclaim and theatrical distribution before finding a digital home with the tech giants of Amazon, Apple, and Google. The film continues to accumulate a loyal following and Van Hoy has an affinity for gritty stories documenting love, family and crime in an epic and timeless way.

Cameron created the indie film called Flinch that was are released and franchised via NFTs. It’s a controversial method, but we are aiming to be trailblazers of the industry and help mitigate the controversy surrounding NFTs by releasing it with a solid foundation.

It stars Daniel Zovatto, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Cathy Moriarty, Tom Segura, Buddy Duress, David Proval, Steven Bauer, Michael Drayer and more. It is a crime thriller that tells the story of a young hitman who lives with his mother and a girl who witnesses them commit a murder.

The backbone of any film growing a supporting audience is the community behind it. NFTs survive and thrive off of their communities. We are creating 9,999 original art pieces that are representative of characters in the universe. Community members will have the opportunity to purchase these for a set amount each. The funds from these NFTs will go into making the sequel to Flinch. Upon selling all of the NFTs, the film immediately goes into preproduction.

A dedicated audience of nearly 10,000 have an interest in ensuring the film succeeds. Those who hold these NFTs can be verified and are rewarded for doing so. After parties with the cast and crew, special Q&As with the director, early access to the script, visits to set during shooting, and red carpet premiers.

They gain exclusivity. Additionally, as a reward, 50% of the income generated from the movie will go into a shared community wallet. The NFT holders can vote on how to use these funds. They can use it to market and promote the film, create additional IP (comic books, TV shows, etc.), or whatever else they want to do with it! It gives holders “skin in the game” of the art and movies they love.

Joe Doyle (Daniel Zovatto) is a young hitman following in his father’s footsteps. Quiet and reserved, he is observant and careful, making him very good at what he does. While studying his new target, city council member Ed Terzian (Tom Segura), Doyle develops a distant crush on the councilman’s assistant, Mia (Tilda Cobham-Hervey). After she walks in on her boss’s assassination, Mia is caught by Doyle who must decide whether to let her go or to dispose of her for good.

As Doyle aims the gun at her head, Mia doesn’t flinch, bringing him to a crossroads. Unsure of what to do, Doyle brings Mia to his home where he lives with his overbearing mother Gloria (Academy Award Nominee Cathy Moriarty), and holds her hostage until he can gain some clarity.

Doyle’s boss, Lee (David Proval) and his son, James (Buddy Duress), start questioning Doyle about the missing girl, and slowly he comes to find that Mia might not be entirely who he thinks she is. This brings Doyle to make the ultimate decision: does he kill the girl who didn’t flinch?

Right-click here to download the MP3

Cameron Van Hoy 0:00
When I came in, I quickly realized I'm not going after anyone that's in web two. I'm really going after people on web three.

Alex Ferrari 0:07
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created Enigma elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like VHS and CRT images, smoke fog, textures, DaVinci Resolve presets, and much more. After working as an editor, colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years, I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, check out enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's Enigma enigmaelements.com. I'd like to welcome the show Cameron Van Hoy. How you doing Cameron?

Cameron Van Hoy 1:00
Good, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 1:01
I'm good brother. I'm good. Man. Thank you so much for coming on the show you guys reached out to me about what you guys are doing in the NFT space in the indie film space. And apparently, I have now become the podcast to go to for this stuff. Because I have been doing a lot of these NFT episodes lately. And it's just interesting, man. There's some really cool stuff that filmmakers are finally cracking the code and the technology and everyone's trying new ways of doing things and figuring things out. I mean, it's very, it's it's internet. It's the internet circa 2001. I think with the space.

Cameron Van Hoy 1:35
Yeah, I certainly is. And it's I think it's I think it's the most exciting thing to happen to independent film in a long time.

Alex Ferrari 1:44
Yeah, absolutely. Well, we need some help. That's for damn sure. Drop out there. It's rough out there for the independent filmmaker. So before we get started, man, how did you and why did you want to get into this insanity? That is the film industry?

Cameron Van Hoy 1:57
Well, movies, you know, I love the movies I I always loved storytelling and filmmaking and films and drama from I was very young. I started off as an actor at a very young age, like, you know, I grew up, I was one of those kids in theater and doing all that stuff. And then I this was in San Diego. And then I got an agent and I was on a show called Hey Arnold. And I did some movies. I was I was in this movie when I was 14, where I rob a bank and Burt Reynolds is the police negotiator and Nisha

Alex Ferrari 2:35
Cop and a half?

Cameron Van Hoy 2:37
No movie called Pups.

Alex Ferrari 2:39
Okay, okay!

Cameron Van Hoy 2:40
Movie called pups. And so like I had an introduction to Hollywood then. And then of course, I always had a video camera. I was one of those kids that grew up with a video camera. And then I moved to New York, went to the High School for Performing Arts, continued studying drama theater, really fell in love with movies. They're like World Cinema. Up until then, you know, I was in love with Rambo or Indiana Jones, or just all the great movies that we grew up with. Sure, sure, and Disney movies and all of that. And then in New York, it was at the Brooklyn Library that I started renting like all the great movies and I was going to the theater school, I'm surrounded by the culture of New York City and really dove into like World Cinema and just fell in love with the movies and was making little films with my video camera. And then I decided I was going to move to LA to make movies and so I moved to LA and I've been out here making films ever since.

Alex Ferrari 3:39
Very cool, man. Now what what made you decide to go into the NFT space with the new film Flinch? What are you doing that's unique in this in this space with NFT's?

Cameron Van Hoy 3:53
Yeah, so I guess Okay, so I made flinch pre pandemic, right, I was making it leading up to the pandemic. And then we were doing post production through the pandemic. And you know, the world really changed during that time. And then I also even before I knew anything about NFT's I knew that I wanted to own my movies. You know, I had done a film previous to this movie called tragedy girls, which did really well was in the festivals that had a great cast Josh Hutcherson Zenit Craig Robinson Zenit Alexandra Shipp, to horror comedy was received incredibly well. It's on Hulu now, you know, have a deal with Hulu. But I you know, before that I did a film that I sold to Netflix or licensed to Netflix and like it just I saw the business get tougher and tougher for independent filmmakers and the streaming deals worse and worse. And then you have these like other companies that come in licensing movies for like 10 to 15 years. It's just not the deal. Suck and so When I knew I wanted to own my films, and I just was like, There's got to be a better way. And I was familiar with filmmakers like Jim Cummings and other people who were owning their films, putting them on iTunes themselves, putting them on Amazon themselves, which seemed really great the idea and spirit of ownership, and like distributing yourself and you know, the technologies here, now we can get our films out there, you know, on our own, we don't have to sell them. But But still, the economics of that is very tough. Those streaming services, those tech platforms don't give you any data whatsoever, right. Their fees are egregious, or just I think, maybe egregious is too strong of a word, but it's not great. And then I learned about and I've been in crypto for many years, just buying Bitcoin and Aetherium and tons of other coins for many, many years. So I've always a believer in blockchain. And from early on and was very excited about I always kept my ear to the ground. And I heard about NFT's and this guy named vol. Ravi Kahn, I like to listen to his podcast sometimes. And he was talking about how the technology of NFT's is really about communities, owning projects, and through that community ownership and involvement, the value that can be created and what that really means for the future and how the future will look more like a world where projects are owned by communities developed by communities, the values are turned back to those communities. And that this is a real paradigm shift. And that was my aha moment. And I said, Wow, you can replace a movie studio with an NFT community. Right? Because when I first heard about NFT's, of course, I'm thinking through the framework as a filmmaker. But you know, my first gut reaction was like, well, the movie can be an NF T. That doesn't work, right? Yeah. Yeah. Yet, yet. Sure. Yeah. But I was more excited about the idea of community. And so I looked at flinch. And I said, Okay, well, I'm releasing this film. And I want to do it as a franchise to crime film, and I wanted to do it as a three part crime franchise. So I said, You know what, I'm gonna release it to an NFT community, I will take the film, I will release it to an NFT community. And then when the mentors complete, we go and make part two, and then hopefully repeat. And that was the initial like thought, it's like, okay, I could build a franchise with a community via NFT's. And then when I started really getting into it, and learning about the space and seeing what was happening in the film, NFT space and just the empty space in general, it started really taking shape. And it's incredibly well.

Alex Ferrari 7:33
So our it's so explicit. So if anybody and by the way, anyone listening who doesn't understand what blockchain or an NFT's are, there's multiple episodes on the show that you can go back to and just do a search. Because I don't want to just every episode explain what it is, in every episode explain blockchain, which is difficult to understand for, for a lot of people. So it's, you got to wrap your head around it. You know, I've, I've done a tremendous amount of research on in blockchain and NFT's I've, I've sold a few of my own ft. NFT's. And it's really an interesting space. But again, it's just very much like circa 2001. Internet, like people are just like, what's a web page? How is the web page working? Like, how can I get how can I get paid to do this? There's so many different technologies that are just starting to try to get ironed out. And there there is literal. I mean, we're in we're in dialogue. Right now, in the scope of technology, like we're in dialogue, we're at a really fast mode, and but we're still not a DSLR a DSL or, or cable or ether, you know, like none of that. So what our internet is our versus the internet analogy versus where we are with NFT's and blockchain, there's still like, really, there is a block in the technology to get it to where we all know it's going to go in 10 years, but it's getting there. It's even in the last three years. It's, I mean, NBC just did a five part series on blockchain and crypto, you know, so it's, it's becoming a more, it's becoming much more in the zeitgeist. So you decided to build a community around a movie? How did you find as the original movie?

Cameron Van Hoy 9:14
I find is that the way that I financed any of my other films with private equity? And some yeah, I've done things that tax credits foreign sales, this particular one I did with private equity investors that I'd worked with on my previous films.

Alex Ferrari 9:28
And then And then while you were in post is when you decided, hey, I'm gonna, I think we're going to try to do this NFT thing. So are you are you, how you distributing this film?

Cameron Van Hoy 9:37
So part one exists as like a utility for this project and for the community. So I've put it on iTunes, I've put it on Amazon. I've also built my own decentralized cinema for this project, which works on Polygon even though the NFT's will be on the Etherium network. So anyone who is in the web three ecosystem and has a smart wall All of our crypto wallet, they can connect to our site, send over to Matic tokens and have access to watch the film there. And also by doing that you are on our whitelist in order to mint or NFT's. So I have like a web three way to watch the film. And then I've put it out domestically via web two platforms like Amazon, iTunes and places like this.

Alex Ferrari 10:21
So what so everybody understands what web three is. Web three is basically the NFT crypto blockchain space. Right? Yeah, I say that. I'm just saying, Yeah, because people I get you, I understand where you're at, but like a lot of people listen to like, what are they? Are they talking another language? Because if we, if we just start going straight geek, we can go hard, and then everyone's gonna just turn off because they're not gonna understand what the hell's going on.

Cameron Van Hoy 10:46
There are it's very interesting. So what I'm finding in the spaces, yeah, there is a whole culture and economy and community in web three, right? There are people with smart wallets, crypto wallets, and Aetherium and blockchains and NFT's and they are operating and they're buying NFT's. They're getting involved in projects, the ecosystem really exists around Twitter and discord, your people are finding out about product projects on Twitter. And then they are joining those projects discords getting on whitelist, which is access to buy the NFT's early on oftentimes for a cheaper price. It's like that, you know, going public moment for a project. And they're, they're, you know, changing their profile pictures, they're building together, they're participating in games together. One thing that we've been able to do, since we have Part One complete as we do movie nights for other NFT communities, because this ecosystem, we're talking about this economy, whatever you want to call it, it's very, like you said, it's closed off, it's hard to get into, you have to take the time to understand the wallet, set up the wallet the right way, get some eath in your wallet and start buying and trading. And then you start realizing the community aspect and how these communities rally together build value by hyping up other projects, so their own projects, and then in turn, you know, their price of their NFT's are rising, and people are playing that game by buying multiple energy, right? So there's a lot of people in that world already. I shouldn't say a lot. It's probably a drop in the bucket. But it's a thing. It's a world. And so, you know, people are building games and Metaverse is in film franchises like what we're doing and clothing brands. And there's insane amounts of value being built around these things. Of course, I think the larger goal is that these things that communities build, eventually are utilized, explored, understood or purchased by the general public, right? But but within this community they're building and so when I came in, I quickly realized I'm not going after anyone that's in web two, I'm really going after people in web three, you know, so it's like, I'm going to a bunch of NFT de gens or tech forward thinking people and saying, Hey, let's build a franchise together. You know, and this is part one, you can watch it. And if you like it, you can be a part of building out this larger franchise. So yeah, that's how I've kind of approached it.

Alex Ferrari 13:07
Do they have part ownership if they buy the NFT?

Cameron Van Hoy 13:10
So the way that it works is they get governance access and value, right? So obviously, anyone who has the NFT owns their NFT. Right? That NFT's on by that are NFT's are generative characters that exist in part one, two and three of the franchise, right that generative. They're criminals, crooked cops, Femme Fatale, we are crime franchises. And so if you hold if you own those entities, you own the IP rights to that character. What we're doing is the franchise the larger ecosystem is allowed to use any of these characters at any time within the films that we're making the games and then any other ancillary that we derive from it. But you as the holder of the NFT also have the IP rights over that character. So you can go make a spin off about that character if you want. Oh, really? Yeah, you can make a YouTube podcast channel where you're interviewing people in Avatar of that character, you can make your own Instagram account around that character and speak and post in the voice of that character. You can do anything you want. The only thing we ask for is like Movie Studio is a first right of refusal with a first look deal with anyone models and NFT. So if you've developed your specific character to a point where you feel there's an audience and a story and lore, you want to go develop it, you come to us first and see if the community wants to use its community funds within the wallet to finance whatever project you're doing with your character. So that's kind of the ecosystem around the NFT's and then there's the central franchise that the project makes. So we already have Part One complete we're going to go into part two we do that with the community. They're involved in the creative process they have access to control the creative meetings, these things are token games you have to hold an NFT in order to get in right so witness watch partake in the discord like I'm there all the time communicating with everyone and there was a real team, it's building and people are coming up with lore and ideas and all sorts of stuff happening. We have like location channels where people drop Location images and ideas and car images and soundtrack, concepts inspirations. So it's really like creating communal creativity. And then a percentage of whatever comes back from these films, the value from their exploitation goes back to a community wallet, that the community governance, so it's the return of value back to the community. And the community can decide if they want to save by the floor price of the NFTs, which is subsequently just boosting their profits like returning it right to themselves almost like a buyback in a way. Or they can put it towards more marketing to get the word out there about the project in a larger way. Let's say we've made part two and we watch an early cut of it and decide that we want more action, well, we can decide to go back in and do some pickup days with that community wall. Right. So that's, that's how the ecosystem works. And then the goal is to make a native token, so that within this franchise ecosystem, we're just you know, X movie, we license Part One and Two to Netflix, say, in a year, Netflix wants to get on the web three thing, they license these two films from us put them on the front page, and it's just throwing numbers out, it's a million dollar deal. They're excited about web three. Well, a percentage of that million will just come right back into the ecosystem going wallets and if we have a native token can just be exchanged for that token and air dropped into everyone's wallets. Same with what three exploitation, right? Like if the film continues playing, or we are able to build out like a play to earn game and there's, there's some form of cash flow from that those native tokens can just automatically no one has to do anything, because of smart contracts in the blockchain, just drop into everyone's wallets. So the goal is that you create this ecosystem and like a real, real value, ultimately, so that's

Alex Ferrari 16:50
So then, so then, if I if I can translate, you're building a community of like minded people who are interested in this franchise, they're, they're buying the NFT's by buying the NFT's, they are not part of this community, that's their entry point to the community. There are smart contracts that state everything, you just said that, you know, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all that stuff. So then if, let's say, you get a million dollars from Netflix, great. A percentage of that, I think, is I think I read somewhere 50 50%. Like goes. So if it's $500,000 goes straight into the community wallet for everybody to kind of govern. And then 500 goes to the you guys that set this whole thing up, which is fine. actually convert more than fair. So then, let's say there's a video game spin off, that video games spin off as bought by by Blizzard for $20 million, 10 million goes to you 10 million goes into the community wallet. And then we start building out what and then everything else other ancillaries other exploitations of the movie, whatever they might be, when that money comes in. It goes in splits 5050 goes into the into the community, and then you start building from there. So you it is in the best interest of the community hold the token holder or the excuse me, the NFT holder to promote the living hell out of this to try to get the word out because the more people buy, they have more control of what's happening with the project. But they don't get a percentage. They're not part owners of it. They're part owners of the community. In other words, is that that's that's the that's how you guys putting it together? Yes. It's a very interesting concept. How many? How many NFT's do you have for this film franchise?

Cameron Van Hoy 18:36
Doing 9999 Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 18:41
Okay. Are they all mented already?

Cameron Van Hoy 18:44
No, we haven't done anything.

Alex Ferrari 18:46
Oh, you haven't ment that anything? Yeah. So you're slowly going to be

Cameron Van Hoy 18:48
You just been building our community. So like, obviously, in this space, it's very important to build your community first, it's very hard to just drop something and have it mapped out because you don't have any awareness at first. And the other incredible thing that I've learned about the space is that you're able to build communities of people that want to get in on these whitelists, as they call them, we call ours a hit list, because it's about a hitman, obviously. And so there's real value in getting in early. And so you start getting all of these people that are doing exactly what you're saying. And they don't even hold the NF T's yet. But they're building and passionate about building and supporting and promoting and marketing because having that early access means you're gonna get a lower mid price, right, you're gonna be one of the early adopters. And so we've been able to build out a really large, powerful community like we are one of the leading films in the NFT film space at this point. And, and I think that's because of you know, I don't know what it's because exactly, I think we're doing things right. I think we're using the technology in the right way.

Alex Ferrari 19:49
Well, I think it's also I think, from seeing what I saw of your of your work I mean, it's solid, it's a it's a well, it's Welsh as well directed well shot has a good cast has it's a great genre. So there's, you know, it's not like a period drama piece. Like, you know, it really hits within the niche of people who would be tech savvy, would be interested in a crime franchise. You know, they wouldn't be interested in the dog says, dog sakes that saves Christmas movie. Like that's not probably the NFT ideal. So it is genre based and everything else you I mean you got time so Gordon and your movie, right? I am like the biggest fan of Tom segura. frickin love Tom.

Cameron Van Hoy 20:29
Right! He's amazing. Yeah, he's amazing. We've got Academy Award nominee, Cathy Moriarty, who's got Danny's avato, who's an incredible young actor tilde Kevin Urvi. Putting duress is in the movie. I mean, it's a wonderful cast. It helps us a lot like being able to enter the NFT space and drop the movie and show them say, Hey, this is this is what you're signing up for. This is the team that's surrounding this project that's going to help to spearhead this in the right way. Yeah, it's been really helpful for us, I think we're the first that's done something like that,

Alex Ferrari 21:03
Would you would it eventually, in I'm just gonna like pie in the sky here. Eventually, when the technology gets to where we want it to get to in the in the blockchain and NFT space, would it be simple, it wouldn't be this would be a workflow, let me know I want to just throw it this workflow at you and see if it works. You would create a community based around an IP, whatever that IP is, and you can have images sizzle reel, whatever it is to sell and finance the film through NFT's and smart contracts and get funding that way, make the movie, then release it on the blockchain, where then anybody who buys or rents or accesses it, when they pay all the money automatically gets split among all of the investors and yourselves as a creators, all automatically. And then as new revenue comes in. The smart contracts handle all the distribution, and there is no funny business. There's no Hollywood accounting, there's none of that while and there's no middleman

Cameron Van Hoy 22:08
Is that that's where we're going. And it's all all the systems are in place. The only one that is probably just not profitable yet is the distribution side of it simply because that smart wallet most people don't have smart wallet yet. And they're not operating in this web three world. But what is perfectly in place at this point is communities minting providing the liquidity to the project and then supporting and building together. That's there right now. That's happening. I think over time, as more and more people become native to this yes, then that distribution will we'll probably see a flip at a certain point where more people are connecting wallets to watch things than they are using the username and password to get in to watch stuff. And when that happens. Yeah, it'll be it's going to be awesome.

Alex Ferrari 22:57
But it'll be it's we're still a little while away, because we just need mass adopt adopt, you know, adopting of this technology.

Cameron Van Hoy 23:06
So, and for us, it's important, like, Look, our goal would be to get, you know, like 500 screen release in AMCs for the next year. You know what I mean? Like, and I'd love to see the community like tweeting the hell out of them saying, Hey, we got party ready, let's, let's roll them out name. See, that's a very tech forward thing, you know, with these communities, I imagine a lot of these big corporations and companies are going to want to have a pulse on what's happening with three more and more. So as this continues to grow, and and I want that I want the film to play in theaters. I wanted to play with a major stream where I want it to be accessible to everyone. And I think the community wants that as well. Right? Because that provides more awareness for our project more value back to the community. So we're not trying to say you can only watch it in web three. But yes, but I do believe over time, more and more people will watch within Web three, and then that what you're talking about transparency will become the norm.

Alex Ferrari 24:00
Yeah, it'll become the norm. It's something that's so I think the studio's will be pretty terrified by it. And distributors will be terrified by it, because it kills the basically, you can start I mean, when you imagine if the Rock who could finance a film if he wants to does this and goes down the road all the way and does everything we just said and he pulls in a couple 100 million himself. That's a better deal than he's getting from studios. It's gonna get to that place, I think, I think eventually will

Cameron Van Hoy 24:34
Not only will it get to that place, but there's something new happening here, which I think a lot of people don't recognize, which is NFT's themselves are a new art form. As it's entered here, there are stories being told to these entities, there's games being played for these entities, just the process of purchasing NFT's, making them waken an avatar representation of who you are giving them life giving them names and backstories. And then like purchasing multiple types of NFT's based off of their rarity within collections, and then the groups that are formed around those specific NFT's. And then serums. Many times like with the port apes, as an example, like ours, our version of a serum is gonna be a burner phone, because in the film, the central character uses a burner phone to get their jobs, there will be a burner phone that has a variety of jobs smuggled across the border, take care of this person, be the getaway driver for this job. And you'll be able to mint one of those burner phones, then if you want to advance your character and have tea, you will have to burn the burner phone, which is getting rid of that NFT sucking it off of the market. But then you advance your character. And this sounds crazy to people who are not in web three. But there's a lot of fun in it for people, it's important to new form of entertainment, and game and investing that we haven't seen before. And I think it's a whole other market outside of just the movies, just what's happening with characters and serums and playing them against each other. And where that can go is a new thing. And then there's this secondary royalty that comes into the project from that in and of itself. So you start looking at a franchise, it's something that has multiple verticals, there's the movies, but there's also just the NFT's are a thing. They're more than just a way to provide liquidity to make the films

Alex Ferrari 26:42
Right. You know, no, it's really interesting, because it's it's the equivalent of where we were, you know, again, I'll go back to like, when people were afraid to put their credit cards on the internet, you know, that they were like, that was the technology like now everybody just literally opens up an app and buys whatever they want, and it's at your doorstep. But I'm old enough to remember where there was no internet. That's how old I am. But But during that, yeah, exactly. So but you look fantastic. So so no, but the but I still remember, like people were like I can't, there was like full full news sections. And like, don't put your credit card on the internet. This is what happened. So that was a complication. I think I think that as we move forward, and if these are pretty complicated right now, everything's a little clunky, the technology is a little clunky, you really need to have your tech in order in order to even buy. I mean, Coinbase has helped a little bit if you want to buy Kryptos, it's become a little easier to buy crypto with with your credit card, which that that's only within the last couple, what, two, three years that hasn't been like that way always. So it's becoming a little bit easier. From what you're saying in regards to the investment and you know, getting residual back and all that kind of stuff and gaming within the NFT space. It's kind of like, you know, you're playing fortnight or Roblox or something like that. But the money that you're buying or selling and making is real money, it's crypto. And you can actually use that in real world purchases while you're playing in the web three space. Is that is that a decent analogy?

Cameron Van Hoy 28:23
That's, that's that is the whole premise of web three is ownership. Right? Web two was reading, right? Right, what one they say was just read, you can just kind of dial up and read things when two is username and password to get into a centralized organization that held and owned everything and you can comment like and share posting videos is a two way street, web three is connect your wallet and own.

Alex Ferrari 28:49
So in, in theory, what we're talking about is that a movie project could be for lack of a better word, a stock, a company that you're investing in. And in the, in the grand scheme of things, let's say I'm investing and I want to get a piece of a piece of you know, there's a piece of the residual payments back kind of like dividends. So I let's say I put in $100 is that, you know, let's say this NFT, there's a lot of shares. So it can go around millions of people to purchase it, let's say, then, as you invest, the movie goes out, it's your best interest to promote it because it's your stock, you're part owner of this. So you're gonna put it out so then the marketing costs start to go way down, because now you're putting it all out there. So it's kind of like creating a word of mouth on a project, but you're getting paid for the word of mouth marketing, and then you can invest in that and then as the movie just continues, it's it's it's pace from now until whenever the world ends, and the computer stopped working. There's a residual payment that is set up through the through the smart contracts that automatically win money. He's made, it goes right into your account. And you could start investing into any kind of projects you want. So if you wanted to invest, quote, unquote, into a Marvel movie, let's say the next Avengers comes out and you can invest $100 In the next Avengers, you might be able to pull $100 back out eventually, or vice versa. But it's an a part ownership of the project as opposed to the norm. The normal way of doing things is that there's a studio that owns everything gets all the gets all the benefits of it, and barely even plays the the creators like they pay them upfront, but they generally don't get paid afterwards because of Hollywood accounting, and so on. So is that a setup?

Cameron Van Hoy 30:41
It's democratized venture capital is democratize, investing and ownership is democratizing filmmaking. And like, it's just democratizing these things that used to be so you know, there's no way into them. They were operating these giant centralized organizations, whether it's a music label, or a movie studio or right, you're a clothing brand. I mean, you see a lot of these projects now that are building clothing brands, and people are going to wear those clothing, because the more again, that they're promoting that as they're walking around, that's, it's it's a direct connection to the value that NFT that you hold, which has a marketplace that you can sell it at any time and see what the market is valuing that at. So yes, communities work together and provide value back to themselves immediately. That's the paradigm shift of it all, you know?

Alex Ferrari 31:31
Yeah. It's it's pretty, it's pretty exciting. I mean, it's a pretty exciting idea. Again, some of the things that we're talking about are available now. But not everything we're talking about, because the technology is not there yet. But this is where everything is going. There's no doubt in my mind that this will happen within the next 10 years, if not faster.

Cameron Van Hoy 31:51
No, I think it'd be faster. I mean, we saw all the streaming. I mean, all the Yes, streaming companies, tech companies, social media platforms just destroy all media or bookstores like old retail, it's somewhat what how long did that take? 10 20 years, right? I think this will move quicker. I think web three will rattle those cages, because again, this is about ownership. So if you don't provide that to people, you have a very hard time iterating. And then also your point about communities and the power that they have for marketing? Well, it's it's almost similar what happened again, with the social media phase of web two, where the people who had the followings who got the likes and got the comments. And they were they became very valuable, right? They were the marketing juggernaut now, so much so that most companies want to spend more on that than they are in traditional ads. Right? That's going to be the other shift that happens where people are going to value communities and projects and brands that hold communities. That's going to be the next wave, right? Because once you start realizing like that you can directly receive value from the things that you're supporting and liking. I mean, that's, that's a skin in the game as a drug that's going to be hard to take away from people once they have it.

Alex Ferrari 33:03
Right! And it's kind of like we're crowdfunding was when it started. But crowdfunding doesn't give you any ownership.

Cameron Van Hoy 33:10
Crowdfunding is patronage, you know, crowdfunding is this is completely different than that.

Alex Ferrari 33:15
Completely. Exactly, exactly. It's more like equity crowdfunding, which is like you're getting a piece of the pie by donor, putting money into the piece. And there's a, but this is done, not by contracts, but by smart contracts, which are interesting.

Cameron Van Hoy 33:31
Anyone, you didn't have to trust the company to make sure that the funds go here. It's, there's no, it's trustless it just happens.

Alex Ferrari 33:39
And I think that is how that's going to how the governments of this world are going to allow this to continue is fascinating to me, because they're literally starting to, I mean, once you decentralize money, which is the power of a government essentially used to control their money. Yeah, you know, it's, it's pretty interesting.

Cameron Van Hoy 34:01
I was buying Bitcoin at a very low price. And I was afraid of this every step of the way. I was always I was a big believer in Bitcoin and blockchain but I was every step of the way, just going, they're gonna they're not going to allow this right for that exact reason, right dominance over the dollar. And it's so interesting how all these combos ultimately become like an economic even political conversation certain point because it's such a thing. But you know, they haven't stopped it yet. It's very hard to stop. And I hope they don't because, you know, America has always been strong because we've been able to innovate. And I mean, look what um, tax it right, they gotta get the they gotta get their tax dollars, let them tax it, but hopefully, they let the innovators just, you know, play within the rules, but but, you know, continue to grow and develop,

Alex Ferrari 34:46
I think, I mean, yeah, just El Salvador just made Bitcoin their national currency. So that's pretty insane.

Cameron Van Hoy 34:54
Yeah, yeah, it is. It is for sure. I mean, I think America's stance has been pretty cool with it also. Far scary games there seems to be pro Bitcoin and watching. We'll see how it shakes out. I think it's I think the cats out of the bag.

Alex Ferrari 35:09
Oh, no, you can't you can't put you can't put the genie back in the bottle with this. But now Now we got we got institutional investments into Bitcoin and into crypto coming in I mean, we're talking about like, you know, there's there's funds, there's crypto funds by major, major financial institutions, so they're all gonna get into it. So in we're talking about crypto a little bit guys, because that's kind of like the blockchain is the base, but in order for money to be made, you can't send dollar bills back and forth.

Cameron Van Hoy 35:39
Yeah, through swift systems or through these old systems with middlemen, right, like it's just it sucks value out of it. It's, it's it's friction.

Alex Ferrari 35:50
Exactly. I mean, where you can have a where you can have a crypto wallet that's earning you five to 10%. In Me, I mean, I have I have crypto right now that's earning 5%. That's better than any bank just sitting there. Now mind you, the crypto is a little bit volatile. So that's that's just a little, just a little on the points.

Cameron Van Hoy 36:11
But you know, there's another cool thing to speak about as well that's happening. It's also a paradigm shifts and a revolution outside of blockchain, which I think is two things happening in conjunction with each other as enabled. What's going on here to be so strong, which is Twitter spaces, Discord, right? It's again, it's the communication, it's the ability to communicate. But within Twitter, there's these things called Twitter spaces, which is so much of the in the NFT world called Alpha sounds like such a general I'm a film guy just talking at a theaters now. But you know, people get together in these Twitter spaces, it's like clubhouse, and they're talking. And they're just communicating, sharing ideas. And that ability for us to share ideas so quickly. Just communicate and like work together and pick up on trends and execute on those trends. Is fire right? It's really amazing. And then these these platforms like discord that allow communities to be whole and work together and organized with channels and like execute on things as groups, but from around the world. I mean, Twitch at this point has a team of filmmakers, Blockchain developers, collaborators and marketing people, devs, moderators, mods, I mean, just so many people from all over the world, and we are every single day like it just doesn't end it becomes like hive mind, where there we're using the discord as the centralized operating space. We did a table read for someone else's screenplay and a lot of directors writers people send me their scripts to look at and now my go to is always just jump in the discord get involved. So we've always called filmmakers that are jumping in there. One of them wanted me to read the script. I said, let's just do a table read with the community. We can talk and get it from the community right. And so they they jump in, we cast out of the community with one of the actors from flinch and amazing actor Michael Dreyer has been everything he came out, read the lead role in it. And then like the rest of the community was like, filled out the other roles. And we read this person's screenplay and gave them some feedback. And for them to hear it. We did it just like we're doing right. So it's like, we're working together to build and support each other. And that communication, that connectivity, coupled with like live value, whatever you call it, like the NF T's being able to, in live let the market determine the value of what it is that you guys are doing as a group. It's just wild.

Alex Ferrari 38:37
Yeah, it's pretty insane. Now, I also saw that you guys are doing practical, or real world products, like VHS and a couple other things. First of all, where do you get your VHS? And how are you getting done? And secondly, how is that connected to the NFT space?

Cameron Van Hoy 38:56
It's just merch. Yeah. Collectibles. So yeah, we made a VHS. We made a VHS. We've made VHS. VHS. We made a tape cassette. Yeah. And it because it has like a digital download. So you can also get the soundtrack digitally our soundtracks done by Miami knights 1984 One of my favorite synth wave groups, awesome. Fire. We've got CDs, posters, shirts, like and the community just bombed them and loves them and is wrapping them. So yeah, it's just it's merch like anything else.

Alex Ferrari 39:37
You know, it's connected but it's connected to NFT's as well. You have to buy NFT to get it or how's that work? No, no, just normal normal just normal merch. Merch is just accessible. So where do you get your Where did you get your VHS is paid. I have to ask.

Cameron Van Hoy 39:49
There's like one VHS manufacturer left in America. I think they're in America. Again. You want to remember off the top my head. But we dealt with that. Oh, we did a vinyl Press two we have vinyls of the sound. Yeah. Right. It's also tough to get like a good vinyl press. There's not a lot of companies that

Alex Ferrari 40:07
For independence, but like as I see vinyl everywhere now,

Cameron Van Hoy 40:11
Maybe for independence, I don't know. For us it was there was back halt, you know, and everyone was back halted, when might it be a COVID thing as well.

Alex Ferrari 40:18
But that's really that's so and it goes along with the kind of film you're doing. So VHS makes

Cameron Van Hoy 40:24
The movie, the movie flinch has a very 90s vibe to it. Right? It's like, it's got that vibe, and like a crime film from the 90s, you know, an era and a genre that I personally love. And so all of this plays into the aesthetic of the movie.

Alex Ferrari 40:39
Yeah, that's, that's awesome, man. Now, at the end of the day, what's the goal with the NFT's and the community, you just want to build out two more films. And then let's say let's say you get the other two films done. And you've got a three part you know, trilogy, what next? What do you do with this? One that's all played out? What do you do with this community?

Cameron Van Hoy 40:58
Now the goal is to do a full year, and then let the community just run wild with it.

Alex Ferrari 41:04
It's not just about Flint, you're building a community based around projects that you want to continue to build out and build out as a community.

Cameron Van Hoy 41:12
So I want to see flinch, go on and become this kind of epic crime web three franchise that was birthed of the metaverse, but enjoyed by the world, that the community is constantly adding to I think very soon the future is going to be like imagine a writer who wants to write for film and television now and they're not they're not in the film business, what do they have to do move to LA New York, write spec scripts, try to get an agent try to get them in front of people making these TV shows and movies and then get hired on to be a staff writer get their thing picked up to be turned to have. So I think the future is going to be binding 50 to a film franchise get in right lower for that franchise, get involved in the creative process of the franchise, get hired to write part eight of the franchise, and then maybe direct part nine, you know what I mean? Like you're gonna work your way up within these communities that you're actively involved in that you understand the lore and the characters of we're already seeing it and flinch. All sorts of creative people are coming in, that are actors and writers and directors aspiring or working and going, Hey, like, Let's build this together. And yeah, I'll read a role here. And can I put myself on tape for that? You know, and I'd like to write some lore for this character, I have an idea for part two. So I think it'll, I think it'll continue, I think that's the plan is that it becomes, it takes on a life of its own so much to the point where I can step away and go do whatever it is that I want to do next. Outside of the flinch thing, although my focus now is executing this successfully. But yeah, that's that's the vision for it. And that's why you give people IP ownership, so that they can spin off. Imagine a world where the way that like Blumhouse wants to go to a Halloween movie, they have to negotiate the rights for Halloween. Well imagine a future where they could just buy several NFT's from these characters and make films around those characters within the universe of free lunch. Right? If a studio wants to build a mini major, like, who knows, maybe it'll get there to that point where this IP has such value that people are, you know, you want to make your first film as a first time filmmaker, make it with in a franchise that already exists that you own an NFT and, you know, like it's it's kind of a different way to think about it. But I think you can get there.

Alex Ferrari 43:23
No, I agree. It's like, well, it's kind of like what Stephen King does with his his short films he gives you you can license his short films for $1 and make a short film out of it. I didn't know that. Oh, yeah. See if it's he's been doing it short stories, any of his short stories that are not already licensed, or you know, sold. You can license it for $1. And all he asks is that you send him a copy of it when it's done. So then you can so you can you can direct a Stephen King short film to get your stuff go. So it's a franchise, which is Stephen King's cool. And he's been doing that for, I don't know, 30 years. I mean, Frank Darabont did one when he was starting out that's how old this this Oh, yeah, that's how we got started with with Steven was Frank Darabont did the one short film for and Steven loved it and then he came up in the business and he called up Steven again. It's like, Hey, can I can I look at that Shawshank Redemption thing.

Cameron Van Hoy 44:20
Well, that's, that's awesome. And the man's a genius clearly, and that's what this tech is enabling. I think that's where these call them NFT franchises are gonna go. I think creative people, aspiring filmmakers and working filmmakers. I mean, imagine when a really cool filmmaker with a track record comes in and does Part Four on the franchise for us. The community hires someone dope to come in and take over the you know, it's like, and they take their crack at it. Like I think that's where this can all go. I hope it's work goes That's certainly what I'm gunning for.

Alex Ferrari 44:52
Yeah, it's really it's a fascinating placement. It's a fascinating it's a fascinating thing that's happening for independent film and I agree with you at this point. Probably the most exciting thing to happen independent film. This is worth it since I don't I mean, cat since the 90s. Essentially.

Cameron Van Hoy 45:10
I always say this, like the revolution isn't in digital technology. Everyone's like, oh, anyone can get a camera and make a movie. Now we've had that for 30 years. Yeah, I mean, like anywhere people are cameras are accessible. The revolution is going to be in this distribution and financing. We can make these things outside of the centralized systems, and hopefully, wonderful originality comes out of it, you know.

Alex Ferrari 45:32
Right, because you don't have

Cameron Van Hoy 45:34
Studios or they're afraid of originality. You know, they're afraid of everything.

Alex Ferrari 45:37
They're afraid of everything. And nowadays, you can't say anything, you can do anything. And you can be as outlandish as you want. You can go as far off off the reservation as you want on on these projects, because it's the only person you're beholden to is the community.

Cameron Van Hoy 45:53
By the way, that's what's working in this space right now. Anyways, okay, we're not seeing the Looney Tunes NFT's popping off, right? It's doodles, it's board apes, it's ZooKeys. It's like, you know, kaiju kings, it's original things, because they're able to provide ownership to people, it's when you provide that ownership, that you rally communities around them. And so we're already seeing the birth of originality. So I think it's going to be really exciting. As more and more films and filmmakers come into the space and use this tech in this way. The originality is going to be off the charts against the like the 90s. Again, we're just we're going to be come out with bangers left and right. That was dope, you know,

Alex Ferrari 46:34
Back back in the day was with me back in the day in the 90s. I mean, it was like every month, there was a new there was there was there was Robert and there was Tarantino and there was burns, it was Spike Lee and, and the list just goes on and on the list goes on the course, like every month. So it's like Aronofsky and like,

Cameron Van Hoy 46:55
Just like everybody weird little franchises like spawn and like the way of the god and like just

Alex Ferrari 47:03
Yeah, it was the wild wild west. Yeah, it was, and they could do and they could do whatever they wanted. Because it was kinda like what happened in the 70s when they when they let Spielberg and Lucas and Coppola and all those guys. They're like, we don't know what the kids want. You guys go all out, we'll give you the money. And that's basically how that all that cool originality. And now we're gonna get to that place as well. I have to ask you. So let's say a filmmaker wants to start this process. I got a project what do I do? How do I start this whole process like what you did?

Cameron Van Hoy 47:35
Well, you got to learn you got to you got to take the time to learn went through. Right. That's the thing is you have to and there's a lot of people that hate it's okay, I see vitriol in people's posts, even celebrities post about it. Like our artists who did our art is a very popular artist online. She's got a big following. For a long time. She's incredible talents, fetish Avena kindred are NFT designs. And she when she posts about it, like there's so many little NFT we're gonna hate you, you know, like just vitriol. And so I would just encourage anyone to like can't try to look past that look past the hype. There's a lot of crazy hype, we hear these stories about apes JPEGs, selling for millions and millions of dollars. And it's just like, what, and explore what the technology is, that's the first step is exploring, getting involved getting jumping to our Discord, just meet the people in their talk, you know, like try to take the time to learn it. It's probably one of the best investments that you can make in the world today

Alex Ferrari 48:34
Understanding the web, the web through space, but also then to just getting a general understanding of blockchain getting a general understanding of crypto if you don't want to read there's a ton of documentaries really great Doc's about this

Cameron Van Hoy 48:47
YouTube videos of the best authors. It's our matrix that's like plug in the back of your head and just like get like, just everything has culminated for us to just like have this leap this quantum leap as a society between blockchain communication those YouTube videos, I've learned so much from YouTube videos, if you can just like Be your own algorithm and like kind of search what you need and put the keywords and fine and then you get all the info that you need. I that's that's how I did a lot of my education in space was YouTube videos.

Alex Ferrari 49:18
Yeah, and there's and there's documentaries on YouTube about these spaces as well that just kind of like feed you're gonna give like a 30 minute doc on blockchain real produced because I watched all of them. I literally watch almost everything. I literally went and like for like three weeks I just went and just got I went down the rabbit hole on crypto and down the rabbit hole on blockchain and really tried to and I read books about it. And I really tried to understand what was going on with it because it just seems so exciting. And then it's like, okay, we're not there yet. But again, it's just like the internet circa 1990s. Man, it's just it's worth it. We'll get there. We see it. It'll get there much faster than the internet. It'll get there much faster than that. Stream ended,

Cameron Van Hoy 50:01
I think when you see what people are building in the space and the amount of value that's being created around projects, right? I think the creation phase is here. And I think it's just the early adopters are going to have a leg up because they're in a building. Right? So I think there are certain brands, many that are being established in the space that are going nowhere. They're going to be here for the for a long time. So yeah, I you know, I think it's happening.

Alex Ferrari 50:29
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests, sir. What What? What advice? Would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business?

Cameron Van Hoy 50:36
You have to put all of yourself into it. You can't, you can't dip your talent. Really want to do it? You have to go on.

Alex Ferrari 50:51
What what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Cameron Van Hoy 50:55
Make sure you have a really solid second act.

Alex Ferrari 51:01
This is as you get older, you you start thinking about the second act. You mean, like in life, or in or the actual project? And three of your favorite films of all time.

Cameron Van Hoy 51:15
Godfather one, Godfather two,

Alex Ferrari 51:18
That counts as one.

Cameron Van Hoy 51:20
I agree. I don't know. Apocalypse Now is coming to mind. So Coppola stuff. And then also third, it's impossible to say I guess, easy, right? It was very informative, for it was like a big part of my life, even though I wouldn't call it a favorite film. But it's one of those.

Alex Ferrari 51:39
It's one of those movies that when you watch it, it hits you. Especially if

Cameron Van Hoy 51:43
Yeah, that's the independent spirit. You know, like that charged me as a young man.

Alex Ferrari 51:48
That was the movie that scared the hell out of the studios with that came out and that was like a three or $4,000 movie or something like that, at the time, and it was going to completely independently it made millions and the studios were like, making Heaven's Gate. You know, like making bottling complete bombs, like wait a minute, we got to let these kids these kids know what they're doing. Let them go off. So and where can people find out more about your NFTs and what you guys are doing with Flinch?

Cameron Van Hoy 52:18
flinchthemovie.com is probably the best source for our Twitter Flinch NFT.

Alex Ferrari 52:24
Cameron has been a pleasure talking to NFT's in crypto and blockchain and all sorts of geekiness with you today, brother. Thank you again, man. I appreciate you coming on the show and helping you know hopefully inspire some other filmmakers to go down this space because it is an exciting space and that's why keep keep doing episodes about different aspects in different ways people are using it because there's not just one way there's multiple ways you can use this technology to to make your movie so I appreciate you my friend.

Cameron Van Hoy 52:53
I appreciate you and all that you do. I love I love the hustle and really glad to be here.

LINKS

SPONSORS

  1. Jambox.io – Royalty Free Music for Indie Films
  2. Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  3. Enigma Elements – Cinematic Tools & Assets for Serious Filmmakers
  4. Audible – Get a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook

IFH 582: How to Cast, Finance and Package an Indie Film with Courtney Lauren Penn

Courtney Lauren Penn co-founded and runs the multi-faceted production company Renegade Entertainment with her co-founder Thomas Jane. Courtney oversees content: producing film, series and hybrid new media projects alongside Jane. Renegade is a pioneering outfit that has been among the most active production labels since launching in late 2019. The company is active in several verticals – feature films, streaming and TV series, and comic book and graphic novel publishing and production.

Since its inception, Renegade has produced a slew of independent feature films, a short form comedy series, a television and streaming 8 episode series for the ABC in Australia and IMDBtv/Amazon alongside AGC Television, is currently in production on a comic book series THE LYCAN for ComiXology Originals at Amazon; 3 features the duo produced releasing in 2022 and in pre-production on several films for 2022.

The first film the duo executive produced was the western thriller THE LAST SON, starring Thomas Jane, Sam Worthington, Colson Baker (Machine Gun Kelly) (released December 2021), followed by horror comedy SLAYERS, starring Abigail Breslin, Thomas Jane and Malin Akerman (releasing September 2022). Courtney and Jane further produced DIG starring Emile Hirsche, Thomas Jane and Harlow Jane, bowing in June 2022, as well as MURDER AT YELLOWSTONE CITY, starring Richard Dreyfuss, Gabriel Byrne, Isaiah Mustafa, and Thomas Jane, set to premiere June 24, 2022. The company just wrapped on ONE RANGER for Lionsgate in March 2022.

Among the myriad projects currently being developed by Courtney and Jane is the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King’s FROM A BUICK 8. The duo have a large slate including several best-selling novels they are in development on. Adopting a material-first, platform agnostic philosophy, Courtney embraces the growing disruption in the entertainment ecosystem and together with Jane have built a selective slate of compelling stories and edgy material with global commercial appeal. She takes a transmedia approach to cultivating IP and collaborating with gifted storytellers and partners to build out her company’s diverse content slate.

Courtney attended the University of Pennsylvania and subsequently studied Filmmaking and Direction at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts. She is a former National Chess Champion, Top 50 Women’s Chess Player, Visiting Committee Member of Hematologic Oncology at the Dana Farber Institute, Platinum Member of New York Women in Film & Television, Member of the Producers’ Council of the Producers Guild of America, and proud mother to her son. Courtney began her career in sell-side mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring on Wall Street.

Renegade participates annually in charitable giving to institutions who directly participate in “research to bedside” care for children with cancer and vulnerable children in high conflict zones. In March 2022, Courtney & Jaime King teamed up and used Instagram to promote the booking of AIRBNB’s in conflict zones in the Ukraine as a means of getting funds directly to the people mid-conflict.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Courtney Lauren Penn 0:00
Think that the preparation was just in the practice and the exposure and getting used to it and being judged for being you know, woman Absolutely, or being, you know, presumptions made, of course and that works to your advantage or disadvantage.

Alex Ferrari 0:15
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created Enigma Elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like VHS and CRT images, smoke fog, textures, DaVinci Resolve presets, and much more. After working as an editor colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, check out enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's Enigma enigmaelements.com. I like to welcome to the show, Courtney Lauren Penn. How you doin, Courtney?

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:08
I'm great. Alex, thank you for having me on the show been a big fan for a long time.

Alex Ferrari 1:13
Oh my god, thank you so much. That's extremely humbling. I always find It's so insane when people of your magnitude and and statute in the business say that to me, because I'm like, I don't know who's listening. But occasionally I'll get somebody's like, I've been listening forever. I'm like, what?

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:29
All of those that have done the hustle appreciate the indie film hustle.

Alex Ferrari 1:35
I appreciate you coming on your partner in crime in a new era in your company renegade entertainment came on last last week. Mr. Thomas Jane, the incomparable Thomas Jane, which was an amazing conversation about about his perspective on producing and, and bankable actors and all this kind of stuff. So today, we want to get into the weeds about producing and working in the budget levels that you're working in, and the kind of projects you're working with Tom, and so on and so forth. But before we get into that, Why in God's green earth did you want to jump into this business?

Courtney Lauren Penn 2:09
It's a great question. Um, I was told not to for a really long time, which probably fueled my, my drive to do so. I, I grew up on the East Coast and played chess actually. So through chess, I met some really interesting filmmakers. Who are there's a really interesting camaraderie in the between the film and chess community, believe it or not, there's a lot of actors who play a lot of directors. There's something about the discipline and I got exposure in high school to a man named Josh Waitzkin, who was the subject of unity. You know Josh?

Alex Ferrari 2:50
I know, I know, I don't know him personally, but I know of him. Absolutely. He's an MMA or champion. Yeah, he's I read his book. It's amazing book, The Art of The Art of Learning. Oh, so amazing. I love that.

Courtney Lauren Penn 3:03
Okay, yes, I got to read one of them, because he was a good friend of mine. So he sent me the early drafts when he was like, pending and all that stuff. But I met Josh and I am a huge fan of Tim Ferriss and Tim and Josh are sort of very close. And their podcasts together are like, just there's some of the Gold Well, yeah, completely. Josh lives lives full, like he lives life, you know, incomplete. But anyway, I met him. And I was probably 10 or 11. I was a young chess player. And I met him at the time when all the hoopla of searching Bobby Fischer was sort of was sort of happening. And I watched this film, and I'd already played chess, but it was so incredible about this movie, was how if you play and if you're part of a family of chess players, or if you're around it, and you know how familiar the community requires you to be if you're a kid playing, it just got to the heart. And I think that that screenplay, and what that film accomplished, felt so deeply powerful and emotive, that I just remember thinking, that this crossover was really, really powerful. And then what that film did for the chess world was so incredible and powerful. And then through that, I met my first mentor, Josh Waitzkin. And, you know, and, you know, ultimately, you know, played chess, I always loved film and storytelling, and I was and I started writing short stories, but I never imagined I would end up creatively, sort of in the business. And I went to school, they were recruited me for chess, I got to go to school and play and all of that, and I was always writing. And then I ended up going to Wall Street and doing investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, which, you know, transactionally speaking, you know, very much like setting up and creating a film. Every film is a small business, as you know, very well, you know this better than anyone. And so you're starting a business from scratch. You're ramping it up And then you're selling it and parsing it off. And so it's sort of, you know, it was very similar to this transactional understanding that I got from m&a. So in terms of the structured finance side, I kind of got a lot of understanding basics from my role, my time in that world. And then I kind of followed my heart, I left banking, and I went and studied film at NYU and broke the news to my parents, I wasn't going to go to medical school for an MD MBA, I was going to go pursue film. And I, you know, I did, I just, I didn't really know anyone in the business at all, and sort of just went and started the learning about where the intersection between that creative process that happens over here, and then the business side that I had, you know, understood this entrepreneurial mindset of how you know, businesses start running it sold, where does where's that cross section, and I found independent film finance and started a little company and eventually, now we're here full fledged renegades.

Alex Ferrari 6:00
So you you jump, but you weren't you also did a little acting along the way.

Courtney Lauren Penn 6:04
No, no,

Alex Ferrari 6:06
You never did any acting. I saw your IMDB I saw you you played some parts?

Courtney Lauren Penn 6:12
No, no, I mean, because, um, we met Ron Howard through chess. And so Ron was gracious and super kind. And I became friendly with Bryce and Paige and actually taught page chess on occasion. And he invited us out to the movie set for Ed TV. And I was there sort of as a child, I was playing in a chess tournament nearby, and then the days off, we'd be going to set with Ron and it was a surreal experience as a kid, you know, watching we were walking through the streets of San Francisco. And we have people opening their windows and shouting down to them and following us on the street. And it was a really, it was the first time that I've walking with Woody Harrell, it was Woody Harrelson and Brian Grazer. And Ron and me and I just remember this weird, you know, moment of wow, this is what it's this is what that's like, this is what you know, when you're no longer have a private life. That's what this is, you know. And they were calling him by his name from the show, and it's by I'm blanking on it right now. Ron, when he was a kid

Alex Ferrari 7:17
OP OP,

Courtney Lauren Penn 7:18
OP, they were calling OP OP Yeah, that's what they were doing. And I and on and he was so gracious. But I just remember, it made a huge imprint. And what what really was interesting is because Ron Howard, to me was just this really nice guy who had this fascinating job. And he was so sensitive and gentle. And he allowed us to come into his editing room, and he would show us how to craft a scene and cut a scene. And the art of it was such a beautiful thing. And he was so humble about it. And I couldn't connect that, you know, the cacophony of that public experience with the actual like, art, you know, how private the art form creation was, it was just, I'll never forget that experience I didn't run on that set was like, Hey, court, do you want to would you like to be in a scene, you know, so he put me in some, some scenes and you know, I was background or whatever. And then. And then recently, I did a scene with my son at the end of a film, and we my son and I, because I wanted to memorialize my son at such a young age in film. And Ryan Kuantan, the star of this movie called Section eight that has yet to come out. His entire journey is about the loss of his son. And so he gets into a bus at the end. And he sits in the back and he sees a young mother and her son kiss and it wraps his story in about and it's really, it's really sorry, you get teary eyed, Dizzy, but it was really powerful. So yeah, that was just something I wanted to do for me and my son.

Alex Ferrari 8:49
How you're fastened to your story is fascinating. Because you live in the world of chess, and I am a I wish I could play chess at the level that Josh and you guys play. I was Josh, you, and then I'm somewhere on the floor. But I'm fascinated with like, it's one of my searching for Bobby Fischer is one of my favorite movies of all time. I've seen that movie 1000 times. I am obsessed with Bobby Fischer in general, I saw the documentaries. Oh my god, the Queen's gambit. I couldn't just I mean, I'm, I love chess. And I love the idea of moving chess and thinking 50 steps ahead and all this kind of stuff. How did your training and chess help you navigate the sometimes treacherous world of filmmaking of the film industry, especially coming from a female perspective, which is, you know, not generally, you know, especially in the producer, female producers situation. There's not a lot of you. There more now than there were before but as you were coming up I'm sure that wasn't many Things that you could, like, speak to and talk to, and I've had a few on the show. But there, I can count them on one hand, as they were coming up, like, it was a tough situation. So how did chess prepare you for that?

Courtney Lauren Penn 10:11
You know what, I think you've kind of nailed it. Um, you know, there weren't that many women in chess. Now, there are so many more, you know, so when I started playing was the early 90s. So I remember playing in Washington Square Park, as Josh did, actually. And playing with the guys he used to, you know, he used to just be chess. And that's where I, and I remember being this, you know, young girl, and then it was just, you know, they would come around, you know, all the guys in the park. And they would say, this girl, she's playing, you know, Can she really play and, you know, okay, you know, I, I started to do better and better, and I did win, but there was a, you know, it wasn't the most common thing. And then I remember going to play in tournaments. You know, I did, I did play, you know, scholastic and traditional tournament. So I would play in New York at the Marshall Chess Club in the Manhattan chess club, and there were no women, there were no girls, there were about three, you know. And, you know, you're always playing against men. And I think that that's was very similar to, you know, investment banking was still pretty male dominated also. Then, when I was when I was in it, I think I was the only woman banker at my small firm, it was a boutique firm of less than, like, 15 people. I was the only, you know, on the banking team there was, and then going into film, same, same sort of idea. Now, there are many, many more women, but I think that the preparation was just in the practice and the exposure and getting used to it and being judged for being you know, woman, absolutely. Or being, you know, presumptions made, of course, and that works to your advantage or disadvantage. You know, it really does and on all in all spheres.

Alex Ferrari 12:07
So by the time you got to the film business, you were all tat between finance, chess, you were all had like, like dealing with this situation.

Courtney Lauren Penn 12:15
Yeah, I was, I was sort of accustomed to it. Although, you know, there is a significantly more cutthroat, as you know, there's more of a cutthroat world and film, unfortunately, and TV entertainment, you know, in general. And so I think people are so much when you're, when they meet you, they're so anxious to put you into a category.

Alex Ferrari 12:41
They have to put you in a box, immediately, like

Courtney Lauren Penn 12:43
They shake your hand and you're, you're in this, you're in the silo and, you know, they don't want to move you out of it. And it's and that's, that's one thing that's different. You know, in chess, if you beat it, if you beat you know, an older male Russian master, and everyone, you were at the tournament, you you own, that was your accomplishment, people looked, you know, recognized it,

Alex Ferrari 13:02
You know, what's funny, I had, and please forgive me for dropping a name. But when I had Jason Blum on the show, Jason is revolutionized Film, film finance. And his deal is obscene. And it's like, how he got what he did. And he said that he still is not respected in town, Tyler Perry, is still not respected for the insane things that he's done over in Georgia, and built his career, because he's not in a box that makes sense to anybody. So there's no respect in many ways to these, these, these kinds of people who have been able to do things completely outside the system, and able to do it. So you're right. And if they don't, they gotta put you in like, Okay, you're the girl producer. Okay, great. You're the Latino director. Great. You're the this. They can't just keep it open. Why is that you think?

Courtney Lauren Penn 13:56
I think that humans are predictability seeking machines. And I think, I think there's a, because of the business, because of the business is cutthroat mechanism. I think everyone went through it on their way up. So once they've reached a certain level, there's like a, just a, you know, well, this is how I was perceived. And so therefore, I will continue on that to protect sort of my my world I've carved out for myself, I think that's part of it. I've seen I've noticed a lot, that there's a lot of earnestness that you, you know, you come into this business with and you recognize it in others and over 15 years, you can recognize it maybe, maybe having become, you know, a little bit more embittered, you know, you can see that and then that in turn causes you know, changes in behavior. And so you kind of, you kind of have to keep that tension of, you know, you know, of of keeping your eye on the cries wanting to be productive, keeping good relationships, but also standing, you know, being able to stand up for yourself. And so it's a constant tension, you know this?

Alex Ferrari 15:12
No, it's It's insane. It's like this the pressure that is applied. Your the pressure you apply to yourself, first of all is one thing. You throw your own obstacles in front of yourself because of your own monkey brain and negative thoughts that you have in your own head. But then, the business just pound you like I was watching, I think was Dave Chappelle, who was on the actor studio. years ago,

Courtney Lauren Penn 15:36
That was a great actor studio.

Alex Ferrari 15:38
Isn't that amazing? And he's like, there are no weak people in our business. Like if you if I'm on this, if you're in this stage right now talking to you, James, there's nobody who's talking to you. That's weak. And I was like, it's like, you know what? He's right, it because to be able to achieve a certain level of success in this business, the amount that you need to the amount of punches that you need to take. And even if you achieve success early in life, like look at like, Josh, Josh, you know, he really was thrown into the spotlight at a very young age,

Courtney Lauren Penn 16:14
He did not like it.

Alex Ferrari 16:16
I know. He hated he hated it. But yet, there's still punches that come even at that level. I mean, you see children, child actors and people that start up. But I think that's the thing that a lot of filmmakers getting into the business and people trying to get into business. They don't are not aware of the amount of punishment that you will have to endure, to continue in this business. And the ones who adore the longest is not necessarily the most talented, right, the most moral or the nicest. It's, it's really, it's really a question of how much can you endure and I always use the Rocky Balboa quote from the front when he was talking to his son and Rocky Balboa. It's like, it's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. And that's, that's what this business is. It's like you're constantly getting punched. You're always being brought to your knees.

Courtney Lauren Penn 17:11
Oh, Joe Carnahan said it on your show. I think it's like running the gauntlet. You think you're gonna run that gauntlet and not catch some scars and horse like,

Alex Ferrari 17:19
Exactly.

Courtney Lauren Penn 17:21
He visually got it. Absolutely. I love that. I love I love Joe. I've got you know, one of my favorite films, is the gray and one of the greats right?

Alex Ferrari 17:33
Oh, amazing. Amazing. Like what it like it's Liam Neeson with glass wrapped around his fist fighting a wolf.

Courtney Lauren Penn 17:41
Thomas was supposed to do that show

Alex Ferrari 17:43
Was he? Wow!

Courtney Lauren Penn 17:46
He was supposed to play the role that I think Frank Grillo ended up playing. And it's like, you know, that funny funny world. But anyway, I love Joe and he's been in it and knows knows that. But you're right. And I think that you have to try to steal yourself. I know, I like the measurements, I'm always kind of taking is okay. This terrible, you know, thing happened or a punch was thrown to us your your turn of phrase on you? How are you going to let it impact you? You know, and so I think that you have to be so aware of how you let it impact you like eat there's things you know, you never you never pay that stuff forward. You know,

Alex Ferrari 18:24
You shouldn't you shouldn't

Courtney Lauren Penn 18:27
I see people who that does happen and you're and you kind of it's sad because you say oh, when they entered the business, they had this earnestness and now they've got caught up in the wounds of coming up, you know,

Alex Ferrari 18:40
You know, it's, it's, it's, you know, and I that's what I do the show for really, is to really let everybody know like I always say most filmmakers don't even know they're in a ring, let alone in a fight. And then all of a sudden they just get punched out of nowhere the liquid that punch come from I thought we were in a nice you know, in a rosy field. I'm like no.

Courtney Lauren Penn 18:58
Your audience creative filmmakers, directors and writers are they are they find it producers,

Alex Ferrari 19:02
Everybody I've taught. It's fascinating, because I talk. I've, you know, in the business and I it's a small it's a small town. Everybody knows everybody. It really is. It's so true. So as I've been making friends over the years, I find out who listens to me. So like you, you know, I'm a fan. I'm like, great. Ed burns. been listening to me for years.

Courtney Lauren Penn 19:24
I'm Oh, really? Oh, that's so great.

Alex Ferrari 19:25
I'm like, why?

Courtney Lauren Penn 19:27
Indie creators Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 19:28
So there's producers, there's financiers that reached out to me, there's distributors who reach out to me. So everybody from every aspect of the business, either listens to the show, or watches the show, there's a segment represented in it. So it's not specifically just creative. It's because we, we talk about creative, especially when we're talking to you know, certain directors about the craft and stuff, but really, it's about the business, about how to succeed how to break through your own imposter syndrome, which we all have and, you know, in listening to journeys of everybody and I try to to humanize these giants in the business to like, you know, when you're talking to Joe Carnahan and Joe tells me the story of how he, you know, he left Mission Impossible three I'm like, what, like how that worked out and, and his whole story and like so it kind of humanizes him and lets everybody know what the realities of the business are because I never got that I had to learn it the hard way. You know, my first book was based on me almost making a $20 million movie for the mafia, when I was 26. So I have a lot of shrapnel along the way that I've picked up. And I wanted to, you know, kind of give that information out to the audience. And, you know, that's, that's the reason I do it. So anyway, but let's go back on track. So, when you're when you're producing, what do you look for in a director, because a lot of directors are delusional. And I was delusional as well. We think that, like, you know, we think that we're like, I, it's my genius, when are they going to recognize my genius? What are the traits that you look for in a director that you're going to help produce a film for?

Courtney Lauren Penn 21:10
Oh, let's see. It depends if you're talking about film or TV. So, you know, luckily, we've we're, so we're sort of in several, you know, production categories, where we're, you know, doing TV and streaming series. And then we're also doing, you know, independent film. And we're also we're in a, we're in a few categories. So on the film side, you know, well, on the TV side, it's interesting, because you have this really interesting tension, again, between whether it's a showrunner, who is known for being, you know, an incredible director as a standalone, and then you work with, you know, show runners who can support sort of their vision, or it's the showrunner, who is the whole thing, you know, who sort of is in the writers room is also going to direct at least two of the eight episodes, if it's eight, you know, and is rotating with credit with the writers, you know, and that's sort of like a completely different beast. So it really depends on what on the TV side, like, where the investment on from intellectual property development it's coming from. And I mean, I mean that creatively, not just financially, so. So we have a we have a book that we've optioned from Stephen King that we're in development on called from a Buick eight. And for us, looking for the partners to crack it, we actually sort of went for a tastemaker filmmaker, who's more he's a he's a writer, director. But he, he's happy to direct this more, and let to really, really well known writers write the whole thing. And so we So we approached it from how are we going to approach the whole series? You know, do we want to find the one guy that showrunner that and that certain network loves, and that he's going to take charge ownership of the whole thing, and we're going to kind of be a part of that are we going to piece this one together, which opens up the world of directors in a more open way. And so it's very specific to what the IP is, and where you were, how you want it to live, ultimately, on the film side, you know, we get all kinds of packages that come to us, sometimes the directors on a script and approaches us, sometimes we're developing a script from the ground up, and then we're gonna go look for a director. And that takes that's quite a process. You know, I mean, sometimes it happens very easily and quickly. And then sometimes you're still looking, there's a couple of projects that we've been looking for a year for the right creative partner, as a director, and we're looking for someone, you know, bit, not just genre, but also wants to get into the weeds in the trenches and wants to either make it at a certain budget level and, you know, and then, you know, so it is, I'd say that navigating that and finding the right director is one of the hardest parts of producing.

Alex Ferrari 24:15
What advice would what advice do you wish someone would have given you about being a producer in Hollywood?

Courtney Lauren Penn 24:23
Be skeptical. Great advice. Abb skeptical, because I've had so many people offer to you know, help board say they were going to help and the motivations you know, are not what you would hope that they are. And I mean this for men and women. This is a this is a universal blanket truth. I I also believe and I believe in not becoming in bittered, which takes hard work so work there is I sort of employ the Tim Ferriss and Josh is like they have a great conversation that I think was very helpful to me as a producer, their conversation about Josh's trainer. For his type questions, championships, I forgot his name, but he's, he's a legend. He's like live streams, his training sessions.

Alex Ferrari 25:23
And it was never it was not push hand. It's the other one. Got Brazilian jujitsu. Okay, yeah, he live streams, he live streams, his fights and his practices so his opponents can see all of his techniques.

Courtney Lauren Penn 25:35
Yes. And Tim says, I will help anyone and I apologize, my cat is going to just sort of arrive here in my lap, that he's I will help anyone and give them the tips that I wish I had when I was creating my four hour workweek when I was creating this. And I'll just, I'll just give it because if someone can hack it and do it better than me, I can maybe learn from them. So I think that being less precious, because you're going to meet so many people who are very precious. I think that if you try to fight to stay precious, I think you can lose yourself and become hardened. So I would say be healthily skeptical. And don't worry about being precious. Because there's a I mean, there's a few straight facts, right? I mean, a film makes money if you make it for, you know, for less than if you make it for less than what you're gonna sell it for, like, this isn't, you know, it's not rocket science, but people act in it. So, you know, actors values, like all that information is actually quite accessible. So I'm sort of always been an open book with my with my, with my knowledge, and so I think that that helps us all kind of get to a better place. So be skeptical of you know, of what, be skeptical, healthfully skeptical, heightened awareness, and then you know, don't be don't be, don't be so focused on being precious.

Alex Ferrari 27:06
You know, a lot of people I find that interesting, because in the film industry, there is that level of being precious with like, Oh, I know something that you don't and if I give it to you, you can overtake me, kind of attitude where the opposite happened to me, the second I started giving away all this information to people, doors started swinging open, and I get to talk to people like you now that I would have never, if I would have just been a filmmaker trying to hustle it out like everybody else was, and I just started trying knocking on your door, I met you at a party or something, it'd be so much more difficult to sit down to have a conversation with you. But yet, now, I can have a conference and ask you any question I like about the business, any question I like about the business. And I benefit from it. And then I as well I recorded and now the rest of the world that's listening gets the benefit from it as well. So I found that they'd be the complete opposite. Just like the more you give, the more you connect with people, the more you're able to help other people. Yeah, some of its going to go off and be done. You know, people are not going to be nice about you know, holding on to it or something like that. That's just human nature. But a lot of people will will remember it and help you along the way and, and open doors for you.

Courtney Lauren Penn 28:19
And like you were saying earlier, that competitive advantage is like long term tenacity. You know, and so that's really the competitive advantage. You know, it's sort of like, oh, gosh, I don't want to bring up the trial. But Johnny Depp did say something really interesting the other day, he says, he said, lies, run a sprint, the truth runs a marathon. And I think that brilliant. That's great. Right? And that's that that goes to so many things, right? Everything from you know, personal conduct, professional conduct. And I think that that speaks to that openness, right? It's sort of like, if you've, you know, if you're willing and have the ability to, like stick it out and kind of stay tenacious. And you're able to the more I think you give, I really agree with you completely. The more that doors open, the more opportunity presents itself, and growth happens.

Alex Ferrari 29:18
Now, we all have been on set and the world feels like it's coming crashing down on you. You're you've lost location, the actor don't come out of the studio out of his trailer financing. You can't pay the crew that way because the finance that the money didn't drop that you were promised that was going to drop, whatever the scenario is, what was that worst day for you and how did you overcome it?

Courtney Lauren Penn 30:24
The worst day? Really when so when I first came into the business, I was sort of helping rescue films that that were had already started going. And my first big opportunity was to go and help up, helped clear up the finish out their production and help clean up a film that was already in bankruptcy. And because of my background in finance, the investor who I met, you know, said I really need help. I'm in over my head this film and several others are in bankruptcy, can you help me and it still needs to be finished. And it was a film called Gallo Walker's with Wesley Snipes. And Wes is actually a friend. And he is a terrific guy and I I just respect the heck out of him. He's G is unlimited talent. And he's like, got a very, very peaceful soul. But in the making of that movie. He had to fly back for legal reasons, most of the way through production to the United States. And that film was very compromised. As a result of producers poor conduct, fiscally. The challenges there, it was a really, it was pretty much everything that could go wrong on a movie set. Think the accountant died on set in production. I mean, it was Yeah, and I mean, I came in now I came in, after this all had happened. And this poor investor had millions of pounds invested in the film. And he said, You know, I don't know what to do. And he said, I've entered it into a bankruptcy proceeding to help clear up chain of title, what, what, you know, how, what can we do to maximize it? And I said, Okay, well, let's talk it through. Let's look at the legal agreements. What does bankruptcy in the UK look like? So in the process of, you know, cleaning all that up, we had to address the missing footage. We had to recut the film. We had to deal with existing sales and licensing agreements that are predicated upon the earlier producers and what they had papered. And it was, you know, there there were there were just some of the Titanic mammoth issues that, you know, I remember waking up one day and just thinking this film is never going to see the light of day. And, you know, we have to do the right thing for this main investor. And, you know, ultimately, sort of figured it out, started just making phone calls, looking at the paperwork, learning about contracts, got it resold to Lionsgate. It did it. But it was just I remember, there was just a cacophony of things that happened, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, sort of all in a day. And, and, you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:13
You got through it, though.

Courtney Lauren Penn 33:14
Yeah, you just, you go, okay. It's not gonna look like how we expected. But there's always a solution.

Alex Ferrari 33:22
I mean, I've been involved with projects that, you know, over, you know, a couple million dollar years.

Courtney Lauren Penn 33:28
I want to know, I mean,

Alex Ferrari 33:29
Well, my worst day was you know, almost making the movie for the mafia and you know, being stuck in that for a year and a half of my production office is being in a, in a race track and, and my life being threatened on a daily basis for about a year from a psychotic guy who was basically Joe Pesci from Goodfellas. So one day, he's once a moment, he's super, like the funniest wonderful guy in the world in this bipolar next second. He wants to he's threatening me to throw me in a ditch. And that's all great. But then I get flown out to LA and I meet the biggest movie stars in the world, the biggest power players. I'm at the Chateau Marmont, I'm at the ivy I'm doing all this, that, surviving that being that close to your dream at 26

Courtney Lauren Penn 34:10
Oh, wow. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 34:11
So sitting across the desk from Batman, I actually met one of the actors who played Batman, and him telling you I want to be in your movie do you want to sleep over tonight? So we can work on the script. So when you're that close, and then everything gets completely yanked away from you, the psychological trauma that took me two years to get out of it, literally, I almost went bankrupt. I just my whole life got destroyed. So that to me was the lowest point in my entire life. So that's the biggest everything else pales in comparison to that. So I think that was also a way the universe was like, let's give him like the most ridiculous situation up front. Because he's never going to run into something this bad again. And so for me, everything else is yeah, I've had problems and I've been part of projects that have you know, fallen around or the you know, the The set gets flipped during and flips it. And yeah, but then they lose their money and they have to wait a year and a half, two years looking for money to finish it in the in the footage is on my hard drive. And I'm doing all the posts on it. And then I'm like, there's some major stars in this movie, you guys get fined 100 grand a financier. So like, all sorts of crazy stories over the years. But yeah, that's my I mean, there's no way of I mean, I always tell people, when I when I wrote that book, and it came out, I tell people, if you want to know why, what what's the source of the grizzled voice? On the other end of this microphone, read the book, you'll understand

Courtney Lauren Penn 35:39
I sounded like when I was 26. And then hear me

Alex Ferrari 35:43
I really used to talk like this. But then. So you talk a lot about you came from the financing world. So financing is the the alchemy of our business, it is turning brick to gold, and you know, and turning led to gold, excuse me, what advice? How do you approach financing? What is needed in today's world, because financing five years ago, it's a lot different in financing in today's world pre and post COVID. How the landscape has changed as far as who's buying how much they're buying for how much more competition there is, is there as much money and finance available. That means that many people jumping in 21 jump into film, because the word is out? I mean, it's not the easiest ride for financier sometimes, unless you know what you're doing. Like yourself. Right. Right. So how do you so how do you how do you approach finance? And can you give any advice to to the people listening?

Courtney Lauren Penn 36:44
Yeah, you know, I think it depends if you are financing, or if you're looking for financing. Um, you know, and I would say that, if you're looking to finance a track record, doesn't necessarily, you know, mean that there's a financial track record. So, you know, you can have, you know, a track record as a producer of a lot of credits, but you know, what, with those films and how they look, you know, in the financial waterfall might be different. Or on the other hand, you might, you know, have done very well as a producer by helping investors find pieces of films, and that have been brought a wonderful return, and it may not be the top tier credit on the movie. So I mean, I know that, you know, I had, I had raised money, and we did, like revolving credit of around, you know, between six and 10 million revolving sort of senior debt, and it was secured monies. And we did really well with that model. While you know, this was in the post 2011 era. So before, again, the streamers came in, and, you know, film became international sales, were, you know, deeply impacted by the advent of more upfront, just transactional buy outs from the streamers, you know, and TV, you know, purchasing prices fell internationally. And so, you know, you're you were starting to deal with margins for sales that were just more and more compressed. So your financial models just look different. And I think I think that if you're looking to raise money, and you're looking to finance film, in this current marketplace, I think you have to just be much more on the dime in terms of what the market is right now. Because it is different for now than it was three months ago. And it's gonna be very different at this upcoming can that it will be in three months, because the pandemic really, really did impact things in a massive way. And so, you know, people really didn't know what was going to happen to TV, was there going to be any theatrics? At what point? So I think, I think you have to be so much more nimble for each project. And you have to be able to just say, you know, what, that film a few years ago would have been financed at six or 7 million and today, it's only three or four, can we really make this movie at that level? And if we can't, okay, you know, what, we have to maybe rethink it. So I think I think flexibility and you know, I I'm a big proponent of holding back domestic and not pre selling domestic as much as you can nowadays because I do find that if you you know what your minimum sale is. So truly, if you are just have someone financing against a minimum sale, there's there's tremendous upside, if you're working with trusted director, trusted filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 39:40
So let me ask you a question then. So I wanted to jump into distribution because distribution is also another mythical land, land field are minefield of situations. And I've talked about distribution at nauseam on this show, because it's the one place that most filmmakers get taken advantage of You know, Hollywood accounting, all of this kind of stuff. And there's a lot of there's our good, there are good players out there. But I've, in my experience have discovered that more of more or less, more, there are more bad players or, you know, great players, and there are good players in the space. And I tried to warn filmmakers about what, what the marketplace is. And a lot of filmmakers come into the business today thinking it's 2005. And, you know, there's DVD pre sales, and those days are gone. And there's also the amount of competition that's out there for product. Right? I mean, there's just 10s of 1000s of features being thrown into the marketplace, some with major stars, you know, good stars, others that will never see a dime come back. How do you navigate the distribution fields? And I'm assuming that there's, I'm assuming before you answer, I'm assuming you've been taken advantage of once or twice along the way. Sure.

Courtney Lauren Penn 41:05
You know, I think, of course, I think I have never, ever, ever, ever provided a financial model to anyone for a project that involves any economics downstream of the initial mg for upfront sales. So I never ever provided a model that promised you know, that, even that, but even even when you know, I don't even model in what it looks like when let's say you're licensing the film for seven years domestic, your return in seven years could then be an additional X percent. Even though that that is there, I don't even don't even evaluate it, I don't discount it. I don't even I don't even do that I you know, for our purposes, budgeting is completely based off of just the upfront, mg. Or if you're able to say, this is our minimum sale, we do believe you can sell it up to this, here's the here's, here's the minimum, and here's the maximum. And I really like I always recommend holding back domestic if you can, if you again, if you understand that that's truly your minimum, you know,

Alex Ferrari 42:14
So to explain to the people, so when you're saying that, because I know, some people might be confused by that, when you're saying the minimum. So let's say you made a movie for a million dollars. And, you know, you have Thomas in it, or something along, you know, a bankable actor, and you go, okay, based on the cast that we have, the genre that we have, and the director and other a couple a couple other elements, we can forecast that in the marketplace, we'll get an MG at the low end, maybe a 1.5. High and maybe three. And that is that's an MG, which is a minimum guarantee. So that's upfront check that they're going to give you then everything that comes afterwards, which is you know, after after they recoup that minimum guarantee, all the money that come afterwards, technically, you're supposed to get a split of. But a lot of times Hollywood accounting makes it that it's almost impossible. So the game that the the season producers make now is like all the money you're ever going to make. Generally speaking, there's exceptions, generally speaking, is the upfront cash, anything after that, you will probably not see a dime. Until the until until you get the movie back. And let's say seven years, and maybe you can re license it at that point.

Courtney Lauren Penn 43:28
Yeah. And that's just for the financial model. You know, and I just think that's the most straightforward way and then anything else is a bonus. I mean, if if you know we did you know, for gala walkers we did we did actually get overages from Lions Gate. We did. I think it's the only film we've ever received overages for

Alex Ferrari 43:47
Wow. That says that says a lot. Because you've you've made a few movies.

Courtney Lauren Penn 43:54
But you know what? We have three releasing this year. So but yeah, but I mean that they did provide, you know, we did get overdose from Lions Gate for gala walkers. And so you know, that was a happy surprise. But everything was based off of you know what, like, and then so any modeling that we do now for sales and for financing, absolutely just based off of like what I believe the true minimum and we'll actually get that information will work with we have wonderful sales partners that are really trusted. We have a great, our agencies wonderful. I love our team at paradigm. And you know, so between them, and our trusted sales partners that we work with, and the distributors who we actually, you know, cultivated and great relationships with some of the distributors that we you know, I've had had a wonderful experience with Redbox we did the last son of Isaac LeMay with red box and their marketing department and the way they ran the release of that film so impressed with with them. They're doing another film right now that Thomas is in called Vendetta. It's been it's been tremendous. So So, you know, I just think as you get more comfortable with certain distributors, I think, too, there's just that, you know, the ability to say, okay, you know, we have a film that we're looking at doing. Where would you guys feel comfortable, you know, oh, this is the range, it helps you back into your model sort of more.

Alex Ferrari 45:16
It's funny, because I've heard Redbox is one of the best kept secrets in distribution. I've heard nothing but good things about them. And the deals that they keep out, because they buy DVDs. Still,

Courtney Lauren Penn 45:30
I guess so. Yeah. Actually, yeah, actually.

Alex Ferrari 45:35
So it's still old school DVD. So like, if you get a full buy, it's a nice chunk of change, you know, for a smaller film, like, it's my personal

Courtney Lauren Penn 45:43
Yeah, I think that they're very fair with their evaluations, you know, because they, you know, and so, you know, we did our film with Machine Gun Kelly and Sam Worthington, and Thomas, and Heather Graham, I mean, just an incredible cast. And we shot that in the middle of the pandemic. And, you know, I was just, they did such a great job with the placement of it, and, and how they promoted it. And I, you know, and like I said, we're gonna be repeat business, I really, really enjoyed working with them. Not to say that I haven't been working with our other partners, shirt market, and so on. But just recently, I looking back at the last couple of years, I just, I was really, I was, you know, what it is to I was appreciative, because there's so much content, you know, in the world so much, that I think that it's really hard for all of these distributors to really even get their finger on the pulse of what's worth marketing and for how much and how long. And so, you know, in the old days, you know, executives would swear fealty to a project, right, and they Shepherd it through, and it was theirs. And they would make sure that it got the marketing that it deserved, and get the biggest push, and, you know, sort of that was part of their commitment and their job. And so now you have, you know, executives at the big streamers and big companies, they've got so many things that they're, that they've got in front of them, you know, it's it's overwhelming. And so, you know, it's when you see a company that has the capacity to focus marketing efforts behind, you know, a film that you really believe in, you know, it was really rewarding with with roadblocks.

Alex Ferrari 47:15
And I think that's one of the things that a cast a bankable star, or or bankable cast, does for distribution company, because they'll go, Well, we're gonna put money behind Thomas is moving because we know Thomas is gonna get X amount of because he's Thomas, or it's Danny Trejo or it's, you know, you can name a bunch of, you know, bankable stars. And we'll put money behind these these names, because, at minimum, we know that people will recognize it. And it's a low lower hanging fruit for the distributor, as opposed to the old school 90s way of like, let's take slacker and put it out into the theaters and see what happens. And the John Pearson, John Pearson times, you know, like all that kind of, you know, let's see what happens with that this clerks and this El Mariachi, like, those days are so gone, that so many filmmakers still hold on to those days. And that's not the reality of where we are right now. Which brings me to my next question, when you're putting together a package as a producer, not only how important is the cast, but can you express to the audience, how invaluable it is, depending on the budget, you're making $100,000 movie, you are a lot more free, you're making a $5 million movie, anything north of a million dollars, you you got to be very responsible with what you're doing. So cast is what is one of the ways you hedge your bets. So can you talk a little bit about that,

Courtney Lauren Penn 48:50
You know, it's become harder and harder, you know, margins are just more compressed, because the amount of content and because of the impact of the pandemic to use feel to split rights and get great split rights deals, international territories that aren't necessarily there, you know, in the same way that they were so, you know, you're you're much more beholden to understanding what you're putting who and who and what you're bringing together in the package for a film. So, you know, you're thinking you're thinking strategically for your for your casting, as well as creatively. I mean, it was it was a huge boon to have someone of the musical caliber and presence internationally Machine Gun Kelly and less than of Isaac LeMay. You know, he acts under the Nicholson Baker. But you know, because of his, his overall brand and presence, it was a very different sort of, you know, it was an outside of the box casting decision. And he worked so well, you know, he nailed the part he was phenomenal in the movie, but it wasn't it wasn't what you would it wasn't the first you know, instinctual thought maybe for casting. And so I think that you know, you when you're, when you when you're saying, Okay, I think you have to be much more strategic and think, you know, outside the box sometimes that when you're when you're looking to cast and justify certain budgets and also to think about other audiences and who, who transcends, you know, a certain box, if you will, you know, we're working with another an upcoming project, I can't say it hasn't been announced, but another musical icon, who's also an actor, and, you know, we're thrilled, because now she is a phenomenal actor, but she's also got this incredible presence on the international stage. And, you know, it's a really interesting opportunity. So I think you've got to, you've got to really just put things together. And it'd be a little bit mind bending, and how you, how you and how you approach it.

Alex Ferrari 50:55
Now, you know, you've made a bunch of movies over the years, and many of them are in the, you know, the action genre. There's a lot of testosterone in some of these films. How how I have to ask, I noticed, I have to ask this for the female producers and directors listening, how do you navigate a testosterone heavy set production, because I have to imagine that it comes with a different set of challenges, let's say, then, you know, a normal a normal scenario, you know, and I, because I'm just like, I that was the first thing that was so impressive about like, while she's made a lot of like, action packed, like really testosterone, film filled movies, I love this, hear her stories, and how she's able to do all of that, and have fun doing it and doing being successful at it.

Courtney Lauren Penn 51:50
So much fun. I've always loved action films, I was always a little bit of a tomboy. And but you know, I think that, though, I think that we can with anything, balance is wonderful. So when you have, you know, this heightened energy on set, and you've got, you know, horses and gunfire over here, and you've got, you know, these incredible titans of talent over there. And you're, I do think that there's a wonderful, I think, I think, I think women are really good producers, not that men and men are wonderful producers too. But I think women have that because they tend to be more mothering in some ways. And I think that they bring, like maybe maybe a level of like, more, a little bit of softness, or there's something you know, or a good ear, I just try to be a good ear, when there's when there's a problem. So, you know, there was one actor on a film who, you know, just sort of, he was shooting some very intense scenes. You know, I don't know if it was part of his part of his style. But he sort of was became very aggressive and loud. And he did not want to come out of his trailer after that moment and left the set. And I think that, I think that if you can, you know, remove ego, and remove impulse, and you can just try to connect to the person as to why, in the moment, this is happening, I think you can try to communicate. And I think that that's been really helpful on a number of the films I've been involved with, actually,

Alex Ferrari 53:31
Can you tell me about your new project with Thomas Jane Tropo. It's part of your new company, right? We're gonna get entertainment.

Courtney Lauren Penn 53:38
Yes. So it's our first series. And we're so lucky and happy. It's going to be sort of one of the first releases for Amazon's free V brand, which was formerly IMDb TV. And so we're, it's a Bosch spin off show and troppo are launching the retitled brand freebie on May 20. And it's been such an adventure because it came to us as a book and a draft of a pilot. And it was submitted to us a few years ago. And I read the, the draft of the pilot first. And I don't want to give a there's an opening sequence to the to the show, which I never even ever seen in film before. A little bit ala Jaws, opening of jaws, and I just remember being grabbed and reactive and responsive. And I read that pilot and I called Thomas. And I said, you know I'm going to read the book, but we need to we need to look at the whole project because we haven't seen something like this before. And read the book. I think that night did sit up all night reading it. It was called Crimson lake by Candice Fox and Candice is this incredible true crime writer called true crime but also fictional crime and she used to write with James Patterson and co author with him. And so she has this beautiful like metric and style of telling stories. It's so direct, but just so great and raw and cool. And you know, it's a woman writing cry. I mean, she just is just a great crime writer, I fell in love with the story of crimson Lake, and it's about this. It's about this American who's been in Sydney, he's a former detective, he ended up joining the force there, and ends up getting accused of a horrendous crime that he, you know, didn't seemingly commit. And sort of similar to the world that we're living in now where, like, if something is printed, or stated on Twitter, or the internet, or if someone prints something, it's just assumed to be true. Before you know, it's guilty until proven innocent. Now, and so we're seeing this play out right in front of us in many ways. And when I read this, this man's life was torn apart by an accusation, and an arrest gone wrong. And then his life was destroyed his marriage, he had a young daughter, his whole life falls apart. And he he goes up to North Queensland to escape everything and maybe it ended all and let's where we meet him, and we meet him in this strange place with wild creatures where everybody goes to kind of hide away from their, whatever they're trying to get away from. And it played like a drama, like a true detective style sort of drama. And, you know, having, you know, seen so many genre pictures get made and being a part of that, to see this great drama that was given the time to play out over eight episodes, and that we could come in and work with the writers and crack it and focus on TED and Amanda, the the woman who he meets and they get into this industry together up in Queensland, it was such a rare, really incredible experience and really rare. And so we got into it with AGC, television steward for this company and great group of executives there. And then Yolanda ranky, was brought on to show Ron and Jocelyn Morehouse directed the opening pilot episode. And we shot it in Australia during wild lockdowns. And that was a whole experience in and of itself and, you know, posted very quickly and and here we are. It's sort of like a pinch yourself moment.

Alex Ferrari 57:30
If you ask it's very jungle new war in the war, that's a new term. It's very jungle new war it's it's brilliantly done. And I suggest everybody listening definitely check it out on on freebie free V. on Amazon, just go on Amazon, look it up, you'll you'll find it there.

Courtney Lauren Penn 57:51
It'll be on it'll be on the banner, they'll be on a big banner.

Alex Ferrari 57:55
Now I have to ask. I didn't get to ask Thomas this. How did you two get together build renegade entertainment? Like, you know, after talking to him, and after talking to you, you guys have such different energies that I'm just curious how that meeting happened, and how you've been able to build this up?

Courtney Lauren Penn 58:12
It's actually a great story. It actually speaks to what if you're having a hard time in the business? What gravitational pull might keep you in it? So I've gone through some really tough stuff in the business like we all have. But Thomas, you know, there are so few people who are completely who they represent themselves to be. And Thomas Jane is one of those rare people who is who exactly who he is. And so I met I met him. It was really funny. Someone I was I was working on a project, gosh, back in 2012, you know, and it was a small film horror movie. And they see seed me on an email where they say, Oh, we're going to offer Thomas we want him to come in and play the father in this horror movie just for a day. And then, you know, I'll email him directly. And so they emailed him and they made the offer. And I think Thomas wrote back and you know, it's not for me, I don't want to play that that kind of thing because I have a young daughter and it was very personal to him, which I respected. He it was about young children in the woods being Trump Tara and he said no, not for me. I have a young daughter I want I can do it. And so for some reason I read this script, this Gothic prohibition era action script which we are we've been working on for a while and God when it finds the light it's an incredible it's such an incredible action piece. It's like John wicks that and prohibition era Chicago with an undead Al Capone it's amazing. Anyway. It's pretty it's such a cool it's just one of the one of my favorite projects. So, you know something about Tom, as I just I emailed it to him. And I said, TJ, on column TJ, I said, you know, dear Thomas, you know, we were part of this interaction over this other film, but neither of us ended up doing. Would you be interested in looking at a directing or looking at this film, it reminded me of the Punisher a little bit character. And he wrote back and he said, Yeah, come over for tea, and we'll talk about it at the house. And so, you know, I've never met Thomas. So I said, okay, okay. You know, he's so direct this way. And usually, you know, in the business, you as a woman, you wouldn't say yes, and go to anyone's house ever for a meeting. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:42
I was about I was about to say that was didn't sound on paper. This is not it's not going well.

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:00:47
No, no, exactly. I, you know, I said, I don't know him, you know, so I, I got a friend of mine, who had met with him before and said, He's really nice. I said, Come with me, we'll go and we'll suss out the situation from the front door.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:03
So if he shows up in a robe, not happening,

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:01:06
I'm there with it with a tall man, you know. So, so because so went the doors wide open, you hear like operatic music playing, and there's Thomas holding cups of tea. And, you know, amazing and come on in. And so, you know, we sat down on his deck, my, my, you know, my friend, myself and him. And we talked about the project. And, you know, it was, he was just so brilliant. He's Encyclopedia of filmmaking. He is the most sincere guy, I really one of the most sincere people I've met in the business. And, you know, so we started talking about that project, and, you know, left, just kept in touch via email about the project. And then we started talking about it more and more, and then he went off to shoot predator, I think, something else and while he was up there shooting predators, and then the expanse, he and I would do phone calls, and we break down and everything was just about he was so invested in getting the character write the script, right. And so was I. And he and I, together, rewrote the script, over over a year and a half, and it was like, beat for beat. And we would, we would just get into it. And it was like the was, you know, what the purest creative experiences I had had in the business. And so ultimately, I'm running a little long on the story, but it's all good. Ultimately, when, you know, ultimately into in 2018, I ended up hospitalized for about four and a half months when I was pregnant with my son in a really difficult situation. And Thomas, and I, while I was going through that really terrifying time of not knowing what was gonna happen, and my son was born healthfully, and everything that he was there through that in the sense that he said, the projects were working on court, they will wait, there is nothing more important than what you're doing. And the team at paradigm said the same thing. And while I was there, going through this really deeply personal very difficult time, Thomas was just like, doesn't matter. We wait on all protocol projects we've been talking about till after, till this is all finished on its matters is this. And I've never seen anyone really do that, like actually take, you know, professional interests aside to respect, some, you know, and so that happened. And then while I was there in the hospital, a chaplain came in, I was going through with this, you know, and I had this Chaplain come in, and I just started talking to them about life and many different things. And the chaplain sat back and said to me, character is revealed in a storm. And I said, it is it is, and I said, and I my mind, I said, you never know who you're going to be on the other side of the storm, or who's going to be with you. And so, you know, when all of that resolved, we ended up creating a company called renegade you know, the following year. And the IP that we had talked about previously became formally optioned and part of our company and our logo is a horse sewist fashion from the thing that it is afraid of most you go through the fire and what happens if you become the fire, the character is revealed in the storm. And so Thomas and I, you know, have a you know, that deep, long standing kind of loyalty and trust that is really rare in the business.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:46
That's amazing. That's an amazing story. I was wondering what that logo was about. So thank you for sharing the story. Now I have a few questions. I asked all my guests. If you've listened to the show, you know what they are? What advice would you give a few Don't make you're trying to break into the business today?

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:05:02
Director or producer,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:05
Any filmmaker dealer's choice.

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:05:10
Stay curious. Reach out to as many people as possible and you will find the authentic person who does want to help you find your way. Don't stop.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:23
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:05:29
Sometimes people do not care who they hurt. And that can be one of the most profound disappointments both professionally and personally. So,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:41
That's a good that out of 600 plus episodes I've done that's I've never heard that answer before. I was a very good answer. Very true, though. Very, very true.

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:05:51
That's that goes to that. Stay skeptical, but stay open.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:54
Right! Because if you lock yourself off, you can't move forward. Exactly. But if you're too open, you're gonna get a lot of punches are gonna come in. Lots and lots of them. Now, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:06:08
Oh, okay. I was looking forward to this one. All right. Well, I already gave you one searching for Bobby Fisher, obviously. Casino Royale. So good. And actually Finding Neverland.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:24
Johnny's no Johnny movie. Yes, there was

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:06:27
Kate Winslet.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:28
And that's right. Kate was in that as well. It's, or it's my daughter's color rose.

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:06:34
Yeah, I really I really wanted to, you know, Titanic, I mean, Gladiator and Titanic. And of course, Star Wars are like my three like, they changed my life. But these were more characters I wanted, you know, Finding Neverland never gets, you know, a shout out. And it was such a beautifully crafted film.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
And Casino Royale is the best James Bond movie ever made,

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:06:53
Ever ever made. You know? That script? Oh, my God.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:58
And that's the thing about and I always tell people like, why is that the best one is because that's the one that he became vulnerable. We just We he's not just a dude that sleeps with beautiful women and goes kills and saves the day like in the all the other ones. There was no character development. He never He never arct you never aren't.

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:07:15
But you know, they gave the woman Eva Green. I mean, oh, so she's the most complex, one of the most complex, you know, women we've seen on screen, you know, and that's what allowed him to become vulnerable. And it's very easy. You know, the other night I had, I just, I felt I had this moment where I just needed to watch something that was made caught 510 years ago, but Skyfall you know, the making in the craftsmanship. That movie is so mind blowing. And I had to go back and watch it just to remind myself like what you know, the craftsmanship is because we're so busy chasing budgets down. You know, you just wanted to go and eat and it wasn't there's all that fancy CGI, it just got it Sam Mendes at his finest with with just the most incredible production. So

Alex Ferrari 1:08:08
When you give when you give masters a really good set of brushes and a great canvas, they can do some amazing things. I mean, really, really, Scott, you know, I don't care what anyone says, Yeah, anything he does I watch

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:08:20
Alien. You three movies have a fair to ask just three

Alex Ferrari 1:08:24
Throw Blade Runner in their matrix in their fight club. There's a bunch of them in there. As well, but listen Courtney it has been an absolute pleasure and honor speaking to you. I hope that our conversation has helped a few filmmakers out there, understand the business a little bit more. And thank you for the inspiration and for the films that you're making. So thank you so much for everything you're doing.

Courtney Lauren Penn 1:08:45
Thanks so much for having us and happy to answer your questions. Anytime.

LINKS

SPONSORS

  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. Enigma Elements – Cinematic Tools & Assets for Serious Filmmakers
  3. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook

IFH 580: How to Cast a Bankable Star with Thomas Jane

Thomas Jane is a prolific actor, director, and producer, with extensive credits including the series The Expanse and Hung, and the features The Punisher, 61, The Predator and Boogie Nights. Jane recently starred in in the hit thriller The Vanished, and his film Run Hide Fight world premiered at the 77th Venice Film Festival. Jane will next be seen in the anticipated drama series Troppo for IMDb TV/Amazon, based on the bestselling novel by Candice Fox, which he is also executive producing via his Renegade Entertainment banner.

Jane founded the production company Renegade Entertainment with Courtney Lauren Penn in 2019. Since its inception, Renegade has produced the soon to be released features Murder at Yellowstone City, starring Jane, Gabriel Byrne, and Isaiah Mustafa; Dig, starring Jane, Emile Hirsch, and Harlow Jane; The Last Son, starring Jane, Sam Worthington and Colson Baker; and Slayers, starring Jane, Abigail Breslin and Malin Akerman.

Among their projects in development, Renegade is producing a comic series The Lycan, continuing the Malone franchise with a sequel to the cult fan favorite Give ‘em Hell Malone, and producing an adaptation of Stephen King’s From a Buick 8, marking the fourth collaboration between Jane and King, following 1922, Dreamcatcher, and The Mist.

Jane is a writer and director, directing one of the first-ever natively shot films in 3D, the noir thriller Dark Country, as well as the celebrated season 5 episode “Mother” of his hit series The Expanse. He founded the graphic novel company RAW Studios in 2011.

Thomas recently opened up his new production company Renegade Entertainment.

Thomas Jane and Courtney Lauren Penn’s Renegade Entertainment has been prolific since launching late in 2019. Since the start of the pandemic the company has completed production on Murder at Emigrant Gulch, starring Gabriel Byrne, Isaiah Mustafa, and Thomas Jane; Dig, starring Thomas Jane, Harlow Jane, and Emile Hirsch; The Last Son, starring Thomas Jane, Sam Worthington, and Colson Baker; and Slayers, starring Abigail Breslin, Thomas Jane, and Malin Akerman.

Renegade is in production on their first scripted series Troppo, based on the bestselling novel by Candice Fox. Among their projects in development, Renegade is producing a comic series The Lycan, continuing the Malone franchise with a sequel to the cult fan favorite Give ‘em Hell Malone, and producing an adaptation of Stephen King’s From a Buick 8, marking the fourth collaboration between Jane and King, following 1922The Mist, and Dreamcatcher.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Thomas Jane 0:00
I started on my first experience on set was as an extra. In Oh, Renzo llamas movie, we're talking about like the 1980s 80, something like that.

Alex Ferrari 0:14
This episode is brought to you by Indie Film Hustle TV, the world's first streaming service dedicated to filmmakers, screenwriters, and content creators. Learn more at indiefilmhustle.tv. I'd like to welcome to the show, Thomas Jane how you doin Thomas?

Thomas Jane 0:29
Hey, good to see ya!

Alex Ferrari 0:33
Good to see you too, my friend. I'm excited to have you on the show. I've been a fan of yours, my friend from back back back back in the day. So I appreciate you coming on. And I'm excited to talk to you about your new projects and the new stuff that you're doing in the world. But before we get into all of that, yeah, why in God's green earth? Did you want to get into this insane business?

Thomas Jane 0:53
Wow, there's a question. Why did I want to? I think it's a kind of businesses sort of like, you don't really have a choice. I mean, I think if you could do anything else, coming up as a young actor, anybody in my acting classes that had a plan B, you know, whether it was managing a restaurant or going to night school to be an accountant, that's what they ended up doing. So one of the first things I learned was no plan B. Gosh,

Alex Ferrari 1:25
You burn that you burn the ships, you burn the ships at the shore.

Thomas Jane 1:29
You got to I mean, otherwise, you're gonna there are nights when you lay awake in bed at night, staring at the ceiling and going, Why the hell am I here? And what the hell did I think I was doing? There are those nights, you know? And if you've got that, you know, escape hatch sooner or later, you're gonna get weak and take it. So yes, you gotta burn the ships, man. There's no way out.

Alex Ferrari 1:52
So let me ask you a question that I mean, look, as an actor, I'm always fascinated by, you know, when I'm when I'm directing, and I'm doing a casting, I try to be as kind as I can to actors, but they get rejected 99% of the time, especially when they're coming up, if not 100% of the time when they're coming up. How did you deal with rejection coming up? And yeah, how did you just keep going and grinding every day? When there there was nothing on the horizon that said, if you stick with this, you're gonna make it.

Thomas Jane 2:22
Yeah, you know, how did you do? There's only one way to do it. And that's to love what you do. I started a little theatre company here in Los Angeles and the bad part of town on heliotrope and Melrose, we rent it out in literally a store space. And we called it the space and we built our own, we got our, our seats from some abandoned theater, and we built the tears and I think it sat 49 people. And we built our stage and put up some lights. And we started directing, acting, writing, even I did a one act play there that I wrote. And you get a group of guys together that just really love it, you know, and we of course, we're all doing it for free, you know, tickets were negligible, if not free, you know, and you get all your buddies to come on one weekend, and the second weekend, there'll be three people and one of them will be asleep. And the audience sorry. I've had I've had I've been there. Yeah. But if you love what you do, and it's like, Well, where can I do this and even if I have to invent my own place to do it, and that leads to friends and some other guys got to another theater and really that's I did a lot of theater in LA and you don't want to don't think of La as a theater town. But there's, there's a little bit going on. There's a great theater called the Odyssey down in Laguna Beach. That's a union theater, I did a I did a play there with Sherry North who used to be called the Smart Marilyn Monroe back in the day. And and I just kept I kept that up. I haven't done theater in a long time because I've been busy doing this but I'd love to get back to it. So the question and the answer is love what you do and if you love what you do, you'll find a way to do it and it doesn't really matter. And you know, I ultimately said to myself, you know, it doesn't really matter if I never get paid for this. I love to do it. You got to I love what it does and I love to watch it you know I love to go to theI I became an usher at a theater in Century City just so I could go and watch the play every night you know and watch the different changes and how it was the same but different every night. I was a bad Usher because I was kept watching the play instead of showing people to their seats, but

Alex Ferrari 4:47
Other than ushering so so you when you get your first gig as a paid actor on a movie or a TV show, what was that like just going on the set for the first time I'm knowing that you're gonna remember some lines and even it could have been just one line, but just be just being there. What was that like for you and and did you throw up? Did you have impostor syndrome, all that kind of stuff.

Thomas Jane 5:13
All of the above it's a new experience for sure. But you know, I started on my first experience on set was as an extra. In a Lorenzo Lamas movie, we're talking about like the 1980s. It was late 80s, something like that. And I played soccer in the background of some scene that they were shooting, right? And watch watching Lorenzo Lamas do is he had this towel and he would puff up his biceps before each shot, you know, and I was like, well, that's interesting. And just watching the crew watching the people is all new to me, I had no idea what anybody's job was, but they sure were busy. And then at the end of the day, you line up to the, at the, at this makeshift table where they would hand out your paycheck. And when I when I got over there, they packed up and gone. So you know, I was I was only supposed to get like 40 bucks or something. But that 40 bucks meant a lot that pissed me off. So I like doing productions where people actually pay the people that work and respect the different jobs that people do. You know, then I started getting I guess, maybe it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where it was like a real movie. And I and I had a few I had a scene with Luke, Luke Perry. And I played this garage mechanic and he's kind of crazy. And that was really my first experience of getting into the makeup trailer. And you being thrown through the works and the process and the onset and doing your scene and the coverage and all that and yeah, it's it's exhilarating and terrifying and fascinating and everything you'd think it would be I remember, Luke was in his makeup trailer and he was talking to his agents on the phone. And they were arguing because he had this what do you call it jazz button. He had this little

Alex Ferrari 7:21
Flavor savor the flavor savor

Thomas Jane 7:24
That it was clean shaven except for that. And he was who was arguing with the producers and the agent about whether or not he was going to keep it or shave it off the horse. They wanted him to shave it off. He ended up keeping.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
Yeah, it was funny because I because I knew the I knew Fran the director of Buffy years ago, I hung out with her and she would tell me stories about what it was like being on that set and running. And I think it was their second movie or something like that. And it was a studio movie and people Oh, and Luke Perry was like, at the height of his power. I think he was the star of that, you know, even though was Christie's you know, she was the Buffy but I mean, people don't understand. Yeah, you mean I lived in Orlando. I mean, actually, I lived in Florida. When that mall that he went to go visit there was a riot. And like people oh my gosh, yeah, I was I drove by that that they were like what's going on over here? I was living in Fort Lauderdale at the time. And it was, so people didn't understand how big of a start it was back then. So that must have been a hell of an experience just being around that.

Thomas Jane 8:29
I met a lot of people on that set, David Arquette. Paul Reubens go friends today.

Alex Ferrari 8:38
It was a great day. It was a great group of people that film. Now speaking of some films, I mean, you've worked with a couple of good directors just a couple over the years. You've had the pleasure of working with like Terrence Malick and BT Anderson and John Woo. Did you learn any lessons from a filmmaking that you brought into your directing into your producing years later? Or just as an actor? What are some lessons you learned from some of these great filmmakers?

Thomas Jane 9:03
Always, you know, they all got different styles, I learned that I learned that there is no one one way to do it. And I always paying attention because I do love directing and producing and, and I've always been headed in that direction. Once you get a little experience, you know, I feel like I have something to offer and avoid some of the some of the pitfalls that I've fallen into in the past and I've seen people fall into it's really nice. It's neat to it's an oral tradition, you know that there is no you can read some books, but there's only one way to really learn how how it happens and that is to do it and you're in your learning hand to mouth you're learning sorry, mouth to ear. It's people teaching other people how to do it and that process for acting has gone back 2000 years for filming. Thinking it's gone back 100 years more. But you've got an it's technicians and artists teaching other technicians and artists. And so I love that. That tradition, you know, there's no other way to learn it except for to be there and to learn it from people who learned it from somebody else. From as far as those guys, you know, I love Terry Malik's style, it was very open, he was very open to the environment and to what the actors were doing and, and, and he would be able to shift he was fluid. He was extremely fluid in the way that he what he wanted, he would change his mind. I was I had this scene on a hill. It was one scene and he'd asked me to be in the movies three times before and I was busy doing other stuff. And they finally I was free. And so I flew all the way over there. I flew with Mickey work. And we had to take like three planes. He kept getting lost. And I felt like I was kind of babysit. He hate he hates flying, apparently. So I was kind of taking care of Mickey and then I went over and I got to watch Mickey. So of course, I wasn't working. But Mickey was doing his stuff one day, and I showed up and all day long. Watch Terry. And Mickey and Mickey was doing improv at improv all day beautiful monologue. Gorgeous work didn't end up in the film. But my scene did. And I tell you, we started at dawn. And we shot the scene. And then throughout the day, there'd be cloud cover, and he'd shoot the scene. And then there'd be sunshine. And he'd shoot the scene. I knew just enough at that time to be able to ask him like, how are you going to cut this together? You've you were shooting in the sun. We're shooting in the shade. You've got us at dawn, how is any of this going to match and he said, You know what? I'm shooting I'm covering the scene so that I can take all of the cloud cover shots and put the scene together. And I'll have or I can take all the sunset sun shine sunshine shots and put those together. Or I can have a shot at dusk and dawn, I can have a magic hour scene because that way I can put the scene anywhere in the film that I like because it's a kind of a standalone, standalone little scene, so it's not really connected to any other part of the story. I thought that okay, that's kind of brilliant. And then halfway through the day, he disappeared for like three hours. It him and John told just ran off. And we're so he's sitting around for three hours. He finally comes strolling back, I go, Hey, where are you been? And, and he said, Oh, I saw some beautiful butterflies. Over there. And we were we were cats. We were filming them. Anyway, we're we're we?

Alex Ferrari 13:04
He literally just went off to chase some some butterflies. Oh my god. That's literally literally literally, it's it's

Thomas Jane 13:15
Yeah, I've learned a lot from different folks. John Liu John Liu. He actually he had a funny way because this was a movie he was shooting in America yet American Crew he was out of his element. He wasn't with his normal guys doing a John Woo movie, he was doing a Hollywood movie hired because he's John Woo. John, who was very smart, he speaks fluent English. But during the show, he pretended that he didn't speak any English. So when the producers are trying to talk to him, he'd be like, Ah, what's his what are they say? And then you have this interpreter, and the interpreter would be trying to explain. And so he had this out, he built this out for himself where he just did whatever the hell he wanted. And if the producers got upset, be like, sorry, he was just a misunderstanding. John doesn't speak English. You know, we're doing the best we can. And I thought, That's pretty clever.

Alex Ferrari 14:12
Did you know but did you know on set that he didn't speak English?

Thomas Jane 14:16
I know, I watched him and I watched all the interpreting and all this stuff and and he had his little Chinese group around him that were very protective. And, and it was I was able to, to, somebody told me, somebody told me at the end of the day, I was made friends with somebody who's on John's team, and he told me the straight the real deal.

Alex Ferrari 14:39
Oh my god. That's that's, that's because John I mean, watching to him. It's a famous face off if I'm not mistaken. Correct. So yeah, a classic John Woo film, and then need to make a sequel of it as soon as humanly possible. There was a lot of I mean, he's just one of those directors. You know, he he rewrote how action movies were made after he came.

Thomas Jane 14:59
That's right we sure did everything is everything's never the same after the bullet ballet.

Alex Ferrari 15:06
Oh my god after hard boiled and hard boiled and the other one he did the killer. Just

Thomas Jane 15:13
The killer.

Alex Ferrari 15:14
Oh, he was

Thomas Jane 15:18
What a face. You know, we didn't have to do anything. It was just one of those faces. It's like to share a Mfume, you know, you just get fascinated by this guy. I'm watching. I've watched all the current salad stuff, but it turns out, buffoon. I did more movies with this Japanese director called a Naki. I think it's called an Aki. And he did more movies with this guy in Japan. But those movies never really made it outside of Japan. They were very Japanese. And his work with this, this guy is just as good as Curacao in a different in a different way. But have you seen the samurai trilogy?

Alex Ferrari 16:04
Yeah, I remember the samurai trilogy. Yeah. Oh, it's amazing.

Thomas Jane 16:07
I just watched that recently. I hadn't seen it. That is it's like a six hour movie divided up into three films. It's on criterion is Criterion Collection. Yeah. And you've got it's the story of Musashi, who was this the most famous samurai. And it's sort of his journey from being this ruffian this kid is Wild Child kid to being a real samurai. And then his journey along the way, and it took six hours to tell the story it, it's now up in my top five, I love the way he shouldn't so simply done. And I love those older films where they just hang on a shot, you know, it's they're not doing all these cuts. And when they cut into a close up, it's me, it means something, you're like, Whoa, they would let a whole scene play out just in just in the Master, you know, and the actors would be choreograph. So they'd be moving, I love that kind of work. And I'm just hoping that, that I can do some of that kind of work and that people don't get bored. You know, I think that we need, I think it's desensitizing all of the all of the television cutting that's sort of permeating our world right now, and has been for years and years. But now it's now it's been sort of sunk into, it's like, everything has become it. You know, there used to be a difference between television editing and movie editing. Now, yeah. And now you've got pretty much everything's TV. And I think somebody maybe me is going to is going to turn that on its head again, where we just let it play. Because the actors are damn interesting. The story is interesting, I can see everybody, I see what they're doing. You know, if you got a wide shot or a medium shot, I see all the expressions on your face, I pick it up. And I think that we need as an audience. And as we move through time and society, we need things to kind of wake us up a little bit, you know, you have to break out of the pattern a little bit in order to wake people back up to the power and the glory of cinematic storytelling.

Alex Ferrari 18:14
Now, when you're working as an actor, what do you look for in a director? You know, how do you like to be directed? What is that? Those elements that when you're thinking about doing a project, you're like, This is not going to work out because we're not going to mix here. I really am looking, this guy doesn't know what he's doing. This girl doesn't know what she's like. You could say, I'm assuming at this point, you can sense this as a third, as a sixth sense. Now, it's a what is that thing that you're looking for in a director?

Thomas Jane 18:39
Oh, you know, I can take care of myself now. So I used to want a director who could really who was going to get the best performance out of me, I found that those are few and far between. It's just sort of becoming a lost art. We're directors really understand there's a few of them out there. But as far as working with actors, I got that covered. I can take care of my performance. What I'm what I'm hoping and looking for is can you take care of your directing. So I like if somebody comes to me with storyboards and says, This is how I'm going to shoot this, this is my vision for this thing. And if they don't say anything, you're like, well, you're just going to show up and make it up on the day, which unfortunately, I have, you know, work we've all worked with. And so I'll figure it out. And by the way that can work. That's

Alex Ferrari 19:32
If Ridley Scott shows up and says, Hey, we're just going to figure it out on the day.

Thomas Jane 19:36
Right, you trust that but and then that can work but I like an I like a director to be prepared and to have a point of view and to involve me in that story. You know, how are we going to tell that? How can I help you tell the story that you want to tell? So but I'm being folded into a grander picture. not just showing up and you know, we'll make it up on the day, it's it's what you're looking for is a vision, you're also looking for a sensitivity to the acting, you know, you don't have to direct it most some of the best directors I've worked with don't say anything, they don't direct you. Their direction is extremely minimal, you know, things like a little bit faster can mean the world in a scene. Generally, directors want to say as little as possible to their actors, but to know that you're being taken care of means to be know that you're being watched to your, they're paying attention, they're intently focused on what you're doing, and they see everything. So a director comes up after a taking goes, that pause you took before you picked up that that fork. Fantastic, and then walk away. So I'm being able to piece together what's working and what's not working with little comments like that.

Alex Ferrari 21:07
Yeah, cuz when you get it because I've, I've been on set with very insecure directors and insecure directors are yellers. And, and they're trying to, you know, boast their ego and all this kind of stuff. And I've always found that the quieter the director, the more secure they are, it's the quiet ones that you really, yeah, they just with one word faster, more intense than those couple words. That's

Thomas Jane 21:31
If a good director has done his job. By the time you get to set the movies already made. You're just executing the motions and all the all the crew knows what to do. Everybody, there's little adjustments to make throughout the day. But they've there's been production meetings that have been very thorough, and everybody knows exactly what's required on that day. And what the scene is about, you know, like Lumet said, is like, I sit everybody down, and we all have to be making the same movie, you know, and that's the conversation during production meetings is what kind of movie are we making, because you can make any kind of movie you can take a script and turn it into, you can take the darkest film and turn it into a comedy or vice versa. It's the page is really is a skeleton, you know, no matter how good the script is, you're looking at a skeleton that can be interpreted and built in many different ways. So if you've got a group of 20, artists, you know, they're all going to kind of have their own proclivities and ideas and stuff. And if you just let them run, you're gonna get 20 You're gonna get a Frankenstein movie. But if you're able to coalesce and everybody's making the same film, and then when they come to set, and they have a question, you can remind them and say, No, that's not the movie. And so you're now you're just nudging people onto the path, as opposed to just, you know, running well, there's 20 different ways we could get to town, you know?

Alex Ferrari 23:04
Exactly now you know, being an actor of your caliber, and, and being in the business for as long as you have, I'm imagining that you get pitched projects all the time, from filmmakers from producers, who want you to be a part of their show, or be part of their movie or something along those lines, knock on wood, knock on wood that keeps happening, right, and you deserve it. Because you are you've have you've built a hell of a career for yourself and done some amazing work. But, you know, being in the indie space, and you know, now you're you're working a lot independent projects as well, that are, you know, outside of the $300 million studio system, though you do those every once in a while as well.

Thomas Jane 23:42
I really enjoy the indie space, I really do.

Alex Ferrari 23:45
What is what is the proper way that someone could put a package together to entice an actor of your caliber? Like what elements should be in place? What elements shouldn't be placed? Don't do this, do this. Because there's so many, like, I consult constantly independent filmmakers, and they'll just do the, you know, ignorant things that they just don't understand. Like, you can't reach out to Thomas without some money in place. That's step one. I don't care how beautiful the script might be. His agents are not going to even look at it unless there's verifiable funds, things like that. So So yeah, what are some of the things, some tips you can give some filmmakers out there?

Thomas Jane 24:27
Well, it all starts with the script. You know, obviously, you've got to have a script that's going to be attractive. For and there's a number of different ways. There's an endless amount of ways you can pull that off, but you got to have a script that's attractive. You got to have a script that's meaningful to actors. The most important things like you said is that the film is set up or there's financing that is ready to be in place. You know, most financiers will say, Okay, I'll commit to making this movie if you bring me Thomas Jane. So you know, so you can you there's a meeting in the middle where you know, so you don't. So you don't necessarily have to be fully financed, but you have to have the means to be financed, you have to so it really is a director, you're always you're starting with the money, you know, you need your producers and you need your money. And in that way, you can start to build your package, you know, I think everything's becoming a package these days, you it's, it's about who you're pairing with. So when you're crafting your script, make sure you have more than one good part. Because the guys who are able to get a whole movie financed, they've got old scripts lined up around the block of waiting, waiting for them, they can pick any movie they want, you know, and so those, that's, that's not a good route, I mean, you're going to get in line, it's going to be three blocks down that way. But if you put a pack, if you have a film and a script, you put it together, and you've got a number of different neat parts. And they could be just a two day part, you know, a really fun part that's, that works for two days, those work really well. And that's how you're, you're able to attract an actor I won't read, it's there's just too much stuff, you know, I just don't have time to read stuff that doesn't have any financing, or nobody's looked at it. However, as a producer, now we've started a company called Renegade, and troppo, our TV show for Amazon is our first as our first projects really exciting. And that we do read scripts, you know, we read script, we're looking for great scripts, so that we can then take it out to the financiers and, and start to put that together. So that's sort of your first stop, the first step would be Renegade.

Alex Ferrari 27:01
Obviously send it into my production company, which is Yeah, which is, which is, which is very, very cool of you to like, you've launched this new company, and you're doing some really cool projects with the, with the company as well. And you're taking kind of more control as an actor over the work that you're doing. So you're not just you know, gun for hire, you're actually trying to put this out there.

Thomas Jane 27:22
And I'm also and also not everything that we do have to be starring Thomas Jane, you know, so it's not a Thomas Jane production company. It's a real production company, we started in 2019. So we're just getting started, because then the pandemic hit right away, right, one of the first things we grabbed was Stephen King's from a Buick eight. I know, I saw that really exciting. So many people have tried to crack it as a film, John Carpenter can't remember the other names, but a lot of people have come on and tried to nail that down as a, but it's really it's too long form, it needs to be a mini series. So we've got some really good partners in place to create, turn that into a mini series. And that's one of the things we've gotten then in the trapo book came across our desks, that was one of the first things that come around. So looking for books, looking for projects, looking for material, that's the fun, that's really fun, you know, like, oh, this could be and then shepherding that material in a way that so that it doesn't get compromised or damaged along the way, which, which is probably the toughest job in Hollywood, you know, besides writing, writing, the script is the toughest job. second toughest job is being able to take a decent piece of material and shepherded from A to Z, without completely altering it so that it's unrecognizable. Or, you know, twisting it in a way that it turns into something that is not what you intended, or what you fell in love with at the beginning.

Alex Ferrari 28:53
But as you as a you know, someone who's shepherding a project like that You are the protector of the material. That's right, You are the protector of the material, and you have to be a strong guardian. And a lot of times filmmakers get you know, producers will come in or the studio will come in or someone else will start pushing it around to the point where you've lost control of it. And now you've you've not You're not protecting it anymore.

Thomas Jane 29:18
There's so many different ways that things can go off the rails and you need to make decisions that do change things a bit, especially if you're going from a book to the screen From Page to Screen, you need to make adjustments you know, and the adjustments that you make. You have to always keep in the forefront of your mind, does this serve the core of this project? Or is it compromising it in some way? And then there will be compromises, you know,

Alex Ferrari 29:48
Every day, every day of every second there's a compromise. The whole the whole filmmaking process is compromised.

Thomas Jane 29:54
It's making the right compromises and then it's it's making compromises that In turn, protect the thing that you love the best about it, right? So identifying that and being able to, when you make those compromises, make sure that they're still serving what you love about the project in some way, you know, so you can you can, there are certain things that you can lose, and still not compromise your project, there are certain things that you can change, and you've ruined it.

Alex Ferrari 30:27
Oh, one little one little thing, you lifting that fork a little too fast, the whole gone off the rails? Well,

Thomas Jane 30:33
I mean, the scene might go off the rails?

Alex Ferrari 30:36
No, no, but you know, it's like a butterfly flaps its wings. And there's, there's, you know, an avalanche somewhere.

Thomas Jane 30:42
The thing we're getting as a reverberation and you know, comes from experience, knowing what kind of compromises you can make and how and what and what and what you're protecting what you can't compromise.

Alex Ferrari 30:55
Now, as far as that package you were talking about before, I mean, verifiable funds, or at least being able to verify those funds. How important to you is the creative packaging team, like the producers involved? The director, if it's a first time director, you know, because I know a lot of a lot of actors who just won't work with first time directors, because they just don't have the time to to take that risk on their either their career or their time or any of that stuff. So how born? How important is that team? And also, I mean, obviously, your co stars, who you're going to be working with, and so on. And I'm asking these questions, because a lot of filmmakers out there listening, don't understand the realities of what it really takes to get a film off the ground, especially in today's world. So I want to, I wanted to come straight from the horse's mouth, if you will,

Thomas Jane 31:36
Well, if you're a first time director, I would start small, find a project that you can make that your calling card, you know, don't go try to get a bunch of big actors in your first time move, it's getting rarer and rarer. And for a reason, you're right, we don't have the time, and we just don't want to take the risk. I mean, the chances are, your movie is gonna be pretty flawed, if you're a first time director, you know. And that's, that's just the way it is. But if you're making a film, that you can't now it's so easy, you know, if that you can put together that that's your calling card. And if somebody shows me that and goes, Hey, check this out. Hopefully not a short but a short, you can't, you can still get an idea of of, of what a director is capable of through a short. And you know, there might be some tight if I had a really fantastic script, and I had a great short, and the part was great, then then I might take that risk. But if one of those three isn't there, I just don't have time, you know, starting small as a director, you know, so that you can create something that's exciting. And for you, and then you know, and then the producers will be able to go around town and say, Look, man, this guy made this in six days, imagine what it'll do if we give him 18. Know, and that becomes a selling point. But as far as what, what would you like to know?

Alex Ferrari 33:09
So I mean, what you just said like those three elements like great script, great part, great short film is an anomaly. It happens once in a blue moon. And then also there's personalities aspects, the the almost the, like, can I sit in a room with this? Or can I be on a set with this person? For 1218 hours, sometimes depending on the project? Yeah. And yeah, those are those elements as well about what entices an actor like yourself to be part of a project. And again, I'm just trying to really hammer home to filmmakers who are listening that this is this is the reality, because I hear it every day, Thomas every day, I hear filmmakers who like hey, you know who's going to be perfect for this? It's going to be Thomas J. And I'm like, okay, great. What do you have? And they're like, I've got this script. What have you done? Nothing? What do you have any money? Almost, I almost money's gonna drop a minute. Do you have verifiable funds? Do you have a qualified investor now? Okay, do you have an agent? I don't have an agent yet. Do you have a lawyer? We're looking for one. But you see, but this is the delusion of a lot of independent filmmakers because they're ignorant to the process. And that's what my show is all about is trying to really guide them through the process so I can at least cut a couple years off of their their learning lessons. And that wastes two years trying to get to your agent trying to get a script to your agent and then getting angry. I'm like, oh, Hollywood doesn't understand my genius.

Thomas Jane 34:32
That script you want to put that in a drawer and then you want to make the one that's going to get you in the door? You know? We really is you know it's Show and Tell around here there's you know, people talk bullshit all day long and peep some people are really good at it. Some people may have been career at it.

Alex Ferrari 34:51
I've met the same people sir.

Thomas Jane 34:53
So but if you you know if you can do it, if you can do it once you can do it again. You you can make it, you start with a financing, you know, start with. And that I guess, you know, in a lot of ways, the producing part really is tough. Because finding somebody who can recognize what a good script is, or recognize what a talented director is, and I think that's one of the frustrations of people starting out, it's, you know, it's like, if only they knew how, how brilliant I am. It's show us show us, show us, you know, it's show and tell. And, and that can be a short film. But you know, if you could, if you can put together an, you know, in in what's great about its doing something like that is, it could be a half hour long, it could be 45 minutes long, an hour, an hour and five minutes, you know, you're not beholden to any kind of rules, except for making something really damn interesting. Now holding somebody's attention on a really low budget thing for an hour is miraculous. No, no, there's no question for half an hour, it's miraculous, if you're gonna make sure keep it under 10 minutes, you know, and those rules are made to be broken. But, you know, if I see a short, you know, and it's 45 minutes long, Oh, watch some of it. But the chances are really small that I'll get through the whole thing.

Alex Ferrari 36:22
Right, exactly. Because 45 minutes short, I'm like, Just keep going.

Thomas Jane 36:26
But you need a combination. You can't just make a brilliant short film and show it you got to have you need that combination, you know, and yeah, and I think building your team early is good, you know, find ways to hook up with really talented writers young, because the young writers when I was coming up, I was fortunate enough to find some really talented writers who are now making livings a screenplay, but we were living hand to mouth. But we love what we did. So we would get together at night after our day jobs, and we'd spend three, four hours writing together, you know, developing stuff, and that really, those scripts, if I look back at them today, they're not very good. But they're, but there's moments of brilliance in them, you know, and that, and that's how you kind of cut your teeth. That's how I cut my teeth was, and I did short films, I gotta tell you, I wish somebody would dig these up, I did film for UCLA, USC, I would go and I would audition and you know, these graduate filmmakers, directors, they needed to make their thesis film. And it was usually a short. And I did like four or five of them. And had a great time, you know, and met met all kinds of wonderful people. And, and but really, you know, we were cutting our teeth. So I did short films I wrote with young writers who they're not expecting to get paid. You know, they, they're, they love it to their learning to they want to do it. And then, you know, if you're lucky enough, you'll find you'll meet some really interesting young producers. And then making those connections is great, but cutting your teeth on an actual project that everybody's just doing because they need to do it, I think is the most important thing.

Alex Ferrari 38:19
Yeah, you've got to you actually, it's one of those. This is an art form that needs to be up. If you've got a paint paint, you want to play music, play music, you can't just talk about it so much or intellectualize it into

Thomas Jane 38:33
Its mouth to its mouth to ear, man. That's the only way to do it.

Alex Ferrari 38:37
Yeah, until you're on set and trapnell is being tossed at you literally and figuratively, sometimes. Yeah, you learn you'll learn on the first day when you're directing and you're losing the light. And you've got three pages left. And

Thomas Jane 38:54
Nobody's coming back tomorrow.

Alex Ferrari 38:57
And we lose the location at six. That's right. That's the stuff they don't teach you at school

Thomas Jane 39:03
Thinking on your feet.

Alex Ferrari 39:04
Then you're like, Okay, how can I cover this? In the next 15 minutes? I'm not going to lose the scene. And I can say.

Thomas Jane 39:09
Or how can how can I rewrite it so that I get the grasp of what's being done. And then a lot of times, that'll turn out better than your three minutes seeing?

Alex Ferrari 39:17
Right! I always love I always love going on set, especially with when I'm working with the first ad the first time I come in, and I'll have a shot list of like 100 shots for the day. And he's like, you know, we're not going to get them like absolutely no, we're not gonna get to this, but I want them there. In case things are going well. Or maybe I can switch here, but I'd like to have that there. So just in that experience, because because the first time I went on set with that list, I expected to do all of it

Thomas Jane 39:41
And knew Oh, yeah, you're like, Well, why not?

Alex Ferrari 39:44
Why can't we do 200 setups and eight so this behind the scenes documentary of Tarantino, I think it worked out fine.

Thomas Jane 39:58
Are your guys just starting out, Are they young professionals and they're trying to the ground there, it's a bunch of different people?

Alex Ferrari 40:06
It's from the it's from the newbie who doesn't understand that the things we've discussed all the way to the experienced directors who have worked and worked on projects been in the business for 1520 years, but still might not understand the producing side of things and how to package how to package a project.

Thomas Jane 40:24
If there's like a secret language to producing even I am still learning about the ins and outs of this secret language that they've got, you know, obviously, they've got little lists, you know, and if the actors aren't on the list, and they're every actor is worth a certain amount of money this week, and there'll be worth a certain amount of money next week, and that kind of fluctuates. And then if you put certain actors in combination together, then that gets you it really, it's a financial puzzle that the producers put together so that they don't take a bath, when they make your movie, you know, since they want to have us a floor, they want to have a concrete floor, that they're not going to fall beneath and just disappear forever. They need they need that insurance. And that comes through who you got in your movie. And, you know, I think one of the big hurdles, like I said, is finding a producer who really understands what the potential of your project is. Because those producers are the guys that are going to be able to go out there and talk to the financiers, and figure out different models. And there's several different ways to skin the cat. Which way is best at this time and place with this script with this cast. So there's a lot of different elements, and it takes years to figure out this producing stuff. But But beyond but that anybody can figure that out, that's math, what the magic sauce is, is being able to recognize a really good script, you know that that has the potential to make a really good film in a way that we haven't seen 99 times people why they make all these sequels and why or what's all these remakes, because it's already been proven to work. Nobody wants to take a step outside the formula. Because then you're in no man's land, you're in the unknown, you know, you're like you don't you can't pull up the list of numbers and say, well, this movie did this. And this movie did that this was released on Labor Day, and it did this. So there's all kinds of numbers surrounding that what's not surrounding is when you come up with something unique enough that it becomes an unknown, then, you know, you really you need to fall back on you're these are the actors I've got, these are the parts that are that are available. You know, generally men mean more than women in this crazy business, you know that I still don't understand that one. But somehow it's still a thing, you know, where a male movie star will bring more financing to a project than a female movie star. In most cases. That's strange to me, but part of the bit, it's just math, it's like insurance companies. And other like, we don't care, it's you know, there's been this many people die in car accidents on this road. Therefore, if you want, you know, if you want to drive on it, this is what you got to pay. So,

Alex Ferrari 43:16
And those those rules, by the way, change daily, they change daily, these little,

Thomas Jane 43:20
Not constantly fluid, in the end, the producers who are tuned in, are monitoring those fluctuations all the time, you know, and then where you can shoot monitors, then you get your rebates, you know, everybody would go to Louisiana because you'd get this great rebate. You go to Georgia, that's why Walking Dead and all these other things shoot in Georgia, they get a tax rebate, but that's when I was shooting hunting for HBO. We go to Detroit for a couple of weeks. We got this great rebate, but then you know they they've played fast and loose with their eBay money and it dried up. So now you don't go to Detroit anymore. Now you go to New Jersey. It's always fluctuate.

Alex Ferrari 44:03
No, it's and you know, another thing I discovered, I worked on a project where there was a name actor who they brought on, and then But then the filmmaker was working with them. And it's in the finance the project. But then by the time the movie came out, that actor had diluted his value for the year. And there was 12 other movie viewing too many movies. He did 12 other movies that year. That's a lot. That's a lot of movies. And then he went out to the district and he completely valued his name. So then then the filmmaker who that was was his that was his game. He went to distributors and like I really got three of his movies this year. I'm like,

Thomas Jane 44:42
You don't want to do that.

Alex Ferrari 44:44
As an actor, you I'm assuming you think about this as well as an actor. You're like, I can't be everything because

Thomas Jane 44:50
You can't flood the market with too much product. It's supply and demand. But some years are different than others. You know, one year you know, you're like I've got pay off this this debt, you know, I've got so I've got to do it and that but you know that then you're probably going to not work the next year for a while you want to keep that supply and demand going, you also want to be you can't work too little. Because then you know, then you're like, well, we don't know what your value is, because the last movie you had came out five years ago, it's a totally different business. Now, I don't know, you, then you're a wildcard and people don't really want to invest in that. But I think as an actor, one of the things that I've think that I hope that I've found some success in is choosing projects, you know, if what, what I like, what I hope for is that the projects that I do are at least going to be interesting, there's going to be it's not going to be some shady script, you know, and by the way, I've done it. But hopefully not a lot, you know, like maybe once or twice, I've done a script where I was like God, I really, I really need to pay the rent, you know, this month, I don't go do it. But and this is the only thing that's come across the table. And by the way, thank God that it did come across the table so I can hang on to my house, that's great. But you want to have the taste, to be able to choose good projects, at least they're good on page, they have a great script, they have an interesting director, some cool people are in it, who knows what it's going to turn into. But I choose projects based on the script and the people involved. But it's got to be something that's going to be fun for me to play and for you to watch. Because that I can take control of for the most part. I can have fun in a part that I'm having fun playing and I can make it enjoyable for you to watch. Everything else might suck. But that I can pretty much get get across the line. You know, the editor might fuck it up, the director might be up there becomes unrecognizable, but at least it starts out where that was a fun part and fun to watch.

Alex Ferrari 47:12
Yeah, and there was a good friend of mine who's an actor. He's like, Alex, sometimes I gotta take alimony movies. I called alimony movies is like I know they suck. They're horrible. I leave town when they get released. But I got to do what I

Thomas Jane 47:26
Got to do many of those you know exactly. What as Robert Duvall said, you know, he said one for the art, one for the condo.

Alex Ferrari 47:35
Great quote. That's amazing. Now I do have to ask you about a little short film you made called The Punisher dirty laundry. Which I mean, by the way, I loved your Punisher. I loved the way you play the character I you know, you are so amazing in that film. And when I saw the the short come out, I'm like, well, the cool level of Thomas Jane just went up because he made a just a short film a fan film almost. How did that come out? How did you get involved with that? How did that even get made?

Thomas Jane 48:07
I wasn't fully satisfied with the Punisher film that I did. Only because I had a vision, the vision that I had of the Punisher was slightly different than the slightly comic book version that we ended up doing. And I'm proud of that film. And it's got a lot of fans. And so I'm not taking anything away from the movie. And Jonathan Hensley did a great job. You know, it was I think it was his first directing was really successful writer of blockbuster films. And he wrote this and they gave him the chance to direct it. He gave it everything I had, I gave it everything I had. So there's a lot to be said for the film, but it is more of the character. I felt there was more to that character. There was an I wanted. So I was laying around one day, and I came up with that story. I was like, God, you know, and somebody had said something to me at a lunch or something, you know, they said, you know, you just need something to dine out on, you know, you need something that people are talking about this week. And you down out on it. Somebody call it hey, let me take you to lunch, you know, and I thought, all right, well, if I did a short film, and I came up with a story, I thought it was great. I had I was Chad St. John's a wonderful writer was a buddy of mine at the time, went to his wedding. And we were trying to get different projects off the ground at the time. And he had this terse, wonderful Walter Hill kind of style of writing, absolutely loved. So I called him up and I said, Hey, I've got this outline. You know, this is my, my thing. I want to make it a 10 minutes. And he wrote it. He wrote it in a weekend. And then I went to Phil's ronto who I would who I had worked with on a on a He Blumhouse movie. And I said, I asked him because Phil did a lot of commercials probably still does a lot of commercials. So he had any shot in town a lot. So he had crew that depended on him to for their livelihood. So, and Phil, of course, fantech state of grace. I mean, he's just a fantastic talent. And I thought that's a great combination. And then I put and then I went into another buddy, and who was a producer, and I said, you know, this, this won't cost us very much, because Phil is going to pull in a favor from his crew, you know, on a weekend, he's going to pull in favors for him, we got our crew together, we got our special effects together, we got the whole damn thing together, it all came together. And, and you know, and I put it, that was sort of my first foray into producing and making projects happen. And from that led to renegade my company. So I'm proud of that one. Very proud of it.

Alex Ferrari 51:09
It's it was such a fun, fun, fun short to watch. Now, tell me about your new project troppo.

Thomas Jane 51:16
Troppo. So troppo means it's an Australian slang word for going crazy in the tropical heat. Like, when you go up North Australia north, the more North it gets, the hotter it gets in Australia, because it's upside down. And then northern most you go, the hotter it gets, just until it just gets tough humidity. And so people literally lose their mind up there. And so they've got a word for it. It's called going troppo. You know, when you tear your clothes off and run down in the middle of the street yelling like Tarzan, you've gotten trapo. And I thought was a great title. It's not the title of the book, the title of the book is called Crimson lake. And it's by Candice Fox. She's a fantastic writer out of Sydney. James Patterson tapped her to co write some books. So that's how good she is. If you if you're into the mystery novels, Candice Fox is what definitely one to look up. The the second one is called redemption point, those two and then there's a third one, too. Those are great, great mystery books really nicely done. Why? Because they're all about character. Anybody can sort of put together a kind of a mystery. Well, not anybody. But mysteries are one thing that you can engineer. The thing that I think separates a good mystery from a great one is the characters. And that the mystery is ultimately about solving some mystery within yourself. You know, those are the kind of character driven material that I'm looking for, especially with Renegade. So we've got this. We've got this great book. And we this is about two years ago. And we went through the process of developing it. And you know, this, this was brought to us by a company, an Australian company, and they were interested in doing a CO production. And so those building pieces, building blocks were already in place, we came on more of the creative end, working with the showrunner working with the creative producers, protecting the material, making sure that that what I loved and what we loved about the novel actually made it onto the screen. And for the most part, we were successful. The show opened in Australia two months ago and did very well. And the most gratifying thing is that the fans of Candice Fox in Australia, love the show. So we didn't fuck it up. That that was good. That was really good to hear. And now it's a matter of how the American audiences will respond to it. The only one of the changes we made was she wrote, she's an Australian writer writing out of Sydney. And all of her characters in the novel were Australian, and the lead character is this guy, Ted Caffee. He's a disgraced cop. He's, he's a good detective accused of a horrible crime. And I was interested in what does the detective do he he seeks the truth. He's a truth seeker. If he's good at it, he needs to seek the truth. Right? He's passionate about it the way I'm passionate about acting the way you're passionate about directing. This guy is passionate about seeking the truth. And that passion, that truth seeking thing, that inability to leave something alone that you have to sneak in there and find out what's going on is what led to him getting accused of this horrible crime. You know, if he had just left well enough alone, it would have just been another day, but because he He's a truth seeker. It ruined his life. So the core of that is, you know, what happens when the thing that I do best the thing that I am, ruins my life. You know, that was fascinating to me. And I add in the other lead character is Amanda. So they've got these two leads, and they couldn't be she is this young 20 Something shaved head tattooed, badass, crazy person who just got out of prison, she spent a decade in prison for killing her best friend in high school. So she's, you know, this, these are not two people that were going to be hanging out together in a bar at all. But because and she got out of prison, and then went back to the town where she committed the murder and open up a detective agency. But she doesn't know how to be a detective. She hasn't done the first fucking thing about it. So she figures she sees me and knows that I am an ex detective. And she figures Well, this this guy, this is what I need. And they start this uneasy relationship, you know, and the only reason Ted takes the gig if he doesn't take the gig. Don't get me wrong. He's like, alright, I'll do this once. I'll go ask these quick, but that's it. He's constantly trying to get out of it. But the thing that keeps pulling him back in is that glimmer of hope you know that because he's a truth seeker. He says that glimmer of being able to do what he does best. So really neat story, great characters.

Alex Ferrari 56:37
And where's it going to be in it's going to be played on for is a freebie, Amazon?

Thomas Jane 56:40
Yeah, if you go to Amazon, and then I think there'll be a banner for free D free, which used to be the IMDB TV app. Okay. And now they changed the name to free anyway, there'll be a banner on top of Amazon troppo. find on Amazon.

Alex Ferrari 56:58
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Thomas Jane 57:06
Run!

Alex Ferrari 57:09
You know what, that advice has been said on the show many times.

Thomas Jane 57:14
Not too far from the truth. You want to be a filmmaker? Well, what you do is you make films. Don't wait around for somebody to hand you a bunch of money. A lot of folks out there are waiting around for somebody to handle a bunch of money a lot. I would even say maybe most great. If you want to put the pedal to the metal put your money where your mouth is, you know, you got an Coppola said this years ago I remember Coppola giving a great speech about in this was right at the dawn of cell phones. You know, right at the dawn, I think I think it was the iPhone one that just come out. And he goes, you got one of these. You got no excuses. I mean, he was blown away by the technology. And he's right. I mean, there's a great film called tangerine all shot on the jungle. Shaun Baker Soderbergh shot on the iPhone. Look, you got no excuse you want to make if you're a filmmaker, where's your film? Where's your film?

Alex Ferrari 58:16
If you're a painter, where's your painting?

Thomas Jane 58:18
There it is. And, and it doesn't even have you know, you don't even need actors. I mean, one of the greatest movies I've seen in a long time was called the bear.

Alex Ferrari 58:28
Oh, it was oh my god, the 89. I remember very well. Oh,

Thomas Jane 58:33
It's a French film. It is it is a bear. It's about a bear and a baby bear. And it's their adventures through the wild. It's absolutely gorgeous. You know, you should be able to tell a story with rocks with smiley faces on it. You know, I'm not kidding. It's great. To be able to tell a compelling story with the motion and everything you want to get across using sock puppets. Okay, so there's no excuse. There's there's never never an excuse, you know, and it's fun. The challenge of it is amazing. And then you know, and then you got the puzzle. How am I going to come up with something that people want to watch and that people maybe haven't seen before? Or how am I going to come up with something that they have seen before but I'm gonna do it better than anybody else. It's just a potpourri of Delights out there right now and you can all you can do it with just whatever's in your house, you know, the computer, the phone races and it's fun. There's a really neat lens that came out a couple of years ago that say 235 it's so it's so and you've slipped You slip it onto your iPhone Have you seen that?

Alex Ferrari 59:49
Oh, it's amazing.

Thomas Jane 59:51
It's really well done it's it's not cheap. And it's well grabbed the lens is really well ground and I'll give you that widescreen form Add on your phone. That's amazing. Yeah, I had fun playing with that for a long time.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:05
And two last questions. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Thomas Jane 1:00:11
Oh my god. What are hard lessons to learn? You know? I guess one of the hardest lessons to learn is that I'm good enough.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:23
That's been that the exact answer has been said multiple times on this on the show.

Thomas Jane 1:00:27
Well, it's true. You know, and, as an actor, I gotta tell you, it took me a long time to become an actor that that I would want to watch. You know, that I had problems, I had problems. Being in front of the camera, I had problems being on set, I was nervous. I was, I had the imposter syndrome, I had a real difficulty calming down enough so that I could concentrate enough and relax so that I could do what I wanted to do. Because I be great in my bathroom. And rehearse and yeah, a lot, you know, and I knew the character that I wanted to bring the life and if it wasn't, wasn't coming out, you know, it's like, that is not what I saw when I was laying on my couch daydreaming about what this part was, you know, or doing my research. And it took me a long time to be able to relax. And, and, you know, and part of that is sort of a you know what, this is what I got, you know, and that is liberating.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:35
And last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Thomas Jane 1:01:40
Oh, my gosh, three of my favorite films

Alex Ferrari 1:01:43
That come to mind today.

Thomas Jane 1:01:45
Oh, come on, right. come to mind today. Well, I've got to mention the samurai films right now. So that counts is why samurai one, two and three. There you go. I call that one movie. No. Now you're gonna have me kicking myself later on. Okay, here's a great film you should check out last of silence. heard of that one?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:08
No, I've not.

Thomas Jane 1:02:09
It's an old I'm a real big fan of Noir. This is a late Noir. Who the low budget low budget if you guys are if you guys are all filmmakers out there, you gotta check out blast to silence. I don't I think this guy maybe directed one or two things. And I can't remember his name, unfortunately. But black and white, early 60s. So late noir period, crime movie, called the blast of cyber just blast of silence. I think even criterion might have put that out. We'll look for it. All right, there's there's two, right? And let's see number three. You know, I mean, the movie that has stayed with me and changed my life, and made me want to change my life was alien. Alien changed. I was eight years old. Right? And I always say I think I've said this in 100 interviews. But but but people ask me and so that's the truth. But I was eight years old, my folks, you know, they didn't have money for babysitters. So they drag us kids. My sister was only five. But that movie made a huge impression on me. I got the booklet. My dad made my dad by me, the guy used to hand sell these books, and it was full of information and pictures. I took that to school and I told all my buddies, we're not going to see alien, you know, their parents, we're not taking them the alien. I acted out the whole movie for all my friends over and over again. And that was the beginning.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:50
Thomas, it's been an absolute honor and privilege talking to you, my friend. Thank you so much for entertaining us for all these years. And I'm so looking forward to seeing all the new projects you do with Renegade and the stuff that you're doing in the future. My friend, thank you again. And thank you for being so honest and raw, and forthcoming about all this information. Hopefully, it's gonna help some filmmakers out there. So I appreciate you my friend.

Thomas Jane 1:04:09
So buddy, it was great talking to you. Thank you. Thanks for having me.

LINKS

SPONSORS

  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. Enigma Elements – Cinematic Tools & Assets for Serious Filmmakers
  3. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook

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

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

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

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

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

Right-click here to download the MP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 4:49
Okay, fair enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 14:16
Right, exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 24:37
Wants a book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 30:23
I love that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 36:10
Im still fighting baby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 41:49
Absolutely. Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 50:18
Thank God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miranda Bailey 54:28
Um, don't

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

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

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

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

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

Miranda Bailey 55:40
This more than once

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LINKS

  • Miranda Bailey – IMDB

SPONSORS

  1. FrameSet – A Searchable Collection of Movie, Commercial & Music Video Frames
  2. Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  3. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook

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

IFH 559: How to Get Your Project on Netflix with RB Botto

RB BOTTO, NETFLIX, STAGE 32

Today on the show we have returning champion RB Botto.

For many, the holy grail of television has become Netflix. It’s a titan in the industry, and with over 200 million subscribers worldwide, no one can put out content quite like them. Just look at the recent hit show BRIDGERTON, which has already been seen by a massive 80 million households (!!) since its release. If you’re a writer or creator, getting your series onto Netflix’s platform can spell success in a big way. But first there’s the matter of getting your series in front of them and pitching it effectively.

It should be a comfort to know that you’re not the only one who wants your series on Netflix. Netflix wants that too! Netflix execs are constantly on the lookout for exciting new voices and new series to fill their slate. Yet it takes more than just a good series or a good pilot script to get on Netflix’s radar; you need to be able to communicate it well and pitch it in a way that will get their team excited. This certainly takes some work, but it’s absolutely achievable. If you’re interested in getting your show on Netflix, it’s time to learn directly from the source what it will take to make that happen.

In an effort to reach more writers and find more content, Netflix has joined forces with Stage 32 to present a FREE and invaluable workshop on what it is that they’re looking for in new shows and how you can best pitch your series to their executives. In Stage 32’s continued effort to help level the playing field for content creators worldwide, we felt it’s important that we help you get tools you need to be able to make sure that you can pitch effectively.

Kicking off the workshop will be Stage 32 CEO, Richard “RB” Botto (@rbwalksintoabar), and hosting this presentation will be Stage 32’s Managing Director Amanda Toney with Netflix’s Director of Creative Talent Investment and Development for International Originals Christopher Mack. Christopher was previously Senior Vice President of Scripted Content for Stage 13, overseeing all of the brand’s original scripted series and development slates across multiple genres, including Emmy nominated Netflix series’ SPECIAL and IT’S BRUNO. Before Stage 13, Chris headed the Warner Bros. Workshop, the writing and directing program for professionals looking to start and/or further their careers in television. Over a period of 10 years in this role, Chris curated a roster of close to 100 writers and 50 directors representing the breakthrough emerging voices working on high-profile television shows today. In addition to these responsibilities, Chris has covered hit shows such as TWO AND A HALF MEN and SMALLVILLE for the Current Programs department.

Prior to joining Warner Bros., Chris spent seven years writing on various one-hour dramas including ER, THE PRACTICE and THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE. After graduating from Loyola Law School, Chris got his start in television at NBC Studios as an associate and he quickly rose to becoming an executive. During his time at the newly created NBC Studios, he oversaw a varied list of shows including: THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR and IN THE HOUSE, among others.

In this exclusive Stage 32 workshop, Christopher will delve into what exactly makes a television pitch work at Netflix.He’ll discuss the essentials you’ll need to catch Netflix’s eye and will zero in on how to write an effective pitch document.He’ll pose questions you be able to answer and communicate for your series and give you ideas on how best to communicate your show’s overview, world, tone, and characters. Christopher will then discuss how season summaries should be built and give you ideas on how to think about and present potential episodes. Finally, you will have the invaluable opportunity to ask Christopher your own questions. You will leave this presentation with the understanding of how to structure and present your series, not in theory, but directly from the source.

Enjoy my epic conversation with RB Botto.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome back to the show, I can't get rid of him. He's it'll be share roaches, and dirty penny back on the show, RB Botto from state 32. My friend how are you?

RB Botto 0:24
I am doing well. Sir. How are you doing? Well, you know, it's a good place to start. How are you doing? Because the last time you know, regular listeners know that I've been on this show many many times. And I'm very thrilled to be here. I feel like you know, like Cato on the couch sometimes. But it's, you know, always great to be here. But the last time I was on the show, you were in a room that I could only describe as minimalist modern meets witness protection program, and you will going on and on about how all art is meaningless and that everybody is exposable and that and disposable.

Alex Ferrari 0:47
We're all gonna die. We're all gonna die. It doesn't matter.

RB Botto 1:07
And that yeah, we're all gonna die and it's going to be all meaningless anyway, so I'm hoping you know, my hope today is that you're in a better place. It seems like a brighter room. Seems like you've decorated a few things. So how are you doing? I think we should start with that.

Alex Ferrari 1:20
I am. I am doing I thank you for your concern, sir. I do appreciate it. I I am doing better. Because you know, it was it was a darker place when I spoke to you last, no doubt because we were in transition. So that dark witness relocation room. Minimalist relocation with a one chair in the back was the rental that I was in while we were looking for a home here in Austin where I just moved to so um, it was a tough year, let's just say was a tough year 2021 was a tough year. A lot of transition a lot of moving I don't know if you've moved recently, cross country with two children and a cat. Not not easy selling one house.

RB Botto 2:03
It is one of my 2022 goals.

Alex Ferrari 2:06
I'm sure it is. But anyway, it was very it was it was it was I wasn't, I was I was not in the best place, let's say but it wasn't in a bad place. It just wasn't in the best place was a rough time. But I'm doing much better. Now. As you can see, I have a you know, my set that I put together and we you know, we're settled in now and loving, loving life here in Austin man. It's, it's, it's great. And I'm happy I made the move to Austin. It's it is obviously where all the cool kids are moving to. So it's it's a nice place to be. And you know, and no state tax helps.

RB Botto 2:42
I know you're trying to get me to get down there and everything like that. And, you know, like I said, it's one of my 2022 goals. I have to have two kids and get a cat. That's the first part of the goal. So maybe we'll be shooting I mean, a few more years. But you know, maybe there's a time where I'll be a neighbor or something.

Alex Ferrari 2:57
There would be nothing better in in my life if I could see you have a child. Ohh My God, have you change a diaper?

RB Botto 3:08
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 3:08
Oh my god,

RB Botto 3:10
I have nephews, I mean, don't say it like that.

Alex Ferrari 3:13
No, no. Don't be throw that niece. That's only one step above. Like, I've got a dog. It's the same thing. But um, you know, everybody's listening, you know, RB comes on the show, periodically about, you know, to talk about the business and talk about what's going on and, and he's definitely got his ear to the grindstone about what is happening right now in the business. And, you know, he reached out to like, Hey, I think I think we got some cool stuff to talk about. I'd love to come back on the show and kind of like give, you know, give, give the listeners a little bit of insight of what I'm hearing. Because our business is changing man like God every 15 minutes, it seems like what we talked about an episode 500 Besides the all artists meaningless, everything that's ever it's evergreen. But the business from that point on, which was only like probably four, four or five months ago, is changed dramatically. And it's changing so dramatically that it's hard for people like us to keep up with it. And we're like in we're in as they say in the shit. You know, we're in We're back. We're in the we're in the trenches every day seeing what's going on. And it's hard for us to keep up, let alone someone who's outside of the business trying to break in and it's kind of like you're aiming like, Okay, I'm going to aim for this, this little hole that I see. I'm like, Oh, the hole moved that way. It's like you're playing golf and every time you hit the damn golf ball, the pole moves and it's exactly does exactly what's happening as opposed to as Wayne Gretzky says, You have to think where the pucks going, not where it has been.

RB Botto 4:55
Yeah, well, you know, there's nothing I enjoy more with them when you wade into the waters sports metaphors just you know, it pumps me up it really

Alex Ferrari 5:07
I was I was a triple threat as a kid so I don't know what you're talking about I was a triple threat I almost I almost played baseball, almost play basketball almost play football. So that's

RB Botto 5:18
2022 goes to maybe you could actually go do it.

Alex Ferrari 5:21
Not with this body. Not now things things creek a little bit more than they use too

RB Botto 5:29
But yeah, I'm picking up on your vibe about everything. I mean, you you know, obviously you running everything that you run, not just the show, but your entire empire. You know, you're talking to people in the business all day long, and you're hearing what's going on? And you know, it's it's been, I think it's a fascinating time right now. And, you know, one of the reasons why I reached out to you is, you know, first of all, if people aren't familiar with me, you know, if they haven't met me before, heard me before, I am the CEO stage 32. Real quick, I'll give you the tagline that our world's largest platform for connecting and educating film, television and digital content creators and professionals. We act as a marketplace between content, producer and content, you know, the content creator and content maker. And we have the world's largest library of education anywhere with over 2000 hours of education for anything that you're doing craft to professionalize and the business. The big thing that we announced recently, was a partnership with Netflix, where Netflix is paying us to educate the world on how to produce content, create, develop produce content, for Netflix. And the reason why Netflix is doing this is you know, they have a 17 billion by order basically for 2022. And it's probably going to go higher, Disney plus is committing 33 billion, and that's probably going to go higher. And the question becomes, how can you create all this content at scale? First of all, I'd like to say to that anyone who's listening to this, I coined the phrase and 2020 2020 21, even during the pandemic, and I've extended it to 2022. And beyond, this is the great content gold rush right now, if you believe that you're not paying attention, Netflix certainly believes that Disney plus believes that Peacock, they all believe it. Right? HBO believes it. So Netflix is basically, you know, for Netflix to be able to produce $17 billion in original content for 2022. And they're expected to extend that by in 2023 and 2024. Year over year, how can they go and train the world? On how to do it? And how can they shorten their path to finding quality content. And that's why they apply it us to serve as that education arm and to partner with us to be that education on because if they had to do this on their own, they'd have to hire you know, hundreds of new people, train them, get them on planes to go around the world to find people that they can train to produce all this stuff, then you go through development, making sure the content is right. So basically, what they're doing is they're hiring us to act as their training arm to help find creative voices all over the world, producers all over the world, to create content for Netflix and their main goal in a lot of ways, you know, Netflix right now, keep in mind that they're a publicly traded company, and they have shareholders to, you know, to answer to, they have basically saturated the American market, the only way they're going to get another subscription out of the American market is to get some get one, you'll get people that have cut the cord, the new cord cutters, or to get people who had Netflix before cancelled and coming back again. So what they want to do is, and you're seeing it already is they they can add members all over the world, in foreign countries, right? And in foreign areas where they're not saturated. So what they want to do is create local language content that plays well in America. So you think about squid game, the pin, Narcos, sidebar, things like that. And what basically said, where do you find that content? How do you go to South America and find that content? How do you go to South Africa and find that content? How do you do that? And that's what they've kind of hired. That's what they've hired us to do. And by virtue of that, since this was announced in the trades, and the business trades over the last few weeks, we've just been getting hit up with every studio, every production company, every management firm, every agency coming to us saying we want in how do we get to your best content, you know, they wanted to first looks at it.

Alex Ferrari 9:29
So it's interesting because you know, it filmmakers and screenwriters listening, they're all like, well, you know, I'm, I can provide, I can provide content, I can provide value I can provide like, why can't I get in? And a lot of times, they don't understand that there's right now. There's so much need for content and there's so much money. There's no other time in the history of our industry. Has there been so much money thrown around, not even in the 90s and the early 2000s when everybody was making a lot of money There's so much money being thrown around right now. I don't know if it's a bubble, I don't know if it's gonna pop eventually, who who knows there's only so much of this, you could only spend $33 billion a year and not make $33 million a years for so many years before you eventually crash, so something might happen. But there's also we're running into the place of like, we're running out of people to create this content like, like skilled, labored people from from writers to grips to electric, like there's never been more of a need for support, and for positions in our business, not only in America, but definitely overseas and everywhere else around the world. But the problem is where a lot of you know, filmmakers listening right now they're like, Well, why don't they give me a shot? I'm like, because you haven't been vetted. And they're not gonna throw a billion to a million dollars on you just because you have an idea. That is a funny SNL skit that they did, where like, do you see that skit where they just walk? Guys just walking down? Like you, you what do you what I have the show, think about bread, good million dollars, go, you know, and they just start handing out shows left and right, because it seemed like that's what they were doing. But there needs to be some sort of way to vet people to come in. And that's where you guys come in. And that's where Netflix is trying to do is trying to build an infrastructure where they can educate people around the world to build this content, and then also vet creatives who come in, because if not, it's it's you can't you can't run a business like that.

RB Botto 11:31
Yeah, well, you're 1,000% Right. And this is exact, everything you said is spot on. And that's exactly why Netflix has come to us to train but they have but the conversations have gone beyond that to say how do we create that pipeline because it's not enough to train people. You got to get this content in you got to get it in fast, right? But you don't have the time to vet through and to sift through the shit that you know, inevitably in an invariant and variably production companies streamers managers agents get on their desk every day. So basically what they're coming to us and saying okay, you guys go to the marketplace anyway, you content that comes through you on the premium side gets vetted by executives in the business if it gets spit out the other side. With recommendations on it. We want to see that content if it falls into this genre at this budget, so they're able to come to us and that's why I was saying about the stage 32 writers room. By the way, this is just a giveaway for your for your for your listeners if you want a free month the state's 32 writers if you're a screenwriter, producer, filmmaker, whatever just write Jason merch is His email is Jay dot merch M IRC H at stage 30 two.com Tell him that you heard this on indie film hustle. And that will give you you know that I said free month for you guys, anyone who's listening. But what what we've been able to do in the writers room. And if you're not familiar with the writers room, it's basically a REIT, an Online Writing Community is 1000s of writers. We do education every week, we bring an executive from all over the world every week. But one of the biggest things we've been able to add since we announced the Netflix thing is open writing assignments. So what's happening is all these studios production companies are coming to us streamers are coming to us saying this is the content we need. We need female driven romantic Baba by half hour show half hour comedies, who do you have, and we're able to connect that content creator that's been vetted to that to that production company or studio, whatever. But with the ows, what they're coming is they're saying we need somebody to write this project. And then people that are in the writers room can submit their material to that production company into that studio. And that that has already been vetted through us. And they're able to be put up for these writing assignments. So we've been doing this for a couple of months. Right now, we've already had 20 writers that have moved on to the next level as far as within that particular company to write these projects. So that's exciting, because you know that during the 90s, and you know, maybe 80s 90s, open writing assignments were very common, then they kind of went away. Now they're coming back in a big way. Because again, how can you fill this content by this content spend? If you don't go out there and say, Look, you know, we have Emily in Paris, we need three more of these. Okay, where are the writers to do it? Right? Okay. So they come to us and they say, Okay, we're looking for it in the vein of Emily in Paris. We give them the scripts, they hire the writers. So again, if you want a free month, at that

Alex Ferrari 14:28
So you're basically tell me that Taylor Sheridan is not able to read everything, is what you're saying.

RB Botto 14:33
By the way, you want a great article on this. I don't know if you've seen it yet. Oh, yeah. Have you read it?

Alex Ferrari 14:40
No. Go ahead.

RB Botto 14:42
Let me just tell you this. There is a site called you should write this down because I know you'll love it. It's called puck.news. Okay. It's an article called The Triumph and the tragedy of Yellowstone and it speaks all about how this whole tale of Sheridan and thing went down. And I think writers and everybody, any creative that's listening to the show will be fascinated by the fact of the hoops that everybody had to jump through just to make this show happen, even with all the attachments. So here's what I would say to this audience, because I know the first thing that everybody is thinking right now, and there's no question and you're going to get 6000 emails, I'm going to get 6000 emails. So let's nip this in the bud right away, is I have a great project for Netflix, how do I get in there? How do I pitch them? How do I do this? Alright, so let's get this out of the way. First, the first webcast that we did in our partnership with Netflix was taught by Chris Mack Chris Mack is a 20 year development executive in the business. He was a writer, he started in writers rooms, he moved on to become an executive, he heads up, he's one of the main development executives at Netflix, he came in and taught a three hour workshop on what you need to do basically get to Netflix, okay? He said on that show on that workshop, quite clearly and upfront. Look, you can't call up Netflix and go, I got a great script, it's not going to happen. Doesn't work. That way, it doesn't work that way. We only have so many bodies, we can only listen to so many pitches a day. And oh, by the way, those pitches are being listened to those of Fincher and Spielberg. And those are the people you know, and the top agents of CAA and web and yada, yada, okay. But here's how you can do it. Get a manager or an agent that could walk in, attach an actor that has a first look, deal with Netflix, attach a director as a first deal, Netflix, go to producers who have deals with Netflix, attach a show or honor, that means something to Netflix, okay, these are all ways that you can control what you can control to get there. Now, let me put this in perspective, I don't want to, I don't want monopolize, I'm just saying one put this in perspective to put a button on this. That Chris Mack workshop has been viewed by 140,000 people. Now I want you to think about that. That means there are 140,000 people that have logged into state state two.com registered for that it's free. By the way, it's a free web, you could still watch it. If you go on to education stay stay to type in Chris Mack, when Netflix you can watch it. Or you can see all that if you type Netflix, and you can see all of them right there all 340,000 people now think about this, that's 140,000 people that we reached, there's a whole world out there you could x multiply that by people that we haven't reached yet that haven't seen this, but that means there's at least 140,000 people that you're in competition with, to get your show a movie on Netflix. So my question back to you is how do you get to Netflix? My question, the answer that question is a question to you. What are you prepared to do to get it to Netflix? How much are you willing to control because if you don't go out there and connect to you know, get a manager or an agent that has a deal that can get in and walk it in, or get a producer or get an actor or get a director that has a deal or a pipeline in to any of these streamers by the way, you're not going to walk it right in. So that's what you need to be looking for. So I know all of you just banged out emails, and we're seeing, you know, copying Alex and me and everything yet, click, delete that draft and go, go watch the workshop. It is master class. Chris did an amazing, amazing job.

Alex Ferrari 18:14
It is it is fascinating because God, there's so much there's so much need for content. And there's so many people wanting to jump in. But you're right, what are you willing to do to get there? And you know, I've been I've had the pleasure now of being another what episode Am I on 540 30 20 something. And I've talked to so many people in the business. And within the last year, I've been had the pleasure of talking to Oscar winners and Emmy winners and all the you know, this insane, insane people that I've had on the show and been humbled to have on the show. And one thing I've always I always find out, which is really interesting is it's not always about talent, though talent is important. It's not always about experience, but experience is important. What the main criteria of making it in our business is is resilience. That's it, that's the number one thing, because there's people and you know this for a fact there's people who shouldn't be writing in Hollywood today that shouldn't be directing in Hollywood today. But they were more resilient than anybody else and they were willing to take the hits and kept moving forward. As Mr. Rocky Balboa always said,

RB Botto 19:22
Say that was very that was really that was bullish. Yeah, that was yes. I couldn't agree with you more 1,000%. I will say there's a one a two that that is more important, or it was always important. But it literally is more important at this moment in time than any other is you have to understand how the business operates. Absolutely. I'll give you an example. We just talked about the idea of attaching one or attaching this whatever. People have heard me say it probably on your show that we are out with a pilot that I wrote, okay, we attached David Weddell, who is the showrunner for for mankind on Apple TV. He was number two on Battlestar Galactica. Then number two on the strain. He has been around for 30 years, he just be loved in the industry. Okay, we've pitched it, and we've had some success. But a lot of people, even with David on board have said, Okay, well, what else? Like what do you have? Do you have any actors interested? Do you have any, you know, that, again, it's sort of an we don't take that we don't. We're not, you know, beaten down by that or offended by that we're sitting there going, okay, the competition has gotten so great. And you have all these actors that have deals now. And these directors that have deals now, and these actors, and these directors have relationships with other actors and other directors and other showrunners. So they are coming in with even bigger and bigger packages, right? More more elite, right? So it's like, okay, how do we make ourselves better? So literally, last night, the brain trust of this show the producers, David, myself, a manager, friend of mine, who's helping push this thing around, we sat down and we discussed strategy of do we go directly to the dealmakers do we hire another producer? That means something to these particular pods, these people who have pods? Do we go to actors who have pods at the at the you know, and this was, so this was a business conversation amongst the creatives, but we understand what we need to do, and how the business works, that we're not just saying, like, well, let's just bomb everybody, or let's just hit up, like, who makes this type of show, at this price, who has a production deal, who's an actor that we think we could attach, that means something, and that becomes a business strategy. So totally agree with you on resilience, but you really, really need to understand how the business operates. And that's why if you're blind emailing people going I got a show from Netflix, you're, I'm saying you're basically proving to people that you don't understand how the business suffers. If you're spending 17 hours on screenwriting, Twitter arguing about whether names should be capitalized in a screenplay, and executives go who book and see that that's what you're arguing about, they're going to go one year difficult to you're going to be difficult to work with three, you don't understand how the business operates. So you got to be aware of your brand. And you got to be aware of how everything works.

Alex Ferrari 22:08
But so it's it's so funny now because and I want people listening to understand this. It's gone from the 90s. From you know, if you watch the movie, the player, which is, which is a classic, Robert Altman film about the business, that first 10 minutes shot in them film, it went from what those guys would those screenwriters were doing, which is pitches, and people and in studios buying pitches to then produce and attach and package and get a movie made to the point where we are today where you need to have a full package ready to go. And that gives you a fighting chance, it doesn't guarantee it gives you a fighting chance to get through the door. Because like you just said in your example, you've got this very well known a beloved show runner. And that's not enough. That's like, that's great. You've got a good foundation, but we need dressing. We need actors, we need directors, we know who else because there's so much competition now for these places that if you don't package something together, you don't get involved in this kind of pod like you were talking about. The chances of you getting it. I mean, when Spielberg and Fincher are having problems, getting stuff done, what chances do you think the newcomer has? So that's the world we live in? Whether you like to hear it or not. It's the it's unfortunately, the where we're at.

RB Botto 23:31
Yeah, but I would say at the same time, a lot of and it's a good, it's actually a good kind of convergence of the conversation. Like, you know, I said that, they asked us what else, but sometimes it's not what else we also get, this isn't a fit for what we do, of course, or we know we're where we usually don't get that because we target people that are doing this kind of thing. But we'll get some clients as we shifting gears, or sometimes we'll get we love the concept, but it's a little every tickets gonna be a little expensive. That's all fine and good, too. But again, how do you react off of that? And what do you do about it? And sometimes, you know, the finches in the Spielberg's aren't getting a deal, simply because it's too expensive, expensive. It doesn't make sense. It's not mainstream enough, or whatever. And then sometimes you get first time show first time writers. And it happens all the time that you get deals, but they get the deals because they bought some something more than the script, right? So I think that's something that we can impress upon the audience, too, is when it comes to TV. Sometimes the script is not enough. But also this is another mistake I see TV writers make all the time. And this is one of the things that we teach in the writers room all the time is you see writers come in with a pilot, and they don't have a pitch deck. And basically anyone can write a pilot that can knock your socks off. But every executive is going to want to know not only how to season one end, how does Season Three end, how does the show end? What happens with these characters? Where are the arcs? and you need to be able to hand them a pitch deck and say, Here you go. In fact, the trend today is and this has shifted dramatically over the last few years, a lot of times, they only want to see the pilot, they want to see the pitch deck, because they want to understand the world. They want to understand the entire thing. And if they liked the world, and they see the value in it, then they might say, Okay, let me read the pilot.

Alex Ferrari 25:20
But isn't it isn't it nowadays, like before. Again, it's just it's a shift in mentality. Because again, in the 90s and early 2000s, you know, it was all about based on the pilot, and how good they weren't thinking about season two or season three, because there was a 24 episode, pick up and it was network, and it was a whole thing. But in today's world, they're thinking about just buying out two or three seasons. And like, oh, yeah, like, if you give us three seasons, we'll probably you know, we'll do the first season, see how it's done. But we're prepared to rock on the next two or three, instantly, and we don't need it next year. We need it now. My friend, I had a friend of mine who works Cobra Kai. He, when I was talking to him, he's like, oh, yeah, Cobra Kai is just coming out. It's like, yeah, we already shot. We're editing Season Five already. Because Netflix bought this like no, go right into next season. They did not want to wait, they're like, You know what, just in case COVID. And that's the other thing COVID might happen. There's a window, let's shoot in this window before God knows what else happens and shuts everything down again. So they were just preparing for it. And I was like, amazed at that. Like, they already knew that coke Cobra was gonna be a big hit for season four was going to be a big hit. And by the way, anyone who's not watching Cobra Kai, what do you do with your life? You need to watch Cobra Kai. And, like, I don't even I could do a whole episode on Cobra Kai, I'm such a fanatic about go and Yellowstone, both those both those that could do a completely separate song. But it's the truth that that is the that's where the world is going. And that's where these streaming platforms are going. And yeah, you know, you're talking about someone like Netflix, which is really creating a lot of IP. They are they they're buying a little bit of IP, but they're really creating new IP, or leveraging.

RB Botto 27:11
I mean, they are buying but they're buying in small pockets. Now their goal, Look, you know, at the end of the day, this is why everybody is going where they're going. There's only so many libraries that are left to buy. You got Lionsgate out there you got Viacom that, are they going to be a buyer or they're going to be acquired, you know that every day is

Alex Ferrari 27:26
Sony, Sony. Well, not now.

RB Botto 27:29
But certainly, you know, if you woke up one morning, and you found that there was some sort of deal with Sony, or some sort of m&a with Sony, you wouldn't be strong. And it won't be strong with anything right now Apple buys a studio, you just you wouldn't be surprised by anything at this moment. But the point of the matter remains, there's only so much content left to buy. So they have to go out and create it. And that's where the creative you know, the putting this committing the $17 billion spent and Disney 33 they need to do it. So the Cobra Kai example is really interesting, because Netflix has, again, if you watch Chris's workshop, this is in there, but Netflix, their way of viewing TV is tell us three seasons, okay? And what they are hopeful for is that maybe we can add a fourth and a fifth. But at a minimum, we have three. And now if you're thinking about the fact that again, it's been 17,000,000,030 3 billion the next year, and I think they're talking about maybe 50,000,000,020 24. What they can do now is they say, Okay, if we have show a if you just produce show a and we know this is going to be at least three seasons. In our forecast, we could plug in season two and 2020 for season three and 2025. So good. That's one line done. That's what they were spending there was spending there. So that's why they want to know three. And if they can get beyond three fantastic that's like, you know, playing with house money in their opinion. There are other platforms that think much longer and you know, like a platform like Showtime. They're like, free man, if we could, you know, 10 years out of this, we'll move 10 years out and you saw it with like the affair and Homeland and you're seeing right now what billions, though goes 789 10 years, HBO is the same way. Although HBO has shifted a little bit into let's do a limited series. But let's do multiple series, multiple seasons of the limited series, right? And what why did they do that?

Alex Ferrari 29:10
A true detective and yeah!

RB Botto 29:12
We'll look into like, like white lotus, whatever the hell? Where's why low. But the point of matter is to bring in a whole new cast this season two. So why is why would they do that? Well, they don't have to give raises to everybody from season one. So again, if you don't understand you got to understand the business. And you got to ask yourself like these are questions you really honestly, you need to ask yourself, is my show a series? Is my show a limited series? Is Is there enough for it to be three seasons? Or is there you know, is it there's a finite end? It's based on something real, like the show we're pitching is based on a true story. And we've been asked in pitches, they're like, Well, you know, I see you see three seasons, but is there any way you could do this in six episodes? And I'm like, what the story takes place over six years, so be really difficult to do. I'm not saying we can but I'm saying that and then they're like, yeah, yeah, yeah, but they think that way. You got to be able to have an answer to that. But to be able to have an answer to that you have to understand how the business operates.

Alex Ferrari 30:06
Right and like, I'm sure everyone's trying to figure out how to make a sequel to Queens Gambit. Like everybody's trying to figure out how can we leverage Queens Gambit, even though that was a one off? Obviously, it's a one off like, you know, and if you try to do something, you know, contrived just to squeeze out another seat like they did with Tiger King, by the way like I I couldn't watch without your game was an anomaly. But then, like, I watched like the first 1015 minutes of Tiger King second season. I'm like, why am I watching this? This is garbage. This is garbage.

RB Botto 30:34
About like the fifth episode of the first one.

Alex Ferrari 30:36
No, no, no, I was it was a pandemic. Don't judge me. We were we were locked up.

RB Botto 30:43
We want to do this Cobra Kai episode in the Yellowstone episode, I will just come down there and sit next to you in full garb.

Alex Ferrari 30:49
Yes. Because I swear to God. But But So look, let's actually look at Cobra Kai for a second because Cobra Kai, I saw it on YouTube. When it first arrived. It was I was an original Cobra Kai fan when it came out on YouTube bread or whatever the hell they call the premium. And then it kind of died on YouTube. It was very popular on YouTube, but it died because nobody had there was no eyeballs on it. So then they're like when YouTube read shut down. And they had this show. Netflix like oh, we'll take the Karate Kid show. On paper. This doesn't sound good. On paper. This is like this is not a good idea on paper. And but they bought it. It exploded. And then I mean, it became the number one show ever on on on Netflix. And then it's just grown and grown and grown. And I talked to the guys I know on on on COBRA. Kai and I go, how much? How much longer can we go with this? Like how? How many more seasons can you guys squeeze out because they're good. They're not they're not waiting. Season Four was excellent and ended amazingly setting up Season Five like in a way that you're like, like but there's only so many more characters they can go back to like there's only and I don't know if you know this or not, but the rules are. Any movie that has Mr. Miyagi in it is part of the lore. So that doesn't include the Will Smith reboot with that doesn't include anything as Mr. Miyagi in it is where they can pull characters from.

RB Botto 32:18
Interesting. So that sort of rights must be traded off when they did the Will Smith.

Alex Ferrari 32:21
No, it's not the rights now Will Smith's a producer on the show, that's all there. But creatively, creatively, they don't pull from anything else other than if Mr. Miyagi was in it. So that's why we went we exhausted a karate kid one exhausted Karate Kid to now they've pulled in all the care almost all the characters from Karate Kid three. And now the only other one is the next, The Next Karate Kid, which was with Hilary Swank. And, and that would be effing amazing if they brought it back. But it's interesting that they grabbed this IP and then took off with it. And it was really interesting and something like glow, before they cancelled it because of COVID. Right? That was a, that was a niche IP. Only guys love your you and my age, would even remember Glow grown up,

RB Botto 33:09
She got two different types of IP. Right? Right. So this is another thing that a lot of these these platforms are doing. So you know, when I say what I said earlier about the fact that there's only so many libraries you can pull from library by that is true, there's a finite amount of content that can be bought. Right. So as far as existing libraries that trail back, so what the what a lot of these and clearly Disney is the king of this, right? What they're doing is they're taking the IP that they own, or the IP that they get the hands on and playing into the the soldier aspect, right? So that's one thing is something like glow. What's really fascinating about that show is, you know, they pitch that around quite a bit. And you know, it's an interesting concept. But again, it's like, this is something that Chris talks about to on the workshop. Why didn't why why why that show. It's not that people knew that world, it's that the characters are these female characters. And the female empowerment aspect is what sold the show. So again, if you understand what we're talking about when you and I say, you know, understanding the industry and paying attention to what's happening. We're not talking in code here. We're talking. It's not always like, you know, like this, the show we're pitching Weddell is, you know, it's a crime to true story. 1950s, late 1950s, Crime corruption, you know, on the surface, you could sit there and say, it sounds like a billion other shows, you know, it's like Boardwalk Empire West, let's say whatever. Right? But so when we go in to do our pitch, we talk about what the cat what the show is about, but what are the characters about what are the themes that we're going to hit in this show? What are we trying to say? And how does it relate to the world today? Politics, global warming, like all this shit is involved and what happened in this environment back then it wasn't global warming that there are But the the the ignorance to what was happening with the environment leads to destruction of what happened in the space, right? When you bring that in, you could see when you're doing these zoom meetings and I've done some of them in person to when you start bringing in those themes and everything like that they go that's interesting to them, right? That's the that's the like, that's what I'm saying, like, you know, when I listened to people pitch, or when people approached me, you know, we were in Austin, for example, we were hanging out and, you know, invariably I'll get, you know, over the course of a weekend on screenwriters that will walk up to me and start pitching me that stuff or giving me the logline to tell me about the story. And it's fascinating to me, how many of them talk about the world, and not about the characters. And at the end of the day, the only reason why we watched the best piece of advice I ever got, not today know this, but it was good to hear from a Yoda type figure in the business. My original manager, David Greenblatt, like, you know, David founded endeavor with Ari Emanuel. He still manages shame black, he's managed to sleep the weapon, the guy is a genius. The guy is known the Business Insider now, you know, story inside out. And he basically said to me, he goes, your world, he goes, Star Wars. He goes, you could take in Star Wars, this character, he goes and put him in a bar in Boston, like cheers. He goes and played on the same themes. He goes, you know, without the mysticism without all the bullshit, he goes, and you would still have these amazing rich characters, right? And he goes, at the end of the day, he goes, you're taking relatable character traits and relatable things that people will experience in life that they could hold a mirror to with the with those characters, nigga hold the mirror to themselves. And you could put them anywhere. But you need to be able to explain what are the themes? What are these characters going to experience, and he said it and this is film or TV, by the way, it's film or TV. You know, at the end of the day, we see a lot of films that are very, very similar in theme or in world even like crime dramas and all this stuff. What sets them apart the characters, what makes us go back to watch them again, the characters we fall in love with the characters. Oh, we call the characters right? So what we have, you know, severe writer out there in any level, even a filmmaker or producer or financier pitching the project, the characters or everything like

Alex Ferrari 37:17
Right! Like you don't go back and watch Seinfeld and friends, because they they're in New York, New York is just happens to be the backdrop you don't watch Indiana Jones.

RB Botto 37:25
They're in certain in certain in certain,

Alex Ferrari 37:27
Absolutely. No, it's a character in it, but you could take friends and put them in Boston

RB Botto 37:33
100% a character Right, right. You know, like, cheers that Boston ish ship because talk about the Red Sox. And you know that that culture is embedded in that show. But you're a hunter, so right. That could have been a bar in Austin. It could have been a bar.

Alex Ferrari 37:48
Right! And then if you look at something like I'm going to go back to Yellowstone. I mean, yeah, Yellowstone is in Montana. But you could put that in Texas, you could put that any place where there's horses in the cowboys and a ranch and it would work perfectly fine.

RB Botto 38:05
We got Taylor Sheridan an article. I don't think he would he'd be having none of it.

Alex Ferrari 38:09
No, obviously Taylor has

RB Botto 38:10
Had a shot at the Taylor Sharidan and I wanted to Taylor Sharidan an article. He, they called him and he said, you know, they're interested in talking to you. And he's like, I'm not coming in for a meeting. So they sent the plane to Park City if I'm on a plane to come for 45 minutes. 45 minute meeting at Paramount. It's fucking classic.

Alex Ferrari 38:30
It's, it's no, it's it's amazing, because I love you know, a lot of people don't know about Yellowstone. Yellowstone is not very well known. It's known within the business. Well, now it's grown. It's grown. We're in season four.

RB Botto 38:44
Yeah, no, it took four years.

Alex Ferrari 38:46
It's and people aren't listening, and people are watching now. But I would say that if you just take Yellowstone as it exists right now and throw it on Netflix, it would explode in a way that we couldn't even understand. Because it's just because my Paramount doesn't have the Paramount plus definitely doesn't have the audience and Paramount network where it started. Didn't have the audience. It was this quiet little show that had Kevin Costner in it. That's all they knew is like a cowboy show with Kevin Costner wasn't a big deal. And I just started I think I think I came in on season two is when I came in on it. I was like, Oh, I hear it's really good. And you hear rumblings like, oh, it's really well written and you watch it. You're just like Jesus Christ. And then the cat. Its character man, a cat. Taylor writes such amazing dialogue, such amazing characters, the arcs of the season. It's remarkable. And then you start seeing him what he did with Mayor Kingstown. And now 1883. And then he's got the four sixes coming out afterwards, and now he's building and I've never seen this before. Ever in maybe Shonda was shaundalyn Shonda Rhimes. But in the corner of the episodes, it's like the Taylor it's Taylor Sheridan universe, or Taylor Sheridan. And it's right there.

RB Botto 40:03
Read this article, dude.

Alex Ferrari 40:04
It's like literally Oh, I like so what Taylor was able to do. Because look, Taylor is a very talented screenwriter. And he was I mean, he did Sicario. He did hell and high water. He's known as. And he was also an actor. He was also an son of anarchy and a couple other things. But what he was able to do, and I got to read this article, because I really want to read it because I was like, how he was able to leverage this. And I'm assuming it didn't happen overnight. But they figured out that like, oh, Yellowstone's a thing, maybe we should let this guy do some other stuff. And he is running with it. He's grabbing it and running with it. Now he's literally building out a universe in off of the Yellowstone brand, which is just fascinating to watch, just from a business standpoint and a creative standpoint, because he's got carte blanche, he does whatever the hell he wants. They just random attack. It's pretty fascinating to watch right now. But he's successful. He's really good.

RB Botto 40:58
Yeah, yeah. And I again, we'll maybe we'll put it in the show notes or whatever, we'll put a link to the article because it I think it's an edge. I think it's a you know, a masterclass in how these things happen and how they could fail. Because you know, this is a Viacom Paramount plus production, Viacom only owns piece that if you'd like there's, there's so many moving parts to how this happened. And then how they got into detail showered in business after it became a hit. And it's fascinating. But there's a lesson in here as well. There are a lot of writers out there. And you know, like, I don't want to wait for a network show. I don't want to I don't want my film on Netflix, because it's going to get buried and nobody's going to see it. And you know, I'm not saying that same valid, I'm not saying you won't get picked up from the algorithm, but you want to be working and you want to be able to see your produce screenwriter on any level any way that you can. Because the other thing that's happening right now, again, with this content by and what Paramount plus parent, what they realized is, again, if we're going to spend more money, let's go with the entity we know. So let's instead of going to find more shit, let's go to Taylor and say, Hey, what else you think? And oh, okay, yeah, we'll do that. Okay. Yeah, we'll do that. Okay. Yeah, we'll do that. And guess what the phone up there, Ross that this is happening over and over and over again, there is a commitment by this is why Netflix and some of these, these platforms are giving deals, to even, you know, even to actors to say, if you're attending a production company, we want to see what you're bringing in. Okay. It's the reason why Jamie Foxx right now is producing like 15 movies that he's not going to be in because he knows that this if he does it, right. They're going to be like What else you got, what else you got, what else you got? We want more, we're gonna buy more. So it's not only the great content Gold Rush, because there's so much content that there's so much money that needs to be spent, and so much content being produced. But it's a content gold rush because if you play your cards right and you embrace the long game, and you get a ahead for example, that if you're not a you know, if you've never run a show, if you've never been on a show before been in the writers room before that you're not going to be the showrunner somebody buys your show, but you'll be happy to be in the writers room and work your way up. And you already got a year of people because they're buying your shit, man, you can fast track right now. It's not a five year process to get the show on air. It could be season two, okay? Because they they're running out of show runners, they're running out of people to do right, right. So it's just I always it fascinates me when people shoot themselves in the foot and everybody's sort of like, oh, you know, I don't want to take the low money from Netflix. I want the residuals I want this I want that I'm not going to put my film on there and have nobody see it. I want the ads going theatrical doesn't even exist anymore. You want to be a working writer and if your first paycheck is not what you know, it's not going to allow you to go buy you know, a house on the beach. So big. Okay, weren't getting the fucking game. Like you know what I mean? Stop listening to everybody on freakin broadbased social media by the way. I mean, somebody sent me a Facebook thread screenwriting Facebook thread the other day, I looked at this thing, and I was like, this is carnage. Like the the shit that was being disseminated by people who had never done anything in this business have never sold anything that were preaching their gospel and other people were eating it up. Like it was like God came down, you know, Moses came down from the mountain. It's, it's debilitating, and it's going to set you back years, do whatever you can to get your ass in the game. And oh, by the way, curate your social media feeds and put yourself on platforms like the reason why I started stage two is that's all we talk about is film. Okay. And we have professionals in there talking about all of it. We have 3000 executives there in the platform, talking about the business. Nobody's ripping anybody down. Nobody's telling anybody, they're an asshole. What they're doing is to disseminating the proper information on how to navigate this business. And it's up to you. Totally up to you to treat your career like I always say, and Alex says it all the time as well. You're the CEO of your career. If you are not If you're running a business, okay, if you did a startup tomorrow, would you just go out and listen to all these people who have never done it all these people that are aspiring to do it in the same way you're doing it? Or would you surround yourself with people who have done it? Well, that's what a lot of people do on broad based social media stream writings with a film, Twitter, some of these Facebook groups that are just poison. And then they end up saying and so's back us because they're listening to advice that doesn't translate to reality. And

Alex Ferrari 45:28
I mean, look, if you want to, if you want to look at reality right now, I mean, I just read in the trades that read notice that the biggest Netflix film of all time, which you know, I watched, it's okay, it's fine. It's fine.

RB Botto 45:41
It's when you tie me to a chair in front, my eyes open.

Alex Ferrari 45:44
It was it was fine. It was okay. I love the rock. And I love Ryan Reynolds. And like, you got the basically the two most charismatic human beings on the planet one movie, you're like, I watch it, it was fine. They've now committed to read notice to and read notice three, back to back, that doesn't that never had happened before. Really, other than the Back to the Future two and three back in the 90s. Like it doesn't, it doesn't happen in the studio system in the normal world. But now, and those aren't like little movies, those are huge movies. And not based on IP. That's an original IP that was created on Netflix, and they just know that out that the data is so compelling that like, well, we slot it for 2022. We slot it now for 2023. We got to take those off, they got to take those off. And then then like you start seeing all of a sudden, all you see is Sandy Bullock coming out with movies on Netflix. And you're like, Okay, Sandra Bullock movie done. Check to another boom, check. Okay, when smart is Marty coming out with another movie soon? Okay, let's Okay, he's over an apple. Now next time, he'll come over here. And they'll just start. They're just going after these these people constantly. And just because they need to fill they need to fill man, every week. Every week, they've got a tentpole movie coming out every week, almost, it's insane.

RB Botto 47:01
Wow. And then they released what 42 movies in q4 of 2022 2021 42. Movies, you know, extrapolate that out that's 168 movies over the course of a year, that's literally one every other day. They're committing to more they're committing to I forget the number in 2022, the sheer number of movies was pretty much close to one a day. And it's going to extend it to 2023 and 24. It's going to go up. So the idea that now of course, are all those songs going to be quality? No, are all those films gonna be high budgets? No fucking white, right? There's always for every red notice, you're gonna have, you know, 1020, you know, five to 10,000,002 to 5 million, whatever, okay, that they're gonna get me with people that you've never heard of before, whatever. Okay? If you are one of those screenwriters that wrote one of those movies, and you're just thinking like, Oh, my God, that sounds so soul sucking, in comparison to maybe the way the industry ran, you know, 20 years ago? Yeah, I can understand why because you wanted the article and you wanted, you know, 2000 screens and all that crap and everything I get it. But if you're not fitting with the times, and you're not understanding that, that gets you in the game, and that that allows you to go to the next thing into the next thing. And the next thing, is it a natural thing that's going to happen is what else do you got? What else do you want to work on next? Then you're missing, you're missing the idea of how you build a career in this business in 2022. And it's the same thing for directors, you know, if if, you know they need to hire people to do fucking 42 movies in a quarter, you got to have directors, you know, 200 movies a year 300 movies a year. And that's just one platform for its sake. I mean, like, you know, you talk about Apple doing this span and Disney doing this, but Oh, so you got to be able to put yourself in the game and

Alex Ferrari 48:37
The scary, the scary, the scary, unknown quantity. The beast in the room that no one's looking at is Apple, because Apple come out Apple could outspend everybody tenfold in their starting and they're starting to they're slow and methodical. But they're starting to build up and they're starting to build up and start and you can you can start seeing it because now I I subscribed to them because I saw I'd love I'd love the morning show. I watched the morning show and I got in for title so because everybody was talking about that last I was like I gotta watch that last one. That's great. That sounds fantastic. And then Finch with Tom Hanks and but it but it's but they're the giant that that at any moment could come in and really do and look Disney Disney was it quiet until now they're outspending Netflix, which no one really saw coming at the beginning.

RB Botto 49:29
Them to they saw in the span, they want to go back. It's almost like the touchstone days. So they want to go into adult again, right? They want to go into adult oriented material, not have everything be you know, friendly, all the IP stuff that they have. So that's another opportunity for eyes but you're 100% right, I say this. This is gonna sound like an insult, but I'll say it as a comment. I always call apple and it's the biggest compliment I can pay as a business person as somebody in the tech world. Apple is the ultimate SNAKE IN THE GRASS company. They're always lying and wait and you You never know like, well everybody's looking up over here at the beautiful trees, they're moving along and, and it's with everything whether it's friggin Evi zone. I mean like, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter moving DVDs now automated driving all this stuff. They but absolutely there is no way that Apple is not going to make a significant move. I mean, they already are in the content space. But I mean, like I am waiting for that day where they, you know, leap up and bite you in the calf. And all of a sudden everybody's

Alex Ferrari 50:30
Don't buy don't buy Sony.

RB Botto 50:32
They might

Alex Ferrari 50:33
Don't buy so they'll buy Sony though Dell, you know, I don't know if they'll by Lionsgate I don't think that's the content doesn't match, but because they're not just a library, they're very specific with the stuff they're doing. They're not

RB Botto 50:45
Interesting, right? Because do they go like you look at what HBO does? Right? Right? Well, they're extending their buys, but they're still staying in within their brand, which is the prestige brand, right? So HBO is very interesting right now, because they are extending, but they're not losing sight of who they are apple, if you you know, if you had to put everything into columns right now and you're forced to put them into columns, you would sit there and say, Apple almost seems like they're gunning for HBO, they'll go on to the prestigious type stuff with the big names, right. But I don't believe for a second with their reach. And with everything that they got going on, they still may go high level, but I think that they're gonna go high, like, you know, high level on steroids, I think they're gonna go, you know, for the big, maybe the big content bar, maybe maybe the big library buy, that's certainly in play. But you know, that historically, they don't really do that kind of thing. They're not usually an acquire, not too often, you know, like, even the beach thing, when they do not happen. Like that was like one of the most fun because they didn't do that kind of thing, you know, not to billions of dollars, they just create their own right. But in this particular case, you know, this is an arms race right now, right? This is an arms race for dollars. You know, Disney, which so interesting about Disney, to me, was Neff Disney was first sort of like, Yeah, we're gonna do this spend, you know, and we're gonna stick with our IP, and we're gonna do all this stuff, and whatever. And then as soon as Netflix said, we're going $17 billion. And we're going around the world that we have enough, not that we have enough us content, we have enough of a pipeline to get more. And you know, we know where to go to get more, we need to go around the world and get more of that stuff. All of a sudden, you know, chapek was on CNBC going, oh, yeah, by the way, we're going into adult content, and we're going all over the world for local language, and we're spending $34 billion. And it was like, wait, what? That was a massive, should you just want the first kid if like, what, what the hell just happen? Right? But everybody else has an answer. I'm sure that made everybody at Apple go, you know, get up on their on the heels a little bit and say, Wait, what, okay, you know, how do we compete with that, at the end of the day, you know, people are only going to have so many subscriptions, they're only going to be able to hold so many. So, you know, you're going to have consolidation in the space, not everybody's going to survive. You're definitely gonna have more m&a. You know, you do have those few libraries that are hanging out there. I think Viacom is so much a wildcard like, oh, there are there acquirer. What are they, you know, those with the Paramount deal make, you know, and Yellowstone, and that is that shifted thing. It's so interesting. But you can see whether themselves, I mean, they were actively pursuing a sale up until about September, and then they pulled themselves off the market, or at least they fronted that they announced that, and they fronted that. And you wonder why, you know, a lot of it could be like, you think you can get me but now you can't, and now you got to raise your price. And now you got to sweeten the deal, or quite a bit could be they, you know, it's almost like a team that hits the trade deadline. And that kind of, you know, right on the cusp of the playoffs, so like, you know, are they buyer's or seller's? And I think that's kind of the place that they're at right now.

Alex Ferrari 53:49
Well, we you and I, last year, I think when we were I think when it was last year, or the COVID, I think was the COVID episode when when COVID hit you and I talked about what was going on in the business. I mean, we call it out MGM or like MGM is going to be bought like that, that brand is going to be bought. So there's no question in my mind that Viacom will be purchased at one point. I don't know if they have, you know, Sony, look, Sony has been in trouble for a long time. And now because of spider man, and Marvel's connection with Spider Man and what they were able to do. That's an anomaly. And yeah, they'll be able to make a few more Spider Man movies, and they'll make a couple Bond movies, but generally speaking, you know, they're not, they're not Disney. They don't have the IP that Disney has, like they don't nobody has that Disney has Warner Brothers is the next closest one that has anything like that. But uh, but I think you're I think you're absolutely right. I think Sony will go somewhere. I've been saying paramount for a long time to and I don't think, I don't know, maybe this new shift the Paramount plus. We'll see how that plays out. I'm not sure how many people are signing up for Paramount plus, because again,

RB Botto 54:59
It's helped me This is the most stream show, I think, you know, which one is Yellowstone,

Alex Ferrari 55:03
Yellowstone. Without Taylor Sheridan, the entire company goes down.

RB Botto 55:09
Thinking, right, because the Viacom, it's a complicated thing, because there would have to be some unraveling, not for the audience at all this, but I'm saying that would have to be some unraveling, actually, it shouldn't bother the audience, because every single thing that we're talking about creates opportunity, every single thing here every day. But they would have to unravel some of this. Like, again, when you read this Yellowstone article that I was telling you about, you'll see that like, you know, part of the problem was that like Viacom really wasn't benefiting off of this as much as they wanted to because of what they had done with Paramount plus, so they've become sort of this complex thing that's going on right now. Which is why it fascinates me that Viacom kind of pulled themselves back, you know, Viacom, CBS was walking about, by the way, she talked about the whole CBS let you know, that whole library as well. You know, they're pulling themselves back. Right. So does this does a hit and getting into bed with a guy like Taylor showered in? Well, you know, you're going to have you know, Mayor Kingston is going to be ahead if it isn't already, and you know, the Yellowstone prequels gonna blow up, it does change, right? Does that change the entire? Or does that just raise the price or raise the attractiveness or whatever. But that's See, the thing is, is that all of this shit that we're talking about? Everybody positioning themselves in a way to either make themselves more attractive to be bought? Or, you know, escalating the war, so to speak? Benefits every single creator, every single professional, whether your producer or financier whatever, listening to this show, right? What What are regularly?

Alex Ferrari 56:38
What was the MGM library sold for? Do you remember? No, I don't I forget. It's like, it's like, we were talking about 5 billion, 8 billion American. But it's somewhere in that world. Right. So why would Netflix buy that? Because Amazon bottom?

RB Botto 56:55
Yes. Well, I'm sure that 8.45 Yeah, yeah. I mean, I'm sure they, I'm sure they, I'm sure they bid on it. I'm just sure that, you know, maybe they just thought you know, again, that their their money is better spent on original content. That's what they want to be. You don't I mean, parmesan. See, it's really interesting, cuz we haven't even touched on them, which is so fascinating that Amazon is I was on the phone, literally, with an executive yesterday, whose production company has a first look deal with Amazon and has done a bunch of phones with Amazon, I'm not going to name because I want people spamming them an email. But they've done some of the biggest ones, including one that might be nominated this year. So they were talking about, like, you know, Amazon has a very complex system right now. They're figuring out their way, like, you know, like, what do they really want do they want because they've done it both ways. For them, they've gotten like, they've gotten involved, this production company has gotten involved with existing projects that were on the way that needed some finishing, and they came in late, and then they brought it to Amazon, and it's sold. And they've also been involved with ground up, you know, from, from the script on, right. And the like, you know, she said to me, this executive, she's a top Senior VP SVP at this company said, there, every time you talk to them, they're kind of like, we're gonna go this direction we want we want to buy more stuff. And then it's like, we want to create more stuff, we want to buy more stuff, we want to develop more stuff. So I feel like they're kind of in this weird nebulous space, too. But I don't see how they don't go out and increase their spend as well on original content, I think they have to. So I think that ultimately, this is where they will go, will they buy one of these existing libraries that are out there? They certainly can. Okay, but does it increase the value and make more people want to buy prime to get more shipping? And, you know, they enter that flywheel that they talk about all the time? I don't know. I don't know. Okay, buying content as well and developing it. So no, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 58:55
And they're the only they're the only company that has a completely different business model than all the streamers. Because it's a it's an add on, it's a plus they did the same thing with the music, they you know, they just kind of like, Oh, here's a little bit of you get this for free, you get this for free. If you just sign up for 100, whatever, I have 120 bucks under 40 bucks a year for prime. And so for them, it's just like a little, little add on a value for prime, which makes all the sense in the world. But my main question to you is, can someone I mean, they are Amazon's a tech company, right? They're a tech company.

RB Botto 59:28
Company. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 59:30
Yeah, they're dead company. Right? Can someone please work on the frickin app? It looks horrible, though. Is a horrible it's the worst app of all the streamers out there it is ugly. It is nasty. It just it is so unappealing. And it has been for so long, please RB you know people can you call somebody and say Please, for God's sakes.

RB Botto 59:55
I will do that. I know that she of by MDB and the CEO of IMDb Pro, but I don't think they can do anything about

Alex Ferrari 1:00:01
It looks sharp in 1996 man looks like MySpace designed dude. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

RB Botto 1:00:07
The question I have is just that crypto LogMeIn haven't spoken, so we're gonna

Alex Ferrari 1:00:13
No, it's just it always fascinates me, I'm like, it's I barely go there, because it's so ugly, and it's so hard to kind of navigate and there's so much crap on there. So it's hard to navigate that thing. And if I was actually paying for it, like, if I was actually paying for it as a separate, I would have never in a million years bought it ever.

RB Botto 1:00:28
It's horrible interface. And the thing that's the guy, you know, is that a tell? That's something that, you know, I've talked about with people too, is that a tell that they're not really committed to it? I don't believe that that's the case. I think we wake up today, and it's really glossy and shiny, then you know, that the probably next thing you're gonna see is, you know, something in variety that they, you know, spending a gazillion dollars or, you know, in ink or something or Forbes or something that spending a billion dollars, and they listen to and then listen to this podcast, obviously, his podcast No, like, of course, you know, Alex and RBO, right? Of course, even right. Yeah, I listen, you know, at the end of the day, for everyone listening, it's this is just such a keep saying it's the great content, gold rush. It's such a an opportunity right now, but it's why it behooves you to start treating your life like a business. You know, your career, like I said, your, your, your entire being where you're the CEO of everything you're doing. And again, not wasting your time. I mean, right now is not a time to be, you know, everybody needs entertainment, everybody needs to have downtime, and I get that. But you really right now need to not be wasting your time on some of these threads and some of this stuff and put yourself in a position where again, you're surrounding yourself with the right people, where you can get to the right people where you're investing in yourself and in bed at a time. Because the competition is just because the doors are open wider than they've ever been doesn't mean that there aren't more people trying to jam through those doors. And the question becomes, can you scale the wall? You know what I mean? Can you scale the wall as opposed to standing behind 60 billion people trying to get through the doors, and they're always scaled the wall and and really, honestly begins with your relationships and your contacts and getting to people that can that want to be in the business with you. And that can help you get to the people that you want to get to the people that you can't get to yourself, which is really what this business is all about.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
I want to ask you, you know that there's something that Disney and Netflix and HBO are doing at a high level that a Sony and Paramount aren't yet and I'm fascinated why they aren't. I think the king of this is Disney, where they take one IP and they spin off shows. So obviously Mandalorian was their test subject and now there's literally I think this year they're releasing five shows from I think it's I just literally saw this as a book a Boba a Mandalorian they are Saska forgot I can't even say her name, you know, Rosario Dawson character. And then two other Obi Wan Obi one show and the the Rogue One prequel, all spin offs of the Star Wars world. And then obviously, you know, Cobra Kai, and all that kind of stuff. But you look at Paramount that has IP, not maybe as glossy as, as Disney. But let's let's just take it and we're just gonna spit ball here. Let's take an IP like The Godfather, or the IP of Top Gun that they own. Yeah, why wouldn't they spin off a show about fighter pilots and the drama that goes along with that, that you know that that the Top Gun school after they released the top, the Tom Cruise thing? And Tom Cruise would have to be a part of it, obviously, unless you produce it or something like that? And maybe he does. If you're lucky, you know, maybe you can come and have him come in Cameo once or twice. And then to the end of that. Why couldn't they do a spin off of the godfather? Take one of those characters and build a world around the Godfather universe? Why hasn't that happened? Because those like because it's all nostalgia, right? So the generation right now that's alive, that that's paying for all of these subscriptions are not the 18 year olds. They're it's our generations Generation X Generation Y. Those are the guys guys and gals who are buying into Cobra Kai. And yeah, other generations are jumping on board because it's good written stuff. But is that nostalgia that the tapping into select? Would I watch a Top Gun Show if it's well written has good characters? I would would I rather watch The Godfather universe unfold in the mafia that time and maybe fast forward and do like what they're doing with Taylor Sheridan, but why do you think they haven't done things like that? I'm sure and Sony has many other IP like that as well.

RB Botto 1:04:55
Alex, this is your lucky day. I have The answer to this question, okay, will I have the answer to this question. So, and it's a great question actually, I, we, I had the fortune of pitching this project to television project that I'm talking about, to Paramount plus, and to about one of the lead development executives there. They really, really liked the project. Okay. And what they said to me was, look, here's the deal. At this moment, we are setting our plans for 2022 and 2023. Now, again, that includes Are we a buyer? Are we, fender? Or are we going to get acquired or something else is going to happen? Or are we going to merge? Or what's going to happen? Right? So the answer to your question is, so the way it was explained to me is they I don't know if you're aware of this, but the big clay that Paramount is making this year outside of yellows, which is not really a play on this year, right? I mean, they all the spin offs, and all that is a, a limited series on the making of The Godfather. So the making of the car. So they using their IP of the Godfather, and they're basically telling the story about Robert Evans, and you know, the whole deal.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:17
Oh, well, narrative, not documentary narrative, narrative, oh perfect!

RB Botto 1:06:22
Miles Teller, I think is playing. Maybe playing Evans I forget who's but but milestone was one of the big guys in it. And but it's, you know, it's cast up it stunted up. And by all accounts, you know, at least by their accounts, but they were telling me it's amazing. And it looks I mean, it looks,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:38
I'm watching it, I'm watching it,

RB Botto 1:06:40
Definitely watching the night one. So the point of matter is, is that they're using their IP for that, what that IP is, right now, what this show is, is a line in the water to see how the public response and if the public response, so like this show that we're pitching kind of fits the sensibilities of this audience, because it's crime, corruption, all this stuff and everything. So that's why he said, love this show. Love this pitch, love this package. Got to give me a couple of months, right? So the answer to your question is, is that they're not going in for the big spin yet? Because they kind of want to see what they got? And why are they going to commit a ridiculous amount of money and go it alone? Or go it stay the course and do original content? Or are they going to drive up the price of what they have with Yellowstone to spin off Mayor Kingstown and now this Godfather thing, and maybe either become part of a bigger package or something bigger? Or what you know, I mean, what's that going to be? So that's the that's the big answer. Right now there's they're still feeling their way. They're kind of in the infancy of creating new content, even though they've had yellow sofa for years. It's not like they created iOS on and then 30 of the shows 50 of the shows. And you have a lot of which really interesting, we just got interest from it. But I honestly have to be honest, I didn't really know I knew this was a thing. But I didn't know. It was an expanding thing. Spectrum originals. So spectrum, the cable network, right? Spectrum has produced six shows a year for the last few years. No one's seen it. Yeah, basically, what spectrum? So think about it, what what is spectrum doing now spectrum knows that people are cutting the cord. And they saw how do they keep them, they're going to try to create their own content. It's gonna work. But they came to us, for they heard about the show that we're pitching. And they said, We want to read it, we want the Bible. So we just sent it over to him a few days ago. But this is another example of the fact that there this there are going to be more and more and more of these companies, but any streamers, and these platforms, everything that are going to keep the need to move into original content. And not all are going to survive and some get snatched up if they do it right. And, you know, benefits everybody.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:57
So how I mean, in all honesty, though, I mean, no offense. Okay, let's say DirecTV starts building out their own content. I'm not sure if they are they're not. But they can't compete. They can't compete on IP. They can't compete. Like you're not going to woo the best of the best.

RB Botto 1:09:14
Well go look at it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:16
Unless it's cash

RB Botto 1:09:17
After this going IMDb Pro and look up the spectrum originals. And look at the cash of these shows. All A list.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:24
There's only one there's only one show. I know that have that it was the Jessica Alba show. That, that that one more than I knew. Right! That was the one show that one cop show was and it was a spin off of bad boys. It was a good Gabriela I forgot her last name. Yeah, yeah, get her and Jessica and it was the spin off of her character from bad boys. And there was two seasons of that and then it went on Netflix and that's the only time I even realize it was originally a spectrum because I was looking Oh, when's the next season coming out and like it's not

RB Botto 1:09:41
Can and Meryl Streep, I mean, they get names. I mean, it's just a And apparently I'm sure they're paying up for it, they got more money than that too right? But the question, I guess, at the end of the day, like I said, I think a lot of these platforms like that and even power mountain to go back to your question, I think a lot of them is still feeling like, you know, ultimately, the end of the day, you really have two choices, right? You either become a nice kind of, you know, you fit into some sort of nice, where people want to come for this content, you know, you're going to get a limited audience, but that's good enough, okay, maybe it's three lanes, there's that, okay, which is, you know, like stars and stuff like that, which, of course, is owned by, you know, it's all this stuff that goes on, and who's owned by WHO, and who's a division of what and everything like that, but you're either in that lane, your own lane, you're in the prestigious business, like HBO and possibly Apple, or you're in the mass, you know, so, you know, a spectrum is never going to be any of those. Right? Well, it's gonna be Netflix, it's gonna be they're gonna find a niche of some sort if they can find it. Like, for example, one of the reasons why they were interested in the show is they're not afraid of period and not afraid of expensive. So they're basically saying, okay, maybe we can do six big budget prestigious shows that maybe get us, you know, some sort of me awareness that we got profile. And I don't know,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:20
It's interesting, because I was talking to a showrunner of a very, very, very, one of the biggest shows of all time, comedy shows all time. And I was talking to them about how they got their start. And they got their start on HBO. And on that show, I was asking, like, how the hell did you guys were so young, when you guys were brought on to show run them, you were just starting out. And they're like, What HBO didn't have, they would just starting out, they it was the Wild Wild West, they didn't care. So they basically gave the keys to the to the inmates to run the asylum. And that's where that happened at Netflix at a certain point, though, the asylum the the inmate was David Fincher, so not a bad inmate to start rolling. Exactly the other perspective, but you know, the game with House of Cards was like that was that because people forget House of Cards was an on godly deal for its time. And it was such a huge risk that everybody in Hollywood was just like, What is going on? This is insane. I think that the only way the smaller ones are going to go is that they they pull out, they basically give the keys to the to the inmates on certain part on certain things. And if they can find that niche, and I think you're right, so like could spectrum become if the niche is big enough? I'm just throwing this out there, you know, could they become could have a could a tailor shared and open up a Yellowstone in spectrum with the same cast the same everything and could spectrum have built a whole network based off of that and then Okay, so we're gonna go Americana we are thing as Americana cowboys, you know, down that because that's a huge country music. That's a huge huge swath of of the US. Does that travel though? I don't know. So that's so these are all the things but that's the only thing I think that's gonna give these guys a shot, is they gotta let the the aside, Disney didn't have to do that. Disney owned all the IP. So they didn't give the key, though. They gave the keys a little bit the junk favourite, they fall for it with the Mandalorian. They're like, okay, you can kind of did you ever see that meme on Facebook is genius, where you see this giant train locomotive. And then you see this little, this little model train, and there's a string pulling the big one, you see conductors there and you're like, the Star Wars universe, the Mandalorian. You know,

RB Botto 1:13:52
I mean, I think this is where we're going though, right? I mean, Netflix isn't the show on the rise, but I think you got to people that you know, these these streamers have figured it out. That again, you know, to be able to fulfill this, this amount of content, we need to have some short things. You need to have people that can produce it mass, right. It's sort of why CBS got into the the guy who created Two and a Half Men and

Alex Ferrari 1:14:12
Oh yeah, Tricolore

RB Botto 1:14:15
Yeah, I mean, they did try they got into the business of that, right. If you could produce five or six shows, we only have another 10 slots to fill through primetime in the next year. Right. So why not go with proven thing? Why not make the show runner a star? You know, that people actually know the audience knows that a shaundalyn or on the live show? shaundalyn right. movie goers know this to Fincher movie. This is a Sorkin movie, Amazon, whatever. I think that that's where we're going. I mean, I think that you're right. I think this is why Paramount made the move they made with Sheridan is they basically said okay, if we are going to make this move really into original content go heavy, which it seems like that's where they Luening like, again, you're at the trade deadline and we buyer's or seller's seems like they're leaning to Buying. If they're leaning towards buying, why not go with a proven entity, see if we could build those up that audience see if we could build these subs up. And then let's go out and we'll test the waters with rip, like you said with the Godfather thing. And if that works, then it's the next thing. It's the next thing. It's the next thing, right? Like one of the things that they talked about this executive talked about to me was if the Godfather one of the things are talking about is because they own Chinatown, right so they were like you can you can make a modern day Chinatown or the book based on China great book called The the last goodbye of the great goodbye. I've read it's fantastic. A look it up. It's great. It's about China, when I within the last year that the rights that have book around by Ben Affleck like David talked Affleck about, you know, maybe that's the Chinatown thing that they do a paramount because you know, so there is going to be again, every big star right now knows, they see the writing on the wall, the day of the movie star as it relates to film stars, is not coming back in a meaningful way in any sort of meaningful way. You'll always have, you know, Orion metals, rock and Gilda doe in a read notice. But that's also not in theaters that's on, you know, just sitting on your couch watching it. They know that so all of them are very, very happy to go do TV right now they look at TV as the new film. This also gives creators out there an opportunity to be able to attach talent to your products, projects. And that's why it's important that you cultivate these relationships. Because these actors know that the idea of being able to film Three to be in three films a year doesn't really exist in the way it used to. But you can be in the latest you could be in too limited series and make a film in a year for sure. And, you know, you look at Nicole Kidman, you know the Ricado she's on big little lie she's on she did the other the other one that she did the other TV one that she

Alex Ferrari 1:16:55
The one with Hugh Grant Yeah.

RB Botto 1:16:57
Yeah. I mean, this was she's I mean, you know, she's working constantly. But you know, 10 years ago, if you told her come to a limited series, she'd be like, Are you kidding me? I got you know, 15 films lined up over the next six years. You know, so that, that's why it's, it's an exciting time to and that's why there's this paradigm shift. And and again, I know I keep harping on this. This is why you need to be listening to the right voices, and most importantly, be educating yourself every day on what's happening in the business.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:22
What do you think? I'd love to hear what you think about universal NBC Universal, you know, they don't have a streaming service yet. Or do they? I don't even know about it. They don't have a streaming service yet. They have. It's so funny right now, RB is going to his computer to check if universal has announced a streaming service yet.

RB Botto 1:17:40
Yeah, peacock. Yeah, of course.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:41
Well, peacock again peacock is

RB Botto 1:17:45
This is another this is another thing, right? Like his peacock. That is amazing. But as I was typing it, I might pick up but I mean, but it's

Alex Ferrari 1:17:52
Exactly. But look, you took your second

RB Botto 1:17:55
That's the thing, right? I'm in the trenches with this every day, which they tell you to literally every day on the phone executives everyday, you know, hear come up. Very rarely

Alex Ferrari 1:18:04
Never hear pick up, come up.

RB Botto 1:18:06
What do I hear come up all the time. Of course, it's the usual suspects, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney. It's, you know, it is paramount now because everybody's getting curious, right? It's all of those over and over and over again. And then it's sort of like who the production companies that have deals. That's what I listen to all day long, where I talk about all day long. Who are the actors that have deals? Who are the directors that have deals, whether they have deals? What are the pods? And if people don't know what a pod is? Basically, the every manager agent in the business, gets these pods where they're able to see what act or what production company where do they have a deal with? Where do they you know, like, Where does Brad Pitt's company how to deal with the TV? Right? It's HBO you know, as HBO is it Showtime is whatever. And you get to see where these people have deals. And then basically, if you have some knowledge, and you're really planning things like for us again, period show, it's going to be expensive. We sit there and go okay, first thing we think about is who makes this type of show. Okay, HBO would make it Showtime we make it scars and probably make it okay, let's go see who has deals with them. And oh, let's go to them first. Because if we went to HBO first HBO could fall in love with it but HBO might say yeah, but who you have your show runner but like who packaging more packaging more and bring it back to us? Give us one you know, give us an idea that you like

Alex Ferrari 1:19:25
Right! Right!

RB Botto 1:19:25
Right. So but that also but again every you put the little fish on the line to catch the big fish right if HBO came back to us and said you know, you know the actors we like to work with go to their agents and whatever we could sit there and go okay for our main guy, Bobby Cannavale is always on HBO shows. If they know if we go to court Bobby Cannavale is agent and say to him Listen, we spoke to HBO and HBO so cast act as HBO likes they're gonna read but if we just went right to that act, we went right to directors agents and said, you know, they might read because We have Weddell attached, that might be enough, but it might not be, you know what I mean? But again, this is how you need to be able to position yourself and how you need to be able to see the business. Everything in this business is a puzzle piece, man. Everything is a puzzle piece, everything it's a chessboard, it really is. And you got to see three, four or five moves ahead. But you can't see three, four or five moves ahead. If you're caught in the mentality of I have a great project.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:23
It doesn't matter. It's everyone's got a great look, everyone's got a great first of all, it starts with the idea. So everybody on the planet has an idea. Okay, everyone's got an idea, then okay, then I've got a script. I got a great script. Okay, that's step next step. Okay. Now have a great project. When I say project, that means there's more than one person attached to it. So now you have a project.

RB Botto 1:20:44
Maybe there's money attached to it, maybe something, something, some sort of other value beyond the script, like I would say, if I'm using the chessboard metaphor, I would say that the script, you literally just set up your board. Okay, your pieces are all in place. All right. What's your next move? Right, what's your next move? Can I get money? Can I get a showrunner let's just say if it's TV money, show runner, attachment production company, producer. If it's film, you know, can I get a director? You know, which is gold and when it comes to film, you know, films a different thing TV, it's more of a show or honor? Just people are curious about this? You know, if you asked me like, what's the first thing I should go after? If I'm packaging something for TV, I would say show Rob Phil runner, and maybe a name producer and or maybe a name producer because maybe you don't have the context of the showrunner but that producer might okay,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:37
But a cast cast as well. Obvious always cast.

RB Botto 1:21:40
If you get a great producer on board, they may they may go after the cast, right? You know that. But again, you're bringing the piece that can bring more pieces. With film, I would say you know, it's either money or a well I'll say three things money, a name producer that can get to money or can get to talent, and Endor a director.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:01
So do you happen to know that the longest how the longest running Netflix show in history, which is what do you know that what the show is?

RB Botto 1:22:10
You got me I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:11
Grayson, Frankie

RB Botto 1:22:13
I would never have guessed that.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:14
Great. Exactly. No one ever have guessed that. And I and I found out the story of how Grace and Frankie came to be. And just like Martha Kaufman happened to find out that, Oh, I heard that Lily Tomlin and James Fonda. Were looking to do television. This is seven years, eight years ago. And she called the PR agents like, Hey, I heard that Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are looking to do television. What what's going on? 15 they call up? And apparently it was that each of them individually, were thinking about doing television. And then the agent calls back and like, yeah, they were thinking individually, but now they want to do it together. And go really why? Because Because you called. And it was the power of the showrunner. The showrunner attracted the odd that the cast and honestly written one of the best sitcoms of recent in my opinion. One of the bestest comes in recent years.

RB Botto 1:23:07
I hope everybody's listening is taking this, you know, that's listening is taking it constructively. I have an agent friend that bought a show to showtime. This is a well known agent. And this is a you know, a person that's sold. You know, I mean, he's he's one of the top and packaged, it checks all the boxes, he has diverse hires in there, it's got some great characters, checks all the boxes for Showtime, what they are looking for which you need to know as well, like, what are they looking for? And they still basically said that they will like he called them in the morning, but he thought it was a slam dunk. He's like, when can we have when can they pitch? And he came back and they were like, we don't think we're interested in they were like, how can you not be interested? He said, You know what, let we'll get back to you. And they got back to him in the afternoon. They email them and basically said, you can send us the deck. But we don't want to hit a pitch yet. And this was with a major package. So the point of the matter is, is that wow, he adjusted on the fly every single place he's bought it to they'll like oh my god, yeah, like what listen to this pitch, like, Oh, my God, but it just goes to show you that, you know, you got it. You got to have multiple lines in the water. You have to keep perspective, you have to realize that there's only for like companies like Netflix where they're spending this kind of money. Yes, the opportunity is great. They do need to they need to fill a quota. But places like Showtime and HBO. Certainly they want to bring in more content, but they're doing it at a lower level. And they only have so many spots to fill. And they already are in the business of so many people that are bringing them stuff and have first book deals with a million other people that you have to be able to say to yourself, Okay, I think I think it's a great show for HBO, that you're positioning yourself in a way to get there. But then you prepare yourself with five, six other places to bring it you know, and you don't put all your eggs in one basket because you know they may have their quota filled for 2022 they may have the quota filled for 22 Through them, I only have like four or five spots open or eight spots open when it comes to like narrative shows, let's say, okay, so you got to you got to keep perspective with everything you got to keep you got a, like I said, stay on top of every single announcement that's being made and deadline and other places, who's doing what, who's moving where, who's looking for whatever. And you got to put yourself in a position to win. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 1:25:23
So to close off the episode, sir, what chance and what should better question what should a screenwriter do a young screenwriter or someone who's just starting out, wants to get their stuff seen once they get into the business, best piece of advice for writers, and best piece of advice for a filmmaker director.

RB Botto 1:25:44
Clearly, if you're just starting out as a screenwriter or a filmmaker, you need to take action you need to do you need to learn the craft, you need to, you know, keep writing and obviously create stuff and get proper feedback on it. You need to go to you know, like I say, invest in yourself. Okay. One of the reasons why I mean, we've talked about this in the past, but the one of the reasons why the only way I would do development services on stage 32 was if there was full transparency, and you will getting reviewed by executives working in the business, and you get to do that. So my first suggestion would be, get your script, right, Jason, like I keep saying J dot merch, M IRC H at stage 30 two.com, let them know what you're working on. Let them know the log line, the genre, the the budget, and he can point you in the right direction. So that's the first thing. The second thing is for every creative that lives that's listening to this thing, community is more important than it's ever been. Relationships are more important than it's ever been. Trust me when I tell you when, when with everything that we've talked about today about the streamers and everything like that, they want to move fast. And the only way they can move fast is to work with known entities, right? They can't keep saying like, let me take a shot, let's develop this thing, it's gonna take two years to develop it. So you need to be connecting with people that are like minded, and that can help you and that can elevate you. And I'm sorry, but I think on broad based social, it's a reason I started stage 32 Because I wanted a platform that's just people like us talking about this stuff, and not about the salvage argument for 24 hours about slug lines, okay? You need to stop wasting your time with that shit and put yourself in a position to win and invest in yourself. Okay? And then the third thing I would say is man, you have to know the business. I know we keep repeating ourselves, but you have to know Chinnery of the business, alright. And you know, put yourself in a position where you could speak knowledgeably about what's going on. And that where and where, you know, your knowledge is your brand, man, you have to have a brand people. And the most important part of your branding can be that you know what the hell, you're talking about your professional. And that's what people when you're in a room, that's what they want to know, when we're pitching the show. They don't know me, I'm not known as a TV writer. I've sold a bunch of feature scripts, but never done TV. So when I'm in that room, I have to prove myself. And when they asked me questions about like, how do you see this fitting? Or how do you what do you think the budget is? Who do you think the actors are? I gotta have answers. If I just sit down go, Well, I haven't really thought about that. But here's my story. They're gonna be like, well, we don't want to work with you know, we need you to help us, everybody, you know, they need the showrunners and their people and their writers to know what the hell they're doing because they can't look over everybody. You know, I mean, they got to give you the money and let you go, go go do it. And you know, they got to have trust, right? So your brand is so wildly important right now. So put yourself in a position to win. I said at the beginning of the show. The writers room is free to everybody that comes on that everybody that listens to this show because Alex is my boy right Jason a che dot merch at age 30 two.com. Get in there. There's open writing assignments, everything like that. But most importantly, be active, be visible, be visible and active in the right places. value your time, value your money that you invest in yourself. Don't go with Fly By Night services and people that make bullshit promises demand transparency, and put yourself in a position to win and that's it. We could put all these links I could give you these links right

Alex Ferrari 1:29:10
Yeah, I'll put them in the show notes. Just send me stuff.

RB Botto 1:29:13
And yeah, man, if I could throw out I know we're gonna fly so I'm gonna switch out my my social handles as well,

Alex Ferrari 1:29:20
Which is arguably one of the best social handles on Twitter. And I,

RB Botto 1:29:25
I share a ton of free the reason I'm giving out my social animals not same reasons that Alex does what he does, we're not throwing it out because I want 60 billion new followers. To me follower account doesn't mean shit. It's about the quality. But Alex and I put out a ton of free information all the time. He does the show for free, obviously. And if you go on my Instagram and my Twitter you'll see that I'm putting out free content daily. And it's just RB my initials RB walks into a bar RB walks into a bar and also on stage 32. When you sign up and it is free to sign up. It's a free class. Warm, you will get my message on your wall that is automated. That's the only thing in my life that is automated, you respond to that you will get a response from me, every single social media post every single answer you see on social media, everything is me, just like Alex does, because we stand in front of everything that we say and integrity rules. And that's one of the reasons why I love this gentleman gentleman in front of you, and why I'm gonna, why I'm gonna, you know, to stop, stand him up. And

Alex Ferrari 1:30:27
I don't appreciate, I don't appreciate your tone, or your or your, you forget

RB Botto 1:30:32
I just want to say, that's the thing surround yourself. I'm, I'm hyping both of us up saying that we were men of integrity, I think we are. But my entire mantra of this business. I know Alex is the same way as I surround myself with people of integrity. And I surround myself with people that know more than I know, and help elevate me and want to take me with them. And that's been the key to my success this entire time in this business. And I it's the reason why we're partners with Netflix now. 10 years ago, five years ago, when we would talk to Netflix, they were like, Yeah, sure, guys. Yeah, yeah. And now they're coming to us paying us and we're working with them. And we're partners with them. That comes from proving yourself over and over again. Oh, businesses.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:15
Yeah. And and look, yeah, everyone listening to the show can see how the show has grown over the years. And it's because I've been here and just every day showing up

RB Botto 1:31:23
Stone overnight, you didn't get any of these people overnight, you work your ass off, to build this audience and build the show. And you did it. Like I said, with style and integrity. And anybody that you go out to can listen to one of your shows and go, I get it like, wow, this guy is really giving back like this guy does this from you could tell why he does it, and how he cares. And of course, why wouldn't an Oliver Stone want to do the show then? Right? Why wouldn't anybody in this business not want to have an audience with your audience? And I think that that's, you know, it's Yeah, but it's the truth, right? So that's what I'm saying to your audience right now. Be good to yourself, Okay, you're always going to be your own biggest champion. And you always have to find integrity in yourself. And you always have to inspire yourself, you should be your biggest inspiration, quite frankly. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:18
And just to put a button on this, man, you've been doing this 11 years, I've been doing it six and a half years. And, you know, that is a testament to resilience. But it's also a lesson for everyone learning and listening that this ain't gonna happen overnight. No, no, and neither you or I have made it but we've gotten to a certain level in our in what we do, that it's taken us a long time to get here, you're one you're not getting a call from Netflix, you know, you know, it takes time to get to these places in whatever you're trying to do. And if you think you have a one or two year plan, you're sadly mistaken, you have to have a one to two decade plan.

RB Botto 1:32:57
And that's what real goals, right this is. The other thing I would say to this audience is, you know, I see everybody going onto social media saying like, these are my 2022 goals, that's fine. I think you should have goals. I think, you know, some people have vision boards, I don't, that's fine. If you have one, it's all good. I don't care what your method is, but you need to be fair to yourself. And if your goal is, you know, by the end of this year, I want to have XY and Z. You got to recognize the fact that you get to X, Y and Z you need to have micro goals every day. You need when the day like I just had this conversation I did a sorry, awake a webcast the other day and they said, you know the guy that was hosting said You know, you're everywhere like you're always you know, you see here I see that how do you do it? Like how do you wake up every day? And you know, feel that fire? And the reality is it's routine. I wake up every day and my first hour is pretty much the same almost every single day. Because I know if I win that hour, I have a great chance to win the day

Alex Ferrari 1:34:01
And that's just it and that's just eating raw meat right you just eat little raw meat bourbon and smoke a cigar.

RB Botto 1:34:09
That's pretty much the entire plan.

Alex Ferrari 1:34:14
That's that's the voice that's how the voice has gotten to where it is. It's just raw meat bourbon cigar first thing in the morning breakfast.

RB Botto 1:34:20
Oh, definitely the bourbon contributed by

Alex Ferrari 1:34:25
Guys, RB man I appreciate you coming on the show. As always my friend you're always welcome back anytime. You you. You hold a record. I don't think anyone's gonna break your record of the most appearances on the show. I think were 13 14 15 I don't even I lost track. I have to go back and count them all. But but it's a pleasure as always your wealth of information. A gentleman and a scholar sir. So I appreciate your time my friend.

RB Botto 1:34:51
Well, I appreciate you having me on as always, you know I love you to death and appreciate everything that you do for the community of course and Yeah, man, I'm looking forward to 16 We'll get both I'm also looking forward to my gold watch 15 So I expect that in the mail and

Alex Ferrari 1:35:06
The jacket, the jacket will be coming soon his jacket,

RB Botto 1:35:10
Welcome jacket 20 I'll even get made.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:14
I'll get a smoking jacket and then I'll get a bid for the raw meat. So the blood doesn't get on the smoking jacket. So

RB Botto 1:35:21
Make sure now I feel like I have to come with a cigar and bourbon.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:24
Well, I don't know why you haven't you've yet to do that.

RB Botto 1:35:27
Yeah, I've well I used to book but actually when I used to do shows to do that was Bourbon and

Alex Ferrari 1:35:31
There was always there was oh, no, did you actually had bourbon straight up? Like you weren't trying to hide it? Like Yeah, no. depends on the time of day. This is early for you. So I understand. Six o'clock in the morning. I'm drinking. It's fantastic.

RB Botto 1:35:45
Well, listen. It's five o'clock somewhere. It's just it's just, I'm awake.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:52
It's a and I do I do hope to see you my friend at South by hopefully if it goes off. We'll hopefully have you here. It will be my first South by Southwest I've never been so it's going to be exciting. I expect you to be here to show me around. Tell me where to go where not to go. And and Sundance unfortunately. Not so much this year.

RB Botto 1:36:12
That full range into my scheduling. Holy shit.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:15
Well, maybe one day we'll come back to normal man I miss I miss Park City, but I think it's gonna it'll never be what it was. It will never be what it was. It'll never be what it was when we shot the movie. It'll Yeah, it'll never be that again. I think we're gonna be wearing masks for quite some time.

RB Botto 1:36:31
I mean well, we'll see what happens with South by if I can make it down there. If they have it. You know, I'd love to see we could probably do something.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:38
My friend a pleasure as always my friend. Thanks again.

RB Botto 1:36:42
I love you my brother. I really do. I love you to death. Alright my friend.

IFH 557: The Brutal Truth About Making Indie Films with Daniel Sollinger

Today on the show we have producer Daniel Sollinger. Daniel and I have fought in the same indie film trenches for years. I had the pleasure of working with him on multiple occassion over the past 1o years.

He has a new film coming out called Clean, starring Academy Award® Winner Arian Brody.

Tormented by a past life, garbage man Clean (Adrien Brody) attempts a life of quiet redemption. But when his good intentions mark him a target of a local crime boss (Glenn Fleshler), Clean is forced to reconcile with the violence of his past. The film also stars Richie Merritt, Chandler Ari DuPont, Mykelti Williamson, RZA, Michelle Wilson, and John Bianco. It is written by Paul Solet and Adrien Brody. Clean, directed by Paul Solet, arrives in theaters, On Demand, and digital on January 28, 2022.

Daniel and I discuss the brutal truth on producing and making indie films in today world. The conversation is full of real-world stories, advice and lessons to help you on your path. Enjoy!!!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show, Daniel Sollinger. How're you doing, Daniel?

Daniel Sollinger 0:15
I'm doing great. Yeah!

Alex Ferrari 0:17
Good to see you, my friend you and I have. We have, we have, we have fought this in battles. We've been in the same trenches. We have walked over the same bodies in independent film, and so I was so happy when you reached out to me about coming on the show, because you're a wealth of information. You've done. I mean, you've definitely have done the indie film hustle.

Daniel Sollinger 0:43
30 years of Indie film hustling. Yes!

Alex Ferrari 0:44
And then some. So I have to start let's start the conversation, my friend is how and why did you decide to get into this insanity? That is the film industry, let alone the indie film industry?

Daniel Sollinger 1:00
Well, you know, that's a great question. I just want to start off to saying like, how much fun it has been to watch, Indie Film Hustle, grow and expand. And, you know, you're such a great entrepreneur, too. I always use you as an example to young filmmakers who are, you know, maybe have a movie that doesn't have stores or whatever. And I say, there's, you just have to find a unique way to do it. I know this guy, Alex, who, when the iPhone came out, he took his short film, he turned it into an app and sold it on the App Store. Like you just have to find the new way to do it, to monetize your film and make it successful, you know, so I love what you do and glad to be here. I mean, I the long story is, is that when I was in high school, my parents did not want us to watch movies or television, they want us to read books, I became very rebellious, I got kicked out of one high school, I went to another high school, I got kicked out of that high school and I, I went to the end of the line, which was a night school for sort of disciplinary problem, children. And while I was a night school, I met another kid who was kicked out of this thing called the Fine Art Center. This is in Greenville, South Carolina. And he was studying film, and it was just like a light bulb went off. I was like, you can study film like that can be a career like it just it just blew my mind. And I had no experience whatsoever. But I, I had been writing a lot of poetry and I submitted all my poetry the Fine Arts Center, and God bless Dennis, you see the teacher there. He, he accepted me into the program, I'd go half the day at my regular high school. And then I went to half the day and studied film at the fine art center. And, you know, then I applied to NYU and went to NYU film school and, you know, build a career from that. I love making movies. I love telling stories, you know, and when I was getting out of NYU, I sort of I think there was sort of like a decision point. It's like, do I want to be a PA on big movies? You know? Or do I want to produce music videos, because I was producing oil. I was producing music videos before I graduated. And I said, You know what, I want to be a producer. I'm just gonna start producing music videos, and someday I'll be producing big movies, but I'm just going to produce because that's what I like to do. You know, I don't want a PA for 10 years. You know, I'm I mean, you know, God bless them, you know, and nothing wrong with it. But I mean, like, 60 year old second ideas and just wonder, like, I just didn't want to get caught in like, a, like a smaller roll on a bigger movie. Like I wanted to have the enjoyment of producing from the beginning, you know?

Alex Ferrari 3:27
Yeah, I mean, I've run into a couple 45 50 year old PA's and that's, that's it? That's tough. It's a tough gig, man. It's a tough gig. Yeah, getting caught up in that and that's nothing that's wrong with it, man. But PA-ing is a young man's game, my friend. It is things things hurt. Now, that did not hurt in your 20s like walking through it. I mean, if you know if you know when it's gonna rain by the pain in your knee, you might have jumped the shark. Now you made your bones coming up as a first ad and line producer in the UPM. Can you tell the difference? Can you tell me the difference between a UPM a unit production manager and a line producer? Because that's a confusion a lot of filmmakers have.

Daniel Sollinger 4:16
Sure well, yeah, I have a lot to say about actually. So I'm a DGA UPM on the Directors Guild of America UPM. And even if I'm doing a job as a producer, and it's a DGA show, I will take the UPM credit so that I get that you know, health pension and welfare benefits and everything so that's so that that's there's still a lot of room and I'm not the only one there's like huge producers like Daniel loopy and, you know, there's a lot of lot of, you know, big Hollywood producers that when they produce a movie they they are the UPM as well. So, the UPM is the person in charge of, you know, breaking down the script, creating a schedule, turning that information, the breakdown in the schedule into a budget, then Hiring the crew and making sure everything stays on track in terms of scheduling budget all the way through till the end of production. So that's, that's what a UPM does, um, the line producer I think is a little bit more of an indie role. And it's, it's, it's a step up. So the UPM will work underneath the line producer, the line producer will be their supervisor, and the line producer looks at more the big picture of the production. And the UPM is making sure the lunch is there on time and taking care of the smaller details to make sure that all the smaller details are hitting all the places that they're supposed to be.

Alex Ferrari 5:36
So you even though you might be line producing, you'll take a UPM credit.

Daniel Sollinger 5:40
Even if I'm just for producer, you know, I'll take a UPM credit if it's a Directors Guild of America movie, absolutely!

Alex Ferrari 5:47
Right. And you being a DJ, and you being a union DJ, a union member, you have to basically work on projects that are union DJ generally.

Daniel Sollinger 5:55
Well, luckily, in my category, that's a big loophole. Because yes, I cannot work on a non union movie. As a unit production manager. I can't work on a non union movie as a line producer as a producer. So it's a lot harder for Union a DS, because there's no other sort of title that really fits right? You know, so and the DGA is there, they are really serious about it, too. If I work on a non union movie as a unit production manager, my penalty if they find out and discipline me, is my entire salary from that project. So it's a very serious deal

Alex Ferrari 6:35
That we won't get into how fair that is or not fair that is. But now Are there any

Daniel Sollinger 6:44
There's other things you can do. You can go fi core, which is financial core so that you can get the benefits of being union and be non union? I mean, there's there's ways to deal with it. But if you're if you're doing everything by the book, I mean, that's the potential penalty that you face.

Alex Ferrari 6:57
Well, yeah, I know isn't I mean, Robert Rodriguez couldn't turn to You know, the, you know, George Lucas, they're all non GGA. And they still work on DGA projects and films, but there are five core if I'm not mistaken. Yeah, there and it's, it's like the DJ doesn't generally like to talk a lot about like, we don't we don't talk about Quentin Tarantino, Robert Rodriguez. No, no, no. But no. I mean, listen, I heard I've heard nothing. But great things about the DGA. I know that they have probably the best benefits package out of all the unions in Hollywood pension package. I mean, it's pretty insane. It's pretty insane

Daniel Sollinger 7:33
It's very nice. And beyond that, too. I'm a huge fan of the DGA, you know, they a decade ago, they spent $2 million to commissioned a study about where they thought online viewing would go right at the time. You know, I think YouTube was just starting to really kick in, you know, people were doing webisodes. I don't know if you remember those? No, it was very, very, very little revenue in it. And because they commissioned this study, they learned what anchor points they needed to put into the contracts so that people who working in new media felt free to go DGA. But as as it grew like the DGA would grow with it in the in the parody of compensation would grow with it. And I, they're there. Well, it's directors and UPM. So it's like the best run union, you know, there's very little drama, everything's like boom, boom, boom, by the book, very healthy pension. Their reserves and their pension, you know, the reserves for the operating overall are like really abundant, you know, and it's just a incredibly well run union, I think the best union, and I think the all the other unions follow them. So, you know, I think in terms of the contract cycles, like DJs, like the first up, and then a lot of the other unions will sort of follow their lead and when they go into their negotiations,

Alex Ferrari 8:55
Yeah, it's if you can, if you can get it, it's great. It really is, but you have to follow the rules. There's no question about it don't do not play around. They don't play.

Daniel Sollinger 9:06
Yeah, and rules, you know, rules are, are there for a reason to I mean, you know, you know, when you think about SEFs set safety liability, yeah. You know, um, you know, the rules that can be restrictive and challenging at times, but, but they're there to protect the the members and you know, and the, the institution as a whole and filmmaking in general, you know.

Alex Ferrari 9:29
Now you and I worked on a project two years ago, called without men starring the lovely, Eva Longoria who was just on the show, and that was not planned by the way I didn't plan on having you. You reached out to me before even was even scheduled to be on the show. But it just so was, was funny. And I talked to her a little bit about the show that about the movie, she's like, Oh, my God, I forgot. You know, that's amazing. I can't believe you worked on it. And that movie was a really interesting experience for me because this, we're going back it'd be releasing 10 years ago, 10 11 years ago, by 11 years ago. Um, that that was released. And we were working on it in 2010. I think it was being filmed in 2010 2000 2009 2010, something like that. And I you know, it had Christian Slater in it, it had Castillo Castillo Castillo, Paul Rodriguez, Paul Rodriguez had a really great cast. And it was shot outside of LA was I think outside the crew, the what you call it? What is that?

Daniel Sollinger 10:30
The zone. They call it the zone is 30 miles. radius from this screen actors guild headquarters. Yeah. So it was outside the zone. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 10:40
It was outside the zone. So technically, you could do a non union scenario there. And I think that's for crew, not for DGA or other things. But for crew. So I remember when we were on that, that that project was flipped. Now, can you explain what flipping a movie means? And how you handled it?

Daniel Sollinger 11:02
Okay, yes, definitely. Um, so flipping is when a, when the crew decides that they want to organize and collectively bargain with the producers. And so, you know, I do both Union and non union work, both as you know, as a union member, you know, in my category, but also, you know, all the other trade unions involved. And I'm, so usually, when I start a project, if we make a decision can, it always comes down to money, can we afford to go union, like, my default is, is like, I would prefer to go union because union, like your basement level quality of work is higher period. Sure, like, you're your worst guy on the union crew is better than the average guy on a non union crew, in my experience, just just my experience. So um, but, you know, you there's a tremendous cost impacted that I think, at the moment, it's around an extra $220 per day, per person, just in benefits. So that adds up to six figures very quickly. And if, you know, if you're really trying to, you know, get something done. You know, sometimes there's just not the room to do that, which was the case and that movie, by the way, love Eva loved working with her never such a wonderful experience. And, um, so, you know, we had a very limited, we actually didn't have full financing, you know, we had enough to get it in the Can we didn't even have the money for post, I think, when we started out, and, which is why I think it took another eight months before we were like, okay, like,

Alex Ferrari 12:46
I'm literally I had all the raw files on a hard drive on multiple hard drives sitting in my office. And I would call you every every month, like, Hey, man, do you want me to finish this Eva Longoria Christian Slater movie?

Daniel Sollinger 13:03
Well, that was the reason why. Okay. And so like I said, we had just, you know, we had just enough to get get us through production. So we we told everybody going into it. This is non union film, when we hired the crew, you know, we can't afford to go union, you know, we're going to do this non union, and mostly we hired non union people. Um, I find that when you have talent at a certain visibility, that, that becomes more and more untenable that that, I believe, I believe, I don't know who or where I think that they unions look at a project and they say, Look, you know, if you can, if you've got Eva Longoria, or, you know, whoever I'm just using her in the example, this movie, like you can, you should really be union. And I think that's sort of like the mindset and, you know, and they're entitled to that. So then what happens is you're shooting with this crew that you believe is non union, and it doesn't matter if they're union members or not, it's a little bit more difficult, if they are union members to stay non union because the union then applies pressure on them if the DP is union, you know, they'll get a call from the union and say, Look, we It looks like you're working on a non union production, you know, that's not okay. You know, we, you know, we need help, you know, organizing the organizing the shoot, and by organizing, if you can get 50% of the crew to sign on and agree to be represented, then the union then becomes the representative for the crew. And what what happens is they stop work, you know, they usually do it on a lunch break, or at the beginning of a day, and no work happens until you work out a deal with the, you know, a contract with the union. And that that did happen on that project.

Alex Ferrari 14:53
It was it was really interesting because I when I was when I was coming up, there was a movie We that I worked on in Florida. And it was it, believe it or not, was like a million dollar budget. But most of that money was going towards cast it was a very poorly. It was a very poorly run project. And back in those years is the mid 2000s, early 2000s. And I remember the day I was doing all the post on it, and it had like an Academy Award nominee in it and a couple of people in it. And then the union showed up because was non union this was in Florida, because Florida has a right to work state. So you don't have to put the Union came because he said they saw the trucks and everything. And then like so. And luckily that day, none of the major cast was there. It was all kind of like the the the non bankable names were there. And all of a sudden they looked and they saw the camera that we were using. And it was the dv x 100 a Panasonic mini DV camera, shooting a million dollar movie with the Panasonic dva 100 million. Wow. And they said literally they're like, You guys have a great day. And literally all of them just walked out. They were done. They were just like, these guys, obviously I don't care if you've got Meryl Streep here you're shooting with this camera, you're obviously don't have the money to pay us. But that's but that's the that's the one that these are the kind of things that you PMs in line producers have to deal with that the filmmakers generally don't need to even know about until they go. Why am I why isn't my crew working?

Daniel Sollinger 16:26
Where's the why is the crew across the street? It's call time.

Alex Ferrari 16:29
Exactly! At that point they go ohh.

Daniel Sollinger 16:33
I want to go in a little bit more detail about without men Yeah, in the flow. Because now that's 10 years past, I feel like I could devolve some things that I wouldn't normally have have have divulged in the time. But so you can as a producer, you can usually see a flip coming. It's not a surprise the day that the crew is not working. There's usually you know, there's background bills you get as rumbles. Yeah, feel it, you feel it happening. So I saw this coming. And this is a project that our it was all in one location we had, we had this great situation. It was a film school. I don't think they exist anymore, actually. And they're the name of the film school escapes me but they had this soundstage and they had this Mexican village backlot. And it was perfect for our movie. And so we struck a deal. You know, we hired students to and and so we just landed at this film school, and we shot our whole movie on their on their backlot in soundstage. It was it was a it was a great situation, especially, you know, with limited means. So, whenever a flip happens, there's there's some negotiating that goes on, you know, like you can, you can get, there's some things that they will not budge about on their contract. There's like minimum staffing requirements, you have to pay all the pension and welfare retro, retroactively, there's a lot that there's a lot that that is that you're not gonna be able to negotiate. But there's all these other deal points that you can negotiate that are more negotiable. So when I knew the flip was coming, the morning of the flip was there, and the crew went across the street and they all had their walkie talkies. And so I went around to all the film students I said, Okay, you're the you're the well, we are at staff it wasn't flip DJ. So our ad staff was still on. But you know, I said, Okay, you're the camera person. You're the you're the you're this you're that you're the I gave all the students assignments, and I said, use the walkies a lot just every every I told the ad anything you just you're moving the camera over two inches. Put it on the walkie Right. And, and and then I waited. Right and I and the union representative was expecting me to call him and be like, let's work out something we're not getting anything done. But instead the whole crew was sitting there listening to their walkies and there's like, alright, Roll camera. Okay, we're moving on, you know, and and we were just shooting without them, you know, and they were flipping out. And so they started to put a lot of pressure on their union representative to contact me and work out some sort of deal and I may have even like not answered the guy's phone call the first couple of times he was trying to call me and and and he finally got ahold me. He's like, Look, man, we really have to work something out here. I was like, you know, okay, well, I'll talk to you. Why don't you come in and talk. And I worked out like the best possible deal I've ever have on a flip. I've been flipped about seven times. But just like just the barest barriers, barest minimums of like what I had to comply with. And, and then, you know, the crew came back and everybody hugged and we went on and, you know, the unions want the union, it's good to have a win win the union won because they, you know, they flipped us and we won because it was like, really not a high impact on us financially. And, and, you know, and then we and we got the movie made and that happened. I guess by lunchtime. I think the crew was back, you know, so it was pretty quick. They of course, the camera department like destroyed the card that the students had been shooting with. But, but it was it turned out to be like a, like a very effective, you know,

Alex Ferrari 20:02
It almost sounded like a hostage situation like, you have to call in and like they're not picking up the call, what do they want? I don't know, we'd send food. Or we'll send out one room or at least one hostage like, right. Now, are there any tricks of the trade that you can kind of give advice on when it comes to line producing a project or UPM in a project?

Daniel Sollinger 20:28
Well, I just heard this, this week, and I love this. Somebody said, Daniel, we're going to fix it in prep.

Alex Ferrari 20:36
What a great, what a great. Oh, my god, that's amazing.

Daniel Sollinger 20:40
That's when you're on set, it's like, oh, we'll fix it in post, no, fix it in prep, you know, like the, you know, like, that's the best thing you can do to yourself, even if you don't have the money to, you know, pay people to do like extensive prep, just do as much prep as you I work on this TV show called a double cross. And the producers on that show, they'll start out months in advance location scout, they'll do all this prep work on their own, so that by the time it gets the week before shooting, like so much as done in the crew to sort of drops into this situation that they've already set up ever, you know, it's like, they know all their calf, they know all their locations, they know they've got, you know, they know all their props, they know how they're doing everything. And the crew just sort of drops in and they go and, you know, I don't think that's that's an interesting way to work. That's not the way I would normally do it. But, but it's amazing how much if you do enough prep, you won't have problems during production. It's just that simple. You know?

Alex Ferrari 21:38
Yeah, absolutely. Prep is it's so undervalued. Prepare, prepare, prepare, prepare. Now, what are some mistakes that you see filmmakers make when they're trying to produce their first low budget? Independent Film, I'm sure you've seen you've been witness might have even been a part of early in your career,

Daniel Sollinger 21:57
I was thinking about all the mistakes I've made, like I don't even know where to start, you know, but but, you know,

Alex Ferrari 22:04
Top five, top five mistakes.

Daniel Sollinger 22:07
Yeah, um, as well, just back for a second of what you were saying about that shoot in Florida, you know, I've very often get I do a lot of, you know, breakdown schedules and budgets for movies that are fundraising or trying to get greenlit and what have you. And, um, if there's too much discrepancy between the above the line, and the below the line, that is not a good look.

Alex Ferrari 22:28
So you mean 750 For the talent, and 250 for production, that llittle, heavy, little, heavy on the downside?

Daniel Sollinger 22:35
Well, a good rule of thumb is that those should line up. So if you're spending a half million above the line, you should be spending at least a half million below the line. Like that's, to me that's responsible producing. So yeah, so if the ratio between what the above line was below the line, or getting is too off, it's just, it's, that's, that's a recipe for disaster for a lot of weight reasons, you know, because you're above the line, or in a movie that looks like garbage, you know, like, you know, like, and then they're not happy about that. And then you have to deal with the repercussions of that, or they're expecting a certain level of professionalism that you just can't afford, if you've done it that way. You know, so there's the stars, your big name, stars, or whatever that you're expecting to use on your, your marketing and bring the money back, you know, they arrive on set, and they're like, this is a joke, I can't work in this under these conditions. And you know, and it causes, you know, can cause just tremendous problems. So there should always be a parity between, you know, at least a one to one ratio between the above the line below the line spend, that would be my, my, my, my piece of advice number one.

Alex Ferrari 23:40
All right. Yeah, cuz I mean, there's so many. There's just so many things like, Well, there's one thing I remember when I was doing my movie, my $20 million movie for the mob back in the day. I was, I had the pleasure of being mentored by a legendary first ad. And he was a lot he was a line producer on some David Fincher films like he was, he was the real deal like he was he worked on lovestory in the 70s. Like he was, he'd been alright, he was, he was in the room on taxi driver, when, when Robert was like, Are you talking to me? Like he was in that room. He was in the room with Marty. So he was a New York guy who was an East Coast guy. So I was I had the pleasure of working with him for four months, and he trained me on how to just taught me on how to break down a movie, how to schedule a movie. And then I discovered how he was able to hide money in other departments. Can you talk about that little trick? And it's not it's not it's not notorious or anything like that. It's an actual really very valuable tool to to have.

Daniel Sollinger 24:50
Absolutely, absolutely. Because when you're creating a budget, you know, first of all things happen. Surprises happen. Things come up, you've always need to be aware that number one. So, you know, you should always have overtime budgeted some overtime, I usually start at 10%. And every budget I do, there's like an, you know, a 10%, overtime, you should always have a contingency in place. And, and hopefully you don't spend it but but trying to do is another mistake I see a lot of young producers make where they'll like, make a million dollar film, and then their contingency will be like $10,000, you know, like, you should have a 10% contingency, you know, and, but then also inside the budget, there should be areas or places that you know, that you've over budgeted for, you know, like, I can get a much better deal with this vendor than I'm putting in here, you know, but I'm gonna put this in here, because this is what it would cost if it was just a regular, normal vendor relationship, you know, and so you find all these little pockets, and then when things start going wrong, things happen. And I can't even begin, you know, you know, as well as I do, anybody who makes a film knows, it never goes 100% according to plan, then you have these little pockets that all we have is we have a union flip, what do we need to find an extra 40 grand somewhere, you know, so you know, oh, well, if we take this pad out of here, and this pad out of here, and we use our contingency and reduce our overtime budget to 5%, then we have the money, you know, so So those, those little pads and pockets are really good. Now, on the converse, you have to be very careful to, um, did not get in the habit of quoting the department heads the wrong misleading numbers. So let's say you have, you know, a $5,000, you know, budget for the the wardrobe department, you know, it's very easy to get in the habit of saying that you have 3000, and then try to act keep that as pad. And if they go over, as they they go over 1000, then you're you're still 1000 under and, and I've, I've done that a lot. And but it's a habit I'm trying to get myself off of because if you can be just fully transparent. These are the same numbers as my budget. If you're dealing with professionals, like that's a much better and more effective way to go. So So you had to be careful where you put those pads that they're there, you know that you're not depending on somebody else to overperform in order to have that pad? You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 27:23
I agree with you on on the professional standpoint, like if you're dealing with Union professionals, or people who are very seasoned, I get that, but maybe when you're dealing on a lower budget film with the department heads aren't as seasoned. That technique might work. And this is the art of being a line producer. This is this little

Daniel Sollinger 27:41
Line producing,

Alex Ferrari 27:41
Yeah, it's the art of line producing, because you've got to kind of like, okay, you have to check out the the, the crew, check out what's going on, check out the director, check out the producer, who's how much experience of these people have, do you think they're going to go over and, and things like that. And sometimes you have to have those little tricks in order to keep because it's your job,

Daniel Sollinger 28:02
I never do it anymore. But I have a line producer whose work I really highly respect and his operates at a at a higher level than me and, you know, he told me like, I always give them my real numbers. And I was like, wow, it was just like, wow, you know, like, okay, sort of like you having that, that conversation with that ad and you just sort of, you're like, oh, okay, yeah, I see why, you know, at the, at the top level, this is the way it works, you know,

Alex Ferrari 28:26
Right! Yeah, like I was, when I was talking to Ridley Scott's costume designer, you can give her she's an Oscar winner, you could give her the exact budget, you can give her your you don't play around with someone of that guy of that caliber. And because they're professionals, they've done this 1000 times, it's fine. But if you've got someone who's maybe done one or two shows, and you just don't know, you got to protect them, you got to protect not only yourself, but it's your job to make sure that this ship doesn't sink. And if you don't have that, the way that you're just talking about contingency, when stuff happens, which will happen. And every project it will happen, then your the whole thing can come crashing down like that you can't finish the movie. So in many ways, I mean, that's a lot of pressure on the line producer really, truly it is it truly is a lot of pressure on the UPM in the in the line producer because they've got to, they're the they're responsible for keeping the engine going. They're not the creative producer. They're the they're the nuts and bolts producer.

Daniel Sollinger 29:27
Well, and it's interesting too, because often the crew will consider them the enemy and that think that they're trying to get over on them or manipulate them, which is one of the reasons why I was saying like, it's best when you can give the real numbers. But um, but what I always say to the crew that's that's unhappy with me because I'm not giving them all the things that they want. I'm in charge of making sure your last paycheck clears. Right. If we if we spend all the money and and your paycheck bounces like that, you don't want that to happen any more than I do. So if I tell you We don't have the money, we don't have the money. You know, and there's we can't talk about anymore.

Alex Ferrari 30:04
Right. And a lot of times, especially when you have crews are coming in from the studio system, who are just used to all the toys, and they also know the depth that a studio has, like, Oh, if you go over 100,000, no one's gonna blink too much. If you go over a million, there's going to be a conversation, but the movie is going to get finished, you're going to get your final check from Universal. But when you're in the indie world, when the money runs out, you better go find some dentist.

Daniel Sollinger 30:31
Right! It's absolutely true. Yeah, I've been there. And it's painful.

Alex Ferrari 30:37
Yeah, especially when and then the poor director, and the forecast and the poor, the creatives behind everything that just like, what's, what's going what's going on. So it is truly one of the more important positions you can hire on is a good good line producer, who knows how to plays, who knows how to play with the numbers and make things work. And it is, I mean, watching watching my, my, my my line producing First Lady mentor work on that project all those years ago, I would just see how he would just move in, let's get into scheduling. That is a whole other art form between schedules, and this and that, and the actor and the location. And oh, God, you know, this, one of our content, one of the issues that we had was like, Oh, the Turtles are in mating season, and we can't shoot on the water. So we have to move things. Like it was, these are the things you have to deal with. These are this is the non sexy stuff, right? It's true. This is the stuff that we're talking about so unsexy, because all they teach in film school is like, look at the cool lens. Let's watch Citizen Kane, look at the new red and the Alexa. And let's go and let's go watch a Darren Aronofsky movie, and, you know, and, and, and wax poetic about it. But at the end of the day, this is what makes the movies, this is what gets these movies finished.

Daniel Sollinger 31:56
And you know, and it's what they don't teach you is that sometimes a small hand prop can grind the entire production down to the whole, you know, like, you know, it's like, you know, the, the director didn't see it that, you know, before the it's needed on camera, the prop person brings it. And the and the director is like, this is I can't work with this, this doesn't this is not what I need for this scene. And then production stops until somebody runs out and gets exactly what the director needs, you know? And yeah, they don't teach you that in film school?

Alex Ferrari 32:29
Not at all, not at all. Now, what was in your opinion, one of the worst days you've ever had on set? I know you I know. You'd like a shiver went down his spine. If you're not watching this.

Daniel Sollinger 32:42
I've done 65 Movies 400 short form content. So

Alex Ferrari 32:46
You've done a lot. So is there is there one that stands out? And then also how did you? And how did you overcome it? Like, that's always my question. And how did you overcome it that day?

Daniel Sollinger 32:56
Okay, that's a good question. So I'll start with the hardest one that I eventually did, overcome, was hired, hired by somebody, you know, very, very late in the prep process. Like, we got to shoot next week, kind of late. And find out after shooting three weeks, that they had spent all the money that they were given to make the movie all but like 40 or 50 grand on, I don't know what I suspect leisurely activities, for lack of a better word. And, but that they, they and it was a foreign production, and they didn't have an American LLC. So I formed an LLC, just to put all this money through. And so that we could operate as a as an American production. And then basically, you know, actually it was it was like a three week shoot, and two weeks into it, I realized the money isn't there, there's no money, you know, and it was right before Christmas. And I had about 130 people who weren't paid. Oh, and it was all on me. I was the LLC sole sole member of the LLC. And it was all on me and wow, that I woke up every morning and so much pain. And I had to go and just knock on doors 24/7 until I got the money to pay the people and it took it took like three months you know and and then the money to finish the film. So that's that's something that you never want to go through. And, but, you know, you come out of it stronger. Like there's, I've had so many experiences. The other story I want to tell about is the time we blew up a town, like literally, but the I'll tell that story and then just say that You know, now when I go onto a shoot, you know, it's there's very little that fazes me, there's one of my favorite movies is, you know, Wag the Dog were often the producer, and you know, there'll be a problem that will come up and what they're trying to do in that movie. And don't go like, this is nothing. You know, I was shooting Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and three of the horsemen died. And that's where you start to feel as like, whatever the fuck come up, you're like, look, I lived through this thing. I lived through that thing. We're going to get through this somehow. One of my mottos now is like, a problem cannot existentially exist without a solution. You know, like, it's just, it's not possible for a problem to exist without there being a solution. So, you know, that's the attitude I took. We were doing this movie, the alphabet killer. fun movie. Good movie, I'm very proud of it. And our grip truck was pulling out in the parking lot. After we'd packed up one location, we were doing a company move to another location, where we were shooting Martin Donovan, and Melissa Leo, who we only had for one day, like, they were going back to their, to their other projects or whatever. At the at the next morning. The grip truck grabs a power line pulls the power line, two telephone poles was transformers snap. Now what I didn't know that is that transformers are full of oil. So when they hit the ground, they exploded. And they the explosion of the oil like flew onto our still photographers car, and completely incinerated his car, incinerated the hotel next to the location we were at. We had you know, a huge luckily thing. Thank goodness, nobody was hurt. But a huge fireball, like came towards our first ad or second ad and like, burned off her eyebrows. And you know, this fire may have the explosion was enormous. You could hear it miles away, you know, and, um, you know, and and we had to get, we had Melissa Leo for one day. And so first of all, we made sure everybody was okay. Sure, of course. Anybody who was traumatized, we told them go back to the hotel. Right? Then I had to go and talk to the fire department. And who had now cordoned off, you know, like several square blocks. And I was like, Look, is there any way I can get to my camera truck to pull off my camera because we have to keep shooting? And he's like, Okay, well, let's, we'll have an escort, you can go and pull out your camera. What he didn't realize he thought it was a camera. It was actually 15 cases, of course. I grabbed a hand truck. And I'm like, pulling 15 cases off and like throwing them onto the hand truck. The fire the fire guy who came with me is looking at me like, I can't believe you're doing this right now. We frickin pulled the camera out. I don't I think there was a supplemental truck. Maybe it was the grip truck that pulled down the thing. And we had an electric truck that had lights and enough grip gear to get by. Did the company move? Shot Martin and Melissa made our day, you know, and the issue, you know, in the insurance claim was like, all the funny thing is, is, is right after it happened, you know, it was just mayhem. I turned to Martin Dunham and I said, Can you believe this is like, No, this is like the second time this has happened. We made our day you know, the insurance claim went on for years, the city was battling the the the film insurance company because you know, the film company, his position was that the line should never been hanging low enough for the truck to grab it. You know, the the insurance, the the the city's insurance company felt like we were driving in a place that we shouldn't have been driving and therefore it was our fault. So that went on for years and years. But you know, again, one of those experiences that you make your way through and you become a stronger you know, I participate in town this time and you know, everything's okay, you know.

Alex Ferrari 39:03
And another lesson is make sure you have production assurance, make sure you do not go anywhere without production assurance. Now, you've worked on a ton of movies over the years, can you you know, and you've seen the business change. I mean, you were there when DVD was king, and you could just put something out and what you would do is paying Yeah, but like when that was like the heyday when everybody was making just obscene amounts of money is during the I say the Late 80s Late 90s to probably like 2010 That's when you could just pre sell stuff and DVD sales like you can make sniper 52 and just go and get sold all over the world. You now you I mean, obviously you're making movies now as well. How important is it to have bankable stars in your films? And I mean, obviously that's a that's a kind of a dumb question as we all like, hey, we all we need stars in our movie, but it all depends on the I always tell people it depends on the budget. And the genre. But if you're making it, you can make a knot, you can make action, you can make horror, you can make thrillers, with maybe some recognizable faces, or even some unknowns, if the budgets low enough. But once you start breaking a certain budget threshold, it's irresponsible of you in today's world not to have some sort of bankable cast, what do you think?

Daniel Sollinger 40:22
Well, you know, talent is the coin of the realm. So you, it doesn't just matter to the people selling the film, like, I'm making the film. So the the, the normal, sort of, by the numbers, processes, you make the film, you get into a big film festival, you get a sales agent, you get a publicist, you go to the festival, you create a lot of hype, you sell it to a distributor, they put it out, right. Film Festivals, when they look at your movie are thinking, who is going to bring the most press to my film festival. So it's not even the people who are buying it, the the sales agent is looking at your film and saying, it's a good film, but I don't know anybody. And then, you know, you're glad to go find another agent, you know, like, like, it ripples, and all these, you know, the publicists, the casting, you would be surprised even like, if you go to a, you know, one of the top casting directors and you say, I've got this, this great movie, you know, and it's got this person already attached, you know, versus I've got this great movie, and nobody's attached, it could be the difference between like that top casting director saying yes or no to your project, you know, so it's not just, you can't just think about in terms of the, the, you know, the name on the DVD box cover on the the thumbnail on the streaming service, you know, it ripples all the way down, you know, and you find you get better crew to it's like, oh, you know, oh, this has got a project with that in a minute. Okay, um, in, you know, whereas, well, you know, the pays, okay, or it's not usually what I get, but, you know, and there's nobody in it, you know, I, you know, I'll do a commercial that week, you know, and make more money than, you know, one day than I would make a week on your film, you know, so it matters all the way down the line. Unfortunately. However, not everybody can do it. And it's not easy, you know, it's getting cast attached can take forever. And, you know, it's it's a big rigmarole. And if you can't do that, and if your budget so small, or whatever, you can't do that, then you have to do something innovative, like you did, you know, putting it as an app on the I know, I know, a guy who figured out SEO, this was this was years ago, he did a wrestling movie with no no stars. But what he did was, you know, he, he knew how to work Google, so that anytime somebody typed in wrestling, the first result would be his movie, and you went to his website, and you bought it for 30 bucks. And as he turned 300, he spent 300 grand to make the movie and he sold a million dollars worth of DVDs, you know, and so if you're not, if you don't have that you better have like a unique and, and, and well thought out business plan of how you will recoup your money without names.

Alex Ferrari 43:01
Right. And then that's why I wrote a whole book about being a filmtrepreneur, which is about finding a niche, and finding a niche and serving that niche. And you don't need to have, you know, Adrian Brody, in your in your film, if you have a movie that is focused on a specific audience that you know, and I always, I always use the vegan chef movie, as my example. But something along those lines where you could target that audience. So it is doable. But again, that also limits on budget, I wouldn't suggest doing a $5 million budget film with no stars attached are no bankable stars attached for a film entrepreneur release. Unless you have deep connections into a massive niche audience that you can sell to it's not impossible, but it's so I mean, you know how hard it is to make a million dollars in rentals. AVOD and TVOD and SVOD it's tough with no stars. Right! It's tough in today's world, it's just too much competition.

Daniel Sollinger 44:07
And it's true. It's true. Although this gives me a grip because you brought up Adrian has given me a great opportunity to pivot to the movie that I got coming out is clean. And it stores Adrian Brody and having him on board changed a lot of things, you know, like, you know, we want CAA to be the sales agent. I went in, screened it with their head, their film division, you know, in their screening room, you know, you know, the festivals were a lot more you know, like, and we got, you know, we got our casting director, sort of like that was saying is it top top casting director who came on board because they wanted that relationship, you know, and just all the way down the line it opened doors and opportunities. Just on top of that Adrienne is a phenomenal creative partner and and is works harder than anybody else to ensure the success of the movie, you know, which is the fringe benefit of it is not just the name, it's also what they're bringing to their name for a reason, you know, like they're bringing, you know, all this knowledge, expertise, connections, and benefits, just in terms of because they have distinguished themselves through talent and hard work, you know?

Alex Ferrari 45:24
Yeah, I was gonna ask you about clip because I saw the trailer for it. It's going to be in the show notes. If anybody wants to watch it. It looks badass. It looks really beautifully produced and beautifully shot beautifully before. I mean, it just looks like it does. It looks like a 30 or $40 million movie, which I know wasn't that budget. But not even, not even remotely close. But I'm a huge fan of it. But I'm a huge fan of Adrian's I mean, I think he's unfit for not only a phenomenal actor, but he's got that presence about him on screen. And when I saw the trailer, I was just like, Damn, man, it just looks like I am really, in honestly, looking forward to seeing it. It's like, that's a Friday night movie. That's a Saturday night movie for me. So I'm excited about how did you get involved with it? Man? How did you get involved with that project?

Daniel Sollinger 46:13
Well, first of all, please go see it. It's the best movie I've ever made, you know, and it really delivers and production value aside, you know, like, hopefully, you always want the movie to look better than the money that you had, you know, but um, but you know, the story just is just rock solid. The script was in such a great place, even before we started to, to do pre production. And then Paul solet, and this is how I got involved. So I did another movie with the CO writer director, Paul solet. called Dark summer. And, and Paul and I, you know, connected and hit it off. And then he went off to do a movie for Avi Lerner called bullet head that had Adrienne, Antonio Banderas, and John Malkovich. And through that experience, you know, him and Adrian, start talking about something that Adrian had been wanting to do for a long time, you know, create a character that that, that he doesn't, he didn't feel like he was being cast, as you know, and a lot of these projects are sort of cast centered, like, often I'll find an independent, it's very common in independent film that a movie is given birth by an actor who really feels like, either they're not getting enough recognition, and they want to raise their profile. Or, like Adrian, it's like, people think of me as just like, really sensitive guy. And, you know, I like to be a tough guy, you know, I, you know, I enjoy playing with guns, I enjoy doing, you know, these tough guy things. And, and, and so, like, this is something that he really, you know, really passionately wanted to do show this side to him, you know, it also gave him the chance to grow a beard, which, you know, you know, if you're ever in the casting process, it's always like, if the, if the actor has a beard, it's like, okay, they got to cut their beard, or else we're not gonna cast, right. Like, grow a beard, you know. And so, anyhow, so, Adrian, and Paul, like, decided they want to make this movie, you know, they had somebody that that showed the willingness to put up the budget. And, and then at Paul's contacted me said, you know, Daniel, I really think you'd be good to do this, you know, you should really meet Adrian, which was one of the most nerve racking days of my life was where, okay, you know, they were coming over to your house, you know, it's like, like, my house, like, how do I get my house? Ready for an Oscar winner? Like, do I have more dirt? Like, you know, and I have a kid, so like, it's got to be, like, clean, you know, like, I just, it was unnerving. It's like, oh, my gosh, you know, like, how do I prepare for an Oscar winner to come to my house. But as it turned out, you know, Adrian's just an angel, and it was all about the work from the moment they stepped through the door, you know, and, and I didn't have to worry about anything, like, my house was definitely fine. You know, but, but we had a conversation, you know, and, and, you know, I said, Well, you know, like, I asked, like, what other producers are on this? And they said, Well, you know, we're both going to get producer credit. But, you know, like, do we know other like, producers on unlike, you know, gosh, guys, you know, if I want to make this movie, I'd love to make this movie, but, you know, you know, producing movies, like pushing a huge rock up a hill, you know, you need to have more, you know, as many hands as you can get on it, you know, and, um, you know, and it was it and it is it's, I'm still you were coming out tomorrow. And I just sent the distributor some delivery requirements still, you know, it's still like, yeah, these hands trying to push the rock over the hill, you know, but anyhow, so that they whatever I said, or did or, you know, they seemed that I would be a good fit for the film, and, you know, and then we went off and we made it, you know,

Alex Ferrari 49:49
That's awesome, man. That's awesome. I'm so happy for you because it looks fantastic. And, you know, when you reached out to me, I'm like, Hey, I got this new movie with Adrian Brody. And do you want to do you want to have me talk about I was like, oh yeah, this would be awesome. This would be a great conversation to have you come on. Did you? Were you involved in the financing and getting raising money? Or was the money in place before?

Daniel Sollinger 50:10
I'm a physical producer. So usually, the money is in place before it comes to me. I I'm the person that can take a script through distribution and know all the all the details that what needs to go to make that happen. I have raised money on occasion but but is not really. There's, that's why I like to have a lot of producers, everybody has their strengths. There's some people that are just good rainmakers. Like I don't consider myself one of them.

Alex Ferrari 50:34
Got it. Got it that and when does it come out?

Daniel Sollinger 50:38
Tomorrow night today, which is January 28.

Alex Ferrari 50:40
So yeah, it's gonna be in theaters, there's gonna be?

Daniel Sollinger 50:43
Yeah, we're on. We're on almost 160 screens around the country, iTunes and Amazon simultaneously.

Alex Ferrari 50:50
Okay, so it's a day in day? Day in day. Okay, perfect. So it's just so you can't go watch it and rent it as well?

Daniel Sollinger 50:57
Yes, yeah. Theater, you can or you can rent it.

Alex Ferrari 51:00
Awesome. And that's awesome. Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Daniel Sollinger 51:09
You know, I would say there's nothing to it, but to do it, you know, just make movies, you know, don't wait to be greenlit, I would say that. Just do as much as you can, you know, like when I was at NYU film school, I was there, a lot of my fellow students were like, Oh, I'm not gonna PA or I'm not gonna do this. And I was like, I'll PA, I'll do that I'll do no runs up, dirty. You know, like, just do as much as you can to get in where you fit in and do as much as you can. And you'll, you'll get a network and you'll start elevating yourself. So, you know, I think and and I would say to producing as an entry level position, like you, you can start producing today, you know, you don't have to wait till you climb a ladder to get there. If you want to produce, you know, you can go and produce something right now, I guarantee you.

Alex Ferrari 51:55
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Daniel Sollinger 52:00
Hmm. Well, I, you know, what I always say is that, I don't feel like there's a lot that I need to learn about the technical aspects of filmmaking. But I've never learned enough about people, you know, if you can really focus on how to interact and with people in a way that is, like I was saying about a win win situation, or, you know, you know, if you can learn how to like, really work well, with people play well with others, you know, you will do great, you know, and so that's, I still am learning that today, you know, how to continue to like, learn how to play well with others, you know,

Alex Ferrari 52:36
Yeah, I guess I've said this 1000 times on the show, but I can never get tired of saying it. Best advice ever heard. Don't be a dick.

Daniel Sollinger 52:45
Because nobody wants to work. You know, you might get through this movie, but then nobody want to work with you on the next one.

Alex Ferrari 52:50
It is too small. It's a very small business. It's a small business, very small,

Daniel Sollinger 52:54
Very small, run into the same people over and over again.

Alex Ferrari 52:58
Yeah. And it's so funny. And now that I've been have had this show for so many years, you know, I'll watch something or I'll talk to somebody and they're like, Oh, he's on that project. He's been on the show, or I know that person I've worked with that person or this or that. I just been around you know, I've been around close to 30 years as well. So it's just like at a certain point you run into a lot of different people in business grew and don't Don't be addicted screw anybody over it will come back to my channel.

Daniel Sollinger 53:22
There are a lot of people who watch out that the film business is not for them, but the people who stay you run into those people over and over and over and over again.

Alex Ferrari 53:29
Absolutely. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Daniel Sollinger 53:33
Contact Apocalypse Now. And Lawrence of Arabia.

Alex Ferrari 53:39
Good good trio. Good. That's a good Movie Night. That's a good Movie Night.

Daniel Sollinger 53:45
Watch the whole Alien franchise from beginning to end.

Alex Ferrari 53:49
I mean, Alien and Aliens Jesus man. If you want to read a great action script near perfection is aliens Cameron's aliens it's just the script is just perfection man.

Daniel Sollinger 54:00
What's great about to you when you watch the all the movies back to back you see Ripley's character are just Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. over the over the course of the film, so that in the beginning, she's terrified of these aliens. And you know, by the third movie, she realizes that, like, Please kill me, you know, like, like, you know, like, I just keep waking up and having to deal with this. This nightmare, you know?

Alex Ferrari 54:24
Yeah, it's amazing. Daniel, thank you so much for being on the show brother. It has been a great catching up with you, man. And I think you've dropped a few knowledge bombs on the tribe today and hopefully will help some young producers and young filmmakers out there man. So thank you, my friend.

Daniel Sollinger 54:38
Well, and if you want more on Tik Tok Producer Daniels so I go every day and drop a little bomb every day. So if people want more they can get it there.

Alex Ferrari 54:45
We will put it on the show notes my friend. Thank you again. All right, man. Take care.

LINKS

SPONSORS

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

IFH 556: Blockbuster Producing Techniques in Indie Films with Sunil Perkash

Today on the show we have film producer Sunil Perkash. He’s responsible for blockbuster films like Salt starring Angelina Jolie, Premonition starring Sandra Bullock, and the Disney classic Enchanted just to name a few.

Sunil is an independent producer in Hollywood who holds a B.A. in economics and communications from Stanford University.  He began his career in 1992 working as the U.S. Production Coordinator on CRONOS, Guillemo Del Toro’s directorial debut.  He developed a number of projects at various major studios throughout his career including Second Defense with Arnold Kopelson, Exit Zero with Renny Harlin at New Line, Second Time Around at Dreamworks, Suburban Hero with Scott Rudin at Paramount, Al and Gene with Adam Shankman at Walt Disney Studios, amongst others.

In 1999, he produced  BLAST FROM THE PAST for New Line, starring Brendon Frasier, Alicia Silverstone, Sissy Spacek and Christopher Walken. He followed up with  PREMONITION for Sony, starring Sandy Bullock, which grossed more that 85 million worldwide.

Next, he produced Disney’s ENCHANTED which became a worldwide mega blockbuster grossing $340million  and received rave reviews and numerous awards, including multiple oscar and golden globe nominations. In 2009, he began principal photography on SALT, a vehicle originally developed for Tom Cruise, but transformed into a female lead for Angelina Jolie.  The film also became a worldwide blockbuster in summer of 2010, grossing $300mil!

The Wrap listed Sunil in their exclusive list “Producers Who Are Making a Mark on Hollywood” and Fade In Magazine named him one of the  prestigious ”Top 100 people to know in Hollywood.”

He is currently in post production on the big budged DISENCHANTED, a sequel to ENCHANTED for Disney Plus starring Amy Adams and Patrick Dempsey. He is also in  preproduction on BACK HOME, a science fiction thriller to be directed by award winning director Ivan Mena with ICM on board to represent for festivals/sales.

Perkash is also developing a number of projects including a sequel to SALT at Sony with producer Lorenzo Dibonaventura, the Western biopic with award winning director Hughes William Thompson and Travel Back East written by Enchanted scribe Bill Kelly and to be directed by Alan Ritchson.

As the film landscape has changed Sunil has changed along with it. He decided to start producing independent films while he still worked and developed studio projects.

His latest indie film is Last Survivors.

Last Survivors takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where Troy (Stephen Moyer) raised his now grown son, Jake (Drew Van Acker), in a perfect wooded utopia thousands of miles away from the decayed cities. When Troy is severely wounded, Jake is forced to travel to the outside world to find life-saving medicine. Ordered to kill any humans he encounters, Jake defies his father by engaging in a forbidden relationship with a mysterious woman, Henrietta (Alicia Silverstone). As Jake continues this dangerous affair, Troy will do anything to get rid of Henrietta and protect the perfect utopia he created.

We discuss what is was like jumping from $100+ budgets to $1.5 million, how he attaches talent and how he packages his indie films for investors. Enjoy my conversation with Sunil Perkash. 

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 Sunil Perkash how you doin Sunil?

Sunil Perkash 0:14
I'm doing great. How about you, Alex?

Alex Ferrari 0:16
I'm doing great, my friend, thank you so much for coming on the show. I really, I really appreciate it. I'm a fan of many of the films that you've done, and had been a part of, so I'm excited to kind of get into the weeds with you about this. Love it. So how, how and why did you get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Sunil Perkash 0:35
Oh, that's a wonderful question. I'm very early on, like, I mean, I came from India, when I was three with my immigrant parents, they were their doctors, we came to the early 70s. And really early on, like when I was seven, I saw Star Wars probably five times in the theater and I just loved it. And I just got had this incredible fascination for films both. You know, in the theater on television, I remember watching Gone With the Wind when I was like, nine years old on like, some arcade channel, UHF, or whatever it's called. And just going these movies like they transport you there, just so you know, they leave you like feeling better about yourself. They're so entertaining. And while my parents were always like, go be a doctor, my brother's a doctor. I was always like, I want to make movies. And my senior year when I was a undergraduate at Stanford, I saw dances of the wolves three times in the theater. And I just said to myself, I love this movie, it moves me so profoundly. I'm going to move to LA the day I graduate and see what happens. And that's why I decided to come into film.

Alex Ferrari 1:42
Do you know the story behind how that script got made?

Sunil Perkash 1:46
Dances of wolves?

Alex Ferrari 1:47
Yeah,

Sunil Perkash 1:47
I don't.

Alex Ferrari 1:48
It is a fascinating, I just heard Kevin Costner tell this story the other day, Kevin was saying that he had this friend of his, who was not in the business, who was staying with him. And he kept trying to get his scripts out and he was trying to help them and he just kept saying these get rejections and all of a sudden, he's like, you know, it's this town's problem is not mine. He started like, bad mouthing people that Kevin was like, you know, Kevin was opening the doors for him. And finally, the the Kevin like literally put hands on him and threw him against the wall. He's like, I need you to leave my house. He moved to Arizona somewhere and was working as a short order cook. Wow. But he'd worked on this script and left it behind. Is it Kevin? Have you read that script that left you know, I haven't read I'm not gonna read it. And it kept pounding until we finally read it it was Dances with Wolves.

Sunil Perkash 2:40
Love that. So much of it is like these weird you know, smiling on you to get a movie made it's it's such an impossible task in any which way possible.

Alex Ferrari 2:50
No, absolutely. And he went and he won the Oscar for both Kevin and one and, and the writer yet the Oscar for it was pretty. When I heard that. I was like, Man, that is just serendipity. And that's it.

Sunil Perkash 3:01
It's a great story and to make you know, it's an all time classic. You know, what a beautiful story.

Alex Ferrari 3:06
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Now, there's, um, when you first got started in the business you worked on as a production coordinator on Kronos, is that correct?

Sunil Perkash 3:17
Absolutely. There was a girl in my senior year dorm. She was a sophomore, her father knew a producer. He wasn't that prolific and he hasn't done a lot since either really nice guy. But he basically needed an assistant. So I moved to LA that was the only job I got. I didn't know anybody or anything. And he literally was, you know, working on this film Kronos. So I was driving when I was 21 years old, I was driving Giro del Toro, all over Los Angeles. Like, he was so passionate then to just you know, this is before obviously, any of it. And I learned a lot on working on that film for that year, I learned so much of this businesses, who you know, I have a lot of assistant friends who are assistants at the big agencies, and even the struggles that like my former boss and Guillermo were having even when the film was done, none of it was easy, but I just learned so much about like, you know, it's having a piece of material getting the financing back then it was a little bit more the studios and it sort of set me up I literally after a year of that job went off on my own to pursue finding material and doing it all the rest of my career was I'm going to do this on my own

Alex Ferrari 4:28
Now watching you know, get you on set obviously with with um Cronos?

Sunil Perkash 4:33
I wasn't they Sean Mexico, but we did prep here and we did post here so I was like, dealing with the dailies. I was very involved in every aspect of it, you know, and just is a young guy out of college just to see how a script would like come to life on screen and the dailies in the editing. what a what a just amazing experience for me, like very early on,

Alex Ferrari 4:53
Right. And Guillermo wasn't that much older than you at that point, was it?

Sunil Perkash 4:58
No, he wasn't that much older and This was his first movie, he worked your visual effects. Practical. Exactly. And that he was just really passionate, he loved food, he loved movies, like when I'd drive him around, we just talk about, like, all the movies he loved and hated. And I love the way like, I hated that, or I love that.

Alex Ferrari 5:20
That's awesome. Now, you know, you've done a lot in your career, is there any thing you wish you would have? Someone would have told you at the beginning of your career, that you're like, hey, this is gonna this is gonna be this are some some piece of advice that you wish you would have. It's interesting.

Sunil Perkash 5:36
Early on, I would take every class I could to meet people because I understood that like networking was something I knew nobody here. So through that process, I got some I met like, like I go to a seminar and pitching seminars at a high level exempt from Universal back then you'd write them a letter, they would, you know, meet with you three months later, you know, on their schedule. Not always. And that's where probably got some of the best advice, I would say, Nina Jacobson, who is, you know, she used to run Disney, she went on to produce Hunger Games, crazy. Asians, one of the most successful producers, formerly one of the highest level studio execs very early on, she said, to me, be the best at what you can be be better than everybody else differentiated. Why is what you're bringing me at Universal, she was a senior vice president universal, good to get me excited. We have deals with so many producers. So you know, we're getting almost everything we need, how do you break through the noise, and have something that actually, you know, excites us or excites me. And I took that advice back then really, really, really well. It worked very early on, I would almost say it's more middle of my career, as I started having a little bit of success. I probably didn't understand how important marketing and you know, media, like, you know, even social media, all of these outlets to help promote your movies and build your business. You know, it'd be more mid career thing about like, don't underestimate I know a lot of filmmakers who don't want to be on Instagram, be on Instagram, you shoot an interesting commercial, put it on your Instagram, you know, go follow as many people as you can there. You know, don't underestimate the internet, and promotion and media at my biggest events.

Alex Ferrari 7:21
So now when you were jumping from being a production coordinator, to being an EP, which I think your first movie was a blast from the past, but you were the first yep, you're right. I would love that movie. By the way. I remember watching that one. It was so so much. The great Christopher Walken and a great cast. They you know, the old saying is like it's easy to be a millionaire. It's just got to make that first million. It's easy to be a producer. It's just got to produce that first big thing. How did you get that first big break hasn't?

Sunil Perkash 7:51
What what I started doing after I left the job with my former boss and working on Kronos. I started meeting a lot of young writers, but in the meantime, and this was sort of a crucial thing. My system friends at the agencies were sending me 20 scripts a week this sold a paramount this sold to Disney. Tom Cruise came on to this. You know, Spielberg likes this script. They said Smeal read 1000 scripts over six months, and you'll get a sense and then find young writers and find something going to need to Jacobson's advice better than what you're reading that's already in the establishment. And I did that I'd literally for every night read probably 20 scripts, in height at cafes, and you got a sense of what Hollywood thought was a good script. And I back then met a bunch of young writers and I started developing scripts with them and just sending it to anyone who would read them. But very quickly. Again, Nina's advice is very good. I got really promising feedback like high level execs were saying this is really strong material. The first thing I sold was when I was 24. It was a script that Kurt Wimmer wrote called second defense to new line, Mike DeLuca. Back then bought it. I was partnered with Arnold Coulson. And then a year later an executive Mary parent really, really responded to this old script of mine, not old, two years old, called looking for Eve. And that ultimately became lost for the past. So I was I'd sold in chanted in 97. So I was doing very well setting up projects at the major studios, like some weren't getting made. But again, it was sort of this philosophy of, you know, what is the studio already have. So while I bring them something that they don't have, that they may be interested in, you know, it was always sort of, and BLAS was the first one that got greenlit with Brendan alessian. Yes, I mean, just watching Sissy and Chris Walken work back then two Oscar winners. It was it was amazing. I learned again, so much as on that set every day of production. All my movies I've developed either from scratch or very early on like it's I'm a creative producer first and foremost. Although through the years I've learned everything about physical production. You know, again, marketing your finished film is as important as making a good film.

Alex Ferrari 10:04
But you're more in in the sense of setting up with studios as opposed to doing independence or raising your own money about the early part of your career.

Sunil Perkash 10:11
In the early early part, it was all studio movies. You know, salt was Columbia Pictures. Again, that was an old script that I'd been around for about eight years, and we had no traction and through weird kind of confluence of events, I'd given it to Sony who I was and posted premonition and they loved it. And they loved it so much. They knew that if they put even a small offer on it, other people are going to start bidding on it. So they ended up buying it, I want to say for $2.8 million to the writer. Wow. And everything, you know, premonition was an independent film through Hyde Park. But we have Sony in for distribution early. So really function like a studio film. You know, it wasn't a way later in my career that I started doing independent film.

Alex Ferrari 11:00
Now, how did you find in chance, because we had bill on the bill on the website. We interviewed him a while ago, from enchanted. How did you get involved in that project because that's such a wonderful film.

Sunil Perkash 11:13
Bill and I developed that from ground up. It was it was actually I'm sure he told you the story that it started out as like a nun leaving a convent. And it wasn't working as a nun leaving a convent. And so somewhere it became, because the whole idea again, I love stories, somatic underpinnings. And we were really intrigued by this idea. Again, in the late 90s, it took a long time to get the film made. But it took the idea that there was no innocence left and kids and kind of a modern day Sound of Music, but it just wasn't clicking. And somewhere we realize like, what if it was a fairytale character. And again, this was a spec script we developed and sold to Disney. Ultimately, it was a fairy tale character, not a Disney princess. So once Disney obviously bought it into the many years, I'm sure Bill told you he was replaced early on. And then seven years later, we brought him back, went back to his draft and in four weeks, you know, there's the draft that was greenlit, and ultimately, the brilliant Kevin Lima heavenly miss such a brilliant director. He obviously brought his, you know, many specific little tweaks and all of that to it. But it was pretty much how it got made. And like all my with the exception of, you know, sequels, everything I do, I like to develop from ground up. Because if you have a creative point of view from the beginning, you can actually always sort of know what's right or wrong as you're going away on an instinctive level.

Alex Ferrari 12:37
And now and now the sequel for enchanted is is imposed right now, right?

Sunil Perkash 12:40
We shot the sequel in Ireland, and it's in post and it's for Disney plus and could not be, there's something just so humbling that something we created and had such a struggle to get made. Back then people thought it doesn't quite fit the family model, because it's really an adult romantic comedy, but it's not enough of an adult romantic comedy. In the original spec that we sold and five other studios did on it. She's actually hired as a stripper like we're a little race here, the spec that we wrote, you know, like, obviously, that has to be toned down now that you're Disney. But it's it's really humbling that the movie is a bonafide classic. You know, it's, it's, it's, I'm told by Disney and by just just you feel it out there. It's become a classic. And there's something just beautiful about that. That's why I came to make movies, you know?

Alex Ferrari 13:28
Yeah, I mean, my kids. I mean, we just showed it to our kids, I think probably less than a year ago. And and they're young, very young, and they are fascinated with it. They just loved love the music and love the characters. And Amy Adams is absolutely brilliant. You should have won an Oscar for that performance,

Sunil Perkash 13:44
She should have won an Oscar for that performance. And at day two of production, I was in New York for the production as well that I was like, she's gonna win an Oscar and everyone thought I was crazy. The thing about all of these, a lot of what I work on is it is newer talent. We fought very hard with Nina Jacobson, who then ran Disney who's lovely, and one of the most again, brilliant executive producers I've ever, you know, worked with. You know, Amy was an unknown she hadn't had her on or not yet for dooba Yeah, she was she was sort of an up and comer with a little bit of profile, but it really was a risk that I don't think a studio would take today. It just, you know, to to $80 million film, you know, resting on somebody who really is, you know, just freaking out in that kind of way. So it was fast that a smaller budget Sure, but it was you know, we were a big budget film back then. But and Nina loved her audition for Oscar not actually happened. I think I want to say like end of February and we shot in April. I was actually in Shreveport, shooting, shooting a premonition. And I that morning I was up because two hours ahead there. They announced that I was in the weight room going wow. Like this is unbelievable. I want to argue, and I'm not saying this is the case that the profile of putting a knee in our movie helped Junebug. Does that make sense? Of course it did. Of course, in the fall before that movie was released that sort of created a snowball effect.

Alex Ferrari 15:13
You see that with a lot of talent that you know, they have their little breakout and then they get put into a studio and just all the marketing and the everything that gets pushed into a studio movie, for it raises their profile I happen to Oh, God. Hunger Games I can't carry. I can't believe I can't remember her name. Jennifer LA. Yeah. Jennifer Lawrence. Yeah, with with that with a Winter's Bone. Like all of a sudden now. She, she was like, oh, wait a minute. And all that press went on to that little indie film? Yeah, it happens. No question. Now, you've worked with a lot of amazing directors. What is it that you look for as a producer in a director, caliber collaborator, as a director?

Sunil Perkash 15:52
I mean, today, and again, I've just made four indie films at 1,000,005 budgets. So the answer is going to be different than what it would have been probably five or six years ago. I want a director with a real vision, who's open to feedback, but also has strong opinions. You know, where it's a collaborative, give and take. But I, I really do want directors like I love working with Kevin Lima, He's my close friend on enchanted. I love working with Phillip Noyce on salt. He's another very close friend of mine, brilliant, brilliant man. You know, directors who come to the table, who bring something special and unique with their vision that I just could never come up with. You know, I don't, I don't want to work with directors where I'm the one, you know, and I've never had this where I'm the one providing a vision because I don't I'm the my favorite days of production, especially on location is, I don't even know if I should say this is it's going so well. And at four o'clock, Sunil can go back to the hotel worked out and then go, you know, either, you know, go to bed early or have a martini in the hotel.

Alex Ferrari 16:56
If you want a machine that's running so well that you don't have to be there unless you have to be

Sunil Perkash 17:01
And it's rarely that it usually is. Kevin Lima actually get disappointed when I would leave some days. I'm like, Kevin, there's nothing for me to do. It's running. I mean, it's just his musical number in Central Park. I don't need to watch every cake. It's perfect. Like,

Alex Ferrari 17:18
I'm good. I'll see. I'll see you tomorrow morning.

Sunil Perkash 17:21
I'll see you later. I think directors, the more it's been really fun from gumming, even Hugh Wilson, you know, the late Hugh Wilson was a good friend of mine, I love working with him on blast from the past. He Kevin and fill up our Veteran Experience talented directors, and I just learned so much from them. Like there's so many, you know, little tricks of the trade, so to speak, whereas the newer directors interesting to see they all kind of you know, I think there's no criticism fell into the same traps, if that makes sense. You know?

Alex Ferrari 17:55
Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, yeah, I've I mean, I've been directly for 20 odd years, and I completely understand things that I fell into before and, and now would never even look into, but those are things that just time happens. It happens in time that you just start doing that. And after speaking to so many of these, you know, legendary directors on the show, sometimes they'll just drop some nuggets. I'm like, Oh, my God, I never thought of how to direct an actor like that brought a pull up performance. Like that's amazing.

Sunil Perkash 18:21
It's Phillip Noyce always taught me something early on on salt, which is, it's not absolute. And how do I say this, like, you got to look at what the actor looks like, what their personality is, who they are as a person. And then you give the direction? You know, it's, it's, it's certain actors have a face where if they say something, just normal, it comes off too much. You know, like, it's a lot of different things. And I found that fascinating. I never have had a director explain that to me. You know, it's like, and it was fascinating, because I think a lot of directors think there's an absolute truth to performance. Whereas like, one of the things that I would say is, it's ultimately what cuts together and feels great for the story you're telling. The actor doesn't necessarily, like Phillip loved, sometimes saying to the actor, you know, be more charming. And the actors, like, the scene isn't charming. And you'd be like, still, I don't want them to be charming, but if they go charming, it'll make it perfect. You know, it's, it's finding what you need for editing versus an academic truth. And I find that really interesting. I'm a little Hitchcock that way to what makes the movie Good versus purity is where I'm at.

Alex Ferrari 19:35
Right, exactly. And you might push. I remember talking to John Sayles, and he was talking about giving the actors two different motivations quietly, and then let them have to battle it out without them knowing that they were battling it out.

Sunil Perkash 19:49
Yes, yes, absolutely. And, and then you go the flip side where Amy Adams was so good. I mean, she had audition for the role one of 500 girls who'd audition She was perfect. She was her audition was a homerun 10 out of 10, which is how we convince the studio, that she was that good every day. I've never seen like that character, it was just amazing. And Kevin was like, there's nothing to direct, it's outside of blocking, there's no, she's perfect, you know. So it's also knowing when to say nothing, you know, it's all of these different, you know, ways of sort of, whereas I, you know, how do I say it's like, I think the more veteran directors who all been burned in all aspects of making a movie, the one thing they care the most about is the movie wins. You know, I think I love, you know, I loved enthusiasm. Newer directors would always say to newer directors, make sure it's not about validation, make sure it's about the movie working, because ultimately, no one really cares how you feel. They care if the movie works succeeds. And all of the above, you know,

Alex Ferrari 20:53
Right. And sometimes you have to just get when you're a younger director, you're looking at more of like, the cool shot, or the ego is heading where as a veteran directors, like, I've already proven myself, I could everybody can make a really cool, cool shot. Let's tell the story properly, and let's make it for the best for the move for the film. Not so out of all your projects. You know, as a director, you know, there's always that day, that everything's falling apart, that you're losing the sun, the camera falls, the actor breaks or something happens was, is there a moment in your career that you can remember? And how did you as a producer overcome that moment?

Sunil Perkash 21:34
I mean, there's always tons of challenges, I would say, one of the biggest challenges is when on a set, people start to just rewrite the script, kind of willy nilly, you know, like, you'll be, and it's happened, the least on salt, because for a variety of reasons, but it definitely happens. And that's been always a challenge, because then you like, you change the stuff, and then it's not working. And then oftentimes, I've had to come in and say, we spent so much time on the script, why do we think in this moment, we're gonna come up with something better, you know, it's more problems like that, I'm trying to think like, like, chanted was a really, really smooth shoot, like, the bigger budget shoots, you know, because there's money behind you with the studio, it's not as horrible. I'm making my latest film in Montana, in the cold frigid mountains of beautiful Montana, here's a little bit of a freak out when like, you know, it's a whiteout snowstorm, by the way, we just shoot it. And I would be standing there in the middle of the freezing, so, but stuff like that would definitely you know, you have to handle it. And part of producing is also staying calm, and solving the problem with a creative bent. Because ultimately, you know, on the bigger movies, you can throw a little bit of money to solve a problem on a smaller movie, you really have to find it through your creativity.

Alex Ferrari 22:56
Now there are I mean, there are times in when you're working on projects, that actors or the the politics of the set or the crew, there's some element that's off, meaning that they're either acting up they had a bad day, egos get out of way, can you talk a bit how to handle that? What advice would you give on handling a situation of like, you know, set politics or things like that.

Sunil Perkash 23:22
There's always that politics. You know, anytime you have a group of people like this, you get a certain political highschool meats, hierarchy stuff going on. I think the best way is, honestly keep it about the creative first, within the budget, you have, you know, stay calm, you know, what are we trying to say? Let's get it done. You know, it should never be about the panic, because as a producer, you've got to sort of set the tone for we can make it work. No one, it's good. No one is bad. And don't let any of it get to you. Because there can be a lot of a lot of politics going on on the set in every which way possible.

Alex Ferrari 24:03
Now, when you were working with, like Christopher Walken, Sandy Bullock, you know, Angelina, as a producer, what kind of thrill is it to work with actors of that caliber, even a band at that caliber? Just being around them and seeing them work? I mean, not everybody gets that experience. What is it like working with them on that level?

Sunil Perkash 24:25
I mean, let me start by saying amazing beyond. I mean, it's, it's all of these are Oscar winning actors, you know, like, they're, I'm so fortunate to have worked with so many Oscar winning actors, and they're really, really good and really professional. Probably the thing I would say is that I had to learn was, remember, you're the producer of the movie and take yourself out of being a fanboy, and that they're a huge star. That's something that I think a lot of people including probably myself early in my career, you have a little bit of trouble with, you know, Phillip Noyce on salt would do this thing were often him and Andrew B talk when he called me over. And he would say, What do you think of that last take? And I would just like, by the time I got to salt, I was sort of prepared for this. I'll be very honest, sometimes, you know, they were disagreeing, but I didn't know who was thinking what and he wanted my honest opinion. And that's probably, to me really fascinating working with this cat caliber of actors and actresses. They just want it to be really good too. That's all you know, they're there, that the professionalism these movie stars bring to the table is unbelievable, just and how much they care. You know, Sandra Bullock cared so much Angie cared so much Amy cared so much, you know, Kristen, sissy, all of them. It's too intelligent for Leah, even. You know, it's it's. So when I meet actors today, when I see them care this much. And by the way, Alicia Silverstone cares, I just made a movie with her and Stephen Moyer and Drew vanacker, they care that much, it's it's fascinating. That's what you want, you know, they're not looking to be coddled, they're looking to be great,

Alex Ferrari 26:13
Right. And that's the key of working with actors of that caliber, they because at the end of the day, it is their face on the on the poster, it is their performance up there, and they want to make sure looks as best. They they're not paycheck actors, meaning that they don't just show up for a paycheck, they're there, because they really care about the work.

Sunil Perkash 26:31
Absolutely. And I think when you're younger or newer to the game, you want to kiss up to them. And it's the wrong thing to do, because you're actually creating a wall once. Most actors I know, well, who have celebrity and fame, the last thing they want in a professional setting is someone kissing up to them, you know, because again, they want it to be good. You know, they all know they're really good actors, they don't need a confidence. They've all you know, had a certain level of fame, and especially the Oscar winner. So that's, that's what was really and just watching each of their craft in a different way. You know, some actors are very instinctive, some are very much needing kind of an intellectual thing to back up what they do. Again, not Phillip Noyce was really big on very simple direction on set just more charming, a little bit, you know, keep it very simple, he would argue, workshop, the script up till production, and then just go as simple as possible, you know, get them there quickly. SEPs aren't the time to talk about when they were five years old, their parent abandoned them, and they never liked their stepmother. And, you know, the school, they went to force them to eat a food they were allergic to. Now, now do the same, you know, it's, again, there's no right or wrong. It's ultimately what works, you know, and I'll always say there's no right or wrong, it's always the opinion. And I think, going to your point of working with all these different actors through the years, you get develop an instinct where you're almost instinctively working with it, as opposed to anything else, you know?

Alex Ferrari 28:00
Very much. So now, you've just finished doing, do your new movie Last Survivor. And you just mentioned that you've done a bunch of films at a lower budget than you're normally used to. They're not all salt budgets, essentially.

Sunil Perkash 28:14
No! Probably a day or two days of salt. Two days of shooting salt his entire budget.

Alex Ferrari 28:20
Which, which, which is interesting, because I mean, you came up at a time when the studios were basically the only game in town really, and it wasn't, and they weren't making as many movies and a movie like blast them from the past would get made by a studio, which would never get paid by studios. Never Never in a million years, but

Sunil Perkash 28:38
I'm not sure any of them would today, to be honest, because they all had a risky factor. Even enchanted. As I was saying earlier. It's not quite a romantic comedy, right. That's what makes it a family film. It's like it's it's for everybody. Salt, you don't know if you're rooting for or against her, which was a bit of a challenge. Why it took me a minute to get that going. And, you know, again, I like those risks today studios, wouldn't that make salt an enchanted but for a third of the budget? It wouldn't be that nobody I feel wants to take a risk. I mean, salt had a massive budget, you know, north of, like, north of 100 100 million. Yeah, like a massive, massive budget and chanted, I think we you know, somewhere around 80 ish, 70 to 80,000. That is a big budget films back then. And this is obviously pre rebate. So they got some rebate back shooting in New York. The studios did. But yeah, um, by the early 2010, I'm like what I want to make, it's just not going to get made. Everything is changing. And like, it's very hard to get a movie made at a studio. We're developing and champions equal. We're developing assault sequel. You know, I had a pilot at ABC. I had a movie with Phillip Noyce, and Liam Hemsworth at relativity, and just nothing was getting made. I'm like, I'm sitting in meetings and more meetings and Talking in meetings and it got very sort of like frustrating. And I realized I know nothing about independent film. Maybe I should try it. I don't know. And, and that's sort of where I shifted. I still do the big ones. And I still have a bunch of big ones I want to do. But that's where 2016 I raised a million and a half and went off and made this charming little film gem called divorce party in Savannah and do like, independent film is like learning an entirely new different language. Oh, yeah. Like, you know, my third indie, we did a hair and makeup test in the hotel, little room at the downstairs in upstate New York, and almost a who cleans up after this, and everyone looks at me, and I, you know, found back. Like, I was so fascinated, there's just no infrastructure, you know, so you're, and I learned so much. Yeah, it's a completely in and, you know, that year in 2016, to end 2017, I then got to more made raised money. And I didn't know what I was doing. I didn't even understand what you do with distribution. I didn't understand any of it. But I learned so much. And that's a lot of my life. I love learning every day, you learn more. And so you know, every day as I get older, I get to know more of what I don't know. And I love learning how, you know, new things, you know, I sort of mastered the studio system. Now, it's really fun to, you know, do independent film.

Alex Ferrari 31:29
Right. And I imagine, yeah, I mean, coming down from like, you know, north of $100 million budget to who's cleaning up here? You are? Yeah, must have been a shock. But do you feel that there's, you know, the studios aren't doing what they used to. So the now I see a lot of producers like yourselves who did have early success within the studio system. And they're leveraging that success to get into independent projects. And even at the five to 10 to $15 million budgets. And at that budget, there have to be certain genres and certain stars attached to get to that point. But, you know, the $40 million movie is almost, it's almost an extinct, it's, I mean, that's a

Sunil Perkash 32:11
7 million dollar film today.

Alex Ferrari 32:13
Right! Exactly. So the $40 million movie today would have been probably the 80 to $100 million film, but it has to have Bruce Willis in it, or it has someone like that.

Sunil Perkash 32:25
Absolutely. It's just look, there's different forms of the independent world, there's the foreign sales driven, where you get your financing by putting a star, which a lot of it is, there's some room to play around, like, in ways that I think I've sort of learned, you know, all the big agencies have very, very successful independent departments now, where they rep independent films. My last film last survivors was represented by ICM spider vention was repped. By back then it was called endeavour content. They broken off from W me. And I even learned that that you know, having if you can get an agency to wrap your film one of the big agencies, it just changes where you're at, you know, it's it's a very in there too many independent films. It's almost like the spec script of 1995 is the independent film of 2022. It everyone seems to be making independent films. So there's just too many movies out there. So again, taking Nina Jacobs advice, how do you make something that breaks through the noise? And when it does, it feels really good? Because you took something with zero profile, you know, zero awareness around town. And you actually start to see it catch on. Yeah, it's just unbelievable, you know, without the marketing heft of a studio.

Alex Ferrari 33:47
I love I'm gonna steal that quote that night. The specs grip of 95 is like the independent film of today, because you're absolutely right before, it is impossible to make an independent film. That's why the mariachis and the clerks of the 90s was such a big deal. Like, Oh, you made a movie for 30,000. Yes, it was the beginnings of the shift. That yes, now anybody can make a movie for between five and you know, million dollars comfortably?

Sunil Perkash 34:10
Yeah, yeah. Cameras are cheap. You're not doing it on film anymore. So it's, it's, and there's no there's too many of them. Not saying it's easy to raise a million a million half. Yeah. Easy ever. It's always climbing Mount Everest with an anchor attached to a rock, always. But a lot of people can, you know, like, it's, you know, you get four or five people that believe in a filmmaker, you could probably and then you get the rebate. It's it's all doable. So there's just a lot of independent films, and I'm not sure the distributors, you know, a lot of the distributors that are very good will distribute these films, but the economics of these smaller films, it's very tough to make them make sense, you know, right. It's, it's very, very sort of, I don't even know what to say when like, a writer director will, you know, send me a script and say, Sunil, I know this isn't for you. But it's a lovely romantic comedy, over 24 hours of people who meet at a cafe quirky. And I raised 400,000. And you're just like, it's going to be very, very difficult to get to recoup unless it plays at a major festival. But you're not known. You're short, didn't put like, it's, it's, it's all I'm not. It's just weird thing that I always say like, it's impossible and doable at the same time. And going back to your What advice would I give, that is what I always remind people, it's totally doable, impossible, juxtaposed with, it's impossible. And remember that, and it's that thing, Linda said, in her book, don't ride a mule backwards, or a horse backwards, you know, look at the marketplace and understand how you're competing within that marketplace.

Alex Ferrari 35:45
I mean, I always give advice to filmmakers in regards to budgets, and I'm like, look, oh, I got a $3 million budget, I'm like, every dollar that you go over a million dollars in today's world, is it's it's gonna it to get it to recoup that money, not to make a profit, to recoup that money is so difficult. Adding stars helps certain things, how, but then you got to make sure your proper distribution channels, because if you go into the wrong distribution channel, you'll never get paid, and so on and so forth. So you're I mean, you've been playing in this field now for a little bit while you're still you're still dealing with the streamers and building other projects out there. Is there is there any advice you can give to filmmakers about how they can raise money at the What did you say like $1.5 million, because that's a sweet spot. That's a sweet spot kind of budget, depending on the genre and talent attached,

Sunil Perkash 36:33
I think you've got to put a lot of effort into making sure your project is unique, not just more of the same. I read way too many scripts sent to me by newer directors. It's not that they're bad. But they're sort of linear thrillers that you've seen before that really are a $10,000 $50,000 film, and they'll like look at No Country for Old Men, but that was the Coen Brothers, you know, like, it's quadruple standard. It's like, you know, what people who have established track records can do is not necessarily, and I'm not saying that in a bad way. But make sure your script is differentiated, elevated, I would probably say which I didn't fully get early on either my nd when I did this, but I've learned it now. Make sure it can play at some festivals, you know, don't try to compete with what the studios are doing. So don't try to make a million dollar visual effects film that competes with the Marvel movie because you're not going to win, you know, make it more we barely see the alien, you know, it's almost like two eyes. That's it really artistic. That would be my advice, and then that get a really good teaser, rip reel made or a teaser, shoot footage. But make sure it's really good because I get a lot that honestly, you're just okay, you know, they're good isn't good enough. And then, honestly, you got to get someone within the business, you got to get a cast someone attached. That's how you raise money, even on the indie level. You know, I've made three movies with an actor who I'm really love working with a guy named Drew vanacker, he was on Pretty Little Liars. The first film lifelike that, you know, we met with, we loved him, we put him on the financing was a little shaky. He laughs right now because he's like, he thought he came onto a finance home. But even these are always a little like, but once he was on, it was not that hard to raise it because there you know, it's a it's a huge show. And everyone's daughter, who we went to, it's like they're obsessed with it, and him. And so it was get a cast. And again, that budget was it was a million budget million two, somewhere in there. You know, a big amount of that budget came from the New York rebate. So when you're trying to just raise 600,000 It's not the hardest thing to get three people who want to get into film to put 200 200 200 with a cast, it's cast start with a piece of material and visual stuff, a visual reel that really excites people, you know, it's uh, it's probably for me the biggest. And again, I'm not trying to you know, anyone I know seeing this, I'm not talking about you, but I just get a lot of stuff. That's fine. It's good. It's,

Alex Ferrari 39:05
I mean, I think the conversation is like good is not good enough. Great is the beginning of the conversation. Yeah. And you're competing with other great. But that's, that's the start of the conversation. That's not the that's where the beginning is. And I mean, people understand that, like, Oh, this is a really good script. We've got piled, I've read 1000s of scripts. Yeah, that are good. I've read her good, great scripts that I'm like this put in this guy's hand or this guy's hand. As a director of put this cast in. That's an Oscar winning script. Like you did so good. I'm sure you've read those as well.

Sunil Perkash 39:36
Absolutely. Absolutely. And again, why is it unique? Because you do need agents and managers, you got to get a piece of tasks into it, in my humble opinion, before you're ever gonna really have money locked in. I mean, that's probably every independent film Toby every studio film to no one really makes the movie without knowing the cast unless it's an IP, like Hunger Games or Twilight or something.

Alex Ferrari 39:59
Right and there's There's a difference between backyard independent, like Richard Linklater says like, if you're gonna go make your backyard independent for five or 10, or $20,000. That's a whole other conversation, do whatever the hell you want at that, budget whatever the hell you want. Yeah, make art.

Sunil Perkash 40:15
It's, it's I, I know, lately, a lot of filmmakers, and especially after sort of last survivors, I'm getting a lot of indie filmmakers coming my way as well. And again, what I'm seeing is some of them make interesting first films. But again, they're micro budget films that played at festivals even. But their material thereafter, I just wished it was more differentiated from everything else. Never forget, the marketplace is probably my best advice. You know, I think it's very easy to get into this mode of, oh, you know, if you know, Chris Hemsworth read this, I know He loved it

Alex Ferrari 40:51
Will Smith joined forces, this will be an amazing movie

Sunil Perkash 40:55
I heard so many people tell me through the years, like Sunil, I know if Angelina read this, she would love it. And, um, I don't want to get into them, but you don't really know her, you know, her from interviews, you know, like, it's, she's a lovely, lovely person, but there's, you know, it's, it's a lot tougher to get cast, and get it going. And then once your movies done, make sure it's good. Once that's done, you know, make sure like, if you're not an editor, maybe don't edit your first film, you know, like, give up a little bit of the control. Like, you don't have to be debt directing, isn't dictating, it's making a great movie and know, when it's all your stuff. And their days, you're wrong admitted, you know, those are sort of my things I've observed.

Alex Ferrari 41:37
Now, tell me a little bit about, we've talked a little bit about your new movie, the last survivor, but how did you get that one off the ground. And I'd love that you brought back, Alicia from blast from the literally blasphemer in the class that she's now What a hell of a circle that you guys made.

Sunil Perkash 41:53
And it's um, it's such a hell of a circle. It's in what a pleasure to work with her. She's so good in the movie. And it's another script I developed from scratch with the writer. He was fascinated with preppers. And we sort of came up with this idea, which I thought was fascinating about like the idea of again, I'm giving a lot away here but a metaphorical apocalypse, you prepare yourself for that, without giving too much away about the movie. There's some reveals at the end of Act One. But it became a story about a father raising his son and a son's kind of affair with another survivalist living off the grid, and how that threatened a little utopia that we're creating. And the script always right away. Like the studio's really liked it. I had a lot of love the script at a very high level. But it was again at that time in 2017 1617. Somewhere there, this kind of genre film isn't really needed a studio unless like an eight a Guillermo del Toro wants to do it or someone really big, but you're not getting the biggest director in Hollywood, you do an unknown writer's first script. You know, that's an original script like that. So ultimately, I just finished by intervention, I really enjoyed a Dremel raise enthusiasm. I gave him a bunch of my things. He loved it. I gave it to Drew vanacker, he loved it. And that's where we sort of came together. And it was Alyssia UTA agent who thought is one of the best scripts he'd read, send it to her, had her meet, she loved it. I'd actually met Stephen Moyer at a table read on salt when it was Tom Cruise, it was a male before was a female. So they both really passionate and you know, we had a little ups and downs, the financing, then the pandemic put it on hold, but then it kind of came together. And we had a little window in December and I scotch tape the financing together as I put it, you know, and there we were in Montana, but I'll say I made three indie films. So on this one, it was like, you know, we were very aware of production value. And, you know, making sure we had everything we needed. We hired you know, Mr. Ray was great to work with he edited spy on his own. He was like, I don't think I should edit. This one. We got a veteran young guy that a veteran editor who just come off Palm Springs, you know, but really, really good editor who. And again, editing isn't what a lot of young directors think it is. It's never about the shot. It's about the story and the characters a Superman. And that's the problem. And again, Neil Travis, who won the Oscar for Dances with Wolves, edited one of the editors on premonition he would edit. Almost like playing a musical instrument. You just look at the footage, and there'd be not a rhyme or reason and you go to these things. And it would come together with a beautiful, lyrical way to tell the story. But it wasn't like thought like I like this shot and then I'm going to go to this shot. And that because he learned back on film, we get to figure it all out magically in your head. Otherwise you're slicing forever. That's what Bradley was and this movie was you know, we got you know, I jumped on a sword with a color correction with all these different people. To like, really make sure we made this movie. You know, it's a, it's a modestly budgeted film. And I learned from my other three films, look, they've all done okay, one sold a Lions Gate, the other to send a dime. But I wanted this one to impact knowing what I knew now versus then. And we were just, I mean, we're so fortunate to world premiere Fright Fest, they flipped over the movie, in Leicester Square in London, we played at Leeds International Film Festival vertical, a top boutique distributor came in, in a very, very real way and souped it up. And we're, you know, the cast loves it. Alyssia it's one of the great pleasures of my life to work with her again, she's one of the sweetest, most talented joys as his lawyer by the way, this was a cast and vanacker He and I, you know, we're good friends, we're doing a bunch of things together in the future. It was sort of a dream to see this cast common, you know, they all had triple bangers, little tiny trailers that you know, is not really enough for, you know, anybody that conditions tough shoot in the eye hole, you know, you know, there's a scene in a cop office where that was, you know, a empty building where there's no heat we were in 30 degrees indoors and I never got complaints from any of them. You know, it was beautiful to see them really roll their sleeves up to do an independent film. And that's another thing I would say is make sure you have a cast there who understands what they got into and gives it their all.

Alex Ferrari 46:32
Yeah, because if you if because if you've got someone like your elegant Alicia Silverstone who was you know, maybe she was used to Batman level budgets, and she shows up like what do I have a triple bank with? What's going on here? Like what why is my where's my latte? If you have someone like that, who's not aware of the situation they're going into. Why is it so cold? What's good, which happens if you don't do that properly you that kills your movie,

Sunil Perkash 46:55
It kills your movie, and even when the movie is finished, like they understand that like it all rests on us banding together and promoting it vanacker And Moyer actually went to the world premiere in London unless he was shooting are filming the need to Del Toro and Justin Timberlake so she could, but she did all the press back. You know, they were all so supportive, which is beautiful to see, you know, an indie film is like planning a dinner party with people you love. Like, if you put the love in it, you can get very far.

Alex Ferrari 47:22
Now I'm going to ask you a few questions I asked all my guests I think the first question you've answered the the advice that you would give a filmmaker we've talked we've talked about that a bunch. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Sunil Perkash 47:36
Let go of your ego. I mean, I've learned it years ago, but let go of your ego. It's a always remember humility. And, you know, you know, as long as people deserve it, just never make it about your ego.

Alex Ferrari 47:52
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Sunil Perkash 47:55
So many but you know, Dances with Wolves, Star Wars, Terms of Endearment, Titanic, Schindler's List, Color Purple rear window, I mean, that's, you know, I love moving movies. You know, I'm probably not the indie guy, although I love I love independent film, but like, with a little bit of a, you know what I'm saying? Like, I love world building as well.

Alex Ferrari 48:18
Right. And that's one thing you did with last survivor so beautifully. It's I mean, that does not look like a $1.5 million movie. I mean, the production value because you shot in Montana, and you have these Vasques looking things, it does add a tremendous amount to the lesson for everyone listening. Like if you can get into nature, it adds a lot of production value to your movie.

Sunil Perkash 48:37
It's Montana was, like, shoot there. It's beautiful. But we had a DP who really he came from Peru. And this is a good example of a minor thing where it's a brilliant DP Julian knew what he was doing. He needed this wanted this. He loved it. He wanted to come to the US and do this. Find the right DP. I think a lot of first time directors always have their best friend who's a very common thing because you know, of course, Shay, don't put your best friend on don't put your friends on your movie. This isn't again, it's not a social thing. Really good production designer Sam Knighten back who again, first feature and Mona Mei who did the costumes on clueless and enchanted. She brought really good costumes to the table and we just had even hair and makeup like really art. We have artists who didn't care about what they're being paid and they understood what they were doing. And they loved it. And that's so important.

Alex Ferrari 49:29
So what you're saying is don't hire a DP who that who just started started lighting because they own a RED camera is what you're saying?

Sunil Perkash 49:36
Yeah, exactly. Or because they're your good friend and you know, it's the first time you're leaving to go on location and it's a lot of, you know, just, you know, again working with like Phillip and Robert Elswit shot salt, so it's like I've worked with some of the biggest and best DPS out there. Make it about the movie. First stop. The biggest thing even when I was younger on blast like Alyssia laughs She doesn't remember me that well, or at all I showed her pictures, I was on set. But I was probably a little bit like so into this my first movie on with big stars, and you don't get what you need done which is focused on the work and it's a hard thing when you're younger your ego your self esteem, wanting validation, but focus on the movie, it's all about the movie. And the validation will come years later. And then we're gonna get the validation of boards, you

Alex Ferrari 50:27
Now, where and where can people watch Last Survivor?

Sunil Perkash 50:32
Last survivors is playing on all the intensity theatrically, but it is on every digital platform, iTunes, Amazon, you name it. And, you know, it's again, we Alyssia you know, she's been all over promoting the film. It's just so great to see a little film getting this kind of impact I have, it's, it makes me want to just you know, get the next one up and running and you know, do it all again, and even more.

Alex Ferrari 50:58
And where and what's up next for you?

Sunil Perkash 51:03
Obviously enchanted 2 enchanted is coming out later this year. I've got a movie and other movie with vanacker It's a very cool science fiction film with this cool director who directed a Superbowl ad and short one at Palm Springs. Then after I have another movie with Alan Richardson, He stars as Jack Reacher he is a very very talented director and we have a movie with him that he'll direct co star with drew that we're getting ready to let go out with as a package you know, and then further stuff down the road but that sort of the back home and travel back east are sort of the two next ones and then disenchanted coming out later this year.

Alex Ferrari 51:39
My friend You seem like you're busy, busy guy and it looks like you love what you do. So I appreciate you coming on the show and dropping your your little knowledge bombs on us today. So I appreciate that my friend.

Sunil Perkash 51:51
And you know, thank you for having me. It's been a pleasure.

LINKS

SPONSORS

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

Top Ten BEST Filmmaking Courses Online

I’m always asked what the top filmmaking courses online I’d recommend to filmmakers. As Jack Nicolson says:

“If you don’t keep learning, you die.”

I am a HUGE consumer of online courses of all types. I’m a visual learner and online courses help me keep my skills sharp. Below I’ve put together a list of some of the best Filmmaking Courses Online I’ve personally taken and recommend. Some I even teach = ) Keep on hustlin’ and learning.

Light and Face: The Art of Cinematography

This workshop will walk you through how to light the most important and emotional subject you could put in front of your lens, the enigmatic face on a low budget. This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film. Taught by award-winning cinematographer Suki Medencevic A.S.C.

Suki has been lighting Hollywood films and television for over 25 years. Some of his work includes American Horror Story, Stuck in the Middle, and several high profile documentaries for Pixar, ILM, andDisney+ including The History of Imagineering for Disney Studios. Suki has taught around the world to sold-out crowds as well at USC Film School and New York Film Academy. He is also a member of the prestigious American Society of Cinematographers

Some of the things you’ll learn from this course:

  • Single Source Lighting
  • Single Light Bulb
  • LED Lighting / Fresnel Light
  • Small Paper Lantern
  • Ring Light / Kino Flo
  • Flashlight / iPad
  • Christmas Light
  • Open Face Source + Umbrella
  • Diffusing the Light
  • Hampshire / Opal
  • 251, 250, 216, 129 Diffusion
  • Chimera Diffusion
  • 1K Chimera
  • Color Temperature Breakdowns
  • Three-Point Lighting
  • Film Noir Look
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Glamour Lighting
  • Horror Look
  • Fantasy Look
  • Old Hollywood Look
  • Warm Period Look
  • BONUS: Detail Diagrams of Each Lighting Setup

Click Here for more info.


The Complete Film Distribution Blueprint

Taught by Indie Film Hustle Founder Alex Ferrari, this course is an insider’s look at how the film distribution side of the business works. It will teach you how to avoid predatory film distributors and aggregators, what to look for in distribution agreements, VOD myths, film deliverables, working with sales agents, and much more. Don’t become a statistic. Educate yourself and thrive.

  • What is Film Distribution?
  • Producers Rep and Sales Agents
  • Film Markets
  • Video-On-Demand Ecosystem
  • DVD, Blu-Rays, and Physical Media
  • Television Syndication
  • Selling to Airlines  Hotels and Cruise Lines
  • Educational Rights
  • Theatrical Distribution & Deliverables 
  • Film Distribution Agreements and Pitfalls to Avoid
  • Film Deliverables (Physical Masters)
  • Film Deliverables (Paperwork)
  • Film Deliverables (Marketing)
  • Marketing Your Film
  • Film Aggregators
  • How to Secretly Track International Sales of Your Film
  • Keeping Your Film Distributor Honest
  • Latest COVID-19 Film Distribution Updates
  • Plus Hours of Bonus Interviews

Learn how to protect yourself from predatory film distributors and sales agents. Don’t become a statistic.

Click Here for more info


The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop

Award-winning film producer Suzanne Lyons is about to take you from script to screen and beyond in this Mastermind workshop. After producing a number of bigger budget features Suzanne thought producing the SAG ultra-low and modified budget films would be a piece of cake. Boy, was she wrong? Wearing 100 different hats was a challenge and she learned so much. And now she will be sharing all that great info with you. This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film.

Included in this course:

  • Learn How to Sell Yourself
  • The Script: Option and Development
  • Creating a Business Plan
  • Setting Up Your Company and Opening a Bank Account
  • Sales Presentations and Finding Investors
  • Soft Prep
  • The Casting Process
  • Pre-Production
  • Principle Photography
  • Post Production and Deliverables
  • Delivery and Sales Agents
  • BONUS PACK: Paperwork, Contracts, and Examples (Word & PDF Versions)

Click Here for more info


Screenwriting Foundations: Story Development

This course shows you how to build your script from the bottom up. We will cover concept development, creating a meaningful theme, building a central character who strikes an emotional chord with the audience, and we will even learn how to develop supporting characters and antagonists. We don’t just stop there, we break down how to write a logline, mind mapping your concept, and even how to conquer writer’s block.

Included in this course:

  • Concept Development
  • Understanding Theme
  • Mind Mapping
  • Defeating Writer’s Block
  • Constructing a Logline
  • Character Development
  • The Character Sheet
  • Tips for Great Characters 
  • Internal vs External Conflict
  • Sympathy vs Empathy
  • The Query Letter

Click Here for more info


Crowdfunding for Filmmaking Masterclass

This course will guide you through every stage of planning, creating, and running your film crowdfunding campaign. Crowdfunding is the only method of film finance open to all filmmakers, anywhere in the world and over $250 million has already been raised for films on Kickstarter. It’s based on research on over 50,000 film crowdfunding campaigns, interviews with over 50 filmmakers who have run a crowdfunding campaign, and interviews with some of the top people at major crowdfunding platforms and services.

This course includes:

  • Introduction to Crowdfunding 
  • Reward-Based Crowdfunding
  • History of Crowdfunding
  • Pros and Cons of Crowdfunding
  • Hosting Your Campaign
  • Creating Your Crowdfunding Strategy
  • Ideal Campaign Length
  • Budget for Campaign 
  • Defining Your Audience
  • Building a Team
  • Crafting Your Pitch Video
  • Writing the Pitch
  • Setting Rewards
  • Services and Hacks to Help Your Campaign
  • Marketing and Promotion
  • Launching Your Campaign
  • Fulfilling Your Extras
  • Interviews with Successful Crowdfunding Filmmakers

Click Here for more info


Hollywood Filmmaking & Television Directing Masterclass

Veteran film and television director Gil Bettman teaches you how to enhance the drama in a scene, heighten the action by using different lenses and how to move the camera in your next film and video production. The key here is that camera movement must be invisible. It should serve the story without calling attention to itself.

Next, learn How To Move the Camera most effectively by systematically fulfilling Five Tasks when designing each moving master shot. Finally, learn how a master of visual design like Zemeckis customizes his application of these Five Tasks to the unique demands of each scene.

Click Here for more info


Storytelling Blueprint: The Hero’s Two Journeys

Experience two of Hollywood’s most sought-after story experts, authors, and lecturers with Screenwriting and Story Secrets: The Hero’s Two Journeys. If you’re a screenwriter, novelist, filmmaker, game developer, or storyteller in any arena, this course will empower you to captivate your readers and audiences to achieve both artistic AND commercial success. Modeling what works is the philosophy at the heart of this course. Taught bu Michael Hauge and Chris Vogler.

Click Here for more info


The Dialogue: Learn from the Masters

The Dialogue is a groundbreaking interview series that goes behind the scenes of the fascinating craft of screenwriting. In these 70-90 minute in-depth discussions (over 37 hours in all), more than two-dozen of today’s most successful screenwriters share their work habits, methods, and inspirations, secrets of the trade, business advice, and eye-opening stories from life in the trenches of the film industry. Each screenwriter discusses his or her filmography in great detail and breaks down the mechanics of one favorite scene from their produced work.

Click Here for more info


Filmmaker in a Box: Learn How to Make a Low Budget Feature Film

FILMMAKER IN A BOX is the ultimate behind-the-scenes look at the making of a micro-budget (meaning REALISTIC BUDGET!) feature film production. This is a look into how a professional near-no-budget film is made – with EVERY DETAIL available at your fingertips!

FIB examines the EVERY detail (Over 18+ Hours) of the making of an independent movie called 2 Million Stupid Women (a comedy written by a woman!), which was made for only $100,000, made within the “Hollywood” system. If you want to make a feature, you need to take this course.

Click Here for more info

 

SaveSave

IFH 552: The Profitable Feature Film Formula with Rob Goodrich & Jason Armstrong

Jason Armstrong and Rob Goodrich

Today on the show we have film producers Jason Armstrong and Rob Goodrich.

Armstrong and Goodrich founded Walk Like A Duck Entertainment, a film production company that develops and produces high quality scripted and non-scripted content.

With a combined 30+ years in the entertainment industry, Armstrong and Goodrich have held positions in all aspects of production with a focus on IP acquisition, development, packaging and raising capital.

The company has forced strong and supportive relationships with filmmakers and talent, advising and collaborating through all aspects of production.

Jason and Rob are currently in pre-production on Andy Armstrong’s SQUEALER, and recently completed production on the following films: SLAYERS (starring Abigail Breslin, Malin Akerman, Thomas Jane), DIG (starring Thomas Jane, Emile Hirsch, Liana Liberato), SKELLY (starring Brian Cox, Torrey Devitto, John Palladino), and SALVATION (Claire Forlani, Thomas Jane, Skeet Ulrich, Theo Rossi, Ashley Moore).

Rob Goodrich and Jason Armstrong

They have also acquired life rights of John Fairfax, an adventurer who crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans in a rowboat, which they’re currently developing with Tiffany Fairfax, widow of John Fairfax.

Armstrong and Goodrich puts a premium value on developing creative and strategic partnerships across sales, distribution, co-production and post-production companies. The trajectory of a project varies on a case by case basis, Armstrong and Goodrich are uniquely positioned to manage all aspects of a projects lifespan.

As music, publishing and sync-licensing continue to establish increasing revenue streams and relevance in a financial model for a film or TV series, they have established 6 To Midnight Music, an ASCAP / BMI affiliate with a Co-Publishing deal with BMG Music, headed by Walk Like A Duck Entertainment partner, Cameron Goodrich.

Film producers Jason Armstrong and Rob Goodrich have created a way to produce profitable feature films in record speed durning one of the craziest and uncertain times in film history. I sat down with both producers to see how they are doing what they are doing, how they ramped up so fast and how they are making money with there system.

Enjoy my conversation with Jason Armstrong and Rob Goodrich.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show, Rob Goodrich and Jason Armstrong. How're you guys doing?

Rob Goodrich 0:17
Good. Thank you so much for having us.

Jason Armstrong 0:17
Great. Thank you!

Alex Ferrari 0:19
Thank you so much for coming on the show guys. You guys are you guys are as they say, in fuego right now, doing a lot of a lot of productions. And I want to and you have a very kind of like a different way of doing what you guys are doing, which I really want to kind of get into. But before we get started, man, how did you both get started in this insane business?

Rob Goodrich 0:43
Well, I leaned over to Jay, he's my senior. So I'll let him go first.

Alex Ferrari 0:49
I'm sure and I'm sure he reminds you about that all the time.

Jason Armstrong 0:55
Or vice versa.

Alex Ferrari 0:56
Exactly.

Jason Armstrong 0:57
So yeah, no, I started off in the business originally as a copywriter in in commercials and everything. And then Antalya commercial down in LA met a producer asked me if I was interested in writing for television. So So then he developed a children's while sort of a tween series. At that time, he had an Oprah deal with Nickelodeon. So it was originally something for Nickelodeon. And then Disney came in and, and sort of swept, swept, swept it away, to get worked, worked on that, and then created another series. I would say probably about a year after that, and and then you sort of fall into that writers room, you know, sort of the in house writers and, and everything else. But that was sort of the the early, you know, the early stage into the business was was very much from a writing perspective. And then in that tween world, and then started slowly moving into producing, you know, my own content, having a little bit, a little bit more control, obviously, right or over the creative to an extent, to an extent that that stage, and then yeah, and then did a lot of children's series Brucella children series, a lot of CO pro deals. At that time, I was in Canada, so I was doing a little copro deals between Canada and the UK. And then just kept, kept rolling into two different things. There's some obvious some lifestyle stuff that came into play. And then and then dove into into the features.

Alex Ferrari 2:35
And how about you, Rob?

Rob Goodrich 2:39
Well, you know, it's funny, I never, I never considered myself much of a film guy growing up, I always enjoyed going to the movies, I enjoyed renting movies. But you know, as far as telling you, who was in every movie, who directed it just never really was my forte, I never took a huge interest, what I did find was that I had a really good rapport with people. And I had a good, good ability to sort of put pieces together. I found that through playing sports as a kid and, you know, always sort of being in a leadership position. So I guess through college, which had no film intentions, I started to develop more and more of an interest in entertainment. I ended up working on the music side. First, to be honest with you, I was working with a lot of artists helping to coordinate sort of like those radio concerts that they would do, seasonally. So what that really did was that taught me how to work with artists and work with sort of the in and out demands of not just a rapper or a band or this or that, but their entire entourage. And so it was sort of a culmination of taking my ability to sort of put puzzle pieces together and my growing fascination with film. So through that sort of music thing and introductions to a lot of managers and sort of that, that circle of that high level music world. I took an interest in film, and I did what we all sort of hope I hope we all do his IPA, IPA on a ABC reality show, which I will not name. Realize that that was not for me. And then I got a call from Paramount that said, hey, you know, you you work with Justin Bieber? On the music side? Would you have any interest in coming and sort of consulting as a producer with us on the Never Say Never Bieber tour, which Paramount did? So I worked with some of the other producers on that prior. And that really sort of kicked it off. I mean, I think it's I don't know if I had a career path set in mind. I've always looked at producing in sort of a broad scope. You know, I think entertain entertainment is entertainment and what is entertaining to somebody is different to another row, I, I've always taken my background in music, transitioned into film, and a little bit of TV. It's all sort of just being the same thing. You know, it's all just sort of management from top to bottom. So through that, ironically enough years later, that's how Jay and I met under the roof at BMG Music through a colleague who said, I think you guys would really mesh well. And so we'd both sort of taken our own paths in the film world and had some success with that, and certainly climbed our way up, and touched every corner of the business and had some success and had some failure and got our bruises. But by the time Jay and I met at BMG Music, it was actually to discuss the film and immediately hit it off. And I think it was that perfect moment where we collided and could really complement one another with where we were at in our own careers and where we were, you know, aiming to go.

Alex Ferrari 6:03
You know, it's so funny, because I've been in the business now for 20 odd years. And, you know, when you're when you're working with somebody, especially a producing partner, it's like dating, like you're getting into a marriage you are, you know, there's no question about, especially when you're like, on one project, it's like that, let alone multiple projects over the course of years. So that's something a lot of filmmakers don't really understand about the partnership scenario. It's you're dating before you get married, and, and you're married after you signed the deal to make the first film. And then you're like, alright, well, we dated already. You know, we could divorce after this project, but we're going to go through this project.

Jason Armstrong 6:47
As soon as you create an llc.

Alex Ferrari 6:54
No question it is, and there's so you guys seem to like, you know, from what I was able to gather through your IMDB profiles, you guys have been hustling for a while, in your own worlds. But it seems like when you guys got together in more recently, actually, you just started all of a sudden, like you were in a lot of productions, and a lot of different things going on at the same time. So that's very unusual for a new, you know, producing partnership that I've seen, I don't see like it just doesn't, overnight, just come up, you guys have both been working out. You've done some work in the future world who doesn't work in television world, but really not likely, you're doing now not at the level, you're doing it now with the cast and things like that, what kind of what started this explosion of, of these, you know, doing so many projects and with the caliber of people you're doing so recently,

Rob Goodrich 7:45
You know what it was sort of a collection of years where we very mindfully said, you know, let's, let's get that IP, let's get the content, let's make sure that our catalogue is full of stuff where we know we can pull something out. And when we've got that extra piece, we can really start to package it more seriously. And, you know, look, I mean, we've been fortunate with the snowball effect. We've identified IP that we that we think fits into the market well, but we've also identified a time that, unfortunately, has been so damaging for so many businesses, we've, you know, we've used a formula in the past two years, where we've been able to create, you know, marketable films, for modest budgets. And, and really, when the world has been so scared about, you know, big crowds and heavy footprints, we've been able to go shoot these movies, you know, not on a Netflix budget, we're not concerned about insurance, but really more on a smaller budget with smaller crews, where we can say to actors, look, we need you for six days, or we need you for three days. We've limited our shooting schedules, and you know, this, the scope of our films are sort of in that mid range. But you know, we've shot six this year as a result. And I think that snowball effects, when you can go to an agency and actually deliver a fee on time and escrow. And you can get an accurate, calm and have a pleasant experience. It really has a positive effect. And I mean, we're fortunate now where we've got a lot of agents calling and saying, Hey, what do you have that I can sneak in accurate? Or would you look, would you look at this project. So so we really were aware of not trying to jump the gun and just make a movie to make a movie, but really be a little bit more strategic in how we rolled it out.

Jason Armstrong 9:39
Yeah, and also, I would say I'm just sort of add on to that. You know, through that time, a story can be achieved in just the same way haven't be self contained. You know, you can still have great stories that doesn't that don't have to have an incredible number of company moves and have all these different settings. There was you know, through COVID, there was this opportunity to still have, you know, tell great stories, and focus very heavily on the character development through the story. And that could be achieved, you know, with fewer cast members of your locations, and still, you know, still deliver great content that didn't speak to the market. So, you know, it was it was just that opportunity, and also to touch on the other thing that you mentioned, Alex, with regards to sort of moving quickly. I feel as though there's, you know, everyone's sort of, if they've been involved in the business from every angle for a long period of time. So, I mean, like, Robin, I like before mentioning, the PA, you know, worked is, I mean, I've been a scripting, you know, I've been a continuity director, I mean, I've been a general, I mean, so like, hearing through all these things, and what happens with all that is you have, you start to develop this very, very large network. And when you find someone to partner with, that isn't so safeguarded, and protects that network, because I feel a lot in our industry, you know, even if people partner together on one film, you're like, Oh, these are my guys, or these are, this is my network, this is who I access. And the problem is that just puts up these walls immediately. That shouldn't be there, because this is a collaborative business. I mean, that's, that's where you thrive. And I feel as though Rob and I wouldn't be partnered, our success sort of happened very quickly, because there were none of those walls it was, each of our networks became one large network. And we're able to sort of pinpoint where certain strengths and certain projects could stand and, and access those without delay. And I think that's sort of you know, that's, that's what you that's what you need to do, if you're going if you are going to partner together and build a slate, and evaluate the IP and determine whether the market speaks to that, you know, that content and everything you need to be able to, you know, open book with regards to what your access is.

Alex Ferrari 12:00
It's interesting, because if I go back to the analogy of the marriage, when you start dating someone or you, you start moving in with somebody, you don't have a joint account just yet. You have separate, you have separate accounts. And then when you have a joint account, it's serious. Now we're sharing our money. So it's the same thing. You're sharing your contacts, you're sharing your network. And by doing that, you're able to basically put gasoline on the fire because you're able to access so many things. Yeah, I've been with I've, you know, I've had I've partnered with people, they're like, I, I hang out with Tom Cruise every weekend. I'm like, Can Can Can you? Can you? Can you talk to Tom Cruise? No, no, I can't. That's very sensitive. I can't talk to Tom Cruise. I'm like, yeah, what the hell are we doing here? I'm using as exempt. I don't know anybody who knows toppers. But anyway. But I get the boy, you get the point like and, and it could be something as like, Oh, yeah. Me and Thomas Jane, go hang out. And we go golfing. Oh, can we maybe pitch them this project? You're like, well, that's, it's my that's my connection with Thomas. That's not with you know, it's weird. But it's, it's kind of this whole energy that a lot of people in the industry have of lack of, of fear. Because you know, I think you go it's gonna agree this entire business is run on fear, Hollywood is run is completely run on fear on FOMO fear of missing out huge deals have been dropped huge amount of money have been dropped purely on the fear of losing out. And if and we and we unfortunately have seen some of those movies over the years, but But Rob, you were talking about your formula, can you kind of dive into this, this formula that you're that you're you guys are working on that are able to do all this and today's environment? Cuz I think you probably started prior to COVID. But you were kind of like, primed, ready for it when it came out in a way.

Rob Goodrich 13:50
Yeah, we really were. You know, it's interesting look, at the end of the day, for any filmmaker, it's always about money. And and not necessarily, hey, how am I going to make money? But how are we going to source money. And I think that's where that's where I think we really separate ourselves. We, you know, we're genre agnostic. And by what I mean by that is we don't measure ourselves to a horror film or a drama or this. I mean, we're looking at the market, we're filmmakers, but we're also businessmen. And we want to be able to say, alright, if I want to do this one day, I have to have the track record of doing XYZ before that, to be taken seriously. Right. And so we're really in the business of establishing partnerships, creating, you know, good relationships with people. I know, that sounds sort of cliche. So a big part of our formula is, you know, who do we like to work with? Because who can we call next to say, Alright guys, you know, I'm in I'm in Las Cruces, New Mexico right now. So okay, guys, here's the tax credit here. Here's where we know we're certain soft money sets. Can we go to the usual partner so we start to analyze a product Based on certainly location, and what those tax credits look like, so we can get some semblance of where, where our financing structure comes into play. As that's happening, we're in daily communication with our sales partners, our distribution partners, really working backwards, so that we can say, alright, this finance plan actually does fit in line with the scale of the film, the budget, we can make this type of movie with this amount of crew, for instance, we're a union production company, we're always hiring union crews. So by working backwards, obviously, like a lot of filmmakers, we're in daily communication with those distributors, or those sales companies say, Okay, what do we think about this cast list? What do we think about this so that everything that we're doing, we're checking a box, so that we don't have that pardon my French that oh, shit moment, you know, when we're supposed to go off, I, if I just did this differently, if I just had that actor, or I just thought about that other seat currently. So we really, we try to work backwards to a degree. One of the things, you know, that I think it has been working for us is, you know, we built some good relationships with talent. We've We've got actors that enjoy working on our set, we try to keep it relaxed. And, you know, we welcome the creative feedback and collaboration. So when we're able to call an agent or an actor, and say, Hey, we've got this project, or they're calling us and saying, I'm looking for something for two weeks, what do you have? Well, that's such a big piece of the puzzle, that we're then able to really get that packaging process, going a lot faster. You know, we're not necessarily always hunting, to make a movie, bring it to a festival, get all the awards, do everything. I mean, it's a different climate today. As we all know, we were very interested in exploring and evaluating every project and every sales opportunity every day that we're prepping, filming, and then post so that we're always elevating the value of a project. We're looking at streamer deals, we're looking we look at the article, but we're always exploring what that best fit is for any film. And we've been very fortunate. I mean, New Mexico has been terrific. Massachusetts has been terrific. Toronto has been good to us. So I hope that answers part of it.

Alex Ferrari 17:30
So usually, what you guys are basically saying is don't shoot a $2 million period piece personal film, with no stars attached shot in black and white is generally it's generally not what you want to do. And that's the approach of so many filmmakers they just like I want to make art. I'm like, great, if you want to make art make it for $5. Don't make it for 5 million and mortgaged your house, which I've had people on the show who have mortgaged their house have lost their house, because they're like, Hey, I think this is gonna go it's the craziest in our business is so insane. Because I've talked to investors and the like, you guys, this is insanity. I'm like it is Yeah. But yeah, if you know what you're doing, it can be you can make money with it. But the scope of of, you could spend $2 million and have literally a useless product, you spent $2 million on cookies, you have $2 million worth of cookies you could sell. Right? So there's a product, there's a product there.

Rob Goodrich 18:33
Yeah, you know, and we're not afraid either. And I think it's important to be honest, in this business, I don't think you have to be a jerk. But I think it's good to be transparent. And look, I mean, we know how to finance films, we know how to package talent, we know how to sell films. So we can we can analyze a project from really any perspective, not to say we're the best at it. But you know, we've got a pretty good understanding of each, so that when we're talking to a filmmaker, or we're talking or evaluating a new project, we can very easily to your point, say, look, I totally love where you're coming from. But here's why that wouldn't work, right? In today's world. Instead of saying your project sucks, we're not going to do it. Maybe there's some value in it. So then we can have a more collaborative conversation and say, Look, this is how we might approach it. These are the types of people we might bring into it to help you see, you know, this follow through with your intentions. We never want to say no to any project off the bat. But we are pretty quick to say, here are the things that we know won't work. And that's based on real time, experience, real time, market trends, real time investors, etc.

Jason Armstrong 19:43
Another thing I would want to say too, is I mean, a lot of art is a timing chance, right? I mean, it really does play by time and chance, especially within the arts. So there are things that are going to speak to certain types there. You know, there's going to be an audience for certain content at a certain time. And unfortunately, you know, something can get lost. If it if it isn't, you know, released or, or evaluated at the right time. So I mean, that's the other thing that will pay very close attention to is, is recognizing you know what, right now, this would be unfortunately the it's not so much even how it's being built out so far is just that it will not achieve the audience that it should right now. So in order to and then that and then that becomes just this lost art. And to your point before it is a business. So if it's, if you are going to do it as a hobby in the arts, then that is one thing. If it is going to operate as a business, then yes, you need you need to develop something that people want, and that will sell. And, and that doesn't. And then there's a lot of fear that surrounds that, then people when they hear that they start to think, oh, how is that going to jeopardize the creative? How is that going to alter this, this, this and this, this, and it doesn't actually have to do that. And, and at the same time, let's let's look at that, if it's something that is not flexible, that cannot be flexible, cannot be examined, you know, in order to sort of build it in a different in a different way than it might be it's something that just sits somewhere and is never seen. Never heard of no one's ever aware of which is fine. But one of the one of the most valuable things in the art world is literally in you know, having an effect on people you know, provoking a conversation, excitement, anything like that. That's that's that's sort of the the largest payoff outside of VR was that, you know, investors obviously, one of the largest payoff is actually having that developing an audience having an effect on its audience. Right. So that's, you know, that's something you really, you know, you do have to pay attention to the timing of these things. And if something's not now it can't be a year from now it can you know, in or find a way for it to be that So,

Alex Ferrari 21:54
Right. So in other words, contagion not gonna come out right now. As a brand new movie. Not really like it. I don't care if it's Steven Soderbergh not happening right now. Nobody wants to see them. How many? How many? How many pandemic movies have you turned down in the last two years?

Jason Armstrong 22:15
It's wild.

Alex Ferrari 22:16
Right?

Rob Goodrich 22:18
It's funny how quickly people pick up on a trend and go, here. I've got this. What do you think?

Alex Ferrari 22:24
I've been yelling on my show for the last two years. Nobody wants your pandemic script. Nobody wants to watch it. Nobody wants to see it. I don't care if Meryl Streep's in it. Nobody wants to watch it. Because we're living it. It's kind of like having a terrorist movie A week after 911. So one of the things is there something that you see, in your, in your day to day, some mistakes that you see filmmakers make when they're pitching to producers, or trying to pitch you guys a script, or or project or something like that, because there is a you know, I do my best with this show to educate as many filmmakers as humanly possible about the realities of this business. And the realities of life. Don't run up to you at a Starbucks and go, here's my script. Read it. I don't know who you are. You don't know who I am. You don't know who I am. But here read it. There's certain ways of doing things. Is there mistakes that you consistently see that you can kind of call out and hopefully help some people listening?

Rob Goodrich 23:22
Well, Jay, I can jump in first. I mean, I think I think a common thing that sort of gets under my skin a bit just because it never works. And I never, you know, we've all pitched something before, right? So I don't ever shame anybody for doing that. You know, when you come up and you say, Oh, I've got money attached to these investors or this actor, I want to call BS every time. I mean, one of the ways that Jay and I typically vet a project and about five seconds, is I say, tell me where your bank account is. And I'll make a $1 deposit. Because if they've got a bank account open, well, then they're more of a business to me. But it how do you have these investors? And how do you have this infrastructure set up to make a movie that we can just jump in and start packaging? It's not really set up. And then it's the Phantom investor or it's the Phantom actor, who to your point earlier is like the cousin of Tom Cruise that went out once but I don't want to call him yet because he's, you know, Uruguay. So that's a big red flag. I would much rather see a project when somebody says, Hey, I love this movie that you guys just did. I think I have something that might connect with you might not let me just send you a logline. Or would it be okay, if I just send you some preliminary info? Without all the baggage, you know, then it could be more appealing to sort of say, oh, you know what, this is pretty cool. Let us follow up. Let us see where it's at. Because we have the tools to help package that if it's something that we like, it's just sort of the

Alex Ferrari 24:59
So the letters of intent, not so much?

Rob Goodrich 25:11
it's nice to have I guess?

Alex Ferrari 25:14
Be honest, be honest, it's absolutely almost useless. It's like it's literally it's absolutely almost useless letters of intent. I got I was up, I was packaging a deal. And the producer was like, Oh, we have this letter of intent from this Oscar winner. And, and I saw it. And everywhere he, I mean, literally, if he could have tattooed it on his frickin chest, he would have tapped because everywhere he walked in, he's like, here's my letter of intent with this dude, that I spoke to unconvinced the first talking point. Yeah, that's first talking points. I have a letter of intent from this Oscar winner. Here's his signature. So all that says to me is that you were able to calm this poor, older actor with a little commitment. No, no. The letter What? No, I said letter of intent, sir.

Jason Armstrong 25:52
From the talent, a letter of commitment for the financing,

Alex Ferrari 25:57
Commitment, stop it.

Rob Goodrich 26:00
Well, you know what, here's here's the, here's the behind the curtain of all of that, right? Yeah, we obviously work with a number of agencies and ensure projects from that. And they'll have talent, quote, unquote, attached, that are, quote, unquote, attached. So it's hard enough for the people that are in the industry, the managers, the producers, the talent, actually have a project that is that far along. So when you've got somebody that is fairly new to the game, or trying to break in, or has a great idea, it's just that much more unbelievable, to no fault of their own. But it's just such an uphill battle. I mean, really, where we are in an industry right now. And we're, we've had some success, not to give the company sauce away. But look, you make an offer, you make a payer play offer, and you deliver the funds. And that's going to make it real to an agent. And it's amazing how quickly that reverberates through the industry. Oh, wow. They, they actually escrow that talent, a day before it was due, or was due, oh, yeah, they signed the contract. So that's what makes it real, no one is attached until that money is in that account. And for better or worse, where we are, I mean, it's such a competitive market right now, there's so much out there, and there's so many places to put content, that you've got to make it real by putting the money in the account. And you got to be willing to part ways with it. And with that comes a lot of risk for producers. But you know, you got to be confident in what you're doing.

Jason Armstrong 27:26
You got to be offering the model that you put together, right? Because there's always been a filtering system that's existed, right? We know that. And it's because otherwise, there just be so much being channeled into all of these outlets. And now there's just so many, so the filtering system is just become even more prominent, and important. And so the way to actually get around that is to have everything built. So if you are going to engage, you have the money to engage, it's not, it's not oh, we're engaging, and then there's going to be this long period of time where nobody's talking about it, because you couldn't really have the follow through. That's, you know, immediately that's a red flag and people are going to take seriously. So the second that you do engage with the people that you do need to put your project together. Everything has to be in place. So that if you get a yes, immediately.

Alex Ferrari 28:22
And that is that's refreshing, because that doesn't happen in our business at all. It's a lot of talk, it's a lot of talk a lot of luck in the lip service and all this kind of stuff. And I mean, God, how many people like oh, I have this guy attached, or I've got this money's about to drop. Oh, I love that term. The money's about to drop tomorrow. It's dropping. Oh, we got pushed back. Oh, because his allowance hasn't hit yet. Because, you know, he's a multimillionaire in England. And his wife gives him a million dollars every month as in and he just wants to be in the movie. And we've Yep, sure. I'm not telling you stories, you're gonna hurt. It's a small, it's a small little roll, like maybe at the bar or something, you know, give him two lines, and he'll finance the whole movie. Like we hear all these stories. And by the way, everyone who's not watching this we're all laughing we're all we're also we have smiles on our faces because we've all heard these stories before. But it's so fascinating over my career, it doesn't change now what those stories that we're just talking about happened to me in the 90s when I was coming up and they're still happening today and they think that they work and that's why I kind of call out you know letters of intent and like the all this kind of stuff that's all kind of fluff you know or I could get this guy on the phone right once walked by this person or you know I parked cars or where this guy plays golf or something. There's always so many of these stories but when you guys are doing is interesting because you're actually I don't know doing what you say you're gonna do. Which is oddly a rarity in this business. How I've always found it fascinating how anything ever gets done in in Hollywood and I can't even comprehend at the 100 $200 million world, how many moving parts? How many things because even that world, they're still financing these things, they still they're still banks, they're still like, you got to go? Absolutely. I mean, it's not like, Disney is just writing checks, though they probably can at this point, but they're smart enough not to use their own money. Yeah, right. You know, it's

Rob Goodrich 30:24
Our big thing, too, is look, I mean, we've got, we've got projects in pipeline for the next year or two years that that are those studio level films. But for right now, we're the world's at where we're at, we control the clock, you know, and we're able to really, we're able to work with AD's and work with mine producers and work with directors that we can talk to every day. And, and, you know, we can control the financing and the model, and control the sales and control the marketing, you know, to a degree, right, but we're able to control the clock a little bit more, which is, which has been helpful, and it keeps us busy. But it allows us to sort of work with and to spit out a product that, you know, we know, sort of shares the integrity that we went into it.

Alex Ferrari 31:13
Can you guys talk a little bit about the importance of a bankable star, based off of budget. So you know, cuz I always tell people, like, Look, if you got a $50,000 movie, anytime you could put a bankable star, and even if it's a phase, do it anytime, at any budget range. But as that budget continues to go up, you at that point need to have bankable stars of certain magnitudes depending on the budget. So certain actors can finance a million dollar, or $2 million, even a $5 million, but they're not going to finance a 30 million, then you need another two or three of those guys. Well, you need Bruce Willis to show up. Or you need to, you know, and Bruce does I think movie a week now I think he's doing a movie a week.

Rob Goodrich 31:55
A One day One day shop.

Alex Ferrari 31:59
Pops up it's 365 movies this year. It's fantastic. But, but filmmakers don't really get that a lot of times and they're like, Oh, I wanted to, again, it goes into that hobby thing. Where like, oh, I want to be pure. I'm like, Well, I'm not the best actor for the role, then do it for 50 grand, don't do it for 500 grand. So can you talk about the importance of it, and then how you're able to attract these actors, I think we kind of touched upon this, like money talks. So if you show up and drop some money, you're gonna get people's attention pretty quickly.

Rob Goodrich 32:29
We through the years, everybody's got a gatekeeper. Right. And so the agents and the managers, they're gatekeepers, it's like any business, you know, you sort of all come up together, or you meet here and there. In my world, I was in Venice Beach for a long time. And it took a lot of the sort of the razor blades out of the agents out of the managers, when we were having a beer at Hinata, or the whaler or, you know, at the beach. So forging those relationships, you know, it's a q&a, you know, we're on the producing side, they're on the, they're on the deal side. So we've been able to, over the course of a few years, balance each other, say, Hey, let me you know, pick your brain on this, let me pick your brain on that. So that access to talent, or that access to a quick read, has been very beneficial. And that's a relationship thing. And I hate that term, but it is relevant, like any business. I think that you know, money talks, that's how you get your talent, you got to get to the talent. So how do you get through the gatekeeper? Oh, good story, some level of packaging, and then the offer that you can come in with. Now, once that talent is there, what we really focus on is having a good experience, you know, we want our talent to feel as though they're valued on set, they're not just a hired piece, you know, and so far, that's been pretty successful. Those conversations, go beyond the film, they turn into text messages, hey, you watching this game? Or hey, are you gonna be in LA or boulder or this or that? So it is it's relationships. And then, you know, we've been very fortunate to sort of repeat working with certain actors, and then when you do that, like anything else, it's human nature. People say, Well, these guys got to be doing something right. This guy's working with them a number of times and they bring in their friends and it's sort of a pyramid

Alex Ferrari 34:26
It's like kind of like who's dating the you know, the hot girl and then like, and then all the other girls all the other girls are like, well, in this ugly dude, obviously is I'm not the guy with the ugly dude. But

Jason Armstrong 34:40
I didn't know this was visual. So normally we need to

Alex Ferrari 34:48
But it's it's always kind of like but it's it goes with investors too. It's like who's the first one to the party. And then when you you have, you know, a hot girl or a hot guy at the party all the time. Everybody else all the other guys and gals go away. And why is that movie star hanging out with these guys? Constantly? Yeah. And then like, then you start investigating it. And they they're like, Oh, well, this. And I have to ask you, though, you know, once you build relationships with actors, which I've had the pleasure of being able to build relationships with actors over the years, I call them up sometimes directly, I'll go, Hey, man, I got a project you want in? We've already know it's a, it's a one on one relationship that we've built over years. And I go, I don't want to cut out the agent because you don't want to piss off the agent. So can you talk a little bit about the political minefield that is calling up the actor directly? Or maybe talking to the actor first and then go into the age? How do you guys know it straddle that?

Jason Armstrong 35:41
Well, we do exactly that. So I mean, we'll we definitely play by the protocols of how to detect it. Because the reality is, even if you have that relationship, you can have that conversation, you do need then to engage the team, because there's a lot of moving parts behind, you know, and certainly in the caliber of the actor actress, it that, you know, that teams obviously larger or smaller, there's a lot of moving parts in there. And, and you could probably have a Creative Conversation with talent for a little while. But in order for it to become real, it has to it has to go through the proper channels. And I feel as though there's a lot of cases where there is maybe that one on one relationship, and, and they'll talk about something for, like for an extended period of time. And because they haven't started engaging the right parties, it never really gets there. Because things are being built behind all of these talents. All the time. I mean, things are being evaluated for them to be started. Their schedule is filling up. I mean, sometimes their schedule is filling up, almost without their being aware of it. And it really I mean, I mean, they have to, they have to, they have to okay, but my point is, it's like there is a machine behind them. That is that is handling what they are attached to what they get engaged on. So So we typically, and I don't want to speak for both Rob, like for both of us, but we typically will have that conversation, but then we will then we go immediately to their team. So that so that everything, there's just clarity, and everything was just transparent, right from the start. Otherwise, it's almost getting the reset button. You know, you engage have this long conversation with town, and then you hit up the team. And it's like, you might hit reset, because right, it starts all over again. So

Rob Goodrich 37:35
Yeah, I mean, let's not pretend that there are egos that go top to bottom.

Alex Ferrari 37:39
What Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a bit. There's egos in this business? No,stop it.

Rob Goodrich 37:44
So the funny part is, is there, I hope agents and managers aren't listening. But you know, a lot of times, there might be bigger egos on that side of the aisle than the talent. And so I think that if you're not sort of appreciating and respecting every lane of the business, sure, then there's a lot of butthurt people, and they will literally stall, what could be a pretty easy transaction, you know, they get paid, the Africans paid, we get our actor, you know, and so, you know, what we try to do is, even if there's that personal relationship, we're very quick to stay in our own lane. Hey, you know, actress acts or actress bathroom, what, you know, we would love you for this project, we're gonna have our attorney reach out to your representation and have this go the right way. We present offers through the appropriate channels, we really tried to lead on our legal Well, we can just sort of create some buffer between what could be a relationship, whether it be an agent or an actor, and the actual business. I mean, we all I like to think we all have the same goal in mind. And 99% of the time, that's the case. But to Jay's point. I mean, we really are adamant about just doing things the right way. And we're the type of people that will go the extra mile and do the extra work. And if that means, you know, one extra step to make sure that that last person was on that email, or got notified that hey, this is gonna come through. We just wanted to do it this way. Well, then everybody's on the same page. And then that that actor or actresses team, then they can determine how to sort of circulate around something and we're very hands on from that point.

Alex Ferrari 39:25
I can't tell you how refreshing this whole conversation has been so far. I can't it's for people listening. It just doesn't happen. But what you guys are saying is what should be the industry norm, but is not. There's so many different kinds of players out there who don't do the basics. This is not like revolutionary stuff. You guys are talking about that. It's not rocket science, guys. It is it is basic, like basic thing. Like if you want to make coffee, you need a coffee bean like it's a simple, real basic stuff for most people. Like I'm gonna make coffee But out of mind, I'm like, Okay. And I'm gonna, and then I'm going to tell you it's it's the best coffee in the world. And I have a letter of intent from the best coffee being in the world. So it's remarkable, remarkable. Now, another thing that I find fascinating, but you guys is you guys are a production company. So but you do have deep wells in the investment world, meaning that you you finance your own projects, essentially, how do you? Or do you have any advice on pitching investors on your projects and how you kind of package them to a certain extent for for filmmakers, because that is, obviously everybody wants to know, like you said, at the beginning of this conversation, it's all about how we're going to get the financing to make art and hopefully make some money doing it.

Jason Armstrong 40:44
Well, I think that sort of circles back to your, your original, one of the questions that you made, Alex, which was if young filmmakers are trying to put something together, and they're going around to either look for a CO production partner, or something along those lines. One is, you know, betting things properly. And, and to making sure that you do have a model behind you. But I mean, for, for investors, it's recognizing that it's a business that you are, you're selling something. So you know, one of the things that Robin a conversation that Robin I have had with, with people when when we maybe don't see eye to eye, they brought us something, and we're looking at building it out with them, because we actually really do like the IP and everything. And don't worry, this is circling back to financing and money. But, you know, looking at building it out, is and there's some pushback look at them saying, I mean, tell me about another business that can operate that way. Like, take yourself out of the film business, and save what other business on earth could ever operate that way? Right? Where people would where people would be like, let me in, you know, let me let me give you my hard earned money, right, that I've been working for years for and I don't even care if you inherited it, it's still it was somebody, right? Somebody worked horses part earn money and put it into this, right? I mean, so that's like, the first thing you have to think about when you're approaching anyone is, wait a second, like you in depth, take yourself out of the arts, if you're trying to if you're trying to get people to give you a lot of money for an art take, remove yourself from it and recognize how would this operate in any other format? Right. And if you can see that, then that's great. But that's the that's one of the first things that Rob and I will say to someone, how would that ever work? So then outside of that, it's, it's like any business, you are trying to mitigate risk? Okay. And one of the one of the first things that anyone is going to talk about with regards to film, or sorry, or any, any, any form of media, for that matter, is, it's a risky investment. It's, it's a risky business. Because what you're selling is you're selling the product, but but you're also you're relying on people to like it, not that they need it, and especially right now, where there's endless content available to everyone. Now, it's not so much like, oh, you know, well, I need it, I need something to watch in the evenings, right? I mean, the kids have gone to bed, ideally. And now, you know, I can sit down and watch something and escape for a little period of time before you know, the morning comes there, they start to get that, that well is mess. So now, it's got to it actually has to be It can't just be the content. That's not what you're selling, are you actually selling something that people actually like, and what? So So I mean, that's, that's the whenever we talk about finance and bringing in money, we one we will have a model, so that we can show, look, we've evaluated the market, we recognize that the budget is going to speak to the market right now in this Shaundra our talent, this comes back to where you asked about, you know, or made a comment about finding that a Lister or that star that is going to drive sales, or be your most marketable piece in the film. You know, you have to actually, you have to pay very close attention that because not every actor speaks to every genre. And that'll be something that a lot of people present to us, they'll say, Oh, we think this person is perfect. And you know, and they sell so well. And be like Well, no, they sell so well but not not genre. They there's there's no knowledge in that. So yes, there are no name, but then you do have to actually it has to be you know, well researched as to whether they are going to inform sales speak that. So all of that is is basically just trying to find ways to mitigate the risk of investment on every project.

Alex Ferrari 44:53
And it is it is when you're when you're hiring an actor or a name actor, you're basically paying for marketing upfront, is you are investing in a marketing budget up front. So if you're getting if you're paying for Thomas Jane, he has a built in audience and a built in built in awareness that he's been able to build up over his career that has valued you. Can you do that for Bruce Willis? That's telling investors and that's telling people who are buying your film and buyers, you've, you've pre invested in marketing, where in a world where you know films of your size, you can't compete with the studio's just there's no way you can compete marketing money. There's just you can't you can't market your film.

Jason Armstrong 45:38
We're not matching. We're not matching our budget in marketing PR,

Alex Ferrari 45:42
No, no, are doubling or tripling. Yeah, exactly. And even if you did, what, what would that be? What value? Would that bring? Like? Seriously? Like, how could you would you even make a dent in the universe have some sort of awareness, but you put Bruce Willis in your movie, there's automatic awareness is automatic. So when you're scanning through 1000 things, you're like, oh, there's Bruce. Or there's Thomas, or, you know, there. And that's what you're paying for when you hired these these named actors. And that's what filmmakers need to truly understand. And also, another thing I always try to say is some actors. We were kind of joking about Bruce Bruce is still Bruce. And Nicolas Cage is still Nicolas Cage, no question. But there were certain actors who oversaturated the market with themselves. And I worked on movies, where the like, oh, this poor guy, like paid a good amount of money for this one actor, but he did 25 movies that year, I'm not exaggerating. And he went out to the distribution companies, like we already got three of those guys have that guy this year, we're good. And he got sick, he got saddled with a movie they couldn't sell, because the actor was oversaturated. So there's, you've got to kind of figure that out as well. It's a, it's a lovely type rope, we work we want.

Rob Goodrich 46:51
That's why we do pay close attention to speak pretty regularly with our sales guys and say, you know, what's in the pipeline for this individual? You know, what do we need to be aware of not today, but six months from now? Right? You know, I want to add one more thing to the financing. So, two things, really, I think the most important thing for people to take away is you have to be flexible, and you have to adapt, that adapt to the money and you have to adapt creatively. Because they're, they're intertwined, no matter what. So one of the ways that we really kickstart our projects, we have skin in the game, we'll put skin in the game as a company, so we can give an investment group and investor another company for a copro some level of confidence that, that we're in it. You know, we've got something to lose to we're working

Jason Armstrong 47:39
It is like being alone. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 47:44
Misery, misery loves company. Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Rob Goodrich 47:52
The other thing I was gonna say in sort of, as we're looking at financial models, and as we're looking at sales, and how do we maximize something being marketable, we have not not changed the the gender of an actor or an actress in a film, we have flipped roles, because we've identified Oh, well, you know, that actor might be more might be better as an actress, because we can get this individually and might increase the marketability, so long as it doesn't take away from the creative. And, you know, Jay and I are very, not pushy, but very upfront with our filmmakers to say, look, any suggestion we have, we're in your corner. As a director, we're in your corner as a creative team, we are always going to be pushing for what makes this movie, the most marketable, most commercial it can be, because aside from the money, that means more eyeballs are going to see it. So if there are ways for us to make improvements like that, that's how it all connects the marketability, the commercial ability to sales, the money, the investors get their money back, they come back to us and say, What do you have next, and the actors are happy.

Alex Ferrari 49:03
So it's a win win, win win across everybody across everybody's and that's, again, another rarity in our business. To say the least. Now one thing, most most filmmakers have this problem and I think everybody at any stage in the in the game other than in the studio system is distribution is actually making money with their product. Because before the you know, with the cost to make the product was such a difficult thing and expensive thing. Now you can make a pretty high quality product with the right people at a low cost. But getting it out to the marketplace and actually generating revenue with that is more difficult now than ever before. In the ever changing landscape where T VOD used to be a thing now is no longer a thing really, especially in the independent film market. S VOD is great, but they don't pay you for three years. So how do you how do you make that business work? You know, a VOD is great, but you know so and then foreign sales is not what it wasn't the 90s or the early 2000s, and you don't have DVD to fall back on anymore. So how do you guys, you know, generate revenue with your films? Like how is it like how were you doing sales agents? Are you doing pre sales? Foreign? What? Where's that kind of work? I mean, obviously, don't give me numbers. I don't want to your entire business model guys, but just generally,

Jason Armstrong 50:19
No, absolutely. I mean, look, we honestly, it's, it's different with every film, so that that's just a fact. You know, there are a lot of there are a lot of filmmakers right now that are a massive part of their finance model is foreign sales. So they'll they'll lock in a certain amount of foreign sales, and then they'll maybe try and leave domestic open, but more often than not, they'll, you know, make a big domestic deal, too. And then they'll evaluate with that shortfall or that gap. And

Alex Ferrari 50:49
Is this pre is this pre production? Or is this after production,

Jason Armstrong 50:53
Pre production,

Alex Ferrari 50:53
So your pre sell your pre selling based on selling

Jason Armstrong 50:56
On pre selling to foreign, and then even looking, and then looking at an MG domestically, and then evaluating what a gap or shortfall could look like, Okay, now, that's so that could that back, that's why that's we need to pay very, very close attention to the film. So, you know, to how it's how that genre has been performing over the past couple of years, how your talent within the in the film have been performing, or who you're looking at signing into the film, have been performing over the past couple of years. Because if you have sort of pre sold the fill to all the major markets, and now you're you are recognizing that you still have a gap or a shortfall, and you're filling that with potential equity, instead of or maybe looking at your senior financing and thinking of bridge or something along those lines. The problem is that, that is where you can find yourself in a spot where you're training someone you saying, Well, this is what's left. And you know, we need this as a as a shortfall. You want it as equity or make an equity investment? Where are you pointing to the potential ROI for that money for the person that's coming in, because you've pretty much sold the Fill everywhere, where it's going to perform well. And if if you were so in need of the money to make the film, to greenlight the film, that you weren't able to evaluate the best deal, either from a domestic sale or in foreign, you weren't really looking at the windows, you know, or like when it was gonna be built. So you're all of a sudden, you're sitting at a spot where sure you got a complete model if they fill the gap, but how are you? How are you explaining to them where they're going to see revenue? Right, because things are going to get eaten by the foreign distributors and then the sales agents going to take their fee and then it comes back in and then if you were working with senior financier to cover all that, then they've got their fee and then that's coming out and and then all of a sudden, there's all these things are getting paid out ahead of this gap, or shortfall and the gap or shortfall doesn't even have any collateralised territories or profitable territories to sit on so so that's something to be very, you know, conscious of when you're when you are examining that sort of pre sale model, which we do and then if you know if you if you have a strong enough relationship with with sales and distributors and you can engage in these conversations and not have to perhaps you know, sell your film right up front but but have those conversations recognize what its worth is again, that's a lot of that is relationship based but it's also having worked with them in the past and delivered right so so there's there's that and then then when you're speaking to to someone from an equity standpoint, hard money as opposed to soft money, you can say look, we've deliberately left this this this this open, and let me show you how this genre and this talent has performed and not not five years ago.

Alex Ferrari 54:05
Yeah, so no Blair Witch projections, and no Paranormal Activity projections that's a horror movie and your sales pitch now like they made a billion dollars you could too

Rob Goodrich 54:18
Those other ones when they show you the comps in there from 2003

Alex Ferrari 54:25
Blair which is still on every low budget horror movie comp ever

Rob Goodrich 54:31
We see insidious Blair Witch

Paranormal and paranormal don't forget paranormal.

Jason Armstrong 54:37
Yeah. See, that's that's also so that's that's that's that's the other you know, that you know, we're that's what brings up a very important subject. We deal a lot with sort of savvy investors, right. So that have already been in the game so they expect a certain thing from our model. They know that they're going to get a game If they're evaluating it from a from hard money standpoint, that that we have, we have we can answer to their ROI we can answer to their immediate ROI. And, and we even have room in the waterfall, right? I mean, because, you know, people love talking about the waterfall. But there's so many cases where the gap is a shortfall, it would take so long for them even get their ROI, their initial ROI and their investment. Forget about the back end points. I mean, my God,

Alex Ferrari 55:30
Well, it's kind of like, it's kind of like a river. And it's going over to a waterfall. And at first, it's wide open, and the waterfall is plentiful, and there's a lot of water running through. But every time you throw some new financing, there's another log, there's another, there's another giant rock, and then all of a sudden that waterfall starts slowing down to the point where it's a trick by the time it gets to the edge. It's it's a trickle, but you sold them. You sold on the open waterfall. And that's the problem.

Jason Armstrong 55:57
Absolutely.

Rob Goodrich 55:57
I can't tell you how many times we've been distracted at earlier stages that Jay and I are big, you know, contract guys, right? So everybody knows what's going on? Everybody involved? You put it in the drawer after you sign it. Hopefully you never look at it again. But there's no lingering. Well, what about this? What about that kind of conversation? I cannot tell you how many how many projects have been stalled by producers or other individuals fighting for back end points. And you just want to say you got to make the damn movie first. Oh, yeah. Yeah, then maybe we'll see. So. But that's, that's a target. I always sort of get turned off by

Alex Ferrari 56:39
Oh, everybody. I mean, how many times I mean, I've had I mean, when I was first starting out, we were meeting my original producing partner when I was just starting off off a short film I was producing that was getting a lot of heat around town. And we were taking meetings, we were fighting about the feature rights were like, I want this credit. I want that credit. And I want this back end point. I'm like, and you know, only time kind of shows you like you're idiots. There's this is not Spider Man, guys, you need to calm the hell down. Like it's not you want to fight for those points. Absolutely fight away. But there's no potential let's make the damn thing first. And then let's talk about talk about what's kind of music. It's the same thing. Who's got the publishing rights? It doesn't have the publishing rights, same thing.

Jason Armstrong 57:23
Yeah. And, and I think that's the thing when you're saying sort of saying people using the Blair Witch on you know, on a deck to help sell their film or to help or to help work on investment for investors, you know, drop some hard equity into it. It's I mean, that can work for for investors that have no experience in the business dentist, a dentist. Well, that's sexy. I mean, yeah, I can't get an ROI like that on any other investment.

Alex Ferrari 57:50
But it's so but it's immoral. It's immoral. You can't you can't throw an anomaly. Blair, which was an anomaly, parent paranormal activities anomaly and didn't send

Jason Armstrong 57:59
There's no longevity to that. Right. There's no longevity. So you'll make one movie. And Robin, I've had this conversation many times, we have no interest in making one movie. That's so if you if you deceive, right, essentially, that's pretty much what it is. You just see, of course, investors, or you just see partners that are coming in on your project, and never coming back. And anyone they know, is never coming back saying you. You haven't forged a relationship that's now going to come back on your next two or three films.

Alex Ferrari 58:31
It's toxic, it's toxic,

Rob Goodrich 58:33
Starting from scratch all over again, on your next bill. We put so much work into building that out, would he go nowhere.

Alex Ferrari 58:41
And then and then and again. On top of that you're not even starting from scratch, you're starting worse than scratch because now you've got a bad reputation out there. And now you're gonna fight against that. That's when you move. That's when you move from Louisiana to Atlanta, Atlanta, and then from Atlanta to New Mexico, and New Mexico to Vancouver.

Rob Goodrich 58:59
Well, it's crazy, because it's such a it's such a big, big business, and it's expanding across the world. But it's a

Alex Ferrari 59:06
Small business

Rob Goodrich 59:09
That traveled

Alex Ferrari 59:10
You have no idea like I'm sure if you and I started you guys and I started like talking off air about who we know. I promise you we know the same people. And I've talked to so many people on the show and I'll be like, Oh yeah, I worked with that guy. Or that guy. I started with them when they were coming up or oh this guy or that. There's this but now and it's it's people think it's a big business. It is not everybody knows everybody small world. It's very small and it never ceases to amaze me how small of a world it really is in our business. And if you piss somebody off or you do somebody wrong, it will come back to you. There's no question, no question about it and the best advice I ever got for being in the film business and everyone listening knows this because I say at nauseum don't be a dick right? that goes from the grip to the PA all the way to the producers in the director. Because you don't want to work with you don't want to work with a dick. Oh,

Rob Goodrich 1:00:09
Well, you know, I always find it takes more energy to be a dick to just either be nice or walk away.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:17
Well, that's for you because other people have made it into an art form of being a dick. Have you run it? Have you run into that guy? I've run into that, but he might just only one. There's only the one guy in Hollywood. Who was a dick. Everyone else is super cool. But now, so what do you guys up to next? Well, your next project.

Rob Goodrich 1:00:39
So we're out in Las Cruces, New Mexico right now doing a film called Squealer with Andy Armstrong of the Armstrong family, huge stunt coordinating family and he is behind the camera right now. Big second unit director. So our idea behind that was let's take a sort of a horror thriller actually feel and punch the hell out of it and really pump up the stunts make it look like something people haven't seen before. We've got West Chatham, Theo Rossi, Catherine knotek, our cast is growing we're attaching to more today. We're thrilled about that. We dropped a pretty good nugget the other day in variety. We've acquired the rights to fame adventure, John Fairfax, who if you haven't been familiar with who this man is, the most interesting man in the World commercials were based off of him. Wow. So we're, we're very excited rode the ocean twice single or guys wild

Alex Ferrari 1:01:37
Single word, single or really?

Rob Goodrich 1:01:41
Yeah. So I mean, I would advise anybody to go to his obituary New York Times, John Fairfax 2012, your mind will be blown.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:51
So you mean to tell me that sharks have a week dedicated to him is what you're saying.

Rob Goodrich 1:02:01
But now we're looking at a couple of big properties. We just, we just options, something with Thomas Jane, we're going to copro his next movie of Western late spring. And a number of things in the works. I mean, we've been very comfortable and excited and happy living where we've been living right now. And I think 22 and 23 are going to see us take a take a Leap, leap forward with some sort of higher caliber higher scale projects. That really, instead of doing this, four to four to seven movies a year, probably get it down to about three or four,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:38
Three or four Bigger, bigger ones, as opposed to bigger pictures. Yeah, that's a good four to seven super fun.

Rob Goodrich 1:02:45
That's a pretty good standpoint. I mean, we're always, you know, if we're EP in a project, that's fine, if that makes sense for us, and we can be of use, we're always looking, and we're always happy to help friends or finding projects. But from a real hands on producing standpoint, I think we're really looking to, to elevate the scale of what we're doing a bit, and we've got some good property to deal with.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:08
Now, I'm gonna ask you guys, quite a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give to a filmmaker trying to break into the business today? Well, JJ is literally pissing himself right now. Jay is literally pissing himself right now.

Rob Goodrich 1:03:22
My assistant Alyssa, who is a huge fan of this podcast.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:27
Oh, that's awesome.

Rob Goodrich 1:03:28
She is She was a PA. And on our last production, I said, you know, I just My hands are too full to the production office. Do you guys have anybody who can help me out a little bit? Well, I'll tell you, she and her boyfriend have been the hardest workers on set as PDAs. And what they ended up doing on our last film was Alyssa was working with me on her third film, she's now flying out here to work with us. Her boyfriend ended up driving talent around, ended up working in different departments. So my advice and j then you can chip in is get in, get in there and PA, because if you are within eyeshot of somebody you're within your shot, and you're within arm's length, and they're going to pull you in, and they're going to give you an opportunity to say, come help me out. And eventually that conversation turns into, Oh, what do you want to do? Oh, you want to be in the camera department? Well, let me see if I can get you to be a camera PA, something along those lines. My big thing is start at the bottom. You know, you don't have to have a script. You don't have to try to be a filmmaker to be a filmmaker, I would really urge you know, try to get in on the ground and do as much as you can onset or in an office working with the people that are doing it.

Jason Armstrong 1:04:39
Yeah, I mean, so just to touch on and carry off what Rob said. The Yeah, I mean, really get engaged, get really engaged because understanding all the roles is so valuable. I mean, even if you're even if you're a screenwriter, an aspiring director, anything Understanding every everyone's job that's required in order to produce these things to deliver these things, because it's a lot of moving pieces. And if you're ignorant to any of those moving pieces, it's gonna affect your ability to, to, to properly present yourself or your material. So, so yeah, I mean, get in there, get different jobs, you know, even if it's not something that you want to do, learn it so that when you do actually get that door open to the, to the field that you love, you can actually speak intelligently, but what you need from different departments, different key heads, everything else. And then I would say outside of that, don't be precious, just don't be precious over your material, right? I mean, God, the number of people that are sitting on potential IP, and they're like this, well, I just it, this isn't the right, this isn't the right fit, or, you know, this, I'm worried that they're going to do this with it, or if I show it now, it's not gonna work out, and then I'm gonna, you know, and then it's gonna be gone. So, just don't, because the truth is, you will do that forever. And then then that material that you thought was just so valuable, it's not relevant, or, or you've given everyone so much time to either touch on a small piece of it, right? Because, you know, so many of our ideas, and so many of our creative ideas that we come up with, they're, they're triggered from something we've read something we've seen something we've experienced. And to think that there aren't a vast number of people that are experiencing the same thing, and might have similar ideas or anything else. So get it out there. See an opportunity? Don't hold it close to your chest. You know, be smart. Be smart, right? I mean, protect. Sure, Mark, but don't be precious.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
Yeah. And I always tell people, the business is tough enough, man, you don't need to throw more obstacles in front of you. There's going to be plenty of them along along the way without you screwing yourself up. Just you know, don't as as, as a famous sage once said, don't don't push the river. Don't it's yeah, don't push it's gonna flop.

Jason Armstrong 1:07:13
And you know what the best thing to say about you know, don't be a dick. Honestly, our business is stressful enough. Oh, God. I mean, be around dicks. Come on.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:25
Oh, and we all have been we all had been when we were coming up, we all have to do we all have to deal with either bosses or? Or egomaniacs? Or you know, or sociopath. I dealt with a mobster for a while. That's a whole other story. That's a whole other conversation. Um,

Rob Goodrich 1:07:42
You know, I'll tell you a quick story real quick. And I don't want to press time. But you know, I was a PA before and we're talking about Bruce Willis. And, you know, he was he was due to come into the office, and I was working for a very well known producer at the time. And he was neurotic. And I was like, why are you erratic? He goes, well, well, Bruce really likes a clean office, which understandably, and I'm looking around, and I'm like, David, this place is spotless, and he gets on his hands and knees. And he gets under a desk and he pulls out a piece of trash. And I got it, I'll get it. I'll get it. I'm the assistant, right. And he goes, doesn't matter. We're on the same team. I'm going to get reamed out by him. He doesn't know who you are, doesn't care who you are. And he goes, I'll just do it myself. I'm right here. That little lesson taught me so much. I'm going to just go ahead and do it. We're all in the same team. I don't have to have any level of hierarchy, hey, you go do this. It's got to get done. And I think if you can lead by example, it travels down all the way down the line. I mean, for some, for somebody that's coming up, you know, impressions matter. And if you if you listen, and if you're, if you're astute, and you're a go getter, and you don't have to talk to necessarily, you know, just absorb everything and be in the room. And I think that that could really go a long way for a lot of people.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:04
I mean, I saw a video of Keanu Reeves on John Wick for carrying camera gear up Astaire upstairs. Yeah, on a company move. And everyone's like, look at Keanu Reeves. Oh my God. He is literally you know, a saint. And I'm like, he's a human being man. He's, he said, he's just a good dude, man. I mean, he's like, he's just a good dude. That's all it is. Like, he's not like, he's not Jesus guys. You know, but he's, he's a good dude. And I love to work with them. As I'm sure everybody. So Kiana if you're listening, any three of us, any of us would love to work with you, sir. Well, we'll make it work for you. We'll make it work for you. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Rob Goodrich 1:09:48
Yeah. So you know, out mine is it's it applies to both. I have two young daughters. The lesson for me has been didn't know when to turn it off. So I always just been a hustler my whole life. And I always thought, Okay, I have to do all of these things if it's ever gonna happen, bla bla bla, you know, part of it's a function of being where we are career wise, that makes it a little easier. But, you know, especially during the pandemic, I was much more able to just press pause on everything, have lunch with my kids. And I think that that has translated into work as well, where I don't feel like I need to answer every email within five seconds. You know, there's a, there's sort of this, like, hurry up and wait mentality in Hollywood, but there's panic if I don't do it now. So I think the lesson learned for me is that it's okay to sort of take a be, you know, it's certainly been reflected in my work as well. Because I'm, I'm more you aware of what I'm putting out there. And I'm more conscientious of let's, let's just not push, push, push. But let's actually take a second, sit back, a take care of yourself for a moment, enjoy what's around you, and be you know, take some time to make sure that what you're doing, you're doing right,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:11
But is that but that also is his age. I mean, your 21 year olds are not generally coming to that enlightened state. You know, and it took me a while to man, I've been hustling as you can see still hustling with everything everywhere. Non stop. Yeah, to a certain point, my wife actually said, you don't, you don't need to garage sale anymore. We don't need you to go hustle out, you know, this or that. I got a real quick story. I gotta tell you, because it's so funny. And I think it really hits this point. A years ago, when we moved to LA for the first time. I was, during Christmas, I always figured out how to hustle things. So I figured out that on GameStop, there was this video game that you could buy on sale for like $15. But on Amazon, it was on sale for $50. So I was like, Oh, wow, this is cool. So most people are like, Oh, you must have bought like a whole bunch of things from GameStop. I'm like, No, that's way too much work. So what I did is I posted it on Amazon for 60. Anytime a sale would come in, I would then have buy it off of Gamestop put their address in and have Gamestop ship it directly to them. So I was basically doing auto arbitrage. And I pulled in like oh before Gamestop stopped, like 40 or 50 sales in before Gamestop saying what the hell's going on with this account. And I was so proud. I went to my wife. I'm like, Look how much money we made for Christmas. This is great. She's like, we didn't move across the effing country for use of video. We're here for you to be a filmmaker. I was like, oh, gosh, and this like that moment. You just have to go okay, I need to pull back for a second. Really what's important, and why am I here? What am I doing? As opposed to the I gotta make money? I gotta make money. I gotta hustle. I gotta hustle. I gotta hustle. Jay, what's your what's your answer to that?

Jason Armstrong 1:13:06
Uh, well then see, if we're looking at you know, without the years and age sort of coming into play. And young, I would say not to wait for tomorrow, like, where it's gonna be a little bit more perfected. Right. And, and so, and Rob was just sort of touching it like, I've got two little girls too. And same here.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:29
Yeah, same here. Amazing. Well, well, twin girls, twin girls, man, it's a I'm 25 Look what they've done to me. I'm 25 years old. Look what I've done to me.

Jason Armstrong 1:13:39
I think that's the thing. You know, I mean, it's it's basically, it's a you don't, because there is that, especially in this business. And again, you sort of touched on that where I was sort of saying to be loving, precious. It's, um, it's waiting, you know? Oh, it'll be I'll have this other piece attitude by tomorrow, or this will be finessed a little bit more by tomorrow. And then that tomorrow becomes the tomorrow tomorrow. And, and yeah, I mean, that's just it ends up being wasted time. So I would say I would say that that's something that took me a while to learn at the beginning. Especially as a writer at that time. It's it's you know, yeah, don't wait.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:22
The art of good the art of good enough. Yeah, the art of good enough because if not, you'll be five years on one script. And, and last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Rob Goodrich 1:14:39
Oh, boy, you want to jump in there?

Alex Ferrari 1:14:42
Not really.

Jason Armstrong 1:14:49
I mean, this guy you got to put in Weekend at Bernie's.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:52
I mean, obviously, obviously,

Jason Armstrong 1:14:55
Obviously Weekend at Bernie's has to be in there.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:00
David Oh God I forgot the director's name well, man

Rob Goodrich 1:15:04
Whatever you say is gonna sound better than mine

Jason Armstrong 1:15:08
I don't know we can hit one hit one we'll go bounce back and forth.

Rob Goodrich 1:15:13
Okay so I'll give you my three but one of them has an A attached to it So in no particular order we've got Rudy we've got Tommy Boy we've got Love Actually.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:27
Wow, so that pretty much told me everything I need to know about you sir. It's a pretty much got your entire personality wrapped in those three films.

Rob Goodrich 1:15:36
And I'll give you I'll give you my three a national treasure.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:41
Oh my God.

Rob Goodrich 1:15:45
Listen, I'm in this game. entertainment. Entertainment. I swear to God if national treasures on I am not moving and I can recite every line.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:56
I am I think I think you're not gonna have a beer sir. Those three those those three combination that's a hell of a. That's a hell of a compliment. Love actually thrown it will laugh. Tommy Boy, Rudy.

Jason Armstrong 1:16:10
It's so true though. If you actually back up and just evaluate your favorite films, but the films that you've watched 1000 times rideable number of times, and if it's on you don't turn off. And you actually don't even start multitasking. But watching well actually, I mean, that happened what for that? I can't even imagine the 100th time over the holidays. This you just keep watching. Because it's always on the holidays. And all of us go anywhere. And

Alex Ferrari 1:16:43
It's it's it's you know, we all could say Citizen Kane. We could all say Godfather but I haven't watched this again since film school. And Godfather is not a movie I watch every weekend. You know it's and don't get me wrong Godfather is an AMAZING film. But it's those movies that you just watch again and again. You know, for me, Shawshank fightclub the matrix that solid, solid solid three like they turn on, then you want to get into the 80s actions Lethal Weapon predator, Die Hard. And then we now we could just

Jason Armstrong 1:17:18
See this is what? I can't do this. I start saying

Alex Ferrari 1:17:24
Oh, but this was Oh yeah. You know, it is I always like throwing that out. There's like it's three that come to mind at this moment in time. It will change tomorrow will change five minutes from now. But at this moment in time, That's it boys. It has been an absolute joy talking to you guys. I wish you guys nothing but continued success in what you're doing. And I appreciate you guys coming on and sharing some real knowledge bombs with with my audience because if they need to hear it, they need to hear from people who are doing it and doing it right. So I do appreciate you guys coming on man and much continued success. You guys.

Jason Armstrong 1:18:01
Thank you.

Rob Goodrich 1:18:02
Thank you. It's an honor for us and we're fans of the podcast and you know, we're looking forward to making more movies.

LINKS

SPONSORS

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