IFH 630: The Evolution of Your Creative & Filmmaking Dream with Kyle Cease

After over 20 years of achieving what he thought were his dreams of being a headlining touring comedian and actor, Kyle Cease suddenly discovered that the belief “When something happens, I will be happy” is a complete lie.

Following the calling of his heart, he decided to quit his stand-up career at its peak, and now—as a transformational comedian and New York Times bestselling author of I Hope I Screw This Up—he brings his one-of-a-kind wisdom to sold-out audiences around the world and reaches millions online.

Kyle Cease has made more than 100 different TV and movie appearances, including 10 Things I Hate About You, Not Another Teen Movie, Jimmy Kimmel Live, The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, Chelsea Lately, The Martin Short Show, Comics Unleashed, and numerous VH1 shows. He has two #1 Comedy Central specials to his credit and, in 2009, Kyle earned the #1 ranking on Comedy Central’s Stand-up Showdown.

Enjoy my conversation with Kyle Cease.

Alex Ferrari 0:20
I'd like to welcome to the show Kyle Cease, How you doin Kyle?

Kyle Cease 0:52
I'm so good, man. It's so good to see you.

Alex Ferrari 0:55
Good seeing you too man. I, I we were just talking before we started recording that, you know, we both come from the insane world of the entertainment business and two different fields. And I've walked over some of the same courses that you have over the years. Yeah, absolutely. RapidILL. Which brings me to my very first question I always love. I've worked with a lot of standup comics throughout my career as a director. And they're very interesting group of people. And in, I've always found that comedians are not the happiest people I've ever met. And there, they got deep things going on. And it's interesting. I love to find out what drew you to comedy because it is arguably one of the toughest things to do stand up comedy specifically to do in the entertainment business.

Kyle Cease 1:45
Well, you know, one aspect of why I was so lucky was I started at so young that I didn't get to get to the stage where it would be a scary thing. In fact, it actually birthed after I'd been doing it for 15 years. So in other words, like when you're a kid, you just you know, well, there's other aspects too. I will say I was born into a family that energetically had some aspect of themselves that were used to being in the entertainment industry. So my uncle was the prop man for Gallagher.

Alex Ferrari 2:16
I am old enough. I'm old enough to remember Gallagher's. Yes.

Kyle Cease 2:19
Right and he'd spent time also doing a lot of carrot tops props, too. But when I was in like second grade, I remember a spending time in Gallagher's warehouse. I mean, is there any way better to get a child into stand up comedy than Gallagher because his his his giant toys and smashing fruit and and then having this intellectual conversation, I as a child, really remember also feeling connected to my dad through that, like my dad was always playing New Gallagher specials and laughing and that's where my dad seemed to light up. And that's where I felt a connection to him. So I as a child, wanted to feel that love with him. And I feel like unconsciously stand up comedy was a given that that's the way to do it. I remember very well in second grade, Mrs. Blaylock, my teacher in second grade, giving me five minutes to do whatever I wanted at the end of the week and me doing Gallagher's material, which was funny because I was talking about sex and taxes with a southern accent and didn't get any of the jokes. I would I would use props to add up my dad's underwear and be like women you go out shopping you buy us underwear that fits cardboard, am I right guys? I'm saying Am I right guys to second graders. And you know, doing this stand up act and really feeling the most entertaining TV to me was either sitcoms or stand up comedy. I was not very much into cartoons. I really loved Mike, my favorite show as a child was a&e as an evening at the Improv and then watching all these comics was amazing. And so I was doing it throughout elementary school. I was doing assemblies and different things like that. And, you know, I think one aspect I'm realizing now as I do so much inner work and awareness work is that even though it was my passion and my highest drive, I believe it also kept me safe meaning like my feeling of safety with my father was that we bonded through comedy like my dad was often and I love my dad, but he was often as a child, he was in his head didn't feel like he was there. And I felt loved if stand up comedy was involved, right? So we bonded via TV we bonded through laughing. And so I kind of wonder if my dream career that was like my, you know, my dharma and my calling was actually you know, me not getting hurt or me not getting unseen. And you know, me creating this thing that I had to do for safety and for expansion. And you know, in junior high I noticed I am I was a chubby kid but I am so loved if I'm doing stand up if I do an assembly if I speak Get something I'm getting more loved. And so I was doing comedy clubs, small comedy clubs at 12 1314. And then like public access shows, and being able to walk into school and be like, did you guys see me on TV yesterday, and then at 15, I was like a middle act at comedy clubs and. And so, because of that, I learned how to be a comedian before I learned how to be a person. And all of the aspects of what I needed to know how to be as a person continue to grow. Now, it's like, there's a quote, I don't remember what the actual quote is, or, or you know, the basis of a but once you get famous, and I'm sure not saying I was a child star, but once you have this recognition for a talent, you kind of stopped growing. In other words, like I was able to dry off my tears with stand up at night or get love with stand up or get attention with stand up or be seen. And so it was hard for me to develop the same way, I think, as most people, because I was a comedian, also a musician, a singer and different things. So I had this constant weapon to get love and to be seen. And it wasn't until I was like in my mid 20s, that with my career through the roof, and everything that I actually developed stage fright for the first time. And it was just because I had almost taken for granted that I could just do this. And I was touring so much that I ended up finally at one point, creating stage fright. And that was what opened the door to my entire conscious awakening going through a motivational Tony Robbins phase. And that shifting to me understanding, vibration and flow and now really understanding more and more than now, all of those happened when the aspects of my ability to hide behind my success. Were starting to fall apart. Right? They needed to to get me to find me. And so, so yeah, so I didn't it is a hard business. But for me, I was almost unaware of that was born into it, if you will, yeah, yeah, kind of my grandma was also a puppeteer on The Carol Burnett Show. I also have an uncle who's a Grammy nominated jazz musician on my mom's side. I am my grandma, on my mom's side was a massive political activist. Like it was very happy birthday was in five part harmony and my right and, and so there was a lot of just given that we're, this is a thing that is part of me that I'm an entertainer, but that I didn't learn a lot of the aspects of being a person or at least aware as a human being. And even higher than that, until way later.

Alex Ferrari 7:49
No, no, I, you know, I've obviously, I've read both of your books, I've studied a lot of the things you've done. And what I find fascinating about your story is, and you've kind of touched upon it in that first answer, which is you had a very successful comedy career. I mean, you had specials you had number one comedy specials, you're touring all the time, you know, you're making a living doing what arguably, you love to do. But as you said, things started to fall apart. And this is where historically, a lot of comics destroy themselves. Yes, they start going down, you know, you know, obviously, the James Baluchis and these kinds of folks, you know, they start to destroy themselves, but you didn't do that. So what was the thing that caused you to go towards the direction you went to?

Kyle Cease 8:32
That's a great question. So one of the things is weird, I'm gonna bring up 2020 and 2021 for a second, because I think it ties to this. But one of the things I see this time as being is the fall apart of our false identities. In other words, if you look at 2019, you might have had a decent enough job, or the ability to escape via travel or going to restaurants effortlessly, or whatever. You just had a medium enough relationship, whatever, that you didn't have to go within. And then it seems like 2020 just collapsed all of these little false identities, right? That, that you are a whatever, that your identity is your connection to your family. Well, a lot of families separated in the last two years, right, that your identity is your career. Well, a lot of people got laid off, that your identity is that you're someone who gives all authority to outside of you, the media, the government, whatever, and now you kind of are questioning what the hell's going on. This is what I see as the universe's way of making us go inward. You know, like, instead of looking at it from what's going on with them, like the government's or whatever, it's this opportunity to go inward. I started realizing that every time something is falling apart in our lives, it's trying to kill what we think we are but not what we truly are. And so, as a stand up comic, I at one point was so the first fall apart happened. When I, I was, at one point really successful as a stand up comic, I had done a ton of colleges, I had headlined a lot of clubs. And it was just a thing that I do, there was not a part of me that even asked asked anything deeper about what I am, you're just go to the next gig, make money, get partying with people have a great time, whatever, go to the next gig have a great time. Well, at one point, I'm on stage and I at that point, I'm maybe 2526, I could do my act in my sleep, I could go on stage and I had just performed every single night, an hour and a half or so a night at these colleges and killed so hard that it wasn't challenging me. And I could go on stage and be spacing out and deliver not even know what I'm saying. And just like run the motions, kill have a really good response. But it didn't challenge me to keep creating, I could do my act. You know what I'm saying? It was like I had the act. And sometimes it would write itself more on stage. But I really believe that if you're not creating your your mind will creatively sabotage you. Right? It'll come up with stuff. So one day I'm on stage, I'll never forget this. I'm in Mesquite, Nevada, and I'm on stage and I'm killing and out of nowhere, my mind goes, I wonder if you could think about it enough if you could make yourself faint. That was the thought I had. And I remember right when I thought that I started like waiting out. And so I thought oh my god, and then you know that thing where people say you can't not think about something like don't think a pink elephants thing, you know? And of course, so I've started believing about that you can't not think about something. So I'm basically this unraveled this thought I'm on stage doing different material while inside. I'm going in like there's two me's going on. There's a me outside delivering standup, and there's a me inside going, you cannot think about something. So what, what if you just keep thinking about fainting, and then you'll faint when you're on stage, and it'll ruin your career. And the underlying belief is I am my career, right? Like, I don't know, anything I am without my career. Like, there's no reason to live without my career at that, like, I am this person that has the sets. I get love from this. I haven't gotten to a depth yet that investigated anything past that. So it was just like, what if you think about it so much, if you'll make yourself faint. This started snowballing into the craziest thing. And the other thing was the year before I had done at one point, like 200 colleges in a row and every flight, every gig was two flights away or more. And I didn't sleep, lived on Drive Thru, drank had coffee. And then you know, at the end of that tour, was able to be on autopilot yet my body was gone it there was no you know, your your life is your career. So you're not even thinking sleep, you're I would go on stage and he just be so exhausted. And then the Act would make me so hyper and excited that I would wake up when I need to go to sleep, because it's night, you know, and then everyone wants to party and you're hanging out with people. It was the craziest thing you know, because you now you're excited. You have you have to get to the airport at 4am. That's three hours away in a different time zone. So you'd stay up with these, these people are you hanging out or you're just too high in your own hotel room and you can't sleep so you get like 40 minutes asleep, drive to the next gig two, three flights away. So imagine on top of this sabotaging thinking, my body is just dead it, there's no nutrition in it, there's no, I've hit a wall of exhaustion. That is unbelievable, right? So all of that's in there. So the beginning of all of my shift was this first fear. Where what if I think about it, and then ruin my career, like basically the crazy kind of brilliant creative thinking but in the negative is you'll not be able to stop thinking about fainting when you're on stage. And that will ruin your career, and then you'll be nothing. Right? And so I walk off stage after that first night and everyone's going great show and I'm going I'm gonna faint I know. It sounds so stupid and weird. But it was really profound for me because I'm like, you guys, it'll be this thing. And people would just kind of belittle it like, Oh, it's nothing and I'd be like, that makes me be like, No, I'm going to prove it to you. It's really bad. Like, we love to prove our limitations, right and, and I'm going to prove it to you like you're wrong. This is really a nightmare. This started becoming a thing I'd worry about all day. I'm going to faint when I'm on stage and that will be the end of my career. This built bigger and bigger and bigger. While I'm at this the biggest height of it becoming a snowballing crazy panic attack anxiety thing. I booked my first Comedy Central appearance on the show premium blend. And my manager says you just got premium blend. This is big and he goes don't blow it and I'm like it's six months. out, how could I blow it? And I'm like, what if I faint on premium blend? And I'm like, That's my big opportunity. I finally get this Comedy Central career down, I have all the foundation, and I get the stupid freaking anxiety. And I'm like, what if I faint when I'm on it, I know this sounds crazy, but it was really huge. And so I start thinking, I'm going to, I'm going to faint when I'm on premium blend. I started picturing it, I start going through this whole thing. For six months, this gets to a point where I almost can't do gigs anymore. I remember going to an assembly I'm performing at a junior high assembly and with this girl that I was dating at the time, and she's like, Baby, you're not going to faint. And I'm like I'm so I like I'm so it's crazy. And they had this huge, wide open hardwood floor like a gym floor. And I for the first time start wobbling and I see her like in the audience like, Oh my God, he's gonna faint, and I grab a chair now. And I'm in a chair now. Like, this is the first time of doing my act sitting. And this is proving to me, Oh, my God, it's going to be a horrible thing. Like you're going to it's this thing. This gets to the point where now that was so traumatic, that I had almost the reverse the opposite of claustrophobia. In other words, I was scared of giant gym floors like, and if I was walking on any hardwood floor, whoever I was dating at the time would have to hold my hand with me. And like I described gravitated to, I almost can't walk yet, I'm still taking gigs, because I am I am, you know these gigs. And I don't know anything past it. So I'm going through airports. And I'm, and I'm unable to walk. And I'm like, I remember going through the Chicago airport, and that long underground thing where the lights are going. And I'm, I'm kneeling on a baggage cart along the thing because I can't, I can't walk anymore. And I'm trying to get to the next gig. And I do premium blend. And I mean full anxiety. It's like the only time in my life I took a half a Xanax, I go on stage. And all I'm thinking of is Don't faint, don't faint get through this set. I do an eight minute set in six minutes, because I'm trying not to faint. So my act is crazy fast. My feet are turned on. If anyone watches my premium blend. You can see I'm holding the mic stand. I'm just trying not to faint the whole time. It's crazy how much this escalated into a thing. I walk off stage. And somehow the weird, awkward, don't faint energy that's flying through me, causes me to kill and Comedy Central goes, we're giving you a half hour special force. And the girl I was dating is like, oh, shit, now he's going to worry about failing on that, you know. And what I ended up doing was first I ended up going to the hospital to get anxiety medication. But the hospital took too long. So I'm in a waiting room. And I'm like, I'm gonna get pills for this. This could have been I'm sure not saying what anyone should do. But this could have been where I turned into John Belushi. But luckily, the hospital took too long. I'm in a waiting room for 45 minutes, and I hear this voice go get up. And it goes to get out of here. We're not going to do it. We're going to we're going to figure this out. And I have this moment where this this thing like goes, let's just figure it out. I know we have no idea what the hell we're doing. Let's just go because I was at almost suicidal level. I mean, I was really feeling like killing myself. I have these Comedy Central specials and I'm not I can't get out of this. And and there's no reason to live and you get why. If you're identified with the thing, and it's not just fame, it's it's your relationship. You're identified as your mother's kid, but she won't talk to you. You're identified as that, that achiever and now you can't achieve you're identified as a victim and no one believes you, whatever. These patterns are trying so hard to fall out of you. You're people pleaser, whatever, right? So, I go and I grab.

I go, I go for a drive. I remember calling my mom and being like, I'm gonna heal this and she's like, Why do you think you have something wrong? And I'm like, I just heard a voice like, I'm just not so. And I go to a borders. That's how long ago this was. And I look up and look up anxiety and I find a Tony Robbins book, Awaken the Giant Within and I'm like, Okay, this is where I get this first hit of a new possibility. He's talking about Yeah, you can't not think about something. Like I have that pink elephant thing. You can't not think about this, but you also can't think of two things at the same time. So what if instead I'm picturing this is basic law of attraction stuff at this at this moment was the first moment I heard this is like, what have you picture? I started thinking what if I picture that instead of I hope I don't faint on the Comedy Central special that I have the number one Comedy Central special. So I start walking around my house and just saying out loud, okay, I do the Comedy Central specialist number. I'm not bringing up the anxiety at all. I'm like, it's the best Comedy Central special, blah, blah, blah, then my mindset I was talking about the special that's after that one because it was such success. And within a few days anxieties kind of gone. And then I but then this opened a door with like, How good could it be? It's like not just get out of the anxiety, it's like How good could this be? So for several months, I just am waking up and doing this, taking my soul to the gym, I have a number one Comedy Central special, whatever, cut to the end of 2005, I'm recording a 2006 special, it's giant standing ovation, I'm confident I'm in the pocket, there's no anxiety. And it was at the top rated special, the most played special of 2006. So then this started this total achiever stage, this is not where I am now. But this started the focus on your outcome stage. I don't believe that's the highest stage. But I think that's a stage that can be very necessary to go from a victim to an achiever, right? So what happens is, when one of the things that I think is going on in the world is our false selves are falling apart, if you're identified as the self that falls apart, you're gonna go down with it, right. So if you keep being like this relationship might be trying to fall apart. But if you think your only source of love is this relationship, you might attach to it and try to keep it going. And life is going to kick your ass, it's just going to be like, You're too attached to this, you're identified with this. And life is trying to get us to cry out these patterns, that maybe you think that relationships the only thing because it actually equals your childhood, meaning like, this person feels just like Dad, Dad always abandoned me. So I'm going to date someone who always abandons me or mom always shame me. So I'm dating a person who shame me. And now this person and I are breaking up. So that would mean my Mom's leaving me. I don't know if that makes sense. But it's perfect sense. So in this time, you either are going down or up. If you are identified as the thing that's falling apart you are how much money you make. And your dad said, Good job. So that's falling apart. You're losing your dad's approval from 1974. And you're and you think that's you now, you're either going to fall apart. So I would imagine without knowing anything about what was going on. And really, and John Belushi is mine, that a lot of those stars, they got such a massive, worldwide love when they became famous. And they're identified as that. So that has to go perfect. Well, if that has to go, perfect, man. And you're not just the now and this unfolding being you're now an SNL star and a movie star, this gets the point where you don't get an audition or someone doesn't like you or whatever. And it's just, it takes nothing, right? Like, you, I remember when if you've I would used to audition for different movie roles. And you'd feel like when I booked I booked 10 Things I Hate About You, and not another teen movie, when I got those parts, like they were like, my identity, like cheerleaders from high school suddenly had a crush on me that I was the nerdy kid. And now, you know, and then you'd book and you'd get another audition and not get it. And you if that thing is the source of my happiness, then the thing not happening is the source of my sadness. Right. So these are trying to fall apart, if you grab onto the true essence of what you are, you'll go up, if you grab on to it, you'll go down.

Alex Ferrari 23:22
And that's the what's fascinating about your story is you literally started to your mind started to break down. Like it started to break down this whole thing around you to the point where you couldn't walk. But that's fascinating to me. So it's as opposed to,

Kyle Cease 23:43
Which shows you how powerful it is.

Alex Ferrari 23:45
It's extremely powerful on both ways you can go up or you can go down and that mine is extremely powerful. But you were crippled over months, over months of time, you were crippling yourself little by little. Because you were you're it's just a really interesting psychological example of what happened to you. Yes. And then that switch when Tony Robbins, his book kind of gave you a different focus on that power, it started to go up again, because you use that same, that same mind the same drive in the mind, but you started to go well, what what if it's the number one special? Now what if I think and I love the idea of not having you can't keep two thoughts in your mind at the same time, which is a very, very powerful, powerful thing. And you said John Belushi I mean, I remember when he died, he was biggest movies. The number one movie number one show number one album, he had a comedy album was number one as well. Yeah, he was literally at the on the top at the top of the world and it just key went down. The way he coped with it was with drugs, the way you coped with it as your mind just started to break you down. Yes. And you and if you would have gotten those drugs at that hospital

Kyle Cease 24:59
I wonder if I'd be dead. I wonder if I if the if the if Kaiser Permanente had been faster when I checked in there, I, you know, because they probably would have just given me something to numb this versus see what's causing it. And had I gotten pills? I really wonder, I don't know, maybe I still would have had that drive to override it and be like, I'm getting off the pills and fix this. But like, you sure get like, if all I'm feeling is anxiety, and suicidal and not worthy, like, alcohol is gonna sound good, you know, like, like, this is I need something to numb this.

Alex Ferrari 25:34
So this is very interesting, in very potent in the conversation where most most people in America, let's say or in the Western world, they look for things to numb the pain. And that could be drugs. That could be Netflix. That could be sex, that could be food. Yes, it could be, you know, relationships that could be set. I mean, it could be a million things to numb what you were going through. And I think we all go through that, in one way, shape, or form. I mean, I've told the story and I'll tell you the quick story of my numbness of when I identified as a director and my entire world was identified as a filmmaker. I was then the universe said, Oh, really? Okay, well, we're gonna give you a shot to make a $20 million movie, but there's this a little catch to it, you're gonna have to deal with a psychotic bipolar gangster, who's going to take you on the journey. And I literally was stuck in the mafia for nine months, trying to make a movie for an ex gangster, where then I was flown out to Hollywood, and I met the biggest movie stars in the world. Biggest agents biggest I did everything that the waterbottle tour did the whole thing multiple times. Even met Batman had a whole chapter in my book about how I sat in Batman's house. And we talked about, are we talking to Michael Keaton, or I it's Val Kilmer. But it's awesome, though Kilmer 2001, which was

Kyle Cease 26:57
Definitely like, it's Adam West.

Alex Ferrari 26:59
It's I always I always used to say adolescence out of West. No, but but. But afterwards, I was in a three year depression, when that whole thing fell apart. Because I identified with that it took me three years to rebuild myself to a place to even come back to a set to even come back to doing what I love to do. It took years, literally years, I hid in a in a hidden a garage, my friend's garage, organizing comic books to sell them on eBay. That's how I made a living, because I couldn't even do anything else. It was just that and that was mind numbing. By the way, that's how I numbed myself. It's just the monotonous of organizing comic books because I, for whatever reason, in this life, I don't like drugs. I don't like drinking. I wish I did. And some times when I was I wasn't a lot of pain. I wanted to numb myself, but I didn't have those options, those options were just not available to me. So so as you were telling your story, I automatically thought of mine and I had to rebuild myself to be able to get to the place and then it's a constant rebuilding throughout our amazing, but but I think people listening should really think about what they're using to numb their pain, or try to numb what's happening to them. Because I agree with you. 100% 2020 2021 It was a reset button. For millions of people around the world. Yeah, in a way. That's the billions actually, that never has happened in the history of humanity. That entire planet at one moment stopped. Yes. And we started fighting for toilet paper.

Kyle Cease 28:37
Right now that was the first which was the insanity first numbing. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 28:43
I can't have an attorney. Yes, I can't have but has to be clean. Like it was. It was the we're like different in walking dead. Did you ever see people freaking out about toilet paper? No.

Kyle Cease 28:54
Thinking about water and food? That's No, I'm I know, like, I'm not worried about having the food that I going to shut out to, to wipe my butt. Like it's the it's just the after, for sure. I have a smorgasbord of food in the next two years. There's no question but for some reason.

Alex Ferrari 29:12
Like I can't I can't, God forbid have to use anything else. Like day. That's why I have a bad day now. So I don't have to worry about these.

Kyle Cease 29:19
Right! Yeah, I know that. What if the next one is a mad rush on today's like, just there's just like, I need birthdays. For my family.

Alex Ferrari 29:27
I need my but the end of the day forever and a backup a day in case the day breaks?

Kyle Cease 29:31
Right! Right, just in case. Yeah. Can I play off of what you just said? Please? What you just said is profound. Because let's talk about what this is. Let's go even deeper about what it is that we're numbing because it's not the thing. The thing becoming a director becoming a successful stand up comic getting in a relationship like getting that money is is burying some default setting that you're used to having in your body that's a negative meaning like, falling in love is so great because it's covering up the default setting of your fear of being alone. Right? Being being rich, for some people is this great thing because it covers up your default setting of shame that you have in your body. Because your mom said once, you'll never be anything unless you make money. So we have what I've the way I've experienced it in the last two years, I had so many shifts, because I was about to do major tours with huge speakers and stuff. And then 2020 happened. And I ended up just being home for two years. And that was the first time since I was a child that I didn't travel. And I just stayed home. And I did a bunch of one on ones. And thank God because I am such a better father in the last couple of years. Because of this, I have a five year old daughter who is the most incredible thing. And I would have been on tour I would have been here and and I am so grateful for what's changed. But one of the things I've learned in the last two years is that so imagine it this way, let's say you're a child, and you have a thing happened, that's too much for your body to handle like a dog snaps at you Dad hits you a mom shamed zoo, whatever, this feels so painful. That what you're bought your little child body can't handle it. So what's it do? It creates a character that you think is you it goes okay? If dad yelled at me because I got a D in school. So I'm going to become this crazy achiever. Right? So now your identity falsely is actually an identity you created to prevent trauma from happening again. And imagine that under that is a trauma that still sitting still sitting in your body. And this is why we have such a hard time just sitting with ourselves and being because that thing would finally come to light because we're at a consciousness where we could heal it if we wanted to. But we're not aware of this. So we get this false identity that says I'm an achiever. No, no, no, you created the achiever. So you wouldn't get hit, or it says, I'm whatever. And we create this false us, right? The numbing is here to help you numb this thing. That's a false view that could come out of your body that could leave your body. Right? So when you're more connected to the now, the pattern in the body that says I'm a worrier? Well, that's just because you experienced trauma, and you're still sitting in your body, right? And you haven't forgiven that thing. So you keep recreating it. Right? If you had a dad who abandoned you as that example, you're going to actually look for people that abandon you. So you can keep them here, so you can heal your shit with your dad. Right? So the way that I'm seeing it, and what I've been doing, I've had a couple 1001 on ones in the last two years. And one of the things that I do is, I noticed that people are like, I gotta build this business, I got it, whatever. And I'll say, if you don't what happens, and they'll say a sentence like then I'm a failure, then I'm unloved, right. And then what I have them do is I have them say something that the energy of failure in the body has never heard, you're allowed to be a failure in my body, meaning like, I'm here with you, even if you're a failure, I love you. Even if you're all alone, I love you even if you're abandoned. See, we've created a false belief that that thing that we that we don't want to have happen, again, from our childhood, that if it happens, it equals death. And so we're in this bizarre box of preventing an arbitrary thing that everyone has a different one of that if that happens, I die. Well, that character that's preventing it would die. So what they do is they take a deep breath, and they say to this pattern, whatever, you're allowed to disappoint other people, you're allowed to be a failure allowed to feel disappointed, you're allowed to feel abused, right? It's not saying we're aiming for it, it's saying, I'm with you, even if you feel that way. This causes almost every time a bunch of tears to come out of their eyes, and that those tears are a false pattern that they thought was them. That is not them. So when we are like oh my god, I'm a successful stand up comedian or I'm a successful director. That's helping not have a a default setting be looked at like when you're like, oh my god, I'm now a successful director. Now I'll be loved. The default setting in the body was I'm not lovable. Right? Just as is I'm not deserving just as is I'm not love. Just because I exist. It's only if I achieve something or prevent trauma. Right? And so those patterns are now coming to light and it's kind of amazing. If you look at it from a universal perspective, it's going for us to move forward, those false identities of trauma that you've kept buried in your body through addictions through whatever those patterns are going to come to light with. Do you want to or not? So imagine up to 2019, you lived in what you thought was a one story house and you kept your circumstances really good. And we use just all this Think positive stuff at that time, right? Like just the secret thing positive. Imagine that the spotlights bigger and God's shining a light on the fact that you actually have a two story house. And the two story, the second story has a bunch of bodies in it. And all these patterns and rats that we need to clear out. So the bad news is, there's a bunch of darkness in your body. The good news is your consciousness can see it now. It was there also 20 years ago, but you couldn't see it. So imagine that the lens that you're looking through is bigger. And it's going I'm going to take the patterns inside of your body that you've been burying, and we're going to release them, we're going to heal this. So we do that by getting here, because the now will will wipe that shit out, you start to oh my god, I didn't feel loved when I was eight, I didn't feel this thing. And you get present for it. And that turns into tears and comes out. And I actually pretty much have yet to work with anyone in the last two years that this didn't work for we did one on ones and found everybody's pattern and found that they're under this illusion that that that pattern is them. So you can't get rid of a pattern if you think it's you. But you're the whole now that seeing the whole thing. And when you realize that then the pattern that's been preventing that pain from happening, can die, and then the pain that you're judging still can fall out of you too

Alex Ferrari 36:35
I mean, as you're talking all I can think about is my journey in my head of like, okay, yeah, that's what that happened. And that one happened. And that would happen. And, my God, if you if I would have had the success of being a director making a $20 million movie working with big movie stars, at that time in my life, I would have absolutely self destructed because they built it would have built up to a place where imagine the people which we've seen this happen in Hollywood a lot, where there's an actor who blows up, the first movie blows up, or the director who comes out with way too, when they're young. And then maybe the second one does well, but when one of them wobbles. They just everything goes away. Like they just self destruct. Yeah, because they don't know what to do anymore. Yeah, they just truly don't know what to do anymore. Because they've identified so wholeheartedly with the thing as opposed to themselves. And I think as we get older, and if you and I are of similar vintage, you know, when we're younger, at least at least our generation at least. We, when we look back upon what we were when we were younger, you start seeing these patterns if you're doing some self work if you're doing some inner work. So when I started to write my book on my experience of the mobster and all that all of that started to come out. It was massive. It was a TA I was crying while I was writing. It was just this kind of cathartic event. And then I started thinking, you know, why haven't I gotten the shot to direct bigger movies or bigger things throughout my career? And then I started looking at who I was attracting to myself during those times. Yeah, a decade. And I'm like, Oh, I kept bringing in people that were just not right. Sabotage, I was self sabotaging myself, because I was afraid of the pain that I associated with being a director. Yes, I get it. You see what I mean? It's like all of that kind of stuff. So it's when I finally realized that and I started to like, Oh, I'm not who I who I would is I am and, and then there was this whole three year walk about I did selling olive oil and vinegar in LA, when I opened up a gourmet shop. And that's a whole other conversation. Which is just but it was the I needed to that was almost a cleansing of my filming. It was interesting. And then after I got out of the olive oil game, I started podcasting. Yeah. And I was like, Oh, this is kind of what I'm really here to do. I could do with the other stuff, too. But this is what I really love to do. But I am not I wouldn't wake up in the morning going Alex as a podcaster. Yes, that's not what I say. I'm just like, I'm Alex. I'm a dad. I'm a husband. I'm a podcast, I have multiple things I am not one thing defines me holy. So I live within the me as opposed to that, and that has liberated me and it's liberated me tremendously throughout my life.

Kyle Cease 39:41
If you think anything completes you then you're not ready for it. Right? Like in other words, that relationship will complete me well now Okay, what if they leave you you're incomplete again, right. So, so this pattern of the the false belief of incomplete is trying to come up and die and if you get the relationship that you think leaves you then it's on pause for a minute and it's still running the show. So you're you're codependent on these things. So I have a rule that if you want something really bad, you're not ready for it. Because it's, it's, it's not a match to your vibration, it's bigger than you and your mind. And and what you're talking about when these child stars are these people that get success really quickly, is like their connection to their soul is not up to par with what they perceive their connection to this success as it's higher in their opinion than their soul. So this is why a lot of child stars often fall apart, right? Or, or even, I would watch comics that were young, that would suddenly get crazy things, you know, like, they'd come on the scene and be in there for three months and suddenly be going to Montreal festival and, and and on Leno and stuff like that. And then you'd see the drinking start to really kick in and every because it's just like, this thing is bigger than me. And I know that feeling, you know, like that would be the answer of just I get this movie role or I get this thing. The default setting is I'm nothing without it. Which really the default setting is I'm nothing. I'm not anything. Just give me the movie. So am something right, right.

Alex Ferrari 41:14
Oh, god, that's so dumb. Oh my god. I'm just working with actors in Hollywood for so long. That's what it is. Yeah, he's like, if I don't get this part, I'm nothing and that's why you have to numb yourself to survive with it.

Kyle Cease 41:26
It's not even if I don't get this part. And we're really just saying I'm nothing like

Alex Ferrari 41:30
I'm nothing without the relationship. I'm nothing without the party. I'm nothing without the job. I'm nothing without the money.

Kyle Cease 41:36
But in that weird because the default is I'm nothing like that. Like, right? It's like your default setting is I'm nothing unless this movie calls me which is like so that we just live we're walking around with a bullshit false the default setting that says I'm unworthy. That's in your body. That's a lie you like, like Daryl Anka says, or Bashar says, you exist, you're worthy. You're you exist, that's your that's it? Your worthiness isn't because you're looking through your worthiness through through the world's ego, not through that you are through the Soul of the now. Right. And so I didn't mean to interrupt that. But it's just so funny that it's I'm nothing without that movie is one thing. But if we just take out without that movie, you're just saying I'm nothing

Alex Ferrari 42:21
In talking to you know, I've talked to a lot of spiritual leaders over the years, especially on the show. And I've studied people like Yogananda and, and his lineage of of Yogi's and things. And when you start studying these people, or meeting some of these spiritual masters, you realize something that when they walk, or they talk, there is a level of confidence and energy to them, that they are whole, without anything else around them. That this illusion this matrix, if you will, really doesn't define them in the lease, not the clothes they wear, not the ashram that they live in, not the wealth that they might have. Nothing, it's really, that's when when you meet, or you speak to someone like that, you you feel that confidence that energy, you watch old films of Yogananda speaking and it's just like, this just Sledgehammer of truth coming at you from from the ages, where when you meet someone, let's and I, again, this is a theme that we've been talking about some an actor, or someone in Hollywood, there's so much insecurity because they they are holding on to things that are not permanent. The only thing that's permanent is you the inside of you, your soul. That is what is the truth. Right? And until you discover that truth, you're lost in so many ways, and you're just jumping from one thing to another, trying to find wholeness. And people go through live lifetimes, like this lifetime is just again, hi, finding I need this car, I need this thing. You know, like I've told my kids so many times, I'm the worst person to buy Christmas present for because what do you want? I'm like, I'm good.

Kyle Cease 44:16
I know.

Alex Ferrari 44:16
Like, I just I don't, I don't like I don't I don't need anything and I have to find something for them to give me like that. So they can have they have the ability to give me something but I'm like I let's just go on a vacation. Like let's give you an experience that speed thinks absolutely absolutely. Because that big screen TV or that Tesla is going to be cool for like the first few days.

Kyle Cease 44:39
You tell your kids to buy your Tesla.

Alex Ferrari 44:41
I mean, obviously, I mean

Kyle Cease 44:42
I'd like a Model S

Alex Ferrari 44:44
A Model S a Model S please Yes, please. Yes. Fully loaded. Yeah. Extended extended to my

Kyle Cease 44:50
Ludicrous speed can you do that five year old five year old can you do that please? Otherwise I won't be happy

Alex Ferrari 44:57
Or otherwise you won't get my love

Kyle Cease 44:59
Yeah, right! That'll do it. Oh, that one. Oh, that's the shit that made of Michael Jackson, you know, like, right you do it or you won't get my love and

Alex Ferrari 45:08
Dance and make us or you won't get our love and right. We all know where that went.

Kyle Cease 45:13
Yeah, right. It's no, there's, I think that it's really interesting because as I do this work, you know, I meditate all that sounds like we're really in a similar boat. It's so fun to be talking to you and learning more your story as we go. And, you know, what, a way that I kind of perceive it as is, I think I've said in other interviews before is that imagine if you and I went to another planet, and we're raised by 220 foot tall aliens, have you heard this before? Have you imagine where so you go, you and I go to another planet, we're each separately raised by 220 foot tall aliens, and we don't know how they, we don't know how to stay safe. We just know that one comes home drunk, and he's really loud. So we start going, Okay, I need to be quiet with that one. Because I'll get hurt otherwise. And let's say the other one really loves it if you tap dance. So every time you tap dance that one gives you love and shows you to the other aliens, you start to, you start to wire yourself, okay? Stay quiet with this one, and then tap dance with this one. And I get love. And let's say you're raised by them for 20 years, and you're worried that you're with them for 20 years doing this thing. Now your body's fully conditioned, I am a good tap dancer, I'm good at being quiet around a loud person, right? Then you go out to the rest of the aliens, and they all got their own patterns. And they're like, I don't give a shit about tap dancing, and why are you quiet? And you start to realize, I created a prison of a false meme and cut myself off from my soul. Me, right? So imagine now humanity through our conditioning is in a prison. Imagine people that get success too quickly are in a prison that's got gold and candy being thrown into it. And imagine 2020 2021 is overall a lot of people's prisons are on fire. And there's a lot of people that you were saying there could be actors watching this or you're saying actors have decided there's some that are like they're still their circumstances and everything. And and one thing I'll offer is they won't quite understand this now thing we're talking about until life forces it on them by kicking their ass, I've noticed that it's very hard to will your way into it fully. If it's not your it's not your like, still, they might hear us and go, that's great, but I'm gonna go get the movie. Like, that's great, but I'm gonna go and it's not until life just cuts it off from you. And makes things really almost impossible to deal with that it forces you out of your prison. And your prison if you were in it for 20 30 years is home, and you're actually free, but you were more used to being in your prison. Luckily, many of us have had our prisons just crapped in lately. And so we're leaving it. So there's some prisons that are on fire. And there are some that are just more and more gold, and candy and sex and everything being put in there. Right. And so for people watching this, if you're it's the weird thing is the good news. Bizarrely good news is if you don't get what we're talking about one to your life in certain areas. And this is actually a good thing will in some ways fall apart. And if you have the awareness to know that that's also fine. See, a lot of people have their life falling apart. But they think that's bad, because they think they're that story. But if you start to get here, then you cry out the EU that thinks you needed that thing. So the great news is your the the seemingly things that are happening now that are undoing us from our comfort. If you start to get here and you forgive and you let go and you apologize, and you look at yourself and you get humble and you listen more to the now than your agenda, you're gonna be free. And if you're like, No, I'm gonna get that part no matter what, or I'm going to get that relationship no matter what, that's the only answer to my life. Life is going to kick your ass more now life is kicking our ass of if we're not listening to the now and letting go of this egoic identity that we decided of what our future was going to be.

Alex Ferrari 49:10
Well, let me ask you this. Because as as you know, people going after goals they say in life, I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a football star. I want to be a comic. I wanna be a director, whatever, might be a writer. There's a drive that you need. And a certain amount of ego Yeah, that you need to be able to, to even attempt to achieve these goals. Yes. How can you how can you rectify the conversation we're having with the want or the need to follow something that's internal inside of you. Maybe it is the story. Maybe it's not the story. Obviously, you're very good as a comic. You're you were very you get a lot of success in it, though. It wasn't the ultimate thing you did. I've been I was working filmmaker for almost 30 years. And, but yet, I'm podcasting most of my days today, because I'm more enjoyment this so we both have kind of similar paths different in obvious ways but, but some kind of tones of the same. So how do you kind of talk to somebody go, Hey, follow that dream, but you're not your dream, right? Well, you know what I mean?

Kyle Cease 50:22
I guess I would just say where I am. And I absolutely encourage everyone to follow what their truest thing is. I guess for me, I'm just gonna say me, I've noticed more and more that life has more for me than my my plans. And, like it, it has more for me than my dream. And I noticed that my dream career happened at a different level of consciousness. My dream career was when I truly believed that was the highest I knew and didn't see that there were elements of control or fear that were actually driving that career. So I'm absolutely a fan of people following what their highest consciousness is. One of the things I've noticed in the last couple of years is a lot of clients that have come to me are people who had this level of self help in them. They were scared of the old kind of 2000 teaching of I'm scared that I'll die with my music. and you in Me, you know that there was a Wayne Dyer, quote, don't that was a very needed quote for 2020. I'm sorry, for 2000. That was a level of consciousness that was permission to get your gift out. Right? I personally feel like 2022 is more, at least for me. And it seems like a lot of people more about hearing, then getting it out. Right, like, like, there's a level where this voice is coming out. But I also noticed that, you know, I'm all about free speech, of course. But I noticed that we're now a collection of egos just yelling at each other. We're just politically opposites that are just mad at each other. And I'm also about on an even higher level freedom to hear, because I think that a lot of our collective egos are just screaming, and it's not getting anywhere. And there's a higher us that's trying to come through. So more and more, for me at least. And this might be permission for some people who feel for the people who keep going, going after their dream and then stopping and going, Why am I starting a project? No, actually, it's not it, you might have access to consciousness that might be higher than that, I have to follow my dream thing, that's actually just permission for you to listen to what it wants for you. Because maybe it wants to do something through you. What if there's a higher frequency than your dream that's trying to birth through you maybe, maybe we just listen to what's here. And, and, and follow in the now just what feels higher, minute by minute versus, you know, mapping out a six month plan towards your dream career. If that's truly your highest, then do that. But imagine that there's a consciousness now that goes, I kind of want the dreamer, for some people doesn't have to be you. But it could be there could be a consciousness in the body. That goes, I'm ready for the dreamer in you, that maybe was also dreaming to escape a painful childhood, that maybe was dreaming, to escape your own judgments of yourself to die, and that I want to work through you. And that that there might be there might I mean, at one point, I'm at the height of my comedy career and just let go of it. And then all of a sudden, evolving out loud this this event that this creation that came through me this combination of comedy meets transformation was bigger than what I could see I had to follow a Lego of this not see why the hell I was doing it. And then I started getting little evidence of more fulfilling happening, but I had to follow the now more than an agenda I couldn't, if you told me leave stand up, because you're gonna create this thing for the next 20 years. It called evolving out loud or whatever, I'd be like, I'd need to know what that looks like or whatever. Instead, it was like, trust me, don't know why follow the feeling, have no idea what the hell's going on, cry out the party that needed certainty in the first place, because I have higher and I started realizing with a lot of different clients that had this fear that they're gonna die with their music in them. They are trying to create out of a fear of wasting their life. And the belief you can waste your life is now I think, a thing that needs to be purged, because your life includes things that are beyond your agenda. And maybe you were here to just be and maybe you were here to go through dark times. And maybe you were here to not know for a while. And maybe in those moments, the universe is taking you to a higher thing than your agenda. So, so at one level, if you feel like you have this dream, and you know that's it. I am such a fan of you following that. But I'm also here for the people who keep trying to figure out what their dream is, or and or having this dream but then it keeps collapsing. It might be that you're Your consciousness is too high for you to follow through in the achievement of that thing that you think will make you something because you're connected to something that knows you're already something, and it's got better for you. And it needs you to just let go of the attachment to anyway, just follow the now follow what your truest thing is, there's a teaching every second happening inside of you. So there's a consciousness birthing, that's the universe's dream through you that's bigger than you could ever see. And that's where life starts to be breakthroughs and releasing and crying and holy shit all the time.

Alex Ferrari 55:34
I can't, I can't agree with you more, because I do absolutely believe that life has much the universe is going to do things, it's going to create things in your life that you truly have no understanding of, I'm an example of that. You're an example of that, yes, with this, this idea of following your dream, if you wouldn't have been a comic, you wouldn't have built up the tool sets that you would have need and the experience that you needed to overcome in order to do the work that you're doing. fair statement.

Kyle Cease 56:05
Potentially, I don't I don't know that that's for sure.

Alex Ferrari 56:09
Nothing's for sure. But what I mean, like the way they look, but the way the Blueprint was laid out

Kyle Cease 56:13
How we see it, yes, that sounds that would make sense. And I definitely would say without being a stand up comic, I wouldn't have developed the skills to be able to communicate this Well, I wouldn't have been able to just, you know, default to delivering stand up off the cuff through my teaching sometimes, you know, right, right. Like, there's definitely skills and hours on stage that have accumulated Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 56:34
And then but the breakdown that you went through, because of your standup, which is such an odd thing, because the skill, the one of the biggest tools in your toolbox is comedy. But you're now using it differently. So that skill, that whole mission of the thing that you were doing had to be broken down in this really dramatic way, as you told at the beginning of the of our conversation. And that's the thing that kind of pushed you towards the Tony Robbins, yes. And push it and then it made you start to change. So it was all if you look back, it seems like a master plan that nobody had any blueprint of except maybe someone the universe, if you will, same thing happened to me the exact same process. My dream is to become a victim to become a you know, big director, all this stuff. But the skills that I've picked up along the way, about communication, about how to tell a story about all this, all those little tools have made me the kind of communicator that I am today. So even all the pain and and to be fair, without the pain of my events with the mobster, I wouldn't have made such an effort to try to save other people the pain of this industry. That's what my first podcast is all about. It's about helping filmmakers and screenwriters avoid pitfalls and to protect themselves to understand what they're getting into. If I wouldn't have gone through that massive amount of pain, and then in the next 15 years of ups and downs, I wouldn't have felt the need to start that which then has turned into all the other things that I'm doing now in this space. So again, yes, we needed that initial dream to get yes rolling, but it's going to turn into something else. And yes, there are those people who I'm going to be an actor and you win an Oscar and then you're Meryl Streep, like there are those people?

Kyle Cease 58:27
Well, and that's that's so big, because I'm not I'm absolutely not saying following your dream as a problem or anything great height of saying, You know what I mean? Yes. And I'm more saying like, yeah, those things that I did were the highest I knew at the end you right? And so as following us following the highest we know like everyone's at a different consciousness, right. Like, for instance, there's some people if you're having a problem with with something and you want to protest, and you've been a victim, your whole life, like standing up and going to a Capitol with your signs is absolutely essential and consciousness for you, where you went from a victim to an achiever. So the me at 12 that started becoming a stand up comic was absolutely the highest I knew. And my journey was perfect, right? But then there's some people who've been protesting those things forever. That might be like, there's something in me that feels like I could contribute more to this cause in a different way. And then you start to go okay, well, there's if there's 5000 people protesting at the Capitol because of something they don't want. What if that was 5000? Yoga Nando's? What if they were bringing 5000 Gandhi's out? I'm not even talking about Gandhi followers. I'm talking about God, what if there was 5000 Gandhi's What if there were 5000 Martin Luther King's right. We're talking that could be birthing. Right. And so you start to realize for some people, me at a loving frequency if you had a if you had a million Mr. Rogers on the planet, healing all the murders of The planet by being an unconditional space of love for them, you start to realize that it actually is an ascension at one point to go to an even higher frequency, right? So, I guess for me, I've done so much meditation in connection that I'm finding that there's no achievement, even getting in the now making now a future concept that's better than the now. Right? Like right now, like I am just at a place where I'm really experiencing the truth of in this moment, even if you have all these patterns that exist and all these things that you think you need to overcome. In this moment, you are free. And the ego goes, it's when I understand what's wrong with me that I'll be free. And I'm like, No, that actually keeps you in prison. Right? For some people, and some people that would be ascension, does this make sense? Makes perfect sense. And so, so to understand were completely free, then we undo even the concept of the idea that you could waste your life, or a life is better lived? Had you made 100 billion books sold? Right? Like, there's a great line in Law of One that says if you if you serve one, you serve all. So I find that me doing a one on one with someone or even me choosing my highest for myself, is a better service to humanity, than if I have a book go New York Times bestseller again. Right? Like it's not based on how many numbers you get. It's based on the frequency you're emitting. Right. And so for some people, they thought the highest frequency would be to achieve their dream, but they might be connected to a frequency that's even past that and goes, nope, forgive your dream. And be here, I got a better dream for you. Right?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:50
That's, I mean, it's absolutely beautiful. One thing I wanted to ask you, fear is something that's so prevalent in our, our psyche, as a society as a species. And we do have negative bias, you know, we are built to look at the negative things in life because it's, it's it's a survival mechanism. And I think I saw somewhere I think in Harvard, or Yale, they did it, they did a study where it's like, for every nine negative things, you see one positive comes through, things like that so heavily that heavily may have a negative bias. So fear is something that's always looking at the worst in the situation as a survival mechanism. How can we overcome these kinds of fears that prevent us from getting to, to higher stages of consciousness, to higher achievements, in our in our life, in our career, in our dreams, in our relationships, and break through those fears that are basically built within us they're built? There's no one else that's creating them. But yes, unless there's a tiger in the room, and then that's a safe that kind of fear.

Kyle Cease 1:02:53
Well, that's what it's for is if there's a tiger in the room, right? Right. It's literally for if there's a gun man in your house, and the guns aimed at your head, or the house is on fire, but we use it for everything right? In my eyes, fear is in invest is an opportunity to go to a deep investigation, right? All fear in my eyes, in my eyes, comes from other than true survival. Like I need this to run up a tree if there's a tiger or whatever. Sure. Like. But we all are weirdly scared of different things. Right? What we would all have the exact same opinion on the same president, if if it was really outside of us, right? Like all of us would believe 100%, these Congress, people are bad. These ones are there, we're triggered, because of something that's inside. So you start to realize you're you're not scared of things outside of you, unless it's literal fight or flight, you're actually scared of stuff that's inside of you. Right? And so you use the outside to trigger something that's inside, right, that hasn't been seen. And what I love to do is I know I have enough knowing that whatever the fear is, if it's not literal fight or flight, that I get to do more investigating, and I kind of get excited because I'm like, I've done all the cool things with this stuff still in here. What am I like when this is gone? Right. So when I noticed that I'm worried about something I'm worried whatever they'll say something about, they'll attack me that, that I that it won't be successful that someone will hurt me that I that I'll fail, whatever it is, oh, there's an investigation here. So I start with the first thing like whatever the thing is, you're allowed to they're allowed to whatever it is, they're allowed to talk crap about, you're allowed to be criticized, you're allowed to whatever the fear is, like, you're allowed to fail at that audition. You're allowed to have people judge you you're allowed to be unseen by your dad. Right? So that's the first thing because it only wants to know that you are with it, a DAC Usually, you're creating this middleman that needs to happen, right? Like, imagine if your literal children like my five year old daughter, if she came in and said, I feel like no one loves me. Imagine if I how weird it would be if I was just like, well, let's put some makeup on and run over to the neighbor's house and make you tap dance in front of them. And maybe they'll like you. Don't be nuts.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:21
But that does happen, by the way.

Kyle Cease 1:05:23
Yeah, right. Sure somebody does happen with other parents, right? But we have the least awareness to go versus just giving her a hug and going, you're allowed you can totally feel that way here. That's what she needs to know. Now, we would never do that with our kids. But we sure do that with our own inner children. Absolutely. I feel unloved. Okay, I'm gonna make the video bigger. I need to get more views I'll be loved when it hits a billion people whatever.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:48
More views, I need more downloads. I need more likes. Right? Let's everybody's looking how many likes because my whole identity is attached to lights or grades or downloads.

Kyle Cease 1:05:59
Now wouldn't that be weird? If Vivi, my daughter said I don't feel like I'm I'm liked. And I'm like, well, here's how we get likes. Like I want you to watch the scores your watch this course read this book. Yeah, I need you to take this marketing class. And I'm gonna say branding all day.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:15
Red brand building with me. We need to start brand building lead Elmo alone. We're gonna brand build today. Hey, my brand.

Kyle Cease 1:06:23
Hey, guys, my daughter's feel love. So we're going to build her brand. That's what we are doing. Do you know how many clients I have to undo marketing courses from? They have what their soul wants to do. And then they have all this like, yep, I'd love to do that. But I was told I have to post twice a day on Instagram. And I'm just like, by someone else who did a thing. Like when people teach you how to do what they did in a different time that was successful for them. That'd be like taking a songwriting class and Michael Jackson being like, right, Billie Jean. That's what I did. It was a hit. You're like, Oh, I get the story. You already did that.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:00
I was like I was at Comic Con years ago. And Quentin Tarantino was on stage. And some kid asked him like, what advice do you have for filmmakers trying to break into the business? And Quentin Tarantino stood up and said, Write Reservoir Dogs? That's all I know. He literally said write for dogs at a house yet. It was a huge hit. Right? Reservoir Dogs. That's what I did. I don't know what to tell you. That's how I broke into the race. I can't tell you how to break into the business because everyone's way is different. But it was just so beautifully presented by Reservoir Dogs.

Kyle Cease 1:07:35
That's a great well, and you know, what's amazing is what that also brings up is, we don't understand that the factor of what also makes something is the consciousness it's in, in other words, that I watched a special recently on Netflix about Woodstock. 99 Oh, god, yes, I saw it. Oh, did you see it? Oh my god, what were they trying to do, they were trying to bring the same feelings back that they created on a conscious shifting hippie movement in 1969. But with Limp Biscuit, biscuit in a time where that breakthrough isn't what the universe wanted, the universe isn't trying to break, like 69 They're getting out of the Vietnam War and you're you're trying to bring that is that was a true conscious shift. But the factor also was the time it was in. So when we do this all the time when we say as a person, I want to feel how I felt five years ago when I was in that relationship. I want to feel like I felt 10 years ago when I was on top of the moon when I was doing this thing. Don't try to be what you were in the past don't try to be what anyone else was in the past because there's a new you trying to come through. So we keep trying to orchestrate movements that worked 80 years ago, and like the the Martin Luther King march for instance, might not work the same way now because the consciousness is different. And there might be an inner shift that we're trying to have that we've never seen. But that sounds to me like what the universe is trying to do. That's so cutting edge but it's not familiar to us right? So so that's exactly Quentin Tarantino is answers hilarious because like of course if you rewrote Reservoir Dogs and put it out now it wouldn't work. Woodstock 99 You could feel I remember when it was coming out I was like that's not gonna work that doesn't feel agree and it was even created by the same dude that did Woodstock and it came out and it was people lighting themselves on fire and sliding around and shit mud and and it was robbing each other and dying. Like it was just like this nightmare. And and this dark way overheated terrible event that you have Rage Against the Machine and Limp Biscuit screaming Don't you want to hit something breaks. Woodstock guy is talking like this is a love thing. And like you know, there's you got to hear what the consciousness is of the time and that one To the consciousness of today. Now, what did you do yesterday that worked? What is trying to come through you right now? Right? So even if so when you get a marketing class, it's like, this is the strategy I used in 2008 to whatever. That doesn't mean you should. Right.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:15
I mean, and so many times that I tell I tell the filmmakers that I counsel and even on my shows, I tell them because a lot of them still think it's the 90s and that the film movements and making independent movies is that time it is not you are not Kevin Smith. You're not Spike Lee, you're not Richard Linklater, that was that time, just like you're not Steven Spielberg in the 70s. You're not Coppola in the 70s. You're not Millia, sir, or George Lucas. And like that was that time, just like you're not a Hitchcock in the 20s. Like, it's a different

Kyle Cease 1:10:50
Dude, you're not even you in the 2000s. You know what I'm saying? Like,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:55
You have to find out, which brings me to the next thing is authenticity. And I always tell people, if you want to succeed at anything in this life, you need to find that sauce, I call it the secret sauce inside of you the thing that nobody else has that authenticity. And that is that's what people are attracted to. Reasons why my podcast do well is because I am 100% authentic to who I am, and I'm truly being authentic. I'm not like, I'm gonna make a money grab and make it a podcast. Like that's not about Woodstock. 99 podcasts are hot. Let's try to do something cool. No, I'm actually authentically trying to help trying to be curious with my, with my guests to have conversations that are deep and meaningful for the audience listening, but that's an authenticity. And every single person in history, who has ever been successful, was authentic to their themselves, to their soul to their inner secret sauce. So we use actors you we can use writers we can use, you know, Edgar Allan Poe was Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens was Dickens. Shakespeare was Shakespeare, these people had a connection to who they were and weren't afraid this is the key, weren't afraid to show it to the world, warts and all. And that's what people are attracted to. I think that's one of the reasons you're so successful, because you are completely 100% authentic. And you also make people laugh, which is also helpful.

Kyle Cease 1:12:21
Well, you know, here's an irony to is, the more you find that authentic thing that's trying to come through you, the less it's even scary to do it, it like takes you to a level where it's not, I gotta get this out. It's like, just like, Oh, I'm in a world where that's me. And it's not like this overcoming feeling that you have when you're not authentic, where it's like, you know, you know, like, like you actually kind of when you find that real you you actually access some other invincibility energy that makes it not even a big deal to put it out. You know, it's,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:55
But that first part is the first time Yeah, the first time is really hard, but it's much harder to keep a mask on. Yes, it's much harder to be someone else. Always what people are always trying to do, they put a mask on, they try to pretend they try to, they put clothes on they act they have to like get you know, certain things have to wear, wear certain clothes, get in certain cards. This is all part of the masking. And that's hard, man. I did it when I was in high school. I remember, I did it through a lot of parts of my life that I tried to be someone I wasn't. And then the moment I decided to be myself so much easier. It's like the heavy lifting is off. Like you could take the jacket off. You could take the mask off and just be you. And if any bullets start coming towards you because of like people not liking who you are, you're just like Bing bing, bing just bounce off of you because you're like, if you don't like me, man, that's your problem. That's not mine. And that's what people are attracted to.

Kyle Cease 1:13:49
We do get this choice. I think Jim Carrey said something similar to this but we get this choice between being at one point I think Jim Carrey said this, there's a choice we get at one point where I'm either going to be what I truly am and risk losing everyone and everything in my life, even though I probably won't, but you can you're willing to lose it all for for whatever. Like my highest intention is to learn what I truly am and I'll let go of everything for it. Right that's that's where all your power is. Or you'll give up what you truly are and be what you think that people you know, want to see and you'll go to the grave with people never knowing who you truly were. And I you know I think every i He said that there's one moment where that happens. I think that choice happens every day. I think that it's like continually either going up to more you and there's a new chapter to each day that you've never seen that takes you even higher or you know sell out a little bit and be what you what you think people want and then learn from that lesson and you can go up right now I'm kind of like go up and then oh, I didn't realize I was doing Not I sold out oh shit no, I'm not going you know and you just keep finding this authentic you through doing that work right so yeah, there's a there's an audience for everyone watching there's an insane you that's birthing that's more powerful than anyone you've ever idolized than anything you've ever seen. And it's trying to come through you. And I think it doesn't it's not even just a new you is trying to birth through you I think a new planet is trying to birth through you. I think the more you're in the now that you'll notice that I've had so many experiences I'm sure you have to where the world weirdly mirrors what I just did. Like if you ever forgiven someone they called you have you ever, like just let go of something? And then like you've noticed that the thing you were holding on to isn't as stringently holding on to you. Like you go to a different frequency. And you almost wonder if this is a virtual reality that shows you what you just healed inside is being mirrored on the outside. I've seen that so many times with clients, when they let go if they finally let go of the thing where that a frequency where it doesn't matter. All the sudden it heals itself on the external too. And so I think a new world is trying to birth through you. Not just new you,

Alex Ferrari 1:16:09
Kyle, I could keep talking to you for hours. I really fun. It's so much fun to listen, you're definitely coming back on the show. We got to keep it we got I mean, I literally have 30 questions I never even talked to you

Kyle Cease 1:16:22
Sure I'm here anytime, brother.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:24
It is such a pleasure. Can you tell everybody where where they can find you what kind of where they can find out the work. You're doing books and courses and one on ones all that kind of stuff?

Kyle Cease 1:16:33
Yes, so my I get giddy talking about it. Because it's so amazing. We created a membership site called the absolutely everything pass. It's got 1000s of people on it now creating an amazing community. It has probably about 1000 hours of backlogged content plus I do a live event every Sunday. Other teammates do a live event Monday and Tuesday called it's totally possible, where they literally riff all the things that are totally possible and create this different frequency. Tuesday mornings, I have different guest speakers come in and do interviews with them. Wednesday night, I do a q&a. And now I have a new series called Hot Seat on it where you can watch me work within the next few months, I'm working with people, I'm going to do 100 hot seats, you're gonna watch me take a person around an hour, and break down all of the lives that are in their body and then see what comes through. And you can see on YouTube, tons of videos of me doing work with people where I shift their reality. And it's my favorite thing. And it's something that is changing people's lives pays for itself over and over and over. It's crazy affordable. And a lot of our money goes to different charities, we just recently announced that we're doing an event in March that that event will take place in Sedona. And it's the event is is all the money of this two day live event is going to Operation Underground Railroad who's the group that is stopping child trafficking. And we announced it about five weeks ago, maybe and we've brought in $226,000 for them so far. That's amazing. And they're just telling us stories of what that money has rescued and arrested. And that it's just like bringing darkness to the light everywhere. So we have a two day event in Sedona that's 80% sold out and it's six months away. And it's called freeing all children inside and out. And the purpose of the event is to free your inner children that's got its own Warden that says you can't or you have to do what everyone else says. And then also literally freeing children that are being trafficked. And this group operation Underground Railroad is profound. We just had the founder Tim Ballard on and it was one of the most amazing interviews ever. And all of this is on the absolutely everything pass. It's $79 a month, they can cancel anytime I promise you. It will pay for itself over and over all of my live stand up events where I do talks to day events, everything that shifted people, they're all in there. If you watch that and don't completely shift your career, your income your story, like then you're missing out because it's crazy. So it's called the absolutely everything passed. They can get it on absolutely everything.tv They can get I have two books. My favorite one by far as the illusion of money grants the second one yeah, thank you, brother. Good man. That and God we have 500 videos on YouTube, you know, and we got I'm here.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:26
Listen, brother, is there a message you would like to leave us with?

Kyle Cease 1:19:30
Just you're totally free. You are free right now. Don't try to understand it. Don't try to prove it to yourself. Just find the freedom in your breath right now. Just connect to your just the air going in, you're free. You will discover a forgiveness you will discover a release. You do not even need to do the work to get to the freedom. Just start here at the freedom and see what happens as a byproduct of your freedom versus your when I get this I'll be free. Screw that. You're free. Let's See what happens from that?

Alex Ferrari 1:20:01
Brother. It has been a pleasure honor talking to you, man. And I hope this conversation helps a lot of people out there. So thank you. Thank you again for all the work you're doing my friend,

Kyle Cease 1:20:10
Honored to be with you, man. I can feel your soul. You're a good guy and it's so great to talk to you today.


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IFH 629: Watch This to Survive on a Film Set with Christine Chen

Christine Chen is an Academy qualified film producer, director and co-author of Get Reelisms. She fell in love with capturing images and telling stories through film the first time she got her hands on an early addition VHS camcorder in 1993. Christine’s love of film turned into a life-long passion for writing and directing.

Christine has a B.A. from Rice University as well as a MBA from the University of Texas McCombs. Christine‘s films have been showcased at festivals such as Hollyshorts, New Orleans Film Festival, and Fantasia Film Festival. Christine’s recent feature, Erzulie had a limited theatrical run in May 2022 and is now available on VOD starting June 14, 2022 through Kamikaze Dogfight Films and Gravitas Ventures.

Enjoy my conversation with Christine Chen.

Christine Chen 0:00
There's just a specific way that you answer respond. And it's very military honestly, I've heard it is. It's, it's, I believe, that's where it really came from. But a lot of it is the way I can describe it is like if you were blind, like how would you know somebody heard your message, understood your message and is working on your message, right? Because, and you're delivering this to, you know, however big your crew is,

Alex Ferrari 0:34
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com I'd like to welcome to the show Christine Chen. How you doing Christine?

Christine Chen 0:48
I'm good. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Alex Ferrari 0:52
Thank you so much for coming on the show. Uh, you know, we've I've done 600 Plus episodes right now at this point this as of this recording, and I've never done a kind of onset Survival Guide for not only pas but specifically for pas and interns and unset interns, but also for crew members and new crew members in different departments that just don't understand the, the carny language, there is a film set. So you guys decided to write a book called Get. Which, by the way, it is as simple beautifully. You know, it's not like it's as you can if you guys can see, it's all pretty pictures and everything. So it's real. Like it's to the point and it's, it's a book that I wish I would have had when I started out. I'm sure you feel

Christine Chen 1:42
That's why we created it. Yeah, I'm glad you pointed that out. That's exactly why we created it. I so I got started in the industry in like 2000. Dude, 2000. And Jesus 1514 around then? Sure. And yeah, I remember going on my first set, and somebody asked me for a stinger. And I had no clue what that was no clue. And nobody tells you this, you just get thrown into the wolves. And the film says super high pace. And you're already stressed out that you want to make a good impression because he finally got onto a film set. And it's almost like get a car. I'm like, I don't know what the eff that is. And so the the only option at that point is to hopefully snag the crew member that has the time and patience to explain it to you. But that you that you have the fear of sounding, just showing that you don't know what you're doing. I mean, not that, you know, you going around, say is not enough to show that you don't know what you're doing. But like to just add insult to that to be that obvious that you don't even know how people talk on set is even worse. So yeah,

Alex Ferrari 2:57
Yeah. We will know, if you don't if you're new on set within three to four minutes of just seeing the winning actually, if they're like, Wow, this is cool. They're brand new, they're brand spanking new. They feel sparkles in their eyes, brand spanking new. And then you've got the grizzled grip that just walks by has been doing it for 25 years. And then like, there you go, that's that. He doesn't care about any movie stars. Anything. He's like, I'm here for a job. You want to push the dollar push the dolly. That's as simple as that. But no, when I first got started out, I was thrown into the woods and I was going to technical film school that actually taught you some of these things. So I went to full sail in Orlando. Where is it very technical film school, at least it was when I was there. And I knew what a stinger was. But there's still this corny language of you know, an apple box and, and you know, a honey wagon and crafty and all of these things that you just don't know you and I take it for granted because we've been on set up a ton of times over the years. But when you're first on set, you're you're nervous as hell. And the thing is anyone listening who gets on set for the first time, they just have to understand that most people, most people on the crew, depending on who you get on and what type of day you get. Understand that you know nothing. And if you're a PA, it's expected you know nothing unless you're like, the 45 year old PA. That's another conversation. Yes. So, because I've met those guys, I'm like, Yeah, me too. Have you ever thought of going into a department? No. Solid. I'm like, Alright, brother, you do you? So how did you so let me ask you the first question, why did you want to get into this insanity? This corny world that is the film business.

Christine Chen 4:42
You know, I when I wake up at like 4am to get on set. I asked myself that every time

Alex Ferrari 4:49
Is this? Why am I doing this?

Christine Chen 4:51
Why? Why did we do this to ourselves? Or I'm on the you know, the fifth overnight. I'm like, why am I doing this again? Got it. And then I, you know, you get through it. And then the next day you wake up and let's say you're, you're off, you're like, Wait, why am I not on set? You know? And so I, it's weird, it's very strange thing and I tell new filmmakers this all the time, you'll know if you belong or you don't, you know, you'll go on your complaint you'll get off me maybe not one day, maybe you give me like two or three days and you if you feel the itch, then you just know, I was in documentary filmmaking actually, before I went on set, I had been a one man band for a while. In undergrad, you have to be a well rounded person. So they say, you know, you have to do a credit and an art class. And so I fell into filmmaking. At that point, I chose the intro to documentary filmmaking course, Rice University, and loved it. I loved the editing part of the telling the story part, everything. And that was I mean to the that was all I knew. And I thought, okay, cool. That was fun hobby. You know, it's, and I'll never deal with filmmaking again. And I, but I should have known that things were going to change after that. Because the proportion of time that I spent on that class, the intro to class was probably like, 70% of my time. And then like the rest of my 10 classes was like the last 10% It'd be add, like partying and all the other stuff to it. And so, but my culture, I'm a first generation Taiwanese American, you don't pursue stuff like filmmaking or art of any sort. You're a doctor and engineer something practical, you know, that will give you a steady nine to five job. And it took me doing one of those jobs, I was a IT consultant after I graduated, that I realized I didn't want to do that. And I was searching for myself as to what I was going to do. And for some reason, landed on being a lawyer. And so you have to take the LSAT, it's to be able to qualify. And to do that there's prep courses and stuff. And I'm terrible at taking tests. So I took one of those courses. And you know, the universe has a way of laughing at you, my LSAT, teacher was a filmmaker. And he was it was in Houston at that time. And he I guess, had a group that was doing the 48 Hour Film Festival thing. He was like, Hey, you want to be a PA? No clue what that was? Because there's aren't pas and intro to documentary film at all. You are a one person you do everything yourself. So Mike Yeah, sure. No clue show up. And they get now I know what I was actually doing. I was the second AC, but it was PA, but they gave me a slate and I was the happiest person ever. I was like, Oh my God, I'm such an important job of using a slate writing around this thing that people wanted to take pictures with, you know, and, and I just, it clicked it just I don't know what happened. They say there's divine intervention. Some people go on to have a light bulb moment. And I definitely would say I had a light bulb moment. I just felt like I belonged and that this crazy world was something that I really just loved. And it really just took that one set. I just, I just remember being fascinated with everyone's job, which is not common for me usually, like, you know, my dad's engineering I asked him one sentence, they told me like five sentences and I like to now after two words, you know, but on on this film set, every single job was fascinating to me. You know, I just I'd never seen a follow focus before I just, you know, stared at that for a very long time. And then, you know, grab water for like, grip, and it was like watching them build stuff and never seen that before and looking at the makeup, you know, and just everything was cool. Now I lucked out because the set that I got on, they actually knew what they were doing. I could have been on a shit show, but it was it was not and I forgot. I'm on a lot of customers a camera too late.

Alex Ferrari 9:25
Go ahead. Okay. I mean, we're talking. We're talking about sets here. No one ever curses on a set. So as much cursing as you do on set or hurt here on set, that's as much as you could do here. Okay, that's a very bad okay. Yeah, so So but let me I mean, you know what, when I was on the set for the first time, too, it is very intoxicating. It's an intoxicating environment if you're in a good set, I mean, I've been on both I've been on bad sets. Oh, yeah. Egos going out of crazy and then this thing's just like you said a should show like, they just don't know what they're doing. They can't make their day. You know, it just, they're just a bunch of monkeys running around, you know, with a camera trying to do something. So I've been on those sets. And then, and then when you walk on a professional set working on a studio project or network project, and you just see these grizzled veterans who worked like a well oiled machine, and what's fascinating is that a lot of times you'll go on the first day, and everyone's on there for the first day. And yeah, there might be a few people who know each other. But generally speaking, everyone's new on that on that set to each other. And they still run like a well oiled machine because they all understand their part in the machine. And it only only problems I ever see on set is when people overstep their, their lane, they want to do this or the DP wants to be the director, the director wants to be the lighting guy

Christine Chen 10:53

Alex Ferrari 10:53
Yeah, exactly. Or the or did like it's all about the dress. No, it's not. It's all about the it's all about the curtains in the back. No, it's not, dude. We need five hours for the for the curtains, no, no. hours for the curtains, you got five minutes. So let's move along. So you've been on set so many times, and obviously continues to work on sets. What is the biggest, like newbie mistake, you see that that pas make on day one or or onset interns to this? This kind of goes for both?

Christine Chen 11:27
Sure, I think for me is people go in feeling entitled. And when I say entitled, it means like, I think people have a from the from the out the outside world. You see the red carpets, you see the you know, Entertainment Tonight, and you see the people dressed up. And I think people going in and thinking like, oh, because I'm a director, you know, or an aspiring director, I'm going to be able to jump, you know, jump positions and just start letting my opinion matters, you know, and sure, to a certain extent, but like, I think people forgetting that all the people that are on set started off and work their way up to where they are, and earned the right to be there. And I and I think newbie mistake is thinking that things are below them. Like, oh, I don't need to get water for people or take the trash. It's like, that's labor that's below me. You know, and, and I think no matter how veteran you are on set, there's you will realize, I feel like it's if you are a good crew member, you will always there will never be a job that is below you. At any point in your career, you know, because you understand the value that each position each job entails and how that affects the overall success of the film. And that's the biggest thing I see for new starry eyed pas is that they come in thinking, Oh, I went to college, and I shouldn't need to go run errands and pick up dog poop and all this other, which that happens. And that's the problem. And the thing is that we veterans can smell that and see that instantly. You know? Yeah, I mean, like we you said within today, it's so funny now being on the other side. When you're brand new, you're like, Oh, nobody can tell I'm brand new, I could just like pretend that no, we can tell within like, like you said two to three minutes. Now, we can also tell within two to three minutes if you're good or not. And it's attitude. It doesn't have to do with skill. Because getting water is not a skill. I mean, it's not like a thing that you have to learn. Everybody can do it, but there's like an attitude that comes with it for people who are good and who are not. And you can pick it out like within, you know, you probably say well, within five minutes. I'm like, Alright, I can count on these four pas out of these 20 You know, like it's like, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 14:15
Right, because there's gonna be the four pas who are just hustling left at anytime you turn around, they're there. Waiting, waiting.

Christine Chen 14:24
What can I do? Do you mean anything?

Alex Ferrari 14:27
Yeah. And then the other ones are sitting around, you know, back I found? Yeah, Gabby found her sitting around crafty. Talking about how the director is doing the job wrong. And he they can do better.

Christine Chen 14:37
Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 14:39
I've seen it so often. And it's so that's why I love you know, some of these some of these older grizzy grizzled veterans, the DPS the, you know, the, the key grips, yeah, those departments. You know, I just throw them to the wolves you know if I see that on set I'll be like, Hey, that guy, go talk to that guy, do good. Go do your thing, go do your thing, and then just start and they just start because it's God, it's, it's such a weird thing on set culture because it is, it is a carny world. And I actually made a movie about carne. So I have a really good understanding of the carny world and Carnegie's and what they do and how they treat each other. And it's the secret language that you talk, you know, that we could talk to each other. And they'll put you through the grinder until you prove yourself. Yeah, you belong there. Respect. Yeah. And they're going to beat you up. And in a, in a almost, almost rite of passage kind of way, not in a practical way. Not in a hopefully not in a derogatory way, though, I find I've had that happen to me on set as well, things sets have changed a little bit, hopefully, sure, since my day, but it's because it's so tough. Being on set. I mean, I mean, when I worked on set, as a PA, I figured out really quickly, probably after a year of interning and being on stages, and, you know, I went I was working at Universal Studios, I was working at Disney behind the scenes and productions and things like that. And like you said, when I wake up at three o'clock in the morning, I'm going out there somewhere sitting in the mud, and while it's raining, while I'm trying to wave people into where they're parking, and I'm like, this sucks. Yeah. I don't I you know what, I don't think this is what I want to do. I want to be on set, but this is not what I wanted. So I learned I just jumped from that to post real quick and, oh, no air conditioning, and carpal tunnel. I'll deal with that. And I jumped for that. And then when I started to become a director, and then started, you know, as as a post guy started to go on set, and then started to be directing and doing commercials and things like that. It seemed like okay, this is where I want to be. But things that I learned along the way was that, at a certain point in my career, I felt the ego felt that it was above doing some menial stuff. And the crew picks it up. As the director of the coop, the crew picks it up. So now anytime I'm ever on set, and for the last 10, probably 10 plus years, I'm picking up garbage at the end of the day. I don't care you know, I'll I'll grab stuff. I'll pick stuff up. And then other like some of the older What are you doing, sir? Sir? What do you like it? Okay, guys, let's we all gotta move it along. So that's kind of like, Why are you picking that up? You're the director. I'm like, No, it's okay. If it's in the middle of the day. No, that's I have to do a job short. At the end of the day, we've wrapped. Let me help out. Yeah, let me help out. And I never eat first. I always try to let I always try to let the crew go before me. So they see that I'm like, No, you guys are busting your balls. You know, go I want to help. But these are the little things and no one tells you as a as a filmmaker, or as a crew person. There's these etiquettes these kind of hidden languages. It's almost prison yard like

Christine Chen 18:03
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I mean, I often say oh, we're like just glorified louvers. And we one thing from one side to the other side, and we do it again. Yeah, no, it's it's there's nothing super sure. After the product is all done and stuff like that. You don't care about the journey. Yeah, sure. It can be it can be it glamorous, but like it really isn't. You know, and

Alex Ferrari 18:25
It is for some men it is for actors. I mean, the act and sometimes it's not even that glamorous for the actors, because it looks glamorous from the outside. But when they're there on a on a on the 14th hour freezing on a green screen hung by cables. Yeah. And they're just like, I gotta be super now. Like, what am I doing here? Like it's, it's, it's, it's worse. There's harder. There's harder work in the world.

Christine Chen 18:48
Yes, there is. We're blessed. We're very blessed.

Alex Ferrari 18:51
There's no question but it is still not what everyone expects it to be. So it's really fascinating that way. Now the one thing I always love and I love what you wrote about in your book was walkie talkie etiquette. Now I I think when I was coming up there, yeah, of course there was walkie talkies. And I knew a little bit of it because I used to work on some some shows for Nickelodeon. So it was never the key pa i was i was always you know, office PA or or on set pa but it wasn't the key pa because again, not where I wanted to go down that road. But can you talk a little bit about that is a completely secret language and even to this day, I understand some of it but as a director, it's not something I understand completely. So can you express and explain to people what walkie talkie etiquette is?

Christine Chen 19:42
Sure. So that's a big thing. When you first go on it, you're not going to see it for a tiny, tiny Ciske small sets won't be able to afford walkie talkie. So we do first scan on set that has walkie talkies, that can be very jarring. I like what is this thing? At first it's cool and And then at the end of the day, you're like, Please throw this in the trash. Because you, you have this purse, you have several people constantly talking in your head. And for people who don't know, the walkie talkies are a way for things to be moving behind the scenes while set things are being shot. And you do it very quietly, because everybody has an earpiece in the ear and they can't hear, you know, it's not over walkie hopefully, and you can't hear things are happening because it's all in your head on over the walkie and so there's just a specific way that you answer respond. And it's very military, honestly, I've heard it is. It's it's I believe that's where it really came from. But a lot of it is the way I can describe it is like if you were blind, like how would you know somebody heard your message, understood your message and is working on your message, right? Because and you're delivering this to, you know, however big your crew is, because everybody is on the walkie, you know, in certain departments on their own channels, and, and whatever most for the most part, people were on channel one for production. And so you just have to get really good at being specific, and to keep the traffic on the walkie talkie as minimal as possible as well. So being specific, concise, and so you just, it's a way of efficient communication. And these shorthand ways of talking, this etiquette allows for this efficiency of talking on the radio. So it's hard, it's a lot harder said than done. Because there will be something that happens, you know, I don't know, the honey wagon is stuck, you know, and in the middle of the set or something and you got a new pa who's like freaking out about it because it's his or her responsibility to get this honey wagon out of the middle of the scene and everybody's yelling at them because it's, you know, taking up precious time from shooting, and they're describing this over the walkie and no but and somebody who is nowhere near that said is like what the eff is going on, you know, and you're just like, take it to, to take it to to, you know, put go go on a different channel. But like, you just don't, until you've gone through the wringer and you've experienced that or you've, you've been on the receiving end. To have perspective, that's when you realize why this etiquette is so important. But it's things like when you have when you're asking for a department for something, you know, wardro Can you insert what you need, Christine for you know, and then the other receiving in having to say, like copy, so they know that I heard the message, you know, type thing. It's just it's like playing telephone, because it can't see anybody. That's the problem. You know, sometimes you were all in different parts of the set. I think that's the that's just to give context, we are all in different parts of the set, that this could be within driving distance far away. This could be deep in the boonies and in because let's say you're doing a Wi Fi and you can't see people on set in the scene. So they're all hiding, like far far away. Or somebody who is in a truck who has no clue is in a fishbowl has no clue what's going on and said you have to communicate to all of these people in an efficient way. Something important or not, you know, so. So there's just a lot of shorthand for that. And it is extremely jarring when you have never had a walkie talkie and you get on set and you just want to like I don't know, just talk on it like a regular person, you know, like a telephone but it's not Yeah. So So yeah, I have specific, you know, lingo that's on there and as long as you can, you know, kind of get used to that you should be able to survive being a walkabout Oh, this is like practice you know?

Alex Ferrari 24:29
Yeah, exactly. And it's a new language and it's a protocols and how you do things and you're learn pretty quick that's the thing oh yeah real quick you the real the real quick if unless you just want to get yelled at constantly you know so you know for like Where's where's the where's actor? Where's actor

Christine Chen 24:46
Yeah, talent trial. Yeah, where is Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 24:48
Walking back to on our way a minute away. minute away.

Christine Chen 24:55
Eta eta of talent. Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 24:58
Things like that. So it's It's talent will come out of his dressing room to take everybody switches the two. Everyone's like what's going on? Like it's Yeah, yeah. Problem. So now one thing I have been asked this myself and I don't have an answer for maybe you'd have an answer for. There is so many secret names code names for basic things. Lauren said, Stinger is an extension cord baby. A baby. Yeah, baby, Apple, cheese plate, brick. All of these things. Why not just say, I need I need an extension cord. And I know that's too. It's a little longer stingers faster. Yes. That's why these things were and then

Christine Chen 25:52
I don't think so I think it just I think it's just a fast way to decipher something without having to because the thing is, there's like different sizes of certain pieces of equipment. There are different brands of certain pieces of equipment and stuff like that. And sometimes if you just give it like a pet name, that pet name is so different from everything else. It's just easy to identify it. You know, it's it's so like, I heard and it changes all the time by region by location, and that's the same thing. But yeah, like I heard taco cart, you know, that was another thing. Okay, grab the taco cart. But I think that's a Texas thing. You know,

Alex Ferrari 26:37
There is there yeah, there is a look, there's all sorts of new ones I heard the other day. God, I hope they don't bring in spinning wheels of death. For lunch. Have you heard of a spinning wheel up?

Christine Chen 26:49
I haven't heard of spinning spinning wheels.

Alex Ferrari 26:50
It's gonna go with that pizza. Pizza. So spinning. Spinning wheels a day all the peas like God, I hope they don't bring in spinning wheels of death have launched Jesus Christ. I'm like, What's the spinning wheel of death? And they're like, Oh, it's this and and, and there's one. It's a mean one. Because he's now passed. Oh, because this actor passed and they and I just remember I was on set. No, no, it wasn't I wasn't the Gary Coleman. It was a Mickey Rooney. Oh, have you know what? I'm you know what a Mickey Rooney is? Yes. Give me just a little creep. No, it's mean. But these are the things you're just like, Wow, man. Like how, like I hear like, give me a Mickey Rooney there. And then the grip the key grips pushing the dolly. And the DP is like, give me a Mickey Rooney. I'm like, I'm sorry. What's a Mickey Rooney is like a little creepy. I'm like, wow, okay. So it's just this carny prison led to military that is brutal.

Christine Chen 27:52
Extremely brutal are a man maker. I heard that one. Oh, I haven't heard him. Me. Oh, we have to have apple box and someone to stand on it. Oh, yeah. So wrong.

Alex Ferrari 28:06
I've heard that as a Tom Cruise as well. Give me a Tom Cruise. Just give them a little extra height.

Christine Chen 28:12
Height. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 28:15
It's brutal. It's brutal. It's look, it's not for the faint of heart being on set. That's that's

Christine Chen 28:22
It's very not peasy.

Alex Ferrari 28:24
No, it isn't. And that was one thing when I was when I was on set my wife who's out of the business completely. She doesn't know anything about our business. Yeah, she would walk on set while I was directing. She's like, how, how is this? Allowed? How's everyone not being sued left and right. For that what's happening being said, and this is all before me too. Before all that stuff. And I was just I just said like, it's just kind of the culture, it was the culture and it is, look, to be honest, it is sometimes a toxic culture. There's no question on set is a toxic culture. And for for females even worse. question like, I mean, I remember I was on I was on a production, I was directing. And I saw a female grip for the first time ever. And she was wonderful. By the way, she busted her ass and she was great. And I'm like, what does she have to put up with? Oh, from the grip department to hang with the grid? Yeah, nine in 2001. Can you? You I'm saying? Yeah. And that'd be so it's but it's, it's it is, you know, there's a lot of male testosterone running on set generally. So, yes, it has changed a bit and I think it has changed for the better. Yes. But, you know, I've talked to female DPS I hadn't seen I honestly didn't see a female DP until maybe like, eight, nine years ago. Like on Saturday. Yeah, it was just not a thing that you saw very often. But now it's becoming more prevalent and females are becoming you know, and people of color and all this stuff are all All coming on set, which is great. But it can be a toxic environment and you as a as a young PA or young intern coming in have to be aware of that. But understand that there is there's a little you got to get a little bit of a thick skin.

Christine Chen 30:15
Yeah, definitely. Would you agree? Yes, I completely agree. I, especially when you move up the ranks to when you typically get to bigger budgets and stuff, they are run by more older film veterans, and they have, they're just kind of stuck in the past. And so you're dealing with it more and more so than, like, if you're on a student project, everybody's like, woke and stuff, you know, but yeah, so So you're dealing with that a lot. And, and it's, it can be extremely frustrating. But you also have to realize that, in order for change to happen, you have to educate, so it's a lot of taking, it is harder to take the time to teach, it's easier to keep the same, doing the same thing or yell at somebody or, or whatever, but it's harder to stop someone and say, You shouldn't say that, or like I don't like, you know, that's not right to do. So it's it's, it's a slow changing process, but it is it is changing. And it's unfortunately, a lot of this is top down, you know, and and until there's enough time of cycling, to get new people up to the top to trickle down with new ways of thinking and stuff like that. We're going to run into that kind of thinking, you know, it's just it's, it's, it's not, I wouldn't say it's right, it's just a it's a product of the environment and the time period, you know, but yeah, for sure,

Alex Ferrari 31:47
Without question. And there's also another thing that is a culture that happens on set, especially if it's depends on who's running the set as far as either first ad director, DPS as well. But there's, you know, it can be stressful. It's extremely stressful. The SEC can be a little stressful. And every once in a while, you'll get a veteran who's just really comfortable with themselves, who will play practical jokes on set to kind of release the tension and my favorite is my DT a friend, a good friend of mine, DP, old veteran guy, he would always have a broken lens in his kit. And first AC or second AC would come up and he would just throw it at him. It's like a Zeiss, you know, like, Oh my god. Throw it at him. And I can hear put this on the camera and throw it right at him in front of everybody. And oh my god, and you just see this guy's face. He's just white just drained like blood. And, and he falls in the cracks. And then he would play it up. He's like, how could you drop you've cracked my lens. That's a $50,000 lens. What if, and everyone's just trying to hold it in. And before the kid has an absolute heart attack, they let them they let it go. So it's almost like a coming of age kind of almost mafia Aska like I come over here. It's initiation like You're good now kid come on. And he used to also have an old this is when we used to shoot film, of film reel with exposed film.

Christine Chen 33:20
Ohh no

Alex Ferrari 33:21
Throw the reel at the kid and the film would come all over the place and they were just like, oh my god, that was today's dailies. Like oh, that people would just think these little Hartman's sometimes you'll see that in the front of the whole set, but within departments there's like little not say hazing, but just fun, you know things to kind

Christine Chen 33:43
Yeah, I thought you were gonna say t stop. That's a pause. But more they send the second AC to go find T stops yeah, I've had I've seen that happen in the second AC like looking at the entire day for tea stops. I can't find it. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 33:58
I've been looking for tea stops I've called everywhere no one has that I have what I had once I was when I was in school, some old grisly post online editor like, you know, TV guy, and some some producer she came on in like a just a battle ram. And was Boston's everyone's just being a complete ass. And I was there as an intern watching this and, and the editor goes, Ah, God, and she was looking at footage from the day before, like, Oh, God, what happened? She's like, what happened? What happened? She's like, you know, if they would have done double double drop frame, it would have been better. So it would have just really steadied up the image quality. So you need double double drop frame timecode and she's like, okay, so she went on the next day to set and just rip every wire we shooting double double. I want my image to be he was like, everyone was just like the Did you talk to Henry, because everyone knew everyone knew he did it? Because they're all I think she actually got in trouble. But he didn't care. He had job security. But these are the kinds of things that, you know, they're so high strung pas and intern sometimes that you got to kind of loosen them up a little bit, because and also, by the way, when you're that high strung, that's when accidents happen. And that's when mistakes happen. And you got to lose them. loosen them up. Just a bit. Just a little bit. Now, you've been on set for a while now. Yeah, it was the worst day on set for you. And how did you overcome it?

Christine Chen 35:40
Um, I would say, one of the worst days was this happened not too long ago, about two years ago, I think tears. When was snow vid in Austin, Texas. The snow Apocalypse that happened the I've only been hearing so

Alex Ferrari 35:57
I've only okay.

Christine Chen 35:58
I think this was two years ago. And Austin had a freak snowstorm. And this was I mean, I think this was

Alex Ferrari 36:08
Oh, it'd be, it'd be January, February, if

Christine Chen 36:11
Yeah that was what it was. It was January. Yeah, February. And the producers were refusing to shut down the set. Because Because where we were currently, there was no snow storm yet. There was talk of it. And everywhere else in Texas, there were pile ups and I scenario,

Alex Ferrari 36:33
One where they froze, everything froze out. Yeah, the power grid went down.

Christine Chen 36:38
Yeah, power grid went down and stuff like that was a couple years ago. Yeah, yeah. And then it were in the middle of it in a hit. And I just remembered, it was both the worst, but also, there's elements of it, that like, were great, too. At that point, the, I think the crew knew that. Like, it was beyond my control, even though I tried to call it several times, but it you know, ultimately, is the producers called SIL. And every crew member gave me an article of clothing, because we were outside and it was really, really cold. And there was snow and it was blizzarding and everything. And like, we didn't have enough people were moving trucks and it was icy and everything. And luckily, he got called later by the producers, but it was a constant, like just communicating with the crew and being like, Hey, I'm sorry, I want to call it this is the situation like they hopefully will call it you know, soon type thing and just I think it sucked because I just felt powerless in that situation to ensure the safety you know, of my crew and the way I dealt with it was just constantly talking to the crew. Giving them like a play by play of what's going on from top down. I kind of did a little hint hint, like if you want to leave I'm not going to stop you type thing. You know, but I think your your safety is poor I think it's important and you know, please do what you think is the most important type thing. But I am under this is what's happening from top down type thing and and to be put in that situation really sought because it's people safety and when you have no power and you have no power to to ensure I can say I walk you know, but like that also is not good for the crew either, you know, and then they don't have the one person that's vouching for them you know there so it was a lot of like, Hey, this is what's going on. This is the play by play if you were to walk I'm not going to stop you from it and I support it type thing and and hopefully they're gonna call they eventually did call it but it but I think despite that really shitty moment feeling you know, having the crew each food I tell you each department gave me an article clothing so that I wouldn't like freeze to death. But like somebody gave me a hat someone gave me you know, a jacket, a jacket that was happened to be in their car. So one day I looked like this big ass like marshmallow with like 50 layers of clothing because we were outside in the snow was blowing at us. And we were not prepared. We were not none of us. Yeah, not prepared. And then then to have later on the director who doesn't understand you know that we were doing our best to make it happen. Like, essentially blame you for a snowstorm. arm in that everything was a shit show. But to then to have Karoubi like to stand behind you and say, yeah, it is a shit show because nobody that should have been called, you know, was like nice to, to have that support but like that it's just that was a terrible situation to be in when when people's safety isn't being taken into concern and your whole job as an ad is to ensure the livelihood and safety of your crew and you're powerless to do so I think that that is a terrible, terrible place to be at. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 40:38
Yeah, that is that's not a good place, which actually leads me into my next question. Are there signs that interns, young interns and pas and other crew members can actually see when a production is going down quickly? Like this, this thing's, hey, today's not hey, well, what? Well, we're gonna work 18 hours today and not get paid? Like, what are those signs? Yeah, those little things that you just can start? Yeah. I know, you and I could smell it.

Christine Chen 41:11
Yeah. Morale is a big indicator, in my opinion. Sure, there's some people who are crankier than other people and tolerance is lower. But I think when you start to have when departments start to talk amongst each other, and usually, yeah, and you can feel an overall dissatisfaction. That's usually a problem. Or I feel like if the culture keeps changing a lot, that's usually not a good indicator, either. When they're when there's a lot of unnecessary. People just yell, that's also just morale, when people are angry, and just, you know, yell at each other. Yeah, I think those are pretty big indicators as well. Or when you have locations or people who are separate from the production show up randomly, and they're not happy. That's usually not a good indicator, either, because that means something wasn't cleared somehow, and things are about to go. Crazy.

Alex Ferrari 42:34
So let me ask you this. So because the director obviously is, should be the leader of the ship, the leader of the captain of the ship, we're moving things forward. Everybody moves around what the director? Is he or she's ideas of what's going going on?

Christine Chen 42:50
Yes. In theory, in theory theory.

Alex Ferrari 42:53
In theory, that's, that's very loose flair, fluid, very fluid, if you will. But generally speaking, and when you're on a Ridley Scott set, yes. Ridley runs the show, let's just throw that out there. Simple as that. Right. So when you have that situation, what are signs that you don't have a good leader on the set? What are things that you've seen, because I'm, I'm assuming you've seen one or two bad directors in your day, you have not only hurt the production, but taken out, you know, just not understand how the system works that they have to make their day. Yeah, we can't spend five hours on the Scorsese shot. Because we're not Scorsese. And we don't have the budget that we have. So we like how all these kinds of things I'm imagining, you know, as an ad, you've seen directors come up with shot lists, which is, by the way, my favorite thing to do with when I work with an ad for the first time, show up there, 150 shots, 150 shots, and I just hand it to them. And they're just like, No, no, no, that you see, just see why. Because it depends on that also tells me what kind of ad it is. If the ad is going to come up to me and go, so we got to talk about this man. There's just no effing way. We're gonna and I'm like, that's good. Or, you know, we're gonna give it a shot. I'm like, Okay, no, which way which kind of a deed and I want the first one. I want the one that says, there's no effing way. We're gonna do this. But let's figure it out. And let's figure out what what, and I go, don't worry. I always do that. Let's see how fast we can move. I know, I'll probably only end up with 15 or 20 of those shots. Yeah. And then once I say that, they're like, Okay, it's not nuts. But but I'm assuming you've had that shot list or that storyboard. So how do you how do you see what are those things about? What are the signs in a director that you can see that they just not? They're in over their head?

Christine Chen 44:46
Ah, I think when the crew starts to lose respect for the director and how I see it is when it goes from, let's see what the director wants to what do you want and I'm Whoa, wait, I'm not the director, I'm the ad, when they start to look at for new leader, that's a problem. So which happens a lot?

Alex Ferrari 45:09
And that could be the first ad or the DP. Yes. Or the generally the two that they go to.

Christine Chen 45:13
Yeah, exactly. And so once i And Mike, why are the numbers of questions directed at me have increased significantly, as they're like, Ah, okay. Or they start questioning? Why a lot. Instead of being like, okay, that's what they want, let's do this, or like, or the IRA, like, oh, they want this, okay, you know, type thing. That's, yeah, sigh conversations, whatever gets talked on on channel two. When you, you can really quickly pick out when people have stopped, it's, or when people are trying to leave as soon as possible after a set has wrapped or hasn't wrapped, or they're planning on which bar to go to afterwards. And that is the only thing keeping them from walking off the set. That's when you realize that the director has lost the crew. But yeah, it's, I think, it's when concerns that are being bypassed, because I'm the director, and not, you, they considered get bypassed a certain number of times, that's when you really lose the crew as well, you know, like, hey, we can't do this, because, and then like, whatever, like I'm the director, make it happen, you know, type thing, that's if you do this so many times, like, you're going to lose the crew, because that is a quick indicator that you have no understanding of why their job is important, or why their job takes a certain amount of time. And why you're glossing over it, you know, I see this happen a lot with specific positions. positions for is that usually are like makeup is a big one. Art, things like that it doesn't happen as much with camera, or even sound because I think it's that it's when people, especially first time directors, when they go on to strike the there's a very easy understanding of like, hey, if we don't have the right camera set up, you're not going to get your shot, right. But the other positions are harder to understand the importance of unless you have done a few films or or, or you've worked on a set enough to understand the importance of, and I think that's the issue is that new directors who haven't come up the ranks or worked in a position, it's perspective, and when you lack perspective, and don't respect all the positions on set, you will lose your crew, and you will lose your crew, and they will start to look for a new leader. And that leader is usually the DP or the ad. So and so when I start to get Hey, what do you think we should do about this? Or actors? Oh, man, if talent is coming to you? That's a bad thing. Yeah. Yeah. That is very bad, like crew. Okay, because usually the he has interface with the crew so that, you know, there's a certain extent that that's understandable. But I think when the talent, no longer goes to the director, and goes to you the ad, that is a big indicator that things are going downhill fast. Yeah, because the tablet should never really need to talk to the ad, the the whole job of a director is to help you talk to the tablet. So at the top, so I revise, put that first when the talent is talking to the end, or the DIA, or the TP talking to any other crew member about their performance or what they're supposed to do that it's not the director, jump ship. Right.

Alex Ferrari 49:14
Another thing is, too, that I think filmmakers listening don't understand is the importance of feeding the crew and feeding them well. And taking care of them. And having surprise, you know, in between meals, like hey, you know, we didn't we didn't we didn't budget for a full dinner, but we're going to do a walking dinner, you know, or something like that, where you know, they go out and get some burritos or something to kind of hold them over until they can get to the bar is something but that's something that it's almost a second thought to young filmmakers. So like oh yeah, just get a bunch of pizzas and like eat that. Pizzas kill production. It slows everything down. Spinning Wheel it slows it down everyone. It's stuffed on cheese and bread and things like With that I remember an old remember dove Simmons. He ran a course called the two day film school. And he was like this. Just grizzled. Roger Corman? UPM. And he Oh my god, the stories he would say. And he's like, I don't have a lot of sugary stuff on my crafty table, because it will cause sugar rushes. And if it causes sugar rushes if there's tension, fights will break out. These are little things that you just like I was my mind got blown. When I heard these things coming up. I was like, wow, I never thought about he goes, and God forbid, if you bring pizza onto a set God, like, like, yeah, am I wrong?

Christine Chen 50:42
No, you're not. And if you're been on set a while, and you're really good at your job, you can start these are the details you notice you plan for, like I, I can tell like from lunch, I'm like, Okay, we had this, therefore, I need to build an extra hour. Before we're gonna start getting hot. We're gonna start moving like I like, these are the little details or you're like, Oh, we ate that. Okay, well, the bathroom situation is going to be a whole thing. Yeah. So this is like redoes. Yeah. Ah, you start noticing all these little details.

Alex Ferrari 51:17
I had a friend of mine on, on a, he was on the set of 24. He was a production designer and 24. And I went on, just to visit him. And we were working on a project together. And I just went on to visit the set. And when you walk on set I just saw crafty was the most insane crafty I've ever seen in my life. And then I stayed for lunch, and there's lobster tail and steak, and I'm like, What is? What is this? Like? I live in the indie world. And, and it was like, because at that level, you've got to that's just that's just the way businesses run.

Christine Chen 51:58
It's nuts Yeah, I remember the first unions that I got on, it was in Texas 2016. And I've only done indies before that. And I Yeah, you look at the craft services table, and you're like, Wow, this is the entire budget of my film. Right here sitting sitting here as Yes, yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 52:20
Can you imagine a Marvel set? I can only imagine a Marvel set like a quarter million dollar movie. I haven't been on a $200 million movie on either, you know, just you imagine the amount of chest? Ah, you know, it's it's, I can't even I can't even imagine. Now there's one thing that and this is one thing that you can get really in trouble for as a PA and an intern. And it's something that no one talks to you about I line by line if Christian Bale's situation with Shane Holbert taught us anything. And I don't think that conversation was so much about the eyeline, I think it was things going on. And then by the way, if you guys don't know what I'm talking about just Google Christian Bale on set. It's genius. Especially the remixes. But and by the way, Christian Bale had been on set since he was like, seven, five so he'd been it's not like he's new to set. Can you explain to everybody what an eyeline is? And how to avoid getting yelled at by talent, which is the worst thing other than being yelled at by the director or any of the other crew members? Like if you're being yelled at by talent? That's bad. Public, you pretty much you almost gone guarantee. Yeah.

Christine Chen 53:37
So an eyeline is like, whenever an actor is acting, there's a specific area where no matter where you're standing in that spot eyeline it's hard for the actor to not to they will definitely see you. And that's extremely distracting. So we are always trying to crew and are in it. If you don't have enough, you just know to as you know, Stan, and us more than usually where the video villages or something like that are in the shadows. Because if you think about if you're trying to, if you've ever tried to focus on anything, and you're trying to be in a difficult emotional spot, and you can't because a fly is flying around you that's what it feels like when somebody is standing in someone's eyeline. And so it's kind of a it's a frame of vision, where you will see that person if you're in that frame of vision, that's the eyeline and so your mate and you will accidentally sin eyeline and that's when you'll see people look at their look at the ground, be a tree, you know, like, try to not move around so that you're not Being a distraction to the performance and it's very easy to do. And you know, the best way to do it is in general, wherever the camera is, and where the action is being directed if you're kind of in that besides the director and the DP and stuff like that, you try to stay away from that area and and courtesy of asking somebody you know the talent aids or we are this is good spot or whatever. But if you can see the actor and you can make eye contact with that actor, you are in their eyeline move. Yeah, so if there that's the best way if you can watch the scene and you realize, oh, shit, the actor staring directly at me, you are in their eyeline if you can make eye contact with anybody who's acting that is within their eyeline. So

Alex Ferrari 55:59
And then also, the other part kind of tag on to that is being in the shot. Many times, have you seen the first day PA or intern has no clue about anything on a set, and they're just literally sitting in the back in the middle of the shot. When the director yells action, and you could just see them like this, like, I kind of could I kind of could see for this shot. Because you're in it. Like, and you hear the DP or camera or the director or the first ad hoc, get that guy out of the shot like you just like and you just start freaking out. Oh god, I've seen that happen too many times. Even if I see it on my site before we got to just get that guy out of the shop. If I'm in a great mood if I'm not in a bet if I'm if it's a rough day, I'm going to get my shots. Yeah. So please just be aware of your surroundings. Be aware of your surroundings. Yeah. And also, that's a date, that's a safety thing. Because some crazy stuff could be happening, the stunts could be going on, a crane could be coming down, please be aware of your surroundings and what's going on on set. And I know that's the job of a first ad to kind of let everybody in especially if there's a weapon on set, or there's a stunt going on on set. You know, you've got everybody,

Christine Chen 57:20
You bring it up a good point, I think the thing is that a film is a collaborative thing. And it's up to everyone to kind of do their part and be hyper aware. So with like safety, anything with safety, I always tell everyone on set like, Hey, I will be mad at you. If you double check my triple check whatever I'm talking about when it comes to safety, if a crew comes up and is like, hey, could we do the gun safety? Again? Could you shout out again that the street is locked or or that the stream is live or something like that? I'm not going to sure it under stressful situations I've like like a peer stressed about it. But like I would rather somebody triple double check my work when it comes to anything that has to do with safety. And yeah, no, I but I think collectively as a group, that's the only way for everybody to stay safe is if we kind of have like a checks and balance system. You know, there is a hierarchy. But people make mistakes, especially, we throw them under that much stress and limited time and limited resources and stuff like that. I think it's up to the tire team to look out for each other. So so everybody should be as hyper aware as possible. But it is so easy to become myopic, especially with what you're focused on undoing. And so yeah, no, it's I just think any any and this has nothing to do with the hierarchy. I think anybody should be looking out for their fellow man woman. Yes, it, you know,

Alex Ferrari 59:11
No question and has to be brought. Yeah, there's, you know, obviously, there's, you know, some some tragedies have happened in recent years about about onset safety and issues that that are horrible, and it happens, you know, stunts go wrong things happen. I think it's really about safety and trying to, like you say everybody's responsibility to say if see something, say something,

Christine Chen 59:33
Say something. Yeah, say something, say anything. Yeah. It's it can be hard to do in any group setting group think is a thing. So it'd be like, Oh, well, somebody else will bring this up or so you know, but I don't think you should, nobody should ever assume that, you know, type thing. So it's better to like, be annoying and have five people bring it up and like nobody bring up and then something happens. You know, some

Alex Ferrari 1:00:00
Agreed 100% Now I think it's appropriate to start wrapping up our conversation. What is an abbey singer and a martini shots? Oh? Because it's again, Carney language nobody? Anybody any normies out there with like what the abbey singer and Martin. So can we take what an AVI singer is and what a martini shows for everybody.

Christine Chen 1:00:23
So Abby singer is the second to last setup of the day. And people are usually very excited, because it's an indicator that we will almost go home. Sometimes it can be, you know, misnomer because Sure, maybe that second last setup takes forever. And you might do like 10 takes of it. But it is just a nice morale booster knowing that this is the second to last shot. And the reason why it's called Abbey singers, Abbey singer was actually a ad, I believe. And he was famous for saying, all right, that was great. But then you say, but let's do it again, type thing. So and one more, let's do one more. And so they coined the term Abbey singer after him. Because anytime it felt like they're about to finish, another thing was added right before it so it was before B singer and the Martini. Depending on where you are, some people in Texas have tried to make it the margarita or the Texas martini or whatever. But it's the last setup of the day, the martini and it's important in its when you've been on set, you hear it called out. I'm always trying to anticipate the abbey singer and the Martini, because these are indicators of letting departments know they can start to slowly wrap up stuff because, you know, anytime you've been anywhere you kind of like move in and you spread out and you your things get bigger and bigger and bigger spread out in space and, and having some extra time to slowly pack up your stuff and really make the exit of off the set that much faster and more efficient. So I'm always in veteran crew members will get annoyed if you don't call them because call the Abby singer or their Martini because they're like I could have been, you know, wrapping stuff. And now I have to after wrap spent an extra 30 minutes I could have been doing an in between setups, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
My team, am I having my teeth, but things that are that other setup breaking? Down? Right? Yeah, I suppose everyone's sitting around waiting for it just in case. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions as all of my guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Christine Chen 1:02:53
And get advice would be to always think about what value you can give somebody before you ask for value from somebody else. So in any space and time, I think if as long as you can be invaluable to somebody and helping them on their set. When you're first starting off, donating your time, that type of thing that pays off, it may not pay off immediately. But you never know, five years from now, that pa that you were nice to that you helped out could be that could be your ticket to another job. And that's not why you do that, you know, so don't mistake and oh, let's be nice to people so that, you know, five years could be off. Yeah, no, I think that's just a principle in life is just like people will always know, after set is done. And it's crazy. And you've all gone through war together. People always remember how you made them feel. And if you can leave a lasting impression of, hey, when I dealt with this one person, they always made my day better, or help was helpful or something you will do. Great going down line. So that's that's if you want to break in. I, as a veteran, I will hire people who make my life easier or just easier doesn't need necessarily mean a skill set user can just be like, Hey, you made sure I had water the whole day and I you know, you made sure that I didn't I knew where my keys were the whole day that you know if I will hire that person over somebody who's had five or 10 years of experience that you know doesn't who gives me an attitude or whatever. And that's the quickest way to get roped in to get to be in with with people is if you if I can feel like I can you have my back. right no matter what. And so Oh, yes, long story is if you can approach everybody as a make your life easier? How can I just brighten up your day a little bit? I think you'll do just fine. So

Alex Ferrari 1:05:18
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Christine Chen 1:05:23
That it's okay to walk away. I think this is an I still struggle with this, I think you will get to a point where you love your career so much, and you love your job so much, you will want to give everything to it 100 To, to a detriment to yourself. And you have to realize that if you aren't taking care of yourself, you're going to be useless to everybody. So that means burning out, that means giving more time and over committing and stuff like that, or doing projects with people who don't respect you as a person, or as for your time, or your safety or your well being. And it is okay, to set boundaries by walking away. And to know that your career is not going to go down the waist, you know, it's not, it's not going to be over. Just because you wouldn't stand for the way you were being treated a certain way on set, and you decide to leave. And this is very, very, very hard to do. Because when you're on set, especially if you're a position like it being an ad or whatever, you're responsible for many people, it's not just yourself. And so when you leave, it feels like you are letting down, not just yourself, but everybody else that depends on you. But in the end much though, we love our job, and hopefully it is your passion, it is a job. And your safety, livelihood and your peace of mind and mental health is not worth sticking out just a bit more, you know, because that could have long lasting effects, you know, for your ability to work later. So that's, I still I still struggle with this, you know, just walking away and being okay to to walk away. Or, It's hard because you in this industry, it will feel like whatever opportunity that you have is the only opportunity you'll always you'll ever get in career, it will feel that way. Right. And, you know, there will be months where you may not work, you know, and stuff and, and in that moment, maybe turning down $100 per day. 18 hour job seems stupid, because that's $100 but but you're also setting an expectation, right? So the hope is by standing up for not doing that you are enabling other people to also have the power to stand up for that. So that it sets a standard that that is not how the film industry should operate. You know, it's kind of like the whole me to thing too. It's like, that's for me, if anybody is disrespectful, in that way to any of my crew members, I will walk no matter what, because I'm standing up for something and and say, setting the precedent that this is not okay. And are set and I think it gets hard, because you'll be on some incredible opportunities and stuff like that. And you have to make that decision of is it worth this opportunity? Or is this going to actually be damaging, you know, in the future or, or dangerous or whatnot, you know, so right, that's the that's the hardest is is walking away. Nobody wants to walk away,

Alex Ferrari 1:09:08
Especially at the beginning, especially at the beginning, you know, and I had to do it so many times. In with my post I like literally just turned away, you know, one of the biggest music video companies in LA and I just like I can't work with you anymore. You just too abusive. And a certain point, you just have to say, I'm just gonna roll the dice and, and generally works out. Yeah, it's not you will work again. I mean, it's not like you will and and if anyone ever says you'll never work in this town again. That's a guarantee that he will work. There's nobody that means they're so full of themselves. Yeah. If it starts off with Do you know who I am? And then goes into you'll I'm the director. I'm the director and I'll make sure you never work in this town again. Don't be scared. That's bullshit. If that doesn't happen, I've never heard of it happening. Ever anyone getting listed? I'm sure it does happen. I've just never seen it or heard about it. And especially if you haven't done anything wrong, people realize that and no one has that much juice. Not in today's world, maybe in the olden days where there was like, you know, 15 Productions going on in the entire country at one time. Sure, but now there's just too much work and yeah, it's Yeah.

Christine Chen 1:10:27
Yeah, don't compromise your integrity and compromise things like that. I think that's the hardest thing is walking away so hard. It's like a bad relationship. No, it's not working. I don't want to break away I want to break up with you. Because it's comfortable tonight.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:44
Oh, that's a whole other conversation which is a whole other podcast. And last question, three of your favorite films of all time?

Christine Chen 1:10:53
Three of my favorite I mean, it's funny this question always makes me laugh because all my stuff is not very sophisticated. I love Love Actually.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:06
Fantastic film. I love second best Christmas movie of all time behind diehard.

Christine Chen 1:11:14
I don't know I would argue because then the beta whether diehard is a Christmas movie,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:17
We had an episode. Someone I had a researcher Come on. It has been proven by the numbers that Die Hard is a Christmas

Christine Chen 1:11:25
Yeah, it is. I love that movie. I love Forrest Gump. So Epic is epic, epic epic film. And then I can watch Shawshank Redemption at any time any point any where if it pops up I will just find myself fixated on it and just watch

Alex Ferrari 1:11:48
Stop talking dirty to me. That's that's my number one Shawshank everybody everyone I know everybody listening just said Shawshank Yeah, no Shawshank is my number one is, you know, I just absolutely adore that film. And it has so many layers. And it's so deep and it just cuts through so much of the BS and yeah, it just it's so it's almost as perfect of a film in my opinion as it is.

Christine Chen 1:12:12
And I'll keep watching and being like why is it so perfect? And then I'll start watching and get lost in it and then forget that I was watching it to try to learn like something from it. I do that a lot with good movies.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:23
And what and another one that was the one that he did that Frank Darabont did right afterwards which is Green Mile is another one of those that just yeah, it just hits just hits right spot. Now where can people pick up your book get

Christine Chen 1:12:39
Sure right now getreelisms.com is a spot we haven't branched out yet to Amazon. That's a business decision. But yeah, get reelisms.com online. I think we also have an Etsy store. So if you use Google get reelisms and make sure the reel is R E E L. You should you'll be able to find it eventually. Maybe in a year or so we'll we'll be on Amazon stuff. But for now it's a boutique. And it'll be fun if you ever go into a rental house and Austin our I think there's a few now in Los Angeles and stuff like that. You see it take a photo. It's always fun. But yeah, but yeah, get Rosen's dot com is the best way to go about getting it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:26
Christine, thank you so much for coming on the show and for writing this book. And I wish again, I had this when I was coming up and it is invaluable for anybody being on set it is a it's a survival guide on how to survive on set. Just understanding this is like the it's like the Rosetta Stone. Yes. It's a stone of film talk on set and how to understand it and everything. So I appreciate you my dear. Thank you again for all the hard work.

Christine Chen 1:13:53
Thank you so much for having me!



  1. Need Distribution for Your Film? – Check This Out!
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Top 10 Acting Podcasts (Oscar® and Emmy® Winners)

Top 10 Acting podcasts. actor podcasts

Podcasts have been so important to me over the past few years. Indie Film Hustle entered into the podcast space in 2015 with the launch of its first original podcast series, The Indie Film Hustle Podcast.

The response to the podcast was so amazing that after a few short months the show became the #1 filmmaking podcast on Apple Podcasts & Spotify, and still maintain that honor. I’m truly humbled and thankful by the response.

The show is only as good as the filmmakers. screenwriters, actors and industry professionals who listen to it. Thank you all for the support.

As a bonus I have put together the Top 10 Actors Podcasts from the IFH archives. Many of these Oscar® and Emmy® Nominees are legendary! These episodes discuss not just the craft of acting but origin stories, the film business and so much more. This list will be updated every few months so keep checking back.

Click here to subscribe on Apple,  Spotify, & Youtube.

1. Billy Crystal 

There are performers that impact your life without you even knowing it and today’s guest fits that bill. On the show, we have comedic genius, multi-award-winning actor, writer, producer, director, and television host, Billy Crystal. We’ve seen Billy’s versatile work across all areas in the entertainment world, stand-up, improv, Broadway, behind and in front of the camera, feature films, television, live stages like SNL, and animated movies.

2. 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.

3. John Leguizamo

Fast-talking and feisty-looking John Leguizamo has continued to impress movie audiences with his versatility: he can play sensitive and naïve young men, such as Johnny in Hangin’ with the Homeboys; cold-blooded killers like Benny Blanco in Carlito’s Way; a heroic Army Green Beret, stopping aerial terrorists in Executive Decision; and drag queen Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.

4. Edward James Olmos

Our guest today is 80s star, multiple-awards film, and theater actor, and activist, Edward James Olmos. Olmos’s roles in films or TV shows like Stand and DeliverBattlestar Galactica, broadway musical and film Zoot SuitBlade Runner as detective Gaff, and many others are some of the most memorable of all time and he’s still dominating our screens. While I could not resist talking about his iconic roles over several decades, we mainly discussed Olmos’ new must-see film, Chasing Wonders.

5. Eva Longoria

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

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

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

6. Guy Pearce

Guy Edward Pearce was born 5 October, 1967 in Cambridgeshire, England, UK to Margaret Anne and Stuart Graham Pearce. His father was born in Auckland, New Zealand, to English and Scottish parents, while Guy’s mother is English. Pearce and his family initially traveled to Australia for two years, after his father was offered the position of Chief test pilot for the Australian Government. Guy was just 3-years-old. After deciding to stay in Australia and settling in the Victorian city of Geelong, Guy’s father was killed 5 years later in an aircraft test flight, leaving Guy’s mother, a schoolteacher, to care for him and his older sister, Tracy.

Most recently, he has amazed film critics and audiences, alike, with his magnificent performances in L.A. Confidential (1997), Memento (2000), The Proposition (2005), Factory Girl (2006), The Hurt Locker (2008), The King’s Speech (2010) and the HBO mini-series, Mildred Pierce (2011). Next to acting, Guy has had a life-long passion for music and songwriting.

7. Kyra Sedgwick

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


8. Lance Henriksen

Lance has been in over 300 films through-out his remarkable career.He’s mentored Tarzan, Evel Knievel and the Antichrist, and fought Terminators, Aliens, Predators, Pumpkinhead, Pinhead, Bigfoot, Superman, the Autobots, Mr. T, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal.

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

9. Robert Forster

This week we are joined by legendary actor Robert Forster. Robert has been a working actor for decades, appearing in a classic film like Medium Cool, the iconic John Huston’s Reflections in a Golden Eye80’s action classic Delta Force (love me a good 80’s action flixand Disney’s The Black Hole (one of my favorite films growing up).

He was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1997 for Quentin Tarantino’s Jackie Brown, which he credits with reviving his career. Since then Robert has been on fire in the second half of his career, appearing in The DescendantsLike MikeMulholland Drive; Me, Myself, & IreneLucky Number Slevin and Firewall, just to name a few.

10. Edward Burns

Many of you might have heard of the Sundance Film Festival-winning film called The Brothers McMullen, his iconic first film that tells the story of three Irish Catholic brothers from Long Island who struggle to deal with love, marriage, and infidelity. His Cinderella story of making the film, getting into Sundance, and launching his career is the stuff of legend.

The Brothers McMullen was sold to Fox Searchlight and went on to make over $10 million at the box office on a $27,000 budget, making it one of the most successful indie films of the decade.

Ed went off to star in huge films like Saving Private Ryan for Steven Spielberg and direct studio films like the box office hit She’s The One. The films about the love life of two brothers, Mickey and Francis, interconnect as Francis cheats on his wife with Mickey’s ex-girlfriend, while Mickey impulsively marries a stranger.

Even after his mainstream success as an actor, writer, and director he still never forgot his indie roots. He continued to quietly produce completely independent feature films on really low budgets. How low, how about $9000. As with any smart filmmaker, Ed has continued to not only produce films but to consider new methods of getting his projects to the world.

BONUS: Adrian Martinez

Being yourself in any situation in life is hard for many people. Actors do make a living playing other people but the art of being comfortable in your own skin is a lesson we can all learn. I invited on the show Adrian Martinez, an actor, writer, producer, and soon-to-be-director, with nearly 100 film and TV credits.

Adrian’s career began as a high school track star on NBC’s “Unsolved Mysteries“. Some in casting have called Adrian, “the sidekick to the stars,” as evidenced by his recent sidekick trifecta– Will Smith’s sidekick in Warner Bros’ “Focus,” Ben Stiller’s sidekick in his Fox remake of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” Will Ferrell’s sidekick in Lionsgate’s “Casa de mi Padre,” to name a few.


IFH 624: How NOT to Lose Your Soul in Hollywood with Stephen Simon

In 1980, Stephen Simon produced the film Somewhere in Time with Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer. In 1998, he produced What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams, Annabella Sciorra, and Cuba Gooding, Jr.

Stephen Simon graduated from UCLA and Loyola Law School, entered the movie business in 1976, ran the film companies of legendary producers Ray Stark and Dino de Laurentiis, produced such films as Somewhere in Time and What Dreams May Come, co-founded The Spiritual Cinema Circle in 2004, and wrote the books The Force is With You and Bringing Back the Old Hollywood.

Please enjoy my conversation with Stephen Simon.

Stephen Simon 0:00
Around six o'clock in the morning got a panicked phone call from Harry Cohn saying give Sinatra the part. I don't want to hear anything else about this. This is beginning to sound a little bit like a movie that you may know of called The Godfather.

Alex Ferrari 0:15
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com I'd like to welcome to the show Stephen Simon. How you doin Stephen?

Stephen Simon 0:31
It was so easy doing this do this on Zoom. But anyway, it's good to talk to you, Alex. Thank you very much.

Alex Ferrari 0:42
Thank you so much for coming on the show my friend. I've I've been a fan of your work for many, many years. You've brought me much love and tears and spiritual enlightenment through the works that you've done over the years, and we're gonna get into the, into the weeds of your career. But my first question is, Why in God's green earth did you want to get into this insanity? That is the film industry? And how did you get it?

Stephen Simon 1:05
Well, first of all, thank you for the kind words. I was actually born into the industry. My dad was a writer, producer and a studio head at Columbia in the late 40s. He made movies like born yesterday with Judy Holliday that she won an Academy Award for and he was running Columbia Studios, as the Head of Production there, when he died very suddenly, at the age of 40 from a cerebral hemorrhage. My mother remarried another film producer. So we stayed in the industry. And I very early on in my life had an experience where I was saying to my mother and my stepfather, there's a man in my wall at night. And of course, they thought I was nuts. This is probably 1954 53. And that, Oh, are you scared? No, I'm not scared. You know, he's, he's really wonderful. I like him a lot. Well, it took me a long time to realize that was the spirit of my dad. Oh, wow. My dad constantly was encouraging me. And I know that I came to this life, to be a filmmaker, and to make films of a spiritual nature that would hopefully be uplifting. I mean, when I was a kid I loved It's A Wonderful Life. The ghosts and Mrs. Muir Lost Horizon, though those were my movies. So I knew I wanted to do this. I don't hold this against me, please. It's been a long time. I don't have to go to meetings anymore. But I was a lawyer for a short period of time. I know that that's not something that people like to usually admit, but I was, but I knew I was supposed to get into the film industry. I was surrounded by it. And one day I walked into a bookstore, the guy that was the clerk knew I loved books of that would be called at that point fantasy books. And he said, Well, there's great new book by Richard Matheson, who had written a lot of The Twilight Zone episodes and movies like I Am Legend and things like that. It was called Big Time return. And I read the book in one sitting, and I said, That's it. I gotta get into the industry. My, my dad's mentor, was a man named Ray Stark. And Ray was a major lead producer in the film industry, Funny Girl, funny lady and a whole bunch of big movies. And I went and big Ray for a job and said, I got to get this movie made Ray, I got to learn how to produce. So a longer story than that, but he hired me, the very first thing I did was call Richard Matheson's agent. We set up a meeting. And I said to him, Look, I don't know how long it's going to take this good movie I got into the business to make. And three years later, we produce somewhere in time, which was based on did time return. And then he gave me the galleys to what dreams may come. That took 20 years. That's a whole other story.

Alex Ferrari 4:00
We'll get and we'll get to that that amazing film in a minute. But before we get into somewhere, somewhere in time, is it true that Frank Sinatra was your godfather?

Stephen Simon 4:09
He was he was. So my dad was running Columbia, when he bought a book for them called From Here to Eternity to make into a film. And my dad was this is 1948 49. My dad was a big fan of Sinatra is what a lot of people don't know is that at that point, Frank's career had really gone into the toilet as he would say, because he had made a lot of bad movie choices. He hemorrhage his vocal cords and couldn't sing for a while. My father was a big fan. And he called him and he said, Hey, look, I got a part for you called Maggio. That's the character in From Here to Eternity. I think it'd be great for you. You want to read it and Frank was Yeah, absolutely. He read it. He called my dad He said I love this part. This is what I need to get back on track. My dad gave him the part. And then Harry Cohn, who headed the studio had Columbia at that time, called my father in and said, No, not Sinatra. You can have anybody but Sinatra. Is this story beginning to sound a little familiar, Alex, it should. It should. So my father said why and Harry wouldn't tell them why. But it was over a woman who I believe was Kim Novak. I think it was Kim Novak. I'm not 100% Sure. So my father said I can't You can't do this to me, Harry. I told the guy I'm the Head of Production, my word will be ruined and Harry Cohn in his inimitable kind way, said Who gives a damn about your your reputation? No. Just as an aside, Red Skelton once had a great comment about Harry Cohn. When Harry Cohn died, about 3000 people showed up for his funeral. And red said, See, give people what they want. They'll show up. Anyway, so my dad quit, went home. Around six o'clock in the morning, got a panicked phone call from Harry Cohn saying gives an actor the part. I don't want to hear anything else about this. If this is beginning to sound a little bit like a movie that you may know of called The Godfather. That's because it is it was based on that episode and know the horse's head was not cut off. Red Skelton told me the story long, much longer after this because red was my dad's best friend, my birth dad's best friend, right. But Harry owned a great resource who was poisoned in his stall. And there was a note under Harry's door saying your next. As far as I know, Frank knew nothing about that. And I never talked to Frank about that, because that was just not a subject that we wanted to deal with. But from that point forward, after my dad died, Frank became Uncle Frank. And there were always these great gifts from him. And when I was 18, I was called to his house to talk to him. And at that point, he told me the story about my father. And he said, your dad was a stand up guy. He really saved my career, Steven, I never got a chance to repay him. You now have to consider me your unofficial godfather. And we're gonna have some fun together. And I spent a few years traveling with him. And it was an extraordinary time. I often feel Alex like Forrest Gump. I just wound up being in the right place at the right time with a whole bunch of really fascinating people.

Alex Ferrari 7:40
That's an amazing story. So that so that whole story is that kind of basis of where that that scene in The Godfather came in Haratz. That is remarkable that the whole I love the Forrest Gump analogy, it seems as we continue with our conversation that will start to make more and more sense. Your your career is gone

Stephen Simon 8:03
Make sense to me, boy, you just be in the right place at the right time. And fascinating things happen. I've had a very, very lucky, fortunate life.

Alex Ferrari 8:11
So you've also worked with two you were working with two legends. One was Neil Simon. Another one was Dino DeLaurentis. You know, the legendary producer. So So first question, what was it like working with Neil? And did you get what kind of what kind of lessons did you learn from working with someone like Neil Simon.

Stephen Simon 8:30
So when I got my job with Ray start, when I begged my way into that job. Ray had a multi picture deal with Neil, who was at that time, the number one playwright in the world, he had had so many huge hits. And Ray had already made a couple of movies with him. And we were doing, I think we were starting to it was the a movie called The chief detective with Peter Falk in this great ensemble cast. And there was going to be a reading with the cast of the script one night Oh, never forget this a trader Vic's restaurant in Beverly Hills. And Ray said to me, we're going and I want you to sit next to Neil. And just watch Neil while he operates. And I said, Okay, so we have all these actors in a room who are in all of Neil Simon. And Neil says, Look, I just want you to read the script, guys. You don't have to, you don't have to act. You don't do anything. Just read the script. I need to know what it sounds like. So they started and I watched Neil make notes in his script in a big red pen. And he would make notes like, no big cross out, change it joke doesn't work. This is bad. This is good keep. And he did that all the way through the reading. And when it was over, he said to everybody, I really appreciate that. That's what I needed. I it's very clear to me, I've got to rewrite about half of this stuff. So I got to do a big rewrite on the script. We'll do another reading when I'm ready, but thank you, and he went away to Right. So when it was over, and it was just Neil and Ray and I said to him, Neil, how the heck do you do that? How can you keep objectivity? He said, Steven, a joke is only funny if other people laugh. If other people laugh, it doesn't matter what I think of it. It's not funny. I've got a I've got to make it work where people actually laugh, said, and I also have this device where when I'm doing my own rewrites, I pretend I have been hired to rewrite the work of somebody I don't like. And it's very easy for me to change the words. Now I was raised Jewish. Neil's Jewish Ray was Jewish. If you're Jewish, you get that attitude. Okay. So that was Neil, and it was fascinating watching him operate. And I still think at that time, Niels contract was the only writer in Hollywood that you could not change his work. His words without his permission. I think he was the only guy that had that. As far as I know. He may be the only guy that ever got that. But it was, again, it was just fascinating being in the presence of that kind of genius.

Alex Ferrari 11:13
I think I think Sorkin might have that. And I think Tarantino might have that at this point in the game. Be but but there's a short very short list, to say the least. Now you also got to work with Dino DiLaurentis, who was a legendary film producer. I mean, I'm sure you've got stories you could tell on air. And I'm sure you got stories you could tell off there. So what lessons did you learn as a producer for producer to producer? How, what lessons did you learn from him?

Stephen Simon 11:40
Oh, so many. Dino was a unique individual, you know, Dino almost single handedly launched the Italian film industry. Dino got his start in life, selling quote, holy water unquote, to American GI as during World War Two that he had basically just gotten out of the river. I mean, he I we used to get to work very early. He, which was great, because I'm an early bird as well. We used to get to the office at seven in the morning. And for the first hour, Dino would regale me with stories. And I, I almost felt like I should have been paying him. Because the stories were extraordinary about how he got started, how his films work. And you know, Dino pioneered selling off individual rights to films overseas. And that's how you get your film made. So he was the one that started all of that we would get a domestic deal. He sell it here in France and sell it here in Germany. And then eventually, this is a whole other story, which is a long story, which we won't go into. But eventually, we distributed a film outside the United States, which was Madonna's documentary, which we called outside the United States in Dino's inimitable way, which we called in bed with Madonna. And Madonna during that time, I had not met her but at that time, she was the most famous woman in the world. And she told Dino, she wanted to do a movie like The Sharon Stone movie. Basic Instinct, Basic Instinct. Thank you. That's what happens when you get to 76 you have those little brain freezes from time to time. And so Dino said to me, I've done the numbers, you got to find a really sexy script that she wants to do, you got to make it for $18 million. If you do, we can pre sell it for 23. And then we don't have to worry about anything else. And as your job. And I said, okay, and it scared the bejesus out of me. I had been through a very difficult divorce at that time, I had declared bankruptcy at that time, I had just gotten my job with Dino, which I did not want to lose. So I called Madonna's assistant and said, you know, this is going to be my position, I would really like to meet with her. And she was renting a house in the Hollywood Hills. And we set up the meeting for whatever it was. And I came in and she was in the living room sitting on the couch, and came up and shook my hand. She was very, very nice. And we sat on opposite sides. And she said, What can I do for you? And I said, I'm going to be really frank with you. You scare me to death. And she got this little smile. And she said, well tell me about that. And I told her, I said, I need this job. It's my job to keep this movie on schedule and on budget. If you don't like the way I say, Good morning, you can get me fired. I know that. I've been told I can be honest with you. I'm being honest with you. What is it going to take for me to make this work for you? And I'll never forget this as long as I live. She launched herself off the couch and I actually thought He was coming toward me to hit me, I actually thought she was going to slap me. And I stood up, and she gave me a big hug. And she said, Steven, if you're that honest with me about everything all the way through this, we are going to be great friends, because I want you at the end of the film, to say to everybody how professional I was. And because a lot of people have different ideas about me, and we're not going to have any problems, I promise you. And she was just an absolute delight to work with the entire way through, she kept her word. And Dino and I finally had a parting of the ways but working with him during those years was utterly fascinating, because I, I learned how to actually get movies financed in a very unconventional way. And he was one of the great giants of the industry. And I really loved him very dearly.

Alex Ferrari 15:53
And he was so he was he he started the whole pre selling

Stephen Simon 15:58
Dino originated all of that,

Alex Ferrari 16:01
Right! Because I mean, I know the Canon boys started taking that to the next level in the 80s when they just throw it

Stephen Simon 16:08
The next level. But you know, he was the one that he is the one that did it. And he made a lot of, you know, incredible films in Italy with Fellini. And he was, I think Dino may have had his name on three or 400 movies by the end of his career. I may be exaggerating that, but I don't think so. And as I said, he I was given the opportunity to work for two of the last great moguls Ray Stark, and Dino DiLaurentis. And I was, it was a gift to me. I much appreciated.

Alex Ferrari 16:39
And as a producer, you must have picked up a lot of tools in your toolbox along the way.

Stephen Simon 16:43
I sure did. I learned a lot of things that I wanted to do. And I learned a lot of things I didn't want to do.

Alex Ferrari 16:49
So that's fascinating, because I remember when body of evidence, which is that Madonna film came out. It wasn't I mean, it was you know, it wasn't a success. I mean, it wasn't success, but it wasn't like they wanted it to be this whole thing. I think there's just so much press about her and she was so so. But you know, she was so dividing and polarizing. So it was just a difficult.

Stephen Simon 17:09
While I tell you what happened with that. We previewed body of evidence. And the previews were really successful. This was I can't remember the time of the year, but it was maybe once before the film was going to be released maybe for four to six months. But But after the previews, but before the film came out, Madonna's sex book came out. Yes. And it changed a lot of the public perception of Madonna. And we went back and previewed it again. MGM released it domestically. And Laddie Alan Ladd, who was running MGM said, we need to test this again. And the tests were much different. And it was mostly because a lot of the audience had changed their attitude about Madonna. I have to tell you, though, recently, I got a phone call from somebody in England, saying that they were doing a special blu ray release of body of evidence because it's become quite a cult film in Europe, and is wildly successful. And I did some interviews with them. And I think that's going to be coming out sometime in the fall. So it did find its audience. I watched it recently again, and the level, the, the heat in that movie, The explicitness of that movie. And he or she and Willem together were really extraordinary. And I went, Whoa, man, I forgot it was that explicit. And anyway, it was a fun movie to work on. And she was great. Willem was great. It was a wonderful experience.

Alex Ferrari 18:43
So let's go to somewhere in time, which was your first producing credit. It is it is one of those films that just is a classic, it keeps going and going and going. And people love love that film was a young Christopher Reeve, a young Jane Seymour. I mean, this is this is post Superman, Christopher Reeve. So he was a big star in 1979 1980. I mean, he was a massive star at that time. What What were the lessons that they you learned to get that thing off the ground? How did you, you know, how did you? I mean, I know the world is so different now. But are there any universal lessons you learned during that process?

Stephen Simon 19:25
No. Again, I just I want to play in the right place. I wanted to be in the right place at the right time. I'll tell you the story because it's a fun story. So I had had really helped push through Smokey and the Bandit with universal for Ray Stark when I was working for Ray. I did not produce Smokey and the Bandit. A guy named Nord engelberg did I really had very little to do with that. But as an executive I helped to get through so universal was grateful. There was also a guy named Janos work wound up directing somewhere in time, who had come in and saved them on Jaws two, he replaced the original director on that. So Genoa and I got together. And he was saying, I want to make an old fashioned romantic movie like the ghost and Mrs. Muir, or something like that. And I said, Oh, here's the book. And he said, Yeah, we got to do this. So we went to Universal, to make a deal with them to develop the script. And as I know, there was a great guy named net 10, and running Ned. And laying the studio at that time. I know he did that as a gesture of gratitude to both Shinola and to myself, but I don't think that they ever really totally intended to make the movie. So in every movie, with every script, there is a moment of truth with the studio. And we had developed the script, we got called into Ned's office, we went into Ned's office, and Ned said, you know, I love you guys. Immediately, I knew that the biggest butt in the world was coming. And I he was about to say, and he admitted it later, he was about to say, but we just can't get behind this. And I just blurted out to him, What if we get Christopher Reeve I thought Janelle was going to kill me. And at that point, I felt like killing myself because this is January of 1980. Superman had opened in December of 1979. Chris was the biggest star in the world. At that point, there was no way we were gonna get him for a movie that we had budgeted at $5 million in the star at 500,000. So immediately, Ned said, you the Christopher Reeve, his first movie after Superman, you got a green light. And I immediately tried to backtrack and go with what about this? And he said, No. And I said, so what if we don't get Chris rubies? Don't come back, Steven. And I'm like, okay, so Joe, and I walk out. And he said, Why don't I get I'm going to call his agent. So I called his agent who I will not name. And his agent said, that little time travel thing you have, there's no chance he's going to do that. I'm getting offers like three or $4 million offers for him. Remember, this is 40 years ago. So that was a lot of money. That was huge. And I said, we got to give him the script. And he said, No, I'm not even gonna show it to him, because I'm telling you, he won't do it. So Chenoa said, what are we going to do? And I said, Well, I have a crazy idea. desperate people do desperate things. If you've been in LA, you're in LA. So you know that on Sunset Boulevard in West LA, they sell Maps to the Stars homes.

Alex Ferrari 22:36
No, you did it. No, you did not.

Stephen Simon 22:40
Oh, yes. We got it. We did. And I he was Did you notice like, This is humiliating? What are you doing? And I said, you know, what harm can it do? Let's look so you know, I know that a lot of that stuff is totally made up because it lets Bruce Willis is in the mowing lawn in front of his house. Right? I do you know, a Bruce Willis lives there. So Chris is listed somewhere in the Hollywood Hills. So I said, we're going he said, No, we're not. I said, we're going and he originally didn't want to get out of the car. So we go up to this and he's laughing and he says, You're gonna feel like the biggest idiot in the world. We knock on the door, and Chris answers the door. You got to be kidding. Now, Chris later said that my jaw went like. We were both shocked. And I think I got out something like, you know, I'm a producer. He's a director, we got a movie at Universal, but we're Cristobal me later, was the thing that intrigued him is when I said your agent won't show you the script. And he said, Okay, well, have you got a script, we ran to the car, gave him a script. He said, Give me your phone number. I'll call you tomorrow. So he called me and he said, Get your director come up to the house. We did. We walked in. He said, I've got two things to tell you. Number one, this is going to be my next movie. Oh, number two. Number two, I just fired my agent. His agent never spoke to me again, which I don't blame him for. And that's how we got Chris Reeve. I mean, it was just a fluke. And he later said to me that he had his agent had given him a script where he was supposed to play a Viking. And he's visions of me wearing one of those big helmets with all the horns and stuff. And when I saw this beautiful little love story, I said, this is what I want to do. And, you know, getting Jane Seymour was a whole other story that anyway, that's how we got the movie approved

Alex Ferrari 24:30
So what you're telling everybody to do is, if you're a young producer in Hollywood, you go get them and get them apps, and then go out the door of the actor

Stephen Simon 24:40
I mean, I didn't know what else to do. How are we going to find them if this Asian wouldn't help them? Again. I have been unbelievably lucky in my life, to be at the right place at the right time. And I feel very blessed by that. And it was an extraordinary shoot. The movie came out bombed Totally, with at the box office and with critics, it was devastating. I grew this beard 40 years ago, October of 1980. When the movie came out, I haven't shaved it since. And it took a long time. But the movie and I won't waste your time with how but the movie really wound up getting seen on cable TV and on the first page, LA called the z channel. And it built up an audience. And now there's a weekend devoted to it. At the Grand Hotel every October, the whole hotel, which is I think six or seven under rooms, is taken up by fans of the film, who come bringing trunks of 1912 clothing. They get dressed in costume all weekend. There are all kinds of events around the film, and it has become a wonderful little cult film, and I'm really proud that it's finally found its audience.

Alex Ferrari 25:56
Did you have you ever gone to that event?

Stephen Simon 25:58
Oh, yeah, I went a couple of times. Absolutely. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 26:01
Oh my god, that must. Yeah, cuz I remember the movie when it came out. I mean, I was I don't remember when it came out. But I remembered in my video store days, I was in the video stores, I worked at a video store from 87 to 9293, something like that. And, and I remember the box and it would always rent. Like it was always renting constantly. And I remember watching us it was such a beautiful film. Even in my high school days when I was a knucklehead. I really was still touched by the film. But it is one of those films that just got a cult following over the years and really found its audience. I mean, a lot of a lot of movies found their audience during the VHS boom and the cable boom, like because they were just being played. Like get Terminator was just played on loop on HBO for for a while.

Stephen Simon 26:52
HBO was one of the you know, when they first started, they couldn't afford to buy big hits. So they bought somewhere in time, and they showed it a lot. It is a movie that is for really people with a very romantic heart. And I have said to people, you cannot watch this movie with your head, you have to watch it with your heart. Because there are things in it like where did the watch come from originally, that we Richard Matheson finally came up with the right answer to that because people have seen the movie know that the old Elise gives the watch to the young Richard and says Richard goes back in time to the young Elise and leaves the watch there. And people were where the where did the Washington first start? Richard's answer was somewhere in time. So you know, it doesn't a lot of it doesn't make logical sense. And I understand that it is not a movie that you're supposed to watch. Here. You're supposed to watch it here. And people who are really have access to that part of themselves who are romantics really love that film. And then there are people who just think it is a slow, ridiculous 1940s millage melodrama, and frankly, I had that same experience with what dreams may come people either love it or hate it. And I personally would rather have people either love or hate a film that I've made then haven't be like Chinese food, which is a you know, it's okay, but I'm hungry again. Okay, I I'm thrilled that people who love it really love it. And people who don't I respect that. Everybody's got a right to their own taste and their own films.

Alex Ferrari 28:34
Now, you also got to work with a young actor on a film called all the right moves. Young Young man, Mr. Tom Cruise. When that first came when he was, was that pre Risky Business or post risky business, I don't remember

Stephen Simon 28:51
We hired Tom. Right before he went to Chicago to star in risky business.

Alex Ferrari 29:00
Very shrewd, again, right place at the right time forest.

Stephen Simon 29:03
Right place. He literally left the shoot in Chicago after they wrapped Risky Business and came to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where we shot all the right moves. So I remember at that point. It was obvious when you sat in a room with Tom. I mean, I think I'd only seen him in a tap app, I think. And he was in some other movie that was abroad comedy about going to one or something i

Alex Ferrari 29:31
Oh, god. Yeah, sure thing. I think the sure thing or yeah, all the right moves at none. All right. I know what you're talking about. It's a really bad

Stephen Simon 29:40
And there was he had the most amazing presence. I think Tom was 21 at that time, 20 or 21. And it was so obvious that he was the guy that we wanted to hire. And I remember we had a big argument with Fox at that point, because we were offering him 102 $25,000 to star in the film, which I think Tom makes per minute now?

Alex Ferrari 30:05
Per minute pretty much.

Stephen Simon 30:09
Like, you know, that was an amazing shoot. And again, the film was not a big hit at the box office, but definitely caught on later. As a friend of mine once said to me, Stephen, your career has been a study in your before your time. And he's and my friend said to me, do you know what that also means? And I said what he said it means now you're wrong. Okay, well, as long as people catch up with it, you know, Kevin Costner had this great saying about, you can't really tell about your film when it first comes out. But if three or four years after it comes out, a couple of people are talking in a living room and somebody says, Oh, have you ever seen this film? I got to show you this film you then you know, you've made a successful film. And fortunately, with the films that I've been involved with, other than Bill and Ted, these were not big commercial successes, the films that I did, but they found a life later on.

Alex Ferrari 31:14
And I mean, and I've had the pleasure of talking to one of one of those films that Kevin did, which is Waterworld, which was obviously panned, and it became one of universals biggest IPs, ever, and it's made so much money over the years, and it's found their audience. You know, you just don't know when it comes out. And it could be 10 years later. I mean, I'm sure you know, the movie the room. That's the worst movie ever made. And what happened to that, like, it became this whole movie of being a movie that's so bad. Transit, I always say it's so bad. It's now good. So it's those things. Now, you didn't mention Bill and Ted. And I have to tell you, before we get into your Bill and Ted's story, which I know because we spoke about it already. But for the audience, I just want to let you know what Bill and Ted meant to me. And I was working at the video store in 89. When it was released. It was one of three releases of that week. I never forgot, because I could watch everything that came out weekly. Not like today, you got 50,000 movies a minute coming out. And I had just broken up with a girlfriend and I was depressed and I was down. And then I saw this thing with this ridiculous cover. I'm like, Who is this piano? Wow, I can't even say his name. And they're in a phone booth. And let me take it home. Because I didn't even see the trailer because there was no YouTube to see trailers at that time unless you you caught it at the theater. And I took it home and the amount of laughter and joy that I got from that I started off absolutely depressed. And I finished that movie. On a high I was so happy and I just and I recommend it to everybody that walked into the video store. It is one of those films that just I mean, just connected with me. It's such a such a way. And I think it's connected obviously with an audience, because there's so much love behind their stupidity. Characters are so endearing and so loving. And yeah, they're buffoons, and yeah, they're kinda like, what they're ridiculous. But so crates, and, you know, the salad dressing, dude. And like, it's just, it's just so it was so wonderful. So please, I want to first of all say thank you for bringing that into the world because God knows we needed a little laughter. And secondly, tell this insane story of how you got involved with pullin. Ted's Excellent Adventure. Yeah, and

Stephen Simon 33:46
I want to say very clearly that I did not produce Bill and Ted. I'm one of the executive producers on it, I take no credit for producing that movie in any way. It was done by Robert cord, and Scott Kruth, and Ted field at Interscope, I only was instrumental in saving it from being thrown away, and getting it sold. And then I took another job, another executive job. So all of the credit for what happened in that film really does not belong to me, it belongs to those other producers. Richard Matheson, who was my mentor, who wrote somewhere in time, and what dreams may come the books and he wrote the script for somewhere in time, had a son and Christian, who was writing scripts when we were prepping somewhere in time and what dreams may come? No, because it was before what readers might call it was somewhere in time. And Richard asked me to read a couple of the scripts, and they were very, very odd. really odd, but they had an incredibly dark, funny sense of humor. And Richard said to me, what do you think? And I said, Well, I don't think this is going to get done. But if he could find somebody that's commercial, to work with him, maybe it would work well. He found a guy named Ed Solomon, who had been working on Laverne and Shirley and some other things. And they came up with Bill and Ted. And Richard called me one day and said, well, they wrote the script called Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. And their agents said that they don't want to distribute it around town because they think it will ruin their career that no one will buy it, no one will make it It's so dumb and blah, blah, blah. And we said, Would you read it? And I said, Yeah, so I read it. And I was howling, just reading it. And I'm like, I don't know what's wrong with them. But I think I know where I can sell this. And a good friend of mine at that time, Robert cord, who had been a, an executive at both Columbia and Fox when I was both at Columbia and Fox, and was my executive on all the right moves, had just taken over a production company called Interscope. And I called Robert, and he was they were looking for material. And I said, I think you're gonna laugh your ass off. And the next day, he called, he said, we want this. And so the guys went met with him. I wasn't even in that meeting, from what I understand. They did as good a Bill and Ted is Keanu and Alex did later on. And they made the movie. And that was my only involvement. So I don't want to take credit for any of the creative things that happened for the casting or anything else. That was really Robert cord, Scott group and Ted field. But I was very glad that I could be instrumental in getting it started.

Alex Ferrari 36:25
I mean, you again, in your Forrest Gump ways, you fell into helping put out into the world Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. I mean, again, without you, the movie might have been lost to time, somewhere in time, if you will. It could have been lost and not never seen the light of day, and maybe that would have affected the pianos career and Alex winters career, who knows, but that one that one motion, set other things in motion. So let's just say you're responsible for John Wick and the matrix, I'm just gonna throw it out there. You are, personally when I'm joking, but no, but But thank you, but thank you for bringing into the world because I felt like I told you, it brought me so much laughter. And so it's a very, very, and then the Bogus Journey went to it. And I even saw the new one that they just released, as well. And it was nice to see the boys back. Doing their thing. It was fantastic. Now, I mean, over the years, you've read, probably 1000s of scripts, and over the course of your career, is are there mistakes that you see screenwriters make again and again, that you're just like, Oh, God, I just wish I wish they would just understand don't do this?

Stephen Simon 37:42
Well, it depends on the genre that they're writing in. And it also depends on whether it's their first script, because most writers in their first script, write something that's autobiographical, in some way or another. And it's very hard to let go of it. I think that the biggest thing that I find in working with writers, which I still do, is that they have to understand what they're what they're going for. And that it is called show business. There's a business side, and there's a show side, but they have to find a way of melding. And you can't cross that kind those kinds of wires. And you have to really accept that the biggest issue that I have with screenwriters often is that they don't take the Neil Simon advice. They aren't open to criticism, to saying this doesn't work. You know, you've got to redo this, this is why this doesn't work. I always say this is why I don't think it works. Because the film industry, as William Goldman said in his famous book adventures in the screen, frayed, which is one of the greatest books ever written about the movie industry. He had an incredible quote, which is nobody knows anything. And there's a lot of truth in that. So I tried to give a lot of leeway to writers, it's very important for writers to have a structure first, if you're gonna build a house, you got to build the foundation. And then you build the walls and you know, you work inward and you do all of that stuff. You have to have a foundation. I insist when I work with writers, if it's from scratch, that they do a very detailed outline first, so that they know where they're going, which also alleviates the problem of sitting in front of an open computer saying okay, now what do I do? You know, there was that wonderful movie and I and you'll remember the name of it I don't right now I think was called something orchid with and it was It was

Alex Ferrari 39:52
Wild orchid? Wild. I think it was wild orchid where, you know, you're thinking adaptation. Adaptation.

Stephen Simon 39:59
That's it. Thanks. I think that's it. I think Wild Orchid was Mickey Rourke. Correct? Correct, right. So, in adaptation, there's this wonderful scene that several scenes where he sits down to write and it says I need a muffin. And he gets up and he gets a muffin and stuff like that, which is, you know, and one of the great things that I learned from a couple of writers is always end your day in the middle of a sentence. And your writing day in the middle of a sentence. So when you come back the next day, you know where to start. And if you have a proper outline, then you just have to connect the dots. Ron bass was a very good friend of mine in LA. And you know, Ron won the Academy Award for Rain Man and has written, I think, 2025 30 movies that have gotten made. And Ron used to have a crew of young women working for him, who he didn't like it when we his friends did this, but we call them the Ron nets. And they would out help him outline all because he he was making a fortune, and turning out these incredible scripts, they would help him outline everything he was going to do in a script. So before Ron sat down to write it, he gave them the basic ideas of things in the characters, and then they would help him put the structure together. And then Ron would refine it. And he would know this scene is going to take two pages, this scene is going to take two and a half pages, he was always incredibly organized. And it's very important to do that, as a writer, you need to be organized, you need to know where you're going. And then you need to have the ability to say, okay, maybe you're right, maybe I could do that differently. And everyone else has, you know, their own quirks and everything else. But for me, it's a lot of fun. The only type of work I do with writers now is on films that would be uplifting. That for me, need to have some kind of a spiritual side, it doesn't mean it has to be openly spiritual. And I don't mean religious, I mean, spiritual, there's a difference. You can be very spiritual and not be tied to any particular religion. You can obviously be religious and very spiritual, but I'm talking about having some kind of a sense that this is going to make people feel better about who they are about their lives, which we desperately need now, oh, my goodness, do we desperately need that? You know, Bill, Maher said, a year or two ago, in a in a rant about the movie industry? He said, Do you think that maybe you guys could make a movie every once in a while, that doesn't make me want to take a bath with a toaster.

Alex Ferrari 42:37
Right! It's a great line. Remember that line.

Stephen Simon 42:39
During the pandemic, that was very true. Well, now we're out of that. And I think people are really looking for hope. Again, they're looking to feel better. Again, it's so hard to do that when you look out in the world. And you see all the conflict and all the anger and things like that. And so at this stage of my life, I really just want to work on things that I think will be positive. And we'll make people feel better when they walk out of the theater. So I'm kind of picky about that. But at this stage of my life, that's the only thing I want to do. And I want to help people get work out into the world.

Alex Ferrari 43:13
Fair enough. Fair enough. Now, as a producer, you've done a lot of big movies and all sorts of different movies in the studio system and outside. Is there a day that you feel that the entire you felt that the entire production was coming crashing down around you? I know, that feels like every day. But was there one day or one film in a day in the film that you were just like, I don't know how we're gonna get over this, like, how are we going to continue? What was that thing? And how did you overcome it?

Stephen Simon 43:44
There were a few of those. I can't go into the details of this, because I don't think it would be appropriate at this point. Because some of the people that were involved in this in a very significant way are no longer with us. Okay, and I don't think I should do that. But I so I'm not going to specify the film. But we did have an idea. I was working on a film that we had to shut down production in the middle of the day. We had an amazing crisis with the cast, and with the director and with extras in the film, and I had to call the studio to get permission to shut it down. The people involved making the we're not going to be specific but some of the people who are making the film are very unhappy with me. I actually thought I was gonna get fired. And I it's only because the person who was actually running the financing entity knew how long it had taken me to get What Dreams May Come May because it took me 20 years and there was no way in the world that he was going to let me be fired but I I thought the movie might not continue and I thought I probably wouldn't continue. So I definitely remember that I worked on a film many, many years ago in which there was a horrible accident. And actually, somebody wound up getting killed. Wow. And somebody wound up being in a wheelchair for life that haunts me to this day. So yeah, I definitely had definitely had those moments where I thought all is lost.

Alex Ferrari 45:29
And did you and like that day that you had to shut down the production? How did you get that over? Like, how did you overcome that? Like, how did you get that? Well, how do you rally back the entire crew in the cast and get that engine up again,

Stephen Simon 45:43
You know, we dealt with it. Fortunately, we were dealing with very, very professional people. And it was rough. It definitely drove a wedge, between me and one member of the cast in particular, that never really totally got healed. It was a really, really challenging thing. But you know, people who work on film are, in general, are incredibly hard working professional people. And the idea that the show must go on is deeply, deeply ingrained, particularly in the crews, you know, the grips, and the electricians are the hardest working people on sets, as I think everybody knows. And they have an incredible work ethic, you know, this is what we're here to do. And everyone got together and the movie moved on from that. But it always stayed in my mind, it stayed in my heart. And it's something that I regret, and I wish I'd been able to do something differently. I don't regret that I shut the film down, I had to in the studio agree that I had to. But I regret that that happened. And even now thinking back on it, it was a it was a pretty rough moment. But unfortunately, I didn't have too many of those. Thank

Alex Ferrari 47:01
God for that. But you know, this is this is a lesson for people listening. If you're a filmmaker, it's sometimes you got to make these tough choices, you got to either continue down the path and by destroy the film, or stop, reassess, and start up again. And that's, that's a brave, two brave move. It's a brave move. But it's a lot of times it's something that needs to be done.

Stephen Simon 47:22
And I would also say to people who are, who want to be producers, or maybe our producers, I had, and it didn't stand me in great stead with studios. And I understand why I don't blame them. I did my, my loyalty on a film was always to the director. I always saw my job as being able to help the director put the vision on screen that the director wanted to put on screen. And I became very good friends. With all of our directors, I mean, you should know, it's working eyes. You know, he's retired now in France. And there's, you know, I think is in his early 80s. And you know, and I still stay in touch. Until his tragic passing, I stayed in touch with Michael Chapman all the time on all the right moves. Then toward who directed What Dreams May Come is a dear dear friend of mine, we talk all the time. And I wanted to have friendships with these people because I saw that as my job now. The studio will tell you, it's your job to do with the studio want you to do. And I respect that. I respect that. But the films that I'm the most proud of somewhere in time, and what dreams may come in particular, because those are the films that I feel I came to this life to make other films I made because I needed to make a living. And I'm still proud of them. Very proud of them. There are a couple of them not so proud of but we won't go into those. Most of them I'm very proud of. And I'm glad that I got involved. But to me, a producer's job is to nurture the director unless the director really goes off the rails and then you you know, you've got to try to do something that bring them back. Fortunately, that never happened with me. I never had a director go off the rails. And it was an a fantastic career. I don't do it anymore. I don't produce films anymore. 76 years old. I've been out of Hollywood for 20 years. I moved to Oregon 20 years ago, wrote a couple of books founded the spiritual cinema circle which we operated for 16 years and distributing really uplifting material to people. So the only way I keep my hand in now is through my mentoring program. Which people can take a look at if you're interested at the old hollywood.com Th e or Weldy hollywood.com. It is a rigorous program I spend 20 to 25 hours a month. I'm working with directly with the writers, one time with a producer who wound up getting our film made. And it is something that if people are interested in, you should take a look at that page. And if you're interested fill in the questionnaire that will come to me. And then you know, we can have a conversation about it. But I don't work with that many people at a time. It's only usually two or three. And if people are interested, we they can do that. And if not, I hope you enjoy the films that I made in the past.

Alex Ferrari 50:32
Which brings me to one of my favorite films that you've produced ever, which is what dreams may come. And that film, I just recently saw it when I knew you were going to come back on the show, or come on the show. I said, I'm gonna go watch it again. I haven't seen it in a while. And it still holds up so beautifully. It's actually probably deep. It hit me harder now than it did when I, you know, many years ago when I saw and it's just one of those films that that sticks, at least it sticks to my bones, it sticks it sticks hard. And even more so now because of Robins passing all those years ago. And how, what a powerful message that whole movie was, and Robin Williams and everything how did you get that film, which wasn't a cheap film to make, by the way, it was a it was a from what I understand it was a fairly expensive film

Stephen Simon 51:22
$80 $85 million.

Alex Ferrari 51:26
Right. So I know Robin was the the catalyst for getting that movie made. But how did Robin get involved? How did you get this to Robin? How did you get the whole thing?

Stephen Simon 51:34
Alright, so we literally don't have enough time to tell that story. That whole story because that was literally 20 years of my life. Wow, Richard gave me Richard Mathis gave me the galleys for what dreams may come when we were prepping somewhere in time. She's nicely 80. And the film didn't get shot until 1997 and 98. The adventures we went through with that were pretty extraordinary. Almost every well known director in the film industry turned it down. One in particular wanted to do it but we couldn't come to an agreement about where it was going to be done, which was a whole other story that I don't want to waste time with now. We finally thought we had a green light at Fox in the mid 80s with a wonderful director named Wolfgang Petersen. That fell through the regime changed and everything got changed. And it just took forever, forever and ever and ever. For me to find the right person to do it. I'll tell you what the catalyst was. When I was running Dino's company. We hired Ron bass to write an original script. I've never told this story on a podcast or in public before, so I'm going to tell it now. And it is it's an amazing Hollywood story. So we hired Ron to write the script. Ron is the the most professional writer you can possibly imagine. And a great man, a great man. We had known each other for a very long time when Ron was a lawyer before we even started writing. We knew each other and we're friends. So we hired Ron to write this script Dino did not like the first draft at all. And and I said, Well, we'll have Ron Ian, tell them what you want. Ron will make whatever changes you want them to make? Because that's what he is. And Dena was like, No, this isn't a movie sold us. And you know, I want to get our money back. I don't want to move forward. We can't do that Dino. I mean, we've made a commitment. And Ron came in Dino. And Ron was wonderful. Dino did not want to go forward. And I sided with Ron. And it was a painful moment. But there was no way we could not do that. And when Ron left the office, Dino fired me. And he had every reason to fire me. He was right in firing me. Because I was there to support him. And I I understand why he fired me. Ron felt terrible about it. And tried to make it right. But it didn't work out. Fade out a few months later, Ron calls me to find out how I'm doing. And he said, Is there anything I can do? And I said, Yeah, I've finally come to a point in the development of what dreams may come that I believe and I need to talk to the writer of Richard Matheson about this run. But I need a major writer like you to come in and do a rewrite on this. And I would really appreciate it if you would take this over. And he was like, Steven, nobody. Nobody's going to set that movie Up. If he had read the book because there's a friend of mine, he says it's an incredible book. And I'm sure we can make it into an incredible movie. But my God, there's so many issues. And I said, I really want you to do this. I went to Richard Matheson, I told him what I wanted to do. He gave me the permission to do it. And one said, okay, look, I'll give you one pitch. One pitch, we'll do one pitch. And I said, Okay, so we went to MGM, Mike Marcos, who was running the studio at that time, David Ladd was one of the executives there. Everyone wanted to be in business with Ron. As we're driving to the meeting, I said to Ron, Ron, what are we going to do about the suicide? And because it was always the biggest problem in the book, right in the book, in the book of what dreams may come. And he committed suicide while the children are still alive.

Chris has died. Annie in grief, takes her own life, leaving two children parentless and orphans. And I knew we all knew that we could not do that. It doesn't work. And he said, I haven't even thought about it. And there were Believe me, they're not even going to ask. Okay, so I don't have an answer to the question. So we go into the meeting, Ron is doing his thing, which was, you could have sold tickets to watch Ron pitch he was it was a lesson in genius. And we get to the end of it. And of course, Mike Marcus says this is fantastic, Ron, this sounds great. Steven, I know it's taking you forever to do this. Ron, I just have one question. What are you going to do about the suicide? And I thought, Oh, should David said to me, but my face just drained of blood at that point. And next to me sitting on the couch, Ron just instinctively says, you know, I think I know what to do about that. We'll have the kids die. We'll have the kids die earlier. And that's why Annie tries to take her life. And Chris, and her love for Chris is what stops her from doing that. So Chris won't die first, the children will before the movie will show that in flashback. And he said now that I'm thinking about it, when they get into the afterlife, they can be anybody. We can change their appearance, they can be anybody. And we'll do that he'll have great reunions with his kids. And we'll understand why she took her life because now her kids and her husband have died. There's no way in the world that people won't understand it. And we wound up making some adjustments to that. But Mike said, That's brilliant. You got to deal. And we walked out of the office. And I looked at Ron and Ron, you can see my hand shaking. And I said, what, how? Where did that come from? And he was pale as it goes to? And he said, I have no idea where that came from? I have no idea. It just came out? Well, I think we do know where it came from the universe stepped in and said, you know, Steven, aka Forrest, you may not be the smartest guy in the whole world. And you're certainly not the quickest guy in the whole world. But we're going to give you a little boost here. The cap on that story is that we're walking out of MGM, and Ron who knew everybody, there was one guy sitting in the waiting room. As you as you once said to me, the the water bottle tour the water bottle? Yes, yes. Yeah. He was sitting for a meeting with somebody else. And I just casually said to Ron, who is that? And he said, That's a director from New Zealand and Vincent ward. And I looked him up later, and Vincent eventually became the director for what dreams may come. So for people who believe in coincidence, okay, fine. I don't believe that was a coincidence. I don't believe that was an accident. I believe that movie was had found it's time to get made. And universe, our angels, our guides, whatever you want to say, stepped in and gave us the answer to the biggest problem in the book. And then we went forward. We gave the script to Robin, who had just made the movie that he got the Academy Award for Goodwill. Yeah, Goodwill Hunting. And he was looking to do something like this. We thought we offered him the script. We got a phone call that the director and I were supposed to come meet him in San Francisco, which we did. Robin walked into the meeting and he said, Well, this is going to be my next movie guys. But I want to tell you There's a little bit of a twist here, I'm gonna play every part in the movie.

Was he serious? No, thank God. No. But at that point, we would say, okay, because we needed a star of his stature and with the visual effects in the film, which, again, I had nothing to do with that was certainly Vincent and our production designer and the great effects people who won an Academy Award for it was stunning. That was an amazing experience watching that all of that happen. And it was not an easy shoot, because it's, it's not an easy movie. It is not an easy movie. And there were I'll tell you one great story from it. And we were prepping the movie. Do you remember the scene when Robin finally is getting closer to Annabella? And he gets to this place where he walks over this sea of faces? Yes. I was gonna ask you about that. All right. So I'm someone in the art department. And I will not name who it was. Because to this day, Vincent doesn't know who it is. And I was sworn to secrecy. But someone in the art department came to me and said, Have you seen the sketches for this? And I said, No. So he showed me the sketches. And I was like, No way are we doing that? So I went to Vincent. Vincent and I had a fabulous relationship. We had many arguments, but they were never personal. It was always about the film. And we never got angry at each other. We just got angry over the about what we were arguing about. So I said, Vincent, this is a love story. Okay, that's gonna scare the crap out of people. You know that it's just a bridge too far. We can't do that kind of thing. So we got into this big argument. I later found out we were in the production office of that time, up in San Francisco, where we were prepping. And I think it was in Oakland, we had the office actually. We learned that the production assistants and everybody went out in the parking lot. Because the producer director sounded like they were gonna kill each other to yelling at each other back and forth. And finally, Vincent says to me, Steven, this is a movie about a man who goes to hell to save his wife soul, he does not go through heck. And I cracked up. Both wound up rolling on the floor crying, laughing so hard. Needless to say he won the argument. When we preview that film. You know, when you do preview cards, people are asked to note among other things, what their favorite scene is, and what their least favorite scene is. That scene got the most votes in every preview for both favorite scene and least favorite scene. And at that point, I knew that Denson had been right all along that we needed to do that. He was totally right. I was totally wrong. But no, it's not about a man who goes through Heck, he does go through hell.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:08
But in that scene, there is a cameo by a young director, if I'm not mistaken, Verner Hertzog. Oh, yeah, it's in that seat. Like I remember like, as I was watching the movie, like a week or two ago, I see Robin Williams and I hear this voice which is so distinctive. And then as I'm watching the credits, I'm like, that was Werner Verner. Hertzog like what?

Stephen Simon 1:03:33
Actually, you know what, you're right. I'd actually forgotten that Werner was a good friend of incense and, and did that as a favor to Vince. And Vincent was a huge fan of Werner in his work. I had completely forgotten that that was the case. You're right.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:48
Yeah. And so that's how we did it was just like a favor. Okay. You want to come in and just do a quick line? Yes. It's amazing.

Stephen Simon 1:03:57
You know, Max von Sydow played the tracker. Oh, and what an incredible actor, an incredible gentleman, my goodness, you know, the old actors, and they, they had such a strong sense of professionalism and style. So he's hired to do that his first scene is in the library sequence where he is on wires in this big heavy overcoat. And I hadn't even know. So I went into the set to find them, and he's up there hanging by these wires, and yellow up at a max. I'm Stephen Simon. I'm the producer of the movie. And he looked down to me very drolly and said, thanks so much for hiring me. Ah, he was a great great, great, great guy. It wasn't that was a fascinating shoot, but a very challenging one because of the subject matter. A very, very challenging one. So when Robin went up to do the eulogy Hmm. Oh is in the church, with those two coffins in front of him, a lot of our crew would not go into that set. Because they were so spooked by it. When Robin went up to do that he took pictures of his own kids up to the podium and had them in front of him while he was doing that scene, and it, it shows, because it's such an incredibly powerful, but an incredibly painful scene. That's it. The movie is not a light comedy, that's for sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:32
No, it's not a light comedy at all. And there are some, you know, humorous moments in the movie, but, but generally, definitely not a comedy. And I wanted to ask you about Robin, because, you know, obviously Robin is a legend. And I've heard many I know many people who've worked with Robin over the years. And you know, Robin is he has that energy that was just non stop. And he would, even in dramatic scenes in dramatic films like Goodwill Hunting, he would, before the camera rolled, he's cracking the entire room up, because he had to because that was his mission and life. And and then the second the election, boom, he's in character, I think when our photo was like that, he would be I mean, I've seen some behind the scenes, he was literally on second yells action. He's into this. And he just goes right into his thing. What was it like on set with Robin Williams on that film, because, again, it's a heavy movie,

Stephen Simon 1:06:29
It was not like that on our show. Robin was, you know, Robin was always incredibly kind and generous to everybody. He was always very respectful of the crew and the other actors and things like that. But this was a really heavy lift for the actors, I mean, a very heavy lift. And Robin was very much in character for most of it. And so many of those scenes are such heart rending heart rending scenes, that there wasn't that I mean, there was banter, and there was they had fun at times. But mostly Robin was really Robin and Cuba and Annabella were very much into their roles. And their roles were very emotionally draining for all of them. So there wasn't as much of that on our film, as I understand there were on other films with Robin.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:21
Well, it is again, thank you for bringing that into the world because it was one of those films that has definitely.

Stephen Simon 1:07:26
I'm very, very, very, very proud of that movie. I'm very proud of that movie for just for what it took to get it done for the messages within it. That life continues after life. And you know, it's something I'm incredibly proud of. And I'm really glad that it is also lasted the test of time and that people still watch it people still buy it, and I hope they will it is not for everybody. I understand that. But it it's a powerful film.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:03
No it is. And it's not a light film. It's a heavy film. Very beautiful, beautiful ending, wonderful ending. It's so touching. And but it you you literally go through heck to get to.

Stephen Simon 1:08:19
Yeah, no, you definitely do. And again, I give all the credit on that. Really 90% of that credit goes to Vincent, because just having the Kahunas to take on that movie. And to say, okay, I can do this, we're going to spend most of the movie in an afterlife setting. He changed a bunch of the characters, he made Annie into this museum curator, art museum curator so that we could tie into the paintings more. It was Vincent's idea that when Robin came in to the afterlife, it would be in a world of wet paint. And he would be the only human in it. I remember saying, Vincent, that's just beyond brilliant. Can we do that? And he said, Yeah, of course we can do that. And I said, Do you know how he said hello. But we'll figure it out. And he was right. They figured it out. I mean, it was it was really cutting edge stuff that the effects guys did on that film. And it made it really, really beautiful. I mean, truly beautiful. And, you know, robins line with the Dalmatian? In the beginning. You know, I screwed up. I'm in dog heaven. That was in the script. But Robin really, Robin really gave it his own twist. And the same thing with the line at the end. You know, I could find you and I found you in hell, I can find you in Jersey. You know that. That is Robin Williams stuff. And again, I'm very, very proud of that movie. And I'm glad that touched you and moved you.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:50
Absolutely. It's one of those films that just, it always sits in the back of my head is it's on my top 10 of all time. It's just one of those films that just there aren't movies made. like that, at that level, at that budget level with that kind of caliber of actor, and people behind the scenes as well, it's just not movie that gets made. And less lesser now, I mean, a movie like that would never get made.

Stephen Simon 1:10:17
The movie did not make money. I mean, the movie wound up losing money because it did not do as well at the box office as it needed to do. But it reached the audience that it reached that that I knew would touch it. And, you know, that's why I saw again, my role as a producer differently. And and frankly, it did not. It did not augur well for a long term career for me in producing, because I was really focused on making these spiritual films and getting this love after life concept in front of people to make people realize that it does go on that after light, there is more. And I know we'll talk about this in another time, that wound up happening in my life, turned with my wife, and she wanted to transitioning in her sleep, it was a big surprise, she was only 54. And when that happened, she and I had always talked about these things that we would find a way to communicate, we always thought I would go first because I was significantly older. But it happened with her. And six weeks later, she started to communicate with me. And we wrote a book together called What dreams had what dreams have come. And it's again, it's a book that I wrote with her after she crossed over. So there are people that think that I am several egg rolls short of a combination plate

Alex Ferrari 1:11:57
the cheese the cheese the cheese slid off the cracker sir. As they say.

Stephen Simon 1:12:04
Absolutely. And that's okay with me. Because I know in my heart that this is real, it continues to this day, and it has sustained me. And I really feel that my primary role in life has been to bring these kinds of concepts on to film, whether they wind up being mainstream concepts or not. And they weren't. And they don't have to be, I've never been in my heart, what I would call a mainstream producer. That has not been my goal, it should have been. And my career was shorter because of that. But I don't regret that in any way. Because I'm really, really, really proud of what we did.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:43
Now, Steven, I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Stephen Simon 1:12:50
Don't be the first thing I would say is don't be so committed to having your film play in a theater. Because then that has been the case for years. That was the case before the pandemic, so hard for all kinds of reasons to get a movie made at all. And then to get it in wide distribution in theaters, it's really like going through the eye of the needle. And because of the pandemic, that's even been more magnified. And there are so many great venues now. like Amazon, like Hulu, like Showtime, like HBO, Apple TV, whatever it might be, he caught HBO, Max, all those things. And particularly with the longer forms now of doing series, writers have an opportunity to really develop characters in a way that you can't do on a two hour film. And also, there is such a huge voluminous need for material, that if you're not focused on getting your movie in a theater, and you're not writing, you don't have a right to a Marvel comic character, or you're not doing a sequel to a very, you know, to other big movies. It is very hard to get movies made and shown in theaters today for all kinds of reasons. So that's the first thing I would say which is right for the audience that you think will be right for this and don't worry about what the distribution mechanism will be. Because there was a wonderful producer whose name I cannot come up with right now that one said, if you write a great script, you can throw it out of your car on the San Diego freeway, and the right producer will find it. If you have the right idea, you will find a way to get it done. As long as you're persistent and that's the other thing. You can't give up Sometimes it's your third, fourth, fifth or sixth script that you wind up selling. And even that may not get made, and it may not get made in the way you want it to get made. But you keep moving forward, if you believe in yourself. And this is what you do, if it's in your heart, if you want to be in the film industry, because you think it would be a really cool way to make a lot of money. I will tell you, it isn't. If you think it will be a way for you to feel better about yourself or something else. Or however you may look at it, if you're not getting in for the sole reason. That is is the way you need to express yourself. And you cannot imagine yourself in any other life than that. That is what you when you do that, I'm telling you, you're gonna get your opportunity at some point or another, if you hang in there long enough, you will get an opportunity. But you have to live it, love it, breathe it, and be willing to give up a whole lot of different things in your life to get your film made, eventually, you'll get your chance to do it. And, you know, there are other things that I would say those would be the two things, which is never give up. And don't be in love with the thought of your movie getting into a movie theater. You know, I know a lot of love with the idea of sitting in a movie theater and being surrounded by that very hard to get that done nowadays. And I would say don't focus on that.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:30
Or if you want to do that rent, rent the theater yourself, and then you have that experience. Absolutely, absolutely no question. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Stephen Simon 1:16:44
I could say the thing that took me the longest to learn, I never learned which and that is I never understood the technical aspects of the film industry. I I directed a couple of small films the the adaptation of conversations with God. And I never could figure out anything about the technical aspect of camera lenses. It just somehow wouldn't compute in my brain. I had no concept of lighting. I hired a wonderful cinematographer that did all that. In editing, I had great editors, thank God because I just didn't understand how I would put certain things together and how they would technically do some of the things that they did. To put this shortly. I am a tech moron. And I never learned that stuff. And I think it's important for producers to understand a lot of that stuff today, particularly today. That stuff I never learned. So I think the thing that took me the longest to learn, I have never learned and at this age, I probably never will.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:47
Fair enough, sir. Fair enough. And finally, three of your favorite films of all time.

Stephen Simon 1:17:54
Lost Horizon, the original one the 1931. That Frank Capra version, and the godfather.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:02
Not a bad list at all, my friend. Stephen, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Stephen Simon 1:18:07
See if there was a three a yes. If it was a three a. And I'm not having excluding movies that I was involved with. If there was a three, it would be Avatar.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:16
Real Yeah, Avatar. Yeah.

Stephen Simon 1:18:19
Because what he did with that film, and that's why I cannot wait to see the sequels. That was a game changer. extraordinaire. I have never experienced anything like that in a movie theater. To me. That is what movie theaters and IMAX and 3d were created to be. I thought that was more than a film. It was an absolutely awesome experience. So I would put I would put avatar right up there as create.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:47
Fair enough. Fair enough. Now Stephen, again, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your your knowledge, your experiences, your amazing stories on the show and and thank you for putting all this amazing work out over the years to to hopefully uplift society a bit. So I appreciate you my friend. Thank you again.

Stephen Simon 1:19:06
You're welcome, Alex, thank you for doing this. This has been really great fun. Thank you for putting up because you learn before we started this interview how technically idiotic and inept I am. How do you get onto a zoom call? It's anyway thank you for being patient. I really enjoyed doing this and I look forward to doing more.



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20 Film Terms You Need to Know to Survive On-Set

A film set is a wacky place full of nicknames, strange film terms, and abbreviations. There have been so many days when someone has asked me to do something and I’ve enthusiastically responded “Copy that”, before realizing I don’t fully know what the film crew even asked. Before long you’ll be using these film terms like a pro and rolling your eyes when the young film-school graduate doesn’t know what a hot brick is.

But for now…here’s 20 film terms to help show off your film savvy next time you’re on set:

  1. MOW (Make Own Way) – An actor or crew member will transport themselves to set for their call time as opposed to being picked up and driven by the transport department. Don’t muck this one up or you’ll be waiting for the public bus and late to work.
  2. Crew Call – The time of day shooting is scheduled to begin for the day. Your call time may vary.
  3. Unit Base – This is where the makeup, costume, and cast trailers are located, as well as crew parking and catering. It’s the largest base and first point of call when arriving for work. (In Los Angeles they call is BASECAMP)
  4. Recce – Visiting a location before shooting commences there to plan and work through any issues that may arise from the location. Multiple location recces will take place in pre-production with HODs present to ensure no time is wasted during the shoot. Or, often I’ll do important ‘recces’ to the crafties van just to make sure they still have plenty of donuts available.
  5. Craft Services (Crafties) – An oasis in the desert of boring equipment trucks. The crafties food truck supplies snacks and food to the crew.
  6. Runner – Runners are the most junior positions on a film. Managed by the office, runners transport stuff between the production office and set, and also pick up anything else needed for the crew. They are not here to pick up your dry cleaning (unless you are the Producer) but they can be great in organizing any pickups and deliveries your department may have. Get friendly with the runners and they’ll be able to help you out in so many ways.
  7. Pre-Call – When a department or individual has a call time earlier than the crew call. Be sure to check your actual call time rather than the crew call, as it may be different. It’s always embarrassing to receive a call from your boss while you are still in bed.
  8. New Deal – Moving on to a new camera setup for that scene. The Director and all involved are happy with the takes and “new deal” will be called out by the ADs.
  9. Flag On the Play – After calling “new deal or moving on” but then someone realizes there was an issue and the take needs to be redone. The crew may call “flag on the play” so people pause and discuss the issue before moving equipment.
  10. Per Diem – A daily allowance for costs incurred while filming on location. Usually for food and laundry. They used to come in wonderful cash-filled envelopes but now are deposited in your bank account with your paycheck.
  11. 10/100 or 10/1 – I’m going to the restroom. This often confuses newbies on set as to why someone wouldn’t just say “I’m going to the restroom”, but apparently it’s more polite and film etiquette to use code.
  12. The Lot – No you aren’t ordering burgers. The lot refers to the film studio. As in “Are you on the lot?”.
  13. Hot Set – A set that is currently in use for filming or needs to be left as is because filming will return there in the near future. Don’t touch or move the props or set dressing, or else prepare to feel the wrath of the art department.
  14. Hot Brick – A fully charged walkie-talkie battery. When starting out you need to supply these to your superiors throughout the day.
  15. DFI (Don’t Follow Instruction) – Stand down, don’t do what I just told you to do, something has changed so it’s not needed anymore, standby for new instructions. Someone may tell you to “DFI” after they have just given you an instruction. Again why not just say “don’t do that”. I think it’s so we film professionals who can pretend we are highly skilled individuals.
  16. Cowboys – A shot that is framed just above the knees of the subject.
  17. Blocking – The early stages of rehearsing a scene. The Director works with the cast to place everybody in the set and walk through actions and dialogue. Be sure to give them space and stay quiet while this is happening.
  18. Abby Singer Shot – The second last camera setup of the day. Named after the renowned Assistant Director, Abby Singer, who always called the last two shots, giving the crew time to start packing up their gear knowing they were almost at wrap. This is the time to make sure the beers are on ice if they aren’t already.
  19. Martini Shot – The last camera setup of the day. Announced on set so everyone knows to pack up any equipment, not in use.
  20. Wrap – End something, usually the end of the day of filming but can be used as a wrap on a scene, actor, or item. It’s always nice to hear these words called out at the end of a day, or even better at the end of a job.

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Here are a few bonus film terms by LA Film Pro Andy Somers:

Turning Around: a more major change of camera setup, where they begin shooting in the opposite direction. This takes substantially longer than a minor camera setup change when shooting in the same direction because everything that’s currently behind the camera has to be moved out of the way of the new shot. The important implication is that you have a lot more downtime to take a break if not needed during this change.

MOS: meaning “Mit Out Sound”, I.e. They are not recording usable sound for the take.

NDB: Non-Deductible Break, I.e. The free breakfast given to align everyone’s meal penalty periods.

Meal Penalty: free money Union members are given because they didn’t feed you on time.

Picture’s Up: they are about to roll and shoot an actual take.

Rolling: the cameras (and/or sound) are rolling to film a take. Pay attention and be quiet. On stage, this is signified by a single bell or buzzer. A double bell or buzzer means no longer rolling.

Walkie Talkie Lingo Cheatsheet Everyone on Set Should Know

On every project, you will be given a walkie talkie lingo and will be expected to know how to use it to communicate professionally with your department. Initially, this can be daunting if you don’t know how to use it correctly, but radio can save time and is an effective way for people to communicate across the expanse of a film set. Nobody likes wearing a walkie. It’s difficult to listen to one person talk to you, while you hear other people talking over the radio stuck in your ear. With these simple tips, you’ll be running the channels like a pro.

Each department generally has its own channel except for the ADs, Art, Costume, Makeup, and Medics, who often all use channel 1 together. If using channel 1, it is important to restrict the only necessary conversation to that channel. Anything that is specific to one person or lengthy in explanation is best served by channel 2 or another designated chat channel. This keeps the channel free for any immediate contact.

Walkie talkie lingo isn’t just for talking but also for listening to instructions and keeping up with what is happening on set. Depending on your department, most of the information to go about your work will be said over the radio via a superior or another department. Train yourself to listen when you hear these voices so you don’t find yourself asking dumb questions that have already been answered seconds earlier.

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

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

When starting out, it’s extremely important that you understand how to use the radio effectively. If you are unable to master a simple task like this, your department will banish you immediately and deem you a useless cause. It’s harsh but true. Alternatively, if you nail this within your first week and can be relied on to listen and communicate effectively, you will become an invaluable part of their team.

6 Tips To Cope With An Exhausting Film Schedule

Working in the film industry is demanding and unrelenting, commanding a high level of work ethic over extremely long hours. The lengthy hours and grueling film schedule can test people’s patience, strain relationships, and push people to breaking-point when they are stressed and pressure is applied from higher levels to achieve even more.

It’s important to be aware of this and protect your non-negotiables throughout a job in order to manage family life and certain significant events. You will find your outside social life will decrease dramatically for a season, as you won’t have the time for mid-week dinners and you’ll be sleeping the week off come Saturday.

However, you will make great new friends that form your film family, and these folks will carry you through the fatigue and deliria. You will have amazing experiences, visit awesome places, and do some really cool things. This all makes for great stories when you do have time to go to all the birthday parties and social events when your project concludes.

Here are some simple strategies to cope with the arduous shooting film schedule and grueling industry that have helped me navigate marriage, friendships, and family dynamics.

1. Get as much sleep as possible.

Fatigue leads to grumpiness and exhaustion, which leads to jaded, worn-out film crews; a common feature amongst the overworked, experienced crew. I may not be able to stay up late binge-watching Netflix and won’t be able to discuss the nuances of so-and-so’s social media activity the following day but at least I’ll be looking after my body and mind for the long term. Sleep is incredibly important in refreshing your body after each day and the majority of people don’t get enough each night.

I may not be able to stay up late binge-watching Netflix and won’t be able to discuss the nuances of so-and-so’s social media activity the following day but at least I’ll be looking after my body and mind for the long term. Sleep is incredibly important in refreshing your body after each day and the majority of people don’t get enough each night.

2. Eat well and drink plenty of water.

The catering will be excellent, so it will be easy to do this – but it’s still important. With enough sleep, good food, and plenty of water, your body should be able to function with the demands of long hours. On-set catering makes it easy to eat a variety of vegetables and nutritional food that will keep your body running.

Spending extended hours outside in all sorts of conditions will dehydrate your body unless you endeavor to guzzle plenty of water. Recently on a job, it was so unbearably hot and humid that I was drinking 1 liter of water each hour for an entire day! If someone offers you a drink of water, just take it, even if you aren’t thirsty.

3. Enjoy the break at the end of each job between contracts.

Often you will have a short break between finishing one project and starting the next. It’s hard to line up contracts perfectly as you will either have to leave the previous job early or the next one may not start for a few weeks. Many people stress that they are out of work for a few weeks, but considering they have worked fifty to seventy hour weeks for the last few months, hopefully, there’s a bit of cash with which to relax and enjoy the break. If you’re not in that position, try and get a few TVCs to supplement your income while you recover.

Usually, three days after I finish a job, I’m a bit of a zombie. I sleep in, read, relax, and let my body recover. You’ll really feel it if you do back-to-back jobs without a break. Sometimes this is necessary as you don’t want to turn down the next project but be aware of the back end of that project that you will be prone to getting sick and exhaustion will start to affect your mood and productivity.

Many people stress that they are out of work for a few weeks, but considering they have worked fifty to seventy hour weeks for the last few months, hopefully, there’s a bit of cash with which to relax and enjoy the break. If you’re not in that position, try and get a few TVCs to supplement your income while you recover.

4. Treat your partner or spouse to something special at the end of each job.

You won’t have spent as much time with them over the last few months as you should have so buy them a meaningful gift, go on a holiday, hang out together – whatever it is that enriches the relationship. It’s important to show that your relationship is valuable even though it may have been down the priority list with work taking so much time recently.

There are too many people in the film industry who are divorced or in unhappy situations as a result of working too much, too often, or neglecting to value their spouses when they do have the time.

5. Take your +1 along to your premieres, wrap parties, and any other fun social event the film crew has.

Having the chance to meet your work friends and feel a sense of involvement in each project you do is important. When it comes to discussing the next project, they will know who you are working with again and will be supportive of your career and the opportunities it affords you as a team or family.

6. Book a vacation each year.

Granted, you may not know what or where you will be working but people need holidays. Don’t get caught in the trap of never booking a holiday because you might miss out on the next contract. There’ll always be another job that comes around. Film productions shut down over Christmas and early January so this can be a good time to have a two-week break without risking missing work.

It’s actually surprising how booking a holiday on random dates will often work in with the jobs you are offered anyway. My wife and I usually book a holiday at the end of a big contract – just the two of us having fun together. It doesn’t have to be a really expensive, extravagant getaway, and simple is often the way to go.

After a year or two, you will become accustomed to the lengthy hours, but it will still take a week or two every time you start a job to get used to the long days again, particularly if you’ve had a bit of a break. At the end of a job, you will find yourself exhausted and a break is often well deserved.

If you do happen to do back-to-back jobs, you will definitely start to feel it toward the end of the second or third job as the exhaustion builds. By applying some of these tips, you will hopefully be more prepared to manage the exhaustive long hours and demands that a career in the film industry requires.

10 Tips To Negotiate Your Rate Like A Pro

Learning how to negotiate is a learned skill for most. It is nerve-wracking and awkward, but necessary in the industry. For every job, you will have some kind of negotiation over pay rate and conditions. Negotiation for a job takes place with the Unit Production Manager (UPM) or a Head Of Department (HOD) and definitely gets easier in time.

Asking for more money or dealing with a UPM you don’t know can add to the stress, but you will eventually learn to navigate these conversations with finesse. Initially, you won’t have a lot of bargaining power, so a tip is to more or less take what is on offer. However, time and experience will sharpen your resolve to bargain for what you’re worth, not what you’re offered.

Nevertheless, be mindful that being employed for less than you had hoped for is usually better than no employment at all.

Here are some simple tips to help you negotiate rate:

  • Know what your position gets paid. If you go in knowing what you should be offered for that position, you will know how to react when they state an amount. This can be hard when you first start out because it’s not really kosher to ask people what they earn for their position. Many of the unions publish market rates so I’d suggest doing some research on their websites to see what each position is expected to be offered.
  • If it’s your first time in this role you are more than likely going to be offered a low rate. We’ve all been there. So long as it’s a good opportunity and you are working with a great crew, don’t worry – it’ll get better as you gain more experience.
  • Make sure you are in the right frame of mind to negotiate. I often get called while I am on set but discussing my next contract while juggling three hundred extras is not the right time. I ask them if I can call back at a later time when I can be in a calm environment.
  • Politely comment if the rate is below what you were expecting and make it clear what your expectation was. You can always suggest what the union’s market rate is, so you were expecting something closer to that ballpark. You may need to inflate your rate marginally in case you have to negotiate down slightly from what you have stated. If you are on par with the industry rates they will generally come to the party (if the budget allows).
  • Remember that the UPM has to negotiate with most of the crew and occasionally the cast, which can number in the hundreds. For them, the shorter the better. Keep your discussions short and state your requests clearly. Don’t play games and hopefully, they won’t either.
  • Don’t worry if they start telling you there’s not enough in the budget, everybody’s taken a pay cut, etc. It’s the same story on every job. Know your worth but don’t be greedy. You will discover your rate will differ slightly depending on the scale of the project. This is normal and allows small and independent projects to be made.
  • Getting the job is probably more important than arguing over $50 a week. If the UPM or HOD is someone who may give you more work in the future, it may be better to take a small pay cut to ensure work in the future.
  • You don’t have to agree immediately. Once the discussion has settled, I often say I’ll have a think and let them know my decision the following day. This allows me to discuss the job with my wife and decide on the pros and cons of doing the project.
  • You won’t get every single detail in that initial phone call or meeting. Realistically, you’ll probably only discuss a weekly deal based on a 50-hour week (this comprises of forty normal hours and ten hours at time-and-a-half pay), rough start date and the length of the job. This is also the time to discuss any box rentals such as laptops or tool kits, and vehicle rentals.
  • Ask for a summary email. Once the negotiations have been finalized, you can ask for a brief email confirming the rate, box rentals, and dates so you have it in writing if the negotiations took place over the phone.

After you’ve negotiated a rate and details, you will be issued a deal memo. This normally happens during the first week of work, or occasionally you may receive it before you start.

Your deal memo will generally be based on a standard industry contract (otherwise, you should have discussed it in your initial negotiation with the conditions of work stated). The deal memo is the basis for a film crew contract that is undertaken between yourself and the production company for the period of the project or timeline discussed.

I’ve had straightforward negotiations, hard negotiations, and negotiations that have broken down and resulted in me not doing the job. From each experience, I have learned something and have improved at this process each time. These days when I’m negotiating, I can go in confidently knowing what I’m worth and can back it up with previous job rates.

Some people are better at negotiating than others, but you will not be able to avoid this part of the work-life so you might as well get used to it and become good at it.

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

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


IFH 620: Tales of a Hollywood Blockbuster Leading Man with Guy Pearce

Guy Edward Pearce was born 5 October, 1967 in Cambridgeshire, England, UK to Margaret Anne and Stuart Graham Pearce. His father was born in Auckland, New Zealand, to English and Scottish parents, while Guy’s mother is English. Pearce and his family initially traveled to Australia for two years, after his father was offered the position of Chief test pilot for the Australian Government. Guy was just 3-years-old. After deciding to stay in Australia and settling in the Victorian city of Geelong, Guy’s father was killed 5 years later in an aircraft test flight, leaving Guy’s mother, a schoolteacher, to care for him and his older sister, Tracy.

Having little interest in subjects at school like math or science, Guy favored art, drama and music. He joined local theatre groups at a young age and appeared in such productions as “The King and I”, “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The Wizard of Oz”. In 1985, just two days after his final high school exam, Guy started a four-year stint as “Mike Young” on the popular Aussie soap Neighbours (1985). At age 20, Guy appeared in his first film, Heaven Tonight (1990), then, after a string of appearances in film, television and on the stage, he won the role of an outrageous drag queen in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994).

Most recently, he has amazed film critics and audiences, alike, with his magnificent performances in L.A. Confidential (1997), Memento (2000), The Proposition (2005), Factory Girl (2006), The Hurt Locker (2008), The King’s Speech (2010) and the HBO mini-series, Mildred Pierce (2011). Next to acting, Guy has had a life-long passion for music and songwriting.

Guy likes to keep his private life very private. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, which is also where he married his childhood sweetheart, Kate Mestitz in March 1997.

His latest film The Infernal Machine is a psychological thriller feature film, written and directed by Andrew Hunt. The film released on September 23, 2022.

Bruce Cogburn, a reclusive and controversial author of the famed book “The Infernal Machine,” is drawn out of hiding when he begins to receive endless letters from an obsessive fan. What ensues is a dangerous labyrinth as Bruce searches for the person behind the cryptic messages, forcing him to confront his past and ultimately reveal the truth behind the book.

Please enjoy my amazing conversation with Guy Pearce.

Guy Pearce 0:00
You know, and I just sort of go home and quietly be on my own and play the guitar and play the piano and go, it's okay. It's okay. It's all part of it, you know. And in a way, you know what it what it's done is that having having fame, experiencing fame, and also experiencing rejection, as far as not getting a role, both of those things are extreme and don't necessarily speak to who you are as a as a performer, as an artist and what it is that you're able to offer.

Alex Ferrari 0:32
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur. How to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show Guy Pearce. How you doing Guy?

Guy Pearce 0:46
I'm very good, mate. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:48
I'm doing great, man. I'm doing great. I'm so excited to have you on the show, man, because you've done so many movies that have touched my heart in so many ways. And I'll just tell you my quick Pricilla story. I was in film school. And I went to see Priscilla in the theater. And it blew my mind off. So I was just like, I was just like, first time I'd ever seen anything like that. I was like, what 20 something. And I was just oh my god. So I wanted to thank you for that first of all.

Guy Pearce 1:17
Well, thank you, I appreciate it. And it's funny, because that's the film that it's sort of the gift that keeps on giving, you know, it really, it just came at the right time. Obviously, it was released in 94. And it obviously came at the right time. And we've had such wonderful, you know, people sort of, you know, commenting throughout these previous 25 years about what that film was meant to them for all sorts of different reasons. So it was a real honor to be part of it. You know, as a as an actor, you just take on something because it feels good. But then of course you don't realize whether it's going to be part of the Zeitgeist or bit Just get lost in the wash. And obviously Priscilla has, has stood the test of time and as touched a lot of hearts like yours.

Alex Ferrari 1:57
I cannot trust me a film like that does not get lost in the wash. It's just it just it just it's it's yelling at you to like No, you need to watch me.

Guy Pearce 2:06
It's it's a fairly noisy, it's a fairly noisy starting up.

Alex Ferrari 2:11
And then and Terrence and Hugo I mean, I mean, they got there to prefer all three of your performances was so magical. But I want before we even get started, I wanted to ask you about your performance. And that because you were so fearless in you threw yourself into that character so beautifully. And in a time where it wasn't nearly as accepted. It could have it could have pigeon holed you. It could have been like, oh, there's that dude that did Priscilla, I don't want to cast them kind of thing. So you just like, No, I want to do this story. How did you like how did you get the, as they say, in my culture cojones.

Guy Pearce 2:48
Well, a couple of a couple of things. I think I'd been doing a lot of theater since I was a kid, you know, and variety of plays and musicals and all sorts of stuff. And so I was quite used to going from one crazy character to another crazy character, whether you're playing the King of England, or whether you're playing the tin man from the Wizard of Oz, or what, you know, whatever it happens to be. And so the idea of doing things that were vastly outside of my own personal experience was something I was always excited about. And something that I I never felt that I suppose on some level, I was quite an anxious kid. And and on many levels, getting to play these characters that were so vastly different to me was a real chance to break free from the confines of the anxious kid that I was, you know, so So there was that. And the other part of it was that I'd been on a television show in Australia called neighbors for four years. And I played this very sort of just straight sort of suburban kid, obviously going through the ups and downs that we see in soap television. And, and I'd struggled a little bit after I left that show because lots of I was pigeon holed in Australia where lots of people went, Yeah, we didn't really want to cast him in our movie because he's the guy from that show. And then Priscilla came along. And Stephen, Stephen, our director, when nothing would be funnier than to take the guy from that show and put him in a dress. And I was like, yes, yes. So in a way, I was breaking free from the show. And to me, I didn't feel like I was necessarily doing anything brave in taking on the role in Priscilla. I was just getting to kind of break some shackles. I mean, in line with what your what you'd said. I mean, you know, obviously my first film in America was LA Confidential. And a lot of people said to me, how on earth did Curtis Hanson cast you after seeing Priscilla? Well, the answer was Curtis never saw Priscilla and he didn't want to see it. Because he kept being told, you know, you know what, guys like him Priscilla is short. This is the guy who want to play a 50s FA Cup. So I was I was I was really lucky that thankfully Curtis didn't go to the Cinerama dome for the opening of Priscilla in 1994. And you know, otherwise, you'd have wiped off the slate I reckon.

Alex Ferrari 5:06
And I'm assuming it's kind of like when a comedian wants to do drama, they want to kind of break through the shackles like Robin Williams or Jim Carrey, that that to break through the perception of what people aren't in your world. You were the guy from neighbors and you need to break so it definitely broke that bolt.

Guy Pearce 5:21
Well, and I wasn't I wasn't even necessarily looking to break the shackles. It's just that that film came along, and I was offered it and as soon as I read it, and it wasn't even so much about trying to break the shackles, honestly, it was this that I was so moved by the script, and I just saw some beautiful, I could apply that character. And I just genuinely just went straight into it like I do with any other job that I take on. You know, it's because I respond to a script and I respond to a character and go, Oh, yeah, I can see what I could do with this. The same as when I was doing plays and musicals when I was a kid going, Yes, I could take on playing Julius Caesar, of course. It's that same kind of childlike use of your imagination that enables me to keep doing what I do, I suppose. And there's plenty of films and scripts that I read and go, No, I just can't see myself or it's, I don't quite believe it, or I'm not quite sure that I could do this successfully. So you know, there's plenty of things that I say no to. But when I find something to say yes to it's a great feeling.

Alex Ferrari 6:23
And with Priscilla, I mean, I'm assuming that that was the movie that kind of broke you out of the Australian market, in a way because it was an international success.

Guy Pearce 6:32
Absolutely. Particularly in America. I mean, the TV show neighbors was really big in England and in Europe. So lots of people there knew us from that show. But Priscilla went to America and we went to America with it, it actually went to Cannes first, and I couldn't go because I was on another TV show in Australia. And I couldn't go but it had a huge success. And Ken lots of publicity surrounding it. Then when it got released in America a few months later, I then did get to go went to the opening. And that enabled me to get an agent in America and then start auditioning for things there. And, you know, within a year, because at the end of 95, I landed the role in or I auditioned for LA Confidential, and at the start of 96, I got the role. And then we filmed it in sort of May of 2006. So so really within a year, so that it there's some very clear sort of steps that thankfully, were laid out in front of me, that meant that I was then able to start working in the States. And the beauty was really, you know, Curtis might not have seen Priscilla but lots of other people had. And then they saw LA Confidential and so that on some level, established a kind of a, what was wonderful for me, which was right, you're a versatile, you want to be a versatile actor. Yes, absolutely. And so people on one hand, we're going how can that guy from Priscilla be that same guy from LA Confidential. So I felt really fortunate that that that paved the kind of paved the way for future work, you know,

Alex Ferrari 8:01
Now, when you were first starting out, and this is something that I mean, actors have to deal with, I think almost more so than any other creative in our industry is the nose and the rejection constantly. And I'm assuming when you first started, I'm assuming in the first audition, you walked into like you come in? Yes. Let's just give you the part. Yeah. How much money do you want, you could add all the money you want. I'm assuming this is not the normal route that you went at the beginning?

Guy Pearce 8:26
No. And when I got really lucky, the thing was, you know, as I said, I've done lots I've done theater for about 10 years from when I was sort of eight till I was 18. And in that whole time in different theatre companies in the town that I was growing up in, and in the whole time, it was made very clear to me that this is a tough industry, most of the time you're out of work, you know, you really it's competitive and good luck. And, and I never really had tickets on myself, I never really thought I was anything special. You know, I have a sister with an intellectual disability. So I'm very aware growing up that the world is unfair. And and I thought I just I just really enjoyed what I was doing. I really got something out of being in the theater but and I would look at those incredible actors that I would see on screen like Brando and Pacino. And then of course, in later years, Gary Oldman, and Russell Crowe and all these incredible actors and think they're so incredible to me, but I don't I know I'm not them. And any job that I get is a bonus. Any any work that I get is just I'm really grateful for I have an enormous amount of gratitude. Of course, over the years, I've gone okay, well, I must have something that I offer and there must be something believable about what I'm doing because I keep getting work, you know. And so I yeah, I suppose I just always, I've just always been really grateful for the shifts and changes and you know, when neighbors came along, it was just an incredible lucky break because I was finishing high school, talking to my drama, my high school drama teacher about going to Neider, which was the National Institute of Dramatic Art, the big Theatre School in Sydney, which I did audition for, I didn't get in and I got down to like the last three on the day. And they basically said, You're a bit young and go away, have some life experience and come back. And right around the same time, I'd done an audition for neighbors, and they offered me a six week roll. And then a couple of days later, they turned that into a year before it even started. So this all sort of happened really quickly. So I was going, but all those things that people said about not ever getting any what Okay, so I realized I was extremely lucky that that happened, you know, that I thought, wow, okay. And when people say to me, lots of young actors and kids, and, you know, so what sort of advice have you got, I might get lucky. Because, you know, learn your lines, turn up on time, have a very professional work ethic and get lucky because, you know, there's plenty of wonderful actors that I know at home, who haven't had the breaks that I've had. And, and they're I don't want to be self denigrating, but they're much better than I am. You know, they're amazing. And I just think, okay, something just lined up in the universe that men I should get on that show. I learned what I learned from that show. I then got Priscilla from Priscilla, I got an American agent from that. I gotta, like, confidential and just go, okay. Be grateful for all these steps along the way, because they could easily be taken away, you know?

Alex Ferrari 11:23
Yeah. And it's, you're absolutely right. It's because I've talked to so many, you know, high performing actors and directors and writers. And I always love studying the path because everyone's got a different path. No one has the same path. You can't copy somebody else's path. But you and the thing I do notice luck has a lot to do with it. But also preparation for that luck to happen. You had done 10 years of theater, you would got your chops ready. You were good. And if you wouldn't just started at 18, you wouldn't have gotten neighbors.

Guy Pearce 11:53
No. And I think also, you know, the other thing about doing neighbors was the in the show had been on another network. It was on Channel Seven here in Australia, in Australia. I'm in New Zealand now. But it was on Channel Seven in Australia. And it was on for six months, and it didn't work. So they asked it. Then the marketing people at Channel 10 said, We'll take that show because we know exactly how to market it and turn it into a B and that's when I started I started the first episode of channel 10. So they marketed the hell out of it. We did lots of publicity. People came out of that show, like Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue were all there at the same time, we worked our asses off, and the show became a huge success in Australia. And then, of course, it launched in the UK. So we had to deal with as an 18 year old becoming suddenly very well known. And that in itself, you know, the acting part wasn't hard. That was the hard stuff. The hard stuff was dealing with fame, and just overwhelming kind of recognition. That was tricky. And, and I think, you know, all sorts of aspects of my childhood and my upbringing helped me get through all that. And all those things still helped me get through everything that I deal with today. But you know, I see lots of young kids. You know, I see some kid who gets on a show and they become a huge star. Of course, in today's day and age, the the mechanism to make somebody famous is they've worked it all out. Bang, bang, bang, theory is superstar and you think, Oh, wow, how's this kid gonna handle this?

Alex Ferrari 13:21
So yeah, and that's, and that's so interesting, because, you know, when you're, I mean, obviously, when you're older, you can have life experience you have you can handle that kind of over, you know, that fame, but when you're 18 you're not you're a knucklehead, I was a knucklehead. I mean, we're all knuckleheads. Yeah, so to be able to you actually work through that and survived it is pretty remarkable today that

Guy Pearce 13:44
One of the one of the things also that kind of helped really was the Jason Donovan and Carl him, and oh, they were kind of in the forefront of it. They were the golden couple on the show. And there were 20 Others of us in the cast, because in the show, it said around the streets, so there's like four families. So there's basically 20 to 30 other cast. So I was it wasn't just me in the firing line, I was part of a group. So I felt like I was able to sort of just be there but not not having to sort of take the full load, so to speak all the time. And I think that helped as well. But But still, you know, we turn up in a shopping center and 6 million teenagers rip your clothes off. So we still got to deal with stuff, you know, and I just sort of go home and quietly be on my own and play the guitar and play the piano and go It's okay. It's okay. It's all part of it, you know, and in a way, you know what it what it's done is that having having fame, experiencing fame and also experiencing rejection as far as not getting a roll, both of those things are extreme and don't necessarily speak to who you are as a as a performer as an artist and what it is that you're able to offer. So it It enabled me I suppose to really focus on why I want to do what I want to do, and to just hone the craft, so to speak. Because all that other stuff is going to, you've got no control over that stuff, whether you reject it or whether you become famous, just handle them. Well if you can, and keep being disciplined and work on the craft and learn your lines and turn up on time, and don't bump into the furniture and you know, etc. So I think I've prided myself on being responsible and being and handling the career well, and in fact, I was, I'm working with Jackie McKenzie at the moment and extraordinary Australian actress. I'm here in New Zealand doing a film with Lee tama, Horry. And her and I had some big stuff to do the other day in a scene. And I said, it's amazing, isn't it? Because we had, there was some distracting things going on. It wasn't their fault. But there was some distracting things going on with the crew around us having to hold lights and move this, et cetera. And I said to her, it's not the acting, that's the hard stuff. It's it's trying to maintain your composure acting when you've got all this stuff going on around you. That's the hard stuff. That's where I think as an actor, you, you, you come through and you shine. Because you know, in your own lounge room, I'm great in this land room on my own when I'm practicing my monologue. He put me put me in front of 50 crew, and suddenly I'm a crumbling mess. You know, I've got to really kind of get it together. So. So there's all sorts of things in this industry that are tough. But at the same time, as I say, I'm blessed. I'm lucky. I've had great opportunities, and I don't take any of it for granted.

Alex Ferrari 16:34
Now, there was a little movie you did with a first time. Second time director back in the early 2000s. Nolan, I think was his name. I'm not sure it's Chris Christie. He never did anything else.

Guy Pearce 16:48
The nice guy though, he's a nice guy.

Alex Ferrari 16:50
Very sweet, sweet guy didn't know what he was doing. But sweet. No, I mean, mento. I mean, when you did momento with Chris Nolan. I mean, he had just this was his first event. Yeah, it was his first real movie he'd done following. But then

Guy Pearce 17:06
Following which, which he basically shot himself, right in London. So yes, that's right. So momento was the first sort of film produced kind of production

Alex Ferrari 17:17
With real with real crew and real everything. And he's a young guy, and the script is insane. And it goes backwards. And you I mean, when you how do you approach something that hasn't been done before? With a unknown, essentially, unknown director, writer, I'm assuming you felt out the genius in the script. And you felt out the genius and Chris, when you met with him, but tell me what was that process like?

Guy Pearce 17:43
Oh, it was, it was incredible, really, because it as much as I say that, you know, I'm, I'm really fortunate to get any work that I get. And if if I'm, if someone says no, and I don't get to be in a film, and I and I sort of go through that process and learn to accept that there are certain films along the way, or certain jobs along the way that if I didn't manage to get I know, I'd be really sad about. And that was one where I got sent the script by my agent. And he'd written a note at the start of the script, just saying, by the way, this all goes backwards, which was the best thing he could have done, because at least I approached it going, Okay, I don't know what we're what we're in for here. I read it. And I immediately felt, I felt empathy. And I felt the emotional journey of this character, even though it was kind of all over the place. So I immediately connected with that. I think, within a day, I got to see following. And I had the most overwhelming feeling of I have to do this movie, like, I really have to do this film. This is just, you know, I'm all over this. I know exactly what I could do here. Obviously, there's a lot for me to learn as far as what the story means, etc. But, but I just felt really keen to do it. And I met with Chris. And it's the only time I've ever, you know, you hear these stories of actors and film directors saying, Ah, man, he was so passionate about the project. He slept on my front porch for days and just said, I'm the only guy to play this role. And, you know, the passion was there. And clearly that indicated to me that he was the guy and I've always thought to myself, aren't you just you're either the right actor or you're not the right actor. If you go to the meeting, then you it's obvious that you're keen to do the role, but if I don't, I thought I never want to do any of that kind of stuff, where I'm trying to prove to somebody how keen I am to do the movie. So cast me because I'm right. Not because I'm more passionate than the next guy. Right, right. But I said to Chris Nolan, I sort of call him up I think after I'd met and said, Look, I'm really sorry to do this, but just just to let you know, if it means anything at all, I really want to do this film. I said I'm sorry. Sorry, that's sort of buggy with this because he wasn't that kind of guy that he's from quite a professorial Englishman, you know, this whole sort of approach that other people had taken, I can't imagine would really work for Chris. So I was quite apologetic in my in my call. And in the end, I got the role, but I don't think it was because I called him to say how passionate I was. I think it was, and there was no question for me about him being a first or second time director. I mean, I still felt like a, you know, a budding a budding actor myself. Anyway. So clearly looking at following there's there's just no question that he is somebody who is utterly capable, beyond capable. So there was just no question, I wanted to do it. And I was very excited when I got cast I really, and the process of then working with Chris, we did a couple of weeks rehearsal. And of course, I then got to understand the script even more, was just extraordinary. It really was, and there was a very economic shoot, we did it all in five weeks. And it was wonderful. It was wonderful also, because Chris, you know, here is the the one side of his brain is writing this amazing deconstructed story, that perplexed audiences all around the world to the point where they had to go straight back in the cinema and watch the film again. Right. And on the other side, he writes this incredibly sensitive, beautiful emotional story about a man who's trying to hold himself together with this, you know, failed memory. And I just thought that the ability for him to do those two things, and then on set for him to be all over all the technical stuff, just absolutely naturally, and at the same time be talking to me about the specifics and the nuances of psychology and behavior and performance. It was just like, wow, this guy is a master. I mean, it's so I was really fortunate to be there, in the early days with Chris Nolan. And of course, we've all seen what he's gone on.

Alex Ferrari 21:54
He's done. Okay. He's done okay, for himself at this point. Yeah, I mean, he's, he's one of the generation he's, he's, he's one of those directors, those creators once in a generation that comes along, because when you have someone who you can't do, there's nobody else that could do it. Chris Nolan felt like it's so special. It's like a Spielberg. Like, there's no one who do.

Guy Pearce 22:13
That's right. And talking about films, you know, that sort of gifts that keep on giving, like Priscilla, I mean, Memento does as well, in a totally different way. I get film students all over the world for the past 20 years, emailing me and, you know, sending messages through my agent or whatever, saying, We are studying your film at film school. What Chris Nolan did is like nothing else. And so I really have understood more and more over time, the genius of this film at the time, of course, I'm when I start any film, any job, I'm so focused on, obviously, the bigger picture, the story of the film, etc. But what what it is, I've got to do, what my what my task is what you know, how I get inside the head of a character and inside the heart of a character. So I'm focused so much on that, that I'm not really thinking about how the film is going to be perceived by the public later on, you know, hopefully, they have the reaction that I had when I read it. But it's quite a selfish pursuit. To be honest, when I read something go, oh, like when you read a book, and you put it down, and you can't stop thinking about it. That's the reaction that I have if things are great. So and then of course, it's not until it's released, and then the whole world starts going. Wow. And I go, Oh, really? Yeah. Wow. Okay, I'm on board.

Alex Ferrari 23:29
Let's just go for the ride. Let's go for the ride. No, no, no, now that you've you've had the career that you've had so far in life? Is there something that you wish you could have gone back and said to your younger pre neighbours, act yourself? Like, you know, what, just prepare yourself for this?

Guy Pearce 23:47
Ah, I think it's, you know, I mentioned my anxiety before, I think, I think if there was a if there was something I could have gone back and said that would have alleviated some of that. You know, and then anxiety sort of comes back. You know, I'm battling with it all the time. Not battling. That's too harsh. That's too strong a word, but I'm dealing dealing with it. Yeah, that's right. It doesn't go away. Obviously, I've gained more confidence as years have gone on, and I and I wasn't just anxious about whether I was any good as an actor. I was just an anxious kid. I lost my dad when I was really young. And I helped raise my sister who, as I say, Help has an intellectual disability. And I think I felt a lot of pressure to be I don't know, I think I feel quite self conscious about not being smart enough, not being clever enough, not being all these things. And so I wasn't a very relaxed kid, you know, I was just on the lookout. I mean, I can spot something a mile away or so like, I've got radar for things. So I'm quite a control freak. And I'm quite, as I say, just a bit angsty about stuff. So I've just learned over the years through lots of therapy and you know, the work that I get to do and now have My own child, and, you know, just living the life. I mean, I'm nearly 55 Just to make the effort to just sort of calm down. And, you know, I want to be I want to be a responsible person, but I don't, I don't want to be. I don't want that to sort of eat away at me, you know. And so I've made real efforts to, to, to, to help that. And I think if there was something I could go back and help the younger me with in his teams, rather than waiting till sort of getting through 30s and into 40s, that would have that would be a handy thing.

Alex Ferrari 25:35
And you and you would have said, there's going to be a strip called momento and a script called Priscilla, do those two,

Guy Pearce 25:40
Make sure you do them. Yeah. The other one that sort of came along that I nearly didn't do? Well, it was just an after I had a real breakdown at the end of 2001. I started with America, as I said, in the late 90s. I have a lot of things that have came crashing together. And one of those things was I think that I that I didn't really feel like I was a great actor. And I didn't, I also wasn't really sure of the validity of what I was doing. And also, here, I was still as someone in my late 20s and into 30, doing something based on the decision of an eight year old. You know, as an eight year old, I went and joined a theater company, and I was still doing this stuff. And so as a 30 year old, I was kind of questioning it all and questioning.

Alex Ferrari 26:28
But why do you think that? Is it because of the fame? Is it because of the work? Because did you not enjoy it?

Guy Pearce 26:34
No, I was well, I had realized I had started to get pretty grumpy going to work every day. And I found I was a bit short with people and I just wasn't very pleasant. And I really started to go, I gotta I gotta do something about this. I'm, you know, that all this anxiety stuff that I was talking about, and all this sort of controlling kind of element of myself was was really kind of amplifying. And the weird thing was, I was getting more work, you know, so from 9697 9899 was, you know, momento, I did rules of engagement 98 I did ravenous, that was a tough experience, ravenous 99 2000 2001, I did Count of Monte Cristo and the Time Machine started to do big films, you know, and the machine of Hollywood as well as just me, not not handling Hollywood very well, I think that sort of slightly competitive nature of it, as I think ultimately just not feeling like I deserved what was actually happening, basically, and kind of going, I just have to step away from it all, I just need to step away. So at the end of 2001, I decided to take a year off, I thought, That's it, I'm just I have to get away because I'm just getting really grumpy on set what's happening to me, I'm being really horrible to people. And, you know, took some time off. I did work in 2002. And into 2003, I did the John Jack and o film with tigers called defer or two brothers. But I then wanted to continue that time off after that, and sort of later into 2003. And so I was just not working, I was really questioning, as I say the validity of it, wanting to come back to it as as a 30 year old, having made the decision that this is what my career was going to be not an eight year old going on, it might be fun to be on stage I needed, I needed to sort of view it from a more mature point of view, and really see that it's what I wanted to do and have some more faith in it. interest. And during that time, during that six months, scripts were arriving, and I was literally getting them and putting them in a pile and ignoring them. And then at some point late in 2003, or whatever it was, I'm at home with my friend getting stoned. You know, watching a movie or something late at night, and the and the phone rings, and I let the answering machine get it and as this voice going. Yeah, guy look, I hope you don't mind that I'm calling you. It's Nick Cave here. We've sent you a script called the proposition and they you know, we'd love you to do it. And it seems that you're obviously not working at the moment. And they seem to think that if I call you perhaps it might prompt you to at least looking at the script. And so of course there I am with my mate at home I stone there's a script from the cave, oh my god, we're listening to this answering machine message, you know, and that triggered me to sort of eventually go back to work again, because I did read the proposition and went, Oh, my God, Nick Cave, it's like being inside in the cave song. And so that sped up the process a bit I put the marijuana away. And I really I really enabled myself to instead of just getting away from the industry and then not being responsible and actually doing what I wanted to do which was think about it properly. I just kind of took a holiday so it just that just woke me up and got me out of the holiday and thought I'm gonna go back to work and when I go back to work, which was It's sort of the end of 2004. I'm going to approach it with a whole new attitude, which I did. And that that was very different from me after that 2004 2005 up to 2010. And, you know, here we are now and then I really managed to handle Hollywood, I'm really managed to handle being there and choosing the work that I chose and giving myself the time off in between things. And because also, when you do start to work in Hollywood, there is the old adage, you've got to make hay while the sun shines, right. So as I started to get LA Confidential, and those things, I just felt this pressure to just keep keep on going, keep on going, because it's gonna go, it's gonna go, it's gonna go.

Alex Ferrari 30:38
That that's what the town does do. The town does that, too.

Guy Pearce 30:40
Yeah. And as I say, I'd sort of been taught that also in theater school, when I was a kid, like, you know, when work comes along, you got to take it, because it's gonna dry up any second, which is kind of true, but at the same time, it can, it can wind you up a bit, and it wound me up. And I needed to just go no, no, no, I, I need to just do this the way I need to do it. And as you know, I started as I started to feel more confident about my capabilities as well. So I was able to say no to things, you know, you went on a walk, you went on a walk about, you went on a walk, I went on a walk about and I actually went the end of 2001 I went to this really remote desert part of Australia Northwestern point called cable avec, and I spent a month there trying to learn how to meditate. And and I got a handle on it after a month, but it was a tough month.

Alex Ferrari 31:26
Yeah, I mean, you know, sometimes you just gotta, when you're when you're it's not something that everyone gets to experience. I mean, you had a pretty hell of a run there of movie after movie after movie. And it's not hard. It's hard for people to like, Oh, you have so much success. But there's a stress with that. And there's a stress that you've done, you have to just stop from like, wait a minute, is this what I want? Because the train is moving so fast that you're like, I don't even have time. And I've heard that from so many other from writers from directors from from actors who just like I got it, I gotta take a second year, because if not, this train is going to run me over.

Guy Pearce 31:59
Well, then the thing about, you know, the difficult thing, as I mentioned, when we were doing neighbors, which was all the fame that came with it, but there was no, there was no other choice to make. I was just on the show. And that was that was what we were doing. Once I started working outside of that show, when I started making films, then you're constantly faced with another choice, another choice another choice. Do I take this film? Do I not take this? You know? And of course, don't get me wrong, it's first world problems. You know?

Alex Ferrari 32:22
Exactly. Which one which director should I work with spreading Scott or Nolan?

Guy Pearce 32:29
Leave me alive. So, but but but it was amplifying my anxiety and I had to learn how to handle it. Now the big part in all of this that I was flipping about about a minute ago was that I was smoking pot, and I was smoking too much of it. And then that did not help at all. And so once I gave that up in about 2005. Yeah, stop smoking 2005 That also changed everything. I realized that my perspective on everything, you know, I mean, as we know, drugs and great fun, but then they're not our friend at all. So so that helps as well,

Alex Ferrari 33:11
And you had to, and you had to go through that as well. I mean, look, we all have to go through our own journeys, and our own and our own obstacles that get thrown in front of us, you know, and I think to be from from an outsider's perspective, you've done pretty well, sir. You've you've you've been able to navigate, and I love the parts you've done over the years, and how you approach the business and any type of interviews I've ever seen with you and everything, it just seems like you've gotten a handle on it, where I've talked to others who have no handle on it. And you can see like, at any second, I'm like, Oh, they're going to crash and burn any second like, Oh, that's not gonna go well. So it's a lesson for everyone learning whether in the in the film industry or not in the film industry, whoever's listening, that sometimes you just have to take a break. And even when it's even, like, if you had a job that was paying you $300,000 a year, but you you're like, it's so much money, but I hate what I'm doing, too. I just need to stop and figure out what I really want to do is dance.

Guy Pearce 34:07
Yes, exactly. That's right. Well, the other thing for me is I play music and I write music and that's a that's a real passion for me. But I'd never so once I sort of enabled allowed myself to really you know, start recording music and that I was thinking to release that also helped as well because I when I'd been on neighbors as people know not so much in the States but but in Europe and Australia, Kylie and Jason became huge pop stars. Oh, yeah. And it never if ever I mentioned that my hobby or my other interest was making music I had a lot of journalists rolling their eyes saying if not another neighbor star is going to release a site a single and so I very quickly back in 1986 when No, no, no, no, no, I'm never gonna No, no, no, don't worry, I'm never gonna make a public Sorry, sorry. I'm never gonna make a public. So I had this very private passion, which was to collect recording equipment, build a studio at home and record music home that no one was ever gonna hear. And finally, in about 2009, when I worked with Michael Barker, a wonderful drummer on a play we were doing, we had a band in the play, and we were singing songs, he said to me, you realize you are not doing yourself a service or any favors by not allowing this creative outlet out, you've got to do that. So he really encouraged me. And, you know, I've made a record and got it out in 2014 made another one got it out and 2018. And so that was also a big hurdle that I, you know, that just the thing of being brave enough, or Brave is not really the word but just just being strong enough to go no, I make music and I want to get it out there. So and that's, that's healthy for me to do that even if people don't really like it or whatever, just to be able to get it out is a good stepping stone. Otherwise, you just go around in circles?

Alex Ferrari 35:48
No question. No question. Now, speaking of amazing parts, your new film Infernal Machine, I mean, you to tour de force, performance by user without question it is. I mean, the I can't imagine that. But this is what I always find fascinating about actors is that you get into these parts and the insanity and the paranoia and what you were doing Infernal Machine. How do you approach you know, first of all, tell us a little bit about the movie? And how do you approach like, mentally? How do you turn that off at the end of the day, and not just live it?

Guy Pearce 36:20
Well, yeah, it's it was a tricky one with that. I mean, you know, thankfully, we were in a lovely location and having a lovely, relaxed time as well with some great people. But you're right, the character is pretty intense. You know, I play a, an ex, or a writer, but someone who has written a book, and that's been hugely successful many years ago. But in the success of that book, also came an absolute tragedy, where a young man was apparently prompted by this book to go and murder a whole lot of people and and so it was a mass shooting, when he was arrested and interviewed by the police. He said, I was, you know, it was like voices in my head. And that all came from that book, The Infernal Machine that my character had had, you know, written. So, so obviously, for that character who I played in that film, Bruce Cockburn, he's dealing with the success of this book, and he's dealing with this horrible tragedy that has occurred, that's apparently his fault. And, and so by the time we start the film, and by the time we find this character, he is now a recluse, living, you know, on his own in the desert, sort of in Southern California, somewhere paranoid, really anxious, just dealing with his own demons drinking too much, you know, just hiding out, and has been for quite some time. And he starts receiving these letters from a fan who he doesn't know. And this, this leads, this is the opening of our story. And this leads to all sorts of other difficulty Saturday, things are exposed, and he is forced to sort of come out of his wreck loose kind of state. But yes, the character, it was, it was an exhausting performance, because he is quite sort of highly strung, so to speak. But, you know, like memento, Andrew Hunt had written this amazing script, that as soon as I read and Richard guardian, who was one of the executives on the film, who I know, called me and said, Listen, I've got we've got this script, and I think you really might might like it. And we're sort of out to someone else at the moment, but have a read. And if it doesn't work out with the other actor, then, you know, let us know if you're interested. So of course, I read it and immediately called Richard went, Ah, so who is the other actor, in or out, like, what I really want to do this film was the same as my experience with Chris. And, and he said, Well, let me put you in touch with Andrew, the writer director, and we had a great chat. And it was pretty clear the other actor wasn't really fully attached. And so I managed to weasel my way in and got to make the film with them. So another great kind of psychological expos. A but an exhausting process.

Alex Ferrari 39:04
Oh, my God, it's it's and where and when is that? Is that comes out on the 23rd If I'm not mistaken, right? Yes, I think so. That's right. It comes on the 23rd. Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions. Ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker or actor trying to break into the business today?

Guy Pearce 39:20
Get lucky.

Alex Ferrari 39:22
You're like, you're like You're like Quintin Tarantino. I was I saw him wanted like that same question that he asked him. And he's like, Reservoir Dogs. That's what I did.

Guy Pearce 39:36
I think you know, as I say, it's a combination of discipline and being in the right place at the right time. So you know, the thing you can control is your discipline, and really learn your lines and understand why you're doing what it is you want to do. Is it about five or is it about a genuine need to be creative and a genuine need to express something.

Alex Ferrari 39:54
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Guy Pearce 40:02
I think to be kind to myself, I think I think to be sort of, you know, and not to, I'm often focused on worrying about everyone else around me. And thinking that if I was to focus on myself, and that's just selfish and self centered, so it's taken me a long time to realize that actually, I'm allowed to take care of myself and allowed to say, be kind to myself. And, you know, and allow moments of self indulgence and go, if I just want to watch the football on my own, I'm just gonna watch the football on my own, or enough.

Alex Ferrari 40:35
Now, what did you learn from your biggest failure?

Guy Pearce 40:43
Well, I just think about what my biggest failure might be

Alex Ferrari 40:45
In anywhere.

Guy Pearce 40:46
Yeah, it could be my marriage. I think I think the biggest lesson always is to is to manage and to look at your own ego. You know, and I think my ego probably got in the way of that relationship in the end. I mean, that's a very simplistic way of,

Alex Ferrari 41:10
I understand what you said, but

Guy Pearce 41:11
My ex wife would probably disagree to some degree about that. But the same time she would go well, yeah, maybe you do need to look at your ego. So So I think probably, you know, dealing with one's ego is good.

Alex Ferrari 41:26
Well, I've heard in Hollywood, there's there's a few of those egos flying or there's not many I haven't met many people with ego's

Guy Pearce 41:31
Yeah, there are three. There were only two, but now there's three. There's one on Hollywood Boulevard. There's one on

Alex Ferrari 41:41
Ones dressed up as a spider man on Hollywood.

Guy Pearce 41:44
Watch out. Yeah, one dress a pink corvette around.

Alex Ferrari 41:49
Only a few, only a few. And last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Guy Pearce 41:55
Well, the Elephant Man is the one that springs to mind all the time. For me. I think because of the experience that I had with my sister with a disability, it touched my heart like nothing else. I saw the film in 1980 when I was 12. And it came out. And I go back to it every year or a couple of years. I look at it again. And it's just extraordinary on so many levels. It really really is. I'll mention a film. That's actually one of my films, because it's my favorite of all the films that I've done. And that is the proposition. It's John Hillcoat film proposition that Nick Cave wrote, I think, obviously, even if I wasn't in that film, it would be one of my favorite films. It's so evocative and with Nick's voice throughout and mix music and just the way in which that film was realized, is really just incredible to me. And, and this one would be primarily because of this performance but Brando in streetcar. I mean, I Yeah, yeah, I can't as much as we love on the waterfront and, and other work of his early on. There's something about the looseness of him in streetcar. I, you know, so I don't even know if it's about that film. Obviously. It's a wonderful script. It was a wonderful play. But but I just can't ever let go of that film in my head because of what he managed to do on screen.

Alex Ferrari 43:19
And just as a last question about an actor to an actor, what is it about Brando that really draws every actor? I mean, every actor I've ever talked to, they're like Brando, or now they'd say, Meryl Streep or Brando, and I go, Okay, what was what was that Matt? Because he did it. Apparently. First. He was one of the guys who just did something and everyone was like, what's going on?

Guy Pearce 43:41
Well, he clearly is, you know, that clearly, there's some real raw emotion that is that is expressed. I think at the time of course, in the mid 50s. He brought sex to the screen, sure, in a way that other actors hadn't before he came onto the screen almost like for people to seeing a naked person on screen going, Oh, this is just way too much. There's a couple of things about Brando and I will liken him to Tom Hardy as well to meet Tom Hardy and love Tom Hardy. Oh, you know, it's a big call, I think to sort of put Tom Hardy in the Brando category, but I think completely deserving. And a couple of similar qualities. Brando is beautiful, as we know very masculine, extremely handsome, beautiful, very much show but also incredibly sensitive. There's a real delicacy to Brando and those things feel in Congress. And of course we all joke will mimic Brando and there's that sort of advice that he has. So he's not doing the big deep voice macho kind of thing. He's he's he's part man, part woman. And to me, Tom Hardy has similar quality time is extremely beautiful, but also kind of dangerous. So these these two elements are two It gets just that in itself. Just looking at Tom Hardy, his face is compelling. I worked with Tom in 2011. And then I went straight on and work with Michael Fassbender and just went okay, well oh no, yeah, yeah is the new generation of these two guys. Wow. So I put Michael Fassbender up with with Tom as well but very different actors but but to me, Tom embodies a similar kind of quality that Brando does, which is this absolute masculine kind of beauty, but just this extremely delicate sensitivity. And those things you just don't know which way any moment is going to go. And Tom of course is just wonderfully unpredictable and incredible.

Alex Ferrari 45:39
I mean, when he when he did that, when he did the war, the warrior is exactly what you're it's a complete example of what you're talking about because it's all testosterone all the time but man does sensitivity the emotion the the rawness, I mean, I saw that movie, I was just bawling at the end.

Guy Pearce 45:55
I mean, I think that's one of the things you know, that's one of the lessons as an actor I'm excuse me that I'm that I'm that I would advise, particularly male actors is find that vulnerability in yourself because that on screen is a winner. The what is not the best way to describe vulnerability, it's a winner, but just now,

Alex Ferrari 46:17
It's very, it's very articulate.

Guy Pearce 46:20
Winning winning move

Alex Ferrari 46:22
Winning man good the chicks love it.

Guy Pearce 46:24
Vulnerability, dude.

Alex Ferrari 46:26
I mean, Guy, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you, my friend. Thank you so much. Congratulations on your new film The Infernal Machine. And thank you for all the amazing work you've done over your career and entertaining us and helping us and helping us feel and helping us navigate life through story and through performing. Appreciate you my friend.

Guy Pearce 46:44
Thank you, man. Thanks for the good honorable questions and it's been great to chat with you as well and apologies for my lateness yet again.

Alex Ferrari 46:51
It's all good my friend.



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IFH 619: Adventures in Producing James Cameron Films with Chris Debiec

Christopher Debiec is an award-winning writer/producer/executive with an impressive thirty-three-year track record in all aspects of the entertainment industry.

Chris began his film and television career in Orlando, Florida working on a wide variety of commercials, music videos, television programs and feature films. Some of his credits include Sylvester Stallone’s Oscar and The Crow for Miramax. In 1995 Chris relocated to Los Angeles to work on the film The Devil’s Advocate, followed by Mad City for Warner Brothers, The Out of Towners for Paramount Studios, and the ground breaking “first of its kind” live-action animation Dinosaur for Walt Disney Studios.

In November of 2000, Chris spent six months in war torn, poverty-stricken Cambodia, as the Production Supervisor on Matt Dillon’s directorial film debut City of Ghosts for MGM/UA.

From 2000-2005, Chris was called on by Academy Award-winning writer/director/producer, James Cameron to supervise production for Earthship Productions. The company produced the two-hour LIVE broadcast event entitled Last Mysteries of Titanic, the groundbreaking documentary Expedition: Bismarck for The Discovery Channelas well as the 3D/HD IMAX films Aliens of the Deep & Ghosts of the Abyss for Walt Disney Pictures.   Earthship was nominated for six Emmys winning one for their production of Expedition: Bismarck.

In 2010, Chris was recruited as Vice President of Production at Entertainment One Television (eOne). He spearheaded the alternative programming division for cable and network distributors such as Syfy, CW, WETV, BET, MTV, A&E, Discovery Channel, Oxygen and Fox Sports just to name a few. Chris was responsible for the successful development and execution of all pre-production, production, post production and delivery of all eOne projects.

In 2017, Chris was contracted to create and Executive Produce a 2-hour documentary for NBC Sports and the United States Olympic Committee entitled – Scouting Camp: The Next Olympic Hopeful.  With rave reviews and multiple award nominations, soon after Chris went back with the Cameron family – this time as Chief Content Officer for a start-up Tech/ 3-D Entertainment company called Human Health Organization owned by brothers John and James Cameron.

In 2019, Chris was the Production Executive for Leyline/A24’s The Green Knight, a feature film which shot on location in Ireland for 5 months in 2019. Directed by David Lowery starring Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Egerton, Sean Harris, Kate Dickie and Ralph Enison.

In 2020, the world turned upside down by the pandemic causing the Cameron family to pivot the Human Health Organization into a Covid-19 PPE and testing company. Chris, as COO, oversaw all testing and PPE protocols since May of 2020. HHO has tested over 1500 productions including A-list actors, Film and TV Studios and streaming companies.

Currently, as CEO of newly formed Civilized Entertainment, Chris has built an award-winning studio focusing on the development and production of content directly related to Science, Technology, Environment, Art, Space, Expedition, Exploration, Medical and Historical Events.

Enjoy my conversation with Chris Debiec.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Chris Debiec 0:00
As I learned that, no matter how right you think you are, it's the way you the message comes across and who you're explaining it to.

Alex Ferrari 0:08
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur. How to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show, Chris Debiec. How're you doing, Chris?

Chris Debiec 0:22
I'm doing well. Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 0:24
Thanks so much for coming on the show man. We recently hooked up here and in Austin. There's it's a small, but powerful film community down here. And we and all US layers are people who've worked in Hollywood. We can't it's just a gravitational pull that we just get brought to each other at one point or another.

Chris Debiec 0:45
Yeah, I feel it. You know, I, I have a business partner here in Austin and I he's the one who convinced me to come on out. So back in, I guess it was November of last year. I did my own life Scout, I want to call it and I came out for a week, met a lot of people stayed at two different hotels was looking at places. I really enjoyed it. And then went back to LA did some more work and then back towards the end of December came back out. signed a lease rental. And I'm here I got here January 7 2022. And here we are

Alex Ferrari 1:23
You I was ahead of you by about five months. So

Chris Debiec 1:27
Oh my god okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:30
I'm here. But I've been here just a little bit over a year now. And I love it. I mean, I love it. And Austin and I've met a lot of people in the film community here. It's very passionate. film community and, and everybody really does know everybody.

Chris Debiec 1:46
Yeah, tell me about it. I, you know, I, my business partner is cybersecurity. He's like one of the top global hackers in the world. And we, he basically invited me out he goes into the gun range, he goes to the range at Austin. And I swear to God, it's Soho House with guns. It's awesome. So house with guns. Every Friday afternoon, around one o'clock, you can find Robert and his associates. I show up. And then we just take meetings. Colby Gaines is a local producer here. He came out we've had multiple meetings with him. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 2:25
Apparently I gotta go out to this range.

Chris Debiec 2:27
You got to go to the Yeah, I mean, it's the perfect networking situation. You don't have to shoot anything. You don't even have to light guns to go there. It just it's a it's just a social environment.

Alex Ferrari 2:39
See, you learn something new every day here in Austin. So Chris, I mean, you've had a hell of a career, my friends so far. And, you know, I wanted to go back deep down the rabbit hole. How did you get started and why did you want to get started in the film industry?

Chris Debiec 2:55
Ah, okay. Well, that is the, I'm gonna share. I'll tell you how old I am now. But 1989 was the first job that I had. And it was the grand opening of Disney MGM Studios to our NBC television special. It's a very long story, but in for your, you know, audience members, I'll try to keep it a little concise. The idea was I was Penn State Hotel Restaurant Management. I got accepted into their college training program. Well, it's the WD W program for internships. And I got three months in Disney and after I finished the internship program, I my manager accepted me into the four year management training program. So I stayed at Disney. I was allowed to stay there and finish my education at Penn State. They actually have a college at Disney Disney University. So I signed a contract like the military, it's four year contract, and the management training program you learn all the different areas of Disney all the you work in every single possible area. And during one of those rounds it was kind of funny. There was a girl that thought I was cute. So she said Hey, you should come work with us over at the film and television you know tape they called it film and tape at the time. Now originally, I thought film and tape was selling 35 millimeter film and VHS tapes in the kiosks at the Magic Kingdom. That's kind of what I thought it was. So boy, I'm sorry. It's kind of a I've tried to make a shorter story but I can't so let's do you do you think do you think I'll just do my thing? So what I was working in the employee cafeteria dish room of Disney MGM Studios, I was a bit of a rebel. I kind of messed around with the the way Disney's management was they got pissed at me they put me into super secret get probation. And that was working midnight shift at the employee cafeteria dish room at Disney MGM. So woman came in and heard me complaining about how I hated my job. I stuck my head out, you know, I apologize to her, sorry. And she's like, Oh, you look so cute. And you seem so upset, what's wrong? So I told her all the problems I had working with Disney. And she said, Well, you should come and work with us or film intake. And again, it's, I thought it was something different. So she gave me a, they call it a cross utilization form, which means you're allowed to stay within the training Pro, she knew what the training program was, she's like, all you have to do is get your supervisor to sign this form. And then the three months that you are required to work, it's every three months, you work in a different position. So your supervisors sign this and for the three months, you can come work with us. I said, Alright, great. No idea what she was doing, other than I thought I'd be selling VHS tapes. So next day, see my supervisor, I go to her and I said, Please, you know, I know I'm not, you know, I'm not the best employee, but I need to, you know, get out of here for a little bit and it'll clear my head. I tried to explain her how it'd be better for me. She just looked at me dead, deadpan stare and says, Chris, don't you know, we're opening a studio, I need every body I can get body. And boy that pissed me off. And I'm like, I'm on a body on a slab of meat working, you know, the precondition. So you know, impetuous kid, you know, 20 years old, no idea. I've swore a couple of times and said, I quit. And I walked out the door. As I walked out, she says, don't use us as your stepping stone. I have no idea what she's talking about. So I go back to my apartment with my eight roommates, and basically called the lady and I said, Oh, my God, oh, my god, I just, you know, I think I just quit my job. She goes, Don't worry about Chris, why don't you come in, meet my boss. We'll figure it all out. So the next day I go into and it's a trailer way in the backlog, Disney MGM, they're still pulling up palm trees. That's how I knew this was. So I go in. And she says to me, Chris, when the door opens, go talk to my boss. So I sat there, and I was just watching people coming out was very interesting. cross section of employees. So door opens. And I hear it literally is like the voice of God, you know, come in young man. And I walk in and sitting behind the desk, if any of your audience ever saw the movie, oh, god with George Burns, and John Denver, swear to God, it looked just like George Burns with the little sailor hat, big thick glasses, polo shirt, but he was a much bigger man sitting behind the desk. He doesn't get up. He just literally motions me to sit down. So I sit down. And then he crosses his arms and says, Tell me a story. I'm like, Okay, I'm 20. Again, 20 year old kid, I have no idea. So I just tell him a story about me and Disney, yada, yada, yada. And the last thing I tell him is, you know, and my boss told me don't use those to your stepping stone. And I said, Sir, I don't know what that means. But here I am. So he's nodding the whole time. You're nodding, you know, very stern look, but but paying attention, you know, he takes off his glasses just like this. And he looks at me and points his finger and says, fuck them. You work for me now? I don't know what that man. It's like a movie. Oh, dude. I had no idea at the time what that was. So I was just like, well, thank you, sir. I really appreciate that. And he said, Go talk to you know, I think her name was Joanne, but I'm not sure. So go talk to Joanne she'll set you up. I said, All right. Well, thank you, thank you. And I go outside and joins, like how to go and i go i You said I work for him now, or I work here now. And she's like, Oh, that's great. So she types on the computer now. 1989 The computers were huge. I mean, giant monitor things. And it was the screen was black with green, you know, anyway. So she types my name in the computer. And she's like, Chris, what's your Social, I'm gonna make sure we get all your paperwork in order. And so she types me in, and then a red flashes thing comes up on screen and she goes, Oh, no, you've been red flagged. And I'm like red flag. What does that mean? She does Well, turns out your boss over the cafeteria. Made you not unhearable a non hireable for Disney, which means I'm not allowed to hire you back at Disney. And I mean, I'm shaking. I'm like, oh my god, I signed a four year deal. This is like the military, I'm gonna get in trouble. I'm gonna lose my education. And it was just like, you know, I was completely falling apart and she goes Chris, calm down. I'll take care of this tomorrow morning report to bungalow seven at eight o'clock. 8am. And I said, Okay, she goes Just come down. I will take care of it. You're working with us. Don't worry about it said okay. Okay. So the next day I report to bungalow seven. And it's interesting because I thought I was going into be trained for selling 35 millimeter film and VHS tapes. But there's a bundle of their golf carts running around all over the place. There's cases you know, tour cases being in and out.

They gave me a name Sally Hinkle. They said, Go find Sally Henkel. She's your immediate boss. I said, Okay, great. So I asked a few people and they pointed this little four foot 10 Girl, I go over there and she's loading coolers with sodas, bottled water, stuff like that. Ice. But she's very small. So she can't lift any of this stuff. So I walked up no big strapping man. And I say, Sally, I'm pressed. I think I'm supposed to be working with you. And she goes, Great, great. So she starts directing the load this through this put ice in the school or I need to school on that golf court. And without asking any questions without even wondering anything. I just literally follow direction. I like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, the whole day. I mean, I worked a good 10 to 12 hours that day, didn't ask any questions. I was delivering coolers, camera setups, interview setups, there was lighting setups, there was a couple of stages all around the park I went to, and the whole time. I'm just like, this is cool. What the hell am I doing here? But I was so afraid to ask anyone anything. Because I just I asked her what I experienced with my boss. I was like, freaking out. So I just did what everybody told me to do. And then at the end of the day, we're done. We're sitting in the production office and Sally and I were just having a nice chat. And I say, Sally, listen, I don't want to, you know, I don't want to seem like an idiot or stupid or anything. But what exactly are you guys doing here? And she looked at me and goes, Christy, you don't know what you're doing here. I said, Well, I know what I'm doing here. You told me what to do. But what is this? And she goes, you're working on a TV show. It's called the two hour NBC television special for NBC, the grand opening of Disney MGM Studios. I'm like, really? What's my title? She goes, Well, you're my assistant. I'm the craft service person. So you're the assistant craft service. I'm like, No, that's cool. And she goes, have you ever done this before? I said, No. This is my first time. And at first she was I could see her getting a little pissed. She's, you know, she she's she said, dammit, I hate getting newbies. And I said, Sally, did I do a good job? She goes, Chris, you were amazing. I swear to God, I thought you knew what you're doing. I said, I do. If you tell me and if you tell me you won't have to tell me again. And she goes alright, so that was my first job.

Alex Ferrari 12:45
And that was the biggest and that was the beginning. That was the beginning. Yeah. Wow. That's you know, and you know, it's funny is that you and I walked over the same dead bodies at Disney MGM because my first job was I went to Full Sail. I first entered my first internship was at Disney MGM as a PA or as an intern action even a PA working for a god what was his name? The producer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? Swanson. He was on the backlot. It was Ted Swanson. No, not Ted.

Chris Debiec 13:21
Oh, cuz I worked with Ted Swanson. That's another story. But yeah

Alex Ferrari 13:24
No no no, it was another I worked. I worked. He was like the big. It was big cheese because he had just finished.

Chris Debiec 13:30
Ted Kay.

Alex Ferrari 13:31
What is it?

Chris Debiec 13:32
Ted Kay?

Alex Ferrari 13:33
Not Ted Kay. It was somebody Swanson Swinson something like that. But it was he was the producer of teenage mutant ninja turtles from 1990. And it was at that time, the biggest independent film of all time. And he was working on a new TV show. And we were shooting on universal, but his production offices were at MGM. And that's how I got started. So I got started at Disney MGM as well. So I

Chris Debiec 13:57
Wow, we were there the same time dude, that we

Alex Ferrari 14:01
Were you there 95?

Chris Debiec 14:02
I left in 96.

Alex Ferrari 14:04
I was there in 95. I went to I graduated in 96. During 95. We,

Chris Debiec 14:09
We missed each other. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 14:11
That's hilarious. But that's how I got that's how I got my start in the business as well. So that's too funny, man. Now you jumped from, from what?

Chris Debiec 14:20
Can I add something real quick? Yeah. So just to finish off book in the story. Many, many days go by a week goes by. I'm in the office, the production coordinator was named D. So you know, D, always she was trying to figure out where everybody was coming from because Disney was just opening and you know, Florida didn't really have that big of a production team. So she says Chris, I'm just curious, how did how did you come to the production? And I said, Well, I went to talk to a man named Jim Washburn. And when he told me I was working for him, and the whole production office kind of went quiet when I said the name Jim Washburn. So DS like Chris, you spoke to Jim Washburn? I said, Yeah. Meaning in person. You were actually met Jim Washburn. I'm like, Yeah, I went to his office and you know, you look like George Burns. It was kind of funny. So she goes interesting. And I'm like, Dee, why is that interesting? Well, Chris, Michael Eisner sent Jim Washburn here to open the studio. He is in charge of everyone. He is the boss of the entire studio. Everybody and no one's met Jim. He sits in a little trailer in the bag. And, you know, we no one's ever really met him. He comes in and out and he's from Burbank. So you really met him? I said, Yeah, I really met him. He's the one with everything. She does. Okay. And the whole office treated me like King they were like, Oh my God, you know, it's your boss. Oh my god, you know, then that was my first introduction to how Hollywood worked.

Alex Ferrari 16:01
Yeah, it isn't that isn't that funny which we will get to your stories Yeah, your stories coming up in a little bit after afterwards of you working with certain people in the business. But as I was looking through your IMDB man you at the beginning you were jumping from PA to wardrobe assistant to like you were doing a production you were doing any job it seemed at the beginning you were on Oscar which I frickin love Oscar with that said let's just along with

Chris Debiec 16:30
John Landis was interesting fellow. Is he the director that I forgot John Landis directed it. Yeah. Oh,

Alex Ferrari 16:37
I've heard nothing but interesting stories about John.

Chris Debiec 16:39
Well, yeah. We'll, go there if you want but

Alex Ferrari 16:45
One John Landis don't give me one John Landis story.

Chris Debiec 16:47
Well, there's all I have one John Landis story and it. So I was hired as the local assistant to Lesley Belzberg. Lesley was John Landis as a producing partner. And again, this is I'm only in the business, probably under a year. It's been about eight months, nine months. And I've worked on a couple of different things. And Leslie said to me, she goes, Chris, we're going to be doing a lot of lunches, and a lot of dinners, and I need you to take notes for me. I always had a notebook and my little fanny pack with pens, and you know everything. And I'm like, yes, yes. Lovely. No problem, no problem. So we were out one of these dinners, and I was taking notes and it was Lesley and John and myself. And there was one other person there and I honestly, I cannot remember his name. But John, John was in a mood. So you know, he was basically insulting everyone. You know, he was pissed off at the waitstaff. He was pissed off because his water was warm. You know, he got a phone, you know, you know, we didn't have really cell phones. I mean, I guess they brought a phone to him because someone was trying to reach him. He just pissed off the guy on the phone. And he just had this big rant. I was taking notes, but you know, not about a rant. But, you know, John was just angry. And he was just kind of going off in everybody. And then at the end of the dinner, I said to Lesley, I said, I said, Leslie Is he is he always like this? I mean, it's void. You know, he, he seems to because he was he was going off on everybody. And Leslie's like Chris, listen, sometimes directors are very creative. And they, you know, they just express themselves differently. And I and I said, Well, it just seems like he hates all human beings. Because he basically insulted everyone. I thought it was almost like a stand up back. But it wasn't. And and Leslie's like, you know, Chris, just keep that under your hat. And we'll just keep going. Like, okay, no problem. But you know, it and John Landis was actually the first very What do you say successful director I got. And it hit that one experience that one dinner I had with dealing with what he was going through in his mind. It actually helped me later in my career. And I know we'll we'll, we'll talk about that later.

Alex Ferrari 19:09
But it helped you with so that's

Chris Debiec 19:11
John Lasseter, by the way. They were at Universal because the Oscars set in Burbank burned down.

Alex Ferrari 19:17
So they shot they shot it in Florida. I didn't know they shot in Florida.

Chris Debiec 19:21
Yeah, because there was a big giant fire at Universal and the entire caught fire.

Alex Ferrari 19:26
Yeah, they I remember that fire. Yeah, they burned out it burned down. The Back to the Future set had to rebuild it.

Chris Debiec 19:32
And that was the Oscar Oscar set was using the same one.

Alex Ferrari 19:35
Oh, that makes sense. Do you remember Do you remember the Swamp Thing set? Yeah, of course. With I worked with Boris. Oh, wow. That was I was the office. I was the office production assistant. On fortune hunter was a show.

Chris Debiec 19:50
Wait a second. You weren't unfortunately I sorted I know you did it. I worked in the art department.

Alex Ferrari 19:56
I worked in the office.

Chris Debiec 19:59
Alright guys, this is a podcast I understand, but you're gonna love this. Hold on. Give me one second.

Alex Ferrari 20:07
We'll hold this is awesome.

Chris Debiec 20:10
Your audience is gonna love this. I don't know if you're gonna remember this. Are you ready for this?

Alex Ferrari 20:16
No, stop it. Stop it. Where it is it. Oh, wait a minute is that

Chris Debiec 20:21
The dagger from Fortune Hunter the prop guys.

Alex Ferrari 20:26
That's amazing. You added like candy. Great. Oh my God, dude, seriously,

Chris Debiec 20:34
Either I'm gonna get arrested and the cops will show up because I

Alex Ferrari 20:37
Look if Chris Hemsworth has not been arrested for the six Thor hammers, he stole off the set, I think you'll be away.

Chris Debiec 20:44
I didn't steal this. I was given to this as a gift from someone who thought I did a very good job.

Alex Ferrari 20:50
Well, that's probably the only thing

Chris Debiec 20:52
But anyway, check that out Fortune Hunters.

Alex Ferrari 20:56
So I was working with with that Teenage Mutant to turn a producer. But then across the hall. There was fortune hunter. And then I got a guy got I was the office PA. So anything in the office, I was there with the writers and I was there with the producers and Boris made me move him. He's like, Hey, I got a job for you. And they drove me out to his house and I moved him for free. Like literally heavy lifting. It's insane. So yeah, so you and I work.

Chris Debiec 21:31
Now also, fortunately, there was a show where I had the tip of my thumb cut off on fortunately, I had to go to the hospital. Because we were loading I was art department, I pretty much did everything. I was loading a truck and we were using the lift gate as leverage. And My hand slipped off the corner got caught in the lift gate, just as the lift gate was coming out know that the tip of my thumb off,

Alex Ferrari 21:56
That must have been fun.

Chris Debiec 21:58
But the you know, we had all the art department guys were there they call the ambulance they took me now here's the funny story is that in the ambulance, they had my thumb in ice, they had the tip of it and ice in the ambulance were going and the medic is asking me all these questions like what happened? How this happen? What are you guys doing out there? And then as we're pulling out, you know, he went when I first got in the ambulance, he put the oxygen in my nose. And as we're, you know, nothing was coming through. But you know, I figured Alright, well, that's the way it is. I never had oxygen my nose before. So we're driving and he's answering all these questions about production. And almost just as we're pulling up to the hospital, he says, Hey, how do I get a job? I want to work in production. And I'm looking at him. And I just looked at him and like, hey, is there supposed to be some oxen? something's supposed to be coming through my nose. He goes, Oh, yeah, click, he forgot to put the oxygen on that he put into my nose. In the meantime, he's asking for a job. And then as they're wheeling me in, he goes, Hey, do you think you could talk to your boss? I mean, you're gonna be out for a while. Maybe I can take your place.

Alex Ferrari 23:00
Holy Jesus man. And this is Florida. This is not even LA.

Chris Debiec 23:05
This is Florida. And get this. They hired him. No, I told my boss I said listen, I'm going to be out you need just labor and I said hire the guy. He seems like a nice guy. They interviewed him they hired him to replace me until I came back.

Alex Ferrari 23:20
Wow. And now and you launched another career that God knows where he went. So this is a lesson for everybody listening. The world of of film production is extremely small apparently. That decades later we found out that we were working on the same production and we never met each I've never met anybody else from from fortune hunter in all my years in this business that is amazing man. That's

Chris Debiec 23:52
Yeah, I don't know if you remember the production designer Orvis Rigsby

Alex Ferrari 23:57
I don't I don't remember that was I was all in the office. I went to set like once or twice I think. But if anybody's interested you could try to find an episode somewhere on YouTube or something was I was one season. It was pretty bad. It was a pretty bad show. I still remember this is what I still remember one of the PAs I'll never forget this. And by the way, anyone listening great lesson if you're working in the office, the show comes out premieres and then all the reviews come out. And the PA some pa cut out every review and pasted them up on the walls of the office. Unfortunately, every review was bad. So the showrunner comes in, and they have to talk them off allege that they don't think they fired that pork. You don't that's just that's just you don't do things like that. So alright, so you, you you've been you've done a bunch of stuff over the years and you were a production manager. And then you met A young up and coming filmmaker named Jimmy Jimmy Cameron was his name. Yeah. Yeah. James Cameron, you worked with Mr. Jim Cameron. For how many years? Did you work with Jim?

Chris Debiec 25:12
So, in the year 2000, we started from 2000 2005. I was his production supervisor, production manager and then eventually associate producer. So for five years, I worked on ghosts to the abyss, aliens of the deep expedition, Bismarck, and last mysteries of Titanic. Those are the four documentaries we did with Jim. But I became best friends with his brother, John, John Cameron. He's the baby brother of the family. And John was a six year Marine veteran. So whenever anyone watches James Cameron movie, there are Marines in his movies. The reason there are Marines is because of his brother, John. So John was for years Marine, marine consultant, military consultant. So I became best friends with John and then for the next 15 years. I had other things that you know, I was there for six years, I was the vice president production at a company called entertainment one television. But during the that timeframe, John camera just would call me out of the blue and say, Hey, I need a favor, or hey, I need this or hey, I knew that. So I've been in and out of the camera and lives for over 20 years. So yeah,

Alex Ferrari 26:28
So yeah, because that was the that time that you were with him as I like to call that the the deep sea walkabout that Jim did. I mean, Jim is a very, very special filmmaker, to say the least. And I've always wondered what was because I can imagine the I don't know if it was the pressure of whatever, but like after Titanic, you biggest movie of all time. I imagine that there's pressure on you to do something like next. And maybe he's like, You know what, I'm just gonna go do something I want to do. And it really seems like Jim really wanted to just become a not just a deep sea explorer, but like, a legitimate. Like he's in the in the, in the archives of deep sea explorers. Like, he's up there with Jacques Cousteau. And I mean, he's a series he does the work

Chris Debiec 27:20
Jim is also an engineer. People don't know, ya know, he's he engineers, his own his own equipment he created, you know, he engineer the cameras. They're using an avatar with Sony with other companies.

Alex Ferrari 27:32
So I gotta ask you, sorry. So you worked with Jim so closely. I mean, I've look I've had I've had many people who worked with Jim on the show. And I've heard I love Jim Cameron stories I've heard I've got like, probably about five or 10 of them that my guests have told me over the years on air and off. Some you have to tell off air some you have to tell OG you could tell on air, but they're just brilliant. And you just go okay, from someone who worked so closely with them. I haven't spoken anyone who's worked really close with him for such a long period of time, and especially over 20 years coming back and forth into into his camp. That I've always understood that Jim is a genius at a level that we can't really comprehend in, in, you know, he's just at a whole other playing field, when it comes to filmmaking when it comes to the technical aspects of filmmaking. He's got a whole other place and that he gets frustrated with people who can't live up to what he thinks he can what he is able to do. So what is your experience with Jim in? Is that a truth? Is that basically a fair statement to say that is Jim that kind of just like, so at a different level that everybody else around him?

Chris Debiec 28:43
Well, okay, so little disclaimer, that, you know, Jim, Jim is many, many things. The way I can explain it is that if you had your solar system, Jim is the sun. And then we are all planets, overall, revolving around the sun. That's when he does a project. Now listen, you know, as your film community knows, and as you know, the director is the boss on set. So Jim is the boss and he has a very specific vision, a very specific way of doing things very, you know, he has honed this thing for 30 years, 40 years and some of the biggest movies and that's why he is who he is. So I came, I went into it with the understanding that this is my choice. I am on set because I want to be here and I believe that I am good enough to be here. Now, that comes with a whole laundry list worth of stuff that you're going to have to deal with. I got fired four times in five years. Three other times had nothing to do with me and one of the times had everything to do with me. But you know, he you have to learn how to work with someone that is of that caliber. And I soon learned that, you know, within a year, year and a half, that when Jim gets upset, he gets upset at a situation that's not working the way he expects it to. So whomever is in the line of fire is just going to get shot. And, you know, I don't mean with guns, but I mean, with just verbal, you know, like frustration that he's coming out with. So in the three times I got fired, you know, Jim, you know, was pissed off because scheduling didn't work? Some equipment didn't show up. I mean, there were there was resistance production stuff. Yeah, it's production stuff. So, you know, I happen, you know, I am, you know, as a production supervisor, production manager and associate producer, I am the one having to deal with execute everything. So, ultimately, it's my responsibility. But, you know, it's not always my fault, because there are other contributing factors that maybe Jim may not be aware of. So of those three times, you know, he was yelling and screaming and piston throwing things like get the hell out, you're fired. I don't know. I can't believe this. So as I'm packing up, and every all three of these times are almost exactly the same. I'm trying to unpack and get ready to leave the office. As I'm walking out. Jim comes in and I'm like, scared. I'm like, Oh, God, he's gonna hit me with something he didn't ever did. But you feel

Alex Ferrari 31:19
I've never heard him. I've never heard of a physical altercation with you. No, no, I've never heard of any story of that. Joe pitka. I've heard that with.

Chris Debiec 31:30
Jim, Jim verbally assaults, he doesn't physically assault. But there was there was one time that he he himself was physically assaulted. And I'll tell you that in a second. So yeah, you know, as I'm leaving, Jim looks at me, he goes, where are you going? And I said, Will you just fire me, he goes, get back to work, I've got things to do, you know, don't waste my time with that. Just, you know, you know, I need this and this and this and that. So I'm like, okay, okay. So I get back to my desk and I start working. It turns out that what happens is in that moment, you know, the fuse burns very bright. But then when it burns out, kind of forgets about it, or I don't know if he forgets about it, but he puts it off, and he's like, is no longer priority and no longer a issue? So, over the course of a year and a half, you learn that, you know, when he's yelling at you, you just you look him in the eye and you nod, and you say, Yes, sir, yes, sir. Yes, sir. And you, you make sure that he knows you are hearing him you are listening and paying attention and responding, but don't put fuel on the fire. Don't don't engage in the argument. You just allow him to do his thing. Tell him he allow him to say what he needs to say. And then soon you will see his level of anger drop down to almost nothing where he just kind of like, alright, good talk, and then walks away. And that's what I learned on how to deal with him. Now, the one time I did get fired that had everything to do with me. Do you can I want to hear the story?

Alex Ferrari 33:01
Absolutely. Any gym stories? You want to say we have time for them? These? These are the best?

Chris Debiec 33:07
Okay, okay, so. Alright. We just finished aliens of the deep. We're getting ready. No, sorry. It wasn't aliens that day. We just finished expedition Bismarck after we finished one of those things. Yeah. And what happened was, I got I finished up. We were in the Azores, which is an island chain in the middle of the Atlantic. It's part of the Portuguese port Portugal. So we we stopped the boat there. We unpacked you know, I had to ship everything out of Portugal. It all got done. And then it was a Thursday and I flew back to LA and I went back to my apartment, I got a message on my answering machine. I pick it up. It's John Cameron. John calls me and says, Hey, Chris, I need to talk to you. So I call him back. And he says, I need you to meet Jim. in Nice, France. Sunday morning at 9am. Now, it's a Thursday. So I'm like, nice Sunday morning. Got it. What am I doing? John says it's a needed basis. I said, Well, you're sending me the knees, don't you think I need to know? And he goes, nope. I said, Well, how long am I going to be there? And he said, pack enough stuff for a week. I said, Okay, what do I need to bring? He says, bring a camera. Okay. Can you tell me what I'm doing? He's like, no. I said, All right. Now, I'm used to this because Jim and his whole family run production, like it's black ops for the military. They very rarely give anyone information unless it directly deals with what's going on through the moment. So I'm used to this. I'm like, fine. I've been flying coach all around the world for the last two years. I said, John, do you think you can fly me business class? And he goes, Why would he wide because I want to, you're telling me to go do this and you won't tell me why it's so funny business cards. I got to fly business. So I get on the plane. I land in nice France. I don't know. Friday, Saturday, I forget which day anyway, I land there. Let's say it's a Saturday. So maybe it was a Friday, he called me and so on. So I land in nice France on Saturday, I have a credit card, I have cash. I didn't have a hotel reservation, I didn't have any of that stuff. So it didn't really matter. Because I know how to do what I'm doing. And that there was a lot of stuff. I got sent to various places with no planning whatsoever. But Jim knew that, you know, just saying, Chris, you'll know what to do. So I found the fairly expensive hotel on the beach. I go there I call John. I said, John, I'm in Nice. Can you please tell me where I'm going? What I'm doing. And he says, Alright, write this down. He gives me an address. I write down a piece of paper and goes, I need you to meet Jim at 9am. Tomorrow morning. And yeah, it was a Saturday. So I had to meet him at Sunday morning. 9am. I said, Okay, no problem. Go down the front desk. I don't, I've never been that nice before, it isn't my first time. Around the front desk, I show the ladies at the front desk here. I need to go to this address. So they pull out a map. They're trying to find the address. You know, these are French ladies, they can't find it. And then one of the lazy pull up, pulls out a different map pulls out a map of France. Now, you know, France imagine is like a big giant circle. And you know, nieces like up here. And one of the ladies says, oh, ECEC will she find here in French. She finds the place. And she points down here. Now nice is here. And she goes down here. It's in more said, John sent me to the wrong city in France. He didn't know. So I the laser, the front desk Tell me. I say how do I get me? I speak a little French. So I was able to communicate. So I was like, How do I get there? They said, Well, you could rent a car. But it's eight hours. Like, I can't do that because I've never been here, I don't know. But then the lady said there's a train. It's a cattle train that runs all around the country of France delivering you know, agriculture and sheep and cows and stuff like that. So she her father was a farmer. So she said I would you know, I can get you on this train. So it left at 11pm That night, so I grabbed my bag. Now I was staying in a really nice so the ladies didn't even charge me for the hotel room just because they thought you know what I was about to do was crazy. So I got on the cattle car train. And there are no seats there. They're planks of wood. And there's a chicken shit. There's feathers. There's cheap shit. They're just, it's disgusting. So

Alex Ferrari 37:35
It's like business class, but different.

Chris Debiec 37:37
Yeah, there you go. So I get on the train. And it's about a six hour train thing. You know, train, drive, whatever trip and there's the benches burned out or move over for the whole night. So I get pulled into Marsay. It's like 7am or something. So there's one cab out front. I show the address to the cab driver and he goes 100 Euro. Okay, so I whip out 100 year old hand it to him and I get in the backseat. He was waiting for me to haggle. But I didn't handle it. So he's like, okay, so it takes us an hour to get to the address, we get to the address. It's a female for animals. That's what it is. So I'm looking at this female going, this cannot be the address. So we drive around a whole bunch of times, and we keep confirming it's a female. So we go to the little town. There's a Tourist Kiosk in the middle. So I go and I tell the cab driver dropped me off. He drops me off and I get on the phone and I called John Cameron. I say, John, I think I'm here. I'm not at the address, but I'm at the town. There's a there's a boat yard. There's this there's a store. I'm at a Tourist Kiosk. And he says to me, Alright, great. I'll have Jim meet you there in about an hour. And then he hangs up and I'm sitting in this Turski is going this will be interesting. Jim's going to meet me. How does he know where the hell on? Okay, whatever. So hour goes by a big silver van pulls up. It's Jim Cameron, Suzy and all the kids. And Jim goes, Hey, Chris, how was your trip? And I go, great, Jim. And I get in I throw my bags in the in the van and I jump in the van and we start driving. Now Josephine is Susie, there's Jim's child from Linda Hamilton. So Josie is like about 10 years old. Josie reaches over and goes she's like sniffing and she goes and she goes mommy, he smells terrible. I was sitting in a cattle car and cheap shit for the last eight hours. So yeah, of course I smelled terrible. And she's like, stop at Chelsea standard. So we get back to the feed mill. And there's that turns out there's a road behind the female it's completely hidden. Nobody would know it was there. We get there and the driver gets out opens gate for the road. And Jim looks at me and starts nudging going way to etc, etc. So I'm like, I have no idea why I'm there. But I'm not asking any questions. So we get in the road, go back. And there's a giant warehouse like Costco size warehouse, and the driver and we all get out and the drivers opening the door. And Jim does that, to me again, just wait to see what he sees, like a little child, very excited. So we go into the warehouse, and I look inside this warehouse. And there are two submarines. I mean, submarines in the warehouse, along with four boats, for trucks, shelves, and shelves and shelves of equipment, a big office with file cabinets and coffee machines. And the whole thing is just a giant operation. And I'm standing there, and I'm like, What the hell is this? And you know, Jim is just kind of like, it's Christmas. And he just opened his presents. So he comes over to me and goes, so what do you think? And I'm like, pretty cool, man. This is amazing. Wow, look at all this stuff. And then he looks at me. Now I we were in here for maybe five minutes. He looks at me crosses his arms and goes, so how long is it going to take you to ship these two submarines, those four trucks, those four boats and everything in this warehouse back to my ranch in Santa Barbara. I had no idea what I was doing there in the first place. So you know, Hello, Mister Production Manager, Production Supervisor. I look at this. And I literally had no answer for I don't know how to ship two submarines. I don't know how to do half of the stuff that I was doing with them anyway. So the only thing I could do was the only answer I gave him. I said, Jim, there is an awful lot of equipment in this warehouse. Can we spend some time and walk through it so I can have a better analysis of what this is? And he goes, Yes, great answer. Yeah, let's go do that. The whole time we're walking through it. I'm like, fuck up, shut up. What's that? I don't know what that is. What the hell? What am I doing here? Why didn't John tell me I'm so pissed, you know. But I'm saying this in my head, you know. So we've spent at least an hour, maybe hour and a half going through it all. Now, luckily, I did have some experience moving equipment. So I just then put it in my mind that this is all production equip. I know how to do that. But with submarines, I'm thinking, well, there's some government's gotta get involved with this, I think I'm gonna have to deal with Naval Intelligence coming back to the US, they may not just let submarines come into the US. So I started thinking about all these things. And then we go back into the office. And Jim again, sits down and goes, All right. How long is it gonna take you to get all this stuff? Yeah, I want to give myself as much time as humanly possible, but also know that Jim's never whatever that number is, it's not going to be soon enough. So I said, Jim, I would love 12 weeks, because on a production of a big movie or something, we usually have 12 weeks of prep, give or take. And so I figured, you know, it's enough time that you know, I could prep it, I can do that. videotape. photograph. Jim just looks at me and slams his fist on the desk and goes 12 weeks? What are you telling me about fucking 12 weeks at 12 weeks? I'm going to give you four. And I was I'm like, I said, Jim, I'll be honest, man. I mean, there's submarines in there, I'm gonna have to deal with the French government. I'm gonna have to deal with the US government. I'm gonna have to deal with organizations I've never dealt with before. I said, Can you give me eight? And then he looks at me goes, okay. Tell you, I'll give you six.

Okay, I'll take six better than four. Maybe not as good as 12. But all right, whatever. So he gave me six weeks, and he says you have unlimited resources. But make sure you don't spend any more money than you should. Instead, okay. Now for James Cameron, being who he is, and what he's worth and movies. He does. very frugal, very smart, very business. Like he's a businessman beyond anything, you know, businessman, filmmaker, energy engineer, whatever. So I know how to do that. So they, the kids are playing on the submarines and everyone's running around. So they gather everybody together, go on the van. And Jim gets in the van with the kids. And I said, So what's next? And he goes, Well, you go to work. We're on vacation. So we'll talk to you soon. And they get in the van and they drive away. I'm standing alone with my bags in a parking lot in the middle of France. I don't eat. I'm like, Okay, here we go. That's my Jim Cameron's

Alex Ferrari 44:49
And then you just had to find a place to stay.

Chris Debiec 44:52
Yeah, I had to do Yeah, I had to do everything. And ironically enough, we had just finished expedition in Bismarck. So these German kids I hired from the ham Bird film school. They were amazing. They helped me with the prepping pa that kind of stuff. So I pulled the lead guy that I had from Germany and I said, Hey, Oliver, I need kind of your guys. I'll fly you in put you up really nice hotel, per diem, the whole nine yards, whatever you need, but I need your help. And I got six weeks into this. So I brought an entire German contingency and they did everything. Right.

Alex Ferrari 45:24
So did you did you make it in six weeks?

Chris Debiec 45:28
Five, actually,

Alex Ferrari 45:29
Five weeks to ship all that stuff over? I mean, I've heard Jesus. It's like, I mean, I've met these I've met certain people like this. Never like never Jim. I've had the pleasure to meet Jim yet, but these kind of almost godlike figures in the film industry,

Chris Debiec 45:46
Who just be careful that God like they are not, but you know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 45:51
But like, myth, the myth of who the idea that God like they're definitely human beings without question. And they have their frailties and everything like that, but they've lived in their world for so long, that they don't like I remember I had a story of a filmmaker who was on set with with Jim. And he's saying to Jim, he's like, Yeah, I made my last movie for like, $100,000 in Jim's head, like, almost like gear started to pop in his head because he couldn't comprehend a feature film being made for $100,000. Like he just couldn't, he couldn't grasp, literally couldn't grasp the idea, like what it would I don't understand what you mean. Things like that. So it's really interesting to see that, like, you know, when you have your kids playing on submarines, that's just generally not a normal scenario, without question. And then I've heard the stories of his his compound and, and in Malibu, and he has he has the, was it the yacht in the front yard, just in case the the, the

Chris Debiec 46:46
Well, that's all changed. Okay. Jim, no longer is a resident no longer lives here in the US. Okay. Oh, really? I didn't know that. He moved him and his entire family in in New Zealand.

Alex Ferrari 46:58
Interesting. Because he's shooting

Chris Debiec 47:01
Avatars. 2 3 4 5, and six?

Alex Ferrari 47:05
Is he going to do five more of these? I thought we only could do like three or five more of these.

Chris Debiec 47:11
That's what that's what the plan is. That's what but he's already got like, what? Two or three twos coming out over Christmas this year? Three, I don't know when threes coming out. But he had made some comments to me. It took us a long time ago saying well, I'm gonna die on Pandora. It'll be 90 by the time we finish at six.

Alex Ferrari 47:31
I was gonna say like, can he finish all of these? Like how? How old is Jim? Jim is Wednesday, his birthday?

Chris Debiec 47:36
He just, you know, good question. I think it's 6563. Four or five. One of those. But his birthday was just this month.

Alex Ferrari 47:45
Yeah. So he No, he's got and he's, he's vegan. So he'll make it

Chris Debiec 47:50
Wasn't that he wasn't always vegan. But yeah, he Susie made a mega.

Alex Ferrari 47:55
Right, exactly. So, um, alright. So after working with Jim for so long, what is some of the lessons that you picked up from him that made you a better production manager? Because I imagine when you're sharpening your AX on a stone, like Jim Cameron, it's going to sharpen faster and differently than you would working on Oscar?

Chris Debiec 48:21
Yeah, well, it's a whole different thing.

Alex Ferrari 48:24
And now I understand how John land has prepared you to deal with you.

Chris Debiec 48:28
Yeah, because it's about communication. It's how you talk to people. And it's how you talk to people that are used to a certain way of working. So the question was, oh, so what did I learn? Jim kept saying one thing to us, he's like, he's like, Chris, it's that one $5 part that we're missing, that will shut down the entire operation. So I became Uber duper, super duper detail oriented, very sensitive to every single thing, everything that went into a box, how it was packed, how it was moved, where it was, I literally became a computer program, of, of equipment crew, where things are, what things are going, it was, I had to become a bit of a machine to make sure that we I knew everything I knew where everything was at any given moment. So that made me better as from a producing standpoint, as far as being detail oriented, and your audience and your filmmakers should understand that, you know, it's like, you have to literally as a as a line producer, production manager, whoever, you have to think of every single thing in your arsenal and you have to think of everything very detail,

Alex Ferrari 49:48
Right! Because you can have everything but if you don't have the wig that the actress needs for the scene, the whole production shuts down because the wigs not there. So a $5 $10 $50 wig, what's the entire production down until that wig gets there? So that's a really great a great point.

Chris Debiec 50:08
Where's that sore? We can't find it.

Alex Ferrari 50:12
It's on a podcast circa 2020. So working again, working on those docks. I mean, I've studied the abyss, obscene, like I watched the documentary read books on the production of that. And that was a pretty intense, one of the worst production experiences for me involved ever, not because of Jim, just because of the nature of what he was trying to achieve. So there was a tremendous amount of pressure, I have to ask you working on these kinds of documentaries, where Jim is going down into, you know, deep sea diving, and being underwater for a long period of time and decompression and all that kind of stuff. Coming up. How, how did he How did you deal with? How did he deal with that pressure? Which I'm sure he's used to. But how did you deal with what was coming up out of the water? Well,

Chris Debiec 51:09
I mean, it's the same as I just explained it, you know, it's, you know, you have to be ready for anything, you have to be prepared for the worst prepared for what he's going to ask. prepared for what what's happening. I mean, sometimes the seas were so rough that the entire crew was, you know, throwing up somewhere. We couldn't find some of the crew half the time, you know, Jim, we made a deal with the entire crew, it was a 24 hour day, pretty much. Meaning if you sign on, you're going to have a lot of downtime, but you're going to have to be available at any given notice. Like, you know, the weather is right, let's go, we're doing the dive now. So you have to be ready for the dive immediately. It just, you literally have to be on the whole time.

Alex Ferrari 51:56
But you're not working 24 hours. But when you work?

Chris Debiec 52:00
Well, when you're on a ship. I mean, there's really not much we had we had a volleyball court up on top. They used to hit golf balls down through the ocean, the dining room, you know, we'd always be eating or drinking. But that's about it. I mean, so it's there's limited capacity on what to do on board this science vessel that belongs to the Russian government. So but you had to be ready for pretty much ever.

Alex Ferrari 52:25
So in production, we there's always that day that everything is coming crashing down around you and you feel like the world's about to end. What was that day for you on any of those projects? And how did you overcome that? That situation?

Chris Debiec 52:42
Goes to the abyss 911 The towers going down? We're at sea. So I was in St. John's, Newfoundland preparing for the next leg of our trip. The guys were at sea. And Jim basically didn't know what to do. I mean, we're we're under attack, the world's at war. Airports are starting either starting to shut down or shutting down or whatever. So I was asked to go get Jim's family and bring them from California to St. John's, Newfoundland. So that, you know, Jim didn't know everybody was just like not knowing what was going to go down. So we got Jim's family in a private, you know, so we were John Cameron was able to arrange a private jet, one of the first jets that happened that we're allowed to take flight. Three days after the Twin Towers went down, there was probably about a dozen special requests that were allowed. So, you know, I got Jim's family from LA to St. John's, Newfoundland. And then Jim said to me, Chris, I need you to take all the tapes back to Los Angeles. I don't know. We don't know if we're going out. We don't know what's happening. We got permission for a second flight to go back. So could you do that for me? I said, Sure. Absolutely. So it was me and one of the producer, we loaded up the private jet with all the tapes from goes to the abyss. I mean, these are the originals. These are the you know if it's the airplane, yeah. If our plane went down that he'd lost the entire documentary so far, but it wasn't about that it was about the unknowing. It was about not knowing what's happening and not knowing what what to expect because finally Jim experienced a situation that was out of his control 100% So we were all literally on the edge of our seats, trying to figure out what to do, but, you know, we came up with a plan as long as If the government officials would let him do his plan now, Jim was on the board of NASA. So he had a little bit more pull than most traditional people, filmmakers. So we got all the the equipment, all the tapes, were on a plane, and we landed in, I think it was like Minnesota or something. Because, you know, St. John's, Newfoundland to LA is a very, very long flight. So we landed, middle of night, somewhere in Minnesota, when we landed, we were greeted by about a dozen police cars, three fire trucks, couple of black FBI vans, and we were there when they opened up those those officers and everybody was standing there with their weapons. They were, you know, because they knew that we have permission to be there, but they didn't know who we were. And everybody is taking precautions everybody was was a heightened alert. So when we got off, and we agree that way, we were asked to be we were escorted off the airplane and move to a special room where we had FBI agents literally standing over us, you know, and they were asking us questions about what are you doing? You know, we weren't given information about you, we know you have permission, but you got to tell us what's going on. So I explained everything and they so they searched the airplane, they went through all the boxes of tapes, they went through everything took us a couple of hours to get through that. They refuel the airplane, and then we were allowed to go off to back to LA, and I'll be honest, I mean, for me, that was one of the scariest situations I've ever been in because there was so much unknown, that we didn't know what to expect. We didn't know anything and just to be greeted by by by such a large arsenal, you know, not knowing who he was. That was scary shit too.

Alex Ferrari 56:53
That's, that's a pretty, it's a pretty insane one as insane production stories go. That's a that's a pretty rough one.

Chris Debiec 57:01
911 was was different.

Alex Ferrari 57:02
Yeah, no, I'm Yeah, I think we all remember where we were when that happened. And you were on a boat. With James Cameron shooting a movie at the time. Is there any? Is there any other if you had one crazy story to share about your time with Jim publicly? Is there?

Chris Debiec 57:23
Well, I just shared with you a pretty good I mean, I, you know, that I can actually add on to that same story. So I got the job done in five weeks. So I wrote an email to Jim, I gave him a full explanation of what I did, how I did it, all of that stuff. Now, what I didn't tell you is that Jim sat in the, in that office in France, and you know, and he wrote a 12 page manifesto on how I should ship everything. I mean, you know, right down to dealing with hazardous material, dealing with the submarines, and he said, you know, and upon his list, he said, You should be talking to Naval intelligence, you know, he wrote 12 pages of how to do this. Now, when he had left and left me all alone there. You know, I started reading through his manifesto, I got down to the middle of page two is when it all I was like, I can't do this. Jim doesn't have a true understanding of the world that we live in as far as the reality of dealing with customs, dealing with Interpol, because Interpol is their version of Naval Intelligence, dealing with the French government and dealing with the hazardous materials. He's dealt with it before, but he's never really physically dealt with it. So now what he wanted me to do, it has materials I could never do. So when it came down to it, the and he said, You know, I wrote him an email telling what I did. My phone rang within minutes. And he said to me, I got your email, explained to me what you did. Now, it was successful for me for what we did, we got it in under time, everything was categorized, everything was done by the book. So I explained to him what I did, and there was a silence on the other end. And then I hear a whisper. He's like, listen, and then he started screaming at me how I did not follow his instructions. I did not follow the manifesto. Things are going to get fucked up. And then he just starts screaming and insulting me and yelling at me, just I mean, I had to hold the phone out. It was just, but I already knew him by now. So to me, it was just like, man, okay, yeah. And then, all of a sudden, right in the middle of that rant, the phone goes dead. And later, when later I found out that he had pulled the phone out of the wall, threw it through the production office window, got into his GT He just bought and started doing doughnuts in the parking lot because he was so pissed off. The last thing I heard before that phone got disconnected was burn your passport and don't ever come back to the United States again. So I got another call from Andrew Jin's producing partner a couple minutes later, Andrew says Andrew was in the room. When did this happen? He's the one that told me what Jim did. So Andrew says to me, Chris, please explain to me everything that you just told. Jim said, Okay. So I did. Andrew said to me, Chris, that's amazing. I can't believe you actually, you did it the way you did it, which is perfect. I wouldn't have done anything different. And the fact that you got everyone to sign off on everything, I had a grease some wheels, I had to give some bribes. I had to do things that probably I shouldn't have done, but I did in order to make that happen. So Andrew was just impressed beyond belief. He's like, That's amazing. Do me a favor, take a week off. You and the German boys go rent a yacht, go enjoy yourself in the south of France. I said, Okay, great. So that's what we did. I actually for 900 euros around a rock yacht for a couple of days. And a week later, I got an email from Jim saying, Chris, thank you so much. Best thing ever couldn't believe it. Wonderful, great job. Get your ass back here. We got a lot of work to do. Save that email. It's framed on my wall.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:24
But I have to ask you. So in your from your point of view, what do you think happened in his mind to react that way? If everything is perfect, it's done. What clicks to do to generate that

Chris Debiec 1:01:40
I didn't do it. I didn't do it the way he envisioned it. Now, think of you think put yourself in the mind of a director. And the director is giving instructions to the crude or how to shoot his movie. And the crew says, hey, you know what, we're not going to do it that way. We're gonna have to do another one. How would a director react? Wouldn't he be upset when VB angry when he met C? In his mind, he's imagining all of the worst scenarios you can possibly, you know, no matter what I said to him, Jim, this guy is nice purple, and you know, they're blue bunny rabbits running around, he doesn't matter. Because in his mind, he imagined the worst things happening because I didn't follow his instructions. So, again, to me, You know what, that is the way Jean, you know, his genius works. And that's okay. I learned from that. I learned from that experience, I learned that no matter how right you think you are, it's the way you the message comes across and who you're explaining it too. So I have probably one of the most neutral demeanors you can have for Hollywood because I have worked with people like that. And I know he's, I want him to be right, because he is 99% of the time. He's direct about most things. And you learn from that you it's kind of like going out and playing golf with a professional golfer and you're accurate. You know, you're going to get better just by watching that gentleman play or Whiteside person play. So for me as a producer, I'm going to be better just by watching him do what he does. Now I don't I'm not going to do that. Again. I'm not going to act like that, because that's not who I am. But I know that's who he is. And I'm okay with that. I choose to be here. And I choose to learn from it rather than react to it.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:31
You mentioned something earlier when you were your first job on this on MGM, Disney MGM where you had met the head honcho of MGM people and how people treated you differently. So how did that translate years later after you were known in the business as Jim Cameron's kind of production manager

Chris Debiec 1:03:53
On top of the mountain, you know, so as far as documentaries go, I mean, you are you're at the pinnacle, you know, at the top, so I got a lot of offers to do job for jobs I got. I was the guest lecturing at USC and UCLA Film schools. I went to LA Film School and guest lectured. I taught my own Learning Annex program. I did a lot of teaching afterwards because I learned so much from those several years of spending with him and the fact that very few people have that. You know, Jim has the same crew from Titanic on Avatar. I mean, you know, Jeff burdock is one of his technology, guys. Jeff has been there for 30 years.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:35
And it's easy Russell now for Ethan Russell carpenter. deeping.

Chris Debiec 1:04:40
No, not the P. Tech.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:42
No, no, no, no. Russell Russell carpenter is maybe

Chris Debiec 1:04:45
Maybe, maybe I don't know. What I'm saying is Jim has a production company Lightstorm. Jeff Burdick has been running lights not running, running the tech side of Lightstone for Jim for almost 30 years or over 25 years at least. So Jason Jim has a core group of people that aren't leaving. Terry DiPaolo is Jim's number one is Jim's, you know, eyes and ears for the rest of the world. And, you know, Terry's been there I was I was there before Terry started. But you know, Terry's still there. And, you know, it's a job that a lot of people don't want to give up. It's a hard job. It's a difficult job. Not the easiest one in the world. But because you're working for one of the top filmmakers in the world when and forget filmmaking for a split second, just call it media manufacturing. You're working for someone who is the CEO of Apple or CEO of you're working for an Elan Musk of filmmaking. You great deal better. Yeah, yeah. You're you feel different, you feel it empowers you to be better. And that's the way I look at now. Some people take that the other opposite direction become some Hollywood scumbag and try to use that power against others or, or pushing their power on others. I look at as an educational tool, and I try and you know, I do I still get Fletcher, I still do teaching and I still do all that stuff. sharing this knowledge is something I feel like I have to because they need to understand working for someone like that what it means. And you can thrive and succeed from it, if you understand how to do it, how to work with it, around it.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:20
Yeah, and that's really just a really good point. Because in this business, you're going to run into people like, Jim. But even though Jim is a an anomaly in our industry, really in the last 3040 years, there hasn't been another filmmaker like him. The closest I see here now is Nolan is the closest I can even remote. And even then he's not an engineer. He's then

Chris Debiec 1:06:43
Peter Jackson, don't forget Peter Jackson, you have Peter Jackson is amazing. And Spielberg has always been amazing.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
But there are different there are different kinds of be there are different beasts, compared there is only one, Jim, but you will meet people like that who might come off as abrasive. And I love what you said that certain people do that, who are just abusive for the sake of being abusive, and just verbally abusing and things like that, where, you know, even people who have I've everybody I've talked to who's worked with Jim has a reverence for him, even though they might have been abused, they might have been yelled at, they might have been pushed beyond their limits beyond their comfort zone. That's what someone like Jim does.

Chris Debiec 1:07:30
Exactly. And that's exactly what he did. He wrote me a reference letter, which is fantastic. And he mentioned, he's like, listen, I asked the best from everyone. And if you aren't, aren't up to it, then go somewhere else and find another job. But if you are, then let's do this. Yeah, there was a production meeting we had where Jim was really angry about some, you know, something that didn't happen. And I did it. You know, I messed up a schedule, or I messed up some thing that we were doing, and in the production, meeting all the departments there, Jim wants to know, he's pounding on the desk going, who did this, I want to know you. I need someone to take responsibility. And I literally raised my hand said, that was me. And then he looks at me and goes, tell me why. So I told him, I said, Listen, I did this, I did this. We didn't know, whatever the explanation was, I don't remember it. And he looks at me in front of the entire group. And he says, is that ever going to happen again? And I said, No, Jim, because now I understand what you were doing. And I understand why that happened. So I'm going to fix that. And he looks around the room and he says, I want everybody to understand this. I'm very angry at him, but he's going to deal with it. If you can all do that. We will do this. Well.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:47
That's fascinating. Did you ever hear the I had Russell on the show years ago? Did you ever hear the story of how he got hooked up with Jim did not. I'll tell you this story real quick for a lot of people who haven't heard that episode, because it's one of my favorite Jim Cameron stories. Russell gets a call from his agent and goes, Hey, Jim Cameron wants to talk to you about his next project. And he's like, okay, so he goes down to Malibu goes into the into his compound. And Jim, he meets Jim and Jim just starts talking to Russell like, he has a job. There's no There's just it's like, okay, so we're gonna start doing this when? And he won't. And Russell very similar to you in France. Like I don't, am I am I what am I doing? So he leaves he calls his agent does I think I think I was hired on July's. I don't. I think he was. No, no, you're starting you're starting in like two days or something like that. And, and this is happening. So he goes, he goes and I don't know if you have you ever met Russell? No, I am not. Russell's the sweetest, kindest, gentlest soul like he's a very just a gentle person. Which is so interesting to work with someone like Jim and him being so at such a close proximity as a DP and they start shooting first couple days and and no problems. Jim is a sweetheart tool, just an absolute. And he calls his wife I was gonna I don't understand that. I mean every I mean, I mean, I see him get upset with people on set, but he doesn't have any problems with me. So I guess everything's fine. So they're back at his screening room in Malibu and his house, and they're doing dailies. And all of a sudden shot of Arnold comes up. And it's, it's, it's Russell, the production designer, the first ad and I think the production manager or the producer or something like that's in the room. And he goes, What the fuck is that? That's loud is and Russell's. Like, oh my god, he goes, Hey, Russell, it'd be nice. If I could see the biggest movie star in the world. I just paid $20 million to his face would be nice if I could see it. And Russell just starts to crawl into a ball and, and then next shot, boom, hits him again. Next shot, boom, hits him again. And Russell just goes, he just walks out, like walks out into the parking lot. He's like, I'm fired, fired, fired off the thing causes why is he just like, I'm fired. I'm fired off this. I can't this is obviously it's not working. The first ad in the production center, run back out. And he goes, Russell, don't worry about it. It's fine. It was what do you mean, he does? He does that to every DP? Because what do you mean, he was called every other DP he's ever worked with up and find out. So he calls up the guy from I think, the abyss or Terminator two or something like that. He goes, What? What he goes, Did he Did he say about the whole I wish I could see the light of the face of the biggest movie star in the world. Yeah, he does that to everybody. And that I was it's just a way to push. I think it's just a way to like, make sure he gets what he wants out of it. He's a fascinating character study as a character, Jim Cameron is a fast facet, fascinating character, character study. I'd be interested if I could ever get if I could ever get up on the show. Hopefully, maybe this year, I almost had one good luck with that, almost, by the way, almost had him for his book, tech. Tech nor the gym out very close, but never know where two things have happened in this world. True that. So alright, so what so you're now down in Austin, what are you working on? You're working on a very special project down here. Yeah, in Texas. Tell us tell everybody what you're trying to help us do here, man are the Texas.

Chris Debiec 1:12:23
So moved here January. I do a lot of budgets and schedules and business proposals index for feature films shooting everywhere. I got hired to do a budget and a schedule for a small western film that $8 million Western film all about Texas, early 1800s. And I started doing research and call the Film Commission and said, hey, you know, I'm doing this budget, I'd like to get an understanding of your tax incentives. And she's the Film Commission said, Oh, we've run out of money. I said, What do you mean? Well, we have a two year program. It's $45 million grant. And we ran out of money in the first three months of the first year of a two year program. And I said, that sucks. I said, Well, I have this late million dollar movie that our finance company that capital company won't do unless we get tax credits. just shrug their shoulders and go Yeah, sorry. So we're shooting in Oklahoma. We're shooting a movie about Texas, in Oklahoma, because Oklahoma has much better tax incentives than than Texas does. I mean, shit, to be honest. 12 Other states have better tax incentives than Texas, maybe even more. So that kind of triggered me to a point where I'm like, I just moved here. I moved to Texas from Los Angeles. And this is really going to limit the kind of work I can do it here in around my home. You know, I mean, Austin, I thought Austin was like the hub of this stuff. So I did some more research and then realize that I'm just gonna write a bill. So we are currently I created an organization called the Texas Media Coalition. And I got a whole group of friends, my business partner, Robert Hanson, we do a podcast as well actually called the arsenic show. So I'm producing that out of my house. So Robert introduced me to his friends and then his friends introduced me other friends. And then I started talking a little bit about like, Listen, why don't we just write a new bill? So over the last six months, I took about seven different states in the US did side by side comparisons to all of the of their incentives and then started pulling and picking and choosing things that might work for Texas. So and then I talked to media services or Jim and then Brian over at Media Services. He started giving me a lot of information. Chris, you should try this Gregory if you try that because He runs all the the tax credit programs around the country for media services. One of my dear friends is Kevin Beggs, who is the chairman of Lions Gate television. I wrote to Kevin, I said, Kevin, I'm trying to do this new bill for Texas. He said, Well, you should. I'll hook you up with Jimmy Barnes. He was the CFO of Lions Gate. So right now Lions Gate, I'm using their entire team as going over my whole bill to make sure it fits whatever the studios are looking for. So we are now at the point where the bill has been written. I met with the Texas film commission a week ago. They love it. They said it was the best program they've seen in years. Make sense concise, as everything she gave me some. Stephanie welling gave me some notes, I integrated the notes, send it back to them. They're reviewing it now. I have two sets of lobbyists. I have a tax expert for the state. We are meeting with Representative Todd Hunter next week to talk to him about sponsoring the bill. Along with the bill, we have something called the the media Trainee program. So Ireland, I did a movie called The Green night, I was a production executive, handling all the money in the finance making sure the producers did what they had to do correctly.

In Ireland, they have a training program I'm trying to model so it's like a two to three day bootcamp where they just they send pas out and they teach him pretty much the basics of what it's like to work on a set our program three day bootcamp is going to teach you not how to make a movie, but how to work on one. And that's a much different experience. Because then you know, a lot of people go to film school to learn how to make a movie or a TV show or a pilot or write this write that are produced that or edit that or direct that our program is meant, like, we're gonna start with accounting 101, how to fill out paperwork, you know, sexy, sexy I we took we stripped the glitz and glamour right out of the pros. And it basically is just walking around set what to say what not to say don't act like an idiot, you know, but it's a very concise three day program that we are including with the bill. So in order for the production to come in, they have to abide by the bill. Now, the difference about this bill is that we are not currently touching the $45 million grant that Texas has, we're not touching that. We're doing a two tier system. Anything 15 Million and above will flip over to us anything 15 million and below will stay with the grant system. That way that 45 million, or maybe even 90, I think the there's a group called the TX NPA, they're trying to make it 99. So they can succeed, then that 90 million will last the entire two years for anything. 50 million and above and below 50 million above, we're looking at Disney, we're looking at Apple, we're looking at Netflix, we're gonna at Warner Brothers Sony, we're looking at the studios, we want them to come here, we have a 5% bump for television series, not Films Television series, because that television series as you know, they'll keep generating the jobs, you know, you get a 10 episode 12 episode order that lasts for a year, then you get a reorder at another year, then season two, three another year. So we threw in an extra extra money for the TV guys. So all of this will build the base for Texas in order to build the foundation and have them create more of a global market. We are also partnering with producers without borders. That's a group that sprung out of the PGA. I'm a member of the Producers Guild 25 years this year. And they you know, they sprung out in order to bring producers from all around the world together. So like if if somebody in Italy needs help producing an underwater documentary, they'll call me because I'm a member of producers without borders. And that's how it all works. So we're the Texas Media Coalition is partnering with producers about borders to make Texas a more of a global hub for media production. That's the idea and we're going to continue these relationships. I met with the Houston Film Commission, Houston's on board. I'm gonna go there and lecture I'm going to do a bunch of classes for Houston. I want to do the same for Dallas, San Antonio Austin, you name it. This is a Texas initiative, not just an Austin initiative. It's a Texas initiative. That's what I've been doing for the last eight months now.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:32
That's amazing. Well, first of all, I appreciate you doing that circus as I as a production professional who just moved here as well. That's helpful to say the least. And man, thank you. I appreciate you doing that. So let's see what happens because I always wanted to look I'm from Florida. We used to have a decent one.

Chris Debiec 1:19:51
And they Florida is doing a new one. I don't know if you've heard the latest but there are some gentlemen down there that are trying to do exactly what I'm doing for the state of Texas but in Florida So I'm gonna have a call with them next week and see if I can help them with Florida.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:04
Yeah, because Georgia just took everything.

Chris Debiec 1:20:07
Georgia. So Georgia is estimating 4.4 billion in revenue out of production. California is 2.9. So that'll give you an idea what Georgia is doing.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:16
Jesus. Really? Yeah. I mean, they just went all in, they went all in, and now they have the infrastructures in there, they have crew, they got em, it's all there. Now. All there.

Chris Debiec 1:20:27
Yeah. But what we're trying to do is going, we're going to be all there eventually. But we just need to get through the legislature. And, you know, a lot of people, people, a lot of the politicians here in Texas that are very conservative, think Hollywood is a bunch of, you know, you know, dem libs, you know, that are far left wing, you know, crazy Hollywood and blah, blah, you know, what they're not, you know, there are a lot of people that are working stiffs, you know, I'm a line producer. So, below the line, there are a hell of a lot more below the line than there are above the line. So, you know, think of all the special effects the wardrobe, the grip, electric, everybody. So everything you know, and so what we're trying to do also, with the Texas Media Coalition is to educate the politicians to say, this is I'm calling it media manufacturing sector, because that's what we do. I mean, we, we, we don't make an iPhone, but our phones, what we do make is $25. And you go see at a theater, okay, or it's $100 and you pay to a streaming service. That's what we make. So we make stuff we make something so the politicians can understand where our manufacturing sector, they might actually grasp the idea of all the jobs it creates, and all the revenue it creates and et cetera, et cetera.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:45
That's awesome. And I Nana, Congrats, sir. Congrats and

Chris Debiec 1:21:50
Wait till next year. Let's see how it went

Alex Ferrari 1:21:53
I wish you nothing but the best my friend. Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Chris Debiec 1:22:05
Well, be nice to everyone. Literally, because you never know that person you know that you meet is going to where they're going to be in 10 years, five years. You know, they may be you may be working with someone that's your PA. Treat them well treat him with respect, dignity. And because someday that PA is going to be the chairman of Lionsgate television. Kevin and I both met he was the assistant to Doug Schwartz at Schwartz Barnum who did fortunate and do did steal chariots and do Baywatch. So Kevin bags, who is now live chairman was the assistant to Doug and he was a school teacher before that. You never know where people are going to go and what they're going to do. So it might my best expense advice is to always be nice and respectful to everyone, no matter what position they are. Don't, don't be walked on, don't be a rug. You don't want to be mad. But you just have to respect everyone. And the other thing another piece of advice is network. Because I tell newbie I tell new people get in all you need is one job. If you get that one job and you do the right networking, somebody, excuse me, somebody from that job, we'll get you another job. Then another job, then another job and another job. Another job. Be friendly. Be nice. Be good. You know, don't talk shit about anybody. Try to avoid all the political traps that fall with human beings. Doesn't matter if you're in production or whatever industry you're in, who cares? And believe it or not, you'll find your way. Yeah, and

Alex Ferrari 1:23:44
I always when people asked me that question, I was like, just don't be a dick. Don't be don't be that's the best advice ever. Just a dick because people don't care how talented you are. Nobody wants to work with

Chris Debiec 1:23:58
I want to share I want to share one quick story. You had said to me in the beginning of this. Chris You did wardrobe you did effects you did. You worked in all these jobs. I want to tell you why. And this is the third piece of advice I will give to everyone. So while I was at Disney I was I was doing craft service for a good two years. The Muppets were coming to town. Jim Henson was making a deal with Michael Eisner. So they were doing a TV show called The Muppets at Walt Disney World. I told my bosses at Disney at the studio I said I need to work on The Muppet Show. I grew up with the Muppets. I watched them every day after school. Miss Piggy Kermit the whole thing. It was just like it was ingrained in me I need to work on that show. So that sites who was my studio boss then he said, Well, Chris, I'm gonna have you interview with Martin Baker. Martin is Jim Henson's producer. You'll be the first one. See how you do it. Okay, great. So I went in and I met with Martin Baker. He's British man lovely. On one of the He changed my life. Let's put it that way. So I tell Martin I'm on like a little jumping beat on this side. I said I'd love them up if they want to do this. I've been doing craft service, but I really don't want to do craft service anymore. I've been watching what everybody doesn't set. And they Martin says to me, Chris, where do you sell yourself in the next 10 years? And I looked at him, and I didn't have an answer. So I answered, honestly, I said, Martin, I've been only doing craft service for two years. Honestly, I really don't know. I would like more experience to try to figure that out. But I don't know. And he says, Well, that's a good answer, Chris. That's, that's, that's a truthful answer. So listen, we have 10 weeks of production. I need to hire a lot of locals. So I would like to hire you as a floater PA. I didn't know what that was, until he said, the floater PA is going to work a week, one week in every single department on this production. Because we're going to have like five of you guys that are just going to be floating around wherever we need help. We're gonna send you over to that department said Okay, great. Whatever you want. Florida is a right to work state. So even though as a union production, we were still allowed to do that. So, Martin, for 10 weeks, I worked one week in the production office one week in the camera department, Cameron batteries, backpack with camera batteries. I was in the grip department, just all I was doing was loading cable into the truck back and forth. That's it. I worked in, you know, grip I worked in I worked in all the different 10 different departments during a 10 week production. So the production is over. By the way, Jim Henson. Unbelievable one of the you imagine you met Jim, I worked with Jim Henson. Oh, yeah. Was the other famous Jim I worked with Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:40
What was okay, Jesus, Jim, I mean, Jesus Christ. How did what was it like working with Jim Henson, man?

Chris Debiec 1:26:46
So if you can imagine a spiritual guru of some sort, Jim Henson had an aura about him. He would, you know, we had one, we had one production meeting where every all the department heads don't have enough money don't have enough time. And it's TV, and it was, you know, whatever. So they're all yelling at each other. And Jim Henson walks in the room, and he literally just walks in, and he has a very pleasant smile, very tall man. And he walks in, and everybody just kind of just calms down, and you can feel the presence of this person. And he just looks at around everyone and goes, I know, we're having some issues on scheduling and budgeting and time. But what I would like to know from all us, what would you like to have for lunch today? And everybody just starts laughing. And just sit, you know, because what Jim did was he said, listen, we're going to get this done. That, you know, I have no qualms about that. But what I'd like to know is, what do you want to have for lunch? I mean, it really, it just, it puts things in perspective. So he had this whole this aura about him, that was the most, you know, Zen that you could ever meet in your entire life. And that's what I miss about working with other people. So anyway, go back tomorrow. So I'm sitting on the couch, and I'm so excited. Martin gives me that job. I work in all these departments. The end of the show, I take the director and Jim Henson to the airport, I drive them in the van to the airport. And I go back, Martin says, Well, Chris, you're you're done tomorrow. It's your last day. I've heard wonderful things about you. So what do you want to do? I mean, now that you got to see everything, what do you want to do? What do you think? So I look at Lauren, and as serious as I can, as seriously as I am, I say to my mind, I want to do what you do. And he looks at me quizzically and says, But Chris, we never spent any time together. We never you don't know what I do. I mean, I interviewed you and then sent you on your way. I said, Martin, you don't understand. Anyone that has the power to give a kid like me the break you gave. That's what I want to do. And he sat back in his chair, and he's like, interesting. And he says, I'm gonna give you an assignment, Chris, for the next 10 years of your life. I want you to do exactly what you did on this production. On every other production, you can find, I want you to work wardrobe on a TV show. I want you to work special effects on a movie, I want you to work locations on a commercial, I want you to do every single art department, I want you to do art department on fortune hunter, you don't want a series, I want you to do this, this, this and this because I didn't go to film school. I didn't really have the overall knowledge that maybe some kids out of film school do. But what I knew was I love this business. And I want to do as much in it as I possibly could. So for the next 10 years, you will look at my resume, you look at my NGP page, you'll see the things I did. I was on I did special effects on the movie The Crow. I was there when Brandon was killed. That's another podcast for another day.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:59
So I had Alex I had Alex on the show he

Chris Debiec 1:30:02

Alex Ferrari 1:30:03
Oh yeah even had like twice on the show. He's, he's we, we talked about it for about four or five minutes. It's not something he likes to talk about.

Chris Debiec 1:30:10
It's not something I like to talk about. Exactly. Like, you know, in special effects my job, I had a sledgehammer. And my job was to walk up and down the hose lines. We were shooting in North Carolina in February, March, it was freezing weather. And I had to break the ice in the hose lines. In order for when Alex yelled, action, we would have rain. That was my only job. I've worked in special effects.

Alex Ferrari 1:30:35
Yeah, I saw I saw that I saw Yeah, you've worked on a bunch of different projects. And so

Chris Debiec 1:30:40
My advice to filmmakers, young and old, whatever, do as much as you can. And until you find the direction of the path you want to go in, after I spent that 10 years, I realized that it was truly Martin, what he did is what I wanted to do. So I went and started moving towards producing, line producing, executive producing whatever, you know, whatever I could do never really wanted to direct never really, you know, I wrote a couple of scripts, I actually won an award for a script. But I don't, I'm not gonna say I am a writer because I am not. Because I don't focus on that. But I am a producer. And that is what I love to do. And that's where my passion is. And the advice I give to anyone is, if you're a producer, you better have experience in pretty much all the other areas to be the better producer.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:27
And I'm going to just ask you one more question, sir. three of your favorite films of all time.

Chris Debiec 1:31:32
Oh, boy, cheese.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:34
Now as of right now,

Chris Debiec 1:31:36
I'm a genre guy. So for me, you know, James Bond, Sean Connery and Daniel Craig are my two favorites. So James Bond. I grew up with Spielberg and Lucas. So Star Wars, Indiana Jones, action adventure type stuff. And then I'll put James Cameron on number three on that one. Any of the gym films, terminators, the abyss? Titanic? True LA. And that's how much True Lies But True Lies.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:09
What are you talking about?

Chris Debiec 1:32:10
I'm gonna put that as one of my favorites. No, but it's fun. That was fun. Sure, sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:16
No, but it's not up there with a bit up.

Chris Debiec 1:32:18
There are many other ones. Yeah, with the other ones, you know? So yeah, I'm a genre kind of guy. And I'm a big budget guy, too. So I you know, independent, I give all the all the credit in the world to the independence man. And those are the the low budget movies are the hardest ones to work on? Absolutely. Because when you have money, you can pretty much solve whatever the problem is you're trying to deal with. But when you're trying to creatively figure out how to do this one shot and you can't afford it. That's that's when the business gets tricky.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:49
Chris man, it has been a pleasure talking to you, my friend. I can't believe I found a a fortune hunter and alumni on my journeys in life. But But man, I appreciate you, brother. And thank you for all the hard work you're doing here in Texas and teaching and sharing your knowledge with everybody. And hopefully some of these stories are not just entertaining, but hopefully they picked up a couple of things to help them along there.

Chris Debiec 1:33:13
I hope so. Listen, I'd love to you know, you can find me on LinkedIn. You can find me I have my own website, Chrisdebiec.com civilized entertainments, my production company so you can email me through civilized Gmail, and then our snake show. We also have our own website for that you can email through that.

Alex Ferrari 1:33:33
Yeah, well, I'll put all those links in the show notes, but I appreciate you brother. Thanks again for coming on the

Chris Debiec 1:33:38
You're welcome, Alex. It's been a pleasure and I love talking about this stuff as you



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Top 15 Film Producers Podcasts (Oscar® & Emmy® Winners)

One of the most underrated and misunderstood positions in the filmmaking assemble line is the film producer. The mysterious part of the movie machine is not only a needed position but without it nothing gets done. Below we compiled some of the best film producers working in the business today. From in the trenches indie film producers to Oscar® and Emmy® winning blockbuster giants.

They discuss what a good producer is, what they do, pitfalls to avoid and give you the raw and unfiltered truth to what it takes to be a successful film producer. Enjoy.

Click here to subscribe on Apple,  Spotify, & Youtube.

1. Jason Blum

I’m excited to talk to a fellow low-budget independent filmmaker today. Granted, he does low-budget films on a completely different level than I or most people do at this point. But if we are going to talk about budget filmmaking, it is only fitting to have expert horror film and television producer, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.

That is a testament to his company’s high-quality production. Blumhouse is known for pioneering a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films and provocative television series. They have produced over 150 movies and television series with theatrical grosses amounting to over $4.8 billion.

2. Chris Moore

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy my conversation with Chris Moore.

3. Gary W. Goldstein

Today, we are hearing from one of the cultural influencers of the 90s film industry, and that’s non-other but Gary Goldstein, producer of the iconic rom-com, Pretty Woman, starring Richard Gere, and Julia Roberts.

Pretty Woman was most of your introduction to Gary’s work, but mine was Cannibal Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. I know. After all these years, the title still makes me chuckle. Years later, I would reference the title to people. And in case you were curious, Gary goes into the movie title origin story in this interview.

Gary films have generated well over one billion dollars – consistent box office hits. Pretty Woman, for example, grossed $463.4 million – more than 30 times its budget. After the massive success of Pretty Woman, Gary collaborated once more with his filmmaking partner, writer, Jonathan Lawton to produce the action thriller, Under Seige in 1992. Like Pretty Woman, this too performed successfully at the box office and critically – including an Academy Award nomination. An ex-Navy Seal turned cook is the only person who can stop a group of terrorists when they seize control of a U.S. battleship

In 2013 he authored Conquering Hollywood: The Screenwriter’s Blueprint for Career Success, which is a compilation of strategies to help anyone; whether looking to sell a spec script, option a screenplay, land a writing assignment and get hired, attract an agent, or manager of your dreams…or get a producer to take a meeting with you. Gary blessed us with knowledge bombs in this interview, including tips on entrepreneurship and film as a business. Enjoy my conversation with Gary Goldstein.

4. Marta Kaufman

Marta Kauffman is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning television writer, director, producer and showrunner behind the hit series Friends and Grace & Frankie. After graduating from Brandeis University, Kauffman got her big break alongside David Crane when their pilots Dream On (1990) and The Powers That Be (1992) were greenlit. The pair then launched Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions with Kevin Bright and became the trio that created the iconic sitcom Friends.

5. Elizabeth Avellán

Get ready to have you mind blown. If you ever wanted to know the TRUE STORY on how the mythical El Mariachi, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, then this is the conversation you want to listen to. Today on the show we have producer Elizabeth Avellán.

Elizabeth Avellan was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where her grandfather, Gonzalo Veloz, pioneered commercial television. At thirteen, she moved to Houston with her family and later graduated from Rice University, where she had her first behind-the-scenes experience working as stage manager and prop master for several student productions.

She moved to Austin in 1986 to work in the Office of the Executive Vice-President and Provost of the University of Texas, continuing her studies in film production, art, and architecture. There she meet Robert Rodriguez – cult filmmaker and her husband to be.

She co-founder Troublemaker Studios with Robert and have been causing “trouble” in Hollywood ever since. Elizabeth and I have an epic two-hour conversation spanning decades in the history of her, Robert and Troublemaker Studios. We did a bit of myth busting on the now legendary indie film El Mariachi. Elizabeth also discussed what it was like working inside the Hollywood machine, the moment she introduced Robert to Quentin Tarantino, the uphill battles she faced becoming a producer and so much more.

Get ready for one heck of a ride. Enjoy my conversation with Elizabeth Avellán.

6. Edward Zwick 

We have been on a major roll lately on the podcast and this episode keep that going in a big way. Our guest on the show today is Oscar® Winning writer, producer, and director Edward Zwick. Edward made his big shift from his childhood passion of theater to filmmaking after working as a PA for Woody Allen in France on the set of Love and Death.

7. Cary Woods

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

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

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

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

In 1998, the first US-produced entry of the iconic Godzilla film franchise would become Woods’ and Independent Pictures’ single highest-grossing film, earning nearly $400 million. Woods would go on to serve as co-Chairman, and Chief Creative Officer of Plum TV, in which he was a founding partner. Broadcasting in the nation’s most affluent markets (i.e. Aspen, the Hamptons, Miami Beach), the luxury lifestyle network would go on to earn eight Emmy Awards.

Enjoy my conversation with Cary Woods.

8. Danny Strong

Today on the show we have writer, producer, actor, director and Emmy® winning show runner and producer Danny Strong. He started his career as an actor in numerous classic films and TV shows such as Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Gilmore Girls, then transitioned into screenwriting, exploding onto the scene with his 2007 script Recount which was #1 on the Hollywood Blacklist and became an award winning HBO Film.

Since then he has become a prolific film and TV writer, director and producer, garnering numerous awards for various projects, including two Emmys, a Golden Globe, two WGA awards, a PGA Award, and the Peabody Award.

Through out his career he has shown a wide range and versatility moving between mediums and genres with films like the political docudramas Recount and Game Change, the civil rights epic The Butler and the big budget action blockbusters Hunger Games: Mockingjay (Part I and II).

He co-created the smash hit TV show Empire which won him the NAACP Image Award and he produced the civil rights drama The Best of Enemies starring Taraji P. Henson and Sam Rockwell. He has also written numerous theater projects having made his theatrical debut with a new book to the musical Chess that premiered at the Kennedy Center. Strong transitioned into directing with several episodes of Empire. He made his feature directorial debut with Rebel in the Rye that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was distributed by IFC Films.

Over the years he has continued his acting career with recurring roles in many highly acclaimed TV shows including Mad Men, Girls, Justified, Billions and The Right Stuff. He grew up in Manhattan Beach, California and attended the USC School of Dramatic Arts.

Enjoy my enlightening conversation with Danny Strong.

9. David Permut

The first interview in my Sundance Film Festival Interview Series is legendary producer David Permut.David has produced almost 40 feature films in the course of his career. From Blind Date and Dragnet to Face/Off and the Oscar® Nominated Hacksaw Ridge. His new film, The Polka King starring Jack Black,  just got released on Netflix.

Enjoy my interview with David Permut.

10. 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.

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.

11. 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.

12. 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 10 years. He has a new film coming out called Clean, starring Academy Award® Winner Arian Brody.

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!!!

13. Suzanne Lyons

Today on the show we have returning champion producer Suzanne Lyons. Suzanne was one of my first guests on the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. Her episodes are some of my most downloaded episodes so I had to have her back on to talk shop. Suzanne will go over a ton of information on how to produce an indie feature film. She covers:

  • The dos and don’ts of Low Budget Filmmaking
  • What is Soft Prep?
  • Contracts
  • Working with unions
  • The hell of deliverables
  • and much more

In 1999 Suzanne Lyons launched Snowfall Films and to date has produced/executive produced twelve movies. These included A BAFTA award-winning British comedy UNDERTAKING BETTY(aka “Plots With A View”), with actors Christopher Walken, Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina and Naomi Watts with Miramax Distribution. British/Canadian thriller JERICHO MANSIONS staring James Caan, Genevieve Bujold, Maribel Verdu and Jennifer Tilly. JERICHO MANSIONSwas an official selection at the Montreal Film Festival and the Hollywood Film Festival. British/Canadian family comedy BAILEY’S BILLION$ which stars Dean Cain, Laurie Holden, Tim Curry, and Jon Lovitz.

14. Jonathan Baker

Today on the show we have Sundance-winning producer Jonathan Baker. His new film Sylvie’s Love is the talk of Sundance 2020. Sylvie’s Love is an upcoming American drama film, written and directed by Eugene Ashe. It stars Tessa Thompson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Ryan Michelle Bathe, Regé-Jean Page, Aja Naomi King, and Eva Longoria. It will have its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 27, 2020.

Jonathan is a wealth of information. In the episode, I pick his brain on what it was like winning the audience award at Sundance, how the indie film market place is changing, and much more. His last Sundance-winning film was Crown Heights which was later sold to Amazon Studios.

15. Sunil Perkash

oday 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.

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. 

BONUS: David Chase

The legacy of the crime drama television series, The Sopranos remains a defining art of storytelling for mob TV shows. We have the genius behind this hit TV series, David Chase as our guest today.

As expected, Chase is a twenty-five-time Emmy Awards-winner, seven times Golden Globes winner, and highly acclaimed producer, writer, and director. His forty-year career in Hollywood has contributed immensely to the experience of quality TV.

Before getting into the nitty-gritty of Chase, let’s do a brief of the HBO 1999 hit show, The Sopranos: Produced by HBO, Chase Films, and Brad Grey Television, the story ran for six seasons, revolving around Tony Soprano, played by James Gandolfini, a New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster, portraying the difficulties that he faces as he tries to balance his family life with his role as the leader of a criminal organization.

How to Get Professional & Safe Looking Prop Guns for Your Film

When my team and I were making my first short film, BROKEN we really wanted to have functional and professional-looking guns for the project. Obviously, we weren’t going to use real guns, and getting our hands on working prop guns was too cost-prohibited. We also wanted to ensure that everyone on set was safe, which was our main priority.

We knew we could create some badass muzzle flashes in visual effects, but I wanted to have some realistic-looking guns on-set that had blowback to enhance the VFX and ultimately make the gunfights to look real.

After doing a ton of research, we discovered Airsoft Guns or “Air Guns”(our prop guns). These are basically jacked-up BB guns. They range in price from $12-$50 for good-looking plastic replica pistols (excellent for wide shots) and $20-$95 for metal replica pistols with realistic blowback (great for close-ups).

You can also get some remarkable-looking replica rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles, and even a grenade launcher. Crazy!

These Airsoft guns added so much realism to the film. The combination of practical blowback with high-end visual effects was a great combo.

Safety First

When using Airsoft guns or any firearm prop on set, you MUST assign someone to be responsible for all the weaponry. These guns might not be real, but they can hurt people. By law, if you use professional prop guns, you need an armorer on set at all times. Everyone on a film crew must act professionally, even if you are using Airsoft weapons on a low-budget independent film.

The late actor Brandon Lee was infamously killed on the set of The Crow by a misfiring prop gun. (Brandon Lee Death)

More recently, a terrible incident on a professional film set in New Mexico occurred where actor Alec Baldwin accidentally killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and injured director Joel Souza with a misfiring prop gun. Prop guns, even Airsoft BB guns, are no joke and NEED to be respected as if they were real.

Also, please check your local state and city laws in regard to owning or using Airsoft guns. Always be careful, responsible, and above all, safe. Getting some cool shots in an indie film is not worth getting people hurt or worse.


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Where to Find the Guns?

This is the way to go if you want to have real-looking guns in your film. We purchased most of our guns through a local Airsoft or Air Gun reseller, Amazon.com, and eBay.

We even asked the local reseller if he had any broken Airsoft guns in the back. He gave most of them to us for FREE and charged $5-$10 for $100 pistols. They didn’t work, but they look great on camera.

Click on any of the links below to get some examples of Airsoft weapons.

Airsoft Prop Gun – Pistols Metal Pistols (with Blow Back):

Airsoft Green Gas (Fuel for Blow Back)

Airsoft Prop Gun – Pistols (Non-Blow Back):
Good for background and nonfiring shots

Airsoft Prop Gun – Shotguns:

Airsoft Prop Gun – Rifles:

Airsoft Prop Gun – Grenade Launcher:

Airsoft Prop Gun – Sniper Rifle:

BONUS: Realistic Prop Knives & Prop Weapons

If I may quote one of my favorite Christmas films:

“You’ll shoot your eye out kid.” – A Christmas Story

It may be funny, but it’s true. Have fun and be very careful.  Good luck and happy filming.

Film Production Books You Need to Read – Top 11 List 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4) So You Want to Be a Producer

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

5) Produce Your Own Damn Movie by Lloyd Kaufman

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

Also check out: Lloyd Kaufman’s Interview Podcast

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

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


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

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

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

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

9) The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking by Michael Polish

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

10) The Complete Film Production Handbook

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

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

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